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Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Nette Hilton

A. Yi

Walker, 2021

128pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760652562

D’Lila LaRue lives in the smallest house with the neatest fence and the rosiest garden in the street with her trusty sidekick, Nanny-Anny (who is probably very old but it doesn’t matter). This trilogy of stories features D’Lila and Nanny-Anny sharing many fun-filled adventures, whether it’s by building an award-winning rose garden, becoming an artist, or attending a favourite play. Even if things don’t go exactly to plan . . .

Books with engaging characters and modern scenarios for newly independent readers are always welcome particularly if, like this one, they engage the reader immediately and support them on their continuing reading journey. But Nette Hilton is a very experienced author and knows just what is needed for this age group starting with a feisty young miss whose parents are absent so there are no constraints apart from Nanny-Anny whom D’Lila has twisted around her little finger. Short snappy chapters and stories, humour and could-happen-to-me circumstances mean this is one that young girls will love. 

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Mum

Penny Harrison

Sharon Davey

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781922326225

Everyone else seems to have the BEST mum – mums who can make fancy dress costumes, roller-skate; sing and dance, float like a fairy, even make rare, exotic sweets – but the little girl’s mum is a duffer at all of those sorts of things. But in the end it doesn’t matter because when it comes to cuddles and hugs, nothing can beat the love that comes with them.

So often we look at our mums, compare them to other mums and find them wanting.  Recent events have made me reflect on my childhood and think about how it was my best friend’s mum who taught me to knit (something I’ve picked up again to rebuild my arm and finger muscles) and to bake the best ginger fluff sponges, khaki cakes and banana cakes  (even though I’m not renowned as a cook of any type). But Helen’s mum was a stay-at-home mum, typical of the era, whilst mine was out breaking ground as she pioneered the way for female journalists in the world, particularly New Zealand and Australia.  Like this little girl’s mum she loved me deeply and whilst she didn’t show it by making me fancy dress costumes or roller-skating through the streets of Invercargill she showed it in a zillion other ways, ways that have shaped me all my life, and when it came to bedtime she gave the best cuddles too!

As the annual celebration of mothers comes around again, this is the perfect book and the perfect time to focus on all those things that mothers do daily to show and share their love each in their own unique, individual way.  The rhyming text and the bright, bold illustrations add to the joy of this time whilst validating those thoughts we have about others’ mums yet being so grateful for the one we have. 

Bear and Rat

Bear and Rat

Bear and Rat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear and Rat

Christopher Cheng

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760896287

Bear and Rat are the very best of friends, there for each other no matter what.  But even though Bear has proven his devotion to his friend, Rat is feeling concerned about the future.

“Bear,” said Rat, “I’ve been wondering. Will we always hold hands like this, even when we are old and wrinkly…and tottering up this hill?”

“Of course we will,” said Bear. “As long as you hold mine when my fur turns grey and starts to fall out.”

But something is clearly troubling Rat because despite all Bear’s reassurance she still feels unsettled and unsure, until she finally asks, “What if I have to leave and go somewhere you can’t come?” And Bear offers her the perfect answer, one that comforts and assures her that no matter what, they will be together one way or another forever.

This has been one of the most difficult books for me to read and review because even though it is the most delicate love story, it is based on a real story and sadly, because the author and his wife have been friends of mine for years, I knew its truth and its outcome.  Also, having experienced my own Bear and Rat episodes twice in 18 months, it was all the more poignant, and to be honest, it took me some time to put on my big girl pants and read it. 

But often our children need the sort of reassurance that Rat does – that regardless of what they do or say or experience, someone will be there for them through everything because real love is unconditional and enduring. Chris has captured this special, incredible relationship perfectly because he has lived it and Stephen’s illustrations with their gentle palette and lines are the perfect accompaniment, suggesting he too, knows what it is to love in this way.  And as a reader, with tissues in hand, so do I. 

A remarkable picture book that shows that regardless of what else we might have, to have that sort of love of another is everything.  

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Enid Blyton

Hodder Children’s, 2020

638pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781444959437

Imagine being able to walk to the woods at the bottom of your garden where the leaves of the trees whisper to each other that you are there and find yourself at the bottom of a tree that has the most remarkable inhabitants like Moonface, Silky and Dame Washalot living in its branches and a revolving world of magical lands at its top, high in the clouds.  That is what Joe, Beth and Frannie (PC’ed from the original Fanny) discover when they move to the countryside and  discover that their new house lies next to the Enchanted Wood! And in that wood stands the Magic Faraway Tree where they have so many amazing encounters and adventures.

This collection comprising all three books in the series – The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree – is now, once again, on offer to parents, teachers and independent readers to share.  Over my 50+ years in teaching, I’ve lost count of how many children I have shared this magic with. Apart from transporting the children to new worlds of imagination and wonderment, it was my go-to read-aloud when they were ready for a serial that had continuous characters and settings so they were familiar with the background, but still needed a complete story within each session.  

There is a reason that Blyton’s stories (over 700 books and about 2,000 short stories) have not dated and have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children’s author and remain in print more than 50 years after her death.  Apart from being childhood favourites of previous generations and thus handed down through families like fairytales, her imagination gave her readers the wings to fly away from whatever circumstances they were in to a world where anything was possible, anything could happen and usually did.  In series like The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven,  Malory Towers and Noddy, there were no everyday constraints on the characters and they could become heroes in the most mundane of circumstances, resonating with the audience in ways many authors have envied and tried to emulate since. 

Visiting a new world every read, this is truly a perfect collection for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and because my own grandchildren have had this series on their bookshelves for many years, I know just which family needs this copy to start their tradition. 

 

Let’s Build a House

Let's Build a House

Let’s Build a House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Build a House

Mike Lucas

Daron Parton

Lothian, 2021

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

9780734420329

There are many steps in building a house and it’s important that they be done in the right order.

In this charming story-in-rhyme by Mike Lucas (he who always writes such fabulous Book Week theme poems) young readers not only begin to understand how a house is built and the vocabulary associated with it,  but they can join in the rhymes and provide appropriate actions as they do.  It’s perfect for exploring and consolidating the concept of sequencing and learning the language of order – first, second, third, next, before, after, last and so on. 

But most of all it’s a love story between a father and daughter as they work together to make one of the most important things we need – shelter. 

Very different from both Vanishing and Olivia’s Voice , this is one to appeal to much younger readers especially if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they have learned or they have family members that they see in the illustrations!. 

The Katha Chest

The Katha Chest

The Katha Chest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Katha Chest

Radhiah Chowdhury

Lavanya Naidu

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760524326

Asiya loves going to Nanu’s house because it is filled with all sorts of treasures, but the very best one is the katha chest.  For inside it are the katha quilts that Nanu made from the old saris that Maa and her sisters didn’t wear anymore, quilts that hold the family’s history in their patterns and stitches and stories.  Asiya likes nothing more than to crawl inside the chest and listen to the stories of her family that the quilts whisper to her.  Stories of her family members that unfold in four panels on subsequent pages showing not only the richness of pattern, texture and colour of the saris but also the family itself; stories which wrap themselves around Asiya as warmly as the quilt. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

While this is a story rooted deeply in the Bangladeshi family of the author, for generations women, particularly, have made quilts from discarded clothing, quilts which tell the story of its wearer or an event.  Every traditional patchwork block has a story behind its creation and some, when put together in a particular way, carried secret messages such as those of the Underground Railroad. Thus, this story with its stories within offers riches beyond that of the beautiful fabric of the saris – the reader is invited to trace each family member’s story from the panels to understand the connections between that and the sari that Nanu has used for the katha. 

It is also one of those picture books that can span the ages and stages because what the reader takes from it will depend on their level of maturity.  Young children may just consider their family tree and who is part of it beyond those they see daily; while much older readers may like to think of a family member they know well enough to construct their story in four panels and even design a fabric swathe that would epitomise that story. Those with a deeper interest might like to investigate the role of patchwork and quilting in communities as a way of passing on the culture between generations and across borders and understand that it is universal. 

Being a quilter, I found this story really resonated with me (inspiring me to dig out the bag of my son’s music t-shirts that he asked me to make into a quilt for his children years ago) but as can be seen, it is so much more than a tale about putting pretty fabric together. This is one for every collection and curriculum that has a focus on children discovering their family history.

Teachers’ notes are available from the publisher’s website

 

Main Abija My Grandad

Main Abija My Grandad

Main Abija My Grandad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Abija My Grandad

Karen Rogers

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760526030

As the loss of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is dominating headlines, the special relationship we have with our grandfathers has been thrown sharply into focus – the memories we made, the things we were taught… particularly if he, too, has passed and so there can be no more.

