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Jump!

Jump!

Jump!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump!

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2020 

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

9781925804461

High up in the Cloud Tower, the little Quig stared at the world way below him.  As his brothers and sisters rolled out of their eggs, they did the same, quickly learning to use their clever tails and powerful fins to climb and clamber over the tower. But the little Quig didn’t join in because his tail was stumpy, not clever, and his fins were thin and wrinkly, not powerful.  And he was afraid of the open spaces around and beneath him.

So he sat and watched the others, trying to pluck up the courage to jump too, and enduring their torments because he was so different. But one day when their taunts got too much, he did jump.  And discovered something amazing…

If there was a signature book for this year’s Book Week theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds then this has to be it!  For Stumpy the Quig is indeed a curious creature and he does have a wild mind.  But he is also resilient and is not daunted about being different, which is the central theme. He may not be the same as the other Quigs but he has other talents that are probably going to make them very jealous when they are revealed!

Whenever I get a book by Andrew Plant to review, I know I’m going to get a beautifully illustrated, unique story and this is no different.  It is made for sharing and discussing.

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Katrina McKelvey

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820379

Isla’s family is about to grow and she is not happy.  “This family is full”, she declares.

So her mother sits her down and explains how families are like trees -they have a trunk that is formed by the grandparents, branches formed by their children and then the leaves are the children of those children like Isla and her cousins.  Isla begins to understand but when she learns that her mum is to have two babies, then there is no room for any more leaves on her branch and the family is definitely full.

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community. 

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is  scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different. 

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well.  There are teachers’ notes available.

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too. 

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities. 

Derek Dool Supercool 1: Bust a Move

Derek Dool Supercool

Derek Dool Supercool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 1: Bust a Move

Adrian Beck

Scott Edgar

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760892951

Think of the COOLEST, FUNNIEST, most HANDSOME kid in school, times it by a gazillion and you get DEREK DILBERT DOOL. At least he thinks so . . . Pity he’s the only one.

Life’s tough when your name’s Derek. You’re destined to be uncool. But Derek is determined to find something – anything – that will change that. He’s sick of being picked last in PE, of not being invited to parties, and of all the cool kids using his freckles as dot-to-dot challenges. Derek is going to find something that will make him SUPERCOOL and nothing is going to stop him.

There are many boys like Derek in our classrooms so his situation will resonate with them, and with its short chapters, punchy sentences and liberal illustrations this is a new series (Going Viral is due in August) that is going to have wide appeal with independent readers who don’t want to have to concentrate on convoluted storylines and complex characters yet.  The popularity of other series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid  has proven there is a strong market for these sorts of books amongst our newly independent male clientele so to have one that has an Australian flavour will have extra appeal.

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proudest Blue

Ibtihak Muhammad

SK Ali

Hatem Aly

Andersen Press, 2020 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781783449712

The first day of the new school year is fast approaching and so Mama takes Asiya to buy her first-day hijab for her first day in Year 7.  Asiya chooses the brightest blue one because if you squint your eyes there is no border between the water and the sky, just as thereshould be no borders between people.  Her little sister Faizah is so proud of her but sadly not everyone understands what hijab is or represents and so both girls are teased and tormented because they are different.  But guided by their Mama’s wise words that echo in their head, both manage to navigate the day proudly, determined to keep the ancient tradition of covering the hair from puberty. 

Written by one who has been Asiya, Ibtihak Muhammed is the Olympic fencer who became the first Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab while competing for Team USA, this story is not only an insight into the wearing of hijab as a testament to the faith and love of Allah, it is also about being proud of who you are and what you believe in regardless of whether that is based on religion, culture, colour or any other dimension that can be perceived as setting us apart. (Try being a round redhead with glasses in a world that was in love with Twiggy!) There will be many Asiyas and Faizahs in our classrooms this year, Asiyas wearing hijab and navigating the taunts of the ill-informed, and Faizahs fielding questions while feeling enormously proud so this is a book to share across the year levels to help the acceptance and understanding. 

Regardless of the reason that someone may be isolated by their peers, perhaps the most memorable part of the story are the words of the girls’ mother… “Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them.  They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.” Wise words that we can all learn from.

An Internet search will bring up many resources for using this book in the curriculum.

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morphing Murphy

Robert Favretto

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804324

Murphy the tadpole likes his life just the way it is – swimming in his weedy pond, slurping up algae and rotting water plants.  In fact he wouldn’t change a thing.  But then things do begin to change – two bumps appear next to his tail and no matter what he does he can’t get rid of them.  But as they develop into legs he finds his life is that much better and so he’s happy with the new Murphy.  Until things begin to change again… and again. And the twist in the ending is unexpected and delightful. 

With its soft palette and expressive illustrations,  this is a charming book for young readers that shows the development of a tadpole into a frog, while, at the same time, gently exploring how unexpected changes in life can become positives rather than negatives. While Murphy was at first fearful of the changes happening to him, with no control over them he has to accept them and get on with it. Perhaps some of our students are experiencing change through a new school or other life-changing event, especially given the fires and floods of this summer, and finding it confronting and need some guidance to search for and find the silver lining.  

More than just another book of many about the transformation of frogs. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy

9781760893651

 

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg

9781760894528

Puffin Books, 2020 

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 

 

 

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and My Boots

Penny Harrison

Evie Barrow

Little Hare, 2020

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

9781760502331

Bronte loves her boots and she wears them all the time.  But they seem to take a role of their own depending on who she is with.

Mum calls them my brave-girl boots.
My bold-as-brass, adventure boots
I’m off to snare the dragon boots.
I’ll drag him home for tea.

My teacher calls them bustling boots.
My buckle-down-to-business boots.
I’m the best at jobs boots.
I’m busy as a bee.

Bouncing along with a rhythm that is as engaging as Bronte, with clever language and joyful illustrations, Bronte learns that who she is when she is wearing them is shaped by the relationships and circumstances at the time. But most importantly, she knows that all of these personalities make her who she is, even if she does have more layers than a triple-chocolate cake. 

This is the first in a new series about this thoroughly modern young girl who is confident and assertive and very comfortable in her own skin. The endpages and illustrations show she is not restricted by gender stereotyping or other artificial boundaries, complementing the text perfectly as she rejects the notion that her boots make her bossy or stubborn.

Looking forward to many more in the series.

 

 

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? 

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Home To Country

Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare, 2020

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

9781760501921

The saying “there’s no place like home” has never been expressed so poignantly as in this new book from leading indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft who always creates a visual feast accompanied by lyrical text. The young girl is coming home across the old wrinkled hills, through the palette of “leaf green, red rust, yellow ochre, deep blue and crimson”  to draw in the breath of the valley, listen to the bird orchestra, slip into crystal clear waters and be held in the embrace of her ancestors. 

“This is peace” and even with its bright colours and traditional busy patterns, that is exactly the feeling that is evoked by the gentle words as they envelop the reader. With the tumultuous summer we are experiencing with such weather extremes and the insatiable fire dragon, this is the book that we and our children need so we can retreat to somewhere safe and know that there is the evidence that Mother Nature will prevail if we would only listen to those who have cared for the land for generations. In her dedication she urges her “three warriors” to keep rallying for change so that “all children can have hope for the future” and know that the fire-ravaged, desecrated landscape that they are seeing right now can heal.

A timely release as we seek to comfort those for whom everything currently seems bleak and black and silent so they know that there can and will be colour and noise and life again soon. 

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.