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Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Shane Hegarty

Ben Mantle

Hodder Children’s, 2024

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

9781444966350 

HELP! Dexter’s lost his Boo-Woo.

It’s a scary sounding beast! It has fiery eyes and floppy ears, and twenty pointy teeth!

Soon the whole town is on the hunt for the Boo-Woo… police officers, firefighters and so many more join in the search, each getting more and more concerned as Dexter describes the Boo-Woo.  They are very relieved when they find it,  but have they?

At first glance, this is a story written in fast-paced rhyme for very young children about finding something precious that has been lost and the emotions that that engenders, but it has the potential to be so much more because as the locals join the search, Dexter adds more and more information building up the picture of what his Boo-Woo looks like.  So much like The Dudgeon is Coming, young students can build group or individual pictures adding features as they are revealed, particularly if the first reading of the story is read aloud without showing the illustrator’s interpretation of the words (wrap the cover in brown paper) so the listeners really have to engage with the text as each new detail is revealed.  

It not only provides an excellent opportunity to focus on description and descriptors which will enrich their own writing, but also on perception because each drawing will be different and none will be the same as that of Ben Mantle.  You can talk about how our experiences shape our mind’s eye, and perhaps even introduce the classic poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe. Extend the experience by having them draw the king in The King’s Breakfast by A. A. Milne, Dahl’s BFG as he walks down the street blowing dreams through the windows, or even Gandalf’s first meeting with Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Each has a description that lends itself to be interpreted in a graphic and because each of us interprets what we see and hear differently can lead to discussions about perception, what is truth and how it is shaped by our beliefs, values and even our role in an incident.   

But to be able to hang such a series of lessons on a story, you first need an engaging story that appeals to its audience on the surface, and Dexter and his Boo-Woo is certainly that, with the ending lending itself to even more possibilities!  

Rainbowsaurus

Rainbowsaurus

Rainbowsaurus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbowsaurus

Steve Antony

Hodder Children’s, 2024

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

9781444964516

We’re following a rainbow to find the Rainbowsaurus.
We’re following a rainbow. Would you like to join us?

Two dads and their three children  set off on an adventure to find the Rainbowsaurus. On their way, they meet animals that are all the colours of the rainbow who all want to find the Rainbowsaurus, too.

This is a fun read for little ones as they join the quest with its crazy collection of creatures, all different colours and lots of opportunities to join in with the noises and actions as they seek the Rainbowsaurus.  And if that isn’t enough there is always the song to sing as it has been set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Music, movement, colour and a dinosaur – what’s not to love?  Especially if the young reader is invited to be a creature and colour of their choosing and really join in! 

 

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Anna James

HarperCollins, 2024

416pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

780008410896

“From outside on the busy north London high street, Pages & Co looked like an entirely normal bookshop. but once inside it didn’t quite make sense how everything fitted inside its ordinary walls. The shop was made up of five floors of corners and cubbyholes, sofas and squashy armchairs, and a labyrinth of bookshelves heading off in different direction.  A spiral staircase danced up one wall, and painted wooden ladders stretched into difficult-to-reach corners.  Tall arched windows above made it feel a little like a church when the light spilled in and danced on the air. When it was good weather the sun pooled on the floor and the bookshop cat – named Alice for her curious nature- could often be found dozing in the warmest spots.  During the summer the big fireplace behind the till was filled to bursting with fresh flowers, but at is was October, a fire was roaring there…”

Does this not conjure up every booklover’s dream of a magical place, a bookstore where magic and mysteries, adventures and escapades beckon?  And for it to be the home of Tilly who prefers the company of book characters to the people in real life and, although not having been outside London, is a seasoned traveller within the pages of the books that abound on the shelves just shouts that this is going to be a series for booklovers and readers that will deliver all that is expected and more.

But what if your favourite characters could not only come out of the books and have real-life conversations with you but could also take you back into the book to have your very own adventure within the story? Tilly discovers that this is part of her relationship with her books and that, unlike other series where it is a secret power, this one is shared by her family,  There is much more to her grandfather and grandmother and the family’s history and lives than she ever imagined. Bookwandering is what this family does, and it might explain the mysterious disappearance of her mother and the absence of her father.

Keen readers have followed the adventures of Tilly and her friends since 2018, and if Ms Now 13 is an indication, they will be as eager to read this final instalment as they were the first, for it is, indeed, “as comforting as hot chocolate” as the blurb says.    In this last adventure, Tilly, Oskar, Milo and Alessia venture into King Arthur’s realm in search of the wizard Merlin, and  discover that the magic of bookwandering is not at all what they thought. Together, they must journey into myth and legend – to bargain with the trickster Loki and unlock their destinies with the help of the Three Fates – and find a way to untangle the Alchemist’s grip on the world’s imagination.  To save Pages & Co. and the very foundations of bookwandering, Tilly and her friends will have to learn the true power of imagination in a thrilling final adventure, but an unexpected enemy stands in their way . . .

