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Hatch and Match

Hatch and Match

Hatch and Match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatch and Match

Ruth Paul

Walker Books, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760656980

Early morning on the farm, and as the rooster crows to start the new day, an assortment of the most brightly coloured, highly patterned chickens jump down from the tree they have roosted in overnight and begin to search for their eggs.  And as they search the farmyard with all its hazards, the reader is invited to help them search by matching colours and patterns so that each hen finds its eggs.  

But when all are reconciled, that’s not the end of the story – there is a delightful twist as the eggs hatch into chicks that will make the reader think about things a little more deeply.

This has to be one of the most engaging books for our youngest readers that I’ve read for a while.  Not only do they interact with the text and illustrations, developing their visual acuity as they match patterns and colours (a precursor to distinguishing more  subtle changes like letter shapes), but the ending offers food for thought that will have a lasting impact on how they view the world.  If it weren’t for this being by a Kiwi author (go us) making it ineligible, it is one I would expect to see in the CBCA awards lists in the future.

Grandad’s Pride

Grandad's Pride

Grandad’s Pride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandad’s Pride

Harry Woodgate

Andersen Press, 2023

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

9781839132667

Milly and her family, including Gilbert the dog, are back for their annual summer holiday with Grandad, and while she is rummaging in the attic to build a pirate fort, Milly discovers a beautiful rainbow flag.  It sparks a discussion about how Grandad used to march in the Pride parades, celebrating the diversity of the community and sharing the message that regardless of who they love or their gender, everyone should be treated with equality and respect. 

When Milly suggests going to a parade in the old camper van, and Grandad tells her his partying days are over, she has an idea… and Pride comes to Grandad and the village!

Not only is this a joyous celebration of Pride and all that it means, it is also a down-to-earth explanation that young children can understand immediately, and many will delight in seeing children just like them portrayed in the illustrations as the villagers come together to make this a brilliant celebration.  Like its predecessor, while gender diversity is at its core, it is more about relationships and communities and connections regardless of differences like skin colour, beliefs or living arrangements.  After all, we are all humans striving to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.  

As Bright as a Rainbow

As Bright as a Rainbow

As Bright as a Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Bright as a Rainbow

Romy Ash

Blue Jaryn

Working Title Press, 2024

34pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781922033062

When we think of the colour blue, do we all visualise the exact same shade or do we see hues like cornflower, ultramarine, azure, cerulean? Perhaps even turquoise like the ocean – but is the ocean just turquoise? Or can it be one of the myriad of iterations of green?

Just like there are so many ways to describe the core colours of the rainbow, then so are there many ways to express yourself as a boy or a girl and this book encourages young children to understand that there is no specific, set-in-concrete way to define one or the other.  

Gradually, we are moving away from the stereotype notion of “pink for girls and blue for boys” (so many ask for gender0neutral colours for baby items in the chop where I volunteer), although it was only 10 years ago when there was an enormous fuss in some places with the release of Jacob’s New Dress and people asked if girls can wear trousers, why can’t boys wear dresses? But while schoolboys wearing skirts in protest of school dress codes still get headlines around the world, and others roll their eyes and tut-tut if someone signs their email indicating their preferred pronouns, it is clear there is still a way to travel and this book for young readers not only raises awareness of the issue, particularly for those struggling with their identity, but does it in a way that is so simple to understand = an analogy that could be used to explore any sort of difference or diversity.

Regardless of the progress that has been made, gender diversity remains a struggle for those who are diverse, so perhaps this is a way to change thinking from the very beginning.  It is somewhat ground-breaking, would certainly be banned in some states of the US and perhaps in some schools here, but nevertheless it is an important contribution to the well0being of those who are different.  

 

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!!!

 

Chico the Schnauzer

Chico the Schnauzer

Chico the Schnauzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chico the Schnauzer

Taryn Brumfitt

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761343988

Chico the Schnauzer has a very distinctive appearance with his salt-and-pepper coat, cheeky eyebrows, fabulous moustache, and really big beard.  He loves anything that starts with ch, particularly Chelsea and Charlie and when they go to work in the morning, he likes to stand at the gate and say hello to all his friends.  But one day, when the gate is left open, he ventures through it and goes to play with them all.  Susie the Sausage Dog, Penelope the Poodle and Digby the Dalmatian and all the others invite him to play with them and Chico is amazed at how different they are and how well they can do certain things – many of which he finds a bit tricky.  

