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Scribbly Gum Secrets

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Scribbly Gum Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Dannika Patterson

Megan Forward

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804485

It’s family time and mum’s choice of activity and she chooses a bushwalk. While the children would much rather stay inside with their screens, they reluctantly join her, dragging their feet all the way.  But as they leave the built-up area and into the bush, they start to notice things like the train of “itchy grubs” on the old post and the new baby flying fox.  But Charlie, the youngest, has noticed strange writing on a tree and he will not move on till someone reads it to him.  Has someone taken a marker and written all over the bark, or is there another explanation?

As schools shut down and children are required to stay at home with only themselves for company, this is a timely release that may give parents trying to teach them at home an idea for an excursion.  Looking closely at the things in the neighbourhood, taking photos, mapping the journey and identifying interesting everyday things that usually go unnoticed could offer a broad spectrum of learning as well as the exercise involved.  And some might even like to investigate the strange writing on the trees to give Charlie his answer… Does it hold secret messages?

The rhyming text and the beautifully detailed pictures which hold so much to be discovered make this a perfect book to introduce our children to things they might not have noticed and send them scurrying for answers.  

Hattie

Hattie

Hattie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattie

Frida Nilsson

Gecko Press, 2020

160pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776572717

Hattie is a street-smart country girl in her first year of school. She lives just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all. Although she has a dog called Tacka and two outdoor cats, Havana and Stick, as well as ducks and chooks, she lives in a place so remote that she is lonely. Luckily she’s starting school and that brings new adventures.

There would be many Australian children who could relate to the isolation of Hattie and who long to go to school for the social contact that is so critical, and while her adventures at school are set in the Scandinavian world they are not so different from situations our children might find themselves in. However, this book is probably better as a read-aloud rather than a read-alone because its format is not as supportive for those reading about six-year-olds as other books are.  Perhaps that reflects the Scandinavian school experience where kindy kids can read independently with regular fonts and few illustrations. That aside, it is an engaging story that introduces young readers to a world that is very different from theirs yet remarkably similar. 

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

Jackie French

Angus $ Robertson, 2020 

272pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460757727

 

Butter O’Bryan lives in a Very Small Castle with his father and three aunts – Aunt Elephant, Aunt Cake and Aunt Peculiar. These aren’t their real names, of course, just as Butter’s father isn’t really called ‘Pongo’.

And even though Butter is only twelve years old, and the grandson of one of Australia’s most successful Jam Kings, he is very aware of the hardship many people are experiencing.

Butter has been told there are ghosts at the nearby isolated Howlers Beach, but are there? And how can the children Butter plays cricket with on the beach simply vanish? Who are these children and why do they refuse his help?

The Ghost of Howlers Beach just sounds like one of those old-fashioned Secret Seven or Famous Five stories that generations have enjoyed for years, and in a way, it is. But this one has the unique Jackie French touch of magic, and rather than being a contemporary novel as those adventures were, this one takes the independent reader back to The Depression of the 1930s when the ramifications of World War I were still very evident and the realities of being unemployed, or worse, being a woman without a man but with a family, or even worse, being an indigenous person, are brought to light. With a light hand and intriguing characters, French brings to life life in the “susso camps” ; the great divide between the haves and the have-nots and the ever-present threat of diseases like polio before vaccines were available.

Read against the backdrop of today’s coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide economic collapse, it is very clear how far we have come in less than 100 years in both health, economic and social support and perhaps put things in perspective.

The subtitle to this novel is The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries, #1 and with the cast of characters now set hopefully more will follow quickly as we not only enjoy a good, meaty story but one that teaches us about a time not that long ago but eerily familiar all the same.

The timing of its release is remarkable (set long before the current virus was even heard of) and while there are comparisons that can be made between now and then, knowing that its setting and background are based on reality there is a sense of optimism that current times will pass and we will come out of the other side. Perhaps changed, but definitely intact.

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Katrina McKelvey

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820379

Isla’s family is about to grow and she is not happy.  “This family is full”, she declares.

