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The Gift

The Gift

The Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift

Michael Speechley

Puffin Books, 2019

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

9780143788980

Across the road from Rosie’s house is an old dilapidated house with an unloved garden that most people thought was deserted.  But Rosie knew someone lived there, even though she had never actually seen anyone.  Once, she’d seen a shadow in the old attic window and occasionally a hand would  reach through the door and grab the groceries that were delivered and she convinced herself there was an old woman living there, one who might be mean and cranky but could also be just lonely. Like Rosie was lonely sometimes when she missed her mum and the things they did together.  

Rosie decided she would give the old woman a gift – but what? She thought long and hard and her mum’s words echoed in her ears – If you look long and hard enough, you’ll see the beauty in everything. That gave her an idea and she went across the street and finally crept up the wonky steps and placed her gift at the front door.

But why would she leave her neighbour a great big prickly weed. roots and all, and tied with a ribbon? And how will her neighbour receive such a gift?

This is the second book from Michael Speechley, – his first, The All New Must Have Orange 430 was an Honours Books in the 2019 CBCA Picture Book of the Year – and it is as intriguing as his first, with its different and poignant storyline.  Sadly, too many of our students have lost a loved one but this story shows how reaching out with a simple act of kindness to someone else can help us manage, if not heal, our own grief . Illustrated using a colour palette that reflects Rosie’s mood and feelings as the story progresses, and with an ending that doesn’t need words to suggest what is happening,   this is something special that might well join its predecessor in the awards lists for 2020.

 

Ravi’s Roar

Ravi's Roar

Ravi’s Roar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravi’s Roar

Tom Percival

Bloomsbury, 2019

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

9781408892183

Ravi is the smallest one in his family – smaller and younger than Kiran, Jaya and Anil – and most of the time, he is OK with that.  But sometimes it wasn’t the best thing – being last to get a seat on the train, too small to find the others during hide-and-seek; too little for the giant slide… After a most frustrating day at the park, Ravi’s frustration gets the better of him and he lets out the loudest roar.  A roar so loud that he turns into a tiger!!!

At first, Ravi likes his tiger-power and makes the most of it but soon, the novelty wears off as he discovers its consequences…

A companion to Perfectly Norman and Ruby’s Worry , Percival has once again hit the nail on the head by focusing on real issues that are common to his readers and turning them into a story which helps them to deal with the emotions and understand and manage their feelings. It’s a great discussion starter for letting little ones talk about what makes them really angry and, while learning that anger and frustration are normal human emotions, how they can express their feelings without giving into full-blown temper tantrums that only upset them and everyone else, and don’t get them what they want. They can learn that anger is usually born from frustration and that perhaps rather than roaring like a tiger, they might be able to find a way through the frustration. One for the mindfulness collection.

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Same Sky

Robert Vescio

Nicky Johnston

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594676

As the sun rises here and the stars appear there, summer happens here and winter there,  two children on opposite sides of the world crave friendship.  As close but as far apart as the sky and the sea, they reach out to each other, knowing they each exist but never coming into contact.  Or do they?

This is more than a story to explore night and day, summer and winter and the physical attributes of this planet. Beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated, this is a story that demonstrates the common need for humans to seek company and companionship.  We are social creatures not solitary beings and the desire to reach out for friendship is innate, despite any artificial differences like social, cultural or religious beliefs. This is underscored by the author’s decision to keep the children and their whereabouts  anonymous, such is their universality of the plight.  Vescio explains more about the inspiration for the story here.

You Made Me a Dad

You Made Me a Dad

You Made Me a Dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Made Me a Dad

Laurenne Sala

Mike Malbrough

Harper Collins US, 2019

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

 9780062396945

From the time a man first discovers his partner is pregnant, the bond between father and child begins to grow and this relationship is celebrated in this charming book.  From the time of the first baby bump through to camping out beneath the stars, the father shares his joy and his wonder and his gratitude at being able to guide and share the life of his little one, the big occasions and the not-so.

Perfect for a dad to give to his child on a special occasion, this is a companion to You Made Me A Mother  and turns the tables on the usual format of the story being told by the child about the dad.

Wibble Wobble

Wibble Wobble

Wibble Wobble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wibble Wobble

Jen Storer

Lisa Stewart

HarperCollins, 2019 

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

9780733339196

Wibble wobble, walking tall.

Wibble wobble, tumble fall.

Baby milestones are always greeted with such delight, but perhaps none moreso than Baby’s first steps.  So this delightful book, told in rhyme and softly illustrated is a celebration of twins taking those first tentative steps into independence. 

Great for new parents or even sharing with older children looking back and wanting to hear the stories of their babyhood, this is just charming.

 

My Dad is a Dragon

My Dad is a Dragon

My Dad is a Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad is a Dragon

Damon Young

Peter Carnavas

UQP, 2019

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

Some dads pull billycarts

painted blue and black.

But my dad is a dragon…

I sit upon his scaly back!

Dads do some amazing things in their lives and this is a celebration of their diversity whether they have “pointy pencils for designing bridges” or “tough trolleys for hauling heavy fridges” but what if your dad was really different? What if he were a dragon?

Often the acknowledgement of Father’s Day in schools is overshadowed by the celebrations of Book Week or it is kept low-key because so many children do not have live-at-home fathers, but nevertheless the role of a dad in a child’s life is critical and so this is the perfect book to add to your collection about families and diversity.  Superbly illustrated by Peter Carnavas, who himself might be considered a dad who is different because his daily life is not that of many fathers, this opens up the scope for a discussion on how dads are different and how they show us they love us.  Because even if the dad is not on the scene full-time for whatever reason, it is a rare dad who does not love his kids. Maybe it is that very absence that is the demonstration – protecting his children from a life of arguments and hostility after a relationship breaks down.  It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on how our dads influence our lives and the choices we make.  How many sporting heroes have followed their father’s footsteps?  How many budding architects or musicians or whatevers have fathers who have led the way?

