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The Wild Beastie: A Tale from the Isle of Begg

The Wild Beastie: A Tale from the Isle of Begg

The Wild Beastie: A Tale from the Isle of Begg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wild Beastie: A Tale from the Isle of Begg

Helen Kellock

Walker Books, 2024

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

9781529512915

“Far off the coast of Scotland, in a forgotten part of the sea, there is a secret island… home to many strange and wonderful creatures. Its name is the Isle of Begg.”

One of those strange creatures was Bumple, but although she was strange she was not wild.  In fact, she was frightened of the wild creatures and preferred to spend her days playing in her safe spot by the stream.  Even her mother couldn’t get her to venture further.

And then one day, with a great splash, one of those creatures landed in the water right in front of her.  Even though it was strange, it seemed friendly enough, introducing itself as Little Mop.  But when Bumple let Little Mop play with her special toy Peedie, Little Mop was not careful and Peedie floated off downstream.

What was Bumple to do?  Stay in her safe place or try to rescue Peedie? Can she find the courage  to go beyond her comfort zone?

This is a charming story to share with young readers, particularly those who are a little timid about stepping beyond the boundaries of what they know. With its subtle palette and soft lines, neither Bumple, Little Mop or the landscape they travel through poses any threat to the young child so both the book and its story are safe, even if the characters are needing their brave.  There are those who will be more cautious like Bumple rather than carefree like Little Mop and so this is one to help them navigate uncertainty, take risks especially if it means someone else’s safety,  open their minds to new adventures knowing that they will find their way back to a place of safety and certainty, helping them understand that, at times, we all face feeling lost and unsure, and have to make decisions and have faith that we will be okay. 

Perhaps, after sharing it, there can be a conversation about  something the little one would like to do and then preparing a plan for them to achieve it.  Who knows – like Bumpe they might discover  a little bit of wildness can be a LOT of fun!

 

Mr McGee and his Hat

Mr McGee and his Hat

Mr McGee and his Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr McGee and his Hat

Pamela Allen

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761345050

Morning, and it’s time to get out of bed and get dressed.  So Mr McGee did just that- pulled on his trousers. his socks and his shoes, and lastly, his hat.  But suddenly, along came the strongest gust of wind and blew Mr McGee, his hat and his cat, even his bed and table and chairs high in the sky!  And while they landed safely when the wind stopped, Mr McGee couldn’t find his hat.  Where could it be?

It’s over 35 years since we first met Mr McGee who lives under a tree, and 25 years since his adventure with the biting flea that exposed his genitals and sent teachers, teacher librarians and parents racing for the whiteout so such “disgraceful” images had no place in a picture book for our youngest readers. 

But rather than corrupting young minds, it showed a generation of young readers that stories could be fun and energetic and real, and sent them looking for more books by this prodigious author who has been entertaining us for decades with more than 50 books, eight of them with Mr McGee as the key character.  Now in her 90s, Kiwi Pamela Allen says that she wrote this latest adventure to to escape the ‘prison of death’ following the passing of her husband last year, aged 100.“I had to re-establish my mental health among the living … And the way in which I could do that was to write a book. And I consciously put myself as a first priority, after his death, to re-establish my sense of worth. Because you lose all contact with the living drive that exists. But if death is forever a prison, you’ve got to climb out of it. So that’s why Mr McGee was a natural resource for me.”

And she hasn’t lost any of her touch since she first explained Archimedes principle in her first book in 1980, and still in print. With its rhyming text, and iconic illustrative style, little ones will delight in helping Mr McGee look for his hat while those who know will delight in telling him where to look because they know.  And while our youngest readers will delight in listening to the rhythm and the rhyme, their parents will be happily revisiting their own reading childhood, perhaps even seeking out some of Mr McGee’s earlier adventures to share.  

Through her stories with their sheer fun embedded in the plot, the words and the pictures, Pamela is up there with Mem Fox and Joy Cowley in contributing so much to the development of literacy and reading skills over the generations  She is one whose works I have used time and again over the decades of working with little ones both in New Zealand and Australia  and to revitalise her works and introduce them to a new generation of budding readers through the review of a new story is such a privilege.  

Discover and share all Mr McGee;s adventures...

Discover and share all Mr McGee;s adventures…

 

Step Inside Science: The Solar System

Step Inside Science: The Solar System

Step Inside Science: The Solar System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Inside Science: The Solar System

Rob Lloyd Jones

Teresa Bellon

Usborne, 2024

14pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9781805318699

With night falling so early these days, and winter skies being clear and crisp it is the perfect time to introduce our youngest readers to the wonders of the night sky as stars and planets are so clearly visible.  But with such beauty so readily available, especially of you live where there is little light pollution comes lots of questions so it is also time to invest in some books especially written for this age group so those questions can have answers while they are fresh in the mind.

Enter yet another wondrous publication from Usborne which uses its iconic lift the flap format to explain the solar system to the budding young astronomers and whet their appetite for new explorations and new discoveries.  Beginning with the sun, we take a journey past the four rock and metal  planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, then through the asteroid belt and out to the gas giants of Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus, and beyond.  All in full colour, all with flaps to lift and peepholes to peer through making an interactive experience that engages and explains, while for those who want to know more there are the specially selected Quicklinks  to accompany the book, as well as other equally intriguing publications (each with their own links) to continue the curiosity.

 

 

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Debra Tidball

Rae Tan

HarperCollins, 2024

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

9781460763421

My little dragon is so tired, but he won’t go to sleep.

What can I do?

The theme of getting a little one to go to bed and to sleep is common in books for our youngest readers, but what sets this one apart is the role reversal of the main character and that the reader is invited to become actively involved in the story by helping the little girl to persuade Little Dragon that is is bedtime and that means settling down.  

Rather than counting sheep, Dragon wants to play with them and they’re exhausted so the reader is asked to trace a path for them to escape; they get to use their big-people’s voice to tell him to go to bed; and help out with counteracting all the strategies that Little Dragon uses – strategies that they, themselves, will be familiar with.  They help find Dragon’s lost dinosaur; blow away the loud-thought clouds that keep him awake; tickle his tummy;  groan at his antics in the bathroom; even turn the light on and off… Sometimes, trying to put a little one to bed can be exhausting.

While the child will engage with L:ittle Dragon’s antics and relate to the little girl’s situation and language because they, themselves, will have heard it before, the adult sharing the story with them will enjoy the subtle humour as they discuss what Little Dragon might try next and how the little girl might deal with it. Fun and engaging.

Marringa Lullaby

Marringa Lullaby

Marringa Lullaby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marringa Lullaby

Emily Wurramara  & Sylvia Wurramarrba Tkac

Dylan Mooney

ABC Books, 2024

20pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

9780733343551

Sea breeze,

stars rising high …

Night-time is here, it’s time to go to sleep.

Duwedirra (white cockatoo) flies home to her babies as night falls, and it is time for them and other creatures of the land and sea to go to sleep. 

In the Anindilyakwa language of the Gadigal people,  Marringa means sleeping and this is another of the lullabies specially commissioned and funded by the ABC to help children transition to bedtime. Like Tjitji Lullaby  it is one of a collection that are available to become part of the bedtime routine as it introduces our youngest to the sounds of the local languages of the continent. Available in both video and now print format, its gentle rhythm and striking illustrations celebrate the landscape, its inhabitants and the language in the most positive way.

Sleepy Sheepy

Sleepy Sheepy

Sleepy Sheepy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepy Sheepy

Lucy Ruth Cummins

Pete Oswald

Walker Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760658946

It’s time for bed but Sleepy Sheepy isn’t sleepy – and there are 101 things he wants to do apart from snuggling down under the blankets.  Like building blocks or knitting socks – anything but go to bed.  “He was WIRED and absolutely NOT TIRED!”

With its quirky rhyming text and hilarious illustrations, this is a story that will resonate with anyone who has tried to put a toddler to bed when that toddler has other ideas.  So who wins the battle?

The perfect bedtime read but be aware, Sleepy Sheepy is a thoroughly modern sheep preferring to skateboard or play with the karaoke machine so other toddlers might get new ideas to delay the inevitable.  

One to give the new parents or grandparents – or perhaps not!

Emma Memma Little Library

Emma Memma Little Library

Emma Memma Little Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Memma Little Library

Emma Memma

Puffin, 2024

48pp (4 board books)., RRP $A12.99

9781761341809

Inside this little slipcase are four little-hands sized books that introduce our youngest readers to the basic concepts of numbers, colours and common creatures but perhaps the most interesting and original is Auslan which shows the signs for common words in the language for the hearing impaired.

While there are many board books for little ones that encourage them to count and recognise colours and animals, the addition of the Auslan book not only introduces those with normal hearing to a new way of communicating, but also means those who do face this challenge to see that their needs are catered for too.  They are not invisible.  

And ex-Wiggle Emma is a champion of this.  Well-known for her passion for raising awareness  of Australia’s deaf community and teaching the very young to communicate in Auslan, she has formal qualifications in Auslan and is currently undertaking her PhD in “the affective, artistic integration of sign language, dance and film editing.” So she is well-qualified to be the author of this collection as she encourages little ones to begin their reading journey. and with a national tour underway and several books already published, she is becoming so much more than the “ex-Wiggle”. 

