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Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lion –  A Long Way Home

Saroo Brierly

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2020

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

9780143795094

Born in Khandwa, India, in 1986 at the age of just 5, Saroo Brierley was separated from his brother at a train station and, not knowing his family name or where he was from, he managed to survive for weeks on the streets of Calcutta before finally being taken to an orphanage and eventually adopted by an Australian family. Even though he was happy growing up in Tasmania, he always wondered about his long-lost family and the story of his search for them has become an award-winning movie based on the adult version of his autobiography.

This incredible story of love, resilience and hope has been exquisitely illustrated by Bruce Whatley in a version for younger readers that will intrigue and inspire as they are touched by his need to discover his roots and what happened, particularly to his older brother whom he was with.  In its own way, it will be the story of many of the children in our care who have two families and who want to know and love both. They might not have the geographical journey that Saroo has to navigate, but  there is the emotional one they have to negotiate as they discover where and how they fit in.  There is the powerful realisation that it is possible to love and be loved by more than one, and that each significant relationship we form will influence our lives and characters.

It also opens up a window to the world beyond their own bubble so they begin to understand that not all children share the life they do, and that poverty and homelessness are real for Australian children as well as India and other countries.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available.

For those who want to read further, there is also the co-release of Lioness, by Sue Brierly, Saroo’s adoptive mother.

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Adrian Beck

Scott Edgar

Puffin, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760892975

Derek Dilbert Dool knows he is supercool -but no one else thinks so.  Thus, he spends his life trying to prove it but none of his escapades ever quite end the way he envisages.  

In this third adventure, he somehow finds himself going from a meatball eating competition in the local food court as part of a celebration of Ruttsmell twinning with a Norwegian city to being determined to win the school cross-country, even though he is far from being a natural athlete. But underneath the bravado and the look-at-me antics, there is a young lad who really just wants to be accepted and liked for who he is, even if his name his Derek.  Written for all those boys who are newly independent readers who like a particular sort of unsubtle, gross humour supported by short chapters and lots of illustrations, this series will resonate with many who are similar to Derek as they struggle with crossing that bridge between who they are and who they think they should be. Underpinned with themes of self-confidence, self-worth, the need for family and friends, and staying true to yourself, it has serious core encased in bravado, humour and crazy antics.  Derek Dool actually DOES what the reader would like to do, if only he were brave (or foolish) enough.

As 2021 gives us a new batch of boys who are looking for something to tempt them to keep reading now that they can, this is a series that is worth introducing them to as another step/pathway in their reading journey. 

 

 

The Odds

The Odds

The Odds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Odds

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780733340635

Kip is a quiet kid in a loud city. Living with her father after her mum died, she prefers to keep a low profile and her home is her sanctuary. She’s easy to miss and that’s the way she likes it. School, with its hustle and bustle and noise is overwhelming and she is dreading the day the spotlight falls on her and she has to tell the rest of the class why she is special.

Then, one day, Kip’s quiet life is suddenly interrupted. Ten of her favourite characters have stepped out of their worlds of her imagination and memories and into hers as real-life beings.

But what happens when a dragon-hunting rabbit leaves his comic strip? When an old man leaves his picture book? When a ninja leaves her TV show, a race-car driver leaves their video game, and a dinosaur turns up from Kip’s nightmares? But while Kip just wants the creatures to hide and be invisible as she wishes to be, her father tells her , “If you start running away from hard things you never stop running” and Kip (and the reader) learn a significant life lesson.

Matt Stanton is rapidly becoming one of the decade’s most sought after authors by young, newly independent readers who like his humour that is always tempered with a good, solid storyline focusing on activities and issues  that resonate with his audience.  While not all will have dragon-hunting rabbits in their lives, nevertheless they will have those familiar feelings of fitting in, self-doubt and discovering just who they are as they become more and more independent and start to have their own opinions and ideas that shape their identities.

Using his cartooning skills, Stanton has produced a graphic novel that is going to appeal to a wide range of readers, each of whom will see themselves in one of the characters such as the little elephant who really just wants to hide under the covers all day.  Using a graphic novel format means the reader has to engage with the story in an active way taking in all that is going on so the continuity is maintained and in such a visually-dominated world, this is a critical skill.

The first in the series, this is a book that has depth as well as diversity and carries a message that will reach out to even the most reluctant reader.

I’m Ready…

I'm Ready...

