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A Stone for Sascha

A Stone for Sascha

A Stone for Sascha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Stone for Sascha

Aaron Becker

Candlewick Press, 2018 

48pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780763665968

Just before the family leaves on a holiday at the beach, they bury their beloved dog.  As Sascha grieves and dusk falls, she takes her bucket to the ocean’s edge to collect stones to take home to cover the bare mound that is her dog’s grave.  Among those she picks up is one that is particularly bright and shiny and as she looks up to the stars she begins to wonder and trace the stone’s journey to its resting place on the shore.  From a meteor that hurls itself to Earth in the time of the dinosaurs to being picked up by Sascha and eventually placed on her dog’s grave,  it has a long and fascinating history that reveals itself in a series of stunning illustrations in this wordless text, traveling through time and across lands. 

But, perhaps most important of all, although Sascha continues to miss her dog terribly, she begins to understand that nothing is truly lost – everything, even a stone and a dog, has a history and a legacy and is but one piece in the jigsaw that is both our own and the planet’s story.  We are more than what is happening to us in the moment – all that has gone before has shaped us and what we do now will change us for the future. 

Described by one reviewer as the “young person’s Shaun Tan”, this story has so many layers to explore and ponder with each visit – Becker’s decision to not add text means the reader has to impose their own making for a wonderful opportunity to reflect and consider and wonder. Against the background of the muted palette, the gold of the stone stands out like a thread weaving its way through a carpet, just as our own individual stories while being but one strand of a much larger tale, nevertheless stand out for us.

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Nicola Connelly

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594102

What makes you special?

Is it the way you look or something that you can do?

Is it the way you giggle or the way you wiggle?

This is a new take on a perennial topic that will encourage little people to think about what it is that makes them special.  With the entire text being in question format as though the author is speaking directly to the reader, it provokes thought about those things that are unique to us that make us stand out, going beyond the obvious of the colour of the skin, eyes and hair and starting to look at the inner person-their personality, their expertise  and their mannerisms.  Even those with low self-esteem will be able to contribute something and perhaps get a little lift that there is something special about them.  

Annie White’s charming illustrations in watercolour and pencil show that even within one family of four kids from the same parents and exposed to the same sorts of things, there is huge diversity amongst them which is accepted, appreciated and celebrated within the family. 

Extensive teachers’ notes offer new ideas about using this book with early childhood children but as a parent-child read-along, it’s a great opportunity for a chat about how the child and other family members are special and even what makes the family itself unique.

Little Witch (series)

Little Witch (series)

Little Witch (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets & Spells

9781925520101

Hauntings & Hexes

9781925520576

Plots & Potions

9781925675252

Aleesah Darlison

Big Sky Publishing, 2017-2018

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

The tiny beach town of Mixton Bay isn’t Courtney’s idea of a holiday. In fact, she thinks it the sleepiest, most boring holiday place ever and the house she is to stay in is so ugly even a dog wouldn’t sleep in it. But now her grandmother, whom she never met and whom her father hasn’t spoken to for years has died and her house must be sorted and sold.  But once she gets there her curiosity takes over and she starts asking questions about her family’s history and why it has been so fractured.  Little does she know that those family secrets, magic and mystery, and the memory of her grandma Delia will result in a special holiday to remember.

 When she finds a mystical ‘Book of Spells’ with her name on the box, discovers Ink the talking cat and a new surfer friend, Justice who has a secret of his own, suddenly her life gets very interesting and is changed forever.

The Little Witch Series features wholesome magical stories with gentle elements of tween/teen romance. The stories deal with realistic family and relationship issues set against a backdrop of fantasy and magical escapism centred in the real world. Light-hearted and funny, this series feature a strong, independent and unique female lead character whom readers will relate to as she confronts familiar situations with new solutions, learning more and more about her family and herself as she does so. 

No matter what series Darlison writes she has a knack of creating totally believable characters who are great role models for young readers showing independence, imagination and ingenuity while still engrossing them in a compelling and intriguing adventure.  

The Adventures of Jellybean

The Adventures of Jellybean

The Adventures of Jellybean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Jellybean

Bill Condon & Dianne Bates

UQP, 2018

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.95

978070226000

If you’re over mowing the lawn and raking up the clippings, what is the best solution?  Get a goat, of course!

