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Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece (Nursery Crimes: Case 1)

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

John Barwick

Dave Atze

Big Sky, 2019

120pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781925675993

Sheep go to a lot of trouble to grow their wool to keep themselves warm, but as soon as it gets to a certain length the farmer shears it off and sells it, often making a lot of money for it, particularly if it is black like Baaa Baa’s. Surrounded by high fences, spotlights and video cameras so neither she nor her wool could be stolen, Baaa Baa was fed the best food and was shorn twice a year whereas her lighter cousins were only shorn once. Once shorn the wool was stored in a closely-monitored control centre with television surveillance so it is certainly precious. So when Farmer Fred sells one of the three precious bags to the local headmaster, another to Dame Horrida and the third to Theodore Thumpnose, the local bully, when he could have got much for it at the wool market, suspicions are raised….

This is the first of seven stories investigating the crimes in the nursery rhymes that little ones hear so often. Told in an interesting style where the narrator and an imaginary reader engage in a conversation, as  though the narrator is anticipating the questions a real reader might ask, it is engaging and different and designed to appeal to the newly-independent reader who is ready to move on but would still benefit from the familiarity of known characters.  It is reminiscent of the fractured fairytale format where something well-known is turned on its head and examined more closely, told from a different perspective and raises issues that might not otherwise have been thought about. 

Cleverly illustrated by David Atze that takes it out of the realm of the usual cutsie graphics of nursery rhymes, this is fun and perfect for those who like something out of left-field.

Rabbit’s Hop: A Tiger & Friends book

Rabbit's Hop

Rabbit’s Hop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit’s Hop

Alex Rance

Shane  McG

Allen & Unwin, 2019 

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

9781760524449

Jack Rabbit loved Rabbit Island. He loved his friends and family and all the little rabbits. He loved being the best at hopping and chomping and (nearly the best) at zigzagging. As he taught the little rabbits to hop and chomp and zigzag, he encouraged them to be kind, work hard and enjoy themselves, a mantra that he finds himself putting into practice as he makes his way from his comfort zone of Rabbit Island to the unknown of Big Island at the invitation of his cousin Roo.

This is an entertaining tale that encourages young readers to have the confidence to take risks and explore a world wider than the one they know. A sequel to Tiger’s Roar it continues the positive message of self-belief, unselfishness and perseverance that young readers need to hear and see in practice.  And to add a twist, a series of letters from the key characters on the final page sets up the series for its next episode.  

Just a happy, charming series about friendships and our dependence on one another to be our best selves.

 

Wolfy

Wolfy

Wolfy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolfy

Grégoire Solotareff

Gecko Press, 2019

36pp., pbk. RRP $A16.99

9781776571574

Once upon a time there was a rabbit who had never seen a wolf, and a young wolf who had never seen a rabbit.The pair meet and become good friends. Tom the rabbit teaches the wolf to play marbles, read, count and fish. Wolfy teaches Tom to run very, very fast.

But eventually their friendship is tested by the classic game Who’s-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolf? Can the little rabbit and the young wolf remain best friends in all the world?

With its striking artwork, this is a story about how opposites can be friends despite their differences – not a new theme in children’s literature – but the twist is in the resolution.  When Wolfy frightens Tom so badly during their game that Tom scurries to his burrow vowing never to come out again, Wolfy doesn’t get it -until he does.  It’s the young child’s version of “walk a mile in my shoes” that sets this book about friendship apart and which has lessons to teach those who find it hard to empathise with the results of their actions.  Plenty of scope for discussion and reflection. 

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hackathon

 9780143795056

Game On

9780143795063

Alex Miles

Puffin Books, 2019

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

From the Girl Geek Academy website…

What would the internet look like if there were more women building it?

  • By the age of 6, children classify jobs as male and female.
  • By the age of 8, they are limiting aspirations
  • By 13 many of them have already ruled out career options that don’t fit with gender stereotypes.
  • By ages 16-17 60% of girls aspire to stereotypically ‘female’ jobs.

