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That’s Not My Zebra

That's Not My Zebra

That’s Not My Zebra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Zebra

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book, RRP $A14.99

9781474950480

For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books , That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. That’s Not My Zebra is #55 in the collection celebrating this milestone birthday. Hairy tails, fuzzy noses and bumpy hooves are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness. by engaging them in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

My Book (Not Yours)

My Book (Not Yours)

My Book (Not Yours)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book (Not Yours)

Ben Sanders

Lothian Children’s 2019

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

9780734419040

Lento Sloth is all set to share his book with the reader but first he needs a little nap. But as he puts his head down. Fox swings by and steals the book- “You snooze, you lose, Sloth!” Telling Lento that a book needs “a dynamic lead character, a star with style and pizzazz, a hero with wit and talent”, Fox is determined to be the star of the story.  But Lento does not give in and there follows an hilarious duel as he struggles to get his book back so he can be its star. Can he do it?

This is the first in a new series of adventures featuring Lento and Fox that is likely to appeal to young readers, particularly those who are almost independent because all the action is in the dialogue and the illustrations. However, it would also work as a read-aloud as children can use the illustrations to predict how Sloth is feeling and what he is going to do and who will be the victor. They might even investigate the characteristics of sloths to imagine just what Lento’s story might be, while examining the behaviour of fox as cunning and sly and discuss stereotyping. There are lots of subtle tweaks in the endpapers, title pages and even the cover that add to the story -something a little different from the usual, that demonstrates that print can have as much action and humour as the screen. 

Go, Go Pirate Boat

Go, Go Pirate Boat

Go, Go Pirate Boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go, Go Pirate Boat

Katrina Charman

Nick Sharratt

Bloomsbury, 2019

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

9781408866344

Designed to be sung to the tune of the classic Row, Row, Row your boat…” this is an engaging story of all things pirate for very young readers as they join two seafaring pirates and their captain on a nautical adventure to find a treasure chest. From finding treasure to walking the plank, each activity has its own verse that they will love to sing over and over again, doing great things to develop their literacy skills as they engage with the text, use the bright pictures to bring their existing knowledge to the page and predict what the text will be about and understanding that there really is treasure in books.

 

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

Jane Solomon

Louise Lockhart

Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2019

112pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9781786038104

From the time a little one first says a recognisable word like “mum” or “dad”, a great fuss is made as new words are added, two-word phrases become sentences and so on until new words added to the vocabulary are so frequent that the novelty wears off.  Memories are made when words like ‘spaghetti” and “hospital” are mispronounced or the loss of the front teeth make talking tricky. We make a fuss when big words like “tyrannosaurus” are learned and understood but generally after that initial flush oral language is taken for granted as successes in reading and writing take over.

But whether we speak or write, listen or read, the fundamental unit of communication is the word and in this collection of over 400 words, lexicographer (a person who writes dictionaries) Jane Solomon brings together a range of words that are long, short, common, not-so, fun-to-say, tongue-trickers, have beautiful meanings or weird ones so those with a fascination language can add to their own lexicon. Some of the words like “sesquipedalian” are very old and not in common use; others like slugabed are more recent and one is amazed they are more than just an in-family term.

But whatever its age or origin, each word has a guide to its pronunciation and an easy-to-read meaning so that even the most reluctant reader can understand what is meant by Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Many words are illustrated with some words getting special treatment with a full-page spread, and unlike other dictionaries which try to cover every word, the careful selection of these means that the layout is clear and open and very easy to read. It’s chatty style, such as the notes about how to read it, engage the reader and it’s perfect for those who are newly independent readers or well-practised.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lots of teachers and teacher librarians love to challenge children with Word-of-the-Day tasks and this would be the perfect source for those words while encouraging students to use more conventional dictionaries to discover the meanings.  But as a stand-alone book in itself it is fabulous because of the serendipitous nature of opening a page and learning a host of new words just because. Even wordsmiths will have fun with this, especially the aspiring sesquipedalians!

