Archives

Embrace Your Body

Embrace Your Body

Embrace Your Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Body

Taryn Brumfitt

Sinead Hanley

Puffin, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760895983

There is something scary in the statistic that 70% of primary school children have a concern about their body image, and when this is coupled with the greatest desire of post-restriction Australia is for beauty salons and gyms to re-open, it is easy to see why and that without intervention, this obsession with how we look is not going to change. From long before the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe to waif-like Twiggy to the more-rounded Kardashians, our obsession with how our bodies look rather than how they perform has dominated so many lives, and this is as true for our males as it is for females.  How many young lads see themselves in the image of a Hemsworth?

In 2016 Taryn Brumfitt wrote and directed a documentary Embrace which encouraged us to love who we are as we are, but that doco received a MA15+ classification and so did not reach down to the roots of where the obsession starts.

So now she is addressing this with the establishment of a number of initiatives that speak directly to our children including another documentary , a song and, based on that song, this book. Based on the mantra that “your body is not an ornament:it is the vehicle to your dreams!”. children of every size, shape, colour and ability are engaged in all sorts of activities  showing the extraordinary things our bodies can do proving that nobody has a body that is the same as anyone else’s and that it is capable of so much more than conforming to some arbitrary stereotyped look.

This book has an important role in the conversations and investigations we have with our youngest students and not just in the health and mindfulness programs we offer. Because we are all individuals it opens up the world of science and maths as we investigate why and how that is, delving into genetics and measurement and a host of other areas that give a deep understanding to the message of the book, including the language we use to describe others. ‘Smart’, ‘clever’, ‘athletic’ are so much better than the pejorative terms of ‘pretty’, ‘handsome’ and ‘strong’.  For if, from an early age, we can grasp that we, as individuals, are a combination of the unique circumstances of both our nature and nurture, then our understanding of and appreciation for who we are is a big step towards valuing the inside regardless of the outside in both ourselves and others. 

It is sad that there is still a need for this sort of book in 2020, just as there was in 1920 and 1960, but if you make and use just one purchase this year, this could be the one that changes lives for the better. 

 

 

Lou

Lou

Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Breanna Carzoo

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780063054059

Lou has an important job . . . as the neighbourhood toilet for dogs on their walks, particularly as he is across the road from a doggy day care centre.. All day, every day, they come and sniff, and twirl and twist and lift and…

Useful as he may be, he gets the feeling that deep down inside, there might be more to him than that. He just doesn’t seem to know exactly what yet. When disaster strikes, will Lou find out what he’s made of and save the day?

Young readers will giggle their way through the start of this book as the recognise a very familiar scenario, but the astute ones will also be looking at the pictures and discovering a whole different scenario playing out in the background while Lou is musing about his lot in life.  

This is one to encourage young readers to read the pictures as well as the words because in quality picture books they are integral adding to both the plot and the meaning. Like Lou, this story shows that there is more to each of us than first meets the eye, and that each of us has hidden qualities that others might not appreciate at first. Little ones who are usually the least empowered can have fun identifying just what it is that makes them unique and special, perhaps adding to a group collage that shares their particular talents. Who knows what future hero or champion might be lurking. 

Sticking Out

Sticking Out

Sticking Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticking Out

Terri Owbridge

Emma Stuart

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922358356

Simon was shy at the best if times, and luckily for him, being a stick insect meant he could change colours to match his surroundings and hide from those around him.  That was until the day he stayed the glowing pink of the rose he had been resting on!  He was certain that all the other bugs who were gathering for the Spring Fest would laugh at him and the thought terrified him, so when a friendly beetle told him that there would be a magic gypsy moth who would help him, Simon set off in search of this saviour.  But as well as eventually finding her, he also discovered something much more important…

Told in rhyme, this theme of who you are as you are is enough is a common one in literature for young children but it is one that they need to hear again and again in all sorts of situations so they learn that it is okay to be pink or purple, or straight or bent, or spotty or striped or whatever… That no one really looks twice at your differences because they’re too busy involved in whatever else is going on, and if someone does make a nasty comment, then they are not worth your time.  For some, this is not something easily accepted and body image can become a major issue in the future so perhaps they can have fun imagining what it would be like to be able to change colour like Simon and how that would change who they are inside.  

As little ones face the challenges of new places, new schools, new people at this time of the year, this is one to help them overcome any anxieties they might have. 

 

Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media Survival Guide

Holly Bathie

Usborne, 2022

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781474999267

Like it or not, use it or not, social media is an integral of today’s life and despite it being illegal for those under 13 to have accounts because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which prevents collection and storage of personal information from children under 13 years of age which originated in the US but which is pretty much universal, many of our young students still access sites and apps daily. 

For many parents, the world of social media and instant connectivity is not one in which they grew up – it’s all happened in the last 20 years –  and so helping their children navigate where they never went when they were children can be tricky.  Perhaps the recent hacking of Optus and Medicare and the exposure of personal date gathered legitimately can have a silver lining if it alerts parents to the spread of their digital footprint and propels them to start considering what they are sharing, and thus, their children. 

For even though way back in 1996 my school had a huge focus on safe surfing of the web and the kids, most of whom did not have access to computers and the internet at home, had the basics drummed into them from the get-go, the issues caused by the use of these instant, anonymous platforms continue to rise as our young people seek attention, fame, and in some cases, notoriety. Who can forget the death of 14 year old Dolly Everett who took her own life because of online bullying.?

Thus this book which enables our young readers, even those under the required 13 years) to manage their life, relationships and mental health on social media platforms and empowers them to stay safe online is an important read for all.  With the usual engaging layout we associate with Usborne, but in monochrome rather than colour, it offers in-depth coverage of a range of important a difficult issues young people face including body image, appearance-enhancing filters, influencers, sexual content and mental health. It uses recognisable themes rather than platform specifics, making the content relevant long-term, and tips on how to set up accounts safely and best manage privacy and messaging settings. It also addresses the user’s online persona, online reputation, and relationships; helps them understand  fake news and information and how to handle online bullying, as well as avoiding trolls.

While social media can have a really positive side – many would have been very isolated without during COVID lockdowns – and it would be wonderful if we could instil such a sense of confidence and well-being in the younger generation that they never feel the need for anonymous, meaningless affirmation, nevertheless there is a dark side and users must be aware of the potential for harm as well as good.  Once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. 

As well as being an important guide for the kids, it is also really useful for parents themselves as they learn what it is their child needs to know and do, understand and value as what was once just “peer pressure” from your immediate social circle is now a universal phenomenon right there in their hand. It goes hand-in hand with the excellent site and work of the E-Safety Commissioner established by the Australian government which has information for everyone from parents to teachers to kids to women to seniors and even a host of diverse groups who may be targeted or marginalised. 

Despite the care we take, every keystroke or finger tap can unknowingly add to our digital footprint, and so the better informed we are the safer we will be. Thus this is one to recommend to parents, to teachers and for yourself if you have responsibility for students or your own children online. 

 

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Julia Hopp

Michael Lee

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781922678720

Wonderful news – Mrs Turtle is becoming a Grandma! But Mrs Turtle is worried she may not be a good enough Grandma for the new baby. After all, with her love of socialising, travelling and exercising she was not like most other turtles )or grandmothers) that she knew and she was concerned that she would not match expectations.

Beginning with the illustration on the front cover with a very glamorous turtle with flowing golden locks and red high heels, this is a great story for introducing young readers to the concept of stereotypes as well as building and meeting expectations.  

