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Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Wild

Robert Vescio

Mel Armstrong

New Frontier, 2020

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

 9781921928789

Roman was in his happy place when he was free to explore the wild, following the grasshopper’s chirp or the seagull’s flight or exploring the hidden depths of the rockpool. He was tuned into the sights and sounds of nature but then he wonders if that is enough. What if he had someone to share his discoveries with?  And then he finds an unexpected surprise…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With its stunning illustrations by Mel Armstrong, once again Vescio has encouraged the young reader to step outside and view the everyday, the ordinary, the take-for-granted as a whole new world to explore. But as well as encouraging them to appreciate what Mother Nature lays out for us for free, there is the subtle reminder that there are some things that are even more important and which enrich and enhance the experience – the sharing of it all with a special friend. Because it is that human need for companionship and understanding and sharing that lifts the experience to something special and memorable. 

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008343040

Lottie Luna is a werewolf. She’s super-fast, super-strong and has X-ray vision. Lottie doesn’t really like to use her special skills, though – she just wants to be like everyone else. But when Lottie and her friends go camping, she finds that she might just need to – if she’s going to find out the truth about the fang fairy…

This is the third in this series for young, newly independent readers who see themselves as just like Lottie – being just regular little girls on the surface , but with a heroine not too far below the surface. Richly illustrated with all the supports needed to carry their reading journey forward, this is an ideal series to offer those looking for something new and different. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Bears Don’t Wear Shoes

Bears Don't Wear Shoes

Bears Don’t Wear Shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bears Don’t Wear Shoes

Sharon Davey

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781922326096

When your family has just moved house, towns, even countries there is so much for the grown-ups to do that they don’t have time to play with Suzy.  So, being resourceful, Suzy puts a notice on her back gate seeking a friend but there are some criteria they have to meet.  When Bear turns up Suzy interviews him and it appears he ticks all the boxes except when it comes to dressing up, Bear refuses to wear shoes.  But Suzy loves shoes.  Can she be friends with someone who doesn’t like all the things she does?

This is a highly-imaginative story with lots of detail in the illustrations that just beg for little eyes to explore them and really get to know Suzy and her family. But it also poses the question about whether our friends have to like and do the same things we do. Should we force our friends to be the same as us or is there room for compromise or even the possibility of expanding our own horizons? 

A thought-provoking read-aloud that is just right for this time of the year when new friendships are being explored and little ones are learning about how to be a friend and how we should treat others.

 

 

The Day Saida Arrived

The Day Saida Arrived

The Day Saida Arrived

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day Saida Arrived

Susana Gômez Redondo

Sonja Wimmer

Blue Dot, 2020

32pp., hbk. RRP$A27.99

9781733121255

The day Saida arrived at the school she seemed to have lost her words and instead of joy and laughter there were tears and sadness. Her new classmate hunted high and low for the words but could not find them so instead, she drew a heart in chalk and Saida drew a smile.  The first breakthrough!

When her dad explains that Saida probably hasn’t lost her words, it was just that her words wouldn’t work in this country, the little girl sets out to teach Saida the new words she needs as well as learning Saida’s words.  What follows is the beginning of a joyous, lifelong friendship that is so characteristic of our children when confronted with this sort of language problem. They work it out, find common ground, ignore boundaries and borders and learn together.  

Having worked so often  in schools where English is an additional language for so many, where students with no English at all come to get that first grounding before they go to their neighbourhood school, this story is a stunning portrayal of how kids get along regardless particularly when adults don’t intervene.  The playground is such a cosmopolitan learning space and whether the language is Arabic like Saida’s or Tagalog or whatever,  the children’s natural needs overcome barriers. Enriching friendships are formed and their words that every “shape, sound and size” just mingle naturally.

With illustrations that are as joyful as the concept and the text, this is the perfect story for this time of the year to help students understand that being in such an alien environment can be bewildering and confusing, that there will be times when they are in Saida’s shoes and their words won’t work, but there is always help and hope. Because the learning between the girls works both ways, the story values Saida’s Arabic as much as her new friend’s English so that Saida is an equal partner in the story, offering a subtle nudge for us to consider how equally we treat our NESB students. What accommodations can and do we make for those whose words don’t work in our libraries and classrooms?

Teachers’ notes are available and while these are written for the US, they are readily adaptable to the Australian situation.. 

Dino Love

Dino Love

Dino Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dino Love

Michelle Worthington

Veronica Montoya

Catch A Star, 2020

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922326119

It is time for Little Dinosaur to start preschool and even though she is apprehensive, she soon learns that there is fun and friendship and love to be had beyond that of her family if she just takes some deep breaths and is open to new experiences.  And that although love can be expressed in words, it is also shown in all sorts of actions, and between all sorts of characters regardless of their size, shape, or colour.  That it doesn’t matter if you are a  this-osaurus, a that-osaurus or an other-osaurus, you all just want to have fun on the merry-go-round and know your parents are proud of you.

Brightly illustrated, this is an eye-catching book that will appeal to our youngest readers as it taps into the universal fascination with dinosaurs, the natural concern about stepping out of the family and into the world, and the reassurance that there is someone to catch us if we fall. Perfect for this time of year when so many are taking that next step.

Share it and then talk about how each little person has experienced love from both a family member and a friend that day so they start to understand that love is as diverse as they are.

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Helen Castles

New Frontier, 2020

170pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922326010

Scoop McLaren is the thirteen-year-old news editor of her own online newspaper Click! Her role model is her dad  (who runs his own newspaper too) and he has taught her that delivering the news is an extremely important job because people rely on it so they can be properly informed.  Together with Evie, her roving reporter best friend, the girls strive to keep the residents of their seaside village of Higgity Harbour informed while using their sleuthing skills to solve some curious mysteries along the way. 

