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My Book With No Pictures

My Book With No Pictures

My Book With No Pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book With No Pictures

B. J. Novak

Puffin, 2019

40pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241444177

Following the phenomenal reception to The Book with No Pictures , B. J . Novak now invites the reader  to collaborate in the writing of this new book.  In what has to be one of the most engaging cloze activities ever, the reader has to fill the gaps with the wackiest words they can think of so the story continues.  There are some suggestions offered (and some stickers) all of which are nonsense words, but nevertheless make sense overall.  But the reader can add whatever word they want and when they read it again, change them and have a whole new story.

As well as creating a LOL read,  putting the power in the reader’s hands ensures they will be engaged and entices them to look at the sorts of words that are required such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.  Cloze activities were one of the most powerful reading comprehension strategies I used as a classroom teacher but never did I offer one as crazy and inviting as this.  I wish I had.

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Edie's Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Charlotte Barkla

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020 

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

9781760891770

“If there is one piece of advice I can give you for your first day at a new school, it’s this: avoid sliming your entire classroom. Even if it’s only an accident, you’ll probably end up in trouble with your new teacher…or your classmates… or your new principal. Or with all of them, like I did.” 

Edie loves science so when she starts at a new school she decides to treat it like a giant experiment but after a number of debacles she realises that making new friends isn’t an exact science. 

This is a new series for the independent young reader and perfect for this time of the year when there will be many like Edie who are starting at a new school and whose greatest concern is how they will make friends in this new environment when friendships groups are long established.  Interspersed with experiments and illustrations, this would make the perfect read-aloud to explore how to make new friends when you are just that bit older and inhibitions and uncertainties have already started to creep in. It works for both sides of the fence – those who already know each other and are unsure of how a new person might change the group dynamic, as well as the newcomer who might not resort to sliming the classroom but who feels they have to prove their worth in this new situation.  It might even inspire an interest in science – can making friends become an experiment? Is there a list of ingredients or elements and a procedure to follow?  And if there are, what could go wrong and why? How do human characteristics intervene on even the best plans? 

The Creature Choir

The Creature Choir

The Creature Choir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Creature Choir

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008262198

Warble the walrus loved to sing and her dream was to one day take part in The Great Big Animal Talent Show.  Sadly though, her warbling was somewhat less than melodic – in fact it was shocking – and eventually the other walruses banned her from ever singing again.   While this made Warble very sad, she tried hard to stay silent but she just couldn’t and burst into song.  The consequences were disastrous – she caused an avalanche and everyone was buried in deep snow. So while Warble slept that night they all crept away leaving her alone. 

But she continued to warble and that attracted a lot of other creatures who also liked to sing but whose voices were also a little rough around the edges.  Warble never said no to any of them and soon they had a choir, one that sang all around the world and was finally ready to enter The Great Big Animal Talent Show!

Being one of those with a voice like warble who liked to sing but whose singing seemed to offend everyone (even strangers on a bus trip in the middle of nowhere at midnight!) this story really resonated with me. Being about being true to yourself and doing what you love just for the sheer joy of it, not because you believe you are the best (or even want to be) epitomises the feeling behind the mantra “Dance like nobody’s watching!”

This would be the most wonderful story to have the children imagine and make the noises the various creatures would and create their own choir that sings and dances just for joy. There could be all sorts of ways to explore tone and rhythm and how they can combine to make something that is pleasing to the ear while just having fun!

Top Koala

Top Koala

Top Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Koala

Jackie French

Matt Shanks

Angus&Robertson, 2019

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

 9781460754818

I am top of every tree!

Top is always best to be.

Having convinced us he is not a bear,  Koala is determined to show us that he is at the top of everything because “top” means “best” and that will always, absolutely be him. In this charming, rhyming tale French and Shanks unite again to take the reader on a journey around Australia’s iconic sights introducing our unique fauna as Koala is intent on achieving his goal to be the top of everyone and everything

But at what cost? Because as Koala shinnies to the top of trees, masts, poles and people he is oblivious to the reactions of those he steps on as he goes – their expression perfectly caught in Shanks’s illustrations and suggesting that Koala might get to the top but there might not be too many willing support him once he is there.  Sound familiar? 

