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Dingley the Dancing Dinosaur

Dingley the Dancing Dinosaur

Dingley the Dancing Dinosaur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dingley the Dancing Dinosaur

Karleigh White

Aleksandra Szmidt

Little Steps, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922833709

With his razor-sharp teeth, blistering roar and height, Dingley’s parents want him to be the next leader of the dinosaur pack, but all Dingley wants to do is dance.  But it seems a Tyrannosaurus Rex is not built for dancing – he always trips over his feet or bumps his head on low-hanging branches – and so he sets off to find his dancing groove.  However, after trying tap dancing with Trixy the triceratops, break-dancing with Benny the brachiosaurus, and the salsa with Sally the stegosaurus, Dingley decides that dancing is not for him and despondently, he heads for home.  And then he meets Bella the brachyceratops on her way home from ballet practice…

There have been many stories written for young readers about believing in yourself and finding your unique place in the world, but the premise of a dancing dinosaur is one that will reel in all those with a love of these creatures. As well as the characters and theme, it could be fun to explore the alliteration as they try to think of a name and dance style for their particular favourite dinosaur while others might want to learn more about Bella the brachyceratops , a species they may not be familiar with.  

And to top it all off, imagine the impact of a mural made by the students of the dancing dinosaurs talent show as they retell the story and add their own characters.  Fun!!!

 

The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas

 

 

 

The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas

The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas

Matt Lucas

Forrest Burdett

Farshore, 2023

288pp, pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780008519926

Leo LOVES Christmas.
And this Christmas needs to be absolutely perfect, because it’s the first one without Mum. Only it all keeps going wrong!

The fairylights are in a tangle
The Christmas cards aren’t finished
The tree isn’t decorated
And the Christmas cakes have all been destroyed!

Soon Leo decides he’s had enough – he makes a heartfelt wish that it would all GO AWAY.  But, then when he wakes up on what SHOULD be Christmas Day –  it’s gone!! All of Christmas! But Leo isn’t going to let it escape that easily . . . So Leo  sets out on a mission to undo his wish and get Christmas back.

With a premise that will sadly resonate with some of our students and who just wish they could sleep through this festive family time, this is a story that might provide a little relief in those long days where every emotion and activity is tinged with the sense of loss.

Written for independent readers who enjoy funny stories by actor and comedian Matt Lucas, this is unique in that there are QR codes to scan so the reader can listen to the songs included  as the story progresses. (For those without the technology, all the lyrics are included at the end of the book.)  It is also liberally illustrated so the thickness of the book shouldn’t daunt young readers,

Definitely a story of being careful about what you wish for but one that might add some joy to a tricky time.

1. Our Christmas Tale/Dear Father C from The Boy Who Slept on Vimeo.

 

The Wish Sisters: The Christmas Wish

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish

The Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish

Allison Rushby

Karen Blair

UQP, 2023

108pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780702266362

When Flick and Birdie’s Grandma Aggie found an imp in an old bottle and wished for her granddaughters to have unlimited wishes, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.  But then Imp twisted the wish so that only  Birdie could have the wish. But Birdie is a baby and that can get tricky when one so young and immature and isn’t yet talking has so much power.  So Flick has to be really careful how things are handled.

Christmas without Grandma Aggie is making everyone sad and while Flock knows that her gran would want this to be a special time for them all, particularly Birdie, she’s finding it hard to find her Christmas spirit.  To cheer them up, Mum and Dad invite the neighbours over to decorate gingerbread houses. After a few false starts because Birdie gets confused, all is going well until Mrs Mortlake brings up Christmas wishes, giving baby Birdie all the wrong ideas…

This is the latest in this series  there is an emphasis on family and friendships and the importance of strong, positive connections between them, with the teachers’ notes offering some relevant questions to consider and discuss that not only relate to Flick and her feelings but also those of any students facing their first Christmas without someone special at the table.  Through the story, they can see that their emotions are valid and validated and that it is okay to not have a happy face all the time. With Flick, Mr Tran and Mrs Mortlake all having different reasons for feeling off-kilter it shows that times like this when there is such an emphasis on happiness and ho-ho-ho that it is not necessarily that for everyone and so readers are encouraged to be sensitive to the needs of those around them.

Written for young girls, particularly, who want a bit of escapism without too much tension, especially those with younger sisters who can be troublesome at times, this is a series that is very much a book about being careful what you wish for. 

