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The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unwilling Twin

Freya Blackwood

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

9781460757536

Jules and George are the same in every way. It is quite impossible to tell them apart. They even have matching birthmarks on their bottoms. 

And like all twins, they do everything together including having a long, hot day at the beach.  But sometimes, even twins disagree…

This is a charming story for littlies that will help them believe in the fun and magic in books, for there is a twist to the story which they will delight in pointing out right from the start.  Eagle eyes might even spot it on the front cover!  Nevertheless, they will soon be immersed in it as they go to the beach with Jules and George and relive their own memories (or build their imaginations if going to the beach is just a dream.) The ending is LOL funny – Freya Blackwood hasn’t lost her ability to entertain with both words and pictures.

 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2020

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

 9781760652272

Surrounding Australia’s coast are thousands of kilometres of coral reefs, and within those reefs lives a vast variety of creatures.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, young children are invited to count some of them while learning about them at the same time. This is more than just a 1 2 3 counting book where the reader matches the numeral to the number of items on the page – it also offers tidbits of information that the adult can share with them encouraging both curiosity and awareness of the life beneath the waves.

Beginning with  one giant whale shark  and counting all the way to twelve tired seahorses, it could also become a sort of almanac that the child with an interest in the ocean’s creatures could complete over a lifetime, marking the creatures off as they discover them. Even as a scuba diver in times past, there are those like the dugongs and whale sharks I’m still waiting to cross off!!! But it has been an adventure of a lifetime in the making.

But even for those not inclined to go beneath the surface, nevertheless this is a fascinating introduction to that unique environment, a worthy companion to all the other fantastic books that Frané Lessac has gifted our little ones throughout her career.

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Gina Newton

Tiffanee Daley

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804577

Combat Wombat, Wildlife Warrior of the Bush is fast asleep when he is woken by the other creatures, wanting to play. But there is no time to play because Combat Wombat’s super-sensitive nose, ears and paws have picked up some unmistakable signals – there is a bushfire on its way.  Quickly organising  his friends to be in charge of certain elements of safety, Combat Wombat leads them to Billabong Island where they will be safe.  Even though there are significant obstacles on the way he uses his special talents to overcome these until he gets to the river’s edge.  All the others can get across the water, but wombats are not built for leaping, flying or swimming.  Can he trust Bingo Dingo to get him there safely?

This is a story for younger readers that puts the plight of wildlife during a bushfire firmly in focus, particularly relevant given the events of last summer.  By using their special talents and working together, the creatures keep themselves safe, a lesson that goes beyond this particular situation. Much of the story is told in the artwork which is unique and Tiffanee Daley has shared her technique in this video.

Teachers’ notes offer a variety of ideas about how to use this book in the classroom with little ones but I believe they will enjoy it just for its own sake. I did.

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piper Picks the Perfect Pet

Caroline Tuohey

Nicky Johnson

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804591

Piper is going to choose a pet, but just which one should she get?  There are the usual choices of a dog or a cat but then, there are so many options within those two choices. A cuddly dog or a puddly dog? A tabby curled up in a ball? A Burmese that’s not fussed at all?

Or should she get something altogether different so she can win the prize at the school pet show? A long one? A thin one? A fussy one?

Choosing a pet is a dream for so many kids and when the reality strikes, it can be an overwhelming decision.  This is a fun book for young readers that has rhyme and rhythm (although not the alliteration that the title suggests), enhanced by illustrations that capture the text perfectly. But it is also a discussion starter as children examine the reasons for having an animal in the home and the sorts of things they have to consider before they choose.  It would be an excellent story to tie to this year’s CBCA Picture Book of the Year winner,  I NEED a Parrot, as they consider not just what they need but what the animal needs and what is involved in its care.  For example, if she chooses the python or the lizard, most states will require her to have a special licence.

There are teachers’ notes and activity sheets available from the publisher’s website.

Look, Baby!

Look, Baby!

Look, Baby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look, Baby!

Janeen Brian

Renée Treml

Little Book Press, 2020

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

9780648551034

There is so much in this world to introduce a little one to that it can be overwhelming but this cleverly written and designed picture book is the perfect start.

On each page Baby is encouraged to focus on something through a cutout – a dolphin, cloud, grasshopper, frog –  but when the page is turned, instead of the anticipated word there is a whole environment with like-minded inhabitants!  The dolphin reveals a seascape with seagulls and shells and turtles and sandcastles; the owls reveal a tree with “shiver-quiver leaves that shade you and me”.  The final pages are just delightful – give a baby a mirror and sit back and observe – bringing a sense of the happy ending that stories for this age should have. Then, as an added extra, the final page revisits all the details in the big pictures to encourage the child to re-focus and ensure they found them all.  So perfect for a re-read and then a trip outside to see what can be spotted in the real world and what extra things might be added.   What else can you see in the sky? Is it always blue like the picture? Consider having preschoolers paint a picture of a particular habitat, perhaps with labels, to share with their younger siblings so they can show off what they know and add to Baby’s repertoire. 

With its interactivity, its rhyme and rhythm, its gentle illustrations, and clever design that fosters focus on both detail and broader picture, this book has all the best elements that encourage our little ones to find joy and excitement in stories and books. It builds up those essential concepts about print and early reading behaviours that are the hallmarks of early reading success.         

Any new parent will love to have this as a gift – it promises hours of entertainment.                   