I’m Ready…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Swimming

 9781760895976

I’m Ready for My Birthday

9781760895969

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2020

14pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

Two new additions to this series of board books for our youngest readers shining a light on familiar events in their lives, and bridging the gap between single-word concept books and the longer narrative of picture books.  Using familiar Australian animals, undertaking familiar activities, little ones can compare what the characters do to their own lives learning valuable concepts about stories and how they entertain as they do, a vital part of early literacy development.

Learning to swim without an adult in the pool with you can be daunting, while having a birthday is generally something to look forward to but both activities are new and exciting so to capture them in a book that talks about what has to be done, the feelings and emotions, and the sense of accomplishment not only validates the child’s feelings but opens up discussions where they can express their concerns.

This series is proving very popular at the local day care centre and I imagine these will be welcome too. 

How To Make A Bird

How To Make A Bird

How To Make A Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make A Bird

Meg McKinlay

Matt Ottley

Walker, 2020

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

9781925381894

“To make a bird you will need a lot of very tiny bones.  They will be smaller than you imagine, some so tiny they are barely there, And they will be hollow, these hundreds of bones – so light that when they rest in your palm you will hardly feel them.”

So begins a haunting, almost ethereal, picture book that takes the reader through the process of how a bird is made – particularly timely for me as I watch our resident Father and Mother Magpie patiently raise this season’s twins.  Like them, the girl is also patient and extremely careful as she patiently adds all the other elements like the feathers (saving the longest for the wings and the tail) and a heart that will beat sure and steady to carry the bird across oceans and continents at the end of a long winter, eyes, beak , claws and a song to sing.  But just the physical stuff is not enough – it is having the courage to let go of what you have made so it can find its place in the world that is the final piece of the jigsaw.

This is a stunning book, beautifully illustrated in a soft, calming palette that emphasises the care and the patience needed to create anything, and it could be an allegory for any creative process.  First you have to have the mechanical, physical elements and the know-how of how they fit together, but it is having the faith to let others see and test your creation and offer feedback that takes it from being an object to something more. Just as the little girl sets her bird free to explore the wild blue yonder so that it can truly reach its potential as a bird, so have McKinlay and Ottley set their creations off into the unknown to be explored, accepted, appreciated or not.  Just as we encourage our kids to take what they know and be brave enough to transform it and test it in new situations.   Just as we raise our own children and our students the best we know how, we have to give them that ultimate freedom of independence and making their own way in the world.  Are we able to relinquish our control and just let go?

This is a story that can work on many levels for many ages.  It can help a little person understand how birds can defy gravity and fly even when they cannot  but it can also work on that allegorical level of knowing you have done all you can and taking that leap of faith. Comprehensive teachers’ notes demonstrate how it can be used across the ages, stages and curriculum.

It would not surprise me to see this among the award winners in the future. 

I NEED a Parrot

I NEED a Parrot

I NEED a Parrot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I NEED a Parrot

Chris McKimmie

Ford Street, 2020 

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

9781925804287

Like so many little people, this little boy decides he needs a pet.  Not just any pet – he needs a parrot in particular. But while he feels ne needs a parrot, and is prepared to take care of it, what does the parrot need?

Apart from the enduring argument about whether birds of any kind should be kept in cages, the story opens up discussions about wants versus needs and whether the two concepts are interchangeable.  

McKimmie has a unique artistic style that makes his illustrations very childlike in appearance and this really speaks to his audience underlining the message in his text.  Not only does he use the first person to talk to his audience but the words are backed up with images that look like they have been drawn by the narrator offering a double-whammy to pay attention. Starting the book with the image of a cage and ending it with a big blue sky is a powerful mechanism that will remain imprinted in the child’s mind, another technique that reinforces the message. There are many layers to this book that, on the surface, seems quite simple – a case of how less can indeed be more.

This book won the 2020 CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award , a worthy winner if the criteria is a story’s ability to open the minds of readers and challenge or change their thinking.

Teachers’ notes are available, and if it is sold out in your bookstore, contact the publisher. 

 

 

 

The Joy in You

The Joy in You

The Joy in You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy in You

Cat Deeley

Rosie Butcher

Random House. 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780593181416

Dream big, as big as the night sky full of stars. When you discover the things you love, you’ll find true joy.

Mother Koala is teaching her baby about the joy that can be found in finding your inner passion and being yourself. 