 

 

Little White Fish (series)

Little White Fish  (series)

Little White Fish (series)

 

 

 

 

 

Little White Fish (series)

Guido Van Genechten

Catch A Star, 2019

board book, 16pp., RRP $A12.99

9781925594324

Originally published in Belgium and The Netherlands in 2004, and well-known throughout Europe, the Little White Fish series is now available to tiny Australian readers. With its bright illustrations set against a black background it is immediately eye-catching and appealing and with its simple, repetitive text about familiar situations, our very youngest readers will be able to listen to it and then be able to tell themselves about Little White Fish’s adventures – the precursor to “real” reading. 

Featuring Little White Fish, Little White Fish is so happy and Little White Fish has a party , each book has a storyline that will be familiar and each builds on the other, consolidating the characters and the knowledge that the child has learned. 

Something new to encourage the very young away from the screen and into books, and with their board book format, able to withstand the treatment they will get. 

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books

Megan Daley

UQP, 2019

244pp., pbk., RRP $A27.95

9780702262579

In the early days of European settlement in this country, establishing schools became a priority particularly for those with a religious bent because they believed it was imperative that the emerging generation of children be able to read and understand The Bible and thus not follow their parents’ errant ways. That was a school’s key purpose. Decades and generations on and while society has changed, and schools themselves are almost unrecognisable from those early institutions, the expectation that a child primarily attends so they can learn to read has not. 

Right from preschool children are tested on their literacy development and judged according to it, underlining the importance that is still placed on being able to read and write. Five year olds head off on their first day of ‘big school’ fully expecting to be able to read by the time they come home and are often disappointed that they cannot. However, research and experience has shown that schools alone cannot be the child’s primary teachers in this critical endeavour. It is a partnership between home and school and those who make the best readers are those whose roots in reading extend back to birth. Indeed, author Mem Fox has stated that the illiteracy problem in this country could be solved if children just heard 1000 stories before they come to school (which can be achieved in three years with a favourite, a familiar and a first-read as the regular bedtime routine) and the concept of the ‘million word gap’ is not new.

So this book from Megan Daley, a respected, qualified teacher librarian (we must have qualifications in both teaching and librarianship), which explores how parents can help to raise readers is a valuable contribution to the lives of new parents, particularly in these days of the screen being a dominant feature in children’s lives.  For those who can read it is hard to remember not being able to do so; for those who can’t read or don’t like to it is tricky to overcome the personal prejudices that already exist, so to have a “manual” that helps explain some of the best practices and what underlies them is eye-opening.  

While there have been a number of books on this sort of topic in the past, many have been written bu either authors of children’s books or university lecturers, This one is by a practising teacher librarian who is in touch with what is happening both in and out of school as Megan has two daughters.  She examines the place of the school library in the child’s reading journey while at the same time encouraging parents to attend book launches; getting involved in Book week while setting up a book-themed bedroom; explaining the most popular genres of young readers while offering tips to host book parties and be “best book-givers”. Interspersed with the user-friendly text are comments from some of Australia’s favourite children’s authors as well as suggestions for books to support the young reader as they grow their literacy skills.

For the teacher and the teacher librarian, this is a refreshing read with lots of tried-and-true and new ideas and perspectives in amongst the host of academic and professional reading we have to do; to parents it’s a simple explanation of the what, why and how of raising a reader so both child and parent fulfil their expectations..

One to encourage staff to read and to include and promote in your parent library.

Moonfish

Moonfish

Moonfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonfish

Harry Laing

Ford Street, 2019 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781925804256

Decades of research have shown that children respond to the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of their native language as the first steps in learning to talk and later to read. The words can be utter nonsense or hold little meaning as the poems of Spike Milligan and traditional nursery rhymes have proven by their endurance because it is the cadence and expression that captures the ear.  

Thus, poems are important in children’s early literacy development and so a new book with a range of poems  that capture both the ear and the imagination is a delightful addition to this genre.  from the mysterious yumbie to the elusive moonfish to the pet flea who eats 100 meals a day (“it’s my blood but that’s okay) to the angry old lady of 93 who is on Facebook and learning karate, Laing spans the spectrum of the topics in his imagination, providing a rhythmic experience that has broad appeal and reinforces why our language should be predominantly spoken aloud. 

