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A Blue Kind of Day

A Blue Kind of Day

A Blue Kind of Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blue Kind of Day

Rachel Tomlinson

Tori-Jay Morley

Puffin, 2022

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

 9781761046384

Coen is having a blue day.  Not one where all he wants is his blue clothes, blue food and blue toys.  But s slumping, sniffling, sighing, sobbing kind of day. A day where the only safe place to be is curled up in a blanket cocoon and so that’s what he does.

His family thinks they know how to cheer him up. His dad wants to go outside and play,  his mum tells her funniest joke, and his little sister shares her favourite teddy. Nothing helps. But one by one, they quieten and begin to listen. After some time, space, and reassurance, Coen is able to show them what he needs. And being aware, smart parents they give it to him…

Childhood depression is more and more on the radar and particularly following the enforced isolation of the last two years, so this is a timely book that helps parents understand that this is something more than just feeling sad and disappointed that can be shaken off with distraction. Tomlinson, a registered psychologist, follows the story with notes about how to alert parents to the condition, that  it has physiological symptoms and how they can support their child through an episode. In her dedication, Tomlinson says, “To all the children finding their way through big feelings: I see you. You’ve got this.”  And often, just that acknowledgement for the child’s feelings is enough and that like Coen, they begin to believe that they will come through to the other side and tomorrow will be brighter. To know that you know and you have faith in their ability to cope and continue is a huge step in the healing process.

 Sometimes we suggest parents casually leave a particular book lying around in the hope that their child will read it – this is one that the child might like to leave out for the parent.  

 

Emergency Emergency

Emergency Emergency

Emergency! Emergency!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency! Emergency!

Rhiân Williams

Tom Jellett

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036106

Sadly, our youngest readers are becoming all too familiar with emergency vehicles as they rush around the cities and the countryside in these times of floods and fire and other devastating events.  For many, it is the sight of those familiar uniforms that bring relief and hope as well as help.

In this rhyming story with its bold, colourful pictures, young readers discover that there are many more vehicles in the fleet beyond the usual fire trucks, police cars and ambulances as they are introduced to jet skis, helicopters, water bombers, drones and even the RFDS as each plays a unique role in particular situations from clifftop rescues to getting people off their rooftops.  

However, as entertaining and engaging as the book is, it is the teachers’ notes that really add extra value as they guide both parents and teachers through raising the issues of “what if” with their young children including keeping themselves and their pets safe; the role of 000 and when to use it; knowing what to do in case of a fire, being lost, and other critical situations they might find themselves; and preparing for a disaster.  Simple things like knowing your name, address and phone number to tell a police officer, or having a password that must be said if a stranger talks to you can be life-saving but can also be neglected as we hope they’re never needed. While the story itself touches on calling 000 it is these additional activities that open up essential conversations in a non-threatening scenario that add depth and make this book a valuable addition to a family’s safety preparations. Even moreso because its focus is on the familiar vehicles and people that we see in Australia. 

Hopefully, like learning CPR, there is never a need for them to use their knowledge but as the saying goes, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. 

A Lighthouse Story

A Lighthouse Story

A Lighthouse Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lighthouse Story

Holly James

Laura Chamberlain

Bloomsbury, 2022 

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

9781526624123

“On bright summer days, Eva visits her Grandad…

But this is no ordinary trip because it begins with a boat ride on a small boat to a rocky island because Eva’s grandad is a lighthouse keeper.  Eva loves her Grandad but she loves lighthouses almost as much as she bombards him with millions of questions about the what, why, where, who and how of these structures that seem to have their own mystical appeal.  

And so interspersed with the story of Eva and Grandad sharing the daily routine of maintaining the lighthouse, the reader is given all sorts of facts about them – who knew that even  their external paint pattern was so significant – their purpose, their location, their upkeep, their range, as well as cloud formations, stars in the night sky and the wildlife that surrounds the lighthouse. There is even the remarkable story of Grace Darling, the legendary lighthouse keeper’s daughter who rescued so many. 

Give me a book with a lighthouse on the cover and I can’t resist – I’m straight back to my childhood at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand where I grew up with the local lighthouse sweeping its reassuring beam over my bed in its rhythmic pattern each night, and on clear nights, the distant Dog Island lighthouse too.  So although my grandad wasn’t the lighthouse keeper, so much of Eva’s story brought back the best memories. 

 

Apart from me though,  this is a book that will resonate with so many who are familiar with lighthouses as there are over 350 of them dotted around our coastline. While there are no longer any manned, nevertheless they still hold an appeal and Eva’s  journey back into another time will help those who are fascinated by them, not only understand their function better but also have an even deeper respect for those who looked after them, and, through their efforts. so many others.  