Under the Red Shawl

Under the Red Shawl

Under the Red Shawl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Red Shawl

Vikki Conley

Martina Heiduczek

New Frontier, 2023

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

9781922326829

On the day that Salim was born everyone was leaving town, looking for a safer place, and so Mama wrapped him tightly in her red shawl and, with a few precious things packed onto the donkey, joined the exodus…

Based on many stories told by children in Africa and the Middle East to the author during her work with World Vision, sadly this is more than just Salim’s story and as we watched the families fleeing Gaza, it is one that is common and continuous.  While the reasons for leaving may differ, nevertheless there are several constants regardless of the people involved – there is the love of parents for their children that protects the little ones regardless of the hardships that the adults might encounter and endure; the friendliness of strangers and the willingness to open their doors; and the belief that there is a better, safer place somewhere.

So while this is Salim’s story of a journey, it is also the story of so many – including that of many of our students.  

While there will be those with anxiety about starting a new school in the new year, or moving to another town and having to leave and then build friendships, that can be put onto perspective somewhat by imagining what it would be like to have to leave and have no idea where you’re going or what you might face.  How do you keep your dreams alive?

As with Amira’s Suitcase, Vikki Conley has brought the reality of the world of the refugee child right into the realm of more fortunate children, but has tempered it with layers of love and friendship and hope for they are the elements that connect us regardless of belief or circumstance.

 

Little Ash (series)

Little Ash (series)

Little Ash (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Ash (series)

Sports Carnival

9781460764633

Puppy Playtime

9781460764640

Ash Barty

Jasmine McCaughey

Jade Goodwin

HarperCollins, 2023

64pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Hot on the heels of the successful launch of the junior version of her autobiography comes the latest two in this series for young, newly independent readers.  

As with the others, they feature themes that are likely to be familiar to the audience – getting a puppy, and having to put the greater good before your own desires – and encouraging the reader to consider what they would do in a similar circumstance. Part of learning to win is learning to lose, and it is refreshing to have plots where the main character, who in real life we all seem to expect to win all the time, actually faces difficulties and defeat and has to handle that.  It is also refreshing to read stories where, even for champions, success doesn’t come easily – there is a lot of trial and error and practice that has to be endured, and not just with sport.  So many children who find something like learning to read comes easy naturally expect things like maths or music will also require little effort and when faced with a challenge either turn away or label themselves as “no good at that”.    

As sports stars come and go, much in the same way as new waves of young readers discover they can read by themselves, series like this also come and go and are very popular and useful at their time.  Students discover that those they admire most face similar dilemmas and choices as they do, making them more real and, at the same time, showing them that they do have power to determine things for themselves. And with their subject matter and format carefully designed for those emerging readers, regardless of the celebrity on the masthead, they also show them that they can read independently, that reading is something they can master and enjoy and that it will open a whole variety of new worlds and pathways.  So this is another important addition to your Stepping Stone collection with application and attraction beyond just those who like tennis. 

These Little Feet

These Little Feet

These Little Feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Little Feet

Hayley Rawsthorne

Briony Stewart

Albert Street, 2023

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

9781761069017

These little feet, so tiny and new.
The places they’ll go, the dances they’ll do.
The mountains they’ll climb, the dreams they’ll pursue.
These little feet, so tiny and new.
In the classic tradition of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, this is a story of a mother imagining the journeys ahead of her newborn, the adventures they will have and the love and joy they will know.  If you’re looking for a gift to celebrate the birth of a newborn for new parents, this is it. 

Just Because

Just Because

Just Because

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Because

Matthew McConaughey

Renée Kurilla

Puffin, 2023

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

9781761343582

Just because I’m in the race,
doesn’t mean I’m fully ready.
Just because I’m shaking,
doesn’t mean that I’m not steady.

Using a series of rhyming couplets accompanying compelling vignettes, this new book could be your mindfulness program for the term as it explores “the contradictions and complexities that exist in each of us” as we try to navigate what we believe and  what we confront, what we expect and what we experience. By focusing on each situation and unpacking it, young readers begin to understand that their world is not black and white, that there are those fifty shades of grey and there are layers to both their feelings and their relationships as they learn about finding common ground and compromise without betraying their own beliefs and needs. 

“Just because I forgive you, doesn’t mean that I still trust.

There’s what you do, there’s what I do, and yours is not my must.”

As our little ones mature, they are able to move beyond their hands-on, here-and-now view of the world and begin to think on a more abstract level where they can see things from the perspective or others, understand cause and effect, consider what-ifs and maybes, be more flexible and able to delve into underlying meanings. This book offers a wide range of readily recognisable situations that offer lots of opportunities to discuss what the words mean and what the child might do in a similar situation as well as beginning to understand metaphorical language. For example, Just because they threw the dart doesn’t mean it stuck not only lends itself to considering when we should take notice of criticism but also whether a dart was physically thrown.  