The Joy in You

The Joy in You

The Joy in You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy in You

Cat Deeley

Rosie Butcher

Random House. 2020

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

9780593181416

Dream big, as big as the night sky full of stars. When you discover the things you love, you’ll find true joy.

Mother Koala is teaching her baby about the joy that can be found in finding your inner passion and being yourself. 

You can sing!

If you love to sing, sing.

You can dance!

If you love to dance, dance.

Accompanied by a cast of colourful characters, Baby Koala is encouraged to use her imagination and to embrace her emotions and feelings, searching for the joy that is to be found in being true to oneself. And to be reassured that even if things don’t always work out, there will always be someone there to catch her.

It is the colour and the exuberance in the illustrations that put the joy on my face in this story, a theme that has been explored in many ways by many authors. While dancing crocodiles, orangutans, pandas and giraffes add visual fun,  placing Baby Koala on the back of an ageing tortoise so they both wonder and wander is an enduring image.

When the baby might have had a fractious day, this is one that can be shared at bedtime to calm both parent and child and remind them of their special, unique connection. 

 

Time for Adventure, Daddy

Time for Adventure, Daddy

Time for Adventure, Daddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Adventure, Daddy

Dave Hackett

UQP, 2020

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

9780702262852

The little girl has a fun day of adventures and activities in mind, taking a picnic to explore the great outdoors while the sun is shining.  But Daddy has other things on his to-do list, like doing the laundry, picking up the toys and all the other chores that can fill in a day not spent at work. But when he finally relents and goes, the little girl gets more than she bargained for…

Using his iconic cartoon style in full colour, Hackett has added another to his series of stories that celebrate family life and encourage parents to seize the day and enjoy the time they can with their children. Both parent and child will enjoy sharing this book as it reflects daily life and both will see themselves in the situations. 

Role reversal books are hugely popular with our littlest readers as they feel themselves empowered as they imagine what could happen if they were in charge, so this book, and the others in the series, are perfect for getting little ones interested in books and the stories and adventures they hold. One to recommend to the parents of your preschoolers. 

Back to Sleep

Back to Sleep

Back to Sleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Sleep

Zoë Foster Blake

Mike Jacobsen

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760897901

Just as he is drifting off to sleep, Finn hears a noise at his bedroom door.  In walks Mummy, and she is thirsty. Taking her by the hand and carefully guiding her around his Lego space station, Finn settles her back in bed with her water bottle.  Then just as he is settling down again, there is another noise.  This time it is Daddy who has had a bad dream, but as Finn guides him back to bed Daddy stands on the Lego…

This is a role reversal story of bedtime that will appeal to young readers who will see themselves and their nighttime antics in the actions of the parents.  Teamed with  hilarious illustrations which offer more each time you look at them, this is a bedtime story that will be shared over and over again as parent and child recognise the various mishaps which will no doubt spark memories and chatter. 

One of the most powerful ways to get little people interested in the magic of books is to write about situations in which they can see and place themselves, and this certainly does that.  One to recommend to your parents of preschoolers.

The Thank-you Present

The Thank-you Present

The Thank-you Present

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thank-you Present

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2020

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

9781761040054

Evie and Lola are best friends.  They share everything and like the same things.  But most of all they like July because that’s when they have their birthdays, and birthdays mean presents.  But July is a long way away and they really can’t wait until then.  However, when they put a plan to have their birthdays now to their Dad, he says no and explains that presents are a way of saying thank you.  At first the girls don’t understand but when they do, they discover the meaning and the feeling of gratitude.

 This is the first book in the five-part mindfulness-informed series, developed in collaboration with Smiling Mind, Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation in the pre-emptive mental health space. This year we have all learned that gratitude comes in many forms and the things we are grateful are not necessarily physical and tangible. Following the story, which is thought-provoking especially for littlies, there is a three-minute guided exercise focusing on gratitude  for the reader to engage in as well as a suggestion for creating a thank you letter, and an activity pack to make it easier. 

If there is a silver lining to the events of 2020 it is the spotlight being shone on the mental health of all ages of the community, including our youngest who don’t necessarily understand what’s been happening and why they can’t do the things they take for granted. Introducing them to the concept of being grateful for what they do have rather than grieving for what they haven’t can be a sound springboard.

 

The Battle

The Battle

The Battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle

Ashling Kwok

Cara King

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820409

 

It is Edward’s first day at knight school and  to protect from the battles he expects to face, he puts on his full suit of armour. Sitting in the back of the Great Hall surrounded by unfriendly creatures , he is mortified when the king asks him to tell the others about himself. Even though at home he likes to fight giants and ogres, here at knight school he seems to be surrounded by them and he is not so brave. And when one sits beside him on the bench as he starts to eat his lunch, things are r-e-a-l-l-y scary…

It is that time of the year again when the prospect of Big School is looming closer and closer and some of our little ones are getting really apprehensive, particularly this year where, in some places, the opportunity for orientation visits and becoming familiar with people and places has not been allowed. So stories like these that not only show that fears are shared but they can be overcome are welcome as they offer such reassurance. Cleverly illustrated showing the ogres and dragons as ordinary boys and girls and the concept of the physical armour holding him back in the same way that mental armour does, Edward comes to some new understandings and discovers this school-thing isn’t as frightening after all.

However you are connecting with your preschoolers this year, include this story in your repertoire for an added dose of confidence.