If you don’t have the series in your collection, it is available in a variety of formats including a boxed set, but you may have to search beyond your usual suppliers for the five earlier books because it is a series that is best read in order.  It will be well worth the effort because this is one of a handful of series that I have sought out all the additions to review over the years, and one which my granddaughters yelled “yes please” when I told them I had the final, even though they are so much older now. This is a series that, like The Magic Faraway Tree  and Harry Potter,  will be kept for their own children to enjoy.  It is for independent readers with a penchant for magical bookshops and being able to really delve into the world of stories and become part of them. And for those who have to wait their turn, or those who ask, “What next?”  you could suggest The Bookseller’s Apprentice and The Grandest Bookshop in the World.For those a little younger, suggest The Travelling Bookshop series

The Most Amazing Thing

The Most Amazing Thing

The Most Amazing Thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Amazing Thing

Ian Hayward Robinson

Matt Shanks

A & U Children, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761180118

It’s wet. gloomy, indoors day ad Henry is stuck inside with nothing to do.  His dad is tinkering with his telescope, his sister is doing an experiment, his brother is meditating and his mother is working on her novel.  None of these were activities to include Henry, and so he asks his mum for a suggestion.

“Why don’t you draw me the most amazing thing?” she suggests.

But what is the most amazing thing.  Henry is baffled and all the other family members have a different answer. Is it life, like his sister says?  Is it the universe like his dad says? Or is it the mind like his brother says?  Or is it something else entirely? So, at the risk of disturbing his mum again, he asks her… and she gives him the most amazing answer.

Little people often have big questions and this is an intriguing way to introduce them to the idea of wondering and imagining, as it would be so easy to have them ask Henry’s question and draw their responses before the story is finished.  Are they as bamboozled as Henry?  Do they draw what his mum suggests?  Why does each draw something different? Can there be many answers to the same question, whether it’s the one posed by Henry’s mum or something else?  What is perspective and what role does that play? Do all questions have answers?

Author Ian Hayward Robinson was a tutor in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and taught Philosophy of Education at Coburg Teachers College and so it seems appropriate that his first picture book for children opens up so many questions for little ones to consider and explore. 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

Prof Zoya Agnis

Alexander Utkin

Flying Eye, 2023

64pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

99781838741174

“Deep in the cold mountains of a distant land, there was once a magnificent kingdom of dragons. The songs of dragon families echoed across its peaks, and priceless treasures were hoarded in its caves. But what happened to this kingdom?” 

From stories like The Paper Bag Princess to the drama of Smaug’s arrival in the opening scenes of The Hobbit, both before and beyond, dragons have been a common entry to the world of fantasy for our young readers, sparking the imagination to go on wondrous adventures. For some, just being engrossed in the particular story is enough, but for others, there is a desire to know more and for them, this book is the answer.

It contains everything a curious mind wants to know to become an expert Drackenosopher just like the esteemed author, Zoya Agnis.  Through clever illustrations and readily accessible text, they can learn to identify the different dragon families, name the most fearsome dragon slayers, the bravest of Drackenosophy scholars and everything else there is to know about the beautiful dragons that we share our planet with.

About 20 years ago, there was another series of books like this (this series also includes The Secret Lives of Mermaids  and The Secret Lives of Unicorns) and it became the perfect vehicle for transitioning young readers into the world of non fiction as we took a topic they were fascinated by and started exploring information books.  In fact they came up with the slogan, Fiction = Imagination; Non Fiction = Information, something I have used in many instances since then. This would serve the same purpose. 

Whenever I make a storybook cushion or a journal or author kit featuring a dragon, I know I will only have it for a short time, such is the popularity of these fantastic beasts. Adults and children snap them up immediately, such is the fascination with and popularity of this creature.  So this is the perfect book to be the centrepiece of a display and promotion featuring fantasy promising to take readers on magical adventures as well as for The Year of the Dragon. A must-have if you have fantasy lovers amongst your readers. 

Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise

Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise

Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Betty & The Circus Surprise

Reese Witherspoon

Xindi Yan

Puffin, 2023

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761047510

Every morning, Busy Betty wakes up with “a MILLION questions and a BILLION ideas.”  In this second book, Betty decides to throw her mum a surprise birthday party, and then decides to make it a circus. After all, Jeffrey can juggle, Mae is an acrobat of sorts, she has watched her mother put on makeup every day so that makes her a professional, and while they don’t have a lion, they do have Frank the dog… What could possibly go wrong?

With its bright illustrations that carry much of the story, this moves along at a frenetic pace sweeping the reader up in the narrative as they focus on what else would be needed for a circus.  While it might not be one for bedtime, nevertheless its celebration of imagination and free, spontaneous, unstructured, unregulated, unsupervised play offers lots of ideas for children to create their own circus or other games as the long summer days stretch out, as well as all the social connectivity and learning as problems arise and are solved as a team working together towards a common goal.

