The Jacket

The Jacket

The Jacket










The Jacket

Sue-Ellen Pashley

Thea Baker

Black Dog, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was warm, like the afternoon sun. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front.

Amelia wore it everywhere – to kindy, Aunty Kath’s house, the shops, even to bed. But one day it didn’t fit her any more so she gave it to her younger sister Lily who also wore it everywhere – to the park, to Nanna’s house, to the library, even to the beach. But what happens when it’s too small for Lily?

This is a story that is as warm as a hug from the jacket itself.  It’s as familiar to my grandchildren as it is to almost every child – having to let go of something you love because you are growing up and it isn’t. Beautifully illustrated with repetitive phrases that wrap around the tongue like a jacket around your body, this is a charming story that will resonate widely as children snuggle more deeply into their favourite jackets as winter really begins to bite. Perhaps it could inspire a communal jacket drive  so all those outgrown jackets in children’s cupboards could find a new home.    

Grandma’s Treasured Shoes

Grandma's Treasured Shoes

Grandma’s Treasured Shoes










Grandma’s Treasured Shoes

Coral Vass

Christina Huynh

NLA Publishing, 2019

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Grandma has oodles and oodles of shoes.

Walk to the park shoes

Dance in the dark shoes

Fun shoes and sun shoes

Out and about shoes

Splash in the rain shoes

Fancy shoes, 

Plain shoes,

But her favourite shoes 

Are her worn and torn shoes

From a time long ago

And a land far away. 

For they are the shoes of her childhood in wartorn Vietnam, a time when her childhood was like that of others until the night she and her family have to flee with just the shoes on their feet.  They are shoes that take her on a terrifying journey to a new land where she is given new shoes to wear.  But she never forgets or discards those old shows with the memories and stories they hold for her.

Beginning with a rhyme and rhythm reminiscent of Frida Wolfe’s poem Choosing Shoes , this is a story that could be that of the grandmother or grandfather of any number of our students who have come to Australia as refugees, but in particular those who fled the Viet Cong and arrived here in boats in the 1970s. (But not always to the welcome that Grandma gets.) Using the shoes as a vehicle to tell the story of the fear and the flight, both author and illustrator have introduced the young reader to the story of refugees in a sensitive, non-confrontational way.  They have put themselves in the shoes of those who have had to flee their countries and imagined that regardless of the country, “that each shoe would have a different tale of danger, hardship, sacrifice and the cost of freedom to tell.”

This approach is rich in possibilities for a wide age group – children could tell the story of their shoes’ daily journey while those who have been in Grandma’s situation might feel comfortable about telling their story through the perspective of their shoes.  It could also serve as a lead-in to a series of lessons about perspective and how the different role a person has in a situation alters how the story is told. For example, what might be the glass slipper’s version of the Cinderella story? In a time when immigration is once more in the news as the tragedy in Christchurch starts debates again, older students might even examine the different responses by those such as Jacinda Ardern (#theyareus) and Donald Trump (building the wall).

As usual with NLA publications, there are pages of information at the back, these ones outlining the history of refugees in Australia and in particular, those who came from Vietnam in the 70s, the grandmothers and grandfathers of so many of our students. Perfect for Harmony Day celebrations or any focus on the multicultural nature of this country.



Grandma’s Treasured Shoes from STYNA on Vimeo.

Dress Like a Girl

Dress Like a Girl

Dress Like a Girl









Dress Like a Girl

Patricia Toht

Lorian Tu-Dean

Harper, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Time for a sleepover and the guests have been instructed to “dress like a girl”.  But what does that mean? 

Does it really mean dresses and high heels, buttons and bows?  Or could it mean a space suit, a wetsuit, a medico’s coat or something entirely original?  

Told in rhyme the opening stanza sums up the focus and purpose of this book perfectly…

What does it mean to dress like a girl

Many will tell you in this big, wide world

that there are strict rules that must be addressed,

rules you will need when looking your best.

But when you are given these rules to obey,

the secret is heeding them-in your own way.

The strong message is that we are each individuals and we should be dressing to suit ourselves rather than what others might say about our appearance, or what “fashion” dictates or other external influences. Written for the young girl who is becoming more aware of the world around her, what others are doing and wearing and starting to shape her own tastes and preferences, this is a timely release that should spark lots of discussions not just about what is “acceptable” but also self-acceptance and the influence of peer pressure. Do “clothes maketh the man”? 

