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Brindabella

Brindabella

Brindabella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brindabella

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2018

208pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760112042

While Pender is playing in the bush near his home, he hears a gunshot and to his dismay he discovers a mother kangaroo taking her last breath.  But as her eyes glaze, he notices movement in her pouch and Pender finds himself with no choice but to take care of the baby joey he names Brindabella.  With his artistic, somewhat reclusive father, they raise Brindabella and even though Pender knows she will one day need to return to the bush he puts that way to the back of his mind, until the day her natural instincts become too much for her and Brindabella leaves…

With the narrative switching between Pender and Brindabella’s perspectives, this is a sensitively written novel for young independent readers that explores the relationship between people and animals. Why do Pertelote the chook, Billy-Bob the dog and Ricky the cat stay with Pender and his father while Brindabella has a compelling need to leave? Confronting, even emotional in parts, Dubosarsky brings the Australian bush alive so all the senses are engaged and the reader is there with Pender, opening opportunities for lots of sensory responses that confirm, compare and contrast Pender’s home with that of the reader themselves.

Shortlisted for the 2019 CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, this is a story that I know Miss 8 is going to adore particularly because she loves to roam our bush block and we have our own share of Brindabellas, but for those not as fortunate, there are teachers’ notes and activities that will help to bring it into the realm of city kids. Download them from the home site.

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

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin's brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Libby Hathorn

Phil Lesnie

Lothian Children’s, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734417879

Imp is a wild child, roaming the paddocks of the farm where Miss Franklin is employed as governess to the Davis children. Disdained by them as a “real naughty girl” they have been warned by their mother to keep away from her, although Florrie has struck up a friendship of sorts, and dismissive of learning to read and write as a “waste of time”, nevertheless she continues to hang around the schoolhouse and gradually a trust builds between her and Miss Franklin.

Miss Franklin, who had taken the job to help her family out of financial difficulties, has bigger dreams than being a governess, and when she eventually confesses these to Imp, Imp gives her some advice that changes her path and her life forever.

Written about Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career,  and namesake of two major literary prizes, this not only shines a light on the author’s early life but demonstrates how famous people start out as very ordinary and it can be just chance that sets them on their path to fulfil their dreams. And while most of us have dreams, sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that gives us the impetus to pursue them and the courage and determination to make them come true.  Even though Imp’s dream was nowhere near as grand as that of Miss Franklin, she too was able to take the first steps towards achieving it. The endpapers tell her story! So as much as Libby Hathorn and Phil Lesnie have captured Miss Franklin’s story, it is also an encouragement to anyone to take and chance and chase what they want. 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Detention

Detention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Tristan Bancks

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791799

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one. 

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. 

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block. 

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?

Whatever decisions are made will change their lives forever.

With the rise and spread of nationalist, right-wing conservative governments around the globe, xenophobia is alive and well in communities and countries around the world. In Australia it is always a hot topic particularly around election time and especially since former prime minister John Howard declared, “It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people, taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” in an election speech just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.

Having just had another federal election with the rhetoric of asylum seekers, detention centres and people’s rights claiming a lot of media space and votes, this new book from Tristan Bancks is very timely. In it, through the students in the Reading Superstars class and their teacher Miss Aston, he asks the questions that need to be considered about the plight of refugees, particularly as much of what the children say is the echo of their parents’ perspectives. Bancks says he has tried to tell the story as “a human one, rather than a political one” and he has achieved this as the reader becomes very invested in the plights of Simi and Dan and constantly wonders what would they do if they were either of those characters.

In my opinion, the greatest power of this book is in the hands of a class teacher reading it aloud and discussing the issues as Miss Aston does while she and her charges are in lockdown. That way, a range of points of view can be explored and explained, taking the story to a whole new level, rather than being an individual read that throws up questions but for which the reader doesn’t seek answers. And that teacher should be prepared to answer the inevitable, “What would you do if you were Miss Aston?”

Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get. Superb.

 

 

The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses

The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses

The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses

Susanne Gervay

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

EK Books, 2019

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

9781925335996

Superhero Sam has had to get glasses – big blue ones – but he doesn’t like them. They make his ears hurt and even though, his well-meaning parents and  grandparents and even his teacher say he looks handsome in them, he hates that.  It’s as though it’s all about his glasses and he, himself, is invisible. They make such a fuss about this new superhero, it’s as though they’ve forgotten the old superhero he was before.  

His best friend George still knows him and plays with him though, but then the day comes when George is not at school and the other children start to make fun of him…

Every now and then you pick up a story that really resonates with you and Sam was me 60+ years ago, my son 40 years ago and my granddaughter seven years ago.  Each of us had to go through the trauma of appearing in public wearing glasses, and despite the well-intended comments of others, it’s tricky to know who you are when you don’t recognise yourself in the mirror but you know you are still you inside.

Sam is just one of hundreds of other kids who face this situation, and author Susanne Gervay is well-known for taking those everyday but confronting situations and putting them into the spotlight so the extraordinary becomes ordinary, and inspiring hope for happiness ahead.  No one likes to be different when they are little and wearing glasses seems like a huge placard that tells others you are not 100% perfect and that somehow you are less than the other children in your class.  Yet inside you know you are just the same person you were the day before when you didn’t have glasses.

Superbly and sensitively illustrated, this is a book that not only belongs in any collection for young readers and which should be actively promoted because so many children will see it as a mirror and learn to love reading even more as they read about themselves. Others might see it as a window and begin to understand how self-conscious Sam and others feel and how they can be more empathetic, rather than unkind like the children in the story who call Sam “googly-eyes” and “pufferfish”. It might even be an opportunity to  explore other “disabilities” and the sorts of ways that science and technology can now assist in overcoming them comparing the advances to the days when no such help was available and life became a misery. 

Excellent, down-to-earth, and one for everyone, glasses or not!

Pippa

Pippa

Pippa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa

Dimity Powell

Andrew Plant

Ford St, 2019

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

9781925804270

Pippa the pigeon thinks she is ready to fly the skies by herself and have adventures. Rather than being hesitant to go out of her comfort zone, Pippa wants to experience the world for herself.  But her parents have other ideas. They are worried she is too young and do all sorts of things to keep her  at home and safe . But one day while they are out foraging for food, she flaps her wings and soars.  Over the town, the river and the paddocks she sails, going further and further from home.  But then fatigue and hunger set in and she discovers that while this big wide world is beautiful there are perils in it! Will she make it home safely?

A tender tale about parents wanting to keep their children safe, this is a story that cuts through the middle of parental protection and childish curiosity.  Our children need to be allow to fly; they need to face and conquer the obstacles they encounter if they are to be resourceful and resilient, but they also need to know there is a soft place to fall when it all gets too much.  

Dimity Powell has created a story that reflects both the parents’ perspective and that of Pippa – offering much to talk about as readers think about what they would like to do, whether they are ready and what they might learn as they try. It’s about striking a balance between independence and the security of home and Andrew Plant’s illustrations are perfect. Who wouldn’t be terrified seeing the face of the falcon coming towards you or those malevolent red eyes glowing in the dark?

As our young readers go through a number of stages where their desire for independence becomes overwhelming, this is a book that spans many age groups and there are excellent teaching notes which support this sort of use.  Perfect for teaching about being prepared, being resilient and being able to overcome obstacles without panicking. 

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!

Maple the Brave

Maple the Brave

Maple the Brave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple the Brave

Chloe Jasmine Harris

Walker, 2019

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

9781925381924

Nestled in the high branches of a tree deep in the forest is a little house where Maple lived. “No one knew how she got there or where she came from, but nevertheless there she was.” Sustained by the rain that gave her water and the trees that gave her ripe fruit, Maple never ventured from her high house because she was afraid of everything that was below it.  Her dreams were peppered with fierce creatures who lurked below, the wind becoming their terrifying howls.  Until there came a time when the rain and the trees no longer gave her what she needed and she knew she would have to descend the ladder into the unknown…

Facing your fears and even conquering them is a common theme of picture books for the young, but the setting and the isolation of Maple without parents or history, gives this one an olde-worlde feel that will appeal to those who like gentle stories that are neither confronting or confrontational. At some stage in our lives we all have to step outside our comfort zone and face the unknown, an unknown that we may have already built up to be scarier than it is and Maple offers inspiration that it can be OK.

Beautifully illustrated by this debut author/illustrator with pictures that are as gentle as the story itself, this is one that can be shared as a read-along or a read-aloud to encourage young readers to take that first step.

 

 

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”.

 

 

The Jacket

The Jacket

The Jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jacket

Sue-Ellen Pashley

Thea Baker

Black Dog, 2019

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

9781925381788

The jacket was no ordinary jacket. It was soft, like dandelion fluff. It was warm, like the afternoon sun. It was comforting, like a hug from your favourite teddy. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front.

Amelia wore it everywhere – to kindy, Aunty Kath’s house, the shops, even to bed. But one day it didn’t fit her any more so she gave it to her younger sister Lily who also wore it everywhere – to the park, to Nanna’s house, to the library, even to the beach. But what happens when it’s too small for Lily?

This is a story that is as warm as a hug from the jacket itself.  It’s as familiar to my grandchildren as it is to almost every child – having to let go of something you love because you are growing up and it isn’t. Beautifully illustrated with repetitive phrases that wrap around the tongue like a jacket around your body, this is a charming story that will resonate widely as children snuggle more deeply into their favourite jackets as winter really begins to bite. Perhaps it could inspire a communal jacket drive  so all those outgrown jackets in children’s cupboards could find a new home.