There are many books that are released with a celebrity’s name on the front cover automatically giving them publicity but then the hype doesn’t live up to the reality, but this one deserves all it gets.  Whether it’s in a family library or the teacher’s toolkit to pull out at opportune moments, it provides possibilities for all sorts of learning as we guide our little ones to be the sorts of adults we want them to be. 

A Chicken Called Hope

A Chicken Called Hope

A Chicken Called Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Chicken Called Hope

Danny Parker

Tamlyn Teow

Dirt Lane Press, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9780648899686

Hope the chicken is the captain of Courage, a somewhat ramshackle ship that crisscrosses the oceans of the world, relying on Hope’s blind faith that all would be well throughout its voyages. When Hope feels queasy she clucks out a tune until the feeling goes; when she feels tired she dozes in the breeze…  But when the ship develops a leak, and, as usual, Hope procrastinates about fixing it things start to deteriorate and Hope finds that hope is not enough to save the ship, and she learns a powerful lesson about being proactive. 

On the surface, this is a pleasant story that will engage young readers, particularly as they engage with the onomatopoeia as the drip, drip, dribble becomes larger and use the illustrations to tell the story that the words don’t. They might even explore the old adage “A stitch in time saves nine” and how such traditional sayings can still apply to modern life. What situations can they identify that that saying could apply to? Are there other sayings that might apply to Hope’s predicament?

But, in line with the publisher’s philosophy of “tackl[ing] important social issues cleverly disguised as narratives” there is an allegory that older readers might like to tease out and not only discuss the issues it  raises but why an author might choose a picture book format to portray them, thus developing their literary understanding of the purpose and power of the picture book.  It could also be an interesting exercise in perspective – do all the readers identify the same message and if so (or otherwise), why? They might even debate whether using a form of entertainment for children is a legitimate or ethical way to portray a political message, exploring the text-to-self and text-to-world connections, as well as suggesting others they have read with a similar theme.  Food for thought that enables this book to be used across age groups.

The Wish Sisters (series)

The Wish Sisters (series)

The Wish Sisters (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wish Sisters (series)

Allison Rushby

Karen Blair

UQP, 2023

108pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780702265938

When Flick and Birdie’s Grandma Aggie found an imp in an old bottle and wished for her granddaughters to have unlimited wishes, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.  But then Imp twisted the wish so that only  Birdie could have the wish, and that can get tricky when one so young and immature has so much power.  So Flick has to be really careful how things are handled.  

This is a new series for emerging independent readers that has everyday situations as their base, but shows how these can be easily turned into turmoil and need rescuing.

In The Party Wish, Flick discovers her little sister has a special gift. Birdie has wished for a super-fabulous unicorn party and it has magically appeared in their backyard! There’s a rainbow slide made out of sour straps, a ball pit full of marshmallows and a real-life unicorn that poops cupcakes while in The Big Wish  Flick is nervous about leading book club for the very first time. It doesn’t help that her little sister is super cranky and won’t stop wishing. Birdie is filling the pram with her favourite snacks and getting puppies appear out of thin air.  In The Running Wish, it is school sports day but how can she make sure her team wins fair and square when Birdie starts meddling with the most important race of the day? And things turn very tricky in The Pet Wish when the girls are helping local seniors group The Busybodies raise money for animals in need and suddenly there is a rainbow cat and a dancing dog in the mix.

Throughout the series (The Christmas Wish is due in November) there is an emphasis on family and friendships and the importance of strong, positive connections between them.   This will be a popular series for young girls, particularly, who want a bit of escapism without too much tension, especially those with younger sisters who can be troublesome at times.  It is very much a book about being careful what you wish for. 

A Bear Called Blue

A Bear Called Blue

A Bear Called Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bear Called Blue

Frances Stickley

Lucy Fleming

Andersen Press, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781839131523

He sat in the shop window by himself all summer – the last teddy left until Harriet falls in love with him. Harriet never goes anywhere without her beloved  Blue, so when they become separated because he gets left at the beach, he knows that Harriet must be searching for him. Blue might be lost, but he never loses hope. Days, months and years pass, until one day Blue finds himself on a stall at a summer fete. He catches sight of a little girl who looks just like Harriet… but it can’t be, wouldn’t she be grown up by now? And why does the little girl’s mum look so familiar to him? 

Told in rhyme from Blue’s perspective, this is a story that will touch the heart of any young child who has ever been separated from a favourite toy that will give them hope that one day they will be reunited.  That there can be happy endings.