  

After much persuasion and many promises to their parents, best friends Rory and Trang get a goat. which they call Jellybean because of the brown splotches on  its white coat.  And so begins a raft of fun and adventures as Jellybean does its goat thing and Rory and Trang have to cope, as they have promised.  From keeping the neighbours awake the first night and having to learn to milk her, to making goat milk soap for the school fete fundraiser, this is a story that will keep newly independent readers absorbed from start to finish.

There are laughs and losses, a friendship is tested and formed when Jellybean delivers a huge surprise!

This is a feel-good family story that was sparked by Di Bates’s memories of a childhood growing up on a goat farm that is an excellent class read-aloud or bedtime story. Its characters are everyday kids that readers will relate to and while having a goat in the city might be beyond their means, they will still enjoy the fun and the luck of those who are able to have such a pet.

Loved it.

Teachers notes written by a practising teacher librarian in context with the Australian English  curriculum are available.

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

Daisy Hirst

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781406369137

Monster siblings Natalie and Alphonse love books and stories – picture books read to them by their dad, scary stories read by their mum, Granny’s stories , stories remembered and those made up.  It didn’t matter – they loved their books and the tales within them.  Natalie is so excited that she is going to learn to read…

“When I can read, I’ll have all the stories in the world whenever I want them.” 

“And you can read them to me!” said Alphonse.

But then Natalie got her first school reading book…

In this so-true story Daisy Hirst has captured the experiences of so many little people who can’t wait to go to school because that’s where “real reading” is learned and then have their expectations shattered because they get a book about a cat that like to sit on a mat. *But it isn’t a story… Nothing even happens to the cat.” And with no real story and the letters and words looking like “Scuttling insects with too many legs and eyes” how many other children are like Natalie and declare they “don’t like books anymore”, their reading journey over before it starts! Even all the encouragement that Natalie gets from her family doesn’t overcome the disappointment of a meaningless text. 

I could write a uni assignment based on this book alone but won’t.  Suffice to say that it must be made mandatory reading and discussion material for all those who determine the books and the programs we offer our very earliest readers to start their own reading story and the impact that those decisions can have.  The profound message in its seeming simplicity is enormous!

Who Hid the Socks?

Who Hid the Socks?

Who Hid the Socks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Hid the Socks?

Rosemary Coombs

Lorraine Robertson & Warren Brown

Bullawai Books, 2018

24pp., pbk., RRP $A15.00

9780994611819

Laundry day and everything is in the basket – but where are the socks?

David and Stephen are sent out on The Great Sock Hunt and find them in the most amazing places!

In the garage they peered around

and on Dad’s messy bench they found

cotton socks, wool socks,

going-off-to-school-socks

Dave’s were in the tool box

from cleaning up his trike.

They tossed them in the wash and then set off to look for more.  

In the lounge room, inside a chair

were hidden with some of their underwear…

new socks, old socks

keeping-out-the-cold-socks,

stripy, spotty, bold socks,

with cars and boats and bikes.

So many socks for just four feet but who has been hiding them?  Has Dobby been collecting them to free his house-elf friends or is there something else afoot?  Missing socks is one of the mysteries of the universe – there’s even a Lost Sock Memorial Day!

Image result for lost socks meme

But in this charming  story that rattles along at a great pace because of the clever rhyme and rhythm the answer is much more simple. And, as well as enjoying the tale, young readers can also have fun trying to find all the items in each illustration, using the lists at the back as a guide. 

Matching and pairing socks and counting them is a great early childhood maths activity but wearing matching socks is overrated IMO!

A lot of fun either as a bedtime read or a class activity, both the book and teachers’ notes are available directly from the publishers.

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas

Pugs Don't Wear Pyjamas

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas

Michelle Worthington

Cecilia Johansson

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594034

Tom is excited to go to stay with Aunt Roz because he knows she has a new friend called Ellie for him to play with.  But he is a little dismayed when he finds Ellie is a pug, and even more so when he discovers Aunt Roz treats Ellie like a human.  Perched between Tom and Roz wearing new pyjamas, Ellie listens to the bedtime story and the next day at the beach she wears a beautiful wide-brimmed straw hat.  

Wherever Roz and Tom go, so does Ellie pampered and acting like the furbaby she is.  Tom remains somewhat mystified but gradually he accepts Ellie as his friend, particularly as she makes friends wherever she goes – something that is difficult for Tom to do.  So one afternoon, when he is supposed to be looking after her in the backyard but is more intent on playing soccer and Ellie slips out through the unlatched gate, he is as worried as Aunt Roz about her and together they hunt through all the familiar places.  But neither he nor Aunt Roz expect to find her where she is…

There are lots of kids who, for lots of reasons, can’t have pets but who long for one and Ellie would be just the one they would choose.  A dog that is willing to be dressed up, can skateboard and climb trees would be the answer to many child’s prayers, particularly those who are lonely.  So this story will resonate with many and they will delight in Ellie’s adventures, especially the ending, and have lots to say about what they would do if they had an Ellie. Superbly illustrated with pictures that capture both Tom’s emotions and Ellie’s joy, this is a charming story about owning a pet and caring for it, possibly sparking discussions about whether treating pets as humans is the best thing for them.  Where is the line between animal and human drawn? Are there any human things (like chocolate) that dogs should not have?

A fabulous story for introducing a unit of work for early childhood about caring for pets and meeting their needs more than our own.   Children could create a photo wall of their pets explaining the things they like to do and share with them while learning about the no-nos. 

 

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Duke of Hinklewinkle

John Phillips

Big Sky, 2018

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

9781925675153

Bridget lives in the sleepy, seaside town of Hinklewinkle. She spends a lot of time with her Grandpa because her mother often has to work late
and her father lives in another town. 
Grandpa breeds show chickens and Bridget loves to help him out. One day when Bridget is feeling a little lonely, Grandpa decides to let Bridget pick a chicken of her own. Far from picking the most beautiful chicken, she picks a strange looking rooster – a Big Beaked Pencilled Hortner – which she names the “Duke of Hinklewinkle”. The two become inseparable, with the Duke of Hinklewinkle following her like a pet puppy.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Next door lives Mr Borewater who also breeds show chickens and he and Grandpa are bitter rivals, but when Mr Borewater’s chickens are under threat, The Duke of Hinklewinkle surprises everyone.

This is a delightful story that is just fun to read.  While the theme of chooks in books is not new, this one is full of family love and humour and accompanied by bright, cartoon-like pictures that will attract the reluctant reader immediately.  Something to share just for the fun of it – is there a better reason?

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Marvellous Mummy

Marvellous Mummy

Marvellous Mummy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvellous Mummy

Katie Poli

Giuseppe Poli

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594188

We all know mothers are special, but what makes Mummy marvellous?  Is it because she is “pretty and fancy and bright. Sparkle, sparkle, shine?”  Or because she is “scary and  noisy and loud. Raah, raah, boo?”

This is a softly illustrated, gentle book about what makes mummies so lovable – even when she is “grumpy and grouchy and cross. Grumble, grumble, roar” – that is perfect for this time of the year particularly.  Little ones will translate the world and words of Baby and Mother Elephant into their own lives and have lots of stories to share about why their mummies are marvellous. An opportunity to reflect on the important role mothers play in families.

Teachers notes are available. 

The Bear in our Backyard

The Bear in our Backyard

The Bear in our Backyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bear in our Backyard

Emma Middleton

Briony Stewart

Affirm Press, 2018

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

9781925584806

Mum says, “Tom and Tilly if you go outside and play, don’t make too much noise in case your bear is there today.”

As they go out, they find large muddy footprints that lead to the treehouse,  where the bear might be sleeping!  Preparing a nice sugary sweet snack to entice the bear to wake, as they go up the stairs to share it, they drop it.  The bear is awake…  Playing lots of games and having lots of fun, the children and the bear spend a precious afternoon together, sharing dinner and then “Bear” has to leave.

With Mother’s Day on the horizon this is a charming book that celebrates the relationship between mothers and their children, one that goes beyond the dull, dreary routines that have to be done and explores those special times when the only focus is fun. Young readers will like sharing their special mum-moments while perhaps thinking about how they can help mum with the dull and dreary so she has more time for making memories with them.

A companion to The Lion in Our Living Room, this is one to share whenever the focus is on families.