You can sing!

If you love to sing, sing.

You can dance!

If you love to dance, dance.

Accompanied by a cast of colourful characters, Baby Koala is encouraged to use her imagination and to embrace her emotions and feelings, searching for the joy that is to be found in being true to oneself. And to be reassured that even if things don’t always work out, there will always be someone there to catch her.

It is the colour and the exuberance in the illustrations that put the joy on my face in this story, a theme that has been explored in many ways by many authors. While dancing crocodiles, orangutans, pandas and giraffes add visual fun,  placing Baby Koala on the back of an ageing tortoise so they both wonder and wander is an enduring image.

When the baby might have had a fractious day, this is one that can be shared at bedtime to calm both parent and child and remind them of their special, unique connection. 

 

The Thank-you Present

The Thank-you Present

The Thank-you Present

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thank-you Present

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2020

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

9781761040054

Evie and Lola are best friends.  They share everything and like the same things.  But most of all they like July because that’s when they have their birthdays, and birthdays mean presents.  But July is a long way away and they really can’t wait until then.  However, when they put a plan to have their birthdays now to their Dad, he says no and explains that presents are a way of saying thank you.  At first the girls don’t understand but when they do, they discover the meaning and the feeling of gratitude.

 This is the first book in the five-part mindfulness-informed series, developed in collaboration with Smiling Mind, Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation in the pre-emptive mental health space. This year we have all learned that gratitude comes in many forms and the things we are grateful are not necessarily physical and tangible. Following the story, which is thought-provoking especially for littlies, there is a three-minute guided exercise focusing on gratitude  for the reader to engage in as well as a suggestion for creating a thank you letter, and an activity pack to make it easier. 

If there is a silver lining to the events of 2020 it is the spotlight being shone on the mental health of all ages of the community, including our youngest who don’t necessarily understand what’s been happening and why they can’t do the things they take for granted. Introducing them to the concept of being grateful for what they do have rather than grieving for what they haven’t can be a sound springboard.

 

The Battle

The Battle

The Battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle

Ashling Kwok

Cara King

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820409

 

It is Edward’s first day at knight school and  to protect from the battles he expects to face, he puts on his full suit of armour. Sitting in the back of the Great Hall surrounded by unfriendly creatures , he is mortified when the king asks him to tell the others about himself. Even though at home he likes to fight giants and ogres, here at knight school he seems to be surrounded by them and he is not so brave. And when one sits beside him on the bench as he starts to eat his lunch, things are r-e-a-l-l-y scary…

It is that time of the year again when the prospect of Big School is looming closer and closer and some of our little ones are getting really apprehensive, particularly this year where, in some places, the opportunity for orientation visits and becoming familiar with people and places has not been allowed. So stories like these that not only show that fears are shared but they can be overcome are welcome as they offer such reassurance. Cleverly illustrated showing the ogres and dragons as ordinary boys and girls and the concept of the physical armour holding him back in the same way that mental armour does, Edward comes to some new understandings and discovers this school-thing isn’t as frightening after all.

However you are connecting with your preschoolers this year, include this story in your repertoire for an added dose of confidence. 

Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away, Worry Monster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Away, Worry Monster!

Brooke Graham

Robin Tatlow-Lord

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820393

It is the night before Archie is due to start at a new school and the Worry Monster has crept into his bedroom spruiking all the usual worries about getting lost, not making friends, doing maths all day and no sport that such monsters do.

Normally, Archie would call on his mum and dad to scare it away because it is scared of them, but this time he tries to have a go himself.  He thinks back to the things his mum taught him the last time, and summoning all his courage he applies them.  He takes a deep breath so his lungs make his belly grow bigger like a balloon; he thinks of the facts and tells them to the Worry Monster; he tells the Worrmy Monster to go away; and then he reads a book to ignore it and distract him.  But do his strategies work…

Worry Monsters have been out and about all this year, not just before big events like starting school and any stories that help our littlies develop strategies to send them on their way are welcome.  This one is beautifully written and illustrated and any child could put themselves in Archie’s pyjamas and feel empowered.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Encouraging littlies to dig deep to find the courage and determination to send the Worry Monster scampering is an ongoing process because they’re not necessarily ready to do it at the same time as their siblings or peers.  So to have another book in the arsenal is valuable – sharing Archie’s story might just be the one that reaches a particular child.