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The Viking Who Liked Icing

The Viking Who Liked Icing

The Viking Who Liked Icing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Viking Who Liked Icing

Lu Fraser

Mark McKinley

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781526603906

Leafling and Nut are sister and brother but they are not like each other because Leafling is the typical outdoorsy skilled warrior that is the stereotype of Vikings whilst her brother Nut much prefers to design and bake cakes.  When it comes to shooting arrows, rowing, swimming, and other physical pursuits Leafling excels whereas Nut does not.  He much prefers to slice and dice, mix and whisk and create the most mouth-watering treats.

So when Viking Sports Day rolls around, the day he dreads most of all, he prepares himself to be last again – although he would really like to be better than that.  And in the final event of the day, he gets his wish…

Told in a catchy rhyme that carries the story along at a pace that matches the charming illustrations, this is an original story about being true to oneself and being really good at the things you love best.  Even though this is a common theme in stories for our littlies, it is a message they need to hear and think about time and again as those early years can be a time of self-doubt as they witness such a range of activities being valued and rewarded, and they’re often not the things they’re good at. 

The characters, the plot, the action and the humour all appeal and eagle eyes will have fun examining the pictures for all the ways Nut incorporates all things Viking into his creations, such as using his helmet as a mixing bowl and there are more things to find with each reading.

Whether this sparks an interest in Vikings or baking with young readers, it deserves a place in the favourite bedtime reads pile and to add to the fun, there is an activity pack available. 

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Charles Fuge

Walker Books, 2021

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760653538

Little Wombat is so very excited because he’s found a fun new friend to play with – one with a strange name Pla-ty-pus and with an even stranger walk, a funny face and who can swim like a fish. But when Little Wombat tries to mimic Platypus’s walk and finds himself in the water and having to be rescued by his new friend, he realises water is not for him.  Nevertheless, he is determined to learn to swim and while tries teaching Little Wombat  Rabbit and Koala begin to wonder if wombats should, after all, stick to dry land!

Swimming lessons are such an integral and necessary part of our littlies’ lives that when the NSW “roadmap to freedom” was released it was quickly changed to bring forward the opening of indoor pools because of the outcry of parents demanding access to swimming lessons for their young children.  Indeed, in my teacher ed days in New Zealand we could not graduate until we each had our swimming teacher quals as swimming lessons were a compulsory part of the phys ed curriculum for both term 4 and Term 1 with most schools, even in the coldest parts of the country, having their own learner pools installed as a matter of course. 

So this is a timely tale about the importance of learning to swim and the fun it can be, as Little Wombat learns to kick his legs and float using a log, to paddle like a dog and dive like a frog.  After all, if a wombat can learn to swim and become a wom-bat-y-pus, then so can any little child! So sharing this message with a lovable little character with the most endearing expressions with them will give them confidence to try and the expectation that if they work hard as Little Wombat does, they will succeed.  Swimming is just what Australian kids do. 

Mummy! Where are You?

Mummy! Where are You?

Mummy! Where are You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummy! Where are You?

Charmaine Oates

Jelena Jordanovic-Lewis

Little Steps, 2021

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

 9781922358912

Mummy! Where are you?’
Today is Charlie’s favourite day of the week – it’s stay-at-home-with-Mummy day!
But it’s Mum’s only day off from work and she has a lot to do! Moving from room to room, Mummy is too quick for Charlie to keep up but by lifting the flaps, he is always able to find her.

This is a charming story that will resonate with both parent and child as sometimes it seems the only escape from the cry of “Mummy, where are you?’ is to take refuge in the loo.  (And even then, it’s not always a hideaway.)  But because it is so familiar it is ideal for sharing with our youngest readers because they can readily recognise the situations, see themselves as Charlie, and by using their existing knowledge of the context, predict  where mummy is and what she is doing before lifting the flaps.   

Before even learning the skills of reading itself, there are many concepts about print to be understood, the first being that stories are fun, and this book offers all the elements of that as well as celebrating the special relationship between  mother and little one, even when doing the most mundane things.   Sharing the book together adds another layer to that bond. 

Cat Dog

Cat Dog

Cat Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Dog

Mem Fox

Mark Teague

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761045868

This is an hilarious story about a dog, a cat and a cheeky mouse, who because they are traditionally enemies, are always a combination that can have any number of outcomes and this one does.

