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Words Between Us

Words Between Us

Words Between Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words Between Us

Angela Pham Krans

Dung Ho

HarperCollins US, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780063224544

Felix and Grandma have always lived oceans apart—until the day Grandma arrives in the city from Vietnam. Felix is so excited to meet Grandma and spend time with her. But it’s tricky when he speaks no Vietnamese and she speaks no English. They get by with both showing each other special things like Felix’s pet iguana Pete and Grandma showing him how to care for the garden but one day, when Felix and Grandma are visiting a big festival,  Grandma gets lost and doesn’t know how to ask for help.  It is then that Felix decides to teach her English, and by working together and teaching each other, they bond closely as they learn to share words as well, culminating in their shared love of pizza.

With end papers that have flashcard translations of common words, (and Grandma’s recipe for pizza), this is another story like I Hear a Buho and Giovanni  that allows us to share and celebrate the languages spoken by our students as they take the opportunity to teach us the common words for the things that unite us regardless of our heritage.  Having bilingual books in our collections and actively promoting them is a way that we can build bridges and open doorways for those who are not native English speakers by showing them that we value what they can bring to the teaching and learning experience.  

For many newcomers to this country not speaking the common language can be a very isolating experience, compounding the difficulties of what must have already been a difficult decision, but if we can reach out to families through stories – perhaps even inviting them into the library to share the stories of their childhood in their own language to encourage those of the same background to hear them and learn about them – we show the parents, particularly the mothers, that we care and that their child will not be lost.  And, in return, we all gain so much!!!

Dinosaur in My Pocket

Dinosaur in My Pocket

Dinosaur in My Pocket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur in My Pocket

Ashleigh Barton

Blithe Fielden

Lothian Children’s, 2024

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

9780734422668

James loves two things more than anything in the world: dinosaurs and miniatures. every day he plays with his toy dinosaurs and admires his collection of teeny tiny things on his shelves. But while he has an assortment of things like an elephant, a horse and even a mountain, he doesn’t have a miniature dinosaur. So when his class goes on an excursion to a museum and James finds a miniature dinosaur in the gift shop, he can’t help himself: he has no money so he steals the dinosaur. But, instead of feeling happy to be able to add it to his collection,  as the day continues, his guilt grows. And so does the dinosaur!

The only thing that can cure James’s guilt – and shrink the dinosaur back to its proper size – is doing the right thing. But how will his parents’ respond?  Will he be in BIG trouble?

There will be few children who haven’t been tempted by something they really want, so this is a cautionary tale that can open up discussions of knowing and doing right from wrong, the feelings they are likely to experience if they do succumb and how they might get what they want in an honest way.  It might also spark a discussion about the response of James’ parents – if they had yelled at him and punished him, would he have been likely to own up or be more scared of the consequences?  At a time when many seem to have a problem owning their behaviour, taking responsibility for what they have done and accepting the consequences, this could be an ideal ice-breaker.

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

Charlotte Barkla

Walker Books, 2024

192pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760657949

Ever since her Great Aunt Mildred picked the vacant block on the new housing development as a child in 1863 because she loved its giant Moreton Bay fig tree, it has belonged to Dorothy’s family and now they have moved from the country to the city to live in the house and run the store that Mildred’s mother established.

But city life  is very different to the rural one Dorothy has known. Ruby Road is bustling – full of families and children, horse-drawn carts and even a mysterious dog – and there are many other changes such as having to go to school and crossing swords with Miss Armstrong who insists on perfect printing of letters and needlework , despite Dorothy’s love of writing stories which she does in her secret writing room. Meeting a young Asian boy who also likes to write stories, Dorothy not only finds an outlet and audience for her imagination, but is also exposed to prejudice and racism, particularly towards the Chinese who were blamed for “taking all the gold” from the gold rush and inspired the White Australia Policy, as the colonies united to become one country. Inspired by a declaration by her Aunt Esme that she wouldn’t marry and be the possession of a man, Dorothy dreams of being a famous actress and independent and writes a play that she persuades the neighbourhood children to perform. But then a conversation between her mother and Esme about women having the right to vote and have a say in their lives, inspires a change of focus… and hopefully, a change in thinking for many.

Somewhat akin to the concept of Nadia Wheatley’s classic, My Place, this is the first in a series tracing the stories of the occupants of 11 Ruby Road in Brisbane, introducing young independent readers to the lives of those who lived in the times, as well as the genre of historical fiction.  It opens up many avenues of Australia’s history to explore – federation, racism, the status of women- all of which give today’s children an insight into how things were and an opportunity to investigate how and why they have changed.

A series worth following and offering to those investigating or interested in this country’s history in a way that makes it meaningful and accessible.

Grandad’s Pride

Grandad's Pride

Grandad’s Pride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandad’s Pride

Harry Woodgate

Andersen Press, 2023

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

9781839132667

Milly and her family, including Gilbert the dog, are back for their annual summer holiday with Grandad, and while she is rummaging in the attic to build a pirate fort, Milly discovers a beautiful rainbow flag.  It sparks a discussion about how Grandad used to march in the Pride parades, celebrating the diversity of the community and sharing the message that regardless of who they love or their gender, everyone should be treated with equality and respect. 

When Milly suggests going to a parade in the old camper van, and Grandad tells her his partying days are over, she has an idea… and Pride comes to Grandad and the village!

Not only is this a joyous celebration of Pride and all that it means, it is also a down-to-earth explanation that young children can understand immediately, and many will delight in seeing children just like them portrayed in the illustrations as the villagers come together to make this a brilliant celebration.  Like its predecessor, while gender diversity is at its core, it is more about relationships and communities and connections regardless of differences like skin colour, beliefs or living arrangements.  After all, we are all humans striving to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.  

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

Katrina Nannestad

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2024

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780733343117

Imagine being a young girl travelling the world in an old wooden caravan pulled by a horse that decides where they will go and which seems to have magical powers that mean borders and mountains and oceans are no barriers.  And that caravan is full of books, because it, too, has a magic that means that it is like a Tardis with so much more on the inside than appears on the outside. 

That is the life of 10-year-old Miriam-Rose Cohen (who prefers Mim), her father and little brother Nat, Coco the cockatoo and Flossy the horse.  They travel to wherever they are needed, wherever there is a child in need of a book to make their world right again because “the line between books and real life is not as clear as people suppose.”

In this, the fifth in this series, Mim has arrived in wonderful Venice, city of canals, palaces, bridges, boats and … quarrels. Gondolier battles, cat-nappings and laundry theft are just the beginning. The Magnifico family and the Forte family are at war. Mim knows they’re here to help the feuding families. To show them a better way to behave. To bring an end to the vicious vendetta. But can she find just the right book to stop the fighting so that life becomes better for all of them?

So many of of younger readers will envy Mim and her lifestyle, literally being able to be lost in books and so this is a series for them, the perfect prelude to Pages & Co which is for slightly older, more confident readers, and which, itself, could lead them to a new author with a new series, Losing the Plot.  Katrina Nannestad is really leaving her mark on stories for young readers , each so original and this series is definitely one to be offered to your emerging independent readers who would swap places with Mim in a heartbeat. 

 

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Anna James

HarperCollins, 2024

416pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

780008410896

“From outside on the busy north London high street, Pages & Co looked like an entirely normal bookshop. but once inside it didn’t quite make sense how everything fitted inside its ordinary walls. The shop was made up of five floors of corners and cubbyholes, sofas and squashy armchairs, and a labyrinth of bookshelves heading off in different direction.  A spiral staircase danced up one wall, and painted wooden ladders stretched into difficult-to-reach corners.  Tall arched windows above made it feel a little like a church when the light spilled in and danced on the air. When it was good weather the sun pooled on the floor and the bookshop cat – named Alice for her curious nature- could often be found dozing in the warmest spots.  During the summer the big fireplace behind the till was filled to bursting with fresh flowers, but at is was October, a fire was roaring there…”

Does this not conjure up every booklover’s dream of a magical place, a bookstore where magic and mysteries, adventures and escapades beckon?  And for it to be the home of Tilly who prefers the company of book characters to the people in real life and, although not having been outside London, is a seasoned traveller within the pages of the books that abound on the shelves just shouts that this is going to be a series for booklovers and readers that will deliver all that is expected and more.