While Tu-Dean has depicted a diverse range of ethnicities and origins in the illustrations, there is a strong theme of events like slumber parties being about the friendships and fun that are common desires of everyone, rather than differences that divide or separate or having to conform to a given look to be accepted. Great for the mindfulness collection.

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball










The Sisters Saint-Claire and the Royal Mouse Ball

Carlie Gibson

Tamsin Ainslie

Allen & Unwin, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


‘To all the Saint-Claires, you are hereby invited
To join me this Sunday, I’d be most delighted!
Dress in your best for a Royal Mouse Ball 
I’ll open the palace for mice, one and all!’

Queen Julie S. Cheeser has invited the entire village to her glamorous Royal Ball but the villagers don’t want to go because they are intimidated by the Queen’s beautiful gowns and feel they themselves have nothing that is appropriate to wear. But the sisters Saint-Claire, five French mice who love fashion and food have an idea and with some clever thinking and ingenuity all the guests are able to go, and feel comfortable with what they are wearing. 

This is a charming story, a sequel to The Sisters Saint-Claire, that will delight young readers who love to dress up and who can create amazing outfits from whatever is at hand. No rushing down to the shop for a ready-made costume for them. Written in rhyme and with delicate illustrations that inspire the imagination, it is perfect for newly independent readers.

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes










One Shoe Two Shoes

Caryl Hart

Edward Underwood

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


One shoe
Two shoes
Red shoes
Blue shoes

Wet shoe
Dry shoe
Old shoes
New shoes

Shoes, shoes and more shoes . . . this book is bursting with them. From party shoes and flip-flops to cowboy boots and clogs, there’s a pair here to suit everyone. There’s even a shoe house for a little mouse!

Reminiscent of Ffrida Wolfe’s poem Choosing Shoes this story follows a dog out for a walk with its master noticing all the different types of shoes and then switches to its discovery of a family of mice who have made their home in a shoe! Its bouncy rhyme and rhythm will appeal to young listeners as they are introduced to colours, patterns and numbers in an engaging way.  

Great for preschoolers who will chant along with you and can have fun exploring colours and patterns by matching the shoes in the family’s wardrobes!.



Lottie Perkins (series)

Lottie Perkins (series)

Lottie Perkins (series)







Lottie Perkins (series)

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2018

64pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Movie Star




Pop Singer


Fashion Designer



Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway.  She has a range of talents -each different in each book – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old.  In each episode of this new series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it. 

Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.

This is a new series for young girls who are becoming independent readers, with its large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations supporting their efforts.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. Something new for this age group who are transitioning between basal readers and novels with the first two books available now and the next two to come in November 2018.


We Wear Pants

We Wear Pants

We Wear Pants










We Wear Pants

Katie Abey

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


When animals wear clothing you get some hilarious results and when you combine the visuals with speech bubble comments, the result is a crazy, funny book about the different types of clothes we wear and the importance of getting dressed. There are 35 main characters that appear on every spread so children will learn to find their favourites, as well as looking out for hilarious guest animal appearances all wearing a variety of clothing items.

Captions encourage them to search for various items, particularly the eccentric monkey who just does not conform. The diversity of activities involving spotting, choosing, counting and decision-making ensures the child engages with the illustrations, such a critical part of early reading behaviour.

One that will become a favourite as there is something new to discover with each visit.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…


Goat’s Coat

Goat's Coat

Goat’s Coat











Goat’s Coat

Tom Percival

Christine Pym

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Let me tell you the tale of Alfonzo the goat,

Who was terribly fond of his lovely new coat

The pictures on the wall and the clothes on their stands in Alfonzo’s hallway show a goat who has a keen eye for fashion and one for whom sartorial splendour is important.  So to have a new coat with “bright shiny buttons all made out of glass and a collar the colour of freshly cut grass” -such a stunning contrast to the thick yellow weave of the coat itself – is something that is very important to him. As he walked through the streets showing it off, he felt very proud as people admired him.

But as he walks he hears cries of despair from creatures in distress who really need his coat more than he does.  Will he be able to part with it?  Of course he does – he may be a fashionista but he is also generous and gradually, bit by bit, his coat goes to helping others until not even the collar is left.  So when he gets caught in a blizzard on his way home and he curls up in a cold ball beneath a boulder to keep warm, all looks very grim for him until…

Tom Percival’s clever rhyming text works perfectly with Christine Pym’s illustrations as young readers need to refer to the pictures to see just why Goat’s coat gradually looks tattier and smaller until there is nothing left.  There are lots of opportunities for predicting how he might solve each creature’s problems and even what those problems might have been so it’s great for helping early readers learn to engage fully with both text and pictures to immerse themselves in the context of the story as much as its content.  There is also a great opportunity for parent and child or teacher and class to discuss what Goat did and think about his actions after reading to deepen awareness of not only the story but how people help each other.

Deceptively simple, richly rewarding.


Go Go and the Silver Shoes

GoGo and the Silver Shoes

Go Go and the Silver Shoes









Go Go and the Silver Shoes

Jane Godwin

Anna Walker

Penguin Viking, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


When all your clothes are the hand-me-downs from your three wild brothers,  it is important to make the most of what you have.  Even though they were fourth-hand, Go Go had a knack for making them interesting and wore them proudly even if “friends” like Annabelle made unkind comments.  

And when the only new things you get are your knickers and sneakers, then it is especially important to choose the most beautiful you can find.  So when Go Go chose a pair of silver sneakers that sparkled in the sun she wore them everywhere.  She loved them and was so proud of them, even if they were a bit big to last longer.  But disaster struck the day the family went on a picnic and while Go Go and her brothers were having an adventure down through the rocks in the river, one of the precious shoes is lost.  Go Go is heartbroken and very cross as her mum points out that perhaps she should have worn older shoes that day.  

But undeterred and despite her brothers’ suggestions for what she could do with the remaining shoe, Go Go is determined to wear it still – even if it means teaming it with an odd shoe and facing the jeers of Annabelle.  This is a decision that leads to an unexpected friendship as both Go Go and the lost shoe have their own journeys to make…

There is so much to love about this story… as the grandmother of one who never wears matching socks and is so unaffected by a need to be trendy, I love Go Go’s independence and confidence in creating her own style and being a bit different; as one who grew up in the middle of eight boys (all but one cousins), I love that she is me 50+ years ago and all the memories that evokes; and I love Anna Walker’s illustrations that are so subtle and detailed and tell a story of their own.  And I love the ending… you just never know where or how lasting friendships are going to happen.  From its sparkly cover to its stunning endpages, this is a unique story that had me enthralled to the end.

So many will identify with Go Go  and draw strength and confidence from her independence and ability to get to the nub of what being a child is about without all the frills and fripperies. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

How to Be a Fashion Designer

How to Be a Fashion Designer

How to Be a Fashion Designer











How to Be a Fashion Designer

Lesley Ware

Tiki Papier

DK, 2018

96pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


The world of fashion, with its perceived glamour and glitz, always appeals to a certain number of students who care about what they wear and have the ability to make the proverbial sack look good. Sadly though, enduring emphasis on body image continues despite all that is done to combat it and many soon realise they don’t have “the look” to be a top model and turn away.  But in this easy-to-read manual other avenues in fashion are explored, particularly those of the designer and the stylist.  “While designers create their clothes, stylists know how to put them together.”

Using themed double-spreads students are taken through the basic steps with typical DK layout pizzazz, illustrations galore, tips and challenges that encourage them to start designing now.  The last 20 pages offer opportunities to design a t-shirt, trousers, skirt, hat, shoes and accessories with outlines already provided so new knowledge can be applied immediately as the reader learns about colour, texture, patterns and shape while being encouraged to be inspired by the event and the environment.  Recycling and upstyling are explored so not only is waste minimised but even those with few dollars do not need to be deterred.

Ware believes that those who can “speak up with fashion” have the courage to speak up in other ways too so as teachers we should look to those who dare to be different as being more than clothes horses.  A close-to-home example is a student I taught a few years ago who always made the compulsory school uniform a personal statement, who was a whizz at design puzzles like tangrams and who, at 17, starred in a local show in a country town and six months later in 2017, had her designs on the catwalk in Vancouver  and more recently, Nassau in the Bahamas! Her story alone should give students confidence to continue.

Written to support a STEAM curriculum, the suggestions in this book offer an entire term’s curriculum for those with this sort of interest but even those who aren’t particularly interested in fashion can learn how to step out with a bit more style to give themselves a confidence boost.