Featuring eye-catching and fresh art by some of Australia’s best known illustrators including Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs, Judy Watson, Marjory Gardner, Mitch Vane and Anna Pignataro, there is something in here for everyone, young and not-so-young that will create or renew the fascination with language and how we can manipulate it. 

If your students are tired of the sterilised, contrived texts that they are supposed to engage them and engender a love of reading, share these poems with them and watch the joy return. 

Wilam

Wilam

Wilam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilam – A Birrarung Story

Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly

Lisa Kennedy

Black Dog Books, 2019

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

9781925381764

As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen. Wilam – home.

In this stunning new picture book, Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly joins award-winning picture book duo Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth; from its pre-history to the present day. Using many of the words of the Woiwurrung language for places and things, the reader is taken on a journey that not only embraces this much-maligned river but also draws the reader into the journey as they use Lisa Kennedy’s beautiful artworks to interpret the text. This makes for a remarkable sensory experience as you are engrossed in the beauty and diversity of the river.

2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this.  Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. 

A must-have.

 

Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

Baz & Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baz & Benz

Heidi McKinnon

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523688

‘Benz, are we friends?’
‘Yes, Baz, we are best friends’
‘For how long?’
‘For ever and ever.’

Baz and Benz are two little owls, and Baz is trying to discover how far he can push the boundaries of the friendship as he suggests all kinds of things he could do that might fracture the friendship.  But even when Benz gets annoyed, the friendship remains strong because Benz is very wise. 

From the creator of I Just Ate My Friend,  McKinnon once again explores the concept of friendship and what it takes to be a good friend.  As with her previous book, the illustrations are set against a plain night sky background, ensuring the young reader pays attention to the focal point and much of the emotion of both Baz and Benz comes through the facial expressions and body language. The story is carried in dialogue colour-coded to each character enabling very young readers to start developing early concepts about print. 

Perfect for preschoolers just learning about having friends and being one, as they reflect on their behaviour and its impact on those around them, as well as how other’s behaviour impacts on them. 

All Right Already!

All Right Already!

All Right Already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Right Already!

Jory John

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008330033

Bear and Duck are neighbours – but two more different would be hard to find.  Bear is huge, slow and somewhat grouchy; Duck small, energetic and always looking for fun. Told in dialogue with each character having their own font that cleverly echoes their nature, each story focuses on a conflict between the two as Bear wants one thing – usually a quiet life – while Duck wants the opposite. And it is the same in this latest addition to this series for very young readers…

It has snowed overnight and Duck wants to make the most of the fun it offers while Bear wants to stay in his cosy warm house. Even after Duck coaxes him out he is a reluctant participant in the games and when he starts to sneeze, Duck bundles him back inside (where he wanted to be all the time) and assumes the role of nurse.  But Bear is not particularly grateful and when Duck begins to sneeze too and heads for her home, it remains to be seen whether Bear will step up and nurse her.

Apart from being a charming story that young readers will enjoy, there is much it offers for the development of early reading behaviours for them as well.  Firstly, being a series, it is an opportunity for the adult to ask the child what they remember and know about the characters already so their thoughts are already set to the contrasting characteristics of each.  When Duck goes to Bear’s house, full of excitement and anticipation, what sort of reception is she likely to get?  There is also the opportunity to explore the concept of dialogue as the whole story is told in conversation with Duck’s voice in a different, lighter font to that of Bear’s. It offers lots of things to chat about such as why it snows and why most Australian children won’t wake to a snowy morning; how we need to protect ourselves from catching a cold and how we can keep from spreading the one we have, and also the things we can do to make a friendship solid and sustainable.  While bedtime stories should always be about the bond and the connections between reader and listener, there are subtle ways that these concepts about print can be shared so that the young one engages even further with the story and becomes even more determined to become an independent reader.