With the devastation of our wildlife during this terrifying bushfire season making headlines around the world and the koala being the “poster child” for the campaigns, on the surface this is a lovely book to introduce our youngest readers to the diversity of our wildlife and the impact that nature and humans  can have on their habitats, but, as with all books written by this brilliant author, there is something deeper to discuss with our older students too.  What are the qualities of a true leader?

I had to wait for my copy of this book because it sold out immediately, and I was disappointed, But given the events of this summer I’m glad I had to wait because it now has a much more prominent and  poignant place in our children’s literature story. 

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Rules

Philippa Gregory

Chris Chatterton

HarperCollins, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780008339791

Princess Florizella was friends with some of the princesses who had studied the Princess Rules, and behaved just as the Rules said they should. Florizella thought their hair was lovely: so golden and so very long. And their clothes were nice: so richly embroidered. And their shoes were delightful: so tiny and handmade in silk. But their days bored her to death…”

Instead, Princess Florizella rides her horse, Jellybean, all over the kingdom, having adventures of her own…

Originally written for her daughters in 1989 when the concept of rebel princesses as heroines was scarcely heard of much beyond Munsch’s  The Paper Bag Princess Philippa Gregory has reimagined this collection of three stories for her granddaughters and created a thoroughly modern tale.  “I’m much clearer that she’s up against something worse than a bad fairy at a christening – the ‘rules’ that try to persuade bright multi-talented children into stereotype notes. Florizella and her BFF Prince Bennet find their own paths around giants, wolves and (of course) dragons.”

With humour that stabs at convention and stereotypes and their consequences, Gregory has created a feisty heroine who will appeal to today’s newly independent reader who may once have dreamed of life as Aurora or Belle or some other Disney princess but who will no doubt much prefer to be Florizella instead.  

With a growing call for diversity in children’s literature, movies and other arts, the issue of stereotyping is a topical one so while this book may have a predominantly young female audience, it also has the scope to be a platform for exploring this topic among those much older. And Gregory’s experience as a writer shines through so it would not be considered as a twee, sugar-coated read beneath that older audience. It may even lead them to her more grown-up novels.  

Don’t tickle the hippo!

Don't tickle the hippo!

Don’t tickle the hippo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t tickle the hippo!

Sam Taplin

 Ana Martin Larranaga

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book, RRP $A24.99

9781474968713

“Don’t tickle the hippo – you might make it snort!”  But, of course with its touchy-feely patch being too tempting to leave alone, the littlest reader is going to tickle it – and won’t they get a surprise when they do (if the adult has turned on the switch for the sound effects!). 

This is another series in this new generation of board books that invites the child to interact with the text and the illustrations, to find the fun in the print medium and start to build up an expectation that stories are fun, that they have a part to play in making them come alive and they have the power to do so.  Each creature makes its own sound when the patches are felt and the cacophony at the end of the book makes for a satisfying conclusion.  

It will become a firm favourite bound to generate a thousand giggles as the child is in control. 

Emily Brown and Father Christmas

Emily Brown and Father Christmas

Emily Brown and Father Christmas 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Brown and Father Christmas

Cressida Cowell

Neal Layton

Hodder Children’s, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781444942002

It’s Christmas Eve and Emily Brown and Stanley  have hung up their Christmas stockings and are snuggled up in bed reading when they hear “ho Ho Help” coming from outside their window. It is Father Christmas and despite having the latest climbing equipment, he is swinging precariously from a rope and needs rescuing.  Emily suggests that dropping down the chimney might be better because “Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.”  But Father Christmas is determined to embrace the new ways even though it gets him into strife all night. Will the children around the world get their gifts on Christmas morning or will they all be disappointed. 

This is a very funny story that will appeal to both the reader and listener alike. With its refrain of  “Sometimes the old ways are the best ways” it marries the magical side of Christmas deliveries that we are familiar with, with the idiosyncrasies that we have all experienced with modern technology.  This is a Christmas story that has some substance to it with a determined, credible main character who will resonate with many and a storyline that will linger, particularly when our technology next plays up and we are wishing for some traditional Father Christmas  magic. 

