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Nelson:: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Nelson:: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Nelson: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 9781761042294

Tucked into a bumbag around his waist was a variety of stuff that Nelson hated most, but which he needed often.  Because although he hated the taste and smell of vegetables (tricky when you are in a vege-loving and growing family) they gave him superpowers. So in that bumbag were broccoli  (for invisibility), pumpkin for a super strong voice and strength, a radish for teleportation (and a feather to make himself sick if he ever had to eat them.)

In this, the third adventure in this series for young independent readers, Nelson discovers the benefits of eggplants as he is called on to track down some of the worst thieves in town, thieves who have been stealing every book about dinosaurs from the local libraries. The only one left is his favourite from Kindergarten in the school library. But trialling the effects of eating an eggplant has disastrous consequences… Will Nelson be able to control his inner beast and use it to get out of danger?

This is the third in this fast-paced series that will appeal to those who are ready for novels but still needing the short chapters and liberal illustrations for a little extra support  With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience,  Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Who knows what superpowers might be hidden in the rainbow on the plate?  At the very least the kids will be healthier! 

Maybe…

Maybe...

Maybe…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe…

Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406385526

As Mother Monkey leaves her three babies high in the tree, she warns them not to go to the mango tree because of the tigers that are lurking.  But the mangoes look delicious and the babies are very tempted.  
“Maybe we could just look at the mangoes…”

“Maybe we could just get that little one…”

“Maybe we could just go down there anyway…”

How far are they prepared to push the boundaries? Are there tigers lurking?  Do the babies learn their lesson?

In the dedication, Haughton quotes Aristotle …”For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing,” and he has encapsulated this perfectly in this cautionary tale that young readers will love because they will all remember a time when they have been warned but the temptation has proved too great.  With its repetitive text that little ones can join in with, there is a sense of suspense built up as well as a sense of urgency when they discover that their mother was right all along. Nevertheless, it also emphasises the need to be willing to take risks, perhaps not as dangerous as this, if we are to learn and move forward. 

With his signature illustrative style, and its bold colours, the creator of Don’t Worry, Little Crab has gifted our younger readers another engaging story that will become a firm favourite.  

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Early One Morning

Early One Morning

Early One Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early One Morning

Mem Fox

Christine Davenier

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761040030

Early one morning a little boy wakes up with a particular thing on his mind for breakfast, and so he sets off in search of it.  What follows is his quest as he travels around all the familiar objects and animals found on a farm until at last he has success.

If anyone knows what is needed to create a story that will engage the hearts and minds of our youngest readers and ensure they fall in love with the written word, then it is Mem Fox. Here, she has taken a very ordinary, everyday concept combined it with a very familiar character and using just the right amount of carefully chosen text she has crafted a story that will most definitely become a favourite.  The illustrations are perfect, not only helping to make the text predictable so the reader feels empowered but the little chook following the boy adds humour as well as the clue to his search.  As the little chap visits the truck and the tractor and the sheep and the ponies, he doesn’t see he is being followed and little ones will be shouting, “Look behind you!” much like they do the villain in the pantomime, while at the same time I hear the music to this version of Rosie’s Walk!   Two for the price of one!  Chooks in books – always a winning combo.

As well, it opens up the opportunity to investigate where our food comes from and how it gets to our plates. Lots of learning all round. 

 

The Biscuit Maker

The Biscuit Maker

The Biscuit Maker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Biscuit Maker

Sue Lawson

Liz Anelli

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781760650438

Every morning Benedict Stanley and his  cat Audrey Mae stand at their gate and greet their neighbours as they scurry off ready to start their day.  But sadly, the neighbours are too busy to reply – ears are full and mouths are closed.  And even though Benedict and Audrey Mae spend hours creating a beautiful garden to give those neighbours something beautiful to look at, still the neighbours just rush on by. 

Then one day Rory stops to admire Audrey Mae and with a gappy smile, tells Benedict that the Tooth Fairy will be visiting him tonight.  That give Benedict an idea and so he goes to the kitchen, reaches for his wife’s recipe book and begins to bake…

Soon, nearly every event that happens in Mavin Road is celebrated with a batch of special biscuits, made and delivered secretly by Benedict and Audrey Mae.  what a difference it makes until one day Benedict gets so ill he cannot bake.  Will the neighbours notice? Will they discover who their benefactor is?