But what if your favourite characters could not only come out of the books and have real-life conversations with you but could also take you back into the book to have your very own adventure within the story? Tilly discovers that this is part of her relationship with her books and that, unlike other series where it is a secret power, this one is shared by her family,  There is much more to her grandfather and grandmother and the family’s history and lives than she ever imagined. Bookwandering is what this family does, and it might explain the mysterious disappearance of her mother and the absence of her father.

Keen readers have followed the adventures of Tilly and her friends since 2018, and if Ms Now 13 is an indication, they will be as eager to read this final instalment as they were the first, for it is, indeed, “as comforting as hot chocolate” as the blurb says.    In this last adventure, Tilly, Oskar, Milo and Alessia venture into King Arthur’s realm in search of the wizard Merlin, and  discover that the magic of bookwandering is not at all what they thought. Together, they must journey into myth and legend – to bargain with the trickster Loki and unlock their destinies with the help of the Three Fates – and find a way to untangle the Alchemist’s grip on the world’s imagination.  To save Pages & Co. and the very foundations of bookwandering, Tilly and her friends will have to learn the true power of imagination in a thrilling final adventure, but an unexpected enemy stands in their way . . .

If you don’t have the series in your collection, it is available in a variety of formats including a boxed set, but you may have to search beyond your usual suppliers for the five earlier books because it is a series that is best read in order.  It will be well worth the effort because this is one of a handful of series that I have sought out all the additions to review over the years, and one which my granddaughters yelled “yes please” when I told them I had the final, even though they are so much older now. This is a series that, like The Magic Faraway Tree  and Harry Potter,  will be kept for their own children to enjoy.  It is for independent readers with a penchant for magical bookshops and being able to really delve into the world of stories and become part of them. And for those who have to wait their turn, or those who ask, “What next?”  you could suggest The Bookseller’s Apprentice and The Grandest Bookshop in the World.For those a little younger, suggest The Travelling Bookshop series

Saturday is Pancake Day

Saturday is Pancake Day

Saturday is Pancake Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday is Pancake Day

Bernadette Green

Daniel Gray-Barnett

Scribble, 2024

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

9781761380389

Saturday is pancake day when Papa Milo makes his famous pancakes and everyone gathers round for a delicious breakfast.  But, strangely, today Dada Henry doesn’t want to get out of bed to join them.  

Determined to tempt him down Gwendolyn, Lily and Lena raid the pantry to concoct something new and more appealing, coming up with some special pancakes like ‘Good Morning Green Ice Cream’ made with pickles, spinach, and mayonnaise as well as a scoop of ice cream for sweetness, but Dada Henry just pulled the covers up further.  IS there any combination that will persuade him to get out of bed? Is it that he is not hungry or is there another reason?

Despite the fun and silliness of creating the weirdest flavour combinations, there is a serious side to this story as young readers might speculate on why Dada Henry is finding it hard to get out of bed. Astute readers may see that there is no Mama or Nana in the story, so perhaps today is a special day of memories for Dada Henry or they may bring their own experiences to the fore and suggest other reasons.  Whatever the reason, the common thread is the love in the family and how they are all willing to pull together to make sure that Dada Henry is okay.

A gentle reminder that sometimes even grown-ups need some time to themselves to regather and regroup. 

 

 

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

Belinda Murrell

Rebecca Crane

Puffin, 2024

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761340437

Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mathilda Amalia Charlotte Adelaide Rose – known to all as Tillie except for Mr Grimm the pompous stickler-for-manners royal steward – lived a relaxed life with her parents, Queen Cordelia who ruled the queendom of Blumenfeld, King Edwin her absent-minded inventor father and Prince Oskar, her younger brother, a would-be, swashbuckling knight. 

Even though her mother has to wear the heavy, uncomfortable crown today because her everyday crown is missing, she is more concerned about the theft of roses from the royal gardens, particularly because tomorrow is the Summer Harvest Festival  and the palace roses are the feature.  She orders the thief to be found and to be thrown in the dungeon for a year and a day.  But who is the thief? And why steal roses AND the palace peacocks?   Princess Tillie is determined to discover them before the festival is ruined…

Belinda Murrell who gave a previous wave of newly independent readers the wonderful Lulu Bell series, has created a new collection for the next generation of young girls who are consolidating their skills, this time building on that recurring dream of being a princess, but being bold and brave and independent and encouraged to do so despite the presence of Mr Grimm and Miss Prim. With all the supports that these emerging readers need including short chapters, larger font, and a few strategic illustrations, this is one that will have wide appeal, with The Goblin King already available, and The Fire Dragon and The Grumpy Goblin due in the next few months

The Most Amazing Thing

The Most Amazing Thing

The Most Amazing Thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Amazing Thing

Ian Hayward Robinson

Matt Shanks

A & U Children, 2024

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

9781761180118

It’s wet. gloomy, indoors day ad Henry is stuck inside with nothing to do.  His dad is tinkering with his telescope, his sister is doing an experiment, his brother is meditating and his mother is working on her novel.  None of these were activities to include Henry, and so he asks his mum for a suggestion.

“Why don’t you draw me the most amazing thing?” she suggests.

But what is the most amazing thing.  Henry is baffled and all the other family members have a different answer. Is it life, like his sister says?  Is it the universe like his dad says? Or is it the mind like his brother says?  Or is it something else entirely? So, at the risk of disturbing his mum again, he asks her… and she gives him the most amazing answer.

Little people often have big questions and this is an intriguing way to introduce them to the idea of wondering and imagining, as it would be so easy to have them ask Henry’s question and draw their responses before the story is finished.  Are they as bamboozled as Henry?  Do they draw what his mum suggests?  Why does each draw something different? Can there be many answers to the same question, whether it’s the one posed by Henry’s mum or something else?  What is perspective and what role does that play? Do all questions have answers?

Author Ian Hayward Robinson was a tutor in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and taught Philosophy of Education at Coburg Teachers College and so it seems appropriate that his first picture book for children opens up so many questions for little ones to consider and explore. 

How to Find a Rainbow

How to Find a Rainbow

How to Find a Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find a Rainbow

Alom Shaha

Sarthak Sinha

Scribble, 2024

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

9781761380372

Reena and Rekha may be sisters, but when it comes to the weather, they couldn’t be more different.  Reena hates rainy days because she sees them as grey and gloomy, depriving her of being outside painting all the bright and beautiful things.  Whereas Rekha loves the smell of wet earth and the solitude of being outside when everyone else is in.

As she splashes in the puddles she sees a rainbow, and knows immediately that it is something Reena will want to see.  But by the time Reena joins her, the rainbow has disappeared.  Where can it be?  Will they find it again?

There is a saying, “Without rain, there can be no rainbows”, and this charming story can be read on two levels – that of two sisters in search of a physical rainbow and that of emerging from a gloomy emotional episode and beginning to find joy again.  It offers scope for investigating the science of rainbows (as well as instructions for creating one) , but also helps young readers understand that even if siblings or friends don’t like the same things, there are still ways to come together.  With much of the story carried in the dialogue which is assigned directly to each character, and an original style of artwork, this is a story of two red pandas that offers much to young readers learning to explore the world around them so that they will be looking forward to the next rainy day to explore for themselves. You could even teach them the word “petrichor” which is the grown-up word for the smell of dry earth as rain hits it, and watch them impress others with their knowledge!