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The Curse Of The School Rabbit

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curse Of The School Rabbit

Judith Kerr

HarperCollins, 2019

80pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9780008351847

Ever since it peed on him in Miss Bennett’s Year 2 class, Tommy has hated Snowflake the school rabbit.  And now it has come to stay because his sister Angie is in Miss Bennett’s class and Snowflake needs a home while Miss Bennett goes to look after her mother.But because Angie is so little, Tommy has the task of looking after Snowflake and while the extra pocket money will be handy because he thinks if he wants a new bike he will have to buy it, this is not a task he is savouring.  And so the trouble starts… dangerous dogs bale him up in the park when he is walking the rabbit; his out-of-work-actor father misses out on a job because Snowflake pees on someone important, Angie gets really sick, Snowflake goes missing… There really is a curse!

Written and illustrated during the final year of her life – Kerr died in May 2019 aged 95 – this is an engaging story for the newly-independent reader from the author of classics such as the Mog the Forgetful Cat series andWhen Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,  It shows she still had all the imagination and wit that she had when she first wrote The Tiger Who Came to Tea in 1968 and will probably gain her a whole new legion of fans.

You can read more about her work in this obituary

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Vikki Conley

Penelope Pratley

EK Books, 2019

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

9781925335255

When Mrs Gooseberry was in her front yard she always seemed grumpy, slamming her door and making the children afraid to ask for their ball when they accidentally kick it into her yard.  But when Ella, who lived next door, saw Mrs Gooseberry in her backyard, it was a different story.  She had a lovely vegetable garden  and chickens that she talked to and she seemed happy.  Confused, Ella asks her mum how a person could be grumpy in their front yard yet happy in the back and she learns that Mrs Gooseberry has “lost her love.” That confuses her even more because she didn’t know that you could lose love and whether it might be found again.

She asks the important adults in her life what love is and gets a different answer from each one, and gradually realises that love can be many things. When she sees her cat’s kittens snuggling into their mother’s warm tummy, she has an idea…

This is a charming story that will help young readers understand that love can take many forms and it doesn’t always have to be encased in the words, “I love you.”  It can be expressed in the things we do (or don’t do); the way we look at and treat others; the care we take; the extra gestures or actions we make… It is an ideal way for them to start thinking about how those who are important to them show their love and how they reciprocate those feelings.  It cries out for an activity where children inscribe one side of a heart with “My —— loves me because —–” and the other side with “I love —– because —-” where the blanks are filled with the little personal things that show love without being words.  Apart from raising awareness of how they are loved, it might also inspire them to think of new ways to express their love such as cleaning their room or doing the dishes so the adults have one less thing to do. And perhaps it might show those who think they have lost their love, that they haven’t – it’s just in a different shape now.

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Max's Dinosaur Feet!

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Lana Spasevski

Penelope Pratley

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594638

Max loves to STOMP, STAMP and SMASH around on his dinosaur feet.  But his mum tells him to walk quietly because he will wake baby Molly.  She has to reach him how to tiptoe as though he is walking on dinosaur eggshells. 

All is quiet for a while until Dad’s happy summer feet drip. slip and flip as he comes in from surfing.  So Max teaches him how to walk on dinosaur eggshells and all is quiet 

again.   But then Pop comes in with his walking feet, and Merida with her dazzling  dancing feet… Still Molly sleeps on until Rufus arrives with his wrinkly wet nose that just loves feet….

This is a joyful story for young readers that will speak to them about a familiar situation.  With its charming illustrations it offers all sorts of scope for stomping around like dinosaurs and dragons and elephants and then learning to tiptoe on dinosaur eggshells! Little ones will love it. 

When Billy Was a Dog

When Billy Was a Dog

When Billy Was a Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Billy Was a Dog

Kirsty Murray

Karen Blair

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760631826

Billy loves dogs and he really, really wants a dog. He adores Mrs Banerjee-next-door’s little dog, Fluff, but even though he promises to wash it and walk it, feed it and clean up its messes if he one of his own, his parents are not sure.  And so he hatches a plan.  If he cannot have a dog, he will be one.

To his parent’s surprise (and embarrassment) he copies all the things he knows that Fluff does, even eating his breakfast from a bowl on the floor, and when his mum and Mrs Banarjee go to the cafe, he waits on the floor alongside Fluff.  He even curls up in Fluff’s basket with her and sleeps, until Fluff begins to make funny noises and Mrs Banerjee sends him home.  He is confused but…

Many young readers will see themselves in Billy – desperately wanting a dog or a pet of some sort but not getting one.  But while many might think that pester-power is the answer, Billy’s novel solution offers the foundation for an interesting story that will appeal widely.  Being a pet-owner requires a lot of responsibility as many advertisement from places like the RSPCA  remind us particularly around Christmas time, but there could be discussion about whether Billy’s solution is actually the best one.  How else could he have shown that he was mature enough to understand what is involved and that he is responsible enough to take it seriously?

