Float or Sink?

Float or Sink?

Float or Sink?












Float or Sink?

Kylie Covark

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2021

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


There is a stick in the creek bobbing along

Rolling on, light but strong.

What do you think?

Float or sink?

Most will answer “float” because who hasn’t whiled away some time putting sticks into the water and watching them start their journey to the unknown?

But what if there are those who see the stick as their personal raft, and climb onboard like a ladybug, a flea, a fly, a gnat, even a slug! Will the stick survive?  And is there danger lurking as it floats along, oblivious to its passengers and its surrounds?

The rhythmical text and the bold bright illustrations carry this story along as smoothly as the river current, encouraging young readers to make predictions about what will happen as they bring their scientific knowledge to the fore. So much potential for investigation of all sorts of things and lots of fun, but first and foremost a charming story. 



Sometimes Cake

Sometimes Cake

Sometimes Cake










Sometimes Cake

Edwina Wyatt

Tamsin Ainslie

Walker, 2020

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


Audrey and Lion are best friends and when Audrey sees Lion with a balloon she assumes it is his birthday.  Even though it isn’t, it must be someone’s somewhere so they celebrate anyway.  Together they move through the week celebrating special things until the day Lion looks forlorn because he seems to have nothing to celebrate.  To cheer him up, Audrey pulls together all the things they enjoy and she has a party just to celebrate their friendship because sometimes it’s about acknowledging the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

Like other reviewers, I found this to have some of the overtones of the simple logic of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, a logic that little people love because it is so literal.  With its soft watercolour illustrations, it is one that preschoolers will enjoy because they could be Audrey or Audrey could be their friend. It also opens up the possibilities for talking about the why and how of  celebrations and how some families do things a little differently, even though cake may be the common element!

A CBCA Picture Book of the Year Notable for 2021.



Where’s Brian’s Bottom?

Where's Brian's Bottom?

Where’s Brian’s Bottom?










Where’s Brian’s Bottom?

Rob Jones

Pavilion Children’s, 2021

12pp., board book, RRP $A12.99


Brian is a very long sausage dog. So long he’s lost his bottom!  Can you find Brian’s bottom? Where could it be? Have you looked in the hallway? Has Pauline the parrot seen it? Maybe it’s in the living room, with Alan the hamster? Or perhaps in the kitchen with hungry Dave the tortoise? In the bathroom with Gavin the goldfish? Oh where could it be?

Regular readers of my reviews will know that I am a fan of board books that tell stories and engage our very youngest readers in the fun of them, developing an expectation that the written word will bring something special as they snuggle up with others in their lives to share. So this one with its l-o-n-g concertina foldout that winds through the house from front door to bedroom is a must-share and as a bonus, on the reverse side is another body adventure that invites the child to add their description of  where Brian’s bottom might be. 

This one really does encourage those early reading behaviours and concepts about print that are the critical foundations of early reading and deserves to be in every little reader’s library.

You can’t take an elephant on the bus

You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus

You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus









You can’t take an elephant on the bus

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2021

26pp., board book., RRP $A12.99


You can’t take an elephant on a bus and you shouldn’t put a monkey in a shopping trolley or take a tiger on a train ride.  Because if you do, they will cause havoc and this delightful rhyming story explores the hazards they create.  In fact there is a problem with every mode of transport for these exotic creatures except…

This is a fun-filled story that will have even the gloomiest child laughing out loud and wanting to suggest new ideas.  If you can’t ask a whale to ride a bike, then what would work – or not?  With quirky illustrations that are as funny as the text and a rich vocabulary that has been carefully crafted – the pig’s trotters totter – this is a surefire winner for young readers who are learning about the fun to be had in stories.

Where Does Poo Go?

Where Does Poo Go?

Where Does Poo Go?









Where Does Poo Go?

Katie Daynes

Dan Taylor

Usborne, 2021

12pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


This is an intriguing little book – just 12 pages of lift-the-flap questions and answers – that could have the most profound effect on the reader.  Answering questions about why humans and animals need to poo, what happens to it once it is expelled and the information that can be learned from it, it addresses a topic that young children are fascinated by from a young age.

But as important as the information is, it is the no-nonsense, matter-of-fact way it explores a normal. critical bodily function that has the potential to change attitudes. If we can show our children from the earliest age that this is not a topic for sniggers or embarrassment, but something that is an indicator of good health (or otherwise) then we are doing them an enormous service. For a few generations now, bodily functions have tended to be something not discussed, something to be kept private and definitely not done or shared in public and so, when doctors and other medical staff need to know, there is at least embarrassment, at worst a cover-up with all its consequences. Yet, as we have seen in the last year, it is the evidence of the COVID virus in effluent that has been one of the most powerful triggers for precautions to be taken. 

So to have a book explicitly written for young readers, that looks at this subject in the factual way it does that demonstrates that the body getting rid of its waste is essentially no different  from fuelling it in the first place is a great start to taking away the inhibition.

Sometimes books teach us so much more than their focus topic and this is one of those. 


Ten Little Yoga Frogs

Ten Little Yoga Frogs

Ten Little Yoga Frogs










Ten Little Yoga Frogs

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2021

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


Imagine learning some basic yoga poses at the same time as learning to count,  This is a bright, colourful, traditional rhyming counting book but with the twist of all the characters doing yoga and an invitation to the reader to join in.. 

One to one matching and the conservation of number are the foundation skills of early maths as children learn that no matter how it is arranged, a group of three (or whatever) is always a group of three, So we can’t underestimate the value of books such as these as they teach or reinforce the same concepts and eventually the child is mature enough to grasp them. At the same time, the rhyming format helps them predict the text so they have power over it. Win/win for littlies, in my opinion. 


Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh









Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Felice Arena

Tom Jellett

ABC Books, 2021

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


There are some words that toll off the tongue so smoothly that you just want to say them again and again for the sheer joy of it.  My own two favourites are mugwump and ragamuffin, and in this hilarious book, Felice Arena has collected a whole lot more. Words like bumbershoot and wishy-washy and hullabaloo and, of course, poo!

Accompanied by Tom Jellett’s bold illustrations, this is a book that celebrates the sounds of our language as well as introducing a whole range of vocabulary for each word is real and has its definition included at the end. It invites the reader to contribute their own favourites and this, in turn, sets up the opportunity to play with rhythm with a voice orchestra.  Have small groups of children repeat a word over and over -its syllables will give the rhythm – and then combine them to make something magical.  Imagine the combinations if your EALD students added their favourite words in their language – and taught the others what they meant.

Books should be entertaining and this is indeed, that!

Learning to Count (series)

Learning to Count

Learning to Count

10 Naughty Numbats


10 Bush Babies


10 Lively Lorikeets


Grace Nolan

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2021

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

Learning to count, add and subtract is one of the key reasons little children believe they go to school and so this new collection of three readers endorsed by Australian Geographic will be a welcome addition to the resources to assist this . 

Focusing on 30 signature Australian creatures, each book encourages little ones to count, add or subtract as they use the rhyming text and charming illustrations for cues and clues.  Each illustration has a humorous twist to add to the fun of learning  and the concept for each page is clearly displayed as a conventional number story.  As well, there are extra activities at the end to reinforce the concepts and encourage the 1:1 matching and conservation of numbers that are the foundation skills of early maths.  

Never underestimate the power of these sorts of texts to encourage our little ones to learn much more than we ever set out to teach!

My Spaghetti ABC

My Spaghetti ABC

My Spaghetti ABC










My Spaghetti ABC

Deborah Niland

Puffin Books, 2021

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


Is there anything more delicious, more fun and more messy than a big bowl of spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce? Spaghetti that can be twisted into glasses, butterflies, a giggly face with wiggly feet and anything else that grabs the imagination?  How about the entire English alphabet?

i love spaghetti with heaps of sauce
and always make a mess, of course!
I use my fork, my spoon, my hands.
It’s so much fun to twirl the strands!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Perfect for kids (but perhaps not for parents) this is a delightful romp through the messiest, yummiest tea ever that culminates in a four-page spread of just how versatile wriggly spaghetti can be.

And what story about spaghetti would be complete without learning the classic children’s song On Top of Spaghetti?

Just for the joy of it.



Moonlight Mums

Moonlight Mums

Moonlight Mums










Moonlight Mums

Laura Stitzel

Puffin, 2020

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


Bedtime and time to snuggle down. But in this family, like so many others, it is dad who is putting the little one to sleep because her mother is still at work. 

And as he acknowledges that her mum misses her too, he tells her of other mums like the owl, the frog and the wombat who must also be awake and alert at night so they can keep their babies safe and snug.

This is one of those gentle stories that help little ones understand that there are many different types of family circumstances and each family works out just which is right for them. There is no right or wrong, just different. My own granddaughters were tucked up and in by their dad every night because of the different shifts their parents worked and they just accepted it for what it was.  Of course it was a treat to have mummy home to read the bedtime story when she could but otherwise, life went on to its own rhythm.

The gentle rhyming text and soft palette add to the atmosphere of drawing the curtains on the day…

Mums with many things to do
All miss their little ones, like you.

As well as reassuring little ones that Mummy will be home and will kiss them goodnight, using the creatures as illustrations opens up ideas to explore what other creatures are awake at night and why they are.  Why is the dark the safest cover for some? 

Reassuring, restful and recommended for families whose working hours are not the conventional.