 

Cry Hard, Chucky

Cry Hard, Chucky

Cry Hard, Chucky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cry Hard, Chucky

Andrew Kelly

Emma Stuart

Little Steps, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922833419

Chucky is a great little kid. He is good mannered, fun loving and into everything. But when he makes a mistake, or things don’t go his way, he tends to get angry and upset. With Dad’s help, Chucky learns the healing powers of having a good cry.

In times gone by there was a saying that “boys don’t cry” as though it was somehow “unmanly” for males to show and share their emotions, and as that slowly dissolved into the past, there came a new acronym of SNAG – sensitive, new age guy – as though, again, for a male to be showing and sharing emotions was so unusual it needed a label.  And sadly, in some families these sorts of beliefs still hold true and boys learn to repress their anger and their sadness, regret, hurt and all those other emotions until they explode, sometimes with disastrous consequences. 

So this is a story that has a place in helping our young understand that emotions are normal, that expressing them appropriately is essential and often cathartic, and it is, indeed, okay for boys to cry.  In fact it is natural and a necessity. Chucky encounters a number of situations that will be familiar to young readers and his dad encourages him to “cry hard” validating both the situation and Chucky’s response to it. Tears can make others feel uncomfortable and many feel a need to apologise if they fell themselves welling up, but stories like these that normalise such emotions go a long way to addressing them.  

Grey

Grey

Grey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey

Laura Dockrill

Lauren Child

Walker, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406389562

Today I am grey.

I don’t feel sunshine yellow, or balloon orange bright, or treetop green…”

Or, indeed, any of the other colours of nature that surround me.  Today I am grey like the scribble on the page, the puddle on the road, the storm when in the clouds…

And that’s fine.  It’s  OK to be grey. Grey days are normal and natural  but the colours are still inside you, they’re just a little overwhelmed right now . They will peek out and come back soon.

This is a charming book exploring those feelings we all have, and its simple, direct text combined with Lauren Child’s iconic illustrations including clever cutouts offers the child not only validation of their emotions but also reassurance and hope that the brighter days are close by.  It also provides the little one with a way of expressing their feelings as often they don’t have the words to articulate either the how or the why of their mood.  

Colour is used to express  emotions across languages and cultural traditions, and particular colours are associated with various feelings regardless of our beliefs or origins.  We feel blue, see red, or we are green with envy and while this could be an area to investigate, perhaps for this intended audience it is the metaphorical use of the language that could be fun.  Little ones don’t necessarily need to know adult words like “simile” and “metaphor” but how engaging is the phrase “as grey as tea when it’s gone cold” or “lullaby blue”?  What fun they could have sharing their own favourites and how rich their language and writing will become.

But for all that, this is a story that tells our little ones that no matter how they feel, the feelings are natural and the adults in their lives will understand and love them regardless.  And that’s a message they need to hear over and over again.  

May I Hug You?

May I Hug You?

May I Hug You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May I Hug You?

Oleta Blunt

Katherine Appleby

Little Steps, 2024

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

9781922678119

Isla is very excited because she has a new puppy and she rushes forward to greet him.  But this is a new situation for Basil and he is feeling very unsure so he heads back into his carry cage where she can’t reach him.  Isla is disappointed, not understanding why Basil seems scared of her, but her mother explains that he is feeling unsure because he doesn’t know her yet and Isla needs to take things quietly and build trust and friendship step-by-step.

This is a message-story for all young readers anticipating the arrival of a new pet – sometimes their excitement and enthusiasm can be overwhelming, particularly to something as small as a puppy or a kitten, and they need to take a step back and consider how the pet might construe their innocent actions as threatening.  But it could also be a lesson to the adult sharing it with them as together they think about consent. Is it okay for an adult to assume that it is okay to hug or kiss or even just touch kids they have just met?  Does being a relative afford them certain rights? Exploring the young person’s response through the lens of Basil offers opportunities to talk about relationship-building at arm’s length – and we can all learn a lesson about starting on their level from the Obama approach.

All Australian schools are now required to teach age-appropriate consent education from the first year of compulsory schooling to Year 10 and in 2022, a new Australian Curriculum was released with updated content and guidance for teaching about consent (ACARA 2022).  While each state has developed its own support materials, their resource suggestions seem to lack links to appropriate fiction so this story dovetails in nicely with teaching our youngest children about respectful relationships, especially those involving an “imbalance of power” because there are few times as little ones where they hold the upper hand.

A story with greater potential than just about a girl and her new pet.