Its format  will appeal to very young readers because each page is based on a question that the reader has to answer Yes or No to, ensuring they use the clues to make their prediction. And not everything is what it seems.  And with the ending in the reader’s hands,  there is so much scope for imagining ‘what if’.

Mem Fox is the master of creating stories that not only engage young readers but draw on all her knowledge and expertise of early reading behaviour to ensure they discover the joy of stories and reading and sharing them from the earliest age.  Teague’s depictions of the characters not only add to the intrigue but also add humour and a touch of whimsy.  Definitely one for the younger readers in your life, but also for those studying the art of the picture book because this is an example of the very best at their best. 

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

Alison Lester

Allen & Unwin, 2021

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524395

Former Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester first introduced us to Noni the Pony in 2011 and it was shortlisted for the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year.  This was followed by another adventure Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach.in 2014 and then Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey  in 2018. So she has become a favourite of  many preschoolers over time, and this new adventure, written in rhyme and beautifully illustrated, will become a favourite too, particularly if today’s preschooler has an older sibling who remembers the earlier stories.

Little people know that learning to count is a sign that they are growing up and Noni the Pony is no different.  So as she watches her farm  friends play and frolic, she counts them – all the way to a million!! And while most counting books just introduce the words for one to ten, this one includes the concepts of dozens, hundreds, thousands and a million – as the stars shine overhead on what has been a very busy day.  

Featuring all the vital elements that help develop young readers’ concepts about print, this is one that they will be able to read to themselves within a very short while because the illustrations support the text so well, adding another layer to their belief that they will be a successful reader.  Who could ask for more?

Tilda Tries Again

Tilda Tries Again

Tilda Tries Again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilda Tries Again

Tom Percival

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781526612991

Tilda’s world is just the way she likes it.  She has her toys, books and friends.  But then something happens that turns everything upside down and nothing is the way it was.  Nothing seems to be right and gradually Tilda retreats into herself, into a dark place where she doesn’t want to do or try anything.  What’s the point?  

Toys, books and friends are abandoned and she is swallowed by the darkness.  Until one day she sees a ladybird on its back, struggling to get back on her feet again…

This is another in this series  which includes Perfectly NormanRuby’s Worry,   Ravi’s Roar, and Meesha Makes Friends , that 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.  It gives the reader some guidance into coping with tricky situations that threaten to overwhelm,  to help them build resilience and embrace a ‘can do’ approach to life. It offers affirmation that everyone has to confront those times when nothing works out quite as they wished, usually because there are factors beyond our control, and that we have to deal with the altered circumstances rather than what we dreamt of.  That even though the clouds may surround us in gloom, they move on to show the sun is still shining and the birds still singing, if we put our brave on and stare them down. 

This is a series that is going to be particularly important in the weeks ahead as children return from weeks of isolation and all the negative feelings and events that that has entailed and emerge to be with friends again, navigating and negotiating the new boundaries -emotional, mental, social and physical – that separation has altered and shaped who we now are. By starting with a story and inviting others to share theirs, little ones can start to understand that their big feelings are normal and can be managed. 

The Witchling’s Wish

The Witchling's Wish

The Witchling’s Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Witchling’s Wish

Lu Fraser

Sarah Massini

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781408899953

 

Above the misty mountains, below a glowing moon

lived  lonely little witchling, with a wibbly, wobbly broom…

While she could tolerate most things, her loneliness was beginning to get to her and she realises she needs a friend.  And because she can’t grow one, or sew one she decided to magic one instead. But what happens when she needs something that is already a friend to someone else?

This is a heart-warming story that has a universal message about friendship that will have wide appeal.  The illustrations are just perfect, enhancing the rhyming text perfectly making it an ideal read-aloud particularly as our little ones return to the classroom and have to navigate making friends all over again. Loved it. 

The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Camping Trip

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2021 

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

9781761040092

Henry’s greatest delight is finding out about things, particularly the animal world, from his Big Book of Animals.  Even when he is outside amongst nature, he uses his book to discover new things about the creatures he sees.   But on a camping trip in the bush with his dads, brother and best friend Ruby and her family, Henry discovers his book is missing! How will he learn about all the fantastic things he finds and sees on the trip without it? At first he sulks and misses out because he doesn’t have his book to consult but then he discovers there are other ways to learn. 