So her mother sits her down and explains how families are like trees -they have a trunk that is formed by the grandparents, branches formed by their children and then the leaves are the children of those children like Isla and her cousins.  Isla begins to understand but when she learns that her mum is to have two babies, then there is no room for any more leaves on her branch and the family is definitely full.

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community. 

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is  scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different. 

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well.  There are teachers’ notes available.

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too. 

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities. 

I’m Ready… (series)

I'm Ready for Easter

I’m Ready for Easter

I'm Ready for the New Baby

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Easter

9781760891596

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 9781760891626

14pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

 The days are getting cooler and coloured leaves are falling so Easter must be on its way.  There are lots of things to do in preparation and Master Platypus is very busy choosing colourful treats, hot cross buns, painting eggs and making special hats. Meanwhile Miss Wombat is also very busy preparing for the arrival of a new baby reading stories to the bump and decorating the nursery…

These are the two latest in this charming series (the final two are due in November 2020) that feature young anthropomorphic Australian animals doing the everyday things that young readers resonate with. There is a feeling of anticipation as the big events arrive, just as there is in any family, and our youngest readers will be happy that any concerns they might have are echoed elsewhere – they’re not alone.  

Building on the new development of providing our very earliest readers with stories that engage rather than one-word concept books, in a format that is the right size and robust enough for little hands to manage themselves, these two new episodes will delight as well as encourage those early reading behaviours , particularly role-play reading, that are the foundation of reading success.

Peppa Pig Board Books

Peppa the Easter Bunny

Peppa the Easter Bunny

Peppa's Play Date

Peppa’s Play Date

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa the Easter Bunny

9780241411827

Peppa’s Play Date

9780241412237

16pp., board book., RRP $A9.99

Two new stories featuring this popular character and her family, bringing to life recognisable activities that our youngest readers will relate to. 

Peppa decides to have an Easter egg hunt in the garden and surprise her friends when she and George dress up as the Easter Bunny and then has lots of fun when her friends come over for a play date.

Peppa Pig, described by one writer as one with “stick-figure limbs and head shaped like a travel hairdryer that’s been flattened by a steamroller”, and her family have been entertaining  little ones on screen and in print around the world since 2004 and thus  the characters are so familiar to most children that there is no need to explain relationships and so forth so the action can start right away in a predictable development of the storyline – there is an event happening, Peppa has a problem to solve, her family help her solve it and everyone has lots of fun enjoying themselves.  Simple but very effective for enticing littlies to print and reading and some mums have even been overheard asking, “What would Peppa do?” when a child has a problem that needs solving.  

Evie and Pog (Series)

Evie and Pog (Series)

Evie and Pog (Series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evie and Pog (Series)

Tania McCartney

Angus & Robertson, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

High in a tree house live two very best friends. One is a girl and one is a dog. And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.

Evie is six years old. She likes knitting and jumping and books and cake. But most of all she loves to roll on the daisy-spot grass because she adores daisies.

Pog is a pug. He is two and likes to drink tea and read the newspaper. But most of all he loves vegetables.  It doesn’t matter if they are baked, mashed or fried, he adores them.

Next to the tree house in a big house lives Granny Gladys whose favourite things are dusting, mopping and sweeping but most of all she loves quiet.

If you were a teacher librarian who had the opportunity to request the perfect series to offer young readers who are transitioning from basal, levelled readers to the wide world of reading whatever they choose then this could well be it.  Using all the support structures that such readers need such as relatable characters and events; large, varying fonts; accessible language in simple, powerful sentences in short chapters within three stories in one book; illustrations galore; maps and a cast of characters;  all crafted together in humorous adventures by someone who knows how to reach their target audience perfectly, then this new series by the versatile Tania McCartney would be the result.  With two already available (Take Off and Puppy Playtime), young readers already have six separate stories to enjoy with three more to anticipate in Party Perfect in April. And with each book being a stand-alone there will be no queues for having to read them in order.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

While it is not the teacher librarian’s role to be a reading teacher, it is our role to support the programs that are happening in the classroom and students. teachers and parents alike will be thrilled to have this series recommended because it is so strong in promoting that independent, voluntary reading we are all seeking. 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2020 

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760651138

In this sequel to Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja,  Fish Kid is holidaying at Ningaloo and keen to show his friend Emely not only the reef but also his secret superhero-like powers. But things don’t go according to plan and he is torn between obeying his parents and using his powers or becoming shark bait.