This is a heart-warming story that demonstrates the human need for connection to others yet even on a busy street like Mavin Road, loneliness can be deep, especially for those who are older, retired, widowed or otherwise living alone. Rory’s connection to the cat changes more lives that can be imagined by one conversation and that special bond that little ones often have with the generation beyond their parents is celebrated. It also shows how sharing food is a universal way of bringing people together, opening the door for readers to share and cook their own special biscuit recipes for the class.

One of those “old-fashioned” stories that wraps its arms around you like a hug, it is a worthy CBCA Picture Book of the Year Notable for 2021.

Good Question

Good Question

Good Question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Question

Sue Whiting

Annie White

Walker, 2020

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

9781760650841

Remember the story of Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky and their mates who were on their way to tell the King that the sky was falling when they met up with Fox? Well, this is the story behind the story that explains just how Fox came to be in the right place at the right time to get himself something to fill his empty tummy.

There is a hint on the front endpapers that there is more to this story than meets the eye with a number of familiar fairytale characters in the woods, although the main story starts with Fox high in a tree talking to the reader and ready to explain why he is there.  It’s an intriguing tale of cause and effect that takes the reader back through his frustrating day told in a monologue that engages the  reader and makes them want to turn the page.  How do all those characters fit in to one story?

Accompanied by action-packed illustrations that enrich Fox’s narrative in the best way, there is a repetitive refrain that drives the story on until we are back to why Fox is up the tree.  And what happens then? Good question.  I thought you’d never ask.  And to discover the answer you have to look closely and follow right to the final endpages.

As well as being a most entertaining story, this has so much potential to be a model for a class or individual story.  The great storytellers always say they start with the end in mind – they know where their main character is going to finish up and then it’s a matter of working backwards to untangle how that happens and how they got there.  So the story end becomes the story start. Younger writers might all start with the same stimulus of a particular picture that has a character in an unusual situation and track the story backwards, offering the potential for a class book of imaginative interpretations while older students might choose their own character and situation.

This really deserves its place as a CBCA Picture Book of the Year Notable for 2021.

My Spaghetti ABC

My Spaghetti ABC

My Spaghetti ABC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Spaghetti ABC

Deborah Niland

Puffin Books, 2021

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

9781760897253

Is there anything more delicious, more fun and more messy than a big bowl of spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce? Spaghetti that can be twisted into glasses, butterflies, a giggly face with wiggly feet and anything else that grabs the imagination?  How about the entire English alphabet?

i love spaghetti with heaps of sauce
and always make a mess, of course!
I use my fork, my spoon, my hands.
It’s so much fun to twirl the strands!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Perfect for kids (but perhaps not for parents) this is a delightful romp through the messiest, yummiest tea ever that culminates in a four-page spread of just how versatile wriggly spaghetti can be.

And what story about spaghetti would be complete without learning the classic children’s song On Top of Spaghetti?

Just for the joy of it.

 

 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 2: The Tumbling Tortoises

The Tumbling Tortoises

The Tumbling Tortoises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 2: The Tumbling Tortoises

Brenda Gurr

New Frontier, 2020

104pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781921928796

Zoe Jones has a hidden talent and a secret identity.  Daughter of one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world, sadly dead now, and a secret globe-trotting international food critic, at the age on nine, she has inherited her mother’s interests and talents, and when she is not at school she creates masterpieces that are highly sought after, aided and abetted by her guardian Aunty Jam and her magical cat Coco.

In the second in this series  for younger newly independent readers, Zinnia has won the Wildside Zoo’s endangered animals competition with her cute tortoise cupcake idea! But when she does more research about tortoises, one of her classmates starts asking too many questions… Can she remain the secret pastry chef everyone loves?

Baking has seen a real resurgence amongst the young in recent months – being a pastry chef is currently high on Miss 14’s to-do list – and given the maths, science and reading involved to create the perfect masterpiece, it should be encouraged. This series (and the Sage Cookson series) are the perfect accompaniments particularly as there are scrumptious recipes included such as the chocolate swirl cupcakes in this episode.

For me, the new school year was an opportunity to hook new readers to new series as well as pair up those who had started and were clamouring for the next episode. So I’d create a display of all the favourites which had had new adventures added and sit back and watch both the reading and the chattering.  What I liked most was how new friendships were formed as unlikely individuals or new-to-the-school students came together over a love for a particular character, proving, again, that books can change lives.

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760893392

Nelson used to hate vegetables- their smell, their look of them and their taste which was tricky because his family loves them.  His grandparents grow them, his father cooks them and the family devour them – all except Nelson who had the grossest pile of smuggled, uneaten vegetables stored under his bed.

The other thing that Nelson hates is school, particularly Mr Shue who has been his teacher for four years, since Kindergarten.  They are always on a collision course. However when his grandmother tricked him into swallowing an entire bowl of pumpkin soup, Nelson discovered that he had superpowers, and suddenly his relationship with vegetables changes.

In the second in this new series , broccoli  becomes his new best friend and while he is determined to discover why veges give him superpowers, he also wants to know  what is the mysterious flying machine at his grandparents’ farm and finds himself embroiled in a spy mystery!

This series will appeal to newly-independent readers who are ready for something more meaty but still having the short chapters and liberal illustrations to support them.  With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience,  Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Unlike Nelson who was looking for ways to hide his veges, perhaps readers will even be moved to seek out  recipes and then cook them and find a new taste that appeals – although I have to say there are better places for broccoli than my mouth.

Pirate Stew

Pirate Stew

Pirate Stew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirate Stew

Neil Gaiman

Chris Riddell

Bloomsbury, 2020

48pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781526614728

Their parents are having a night out and so have hired a babysitter, but he is not your regular carer.

His hair was grey. His face was scarred.

Right leg a peg, left hand a hook.

He grinned a grin and said, “my card.”

It read

Long John McRon, Ship’s Cook.

Soon joined by others, each the quintessential stereotype of a pirate crew member, they set about feeding the children but it is no ordinary food they concoct.  They make pirate stew.

But rather than joining in the fun and games as all sorts of things are thrown into the pit, the children remain dubious, if not worried, , because if they eat the stew they will become pirates too. But nevertheless, a night of adventures lies ahead which gets even more interesting when their parents arrive home and hungry, devour the children’s bowls of uneaten pirate stew!

This is the most delightful tale from an author absolutely dedicated to getting children to read through entertaining stories, and so richly illustrated that it is impossible to summarise it in a few lines for a review.  Starting with two children who faces show what they think of their parents having a night out and who do not embrace the possibilities of having a pirate cook for a babysitter,  Gaiman’s rollicking rhyme and Riddell’s detailed illustrations offer an adventure that can be and demands to be read again and again and again. Just what was in those doughnuts?  The twist in the ending is unexpected and sets up a whole lot of opportunities for asking “what if…”.

Here’s a taste…

A wonderful opportunity for children and parents to find their treasure…. 

 

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles

Puffin Littles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puffin Littles

Snacks

9781760897000

Composting

9781760897017

The Solar System

9781760897031

The ANZACs 

9781760897024 (Sept 2020)

Robotics

9781760897680 (Sept 2020)

The Ocean

9781760897666 (Sept 2020)

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 

A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for 80 years, Puffin introduces our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in this new series of non fiction titles, the perfect size for little hands. In them, he talks directly to the reader sharing information in manageable chunks in a layout that not only appeals but also supports their reading skills and their interests.

Little Cook: Snacks focuses on the fundamentals of cooking and preparing food; Little Environmentalist: Composting teaches them about composting and recycling to make a difference while Little Scientist: The Solar System takes them on a journey around the planets. Planned for September are three more which explore the ocean, robotics and the ANZACs. 

Not all children like to read fiction and so this series caters for both the newly independent reader and those who are almost there using its narrative style voiced by that iconic character to offer more than just a book of facts and figures. The contents page to help them navigate to a specific page and the glossary to build and explain vocabulary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned.

Young readers will appreciate this series because there has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal.