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Pea + Nut

Pea + Nut

Pea + Nut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pea + Nut

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9780733340673

Pea the panda and Nut the flamingo are best friends but they are also great rivals.  Anything Pea can do, the boastful Nut can do better!! So when Pea decides to make a cake, and Nut decides to make it a baking competition, there is a contest worthy of any seen in the showstopper category of The Great Australian Bake-Off!

Nut is convinced that  his cake will win while Pea’s will be put in the bin and driven by his ego (and a few mind-games from Pea) Nut begins “a complex production of layers and towers and major construction.” Will he create a cake  that meets his ambition and expectations? Or will Pea’s slow but steady approach take the cake?

Most readers will know that if it is a Matt Stanton book, it will be funny and this is no exception.  The rhyming text, the vibrant, action-packed illustrations and a concept that will appeal to younger readers combine to make this one of his best, and it is just the first in the series for these two oddball friends. But like all top-shelf picture books there is so much more than the story on the page – it screams out for experimentation in baking and stacking shapes; the contrast between the friends’ approach and how Stanton portrays this can teach little ones about characterisation and the need to look deeply at the detail; and there is also a comparison to be made with The Hare and the Tortoise and the lessons that offers.. Children can also ponder Pea’s final gesture – is this what they expected?

A great read for all ages.

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Collection

Alice-Miranda collection

Alice-Miranda collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda 3 in 1

640pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894962

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever- the official movie script

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760896867

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Activity Book

16pp., pbk., RRP $A6.99

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Journal

160pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760896874

 

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2019

When we were first introduced to Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, a young student at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies,  nearly 10 years ago, she became an instant here for many newly-independent readers who were looking for a heroine they could relate to and her popularity has continued to grow with not only many books in the series, but diaries, journals, her own website and blog, and now a movie .  

To celebrate its release on November 14, The publishers have organised a series of events as well as the official movie script, an activity book, a journal and a compendium of the first three stories in the series.  Not only will these appeal to Alice-Miranda’s established legion of fans, it is the perfect time to reboot the series as a new generation of young readers come through.  Perfect for recommending to parents as a collection for the Christmas stocking. 

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

Jo Simmons

Nathan Reed

Bloomsbury, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526606587

Tom is really looking forward to his birthday- he has had to wait a whole year while all the others in his class have had theirs and he is the last to do so. It is also his Lucky Birthday – 11 on the 11th – and so it is sure to be extra special with amazing activities and lots of presents.  But then disasters begin to befall the family – the Curse of the Tooth Fairy according to his little sister Meg – and his parents are so swamped they cancel his birthday.  How can this be?  And with the invitations designed and delivered already!!  

But then Tom draws on his resistingance, and with the help of his friends decides to throw himself the best party ever!  What could go wrong?

Written in the first person so the reader is constantly viewing the circumstances through Tom’s eyes and empathising, this is an engaging read for the newly-independent reader. Peppered with cartoon-like illustrations and Dad’s peculiar expressions, it is funny without resorting to toilet humour and a seriously hilarious but concerning twist at the end, this is one to promote to the boys who are looking for something quirky and fun.

Tulip and Brutus

Tulip and Brutus

Tulip and Brutus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip and Brutus

Liz Ledden

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804348

Tulip and her ladybug friends live amongst the flowers while Brutus and his stinkbug friends live up in a tree.  They never play together. They are so very different that it would be hard to think they could ever be friends. But after a day of heavy rain, their habitats become merged and they realise they have to work together to protect themselves.  As they do, they begin to understand they have more in common than they realise, and each discovers new joys to explore.

The theme of unlikely friendships is not new in children’s literature, but this one is brought to life by the scintillating, action-packed illustrations of Andrew Plant (Pippa, The Perfect Leaf; Glitch,  Spark, and The Poppy) . With a mix of imagination and real-world, Ledden and Plant have combined to create a story that will appeal to young readers, bug-lovers and haters alike, and help them understand that being different and diverse is natural but that there is much to learn and enjoy through trying new things.