So the mission of the Girl Geek Academy is to increase the number of women and girls in tech, games, making, robotics, 3D printing, aviation, drones and space by teaching one million women
to learn technology by 2025. Launched by five women with the aim of making girls in STEM and IT the norm, they are developing a series of initiatives aimed at those from five years old up to mature women, one of which is this new series of books that put geek girls in the spotlight and in charge.  They show that technology is fun and girls are awesome, with each focusing on each of the girls, Hamsa, Eve, Niki and Maggie and their particular talents – hacker, hipster or hustler. With characters that young girls such as my Miss 13 will recognise, they take everyday situations that arise in schools and show how the girls use their strengths to solve them, demonstrating that being a ‘geek girl’ is as normal as being any other sort of girl.  It’s just one part of who they are.

As well as this new series (four in the pipeline so far) there are many other programs and resources available on the academy website to support and enable the development of digital technologies in the school and across the curriculum so this is both a series and a website that could and should be promoted widely to staff and students.  So often, geeks don’t see the library as having anything for them, particularly when there is still such an emphasis on books and reading, so this is yet another way to reach out to that long tail – all those potential patrons that a library has but who don’t use the facility because they don’t believe it has anything to offer them.

Well-written, illustrated and as perfect for the newly-independent reader as it is for those whose appetite for reading is never sated, this is a series with a difference and with huge potential. 

 

The Visitor

The Visitor

The Visitor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Visitor

Antje Damm

Gecko Press, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776571895

Elise was frightened—of spiders, people, even trees. So she never went out, night or day. One day a strange thing flies in through the window and lands at her feet. And then there comes a knock at the door. Elise has a visitor who will change everything.

This is a charming story, cleverly constructed with its dark and bright palettes, that shows how a child can unwittingly bring life and light back to where there seems only darkness. Using a unique process of drawing Elise and Emil and then placing their cutout figures in a small, tidy home with furnishings crafted of paper and board, photographing them and then adding colour washes or not as the story’s mood dictates, Damm demonstrates how much we really do need others in our lives if we are to experience its true joy. The final page demonstrates this perfectly.

Whenever there is a news story about children visiting an aged care facility, the residents always talk about how alive they start to feel, something that my own mother-in-law experienced herself.  Unable to recognise her own son and daughter towards the end, nevertheless she was able to recall the words to the songs that our school choir sang and join in with them.  But not only did she talk about it to us for many visits afterwards, the children themselves also talked about the people they had met, the grandparents they didn’t have and the friendships that were beginning to blossom as the visits became a regular fortnightly activity. There was a purpose to their learning new lyrics and practising their singing and my m-i-l always knew when there was a visit imminent.

Lots of scope to develop vocabulary about feelings but more powerfully, never underestimate the power of a child in someone’s life and think about how you and yours could brighten someone else’s.

 

 

My Real Friend

My Real Friend

My Real Friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Real Friend

David Hunt

Lucia Masciullo

ABC Books, 2019

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

9780733334894

Rupert is William’s imaginary friend, a role he is quite happy to have because they do so much together.  Make music, paint pictures, play games … it’s all great fun except for two things. He never gets to choose the game and be the hero, but worst of all, that William will stop imagining him and he will fade away. And one day, William breaks the news to him…

Told from Rupert’s perspective, this is a charming book for early readers who are familiar with imaginary friends. As Rupert contrasts his life with William’s, there is a lot of humour in his observations and sometimes Rupert’s life in the imagination seems more fun. Poignant though his comments are, there is always the expectation that this story will not end well for Rupert but Masciullo’s clever mixed-media illustrations soften the blow and his appearance as the shadow on William’s new friend’s skateboard is masterful, suggesting that William might not quite have let go yet. 

Friendships, real and imaginary, wax and wane over time as circumstances and situations change and this is a celebration of that.  Rupert is a vital part of William’s childhood, as imaginary friends are for many children, and the letting go as social circles widen can be painful.  It validates those imaginary friends of the young readers and opens the doorway for discussions about the difference between the two and the place they have in our lives.  It is a way of encouraging those still rooted in their immediate concrete world to start viewing things from another perspective, particularly through Rupert’s weariness of always being the victim or the loser!