This is the final in this series which includes The Inside Day, Noisy Tom Super-Me and The Thank You Present  developed in collaboration with Smiling Mind, Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation in the pre-emptive mental health space. Like its predecessors it includes activities to engage the child after the book is read, in this case inviting them to explore nature using all their senses.  There is also a three-minute Nature Sounds meditation written especially for 3-6 year olds available on their free app.

The mental health of our little ones who have been deprived of their friends’ company at such a crucial time of their socialisation development is finally being recognised with NSW now allowing a “friends bubble” and so any guidance that enables parents to keep their little ones emotionally okay as well as physically safe is to be welcomed.  The suggestions for the senses scavenger hunt outdoors when picnics are making a huge comeback is perfect and so this is a title that parents need to be made aware of. That the stories features a two-dad family, the norm for many of our students these days, is an added bonus. 

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afloat in Venice

Tina Wilson

Matt Ottley

One Tentacle Publishing, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780648511960

Long ago when people were allowed to travel where and when they wanted, Monkey decided to take a holiday. First to be packed was his new camera and then everything else he was sure he would need.  Two days in a plane, a long boat ride and a lot of stairs saw him arrive in a city that seemed to grow straight out of the sea!  He was in Venice in Italy.

Almost as soon as he steps pout to explore the city, he meets Clarabella, a friendly cat who offers to show Monkey the sights of the city and they spend the day taking photos of all the iconic places.  But when Monkey drops his camera and it falls into a disappearing gondola, he discovers that there are more important things in his life…

This is a unique book and it is going to appeal to a broad audience, not just those who are familiar with Venice or who have dreams to go there.

Most striking are the  illustrative techniques. Monkey and his friends are soft toys, lovingly knitted by the author’s mother who has also provided the patterns on Monkey’s website, and they are pictured against stunning photographic images of Venice. After being given Monkey as a gift and sharing photos of him with her partner Matt Ottley while they were separated because of work. the author realised that  soft toys are a universal language among adults and children, particularly given the number that have their own Instagram accounts, and that this could be a unique way for readers to travel .when circumstances (not just COVID-19 restrictions) prevented it. Monkey’s adventures were born.

Monkey’s adventures reminded me of the fun we had with hosting exchange teddies back in the early days of the Internet when we could share their adventures in almost real time using the early digital cameras and creating webpages using raw html code. The places those toys could take us once people learned why we were photographing them against particular backdrops!  And what our students learned about the world and their place in it, the friendships made – Monkey and Clarabella epitomise those.

Enriching the experience enormously, partner/composer/illustrator Matt Ottley (winner of the 2021 CBCA Picture Book of the Year ) has composed a soundtrack to accompany the book so that all its nuances are experienced in full sensory mode. There are two tracks – one to accompany the child holding the book and listening to it being read to them;  the other a more extended version to take the whole experience into the world of those with visual disabilities who may have braille for the words but nothing for the pictures. The extended narration and music enable them to ‘see’ the whole thing. These are included with the book as a CD but for those without the equipment, it can be downloaded.

And there are more of Monkey’s adventures to be released in 2022.

This is going to be a stand-out read-aloud and read-alone in your collection because it is that wonderful combination of story and illustrations with characters and situations that its audience will relate to and all the added extras will make Monkey and his friends their friends too.

Hello World

Hello World

Hello World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World

Lisa Shanahan

Leila Rudge

ABC Books, 2021

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780733340826

There would be few in Australia who have not held their breath these past few days as the search for little AJ Elfalak went on and then let it out in relief when the autistic, non-verbal three-year old was found after four days.  It was a time to hug family, small and bigger, a little tighter and see the world just a little more brightly today.

And that’s exactly what this new book by Lisa Shanahan and Leila Rudge does.  It is early morning and the toddler wakes in her cot and greets the world with a enthusiastic “Hello world.”  Then the reader joins her greeting all the things in her day with repetitive rhyming text that encourages them to predict the words, relate to the events through the charming illustrations and talk about their own experiences.  Perhaps even create their own day’s story with the help of a parent and a camera.  

This is just a pure celebration of viewing the ordinary through the eyes of a young one, to relive the joy in what has become a bit ho-hum and maybe even rediscover our own joie de vivre as winter finally rolls away.