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Beach Song

Beach Song

Beach Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach Song

Ros Moriarty

Samantha Campbell

A&U Children’s, 2024

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

9781761180248

A day at the seashore can be full of surprise, wonder and excitement.

Leap through the waves like a dolphin.
Glide through the water like a fish.
Soar along the sand with the seagulls.
What will you do when you go to the beach?
So many students will be reflecting on their recent holidays, perhaps even writing about them, and for many that will include a stay at the beach.  So sharing this lyrical journey of the writer’s day at the beach, moving like the lizard moves, burrowing like the crab burrows, blowing like the whale blows… can serve as an inspiration both for their memories and their writing.  Often recounts of times gone by are little more than “and then” stories, but to see how both author and illustrator have used words and pictures to celebrate the joy of being at the beach can only stimulate their creativity as they think about what they really saw. MAybe even inspire them to look at the beach with fresh eyes next time as they take time to be in the moment.

 

Marvellous Vehicles

Marvellous Vehicles

Marvellous Vehicles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvellous Vehicles

James May

Emans

Farshore, 2023

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

9780008520878

In the beginning, the only way for humans to move from one place to another was by Shanks pony – walking – but then someone somewhere sat on a log and drifted downstream and the rest, as they say, is history. Human-powered travel had begun and in this fascinating book for young readers, motoring expert James May looks at the variety of ways humans can travel from one place to another entirely using their own power.  No animals, engines, batteries, wind or other external aids – just the use of human muscles.

From the common bicycle to submarines and even vehicles that travel on both land and water, all powered by human energy, the range of conveyances is surprising and there is even an explanation about how potential and kinetic energy are used to make this happen so readers can understand the science that underpins even the wackiest of inventions and craft.

This is another in a new series called Little Experts designed to introduce 6-9 year olds to the world around them by having experts in the field share their knowledge, and even though they, themselves, may not recognise the names of the experts, nevertheless having titles about everyday things that our little ones are curious about and pitched at their level can only be a positive addition to  non fiction collections

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

Jackie Hosking

Lesley Vamos

Walker Books, 2023

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

9781760654948

Having completed their Amazing Australian Road Trip, now the family is off on a camping adventure because Aunty wants to paint “a fantastical beast”.

“It eats like a fish and swims in the lakes, has fur like a dog and venom like snakes, with a bill like a duck, it also lays eggs, has a tail like a paddle and walks on four legs.”

With the 4WD loaded to the hilt and beyond, they head to country to find this amazing creature, finally setting up camp and starting to relax. And although there is lots of wildlife to discover, each with one of the attributes that Aunty has described, none has them all.  What could she be looking for?

As with its predecessor, this is a story that rollicks along in rhyme accompanied by eye-catching illustrations full of detail and humour including the mysterious animal hiding on each page waiting for the eagle-eye to spot…  While many readers will be familiar with camping, and understand the terminology as well as recognising the creatures that the family spot, for those for whom the Australian bush is a mystery there are lots of explanations of unfamiliar words as well as information about the various animals. And, also like its predecessor, it offers a lot of potential for investigation, not the least of which is the meaning and purpose of a glossary.

As summer holidays fade into the distance, this is one that will bring back so many memories for children who spent their time camping “out bush” as they giggle their way through familiar scenes and adventures – although I was a bit concerned that the copperhead snake that inhabits the cool climate region I live in is active at night – and begin to look forward to the next one. 

Loving this series which brings our country to life in such a fun way. 

 

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

Jessica & Stephen Parry-Valentine

Ashlee Spink

Puffin, 2023

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

9781761046926

Our bags are packed, we have passports in tow,
We’re checked in and waiting. It’s almost time to go!
Our luggage is all stowed and we do our seatbelts up quick smart,
The plane is taking off now, our trip’s about to start!

Having explored Australia in the family caravan, Hunter is now off on her first overseas adventure, this time exploring Europe and seeing the iconic sights of England, Scotland, Iceland, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. As she gets on the plane with her parents, she creates her wishlist of places to visit and the things she will see, and the endpapers provide a map so the reader can track her journey both there and on a real map or globe. 

With travel at the forefront of the minds of many at this time, this is an introduction for young readers to overseas travel and the delights it might bring.  Some may have visited these places and have their own adventures to tell, while those who have actually come from each country might like to become a travel guide and suggest other places to visit and things to do. Or for those not so fortunate, they could perhaps make a list of the things that Hunter could see and do if she were to come to their town. 

Always Never Always

Always Never Always

Always Never Always

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always Never Always

Meg McKinlay

Leila Rudge

Walker Books, 2023

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

9781760655204

Always follow secret tracks –
the paths that wind and wend through cracks.
Never worry where they go.
When you get there, then you’ll know.

If ever there were an example of the symbiosis between the text of a picture book and its illustrations, then this would be it.  

While the words offer advice and guidance that encourage the young child to be open to exploring their world, using their imagination and seeing and appreciating its wonders, particularly those right in front of them, the pictures take a young girl on an adventure with her wind-up duck following what ever opens up before them.  

Always take time to look on every cranny, every nook

Never go so fast you miss important things like that and this…

Written in rhyme that carries the metaphor of moving forward on life’s journey as we must, it encourages the young child to take the next step but there is always a word of caution to temper what could become reckless… 

Always test a secret door. And keep that key! There could be more!)

Never close it at your back, but leave it open just a crack.

There is so much meaning that could be taken from lines like these beyond the illustration of the young girl opening a door in a vast, vine-entwined tree trunk opening opportunities for older readers to compare literal and figurative language. Added to this is the image of the key used on both the endpapers and throughout the book, suggesting that there is so much in life that can be unlocked so what appears on the surface to be a book for young readers itself unlocks a lot of lessons for those a bit older.

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Leigh Hobbs

A&U Children’s, 2023

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

9781760878276

Mr Chicken has been everywhere – Paris, London, Rome, and all over Australia.  But now, tired of being at home swamped by boring, everyday household chores, he is ready for a new adventure. And as he looks out at the night sky he knows just where he wants to go – Mars.  So, with the help of his friend Boris the rocket builder, within a week he is off. 

Undaunted by a myriad of complex levers, lights, switches and gauges, he uses his trusty guidebook to safely navigate his way past asteroids and other space travellers, and after a brief visit to a space station for lunch, he gets to his destination.  But will the inhabitants welcome him or…??? Will he return safely to Earth for another adventure in the future? 

For more than 10 years, the adventures of Mr Chicken have delighted young readers and led to all sorts of engaging, intriguing learning experiences  – read some ideas in the linked reviews – and this one is no different.  Imagine being here one day and on Mars in seven! 

When Mr Chicken asked Boris to build him a rocket, he says he wants “all the comforts of home” so that could set the designers in the class planning and drawing to show just what its interior might look like, and while Hobbs has had fun with naming all the gidgets and gadgets the linguists could not only work out what they are for but suggest new ones (with labels) for the class models. Those with a penchant for space travel could investigate the history of its exploration, the astronomers could identify, explore and explain asteroids, planets, stars and even Mars itself, while the practical thinkers could investigate what is currently happening in travel to Mars.  The writers could dream up Mr Chicken’s next adventure to another planet and the illustrators could bring that to life.

And all the while, everyone is enjoying this new adventure with this intrepid explorer as he enriches their learning and lives in a way that few ever do.  

 

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

Juliette MacIver

Sarah Davis

Gecko Press, 2022

36pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781776574155

It’s the class trip to Dismal Hills wilderness. and the children are excited to show off their outdoor skills—foraging, climbing, trapping and hiking – under the leadership of the indomitable Ms Whiskersniff (who prefers to be called Ms Whisk).  That is, all except quiet little Liam who would rather hide…

A hider moves with soundless ease and treads as softly as the breeze.
At times, a hider barely breathes—but what is this the hider sees?

But when what he sees is dismissed as non-existent let alone a threat, the class finds themselves in big trouble.  Can Liam save them by being the world’s best Hider?

From endpaper to endpaper (and including them) this is a brilliant story that should be shared just for the fun of it.  It bounces along in rhyming language, mostly carried in the conversation between Ms Whisk and Liam, but superbly accompanied by the illustrations which are such an integral part of the story, as the best picture books are.  Readers will delight in spotting the clues that observant Liam does and many will relate to being the more introverted, non-outdoorsy type so often not seen and not heard.  