But instead of envying them their skills, he is proud of what he can do and shares his talents with them.  At the end of the day, he is tired but happy because he knows that everyone is different and that he has his special talents too.

Author of Embrace Your Body,  and 2023 Australian of the Year, Taryn Brumfitt has been recognised around the world for her efforts in getting people, especially young ones to not only accept who they are and what they look like but to celebrate it, and this book follows that theme.  Chico admires what his doggy pals can do but also shows his strengths as well.  It’s a message our young readers need to hear over and over it seems, as anxiety levels continue to grow as expectations seem to compound.  They are invited to reflect on what their ‘AH-MAZING’ bodies can do and share this. Perhaps an opportunity for a photo display of each class member’s unique skills as part of the the customary getting-to-know-us activities for the new school year. 

Proud Mouse

Proud Mouse

Proud Mouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proud Mouse

Cara Menzel & Idina Menzel

Disney Publishing, 2023

48pp., hbk., RRP $29.99

9781368080996

Cara Lee is a proud mouse. She is proud of her big sister Dee. She is proud of her specially decorated journal. And now she’s proud to become what she’s always wanted to be: a student. But her first day of school is different than she imagined. Everyone keeps comparing her to Dee. But who is Cara Lee? 

Faced with an issue that many young children will encounter in the next few weeks as they start school and find themselves in the shadows of their brothers and sisters who have gone before,  this is a touching tale of a little mouse who has to learn who she is, rather than just being Dee’s sister.  Using her mother’s advice that often you see yourself more clearly if you stand alone, Cara Lee sets out to discover just who she is and what her unique talents are. 

 A sequel to Loud Mouse, in which Dee, herself finds her voice, this is one to share with little ones starting school to give them the confidence to shine in their own way, as well as showing those around them that being siblings doesn’t mean you are the same. 

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

Chloe's Lunar New Year

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

Lily LaMotte

Michelle Lee

HarperCollins. 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780063076518

It’s almost Lunar New Year, and Chloe can’t wait to celebrate! But first, Chloe and her family must prepare for the new year. They buy new shoes, lay out good-luck oranges in a bowl, decorate the red envelope, and make a crispy turnip cake. Everyone comes together to cook a fantastic feast, saving a plate for A-má, no longer with them, of course. Chloe enjoys the festive celebration and yummy food, but most of all, she loves spending time with her family.

As many of our students start to prepare for their most important annual celebration, just as with the traditions of Christmas there are core elements that all observe, but this story focuses on the traditional things that form part of the Taiwanese version of the celebration, particularly the reunion dinner. There are many dishes, each with a special significance for individual members of the family and it is this coming together and sharing this special time that flows through this story.

The upcoming year is the Year of the Dragon, and while this opens up all sorts of possibilities to investigate, perhaps this story will encourage an exploration of how each of our Asian neighbours celebrate, especially the different emphases on various elements and the food that is shared.   Students could share their stories, acknowledging their culture and customs and feeling that they are continuing those traditions by teaching others about them.  A search of SCIS shows very few picture books about this important celebration that are readily available in Australia, so maybe this is an opportunity to collect the students’ stories and create a new resource for the collection. 

Pink Santa

 

 

 

Pink Santa

Pink Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Santa

Tanya Hennessy

Ben Whitehouse

Albert Street, 2023

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

9781761180392

‘Twas the night before Christmas and everything in Santa’s workshop was ready to go – work done, lists checked, biscuits baked, gifts wrapped… But then Santa remembers his suit is still in the dirty clothes hamper from when he wore it last year and it desperately needs a wash before he and the reindeer can go.

 Being helpful, Rudolph volunteers to do it but when he takes it out at the end of the cycle, it has turned PINK. Can Santa be Santa in a pink suit? 

With rollicking, rhyming text and hilarious illustrations, this original story touches on being who you are inside rather than what you look like on the outside, even venturing into stereotypes and preconceptions formed on the basis of appearance. Will the colour of Santa’s suit really affect the joy and delight of the children in the morning? Indeed, with Santa’s proposal to make the following Christmas even more radical, older readers might want to trace how the image has changed since the days of St Nicholas in the 3rd century being variously depicted in the long garb of a bishop and particularly the influence of the Haddon Sundblom images of the 1931 Coca Cola campaign.  

But whether it is used as a stepping stone to learn more about the traditions, the man or ourselves, or just for the sheer fun of it, this is one to keep in your collection.  It is thoroughly modern and will cheer up anyone, even The Grinch!

 

Say My Name

Say My Name

Say My Name

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say My Name

Joanna Ho

Khoa Le

HarperCollins, 2023

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

9780063205338

There is an old riddle that goes, “What is yours alone but used by everyone else? Your name”. 

There is so much embodied in a person’s name that it can be (and was) one of the most popular units of work that I did with my students at the beginning of each year.  They loved to discover why they had the name they did, its history and significance within their family, its meaning, its cultural connections  and how it shaped their own identity. They enjoyed having conversations with family members about why it was chosen, seeing their birth announcements and sharing their stories.  But most importantly, they wanted to teach us how to say it properly because that demonstrated that we respected them, cared enough about them,  to make the effort to learn it and use it and acknowledge that they were not invisible.  Even though some chose to use a more common “European” name, there was always a spark in their eyes if their birth name was used and pronounced correctly.

In this new book by Joanna Ho, whose stories  Eyes the Kiss in the Corners and Eyes that Speak to the Stars embody and celebrate diversity in a perception-changing way, six children of Chinese, Tongan, Persian, Diné, Nahuatl, or Akan descent share the meaning and history of their names. Names that are “full of tones and rhythms, melodies and harmonies, chords and cadences, Each syllable, each sound, is a building block in an architecture constructed over oceans and across generations.” (And there is a pronunciation guide and other material included in the final pages to help you out.)

Accompanied by stunning illustrations that are rich in the symbolism of the culture of the child, the lyrical text shows us how important it is to each child, indeed each person on the planet, to say their name correctly because “My name is a window to my world, a door to my destiny, a key to unlock the dreams of my ancestors, the hopes of my family and the divine that lives within. Anything less is not me.”

Sadly for some children having someone say their name and smile is the only positive acknowledgement that they will get in a day and it is that affirmation that they exist that is enough to bring them back to school for one more day.  If ever there was a book that demonstrates just how important your name is and how we each cling to its uniqueness, this is it.  With a pronunciation guide and other material included in the final pages to serve as a model for each child’s story, here, embedded in this literary treasure,  is your program for the first few weeks of Term 1 2024 sorted…

A Life Song

A Life Song

A Life Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Song

Jane Godwin

Anna Walker

Puffin, 2023

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

9781761047640

When you are born, you make up a song
It doesn’t rhyme, and it isn’t long
A song of everything you hold dear
It’s your own tune, it’s loud and clear

And your whole world is in it…

One of the favourite units my Kindy kids loved to explore was one based on A. A. Milne’s poem, The End. They loved to discover how much they had grown and changed and learned since they had been born and feel the sense of empowerment and excitement of being in charge of what was to come next. 

The End

When I was One,
I had just begun.When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever

So I think I’ll be six now
Forever and ever.

This new release is the perfect complement to that showing how the child has grown, building on the song of their life as they mature, learn and do more things, and meet more people, each of whom contributes something to the lyrics, loud or soft. Likened to a tiny stream at birth, it grows stronger and bigger as does the child, meandering this way and that as new people and experiences occur, until it becomes one with the river flowing ever onward.  The key difference between Milne’s poem and this, though, is that the poem focuses on the child exclusively while this has the suggestion that there is much more to the child’s song that their own melody – that it started before they were born, will gather momentum during their lifetime and rather than reaching a crescendo at the end, will continue on afterwards.  So it adds to that reflection and appreciation of where they have come from by speculating and anticipating what might come next.  

One for the collection and toolbox of any teacher working with little ones who need reassurance that they are unique, that there are brighter days coming and that they have much to offer and contribute not only to their song but to the orchestra playing it.