This is the second episode in this series for independent readers and in it Scoop has another mystery to solve. When Fletcher, her childhood friend enters the Higgity Harbour top surfing competition, strange things start happening… It looks like someone could be out to stop Fletcher from winning! With her roving reporter, Evie, by her side, Scoop investigates all avenues. Can she track down and rescue her friend to solve this monster wave of a mystery once and for all?

Series remain popular with young readers as they become so familiar with the characters they not only see them as friends but also see themselves as being in the story, rather than an arm’s length observer.  So as our readers head back to the library to see what is new and exciting after the long summer break, new additions to favourite series are pounced upon starting the reading journey for the year.  This series is for those who like a mystery that has realistic, relatable characters and the promise of more episodes to come…the last page ends on a cliff-hanger ensuring another one won’t be far away.. 

Tinsel – The Girls Who Invented Christmas

Tinsel - The Girls Who Invented Christmas

Tinsel – The Girls Who Invented Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tinsel – The Girls Who Invented Christmas

Sibéal Pounder

Bloomsbury, 2020

320pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9781526619273

Homeless because her parents died before her memories were made and having vowed to never spend another night in an orphanage of 19th century England,  Blanche Claus hates Christmas.  From her shelter under the bridge she called home, she’d spend the day loudly counting down the seconds until it was over – or she fell asleep in the snow.

This Christmas Day started out as many before it but it was disturbed by the appearance of an old woman with a fancy bauble dangling rom her finger. Giving the bauble to Blanche who protests she doesn’t have a tree to hang it on, the old woman assures her she doesn’t need a tree for this one and as mysteriously as she came, she disappears. Looking at the bauble Blanche sees a snowy landscape decorated with tiny houses and technicolor icicles but it is the giant dancing Christmas tree that catches her eye.  This is the first gift she has ever been given and it changes her attitude and her life forever leading her to first Rudy, an old horse ready for the knackery and then a friendship (also a first) with Rinki.

You get an inkling of where the story is going from the tagline of the title, the byline of the blurb – “”What if somewhere along the way we’ve all got the Santa story a bit wrong…”” and Blanche’s declaration that if she could have or do anything in the world it would be to give every child a gift on Christmas morning so they would also know the joy she felt when that old woman offered her the bauble. 

This is a charming story that draws you in until suddenly an afternoon is gone and you’ve done nothing but be captivated by the magic of the Christmas of your childhood days.  It would make the perfect Christmas Countdown read-aloud or evening read-together as we approach this special time together, and this is another that is going to Miss 9 and Miss 14 who, even at their age, still love that special family time sharing a story.  

 

 

Funny Kid Belly Flop

Funny Kid Belly Flop

Funny Kid Belly Flop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Kid Belly Flop

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020 

272pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780733340604

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes when I’m in the children’s book section I earwig on conversations, particularly those about what book to choose.  Truly, it’s because I want to hear what kids are choosing for themselves but sometimes I find myself joining in and making recommendations, particularly if it is a perplexed parent or grandparent. Last Saturday was one such occasion when a mum wanted something for her newly independent reader who was just stepping out into novels and liked “funny stuff.”  So I reached for Matt Stanton and said that she wouldn’t go wrong because everything he writes is funny. Whether it’s a picture book or a novel, Stanton’s philosophy is  “books inspire the imagination, imagination births creativity and creativity changes the world” and so he deliberately sets out to engage the reader in something they can relate to and enjoy.

This is #8 in this series about Max, his friends and family and his duck. Despite having 250+ pages, it is one for newly independent readers who are ready to tackle something a bit meatier but still with the support of short chapters and plenty of graphics, which showcase Stanton’s talent as a cartoonist as well as a writer. This time max and his mate Abby, who seldom agree, are determined that the upcoming swimming carnival has to be cancelled – Max because he doesn’t want to appear half-naked in front of an audience; Abby because she would rather train for the online maths Olympiad.  So when these two, who are usually at each other’s throats, team up, there can only be one outcome – fun and laughter.

Our students may be disappointed to see the school year end as they head for summer holidays and missing their mates but at least with authors like Matt Stanton on our team we can keep them reading and looking forward to the new year which will come quickly enough.  I’m sure the person who was getting the book I recommended will be on the look out for the others in the series. 

The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unwilling Twin

Freya Blackwood

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

9781460757536

Jules and George are the same in every way. It is quite impossible to tell them apart. They even have matching birthmarks on their bottoms. 

And like all twins, they do everything together including having a long, hot day at the beach.  But sometimes, even twins disagree…

This is a charming story for littlies that will help them believe in the fun and magic in books, for there is a twist to the story which they will delight in pointing out right from the start.  Eagle eyes might even spot it on the front cover!  Nevertheless, they will soon be immersed in it as they go to the beach with Jules and George and relive their own memories (or build their imaginations if going to the beach is just a dream.) The ending is LOL funny – Freya Blackwood hasn’t lost her ability to entertain with both words and pictures.

 

Pages & Co (series)

Pages & Co (series)

Pages & Co (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilly and the Bookwanderers 

9780008229863

 

Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales

9780008229900

 

Tilly and the Map of Stories

9780008229948

HarperCollins, 2018-2020

400+pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 

 

“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.

Created for independent readers or perfect for classroom read-alouds, this is a series that really needs to be read from the first one in order so that the subsequent adventures have context but it will have the book lover hooked from the start, regardless of their age, and wishing they too could bookwander into the magical, mystical world of their favourite characters.  I just loved it!!! Once your students know about it they will be queuing up!