One of a series of stories that takes a light-hearted look at family relationships, nevertheless, there is more to this than meets the eye.

My Dad Snores

My Dad Snores

My Dad Snores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad Snores

John Williamson

Peter Carnavas

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143793793

The family has a problem. Dad snores so loudly that the galahs fall out of the nearby trees.  He is so loud that no one can get any sleep and nothing they do stops him. What are they going to do?

This is another true-to-life story from iconic singer-songwriter John Williamson and its hilarious interpretation by Peter Carnavas is superb with its uniquely Australian twist.  Apart from resonating with so many children who have the same problem, the use of metaphoric language is sublime and just invites the reader to suggest some of their own, while the relationship between the text and the graphics is symbiotic, right from the front cover.

And of course, being John Williamson, there is a musical version. Not the usual upbeat, fast-moving tune we are used to, but perfectly reflecting the despair and tiredness of the family .

 

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Grandpa

Kate Simpson

Ronojoy Ghosh

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523435

Grandpa, did you know that if you rub a needle with a magnet, one end will point to the north and the other end to the south? In the south there’s an apartment building 160 metres tall. From the balcony, you can see the entire city. There are cinemas and ice cream shops … and me! 

Henry and his Grandpa have been separated by 2003 km by Henry’s move south and in a series of letters between them, they explore just how far that distance is, with each one bringing them closer metaphorically, if not literally.  Then one day, Henry gets a big surprise.

The bond between grandparent and grandchild is often a very special and unique one, and physical separation is a phenomenon of the modern world and its nuclear family.  Despite technology, there is nothing like the arms of each around each other, and any grandparent will understand the need for a ‘grandma fix’. I need them regularly, particularly now things like school and Scouts and sport have taken over the flying weekend visits! 

Beautifully illustrated to both enrich and enhance the story, this is one that can help children understand family structures as well as explore the bonds they have with special family members, perhaps even inspire a connection again.  

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and the Ocean

Lian Tanner

Jonathan Bentley

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760633691

Ella lived in the red-dirt country
where the earth was as dry as old bones
and it hadn’t rained 
for years
and years
and years.

One night, Ella dreamt of the ocean… and the image mesmerises her and she wants to know more. So she asks her dad,  her mum and Ben the farmhand, and while each has a distant memory to share it is viewed through the lens of the cracked red earth, the dust of the dry, dry, plains and the hungry hungry cows.  Her Gran hasn’t seen the ocean but dreamt about it once – ‘it picked me up and carried me from one side of sleep to the other and I have never forgotten it’- and so she sets about making Ella’s dream come true.

This is an uplifting story that will resonate with so many children from the front cover of the red-roofed house surrounded by vast dry, red, rain-starved land and gaunt gum trees to the family melancholy of hard work and no relief to the power of just a small break in routine to restore faith and hope.  You do not have to venture too far from the city to see the impact that this interminable drought is having on the land, and just as it sucks the life out of the land, so it has the people. Like Ella’s family, that impact is not as visible but is in their body language, their words and their perspective and while we city folk might pay some attention to their plight it is not long before we go back to our own lives, having put a few dollars in a tin or bought a more expensive bottle of milk.  Stories like Ella’s  and images like Bentley’s bring the reality home and depending where you live, will either help the children understand that they are not alone in this plight or perhaps inspire them to do something that might be ‘the trip to the ocean’ that turns a family around for a little while longer.  Or perhaps look a little closer to home. maybe the local nursing home, and think about what they can do to disrupt the routine of same-same boredom to put a light into someone’s life.

So often any unit of work about weather and its causes focuses on the scientific rather than the human, and Ella’s Ocean works to redress this, as readers are almost compelled to think about the what-if. and the what-can-I-do.  Another one of those great picture books that can work across all age groups.

Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Monsters

Sharon J. Yaxley

Forty South Publishing, 2019

46pp., hbk., $25.00

9780648168881

A walk along the beach is often characterised by the sound of the waves, the fresh air and the sheer exuberance of being able to move with such freedom as we pass rocks, seaweed and other detritus washed up by the tides. Being king of the castle, drawing pictures in the sand with sticks, feeling the texture of the sand and shells under our feet and the delight of beating the waves as they try to soak our clothes are just a few joys of this most pleasurable experience.

But what if we slowed down and took the time to look at what is there, to examine the shapes and colours and textures of the landscape? Where might our imaginations take us? Into a world of monsters or somewhere different?

Environmental activist David Suzuki says

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.

Author/photographer of this new book for young readers, Sharon Yaxley has used this quote to describe the concept of this remarkable book for young readers, to encourage them to look more closely at the things in their world and let those things talk to their imaginations.  Tails, tusks, dark eyes, sharp noses and jaws with jagged teeth are all there in the seaweed, driftwood, rocks, sand… and when the tide crashes in and the wind does its work, they change into something different.  Looking closely, thinking about the object’s story and the story it could inspire all help to slow the child down in this breakneck world, to be curious and spark their wonder.

Even if your students live nowhere near a beach, this can still be the inspiration to take them outside and let them immerse themselves in what is there and imagine… Let’s take the opportunity to connect our kids to the real world so they want to protect it too. Extensive teaching notes aligned to many strands of the Australian Curriculum are available.