And so it is for Ngukurr great grandmother Karen Rogers who reflects on all that she learned from her grandfather, the adventures they add, the memories they made and how she is passing it all on to her grandchildren and great grandchildren in this enchanting story told in both her own Kriol language and English and illustrated with her bold illustrations, a talent inherited from her grandmother and great-aunts.  From school holidays spent on his outstation at Wuyagiba “near the saltwater” where he was a stockman, she recalls travelling in the old Toyota troopy to go fishing and swimming, and learning about  the land, its bounty and its secrets while they were there. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The stories are told in words and pictures that are inseparable, as the best picture books are, and the feelings of connection and the unending circle of life are strong.   It offers a wonderful opportunity to not only see how the author’s memories are common to all of us – there will be many, like me, who have sat and listened to their granddad tell stories as the sun sets over the ocean (or anywhere) or had their first fishing lessons under his guidance – but also to reflect on other memories and what they have already learned, despite being so young, that they will pass onto their own children.  Sitting in my loungeroom, untouched for years because I never mastered it is an expensive Yamaha piano, bought purely because of the memory of sitting on my grandfather’s knee while he played to me! 

Even though this is a story personal and unique to Ms Rogers, it is, at the same time, a universal one – and stories come no better than that. 

Rajah Street

Rajah Street

Rajah Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rajah Street

Myo Kim 

Walker Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760651480

Junya lives on Rajah Street with his mum and dad and little-bit-older brother. He loves to sit at his window and watch the goings-on in Rajah Street as it gets busier and busier throughout the day, He sees the clouds passing overhead, kookaburras singing and skateboard riders zipping by and his mother patiently answers all his questions about them.  

But mostly he is looking for the garbage trucks because he loves them the most, and while he knows they come on Wednesdays, he is not sure when Wednesday is.  But he remembers things that have happened on other Wednesdays so when they happen again, he figures that today is his lucky day. And he is prepared to watch and wait.

Stepping into the world of the three-year-old, where fact seamlessly merges with fantasy, this is a delightful story that explores a child’s curiosity and imagination when it is teamed with observation and hope. The illustrations explore this mixture perfectly and young children will have no trouble recognising Junya’s world as similar to their own where anything is possible.

One to encourage our little ones to look through their window and explore all that they see, perhaps even to make their own story of the significant events that herald each day of the week so they begin to develop their perspective of time passing..

Little Owl’s Bathtime

Little Owl's Bathtime

Little Owl’s Bathtime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Owl’s Bathtime

Debi Gliori

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526613875

Little Owl is back in another adventure that will resonate with our youngest readers as he tries everything he can think of to continue playing King of the Castle and avoid having a bath. Bathtime means the end of the day and the end of the fun. But Mummy Owl has a few tricks up her sleeve and entices him to wallow in Bubble Mountain and play with the Giant Invisible Penguin, so much so that Little Owl doesn’t want to get out. 

As with the others in this series, Gliori and Brown have combined to create a story around a familiar activity that the target audience will recognise and get great fun from.  Even if they can’t outwit their parents who are trying to bather them, they will have a host of new excuses to try out, while their parents may get some tips to deal with the situation without needing tears and tantrums.

The Greatest ShowPenguin

The Greatest ShowPenguin

The Greatest ShowPenguin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest ShowPenguin

Lucy Freegard

Pavilion, 2021 

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

9781843654681

Poppy the Penguin comes from a long line of circus performers. Many skills have been passed down from penguin to penguin. However, Poppy soon decides that performing in the family circus is not for her as she prefers to feel calm and in control. But the hardest thing is not juggling, or riding a unicycle – it’s telling her mum that she doesn’t want to perform any more. The bravery is worth it when Poppy discovers a better role – organising and coordinating the whole show. And what a show it turns out to be!

So often, we, as parents, lead our children down the path of learning the things we like to do and expecting them to love them with a similar passion.  But it can be a road fraught with danger because our children always see us as the experts and that somehow they are never going to be quite good enough, which can lead to mental health and self-esteem issues.  Even though Poppy is very good as a performer and her parents are really proud of her, deep down inside she knows that the limelight is not for her and luckily she not only has the courage but also the relationship with her parents to express her unhappiness. Perhaps sharing this story might be the catalyst for our students to have similar conversations if they feel they have the need.

Freegard also brings up another element that often rears its head, particularly during class performances – that of “job snob”.  How often is the lead in the school play sought by the class’s leading light and both child and parents celebrate their celebrity?  Yet, as Poppy shows, the whole show cannot go on without those backstage workers, the support cast and everyone else who helps to make it happen.  Here is a great opportunity to demonstrate that no job is better or more important than another – they are just different and without one, others will flounder.  The school cannot function without all the admin staff making it easier for the teachers to do their thing.

Some big life lessons in one little book!