The perfect companion to  The Lighthouse Keeper series – another favourite!  

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

Sue Lawson & Sue Hindle

Prue Pittock

Wild Dog, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036144

With pandemic restrictions easing and life returning to a “COVID-19 normal” one of the most concerning things emerging from the lockdowns and limitations is the amount of global research focusing on the impact the time has had on children’s mental health.  And, with RATs and masks in schools bringing the disease to them directly, the anxiety and discomfort is likely to have  even greater consequences.  But while that might be the black cloud of the last two years, the silver lining is the focus that has been placed on the mental and emotional health of our young people – no longer is it just an illness of older people.

According to the experts, one of the greatest tools we can provide youngsters with is resilience -“the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity” – and this book, which talks directly to the reader, offers the tools to build this. Beginning with the affirmation that no one else in the world is like you, if offers practical ways to explore emotions and build a toolkit to help with the days when they “feel worried, worn out or just not quite right.” From learning to breathe deeply, tune into their emotions, and creating a place – physical or mental – that is safe and peaceful, the young person is offered ideas that are simple, doable and achievable.  They’re explicitly stated rather than being embedded in a what-would/could-you-do story that needs to be unpacked and have step-by-step instructions from learning to finger-breathe to writing anxieties , fears and feelings on paper and physically ripping them up. 

Mental health is a curriculum focus, even moreso now, and mindfulness part of everyday activities so as well as helping individuals directly, the suggestions could also be a toolkit for teachers to work through with students whenever there is a moment or a need. Sharing stories such as The World Awaits is an essential part of showing children that their feelings are real, shared and validated and this book is the perfect follow-up, empowering them to not only manage their emotions now but building strategies for the future.  

 

Michael Rosen’s Sticky McStickstick: The Friend Who Helped Me Walk Again

Michael Rosen's Sticky McStickstick: The Friend Who Helped Me Walk Again

Michael Rosen’s Sticky McStickstick: The Friend Who Helped Me Walk Again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Rosen’s Sticky McStickstick: The Friend Who Helped Me Walk Again

Michael Rosen

Tony Ross

Walker, 2022

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

 9781529502404

Imagine being so sick that you can’t get out of bed, not even to go to the loo.  So sick that it takes three people to even sit you up and that in itself is so exhausting that you beg to be allowed to lie down again, and, when you do, you lie there almost paralysed from the effort it took.  That as much as you want to just lie there, those around you persist because they have faith that you can do this, and s-l-o-w-l-y. s-l-o-w-l-y you begin to share that belief. And even though it takes every bit of strength you have,  and it’s painful and oh-so tiring, your determination overwhelms the desire to just sleep forever, and you begin to move forward.  Literally just baby steps to begin with, but each one a little longer than the last until at last, you are really kicking goals. Your best friend is a walking frame, then a wheelchair, then a walking stick and your greatest achievement could be going to the toilet all by yourself with no helpers – when to be able to do something as natural and necessary as a wee without spectators becomes a red-letter day!   

This is the story of children’s author Michael Rosen, he who gave our children We’re Going on a Bear Hunt amongst so many others, superbly illustrated by Tony Ross who has taken the edge off the seriousness of Rosen’s situation with his perfect artwork, as Rosen recovered from COVID 19 in 2020.  

But it is my story too for in 2021 I found myself following exactly in Rosen’s footsteps (but for a different reason, struck down by the rarest of rare allergies) and sadly, it is also the story of so many of our children who, for many reasons, find themselves on that uphill climb where each metre gained is worthy of celebration. 

However, while I understand Rosen’s journey so well (I’m still kicking goals twelve months on as I recover, so although I can now toilet and shower myself, I still have challenges to face like having the strength to squeeze the nozzle of the petrol pump to fill my car), and I acknowledge that what we have been through has been traumatic both physically and mentally (because staring down death has that effect), what shone through this story for me was his hope, his perseverance, his determination, his courage, his resilience and his faith that he would triumph, once he was able to accept that the doctors, nurses, physios, occupational therapists were all on his side and that family and friends were cheering for him, literally every step of the way. That for all we like to think we are self-sufficient, perhaps an island, it is the love, connections and support of and with others that infuse us with the wherewithal to keep pushing. 

And for that alone, we should be sharing this story with our students, many of whom are facing seemingly insurmountable battles and helping them understand that it can be an hour at a time, a day at a time, a step at a time and while that step might be a backward one, we believe that they will go forward again.  Yes, we each have an inner strength, stronger than we ever realise until we have to draw on it, but it is that encouragement and belief of those we love that is the driving force to keep trying.  It may not be a physical illness such as Rosen and I had, but for the child it is just as serious and devastating, and thus the need for our support is as vital as Sticky McStickstick in their recovery. And to go a little further, once recovery eventually occurs, to realise that there will be unexpected long-term impacts to deal with so that while Sticky Mcstickstick might spend most of his days in a basket just in case, he still needs to be there both as a support for when we fall and as a reminder of all that we did and learned as we recovered. 

And for me, as well as my own Sticky McStickstick I now have this book  – a story of a journey undertaken and conquered by so many more than me and Rosen. 

Boss of Your Own Body

Boss of Your Own Body

Boss of Your Own Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boss of Your Own Body

Byll & Beth Stephen

Simon Howe

ABC Books, 2021

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780733341724

You’re not the boss of many things
because you’re little and still learning.
You’re not the boss of anyone else,
you’ve got to let them be themselves.

But you ARE the boss of one thing …

How often have you heard a little one say, “You’re not the boss of me” as they try to exert some power over a situation?  From birth it is instinctive that we feel in control but as a young child, there are few circumstances  that we do have the  power  to make the decisions.  In this book, based on a song from Teeny Tiny Stevies, sisters who “make content for children filled with cheerful folk-pop tunes covering topics that explore important social messages in a fun and relatable manner.” young children are encouraged to understand that while they are not in charge of many everyday situations, they are in charge of their own bodies.  They decide how fast they can run, whether they do a handstand, join a game  or hold a grown-up’s hand.

As a teacher of 50+ years, I’ve attended many staff meetings and other PL but I always remember one particular meeting in 1989 when we were presented with the appalling statistics relating to child abuse including that based on these, there had to be kids within our school, indeed our classes, who were suffering and school had to be both their sanctuary and their saviour.  It came as mandatory reporting laws  became some of the first introduced after the ACT was granted self-government and for many, eyes were opened as we learned the facts and figures and what we could and must do about any instances we became aware of.  In many ways it was a turning point for the teaching profession as suddenly our role legally embraced the pastoral care of our students as well as their academic development.  Programs like Protective Behaviours were introduced (who remembers Try Again, Little Red Riding Hood?)  and we tried to negotiate both teaching the children how to protect themselves and the minefield that was the legal obligations we now had, particularly as children now had both a pathway and a voice so they felt it was safe and worthwhile to disclose.

And while organisations like A Mighty Girl have produced booklists that focus on abuse and violence , only a handful are for primary-aged students  and even fewer for preschool.  So this book fills a gap in what is available to our young readers, sadly having to teach them something they shouldn’t really have to learn.  Even though its words only touch lightly on the possibility of intimate abuse – “You see, you can give your uncle a kiss and you can decide to snuggle like this” – it is that repeated message that the child can choose that is the critical and powerful one. Unlike the animated version which features cartoon creatures, Simon Howe has chosen to interpret this with illustrations of children from diverse backgrounds so even the youngest child can relate to the words and the message.  This is something written just for them.

Ugly, sad and necessary though it may be that we have to teach our littlies this message which will eventually build into the No Means No campaign is a vital one so to have such a sensitive but appealing text to add to the armoury is very welcome.

 

&

Alice’s Food A-Z

Alice's Food A-Z

Alice’s Food A-Z

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice’s Food A-Z

Alice Zaslavsky

Walker Books, 2021

148pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760654856

“Alice Zaslavsky has been described as “Andy Griffiths meets Heston Blumenthal,” and this book brims with her trademark energy and enthusiasm for all things food.”

Exploring everything from apples to zucchini, this book is designed to help young foodies understand food better and encourage them to go beyond their comfort zone of what they normally eat or cook with.  Whether it’s a new recipe for an old favourite (and there are 30 recipes included) or something completely new that sounds like it will make your stomach squirm, readers are encouraged to at least try new things because love it or hate it, there will be new memories created and stories to tell.

With lots of illustrations and a layout that will appeal to young readers, each food is introduced through all sorts of angles including the reason behind its name, where it comes from and what it looks like, fun facts, ideas for snacks, as well as extra interesting info that takes some of the mystery out of it. There are recipes for popular foods like chicken nuggets so you can be assured of what you are really eating (you can never unsee Jamie Oliver’s video about this); tips for setting up a lemonade stall and dozens of other bits and pieces that are fun while surreptitiously encouraging a healthier diet.

