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Koko and the Coconut

Koko and the Coconut

Koko and the Coconut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koko and the Coconut

Turia Pitt

Celestine Vaite

Emilie Tavaerli

Puffin, 2023

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

9781760892944

It’s a big day for Koko for not only does he have to leave the shell that has been his home since he was born because he now has a tough shell of his own, but he must also crack a coconut by himself if he is to feed himself and survive. But to reach the coconut there is an enormous palm tree to climb, and then, once he has the coconut on the ground there is the task of opening it. Even though all his friends are cheering him on, it does seem like an insurmountable task so will he succeed?

Based on the life stories of Birgus latro, the large terrestrial crabs of her native Tahiti, Turia Pitt has crafted a story of determination, perseverance and resilience – all those qualities that adults associate with her own story of survival. But for young readers, it is also an inspirational story as they tackle big challenges in their own lives, such as starting school. Like Koko, it is the next must-do part of their growing up, and like Koko, all their family and friends are encouraging them on the way, expecting them to succeed even if there are setbacks.  But most importantly, like Koko, they have to believe in themselves, know that they will succeed and be willing and courageous enough to take the next step, just as Koko climbed the palm tree continually telling himself he could do it.

Koko is the story’s narrator which immediately puts the reader in Koko’s “shoes”, while the stunning illustrations with their clever use of perspective echo the enormity of the task ahead so they are invested in the story from the get-go.

At this time of the year our young ones are hearing all sorts of stories about starting school and overcoming their fears, so this is one to add to that collection because of its parallels with that experience and its positive message.  As a story it is a stand-alone but astute adults will help the young listener dig deeper, helping them to understand that stories can have lots of layers of meaning. The message of believing in yourself is powerful and one our children need to hear so often.  

Where’s My Stick?

Where's My Stick?

Where’s My Stick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Stick?

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678508

Maxie the dog loves finding and burying sticks at the beach and he is smart enough to know that he must leave markers at their burial site so he can find them again to play with.  But each time he does, his marker has disappeared – nature has ways of tricking him – and so he has to find an even bigger stick!

This is a story of perseverance and resilience because Maxie doesn’t get frustrated and give up when he can’t find either his marker or his stick, but works his way to another solution – and finally rewarded with something more than a stick. Young readers will relate to similar situations when they have found that things don’t work out for them the first time and so they must try again. 

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again.  

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

Bunny Ideas

9781761068119

Otter-ly Ridiculous

9781761068126

Renee Treml

A&U Children’s 2023

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet, but, despite their differences they are best friends who work together to solve mysteries. 

These are the two latest adventures in this graphic novel series  for young readers transitioning from the basal readers of commercial reading schemes to less-controlled books offering a stepping stone to more complex “early chapter books”. Following the format of the previous four where the emphasis is on the conversation between the characters, Treml again places her characters into situations that are familiar to her audience.  In Bunny Ideas Bea is planning some fun games to play with her friends but they must follow her rules while in a game becomes a quarrel that threatens friendships, offering opportunities for the reader to consider what options there are for harmony and what choices they might make in a similar situation.

In a recent media interview I was asked why I thought it was important for little ones to read and apart from fueling their imagination and inspiring their dreams, I emphasised the need for them to read about children and characters who were just like themselves so that they could not only see themselves in stories and thus affirming who they are as they are is enough, but that they could encounter and solve problems such as those in these stories from a distance.  Contemporary realistic fiction has been defined as  “real stories that could happen here and now [in which] the author attempts to weave a story based on believable characters, a plausible plot and a recognisable setting so that young readers … can vicariously live through the story’s characters while they read” (Travers, B. E. & Travers, J. F. (2008) Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley) and while it is a term usually applied to literature for young adults, IMO Treml has nailed it in this series for much younger readers.  

Embrace Your Body

Embrace Your Body

Embrace Your Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Body

Taryn Brumfitt

Sinead Hanley

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760895983

There is something scary in the statistic that 70% of primary school children have a concern about their body image, and when this is coupled with the greatest desire of post-restriction Australia is for beauty salons and gyms to re-open, it is easy to see why and that without intervention, this obsession with how we look is not going to change. From long before the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe to waif-like Twiggy to the more-rounded Kardashians, our obsession with how our bodies look rather than how they perform has dominated so many lives, and this is as true for our males as it is for females.  How many young lads see themselves in the image of a Hemsworth?

In 2016 Taryn Brumfitt wrote and directed a documentary Embrace which encouraged us to love who we are as we are, but that doco received a MA15+ classification and so did not reach down to the roots of where the obsession starts.

So now she is addressing this with the establishment of a number of initiatives that speak directly to our children including another documentary , a song and, based on that song, this book. Based on the mantra that “your body is not an ornament:it is the vehicle to your dreams!”. children of every size, shape, colour and ability are engaged in all sorts of activities  showing the extraordinary things our bodies can do proving that nobody has a body that is the same as anyone else’s and that it is capable of so much more than conforming to some arbitrary stereotyped look.

This book has an important role in the conversations and investigations we have with our youngest students and not just in the health and mindfulness programs we offer. Because we are all individuals it opens up the world of science and maths as we investigate why and how that is, delving into genetics and measurement and a host of other areas that give a deep understanding to the message of the book, including the language we use to describe others. ‘Smart’, ‘clever’, ‘athletic’ are so much better than the pejorative terms of ‘pretty’, ‘handsome’ and ‘strong’.  For if, from an early age, we can grasp that we, as individuals, are a combination of the unique circumstances of both our nature and nurture, then our understanding of and appreciation for who we are is a big step towards valuing the inside regardless of the outside in both ourselves and others. 

