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Magnificent Mistakes and Fantastic Failures: Finding the Good When Things Seem Bad

Magnificent Mistakes and Fantastic Failures

Magnificent Mistakes and Fantastic Failures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magnificent Mistakes and Fantastic Failures: Finding the Good When Things Seem Bad

Josh Langley

Big Sky, 2020

100pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922265692

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.

 

Ginnie & Pinney Learn & Grow Series

Ginnie & Pinney Learn & Grow Series

Ginnie & Pinney Learn & Grow Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginnie & Pinney Learn & Grow Series

Penny Harris & Winnie Zhou

Big Sky, 2020

256pp., 8 x 32pp pbk books., RRP $A197.00

9781922265814

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. 

Something new to support the Personal and Social Capability strand so students are having the concepts consolidated with a new range of materials. 

You Are Positively Awesome: Good Vibes And Self-Care Prompts For All Life’s Ups And Downs

You Are Positively Awesome

You Are Positively Awesome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Are Positively Awesome: Good Vibes And Self-Care Prompts For All Life’s Ups And Downs

Stacie Swift

Pavilion, 2020

144pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781911641995

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
  • It’s okay
  • Self-love matters
  • 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 and Louie

Rocky and Louie

Rocky and Louie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky and Louie

Phil Walleystack & Raewyn Caisley

Dub Leffler

Puffin, 2020

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

 9780143786528

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.

All About Friends

All About Friends

All About Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Friends

Felicity Brooks

Mar Ferrero

Usborne, 2020

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

9781474968386

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.

How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Pirate

Isaac Fitzgerald

Brigette Barrager

Bloomsbury, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781681197784

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.

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Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

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.

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing with Wings

Trace Balla

Allen & Unwin, 2020

80pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781760296957

Mira and her mother are moving from their home near the sea to the goldfields of the Bendigo area, somewhere very foreign to Mira and she has no idea what to expect.  Her life is being turned upside down and she writes a farewell letter to her favourite tea-tree, beginning her recording of this new adventure which is scary but also a teeeeeny bit exciting. “Just a bit. It’s sort of like not knowing what’s on the next page and wanting to turn it to see what happens.”

Like Miri, Trace Balla loves to observe nature by sketching it and so, inspired by a story she saw about a refugee Syrian girl in an Australian detention centre whose future was equally uncertain, she has taken Miri on this journey of having her life upended and gradually discovering this new place, one that takes her back to her indigenous roots of the Dja Dja Wurrung people until she finally finds her home.

This is another intriguing graphic novel from the creator of Rivertime and  Rockhopping  that is just as extraordinary as those predecessors because of the levels and layers within the story. While  on the surface it seems like a personal recount of moving from one place to another, emphasised by the first-person narrative and hand-written font, there is also a bigger picture journey being told, that of anyone whose life is suddenly and permanently disrupted and having to find their place in a new landscape, whether that is physical, emotional or metaphorical. If they are lucky, they will land with wings and with the insight of someone like Trace Balla to guide them, they will learn to reflect on their experience and understand how it has shaped them just as much as the original catalyst.

A silver lining of this current situation of isolation is that we now have the time to read and appreciate this book in all its nuances, for we have each had our own journeys and this encourages us to revisit, review and reflect on them and their impact. It is just what we need at this time to get our lives back into perspective and see the whole rather than just the daily detail, yet, as Balla illustrates, it is the daily detail that builds up the whole. 

 

Eureka!: A story of the goldfields

Eureka!

Eureka!: A story of the goldfields

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eureka!: A story of the goldfields

Mark Wilson

Lothian Children’s, 2020 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734416810

Like thousands and thousands of others, Molly and her father have emigrated to Australia to try their luck as gold prospectors in Ballarat, Victoria. Life on the diggings is hard and Molly misses her mother, who died before they left England.

A Chinese teenager, Chen, shows Molly and her Papa how to pan for gold and helps them when their food and money run out. Not everyone on the goldfields is friendly, however. Chen and other Chinese diggers are often bullied and the police lock up miners who haven’t paid the exorbitant gold licence fee. Before long, Molly, Papa and Chen are caught up in a protest that will become known as the Eureka Rebellion – a legendary battle that will profoundly affect them all.

Based on a true story, this intricately illustrated story gives an insight into what life was like on the Victorian goldfields particularly from the perspectives of a young girl and that of being Chinese.  For the Chinese were not welcome, were not trusted and racism regularly raised its ugly head.

 IMO historical fiction like this is a critical element of helping our students understand the nuances of life at the time, I wonder what a book of the future will depict about this time we are living through.  Because this is based on a true story it could also lead to investigating the sorts of documents that people kept,  like family Bibles, photographs, diaries and journals, and the role they play in helping us reconstruct the stories of the past. Perhaps students could document “A Day in the Life Of…” as a way of memorialising this time because what will happen to all the emails and photos and so forth that are only stored online, without a physical copy for posterity.

For those for whom a study of the goldfields is on the curriculum, this is an excellent example of how history can be accessed through a narrative and enable young readers to get a more human insight into the time that bare facts and figures do not offer. This is what Mark Wilson does best and in this, he is at his best.

 

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Kate Knapp

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

 9781460758885

Ruby Red Shoes lives with her grandmother Babushka Galina Galushka and they have a most wonderful relationship because her grandmother wears fluffy slippers to the shops and doesn’t care what others think;   she tells stories from the time of the dinosaurs when she was a little girl; she says big words like ‘quandary’ and ‘hullabaloo’; she belongs to a Book Club that meets once a month and sometimes laugh more than it talks; and she keeps fit through aqua aerobics.  But mostly she’s wonderful because she has x-ray spectacles and she can see deep inside Ruby and knows just what she’s feeling.

In these times when so many little ones are separated from their grandparents, as mine are from me, because of being in that high-risk age group, this could be the perfect opportunity to reflect on the relationships and consider why they are so important. In fact, Ruby invites the reader to do just that.  Perhaps the reflection might inspire a letter or a phone or video call so that connections can be maintained, or maybe the creation of a book just like this one full of special thoughts and memories that can be shared when all this is over and we can get together again.

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother