Archives

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

Emily Mackenzie

Bloomsbury, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408892091

Ralfy Rabbit loves to read but when his new baby brother arrives,  his peace is constantly shattered and he can not find anywhere quiet to read and enjoy his stories.  He finally ventures to the library which works well until he is embarrassed to find a huge bite taken out of his library book!  

Using his special detective kit he sets out to find who is responsible but when he discovers the culprit (along with several other books with bites taken out of them), the solution isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. 

All lovers of books and reading can relate to Ralfy’s dismay when he finds his precious books damaged, and this is a charming story for early readers who have younger siblings who haven’t yet learned about taking care of things.  And once they discover who the biter is, they can have fun predicting how the problem might be solved. What would they do if they were Ralfy?

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Pink!

Pink!

Pink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink!

Margaret Wild

Judith Rossell

Working Title Press, 2020

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

9781460757499

When Pink hatched from the egg, the only one left after a great storm washed away all the others, her parents were somewhat surprised because she was pink!  She certainly stood out from all the other green and grey and brown dinosaurs and at first, Pink was okay with being different.  But when it meant that she was always found first during her favourite game of hide-and-seek with the other dinosaurs, she soon grew despondent and wished she wasn’t so recognisable. 

Being pretty and sweet wasn’t enough for Pink – she wanted to be brave and smart but wasn’t sure how she could be.  The answer comes one afternoon during a wild and boisterous game of hide-and-seek when she discovers that there can be distinct advantages to being different.

Combining young readers’ fascination with dinosaurs with the theme of accepting and being yourself, Margaret Wild and Judith Rossell have crafted a charming story that will appeal across the ages.  As well as opening up discussions about celebrating our differences and how we can be brave and smart, this is also a great opportunity to explore the differences between fiction and non fiction texts.  The teaching notes are excellent – I wrote them! LOL! 

Clementine Rose Collection Five

Clementine Rose Collection Five

Clementine Rose Collection Five

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clementine Rose Collection Five

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760897437

 Living in the magnificent mansion in Penberthy Floss with her mother, her Aunt Violet, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and pet teacup pig, Lavender, Clementine Rose, the sassy young girl who was delivered not in the usual way at a hospital but in the back of a mini-van in a basket of dinner rolls, has had many adventures that her readers can really relate to, making her a favourite with newly independent readers.

In fact there have been 15 stories altogether in this series, and now in this final compendium, Clementine Rose and the Wedding WobblesClementine Rose and the Bake-Off Dilemma and Clementine Rose and the Best News Yet   have been brought together.

Back in 2012 when we first met Clementine Rose I introduced her to Miss Then 6 and the series was an instant hit.  Now she is Miss 14 she has moved on with her reading choices – she loves Harvey’s new series Kensy and Max- , but Miss 9 has enjoyed them equally as much. Written for the young newly emerging reader looking for characters and circumstances that resonate, it is a series that has broad appeal and the joy of having three books in one without having to wait for the next episode is very appealing. 

Young readers, and older, love series which are well-written so they get invested in the character’s lives, perhaps even seeing themselves as being in the story as they get to know and like them, and this series is certainly one of those.  My grandies were lucky that Clementine Rose was in their lives for that critical time of their reading development, but with these collections, other younger girls can meet her too. 

Ellie’s Dragon

Ellie's Dragon

Ellie’s Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellie’s Dragon

Bob Graham

Walker Books, 2020

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

 9781406387629

Hidden among the boxes of eggs on the supermarket shelf, Ellie discovers a tiny dragon, so small it’s eyes are not yet open.  Because its claws tickled the palm of her hand she called it Scratch and made it a bed in a matchbox. But when she asked her mum for some match heads for its breakfast, her mum can only see the matchbox.

And so it is with all the adults in her world.  None of them can see Scratch even though as she grows her friends can and Scratch just becomes a normal part of their activities.  But, just like Jackie Paper and that other famous dragon, Puff, as Ellie gets older, Scratch begins to fade.  Until one day a little boy called Sam found him wandering in the High Street, a fully-grown, house-trained affectionate dragon just looking for a new home…

Bob Graham is a master storyteller who has been delighting young readers around the world for the best part of 40 years with so many charming stories like The Poesy Ring   and Home in the Rain , and this gentle story about growing up with an imaginary friend is just as inviting as all the others. His signature style in both text and artworks is there again for a whole new group of fans to enjoy as so many of them will relate to Ellie either as the very young girl or as she grows older.  There is a reason that Graham has won so many awards for his writing and it’s encapsulated again in this new book.  Perfect for invoking discussions about imaginary friends particularly at this time when so many of our little ones are deprived of the company of real ones, but also for thinking about the possibilities and pitfalls of providing a home for a dragon.  

Elephant Me

Elephant Me

Elephant Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elephant Me

Giles Andreae

Guy Parker-Rees

Orchard Books, 2020

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

9781408356524 

Each year the baby elephants present themselves to Elephant Mighty who demands they perform unique feats that will suggest their new name. And so he watches elephants on stilts, on their heads, standing on one leg, swinging on vines … Nina pulls out a tree by its roots with her trunk so becomes Elephant Strong, while Norcus bellows so loud that even the vultures take flight so he is dubbed Elephant Noisy. 

But when Num Num has no special skills or tricks, Elephant Mighty calls him Elephant Nothing-At-All, humiliating Num Num so much he feels compelled to leave the herd and find another waterhole. But there he makes friends with a lot of other creatures and learns that not only does he have a special talent but he also has the courage to return to confront Elephant Mighty – with surprising results.