Originally published in 2015, and a CBCA Notable for the Eve Pownall Award in 2016, this is a new revamped edition that will garner new fans as so many of our students have taken up an interest in food and home cooking during the events of the last two years. With school-based kitchen gardens and other initiatives, many have noted the extending palate of children who have actually grown what they have eaten and with this book removing the mystery behind many foods, familiar and not-so, this is going to be a bonus for all budding cooks.  And I have two in my family!

And just in case you haven’t seen it…

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Charles Fuge

Walker Books, 2021

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760653538

Little Wombat is so very excited because he’s found a fun new friend to play with – one with a strange name Pla-ty-pus and with an even stranger walk, a funny face and who can swim like a fish. But when Little Wombat tries to mimic Platypus’s walk and finds himself in the water and having to be rescued by his new friend, he realises water is not for him.  Nevertheless, he is determined to learn to swim and while tries teaching Little Wombat  Rabbit and Koala begin to wonder if wombats should, after all, stick to dry land!

Swimming lessons are such an integral and necessary part of our littlies’ lives that when the NSW “roadmap to freedom” was released it was quickly changed to bring forward the opening of indoor pools because of the outcry of parents demanding access to swimming lessons for their young children.  Indeed, in my teacher ed days in New Zealand we could not graduate until we each had our swimming teacher quals as swimming lessons were a compulsory part of the phys ed curriculum for both term 4 and Term 1 with most schools, even in the coldest parts of the country, having their own learner pools installed as a matter of course. 

So this is a timely tale about the importance of learning to swim and the fun it can be, as Little Wombat learns to kick his legs and float using a log, to paddle like a dog and dive like a frog.  After all, if a wombat can learn to swim and become a wom-bat-y-pus, then so can any little child! So sharing this message with a lovable little character with the most endearing expressions with them will give them confidence to try and the expectation that if they work hard as Little Wombat does, they will succeed.  Swimming is just what Australian kids do. 

What if … ?

What if … ?

What if … ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What if … ?

Lynn Jenkins

Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820973

Issy’s mind was always very busy. She was always wondering “What if…” and then imagining all sorts of situations that scared her.  She worried about monsters in her cupboard, aliens taking her in the middle of the night, her bedroom floor turning to quicksand and sucking up both her bed and her.

But her wise mother recognises the anxiety her imagination causes and the power of those two little words, and as she tucks Issy into bed she takes her turn at the “What if…”” But instead of scary things, she takes Issy and her imagination on an amazing and humorous trip of people walking on their hands and wearing their undies on their head; of clouds of different colours that smell of fairy floss and popcorn… Then she invites Issy to try and when she takes her mind in a new direction, her anxiety vanishes.

This is another beautiful offering from the pairing that gave us stories like Tree, and the Little Anxious Creatures series as the author draws on her expertise and experience as a clinical psychologist to acknowledge children’s big feelings and then articulates them in a way that both resonated with the child and helps them develop strategies that empower them to deal with them for themselves.  Changing thinking from what if a storm brews, a tree crashes through my window and a vampire bat flies into my bedroom to what if there were hot air balloons that could take me anywhere I wanted to go following a path made by the stars is as powerful as those two words themselves. As Jenkins says, “we are the bosses of our brains” and thus we can choose what we want to think. Lonergan’s illustrations in soft pastel colours are as gentle as the story itself,  and would be the ideal model for little ones to think of their own what if and then illustrate it, thinking of the way colour can portray mood as much as any other element.  A physical reminder to look at whenever their mind starts to wander down dark paths…

There has been much talk about the impact that the last 18-20 months has had on the mental health of our children and so this book, and the others by this couple, are more critical to know about and share than ever.

As well as teachers’ notes, Jenkins shares the story herself.

 

A Trip to the Hospital

A Trip to the Hospital

A Trip to the Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trip to the Hospital

Freda Chiu

A&U Children’s, 2021

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

9781760526702

Sadly, many of our children visit hospitals as patients more times than we like. either because of an accident or illness.  Even for adults, they can be intimidating places and even moreso if the visit is an unexpected emergency – ask me how I know!!!

But it can be made less traumatic if children know what to expect and so this book, based on an Australian hospital, is very timely and useful.  Following the journey three children, each being admitted for a different reason, the book’s purpose is to show that  hospitals are amazing places filled with clever people all doing incredible things, including making you feel better. The emphasis is on the people who may look scary because they’re wearing masks (although that’s not so uncommon these days) and that the tools and machines they use are there to help them. 

But as well as reassuring the would-be patient, with hospital admissions on the increase because of COVID-19, it also helps them understand what is happening to their family and friends who might also be admitted.

If we know what to expect in unfamiliar situations then our anxiety levels are lowered and we are much more able to cope.  This book certainly does that.