 

 

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa's Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2019

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

9780241405024

When Peppa wins a colouring competition, nobody can believe the prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Peppa and her family head to Australia to explore the wonders of the reef with Kylie Kangaroo and marine biologist Mummy Kangaroo. There are so many incredible creatures to find in their underwater adventure.

With its usual mix of entertainment and education, this is another brilliantly coloured addition to the Peppa Pig series that is so appealing to our youngest readers. Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of Kmart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading. 

To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own pace, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey.

Creators and publishers have also realised this and the quality of the stories has increased exponentially so it’s worth capitalising on the appeal and giving our little ones a headstart.  Being a successful reader is as much about having a positive attitude as it is about the skills involved. 

The Suitcase

The Suitcase

The Suitcase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suitcase

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nosy Crow, 2019

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

9781788004473

A strange creature, looking dusty, tired, sad and frightened, arrived in the neighbourhood pulling a big suitcase. Immediately, the locals started quizzing him about what was inside. And the stranger told them there was a teacup, as well as a table and a wooden chair for the teacup and him to sit on, and that there was even a little kitchen in a wooden cabin where he made his cup of tea.  Then, because he was so tired after having travelled for so long, he lay down to rest.

But the locals were sceptical.  How could all that fit in one suitcase?  How could they befriend and trust anyone who told such lies? And so they decided to break open the suitcase…

Naylor-Ballesteros, author of I Love you, Stick Insect and I’m Going to eat This Ant, can be relied upon to write engaging and entertaining stories for young readers that are always a bit different, and this one is no exception.  Told almost entirely in dialogue – a different colour for each character – it echoes the natural reticence we have for strangers who seem a bit different, but also sets up the dilemma of how far is too far when it comes to investigating them. Did Fox, Rabbit and Bird go too far smashing open the suitcase? There is also the rich discussion that could be had about what they discovered; what it tells them about the stranger and how everyone has a unique story, perhaps even secrets; their efforts to right their wrong and the stranger’s reaction to that.  How would they have responded?

On the surface, it seems like a simple read-once story for little ones, but, like the best picture books, there are many layers waiting to be discovered and discussed.

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Cori Brooke

Fiona Burrows

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594751

Nabila is the new girl in school and like many new kids, she’s finding it hard to fit in with the established crew, particularly when she looks different to them and eats her strange lunches alone. But Holly comes to her rescue as their common love for soccer takes over.  But when both Holly and Nabila are picked for the school team, there is still disunity and the two girls realise if they are to come together to play well, they need a plan…

A search for “Twelve Days of Kindness” on the Internet brings up a number of projects and resources, mostly connected to Christmas but this is something that could be developed by a group or an individual at anytime to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and build something harmonious. Some schools like to take students on camp in the early days of Term 1 to build bonds for a successful year, but if this is not viable, organising something like Twelve Days of Kindness could be an alternative.  Having students directly involved by having them articulate those things they don’t like and identifying how such behaviour can be changed and the environment they would like to be in gives ownership and helps them understand the power to change is in their hands.  Promoting empathy activities  rather than always focusing on the ‘don’ts’ of bullying can be a new approach that has an impact by making it personal.  Again, the solution is theirs to decide and implement.

Author of the CBCA shortlisted All I Want for Christmas is Rain, (as appropriate now as it was in 2016) Brooke has again delivered a story that promotes thought and inspires action.

 

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pip Finds a Home

Elena Topouzoglou

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594744

When Pip is discovered wandering around the Arctic by a young explorer, she tells him that penguins live at the South Pole and gathers him up and takes him there on their ship. When he eventually meets up with some penguins, they are very friendly but they discover he is not one of them.  They are Adelie penguins. Perhaps he is a Macaroni penguin because he jumps like them but doesn’t have feathers on his head. Or maybe an Emperor, although he is too short.  Or a Gentoo but his beak is black and white, not orange… Just what sort of penguin is he?