Using his signature rhyming style and accompanied by the most glorious illustrations, this is a story that reaffirms for youngsters that who they are is enough, that it is not about what you can do or what you have or what you look like. Particularly pertinent at a time when its target audience is negotiating the wider world of school and navigating social boundaries within that, Num Num shows that you do not have to conform to a particular stereotype to fit in but that it can take a lot of strength and support to be yourself, a message that needs to be reinforced over and over, even with adults as Elephant Mighty learns. 

Finding François

Finding François

Finding François

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding François

Gus Gordon

Puffin, 2020

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

9780143794141

Alice Bonnet lived with her grandmother on a hill in the middle of town and together they made a very good team as they did all sorts of things together, particularly cooking. But while Alice adored her grandmother and loved their time together, especially Fridays, there were times when she really longed for someone of her own size to talk to.  And so one day she wrote a message, put it in a bottle and threw it in the river…

Set in France, with all sorts of French things to capture the reader embedded in the illustrations, this is a gentle, charming story of the power of healing that a special friendship can bring, particularly when dark clouds seem to hang around forever and the sun is hiding. Both Alice and Francois need each other because each is lonely and by using the randomness of messages in a bottle finding each other, and continuing to do so, illustrates the concept that we never know just when and where we find a special someone that we will connect with for the long term. 

Adding to the charm of the story are the anthropomorphic characters who are completely unaware of their differences, and Gordon’s clever insertion of French elements that encourage the reader to use the illustrations to discover their meaning. 

Every time you read this book, there is another layer to discover and because it’s theme is one that will resonate with readers of all ages, it is one that will be read over and over again.

 

Mabel and the Mountain

Mabel and the Mountain

Mabel and the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mabel and the Mountain

Kim Hillyard

Ladybird, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241407929

Mabel is a fly.  But despite being only as big as a fingernail, she has BIG plans which include climbing a mountain, hosting a dinner party and making friends with a shark!  Despite the lack of encouragement from her friends, Mabel is determined to achieve her dreams and starts by looking for a mountain to climb – one that will challenge her.  And challenge her it does, and even though at times she thinks about changing those plans, she believes in herself and perseveres.

With a now-familiar theme of believing in yourself, persevering and being resilient, this is another story to encourage our young children to dream big and have the courage to continue, perhaps even inspiring their friends to have their own dreams. By having Mabel choose climbing a mountain as her challenge, a familiar metaphorical concept in itself, Hillyard is able to demonstrate the hard work, the sustained effort and ignoring of detractors that goes into achieving goals – there will always be setbacks and obstacles to be negotiated and navigated but the effort is worth it if the dream is.

A good one for the start of the year, or now that the year has restarted, when we ask children what their goals are – perhaps they could map out a route and trace their journey as they go, giving a tangible record to help them stay on track.

 

Tell ’em!

Tell 'em!

Tell ’em!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell ’em!

Katrina Germein, Rosemary Sullivan with the children of Manyallaluk School

Karen Briggs

Working Title Press, 2020

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

9781921504921

It starts with a little girl answering a question asked by an unseen asker  – I know what you should tell ’em – and, apparently prompted by that unseen asker asking ‘what else?”, continues with a joyous celebration of the lives of the children as they share the activities of their community and country.  And even though the children of this remote community live about an hour east of Katherine, NT much of what they do and enjoy is very similar to what all children enjoy because kids are kids, everywhere.

Tell ’em how us kids like to play.
We got bikes and give each other rides.
Tell ’em about the dancing and singing,
And all the stories the old people know.

Yes, there are things that may be unfamiliar like the buffalo and the crocodiles – “just freshwater ones” – and maybe families hunting for bush turkey, goanna and kangaroo for dinner might not be the norm for city kids but dancing and listening to stories and hunting for phone reception will all resonate.

But what threads through this achingly beautiful picture book apart from those similarities is the sheer delight and joy that these children have in their lives, the respect they have for their elders and their country and their understanding of the intertwining of the past, present and future.

I wonder what the children in our communities would share if they were asked the same question!

Maybe the first step could be figuring out the question these children were asked, and then given that most were so keen to get back to school after their enforced weeks at home, build a class response that helps them focus on why! 

A stunning, exuberant joyful celebration of being a child that has to make you smile.

 

 

Slime

Slime

Slime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slime

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins, 2020

312pp., pbk., RR     P $A19.99

9780008349141

There are 999 people living on the Isle of Mulch, most of them awful adults who do not like children. Even those who should like children, like those at the school, the local park, the toy shop and even the island’s ice-cream van  like nothing more than making children miserable. And the island is owned by the most awful one of all – Aunt Greta Greed!

But then there is Ned, an 11-year-old boy in a wheelchair who is constantly tormented by his older sister Jemima who resents him because he gets all the attention. Despite being unable to walk Ned is perpetually optimistic and makes it his mission to change the miserable adults and the misery. While trying to get his own back on  Jemima, he discovers one of the great mysteries of the world – slime! What is it? Who is it? Where does it come from? And how does Ned use slimepower to take on the horrible grown-ups of Mulch? 

Using his characteristic humour which so appeals to that audience of newly independent readers, the wacky illustrations of Tony Ross and an intriguing visual layout, this story bounces along at a rapid pace that draws the reader in and keeps them as hooked as the local shoe fish that are the main diet of the islanders. Yet for all its wackery and humour, there is a solid story underpinning the adventures that make if more than a bit of floss read to pass the time.  Everyone will be cheering for Ned and perhaps see themselves in him, always a winning element.