Currently, there is a series of advertisements on television for an insurance company that invites the viewer to make assumptions about various people based on their external appearance and the assumptions made could not be further from the truth of the reality, and this story is in a similar vein.  What assumptions do we already make about turtles and/or grandmothers? What do we expect them to look like or behave? Why do we have those expectations? Are they valid? How do we feel when their looks and actions don’t meet our expectations?  Important questions for children to discuss but equally so are those relating to the expectations we put on ourselves and the consequences if we feel we do not meet what we expect of ourselves, or what we think others expect of us. Do we hide away,  berate ourselves and have all sorts of negative thoughts that we eventually turn into truths, or are we able to learn from the situation and move on? Can we learn and accept that everyone’s definition of “perfect” is different and who we are as we are is enough?

Grandma Turtle learns a really valuable lesson in this story and young readers can start to have conversations about the issues raised too. There is a saying about being “comfortable in your own skin” which eventually happens when you understand that the only opinions that matter are your own and those of those who are important to you, and so by starting the conversations early with stories such as this, our young people might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of peer pressure that are ahead of them.

A little story but with huge potential, well beyond the protection of turtles that the author includes in the final pages. . 

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Adam Goodes

Ellie Laing

David Hardy

A&U Children’s, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781761065088

Mum is taking David and Lucy on a road trip to visit her family and they are as excited as they are curious for this is their first time back on Country and there are so many special places to see, things to do, stories to hear and words to learn. This is their time to reconnect with their Aboriginality, and learn about their land and culture and how they fit within it from their Elders. As the children find out, it can be very emotional and spiritual as they learn of the generations who have gone before and how those ancestors continue to influence and impact their modern lives.

The third in this series, which includes Somebody’s Land and  Ceremony, young readers continue to learn about what is behind the Acknowledgement of Country that has become an integral part of the day in so many schools now.  As with the others, this is a story from the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders ranges in South Australia, the country of author Adam Goodes. with  stunning illustrations and text featuring both English and Adnyamathanha words (which are explained in a visual glossary on the endpages).  As well as the introductory background notes on the verso, there is a QR code that leads to a reading of the story as well as teachers’ notes  available to download. 

In my opinion, this series is one of the most significant publications available to help our young children understand and appreciate the long-overdue recognition of our First Nations people in schools, so that when they hear a Welcome to Country or participate in an Acknowledgement of Country they do so with knowledge of and respect for all that is contained in the words.  

 

My Deadly Boots

My Deadly Boots

My Deadly Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Deadly Boots

Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler

Samantha Campbell

Lothian, 2022

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

9780734421456

He has worked and saved for the money to buy a special pair of football boots, and, at last, they have arrived. His 

Spikes on the bottom boots,
my favourite colour boots,
making me too deadly.

Suddenly, he has all sorts of dreams and powers that give him joy, confidence, competence, inspiration and energy that he didn’t have before – or do they?  Despite his family members and friends telling him that he is who he is with or without the boots, he is convinced they are the secret to his success, to his being too deadly. They are his  ‘walking in two worlds boots’, “blackfella don’t need to be labelled boots’ ‘his ‘run faster than my cousin-brother boots’, his “find a partner and walk in twos’ boots, ‘his ‘dream big boots’, his ‘give me confidence’ boots, his ” I’m somebody’ boots, his very own boots- until he loses them and there is an important lesson to be learned.  

Written in rhythmical  language that carries the reader along at the same pace as the boots, this is an empowering story of affirmation that no matter who we are, we can all be deadly with or without flash footy boots. Author Carl Merrison is a respected Jaru/Kija man from the Halls Creek area who came WA runner up Australian of the Year – Local Hero in 2016. He has worked for over ten years alongside Aboriginal youth as a mentor and AFL coach and he has drawn on this experience of seeing the confidence boost that having new shoes gives his young charges to create this book while trying to show them that the power was within all the time.  While it is specifically aimed at young First Nations readers to inspire them to read, its message is one for all children everywhere.  

 

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remarkably Ruby

Terri Libenson

HarperCollins, 2022

384pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

 9780063139183

Ruby is moving to middle school, a whole new environment with a whole lot of new people to meet.  Which for some, will be an exciting opportunity, but very daunting for one who doesn’t have “the greatest social skills” , whose not into dances, social media or sports, and who is as tall as their money tree. 

More for the upper end of this readership, nevertheless it is a story that will resonate with many who find themselves having to change schools, and its first-person voice, diary-like entries and a format resembling a graphic novel make it accessible to any independent reader.

It is the 6th in the Emmie and Friends series, written to help young girls navigate those tricky tween years by showing them that the problems and issues they face are common and there are ways to work their way through them.  So while some may not resonate so much with Ruby (although many will),  there are others in the series that will definitely speak to them, making it a series that needs to be in the library’s collection as our young girls seek books about those just like themselves, with the same insecurities, confusion and peer pressure.

 

 

 

You Are 25% Banana

You Are 25% Banana

You Are 25% Banana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Are 25% Banana

Susie Brooks

Josy Bloggs

Farshore, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781405299084

With an intriguing title that is as eye-catching as the cover, this will capture the imagination of any casual browser, and once opened, so will the contents. 

Using both bold fonts and illustrations, this is a fascinating early introduction to genetics that explains how humans are related to every other living thing on the planet, including bananas; that our closest relatives are chimpanzees with a 99% match; yet while our “recipe” is the same as 99.9% of everyone else on the planet now or ever, it is the 0.1% that makes us unique.  Only identical twins have the same recipe!

One of the most common activities in early childhood classes is to graph hair and eye colour, or map heights and so this book goes a long way to helping children understand why they have the colouring or the build that they do.  Learning this at an early age might help alleviate the body image issues that still plague our kids, particularly as they get older, helping them accept their red hair and freckles more readily and even celebrate their differences rather than their lack of conformity to some media-driven, arbitrary, preferred look.  

For older students, it could help them understand the stupidity and futility of racism, particularly if they also watch the pioneering documentary Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes,  Whether our beliefs about human development are based on Glasser’s Basic Needs theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or any other theory, the need for love and belonging is common, and physical acceptance is high – so the more we can understand the importance and influence of our genetic makeup from an early age, the more likely we are to value ourselves and others.  Therefore, this is an important book to start the conversation, even if we don’t like bananas! 

 

 

August & Jones

August & Jones

August & Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August & Jones

Pip Harry

Lothian Children’s, 2022

280pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780734420350 

There is an old saying that every cloud has a silver lining but who knew the extent of it as Jones and her mother and father packed the last of their belongings into their old red ute, and said goodbye to their farm in Cotton forever, driven off by drought and forced to head for life in a tiny apartment in the city where her dad had a job with his brother.  

How could such a move, one made by many in recent years, have such a widespread impact as this story, inspired by the true story of two children in Victoria, unfolds.

Because, as much as 11 year-old Jones misses her rural life, she also has a prosthetic eye because of early childhood cancer, and now the vision in her other eye is getting blurry. Tough and scary at any time but when your passions are running and rock-climbing, it can seem like life is over,  But at her new school, she is paired with August, a somewhat introverted little lad whose dad makes him play footy and even though August hates it, he persists because otherwise he fears being invisible. A friendship blooms and blossoms as together they take on all the challenges facing them, and as the news about Jones’s eye is the worst, make a Must-See bucket list of the things she wants to see before she loses her sight completely – a list that has tentacles that reach out to embrace many and change those lives as well as both Jones and August.

Told by the two children in alternating chapters, this is a moving, heart-warming, tear-jerking story about family and friendship overcoming heartbreak and hardship that will appeal to independent readers who like real-life stories that are both inspirational and aspirational.  And as both Jones and August reach the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, signaling not the end but the beginning of new adventures, you just want to cheer!!  

It wouldn’t surprise me to see this one among the CBCA Book of the Year nominees in 2023,  following the success of The Little Wave.

Worth reading past your bedtime just to find out what happens…