Backyard cricket is every Australian kid’s rite of passage – every summer there are games going on somewhere as the sun sets and the joys and benefits of daylight saving are acknowledged. The rules are the same everywhere – the garbage bin is the stumps and over the fence is out! And everyone groans when that one player who is really good gets a turn at batting because they are never going to get them out.
Bluey would much rather play tiggy than cricket and her dad says that’s what they will do as soon as they get Rusty out. But Rusty would play cricket 24/7 if he could and despite everything they try, he remains obstinately at the crease until…
This year has been a big one for international cricket and with the ODI World Cup just finished and the domestic men’s Bog Bash about to start, interest in the game is reaching a peak, so this is a timely release. Based on the episode of the ABC series of the same name, this is another is this very popular collection of stories in print format that allows young readers to return to the story time and again, cementing in their minds the value of print as a medium as well as learning some of life’s necessary lessons – and there are several lessons in this one, not the least of which is learning some of the unique terminology associated with the sport.
And just to make sure everyone’s summer is Bluey-based, for those who aren’t so keen on cricket there is the new Bluey At the Beach colouring book as well. Christmas stockings sorted!
Behind the the curly red hair, pink shirt and orange dress of the main character is Emma Watkins, once known as the “yellow Wiggle” but also a woman passionate about raising awareness of Australia’s deaf community, who already has formal qualifications in Auslan and who is currently undertaking her PhD in “the affective, artistic integration of sign language, dance and film editing.” In consultation with artists who themselves are deaf, she is producing and releasing a range of formats that as well as the storybook will include, an ebook, audiobook and an Auslan video translation so that all young readers can be entertained through “movement, creativity, inclusiveness and friendship”.
In this new release Emma Memma takes a walk through her day teaching young readers how to sign each letter of the alphabet relating the letter to something she sees or does.
There is a lot of research relating to learning a second language in early childhood, not just because it is easier for the child but because of associated benefits so learning Auslan alongside learning the English alphabet makes a lot of sense. By using a recognised character, everyday situations and multi-modal delivery, Emma Watkins is doing much to normalise this way of communicating so that all children can be included.
A storm is brewing and the tiny woman realises she will need a coat to stay dry and warm. But where will she get the cloth, the scissors, the thread, the needle, the buttons?
On the surface this is a lovely story about friendship and co-operation in the tiny woman’s community but to those who understand how little children learn to read it is so much more than that.
When I started my initial teacher ed course in New Zealand in 1970, Joy Cowley was the leading author behind the Ready to Read series, a collection of basal readers that was used in junior classrooms in every school in New Zealand for reading instruction. In the 70s there would have been few Kiwi children who were unfamiliar with Early in the Morning , Grandma Comes to Stay and The Fire Engine, and the thrill of moving from red to yellow, blue and green levels before starting on ‘chapter books” like The Donkey’s Egg or The Hungry Lambs. The series was revolutionary in its approach to teaching children to read because it used natural language rather than phonics or controlled vocabulary, drawing on the research on world leaders in early literacy like Sylvia Ashton-Warner and Dr Marie Clay. She then went on to be the talent behind the Storybox Library series with titles like Mrs Wishy Washy and The Kick-a-Lot Shoes.
And it is her knowledge and experience of how children learn that underpins this story so that they can experience “real reading” and consolidate their belief that they can be “real” readers. To start with the tiny woman wonders where she will get the cloth for her coat, focusing the reader’s attention of the sorts of things that will be needed to construct it so they can draw on their own experience to suggest the items that will be required. Then each “chapter” starts with the repeated statement and question… “The tiny woman wanted a coat. “Where will I get some…” leaving the reader to suggest what the next word might be and possible solutions. All the while the sky is changing building the anticipation of whether she will get her coat completed before the storm hits.
While there are hundreds of stories written and published for our youngest readers every year, there are few that are so deeply rooted in understanding those early reading behaviours and which consolidate our children’s expectations of being readers as well as those by this author. While the world has clearly moved on from the scenario of Grandma arriving in a Vickers Viscount (after 50+ years I still remember the theme of the stories) , the process of learning to read remains the same, and this is the perfect support to that.
Turtle and his friends are hiding under the rocks wanting to go back to the water but wary of a pesky pelican who is hovering with a hungry look in his eye. when Postman finds a unique way to safely deliver a parcel from Koala.
But what could it be? It doesn’t sound like a remote control car that could whizz them to the water’s edge; it’s not the right shape for a beach umbrella that could shelter them as they ran and and it’s not big enough to be a trampoline so they could bounce back either. There is one way to find out… open it.
As with its predecessors, Penguin, Gorilla and Koala, the contents are unexpected but perfect for solving their problem. And, as with those predecessors, the premise of the story is summarised in the intriguing endpapers so there are two stories that can engage our youngest readers as they put their predictive and deductive skills to the test – both key elements of mastering the printed word and becoming a reader! Bright, appealing illustrations, funky characters (even if they have evil on their mind), the opportunity to think about how the characters might be feeling as the story progresses, and the unexpected twist in the tale all make this a story that will move from a first-read to a favourite very quickly!
Apart from putting a smile of sheer delight on my face when I open each new title in this series, it is one that should become as much as a staple in a little one’s library as other classics like Where’s Spot , Ten Minutes to Bed and those by Hervé Tullet. Stories that first and foremost entertain and engage the reader so that start to develop the expectation and anticipation of being “real readers” are the foundation of literary and literacy success and this series is definitely one of those. Originally intended to be just a collection of four stories, I, for one, would love to see more.
The mountains they’ll climb, the dreams they’ll pursue.
These little feet, so tiny and new.
In the classic tradition of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, this is a story of a mother imagining the journeys ahead of her newborn, the adventures they will have and the love and joy they will know. If you’re looking for a gift to celebrate the birth of a newborn for new parents, this is it.
When you are born, you make up a song It doesn’t rhyme, and it isn’t long A song of everything you hold dear It’s your own tune, it’s loud and clear
And your whole world is in it…
One of the favourite units my Kindy kids loved to explore was one based on A. A. Milne’s poem, The End. They loved to discover how much they had grown and changed and learned since they had been born and feel the sense of empowerment and excitement of being in charge of what was to come next.
When I was One, I had just begun.When I was Two, I was nearly new.
When I was Three, I was hardly me.
When I was Four, I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever
So I think I’ll be six now Forever and ever.
This new release is the perfect complement to that showing how the child has grown, building on the song of their life as they mature, learn and do more things, and meet more people, each of whom contributes something to the lyrics, loud or soft. Likened to a tiny stream at birth, it grows stronger and bigger as does the child, meandering this way and that as new people and experiences occur, until it becomes one with the river flowing ever onward. The key difference between Milne’s poem and this, though, is that the poem focuses on the child exclusively while this has the suggestion that there is much more to the child’s song that their own melody – that it started before they were born, will gather momentum during their lifetime and rather than reaching a crescendo at the end, will continue on afterwards. So it adds to that reflection and appreciation of where they have come from by speculating and anticipating what might come next.
One for the collection and toolbox of any teacher working with little ones who need reassurance that they are unique, that there are brighter days coming and that they have much to offer and contribute not only to their song but to the orchestra playing it.
One of the common complaints from kindergarten teachers is that new-to-big-school children often demonstrate little resilience – the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again, solving the problem through trial and error. And they need to develop special lessons and programs to teach this to compensate for the helicopter parenting where all the child’s potential problems have been eliminated in advance by over-zealous adults and thus the child hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to cope with setbacks and sadness. So this book would seem to have been written especially for them to aid in those lessons.
Addressed directly to the child reader, it offers ways to encourage them to be adventurous and learn something new; be brave and do something tricky; be strong and don’t give up. Using examples from the animal kingdom, this book motivates little ones to try new things, build their confidence and become resilient in all aspects of life. If you’re too short to reach, ask someone to help; if something doesn’t go as you expected, try again; if you’re afraid, take the first step…. The cute and relatable cast of children work together and support each other, showing that there is always help around, especially when venturing into the unknown.
With anxiety levels apparently at an all0time high amongst our children, one of the kindest and most powerful things we can do is help them develop the belief in themselves and the strategies they need to face new situations so these simple suggestions provide an excellent starting point for that.
When a little girl wakes up on the first day of school, the butterflies in her stomach feel positively giant-sized! She really wants her mom to stay with her, on this first day. As she and her mother make their way to school, her mother explains how the butterflies are a good thing. Everyone gets them (including parents) and they are a sign of something exciting happening—that we’re about to learn and grow from a new experience and they can help us through it. So with the butterflies as her guide, the girl soars into her first day.
As little ones’ thoughts turn to the next big step in their lives – moving from preschool to big school – it is natural that there are going to be nerves and anxiety as the transition will be daunting for many. So this is another one to add to that collection to share to reassure them that their feelings are natural but they can be managed if they look through a positive lens. Even though it is American, it carries the universal message that everyone shares a fear of the unknown to some degree and that, in itself, can bring peace and calm. It also reassures them that they are old enough and brave enough to take this step, and it will only be a short time with new and familiar friends before their butterflies have disappeared.
On Wingbeat Island, the princess’s little brother has learned to crawl and now she can’t find him. So she sets on a quest to discover where he has got to but danger lurks on the journey…
Somewhere near, a huge beast lies, with giant claws and great big eyes . . . DO NOT DISTURB THE DRAGON!
From the author of the enchanting Ten Minutes to Bed series, this is a new adventure that takes little ones on a trek around the island, following the map and encountering things that may be the dragon – or not. It’s an opportunity to talk about what they already know about dragons so they can examine the pictures to see if one might be nearby as well as learning that sometimes things might not be as they seem at first glance… The princess takes her anti-dragon kit with her so using their knowledge of dragons they might speculate on what they would add to it to be safe and sure.
The rhyming language and the repetitive text invite them to join in both the fun and the storytelling, as they help the princess on her mission through the forest replete with all the elements that spark the imagination like castles, stepping stones and toadstools, while the island itself has gloomy caves, rapid rivers, enchanted fortresses and smouldering volcanoes, each offering an opportunity to suggest a new adventure in the future – as does the ending!
Like Ten Minutes to Bed, this is a vibrant, engaging story that ticks all the boxes for engaging our youngest readers with the fun and joy of stories and because it is in print, they can return to it again and again.
Finn loves going to stay with his gran because it is always a time of special treats and privileges. But when he bounces his ball too high and breaks her special clock, then blames his little sister Simone, he learns the truth about the old adage, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”>
Once again, Tom Percival has tackled a tricky issue in this Big Bright Feelings series that helps young readers understand their responses to certain situations and how to deal with them. The series which includes Tilda Tries Again, Perfectly Norman, Ruby’s Worry, Ravi’s Roar, and Meesha Makes Friends,examines the big feelings that are a natural part of a child’s life, feelings that they might not yet be able to articulate and don’t have the strategies to deal with. Finn finds it easier to blame Simone than own up but he discovers that one fib leads not only to others, but also some really uncomfortable feelings.
The series affirms that such actions and feelings are normal and common, which, in itself, helps the child confront and control them but also shows the consequences of not listening to that inner voice. Using a story format depersonalises the situation and makes a perfect conversation starter for early childhood readers.