This is a charming story that introduces young readers to the variety of penguins that inhabit the Antarctic as well as showing that there can be friendship and fun amongst us, even if we are a little different.  None of the penguin species shunned Pip because he wasn’t quite like them – he is accepted immediately for who he is, a nice change from some darker stories I have read and reviewed recently.

When Pip’s species is revealed, it is a surprise and there is more information about him and his kind on the final page, as well as brief notes about the species who befriend him. Older readers might like to speculate about why we do not see Pip and his relatives today. Very topical.

Illustrated in a manner and palette that is as soft and gentle as the narrative, this could be the introduction to a study pf endangered and extinct species, starting even the youngest readers thinking about how gentle they can be on the environment.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

 

Teachers notes  are available.

 

The Adventures of Anders

The Adventures of Anders

The Adventures of Anders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Anders

Gregory Mackay

Allen & Unwin, 2019

456pp., graphic novel., RRP $A19.99

9781760632076

School holidays are about to begin and the class is introduced to Bernie the elephant who will be joining them in the new term. Anders the squirrel and his friend Eden befriend Bernie and so begins the first of their adventures – three altogether, collected into one volume. – as they  discover an unknown comet, explore an extinct volcano and find their way through a castle maze as they try to complete the over-holiday homework task set by their teacher. Who has homework in the holidays? 

There is a growing body of evidence of the value of graphic novels to support young readers and with the returned upsurge in popularity of Marvel and Dc Comics and associated events like Comic Con, the stigma previously attached to the format has pretty much disappeared and it is regarded as a genuine part of literature.  So if this is your first venture into this genre either as a reader or a purchaser why not start with an award winner? Individually, the stories have been have been shortlisted for the Angouleme Festival, the most prestigious comics awards in Europe, acknowledging the best comics published across the world. Anders and the Comet was also the winner of Australia’s Silver Ledger Award.

 

 

The Caveman Next Door

The Caveman Next Door

The Caveman Next Door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Caveman Next Door

Tom Tinn-Disbury

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594850

Penny’s street and home were just like any others until a caveman moved into an empty lot next door.  A caveman who cooked his meals outside, didn’t have a TV, didn’t wear socks and whose furniture (what there was of it) was made of sticks and stones. And he didn’t speak English – all he could do was grunt.

One day after school, Penny decided to show him around the neighbourhood – the library, the bus, the park, a restaurant… But wherever they went, and no matter how hard he tried, Ogg didn’t know what to do or how to act and they were shown the door of every place. Until Penny took him to her school…

It’s hard enough fitting into a new neighbourhood when you speak the language and have mastered the social niceties, but to do so without either of these like Ogg, must be overwhelming and daunting.  And yet, with our multicultural and global perspective that welcomes people from all over the world, this must be a common experience for many.  While the children are able to go to school, make friends, learn the language and the expectations, parents, particularly mums, are left at home isolated, mixing only with others who share their lifestyle and so a vicious cycle of exclusion and racism begins.  While Ogg’s attempts to do the right thing are funny, there is an underlying pathos at his awkwardness and also a sadness at the actions of those who object to his actions.  Only at school does he find compassion.  

Using a caveman analogy to bring awareness to the issues of being different is clever because not only does it highlight just how hard it can be, no one can criticise the author for being insensitive towards one group or another.  It certainly opens up the opportunities for discussions about how we respond to newcomers and identifying those things peculiar to us that they might have difficulty adjusting to as well as putting the students in Ogg’s shoes.  With space travel on the horizon, what if they went to Mars to live and found there were indeed Martians…?

While the theme of being different, fitting in and accepting others is common in children’s picture book, even though it might be expressed in a unique way each time, the more often we expose our students to these sorts of stories and talk about them, provoke their thinking and even develop strategies to embrace all, then the better and stronger the communities we build will be.  Strong, united communities are the key to a peaceful, harmonious future if we are to move beyond the current, nationalistic “our best interests” philosophy and look at what is good for humanity as a whole.