It is sad that there is still a need for this sort of book in 2020, just as there was in 1920 and 1960, but if you make and use just one purchase this year, this could be the one that changes lives for the better. 

 

 

Lou

Lou

Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Breanna Carzoo

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780063054059

Lou has an important job . . . as the neighbourhood toilet for dogs on their walks, particularly as he is across the road from a doggy day care centre.. All day, every day, they come and sniff, and twirl and twist and lift and…

Useful as he may be, he gets the feeling that deep down inside, there might be more to him than that. He just doesn’t seem to know exactly what yet. When disaster strikes, will Lou find out what he’s made of and save the day?

Young readers will giggle their way through the start of this book as the recognise a very familiar scenario, but the astute ones will also be looking at the pictures and discovering a whole different scenario playing out in the background while Lou is musing about his lot in life.  

This is one to encourage young readers to read the pictures as well as the words because in quality picture books they are integral adding to both the plot and the meaning. Like Lou, this story shows that there is more to each of us than first meets the eye, and that each of us has hidden qualities that others might not appreciate at first. Little ones who are usually the least empowered can have fun identifying just what it is that makes them unique and special, perhaps adding to a group collage that shares their particular talents. Who knows what future hero or champion might be lurking. 

One Bird Band

One Bird Band

One Bird Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Bird Band

Sacha Cotter

Josh Morgan

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922678485

With its rinky-dink-dink, rat-a-tat-tat, toot-a-toot-toot, and clang-a-clang-CLANG, the little bird really is a one-bird-band, But as it makes its way through the jungle, it discovers other creatures who are really sad and to cheer them up, it gives away its instruments one at a time, until it has none left.  Now it is the sad one!  But then…

While the main focus of the story is the concept of sharing, little readers could have fun deciding which instruments make each sound, and then perhaps even discover what noises other instruments make and suggest vocabulary for them in the style of the author.  What would their one-man-band sound like? While onomatopoeia is a big word for little mouths,  it can be a lot of fun as the child pays attention to the sounds around and increases their vocabulary so this is a charming story to share and build on.

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MONSTER! THIRSTY! DRINK!

MONSTER! THIRSTY! DRINK!

MONSTER! THIRSTY! DRINK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONSTER! THIRSTY! DRINK!

Sean Taylor

Fred Benaglia

Bloomsbury, 2023

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

9781526606839

It’s a hot summer day at the beach and Monster is thirsty. But when he trips over and spills his own drink, the trouble begins as he hunts for another.  The queue at the juice van is long, only race-runners can have one from Kangaroo and the toilet water is a no-no.  His problem seems to be solved when some penguins having a picnic offer to share theirs – or is it?

This will be a familiar scenario to those with fractious toddlers who demand instant satisfaction and who will see the humour, but it is also one to encourage them to look at the pictures to work out the storyline because the text is minimal.  Then, having read it through with adult guidance they will be able to read it themselves, making up the story as they go and empowering them as readers.  Worthwhile for our youngest readers.

The Last Crayon

The Last Crayon

The Last Crayon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Crayon

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678522

When the squirrels find a box of crayons, each takes one and knows exactly what they are going to draw based on its colour.  Except for grey squirrel who gets the grey crayon.  If yellow is for the sunrise, blue is the sky and green is the grass, what is grey for?

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again and even build their own stories. What else could they draw with the red crayon? What might happen if the squirrels mixed the colours together?  Can they use pictures from magazines to make a collage of purple things?  Is one colour more common than the others? What might the world look like if it was monochromatic? And so on…

Sleep Through the Night

Sleep Through the Night

Sleep Through the Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Through the Night

Byll & Beth Stephen

Simon Howe

ABC Books, 2022

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

9780733342707

Some species sleep wherever they choose to roam,
but human beings sleep the very best when they are home.

Sometimes getting little ones to settle to sleep in the evening can be overwhelming and frustrating, and so this is an interesting book to share with them that shows not only why we need to sleep but that all species do, even if their habits are different to humans.

From the creators of the important books Boss of Your Own Bodyit gently explains that sleeping is an important part of growing and thus might be more effective than a brusque goodnight and a firm door-closing. Sometimes knowing why is all the reassurance a child needs. 

Sticking Out

Sticking Out

Sticking Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticking Out

Terri Owbridge

Emma Stuart

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922358356

Simon was shy at the best if times, and luckily for him, being a stick insect meant he could change colours to match his surroundings and hide from those around him.  That was until the day he stayed the glowing pink of the rose he had been resting on!  He was certain that all the other bugs who were gathering for the Spring Fest would laugh at him and the thought terrified him, so when a friendly beetle told him that there would be a magic gypsy moth who would help him, Simon set off in search of this saviour.  But as well as eventually finding her, he also discovered something much more important…

Told in rhyme, this theme of who you are as you are is enough is a common one in literature for young children but it is one that they need to hear again and again in all sorts of situations so they learn that it is okay to be pink or purple, or straight or bent, or spotty or striped or whatever… That no one really looks twice at your differences because they’re too busy involved in whatever else is going on, and if someone does make a nasty comment, then they are not worth your time.  For some, this is not something easily accepted and body image can become a major issue in the future so perhaps they can have fun imagining what it would be like to be able to change colour like Simon and how that would change who they are inside.  

As little ones face the challenges of new places, new schools, new people at this time of the year, this is one to help them overcome any anxieties they might have.