But as well as the clever wordplay and diverse characters, this story will appeal because it is just an entertaining, engaging read.  There’s no overt message of impending global  gloom, doom and disaster (unless you count the fate of Ms Whisk and Liam’s classmates) that seem to permeate so many recent picture books for young readers and while there is much to discover and discuss, there is not the sense that they must do something as a result of reading the story – except to read it again and again for the sheer joy of it. 

 

Grandad’s Camper

 

 

 

 

Grandad's Camper

Grandad’s Camper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandad’s Camper

Harry Woodgate

Andersen Press , 2022 

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

 9781783449927

There’s nothing she loves more than to visit her Grandad, snuggle up on the sofa and listen as he tells all about the amazing places he and Gramps would explore in their camper.  But these days, Grandad’s camper van is hidden away in the garage – now Gramps isn’t around any more, the adventures they shared travelling in it just wouldn’t be the same. As she listens to his wonderful stories, Grandad’s granddaughter has an idea to cheer him up…

This is a delightful story of a little girl’s relationship with her grandfather, a bond that those of us who have been fortunate to experience it never forget.  But this story has a twist because there is no grandma – rather there is Gramps, her grandfather’s much loved partner. And while it is a reminder that there are many definitions and designs of “family” – the rainbow flag on the camper on the cover is an indicator- it is the little girl’s complete acceptance of the situation that is heart-warming because it shows we have come a long way, albeit there is still a way to go.  So while gender diversity is not the obvious in-your-face focus of the story, it is the memories that are so inextricably bound together by Grandad’s and Gramps’ relationship that are at its heart. 

Family diversity is so widespread and little ones need to see theirs in stories, so this is another opportunity to share and celebrate. 

Originally published March 4, 2022

Updated February, 2023

Found in Sydney

Found in Sydney

Found in Sydney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Found in Sydney

Joanne O’Callaghan

Kori Song

A&U Children’s. 2023 

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760526245

From one giant aeroplane coming into land to 1 000 000 tiles on the Sydney Opera House, this is a unique counting book that shares two young children’s exploration of Sydney as a tourist destination. Stretching from Bondi in the east to Gulamadda (Blue Mountains) in the west, there are lots of things to see and all are tied to a counting rhyme and then encapsulated  in a map at the end.

It’s an interesting concept that offers not only a guide for young Sydney-siders to explore their city over these long school holidays, but also visitors to the city.  It could also prompt Sydney children offering their own suggestions for what they would include as must-sees if they were showing someone around, while those from other parts might use it as an inspiration for creating a guide to their own town. 

Something different for starting the new school year. 

Dirt by Sea

Dirt by Sea

Dirt by Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt by Sea

Michael Wagner

Tom Jellett

Puffin, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894061

When Daisy’s family join in a rendition of the national anthem while watching television, little do they know the impact it is about to have.  Because Daisy hears the lyrics as “dirt by sea” rather than “girt by sea” and even though her grandparents and father explain that “girt by sea” means being surrounded by ocean, when she looks out the window all she sees is “girt by dirt.”

It is then her dad realises that he has never taken her to the beach, let alone the ocean, and the trip he and Daisy’s mum made in their old Kombi van is fading into distant memory.  So on Christmas Day, Daisy’s gift is that old Kombi, and on Boxing Day, she and her Dad set off…

Drawing on their own experiences of childhood and adulthood road trips with families, this is a round-Australia adventure for those with the skills to be able to read and follow its graphic novel format. It starts with Daisy’s blank map of Australia on the front endpage and finishes with a completely filled in, colourful one at the back detailing their trip from south-western Queensland to Airlie Beach and beyond around the country’s coastline.

But this is more than just being a travelogue or tourist brochure. Carried along in the conversations between the two, it becomes a personal journey of development for Daisy, her relationship with her dad as he relives his life with Daisy’s mum whose absence is both noticeable and unexplained, and also Daisy’s realisation that she misses her family, and for all it might by “girt by dirt” there is still no place like home with the people and things you love and how they have helped you become who you are. By the time they make it home, neither Dad nor Daisy are the same people who left, and there is a bond between them that the reader knows will endure long into their futures. 

As the blurb says, they discover so much more than the sights and sounds of the wild and wonderful Aussie coast.