Being responsible for a pet is a huge undertaking but there are many other things that young readers want to do or have that are beyond the realm of their maturity.  So this story opens up the pathway for discussions about those sorts of things and the best responses that could become strategies.  With Book Week rapidly approaching and many schools holding book fairs, this is a great way to open up conversations about how students might be able to purchase what they want without the usual whingeing and moaning and tantrum throwing!

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature

Pierre-Jacques Ober

Jules Ober, Felicity Coonan

Candlewick Studio, 2019

104pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536204827

From the publisher… “About one hundred years ago, the whole world went to war. The war was supposed to last months. It lasted years. It is Christmastime, 1914, and World War I rages. A young French soldier named Pierre had quietly left his regiment to visit his family for two days, and when he returned, he was imprisoned. Now he faces execution for desertion, and as he waits in isolation, he meditates on big questions: the nature of patriotism, the horrors of war, the joys of friendship, the love of family, and how even in times of danger, there is a whole world inside every one of us. And how sometimes that world is the only refuge. “

Published to coincide with the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, one of five treaties formulated at the Paris Peace Conference as part of the peace negotiations at the end of the First World War, the readership of this book is older than what is normally reviewed for this site, despite its sparse text.  However, it is a new and important addition to any collection about World War I  and there will be primary school students who will appreciate the conceptual issues it raises as they become more aware of “the difficult truths of humanity”.

Written by a Frenchman now living in Australia, and illustrated by miniature reenactments of the scenes that have then been photographed, the book is the winner of 1st Prize at the Prix Sorcières 2019, France’s most prestigious award for children’s books.   The story is based on true facts and its connection to the author and the illustrators and their processes have been detailed in the final pages. 

Different, intriguing and utterly absorbing,

 

 

Pippa

Pippa

Pippa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa

Dimity Powell

Andrew Plant

Ford St, 2019

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

9781925804270

Pippa the pigeon thinks she is ready to fly the skies by herself and have adventures. Rather than being hesitant to go out of her comfort zone, Pippa wants to experience the world for herself.  But her parents have other ideas. They are worried she is too young and do all sorts of things to keep her  at home and safe . But one day while they are out foraging for food, she flaps her wings and soars.  Over the town, the river and the paddocks she sails, going further and further from home.  But then fatigue and hunger set in and she discovers that while this big wide world is beautiful there are perils in it! Will she make it home safely?

A tender tale about parents wanting to keep their children safe, this is a story that cuts through the middle of parental protection and childish curiosity.  Our children need to be allow to fly; they need to face and conquer the obstacles they encounter if they are to be resourceful and resilient, but they also need to know there is a soft place to fall when it all gets too much.  

Dimity Powell has created a story that reflects both the parents’ perspective and that of Pippa – offering much to talk about as readers think about what they would like to do, whether they are ready and what they might learn as they try. It’s about striking a balance between independence and the security of home and Andrew Plant’s illustrations are perfect. Who wouldn’t be terrified seeing the face of the falcon coming towards you or those malevolent red eyes glowing in the dark?

As our young readers go through a number of stages where their desire for independence becomes overwhelming, this is a book that spans many age groups and there are excellent teaching notes which support this sort of use.  Perfect for teaching about being prepared, being resilient and being able to overcome obstacles without panicking. 

Lights Out, Leonard

Lights Out, Leonard

Lights Out, Leonard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights Out, Leonard

Josh Pyke

Chris Nixon

Picture Puffin, 2019

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

9780143793489

Leonard is not afraid of the dark.  It’s the five-nosed, seven-tailed, eleven-handed, scaly-waily monster (and its cousins)that are hiding in the corner of his bedroom that make him reluctant to have the lights out at night. No matter whether it’s mum, dad or both of them together he begs them to leave the lights on – and so they do. For several nights the lights stay on all night in Leonard’s room, lighting up the dark and scaring the monsters until one day he finds a strange book on his bed. It’s called How to frighten Monsters and is full of tips and tricks to scare them away. And it has a BIG poster to hang on his door. But does it do the trick?

This is a funny story about a very common subject, one that parents with children who demand the lights be left on will appreciate for its strategies for dealing with the fears.  Pyke’s descriptions of the monsters lurking in Leonard’s room demand to be drawn in all their glory – perhaps another tip for getting rid of them – because they have deliberately not been shown in full so that there is nothing too confronting to scare the reader. But there is enough to suggest the fear they instill in Leonard. 

Even though this story has a theme that has been covered before, the resolution is original and effective and by giving Josh the power to vanquish his demons himself. success is guaranteed. It will also generate discussion about what makes it dark and why it can be scary, as well as the opportunity to share other ideas for defeating those monsters. Perhaps each child could create their own page for a class manual! Teaching notes are available here and there is also an activity pack.

The Jacket

The Jacket

The Jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jacket

Sue-Ellen Pashley

Thea Baker

Black Dog, 2019

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

9781925381788

The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was warm, like the afternoon sun. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front.

Amelia wore it everywhere – to kindy, Aunty Kath’s house, the shops, even to bed. But one day it didn’t fit her any more so she gave it to her younger sister Lily who also wore it everywhere – to the park, to Nanna’s house, to the library, even to the beach. But what happens when it’s too small for Lily?

This is a story that is as warm as a hug from the jacket itself.  It’s as familiar to my grandchildren as it is to almost every child – having to let go of something you love because you are growing up and it isn’t. Beautifully illustrated with repetitive phrases that wrap around the tongue like a jacket around your body, this is a charming story that will resonate widely as children snuggle more deeply into their favourite jackets as winter really begins to bite. Perhaps it could inspire a communal jacket drive  so all those outgrown jackets in children’s cupboards could find a new home.    

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bug Collector

Alex G. Griffiths

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594539

George loves Sundays because that’s the day he goes on an excursion with his grandfather. Today they go to the Museum of Wildlife but instead of stopping to look at the dinosaurs, whales and other wondrous creatures, Grandad takes him to Insect World.  Immediately George is captivated and can think of nothing else on his way home.  He even dreams about them! Next day, he arms himself with a host of bug collecting equipment and once he gets the knack of catching them, it’s not long before he has his own collection all lined up in jars in his treehouse.  But Grandad is not as excited to see them as George anticipates.  In fact, he is the opposite – and George learns the role that bugs play in keeping the environment healthy and flourishing.  Clever Grandad also has a solution…

To many, bugs and minibeasts are things to be afraid of and are stomped on,  sprayed or otherwise disposed of without thought to their purpose or place in nature’s hierarchy.  Certainly, anything with eight legs or more can expect doom inside my house. But as George learns, they do have a vital role in the ecology and so this is an excellent book to introduce young readers to this and help them develop a healthy appreciation and respect for them from the get-go. 

Based on his own childhood memories of his relationship with his grandfather and their time together in the garden, this is one that can have wide appeal because no matter what sort of garden we have access to, even if it’s just a hoop of grass on the playground, it is amazing the diversity of wildlife that exists there and the learning that can springboard from that. Perhaps the playground will be transformed in the same way George’s garden was.  Then, if investigating minibeasts doesn’t appeal, there is always the relationship the child has with an older person, grandfather or other, and the memories they share and will share with their children.

Griffiths says that this is his first foray into actually creating the story to go with his illustrations and that he found it quite difficult, but the end result is so rich and so relatable for every young reader that he should be ecstatic about the result.  It’s certainly taken this grown-up to a happy, nostalgic place and hopefully I can provide my grandchildren with some memories too. 

   

 

Touch the Moon

Touch the Moon

Touch the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch the Moon

Phil Cummings

Coral Tulloch

 A&U Children’s, 2019

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

9781760523657

July 21, 1969 seemed like a pretty ordinary winter’s day in much of Australia and elsewhere.  Smoke drifted from chimneys, ice clung to the windscreens of cars, breakfast was served, dogs waited to be walked… But there was something different about this day. In the days before breakfast television was the norm, televisions were turned on and tuned in to an event happening a quarter of a million miles away and the whole world was focused on it.  Man was about to touch the moon!

But as life slowed in anticipation, something else began to happen.  For the first time in the tiny town of Peterborough, 200 km north of Adelaide, snowflakes began to fall. The dilemma between watching world history, indeed space history, being made and playing in snow for the first time ever was such a tough decision to make.  Which will win?

As we lead up to the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, this is the author’s autobiographical account of a momentous day in history, both for the world and for him. He was torn between going out to play in the snow or watching the events unfolding on television but even if it hadn’t snowed in Peterborough it was still such a momentous day that there would be few who were alive then and are alive now who can not remember where they were and what they witnessed.  And that is the purpose of his writing the story – for older generations to “share with children their experiences and memories and encourage children to ponder and be excited by the endless possibilities in their future.” 

Beautifully written and superbly illustrated the story inspires the reader to think about what a whole new world would look like for them. Would it be seeing snow, the ocean, the city or the desert for the first time? Would it be imagining what the world would be like on the centenary of the anniversary in 2069? Would it be having a brother or sister or being disease-free or something else they longed for that would be life-changing? Have they already experienced such a change? So much scope for talking and writing and dreaming, pondering and wondering just as Cummings wanted!