Ideas to guide the discussions are available

I Don’t Want to be Small

I Don't Want to be Small

I Don’t Want to be Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Want to be Small

Laura Ellen Anderson

Bloomsbury, 2019

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

9781408894064

Being small is a pain.  Having to stand on tiptoes in crowds; missing out on rides at theme parks;  wearing hand-me-downs that are too big – it’s just so unfair!  And it makes him so angry that he throws his teddy in disgust and it lands in a tree – too high for him to reach to get it down again. And no matter what he tries – stilts, sticks, even a rope made of socks – he is too small to reach it.  What can he do? 

This is a charming story that many young readers will relate to – just being a little bit shorter than your friends can be so frustrating and means you always have to sit in the front row in class photos!  Told in rhyme and accompanied by delightful illustrations that are so expressive, this is a story about feeling frustrated, seeking solutions and finding friendships in unlikely situations. Take it from one who knows, eating your greens does not make you grow tall – that’s just a mother-myth to trick you!

Nits!

Nits!

Nits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nits!

Stephanie Blake

Gecko Press. 2019

32pp., pbk. RRP $A16.99

9781776572243

Simon feels a new emotion stirring—he thinks he is in love with Lou! Sadly, Lou loves Mamadou… One day Lou comes to school with nits. She’s suddenly not so popular any more. Except with Simon. He doesn’t care about nits! Lou gives Simon a big hug for being so kind—and some small visitors too..

Nits are the scourge of school life and it’s a lucky child who manages to avoid them. Even teachers start to itch when a case is discovered! But for the very young child who does catch them.  this is a simple story that will reassure them that they can be cured and still be loved. Wise parents will point out how clean and tidy Lou’s ‘hair” is, and emphasise that that’s what nits like so there is no shame and certainly no room for teasing. And for those who don’t have them and are inclined to judge and tease others who do, it’s an opportunity for them to think about how Lou feels and how they would feel if they were the “victim”.

 

 

Don’t Make Me Cross!

Don't Make Me Cross!

Don’t Make Me Cross!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Make Me Cross!

Smriti Prasadam-Halls 

Angie Rozelaar

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A11.99

9781408885611

I’m a little monster, I am smiley, small and sweet,
With gorgeous little monster eyes and furry monster feet.
There’s just one thing that you should know 
I have to be the boss. And if you don’t remember 
I’ll get very VERY CROSS!

It’s Little Monster’s birthday and his friends are coming to his party. But it’s not much fun playing party games with someone who always has to win … or having birthday tea with someone who wants ALL the food for himself. So when they play hide-and-seek and he throws a tantrum with disastrous consequences because he can’t find them, Little Monster finally learns the importance of being a good friend and how to be one. 

Written for young readers who may recognise themselves in the story, this is a story about how not to behave at a birthday party, even if it’s your own. Lots to talk about as little ones share their ideas about what Little Monster should be doing, thus reinforcing their concept of friendship and what it entails. 

My Friend Fred

My Friend Fred

My Friend Fred

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Friend Fred

Frances Watts

A. Yi

Allen & Unwin, 2019

24pp, hbk, RRP $A19.99

9781760290948

Fred the dachshund likes and does many things – he east dog food for breakfast; chases balls; sniffs trees; wears a coat when it’s cold… But none of these things appeal to his friend. But nevertheless, even though they are different, they are still best friends.

This is an intriguing book about friendship for young readers because, although there are hints about who might be telling the story available to the sharp-eyed, the identity is not revealed till the last page. And when it is, it underlies the message of the book that regardless of differences, close bonds are still possible. 

By not revealing the identity explicitly, young readers are encouraged to pay close attention to the delightful illustrations which are full of expression and movement, and interpret the friend’s observations so well.   They may well like to compare Fred’s pleasures with those of a dog they know, and once they learn the twist in the tale, retell the story from Fred’s perspective. Older children could discuss whether our friends perceive us as we perceive ourselves, another opportunity to explore the concepts of perception and bias.

Lots of scope for learning in this one.