Archives

Handa’s Noisy Night

Handa's Noisy Night

Handa’s Noisy Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handa’s Noisy Night

Eileen Browne

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781406320015

Handa and her friends Akeyo live in Kenya, and when Handa has a sleepover with Akeyo, the girls are allowed to spend the night in a little hut near the house. They’re excited to be on their own, but as they get ready for bed, Handa feels more and more nervous. She keeps hearing things – strange snorts, chitter chattering, a big thud. Akeyo says it’s only her noisy family, but on the opposite page the reader sees the nocturnal animals who are really making the noise – and while some of them are familiar, others are very peculiar-looking indeed! 

With rich, vibrant night-time illustrations, sound effects, and plenty of curious animals, coupled with Akeyo’s explanations which are not only hilarious, but ingenious. this is a story that will resonate with children the world over as they step out of the familiar and have their first sleepover away from home with all the unfamiliar noises that will keep them awake.  While the causes might not be as exotic as those that kept Handa awake, nevertheless there is never a limit to the imagination when it’s dark. 

We first met Handa from the  Luo tribe in south-west Kenya in  Handa’s Surprise nearly 25 years ago and that book was  included in the  Seven Stories’ Diverse Voices list –  50 best children’s books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK since 1950. That, and its sequel Handa’s Hen have sold more than a million copies globally, with each focusing on a topic that children all over the world can relate to, and perhaps even adapt to their own circumstances.  If you were sleeping in a tent or a caravan, what might be making the snorting, chattering, rattling, squeaking and slurping noises you can hear? Rich pickings for the imagination! 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Don't Worry, Little Crab

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406385519

In the rockpool above the sea, live two crabs: Big Crab and Little Crab. Today, they’re going for a dip in the sea. “This is going to be so great!” says Little Crab as they go tic-a-tac, tic-a-tac over the rocks, splish splash, splish splash across the pools and squelch, squelch, squelch through the slimy, slippery seaweed. “I can go ANYWHERE”, says Little Crab.

But when he reaches the sea and sees the size of the ocean waves, he is somewhat daunted and very reluctant to take that final leap.  Will he find the courage?

The illustration style  is very distinctive and it tells as much of the story as the text does, about a little one finding the courage to face their uncertainty. This is a common theme in children’s picture books, this time inspired by the creator’s observations of crabs and their human-like way of moving. and the way they braced for the impact of a wave but then went about their business once it frothed away. In fact, the story of the story’s evolution gives a real insight into where authors get their ideas and how they are shaped, so it is worth sharing that too. It wasn’t so much the message that came first, but thinking about what was in front of him and working from that! Perhaps a lesson for budding writers about being observant and curious and working backwards!

 

Ollie and Augustus

Ollie and Augustus

Ollie and Augustus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ollie and Augustus

Gabriel Evans

Walker, 2019

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

9781760650711

Even though Ollie is small (like a pickling jar or a shoebox) and Augustus is big (like a table or a fridge), they do everything together,including cycling, painting, dressing up, digging (Ollie’s favourite thing) and stick collecting (Augustus’s favourite thing), as best friends do.  But soon it will be time for Ollie to start school and he is worried that Augustus will be lonely without him.  So he sets out to find him a friend.  But none of the dogs that apply for the position are quite right and so Ollie has to start school and leave Augustus on his own.  All day he worries that Augustus will be lonely and bored, but is he?

Term 4 has started and that means “big school” is on the horizon for many of our littlest readers, with all the anxieties that that prospect brings.  There will be many Ollies among them who will worry that their treasured pets will be lonely and not being toys, they have to be left at home. So this is a timely story for them to reassure them that all will be fine and at least one concern can be alleviated. Perfect for sharing with preschoolers about to take the next big step in their growing-up adventure.

 

 

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Hercules Quick

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760296827

One day while out shopping with his Aunt Alligator, Hercules Quick spies a magic box in a shop window, one that he knows he would love to own.  And while he is dismayed that he not only doesn’t have any money of his own in his piggy bank, he doesn’t even have a piggy bank, he is not daunted.  He gets out his paints and makes a sign offering to do jobs for his neighbours for 10c a task. He explains to Aunt Alligator that 10 cents a day will be a dollar in 10 days and that’s $310 in 10 months – surely enough to buy the magic box.

But quirky neighbours mean quirky jobs and he has to work hard to  earn his money.  Will he reach his target?  And will he still want the magic box if he does?

An intriguing story for young, newly-independent readers who still need support with short chapters and lots of illustrations, this is something very different that can inspire.  In a world of instant gratification through clicking on this or that, many don’t understand the anticipation of having to wait for something and the thrill when the goal is achieved. So it’s a spark to help them set a goal, explore how they could reach it, track their progress and celebrate when they accomplish it.  A great one, in fact, for Miss 8, who is supposed to be saving for her first Cuboree!!! (Maybe the moneybox I bought her for Christmas will get some use, after all.)

This could have been a rather ordinary story but Dubosarsky’s imaginative spin on the characters takes it on a whole new journey, and Joyner’s illustrations are just the perfect match!

 

 

The Immortal Jellyfish

The Immortal Jellyfish

The Immortal Jellyfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Immortal Jellyfish

Sang Miao

Flying Eye Books, 2019 

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

9781911171799

Grandpa is explaining about the immortal jellyfish to his grandson, a creature that begins its life again when it is about to die.  When the boy asks his grandfather if humans are immortal, he is told that there are other ways humans can live on but sadly the old man dies before he can explain.  While the boy is devastated, one night his grandpa appears in a dream and takes him on a journey to the Life Transfer City where those that have died can choose a new identity.  But before he discovers his grandfather’s choice he is taken back to the real world on the back of a beautiful white bird…. Will he ever recognise his grandfather again?

At first glance, this seems a rather morbid book with its dark palette, but it really is a most beautiful way to help young children deal with the passing of a loved one as sadly, so many have to. Helping them understand that those who die live on in our memories and thoughts, the things we see, do and smell or taste, even when they are no longer physically here is a way that we can help with the grieving process, particularly if there is no religious belief of an afterlife. It offers a way for the bereaved child to think about those memories and what their loved one might choose to be, as well as being able to share those thoughts rather than not talk at all, which is so often the case. Grown-ups often want to protect little ones by not talking, but often that’s just what the child needs to do. 

Sensitive and heart-warming, but not sickly-sentimental, this is something special for one of the most difficult parts of growing up. 

In The Dead of the Night

In The Dead of the Night

In The Dead of the Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Dead of the Night

Arthur McBain

Tom Knight

Little Hare, 2019

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

9781760503413

It’s a cold, rainy night and a storm is outside
Rain beats on the window by Lily’s bedside
She’s scared of the dark so she shuts her eyes tight
She hates nothing more than the dead of the night

Tap. Tap. Tap. Comes a noise from the hallway …

There is something about hearing strange sounds in the middle of the night that makes our imaginations run wild as we think about the possibilities – is there a monster with horns on its head; a vampire looking for prey; or a mesmerised ghost? All of these ideas fill Lily’s head as she lies there listening to the Tap. Tap. Tap. But, remembering her little brother is also asleep and needs protecting, she summons her courage and determines to conquer whatever is making the noise…

Using rhyme and repetitive text, and stunning illustrations that are fearsome but not too scary, McBain and Knight have managed to build a story that reaches a crescendo of tension but which resolves itself with an unusual twist which will resonate with lots of young readers whose imaginations are as active as Lily’s.  It’s an opportunity to talk about what might be making the tap, tap, tap and for little ones to share their fears about the dark and the noises of the night, and to reassure them that even as adults, we are all scared of the unknown at times and we have to summon our courage to investigate too. 

Reassuring and different.

.

 

Children Who Changed the World: Incredible True Stories About Children’s Rights!

Children Who Changed the World

Children Who Changed the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children Who Changed the World: Incredible True Stories About Children’s Rights!

Marcia Williams

Walker Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406384109

Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai?  What about Baruani Ndume?  Or Ryan Hreljac?

Forty years ago the UN declared that 1979 was to be the International Year of the Child  and as part of that. in 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was proclaimed, setting out 54 equally important articles that 196 countries have agreed to follow so that each child, no matter where they live, has the support and protection they deserve.  

Using her iconic graphic format, Marcia Williams has explored the lives of 13 children, all born since the Declaration and all of whom have made a significant difference to the lives of the children in their home countries and beyond.  Each double spread is devoted to the pivotal work of the child under the banner of one of those UN rights.

Deliberately designed to inform children of their rights, Williams speaks directly to the reader in the introduction and encourages them to not only be aware of those rights but to take action when they see injustice or something that needs changing.  With our students being so aware of the global picture these days, and being involved in actions like School Strike 4 Climate this is an important and timely release to help our students know that they can make a difference and will.  Perhaps one of them will become the new Greta Thunberg, who has risen to prominence since the book was prepared but who not only deserves a place in it but also demonstrates that kids can be heard and supported and change can happen. 

This is a book that needs to be promoted to kids everywhere, to give them inspiration and hope that their voices will be heard.

Miss Kraken

Miss Kraken

Miss Kraken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Kraken

Nicki Greenberg

Allen  $ Unwin, 2019

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

9781760637743

It’s the beginning of the new school year and the children are looking forward to meeting their new teacher.  But this one is very different – she’s strict, she imposes rules and confiscates contraband and is no fun at all.  So when she disappears on an excursion to the aquarium because the students have reverted to their usual abominable behaviour, it seems like a good thing…at first.  But having to be fetched by the principal and her replacement for Miss Kraken who never returns is not necessarily the outcome the children were wanting…

There are those who think that teachers should always be like Miss Kraken – after all, there is no discipline in schools these days and boundaries never hurt the proponents who have all turned out perfectly – and there are those who think that there is room for change, a happy medium between fear and anarchy because rule by fear does not bring about sustained behaviour change but no boundaries breeds confusion and confrontation. So apart from the humour in the story, and the surprising solution that could spark debate, this is a great discussion starter about why society needs rules to guide it and whether these should be imposed or negotiated for greatest success. Classes will see themselves in the story and there could be great debate and greater understanding if a “what if…?” question were posed, as they examine the impact of the class’s behaviour on those working or visiting the aquarium, even the creatures themselves. How does their personal behaviour affect those around them?

The more often you read this story the deeper the questions that can be asked and explored…  

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Stephanie Ward

Shaney Hyde

Exisle, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781925820010

Arabella was the only child of a duke and duchess who doted on her and enabled her to be granted one special wish each year.  So far she had wished for a pink puppy, an amusement park, even a real-life fairy.  The one thing she did NOT wish for was a baby brother but she got one anyway. And Master Archibald Vermillion Remington XV (aka Avery) was “a master of mayhem” with “ear-splitting acoustics” so that while Arabella loved him, she did not always like him.  For her next wish, she asked for a magic pencil, one that could make everything she drew real/  She had a lot of fun with it until the day she drew a magnificent garden party and Avery invited himself to it.  So Arabella pulled out her pencil and did something…

Dedicated to all those who have become an older sibling, this will resonate well as sometimes it is hard to adjust to the changes. While it might be nice to wish for things to return to what they were, if it actually happened the results might not appeal.  A modern-day cautionary tale.

 

The Runaways

The Runaways

The Runaways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Runaways

Ulf Stark

Kitty Crowther

Gecko Press, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A18.99

9781776572342

Grandpa is stuck in hospital with a broken leg and a heart that is coming to the end of its working life.  Used to being an engineer on the great ships of the seas,  being confined to a bed is making him cranky and cantankerous and he swears at everyone, continually pushes the alarm buzzes because he is bored and complains about the food.  “Not even the water tastes any good.” Only young Gottfried, his grandson, finds pleasure in visiting him and understands the reason for his moods.

And so he hatches a plan to get Grandad out of there, on one last adventure…

This is a heart-warming family story that captures the frustration of the elderly who know their end is coming and want to be anywhere but in a hospital as well as the ideality of youth whose imaginations are not constrained by the realities of what is safest – they think of ‘what if” and deal with ‘what now ‘ and ‘what next’ if and when it arises. Gottfried’s plan to give his grandfather one last simple pleasure has to be complex and he does worry about whether sometimes it’s OK to lie and the consequences, but his love for Grandpa is stronger than any obstacles.

Written by a renowned Swedish author and set in Stockholm, this is, nevertheless, a universal story, one that many of us with ageing parents and grandparents will relate to. The unusual illustrations done with coloured pencil bring colour into what is otherwise a drab life for Grandpa but Gottfried’s love for him shines through, making it an uplifting story about how both deal with end-of-life issues. Something special.