With Bodhi’s parents being underwater specialists – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer  – discovering what is under the surface is just what the family does, and the author has carefully woven all sorts of interesting information about the creatures there into the story so that is as educational as it is entertaining.  Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). 

This is a series that will appeal to newly independent readers still needing a bit of textural support and with each episode featuring a different part of the oceanic world and its inhabitants, the scope for unique and interesting adventures is broad. There is already a new addition in the pipeline. 

 

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

Edwina Wyatt

Katherine Quinn

Walker Books, 2019

160pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760651541

From the publisher…

Magnolia Moon is nine years old, likes Greek mythology, her best friend Imogen May (who understands the importance of questions like, “If you could be one fruit, any fruit, what would you be?”), wishing trees, and speaking crows. She knows instinctively that buffadillos are armadillos crossed with buffalos and believes there are walramingos living in her garden. She’s also the kind of person who can be entrusted with a great many secrets. Each chapter in this novel, which captures Magnolia’s year of being nine and ends on Chapter Almost 10, reveals a secret that Magnolia is keeping. But the novel also chronicles a year of change for Magnolia. From her best friend moving to the birth of her little brother Finnegan, Magnolia navigates every challenge and secret that comes her way with the kind of authenticity and innocence that comes from being nine years wise.

I have been deliberately sitting on this book till now because as soon as I got it to review I knew it would be perfect for Miss About-To -Turn-9 and I needed to keep it a secret. But the day is nearly here and with it being listed as a CBCA Notable for Younger Readers for 2020 it is time to share.  While the book spans a year in Magnolia’s life giving the story continuity, each chapter is a separate entity so it is perfect for that bedtime read when just a chapter is enough to transition to the world of dreams. With its recognisable hero mixed with just a touch of fantasy, it is just right for newly independent readers who are reading on and consolidating their love for reading and honing their skills each day. The writing uses twists of phrases such as “It was only Tuesday, but Magnolia felt hungry enough for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s lunch too. Plus a hot chocolate. ” that not only stay in the reader’s head but also inspire them to broaden their own writing style., and there is a balance of illustrations that continues to support those budding skills and understanding.

Miss About-To -Turn-9 is going to love this and with a Canberra winter looming, the more books she has the happier she will be. 

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House on the Mountain

Ella Holcombe

David Cox

Allen & Unwin,2019

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

9781760636968

 

There is a fire coming, and we need to move quickly. Mum and Dad start packing bags, grabbing woollen blankets, the first-aid kit, torches, and then the photo albums. Dad puts Ruby on her lead and ties her up near the back door. My chest feels hollow, like a birdcage.

At first, it was just another hot day as  summer days can be in Victoria, with the heat lingering well into the night. But this hot day turns out to be like no other… For this is February 7, 2009 – a day that is forever etched in Australia’s history as Black Saturday. Over 400 fires took 173 lives and left thousands homeless.  

And sadly, it could have been any one of a number of deadly days of this past summer as fires again tore through the landscape, on a much larger scale devastating homes and lives in every state on an unprecedented scale.  In this particular story, the author draws on much of her personal experience of 10 years ago to tell of the fear, the anguish, the devastation, the unknown but she has changed the ending of one of family tragedy – she knows that story too well – to one of hope and continuity and renewal. 

But this could be the story of so many of our students this year – those who have witnessed the fires first-hand, those who have had to evacuate, those for whom there is no home to go back to; those for whom life is going to be topsy-turvy and very different for a long time to come.  But while it is a bleak story to begin with, one that will stir memories for many, it is that message of connection and continuity, that one day (that might seem too far away just yet) their children may play on land they once called home that can offer succour and strength to try one more day.  And it may be the catalyst for some to open up about their experiences and begin to share and process what they can.

Even if students have not been able to return to their own schools, nevertheless it is the routines of school that are the constants in students’ lives right now so anything we, as teachers, can read, understand and do to support them is so important. Used sensitively at this time, this could be an important part of the help we offer.