There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:
No matter what activity her parents suggest, including those that have always been her favourites, Georgie’s response is No! Never! It becomes very frustrating for her parents who are at their wits’ end until they try a little reverse psychology.
Written in clever rhyme that bounces the story along, and illustrated in a way that emphasises the discord in the household because of Georgie’s attitude, this is a book that will resonate with preschoolers who are testing the boundaries and parents who are trying to manage that. While parents might like to use the strategy with their own children, or just remind their children of what happened to Georgie when their children try a similar tactic.
A fun, modern cautionary tale that will have broad appeal.
Howler Monkey loved to climb. He learned as a baby from his father and he practised and practised until he got so good at it that animals from all over the world would watch him. But one day he fell and damaged his tail so badly that he could not climb any more. He hid his injury because he was ashamed and scared that his family and friends would not like him because he couldn’t do the one thing that gave them pleasure. He became so sad that he sought the advice of Oldest Monkey who asked some really pertinent questions that helped Howler Monkey understand that he still had family and friends who loved him, he could still be the role model he was – just in a different way – and that what he did did not define who he was.
Rance, the author, was an elite Australian Rules player for the Richmond Tigers and was a member of the team that won the premiership in 2017, a feat that they hadn’t achieved since 1980. But in 2019 he ruptured his ACL in the first game of the season, ending his playing days for the year, and most likely for ever. These life-changing events have been the inspiration for this series of stories including Tiger’s Roar and Rabbit’s Hop, to help young children deal with the highs and lows of life and understand that why they do things is much more important that what it is they do. If they understand their motivation, then their actions (whether positive or negative) can be chosen, challenged and changed to suit the circumstances and it is the whole of who they are that defines them, not just one aspect.
Even without knowing the author’s personal story, young readers will appreciate this book and Howler Monkey’s predicament, particularly as they return to school and even to team sports where their lives may have changed considerably post-pandemic. The playing field might now be closer to level.
It’s 7.00pm and it’s time for bed. No more screentime or playtime and regardless of the protests, it’s time. But it takes perseverance and patience to work through all the diversions and distractions – getting into PJs, teeth brushing,, toilet time, stories and questions, one last drink and the inevitable monsters that need despatching…
Parents and younger readers will really resonate with this story and the beautifully illustrated scenes with lots of detail will be so familiar, but they will also love the twists in the tale that make it stand out from other stories on the topic.
Because it is such a familiar routine, there are lots of opportunities for discussion as young listeners compare, predict, and make connections with their own experiences and those of the characters. However, there are also strong teaching aspects such as time, day and night, moon phases, the need for sleep and so on that offer lots of opportunities for this to be more than a bedtime story with comprehensive teachers’ notes and activities available to assist this.
As our youngest littlies’ lives start to return to normal and regular routines are reinstated, this has great potential to help them re-establish those as they create sequencing charts that they can follow and tick off each time they are completed. Parents will love it.
When we look back over a period in our lives, it seems that the memories that stand out are those of the times we failed, made a mistake, stuffed up… It seems to be human nature to remember the bad rather than the good; to dwell on those times when we don’t meet our own or others’ expectations; and sadly, we often let those times shape and define us, changing our purpose and pathway for ever.
The catchcry of “learn from your mistakes” is often easier said than done but in this book, Josh Langley, author of It’s OK to feel the way you do shares uplifting affirmations and simple strategies to help deal with those inevitable times when, in hindsight, we realise we could have done things differently or made better choices. Perhaps the most important of these is understanding that EVERYONE has times that they wish they could do again but that, at the time, we were doing the best we could with what we knew and had. No one gets it right all the time.
To prove this, Langley expresses his motivation for writing this book in this interview…
I remember as a kid, I was constantly making mistakes and getting into trouble, so I wanted to show kids that it wasn’t the end of the world if you stuff up every now and then. We’re human and we’ll keep making mistakes and that’s how we can become better people. I was also hearing from a lot of teachers saying that kids were having difficulty recovering from when things went wrong and would awfulise over the smallest issue. I wanted to help in some way by sharing what I’ve learnt.