Roald Dahl’s The Twelve Days of Christmas

Roald Dahl's The Twelve Days of Christmas

Roald Dahl’s The Twelve Days of Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roald Dahl’s The Twelve Days of Christmas

Puffin Books, 2019

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780241428122

The Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas has had many versions and interpretations over the centuries including originally being a game in 19th century to being a catechism song for young Catholics forbidden from practising their faith in England, but one thing is for sure – none is quite like this version that combines the traditional  lyrics with the literature of Roald Dahl. 

 . . on the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . Three Naughty Muggle-Wumps, Two Smelly Twits
and Matilda in the library!

Focusing on the stories that have been children’s favourites over the years, “This gloriumptious book is packed full of:
– whipple-scrumptious recipes for festive feasting
– tricksy pranks guaranteed to get you on the naughty list
– amazing chrimbo activities to impress (or prank) your family
– jolly jokes that are even better than the ones in the crackers.”

Each day centres on a different book and there are activities, recipes, stories, poems and a host of other things that will keep the Dahl fan fascinated and occupied once the anticipation and excitement of December 25 has passed.  Combine it with a gift pack of the books themselves – Matilda, The Twits, The Enormous Crocodile, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me, George’s Marvellous Medicine,  Esio Trot, The Witches and a couple of twisted tales – and you have the perfect gift for the fan or to introduce a new reader that will keep them entranced for the whole holidays!

 

 

Pea + Nut

Pea + Nut

Pea + Nut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pea + Nut

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9780733340673

Pea the panda and Nut the flamingo are best friends but they are also great rivals.  Anything Pea can do, the boastful Nut can do better!! So when Pea decides to make a cake, and Nut decides to make it a baking competition, there is a contest worthy of any seen in the showstopper category of The Great Australian Bake-Off!

Nut is convinced that  his cake will win while Pea’s will be put in the bin and driven by his ego (and a few mind-games from Pea) Nut begins “a complex production of layers and towers and major construction.” Will he create a cake  that meets his ambition and expectations? Or will Pea’s slow but steady approach take the cake?

Most readers will know that if it is a Matt Stanton book, it will be funny and this is no exception.  The rhyming text, the vibrant, action-packed illustrations and a concept that will appeal to younger readers combine to make this one of his best, and it is just the first in the series for these two oddball friends. But like all top-shelf picture books there is so much more than the story on the page – it screams out for experimentation in baking and stacking shapes; the contrast between the friends’ approach and how Stanton portrays this can teach little ones about characterisation and the need to look deeply at the detail; and there is also a comparison to be made with The Hare and the Tortoise and the lessons that offers.. Children can also ponder Pea’s final gesture – is this what they expected?

A great read for all ages.

 

Foothand Elbownose

Foothand Elbownose

Foothand Elbownose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foothand Elbownose

Kiah Thomas

Connah Brecon

Little Hare, 2019

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

9781760502027

While Max liked to splash in puddles and get his feet soaking wet, Right Foot had finally had enough.  Sick of being wet, living inside smelly, squelchy socks, and having to contend with prickles and stubbed toes, it finally rebels and demands to be a hand.  Max is open to the idea and for the rest of the day, Foot is happy being a hand, painting letters and helping Max eat his dinner.  But the trouble begins when the other parts of Max’s body decide they want to be different parts too and suddenly Max find himself with an elbownose, mouthear, headbottom,  and a tonguefoot and fingernail had just declared a wish to be an eyelash. Max is so confused he shouts “Enough!” but will the body bits agree to return to their original functions?

This is a quirky book cleverly illustrated that not only helps little ones focus on the parts of their body and how they are perfectly formed for the job they have to do, but also whether who they are is enough or is the grass really greener? Even though they might admire someone a great deal and want to swap lives with them, would they be really happy and suited to being that other person?

Exploiting the preschooler’s ability to totally suspend their imagination so that a foot becoming a hand is utterly plausible, both author and illustrator offer an opportunity for our youngest readers to indulge in the fantasy , perhaps even suggesting other swaps that could have hilarious consequences.