I also wanted to show kids that failing isn’t a bad thing and that many wonderful things can arise out of failure. I wouldn’t have become an award winning copywriter and children’s author if I hadn’t failed high school.
Using his signature illustration style set on solid block colour and text which speaks directly to the reader continually reaffirming that the world is a better place because they are in it, he encourages kids to look for the opportunities that might arise from their “failures”. In his case he discovered his love of writing and illustrating after constantly being the worst in the class at sport.
However, IMO, while self-affirmation, self-talk and positive action are critical in building resilience, we, as teachers and parents, also need to be very aware of how we respond to the child’s “mistakes” and look beyond the immediate behavioural expression to the underlying cause. This graphic is just one of many available that encourage this.
No amount of self-talk will ever drown out the voices of those we love and respect and hold as role models, so we ourselves need to be mindful of the messages we are giving those who are just learning their way in the world.
Langley’s work is so positive and so constantly reaffirms for the reader that who they are is enough, echoing my own personal mantra of many years, that it is no wonder I am such a fan. And it is So good to have yet another resource to add to the Mindfulness and Mental Health collections, something that was scarcely heard of for kids just 10 years ago.
As our little ones restart their school journeys and have to relearn how to mix and mingle with others beyond their family bubble, many may need some extra guidance in how to build those relationships with their peers again. This collection of eight books, which offer QR access to videos and teacher resources, could be a valuable tool in this process.
Designed to help our very youngest readers develop ethical thinking, emotional intelligence, and social and emotional intelligence, each book focuses on a key concept such as selflessness, persistence, sharing, taking responsibility, fairness, inclusiveness, self-identity and learning to say sorry. Featuring a recurring cast of characters including Pinney ‘Potamus, Ginnie Giraffe, Miranda Panda, Dodo Komodo, Lulu Kangaroo, Tao Tiger and Kevin, Kelly and Kylie Koala, all portrayed as stitched felt creatures, young readers will enjoy the different adventures as well as pondering what the best course of action would be to solve the problem.
One of the greatest concerns of this pandemic that has engulfed the globe is the mental health of those who have been in lockdown for some time. Humans are sociable creatures, particularly our young folk who haven’t yet developed the wherewithal to be comfortable in their own company for long periods and who need the contact with their peers to validate and boost their sense of self-worth. Even though governments may have offered millions of dollars to help with the crisis, including for organisations like Kids Helpline , not all will reach out to such bodies and so books like this that talk directly to them and offer positive affirmations such as
we are all in this together
we all need a bit of TLC
we have all survived every bad day and overcome every obstacle we’ve faced
can be very valuable in the hands of those who can help. With chapters that include headings such as
Hey, you’re awesome!
Why is this stuff important?
We all have times when life is a bit rainy
You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say ‘NO’
Say yes to self-care
each page has an affirmation, information and often an activity that can offer a pathway forward. For example, in chapter 7 which focuses on self-care, the advice goes much deeper than temporary fixes like bath bombs and candles and offers some strategies for a 5-minute self care as well as identifying those things that matter to the individual so they can build their own circle of self-care and make sure they complete it each day.
As well as being an essential tool in the teacher’s well-being box so that students consciously learn the strategies of mindfulness and taking care of their own mental health, this could also be a gift to a young one who might be adrift because of the loss of their immediate peer support at this time. Even as students gradually return to school, that return is different from coming back from school holidays because families will have had to have faced a whole range of unprecedented experiences unique to them, some might feel shame or anxiety about the loss of income or whatever, and so working through the things in this book should form part of each child’s learning over the next weeks. Help them to understand that while each has had a unique set of circumstances to deal with and these will continue to be endured for some time to come, we are in this together and together we can survive and thrive. That said though, help them build the mindset and strategies that will build resilience and help them to help themselves when those difficulties arise.
Rocky is a star Aussie Rules player and his little brother Louie adores him. Rocky has taught Louie all sorts of footballing skills but more than that, he has taught him about their country and how to engage with it to both use it and protect it. After they made a proper hunting boomerang together, Rocky taught him how to respect the animals and even though they might kill them for food, how to think about where that food comes from. Rocky taught and Louie learned the legends and lessons of the land, forging a strong bond that would ensure that they would endure.
But Rocky has a dream to become more than just a local football star and to do that he must leave. Louie is devastated but Rocky knows that he must go, just as Louie must stay. What could Louie offer him to make sure that Rocky doesn’t forget him or his roots despite the pull and the attractions of the city.
While this is a powerful story about the love and bonds shared between brothers, it has an even stronger message about being connected to our heritage whatever that may be. In this case it is that of Australia’s indigenous people and the lessons Rocky teaches Louie will help the reader understand that deep connection to country that our Aboriginal peoples have, helping them appreciate why they felt so bereft when so many were uprooted ruthlessly from families, events commemorated on National Sorry Day on May 26. The theme of responsibility and respect for what has gone before that has shaped us into who we are now is very strong, but it also opens up the prospect of having to deal with change, with having to be unselfish and let others follow their destiny regardless of the impact on our comfort zone, and accepting and acknowledging that we are who we are because of those around us and we must be the best we can be to honour that and them.
Co-written with Noongar man and emerging elder, Phil Walleystack, Raewyn Caisley (who has already given us the hauntingly beautiful Hello from Nowhere and Something Wonderful ) views this as her legacy with “the power to change our nation”. For so many reasons, she could well be right.
It can be fun to spend time by yourself, You can play whatever you want and you don’t have to share your toys or your snacks…
But what every one of us has learned over the isolation of the last few months is that friends are critical and a crucial part of our mental well-being. As schools gradually return to full-time face-to-face teaching, some little ones may have been at home for so long that they have forgotten what it is like to work and play with others and how to be a friend, so this beautifully designed book will be the perfect platform for getting things back on an even keel. Each double page spread focuses on an issue such as what are friends, why we need them, what makes a good friend, who can be friends and so on, offering lots of scope for sharing personal stories and contributing to discussions in a way they haven’t done for some time. There are also pages devoted to how friendships grow and change, how they can be destroyed and how they can be mended so that the children realise that there will be ups and downs and part of growing up is knowing what to do and doing it, developing tolerance, understanding, forgiveness and resilience.
The final pages include a “friendship puzzle” offering the reader a few scenarios for which they have to select the most appropriate behaviour, and two pages of information for new parents about their children’s friendships, skills and strategies to help them develop and some reassuring words about imaginary friends and dealing with conflict. – the most important being to give the child time to try to sort it out. That perspective alone tells me that this author knows her stuff and her advice is sound.
Ticked off that the neighbourhood boys refuse to let her join their game telling her she can’t be a pirate, presumably, because she is a girl, CeCe decides to talk to her grandfather about what it takes to be one. After all, he has been on a ship, unlike those boys, and he has lots of tattoos.
And of course Grandpa knows. Using his tattoos to take her on adventures and share his stories, he tells CeCe the qualities she needs to be a pirate. She has to be brave, be quick, be independent and be fun. But the most important thing a pirate can have is love. Will knowing this be enough to let CeCe join the boys in their pirate games?
This is a joyous celebration of the relationship between a little girl and her grandfather and the power of story and love. Each adventure that Grandpa shares is just a glorious burst of colour with lots of detail enabling the reader to put the words to the story Grandpa is telling, engaging them in a special way that helps them reflect on how they too, could be brave, independent, quick and fun, while teasing them with the veracity of Grandpa’s recollections. Was he really a pirate? One thing that is true is the love between the two, and really, that’s all that matters.
Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway. She has a range of talents -each different in each story – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old. In each episode of the series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it.
Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.
Included in this compendium are the first four books in the series – Movie Star, Ballerina, Pop Singer and Fashion Designer – offering young girls who are becoming independent readers some great reading while supporting their new skills with large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations. They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes.
Collections like these are always good value and during this stay-at-home time, four stories for the price of one will be welcome.