In my review of the original story, I noted my wariness of stories told by celebrities where often it is the name selling the book rather than the quality of the story, but this seems destined to be a series that will stand on its merits, particularly because its target audience will probably be unaware of the author’s credits in the film world. 

Ultrawild: An Audacious Plan for Rewilding Every City on Earth

Ultrawild

Ultrawild: An Audacious Plan for Rewilding Every City on Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultrawild: An Audacious Plan for Rewilding Every City on Earth

Steve Mushin

A & U Children’s, 2023

80pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781760292812

When the introduction to a book is entitled ” Ludicrous Ideas are Bootcamp for Brains” then you know you have something that is going to be out there and it’s going to appeal to your wild thinkers, your madcap inventors and all those other kids who dwell in the Land of What If?

This is a most unusual book in both format and content and yet it is also most intriguing.  The author himself says that he had been having “outlandish ideas” for as long as he can remember, some successful, some not-so, but he is on a mission to “crush climate change by transforming every city on Earth into a jungle (or whatever other type of ecosystem it was before humans trashed it)”.

So in a comic-like format that follows his thought processes, he designs habitat-printing robot birds and water-filtering sewer submarines, calculates how far compost cannons can blast seed bombs (over a kilometre), brainstorms biomaterials with scientists and engineers, studies ecosystems and develops a deadly serious plan to transform cities into jungles, rewilding them into carbon-sucking mega-habitats for all species, and as fast as possible. But, as a highly-respected industrial designer, artist and inventor these are not the random machinations of a child’s wildest dreams, but serious collaborations with scientists and others who are concerned about the planet and which incorporate futuristic materials and foods, bio reactors, soil, forest ecosystems, mechanical flight, solar thermal power and working out just how fast we could actually turn roads into jungles, absorb carbon and reverse climate change. Each project has been researched and while not yet necessarily put into practice, each is theoretically possible and some are already happening,

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Underpinned by quotes from those who have gone before including 14th century philosopher William of Ockham who said that “the simplest solution is almost always the best” (Occam’s razor) this is one to inspire all those who are concerned about climate change but who want and need to do more than reduce their personal use of plastic and who can see that doing what has always been done might not work in time, let alone be successful. It validates the wacky and the wild ideas some students have and encourages them to go even further.

Parcel For Turtle

Parcel For Turtle

Parcel For Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parcel For Turtle

Shelley Knoll-Miller

Puffin, 2023

24pp., hbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761046643

Turtle and his friends are hiding under the rocks wanting to go back to the water but wary of a pesky pelican who is hovering with a hungry look in his eye. when Postman finds a unique way to safely deliver a parcel from Koala.  

But what could it be? It doesn’t sound like a remote control car that could whizz them to the water’s edge; it’s not the right shape for a beach umbrella that could shelter them as they ran and and it’s not big enough to be a trampoline so they could bounce back either.   There is one way to find out… open it.

As with its predecessors, Penguin, Gorilla and Koala, the contents are unexpected but perfect for solving their problem. And, as with those predecessors, the premise of the story is summarised in the intriguing endpapers so there are two stories that can engage our youngest readers as they put their predictive and deductive skills to the test – both key elements of mastering the printed word and becoming a reader! Bright, appealing illustrations, funky characters (even if they have evil on their mind), the opportunity to think about how the characters might be feeling as the story progresses, and the unexpected twist in the tale all make this a story that will move from a first-read to a favourite very quickly!

Apart from putting a smile of sheer delight on my face when I open each new title in this series, it is one that should become as much as a staple in a little one’s library as other classics like Where’s Spot , Ten Minutes to Bed and those by Hervé Tullet. Stories that first and foremost entertain and engage the reader so that start to develop the expectation and anticipation of being “real readers” are the foundation of literary and literacy success and this series is definitely one of those.  Originally intended to be just a collection of four stories, I, for one, would love to see more. 

LEGO Marvel Visual Dictionary

LEGO Marvel Visual Dictionary

LEGO Marvel Visual Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGO Marvel Visual Dictionary

Dorling Kindersley, 2023

160pp., hbk., RRP $a39.99

9780241621424

Since 2012 when it first released its Batman-themed sets, LEGO, a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, have offered fans construction sets related to the popular superheroes so they can learn to read and follow instructions and develop their fine motor skills as they make the intricate models from the movies, then use their imagination to build new stories and adventures with their creations.

Beginning with a visual timeline of releases this guide to the minifigures, vehicles and sets of the Marvel multiverse offers lots of background information about the characters including Spider-Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and others, it culminates in a behind-the-scenes chapter which features concept art and an interview with the LEGO  Marvel creative team.

Like its predecessors that have been linked to popular movies and characters, this is a book that will have young fans poring over it, talking about what they are discovering, wanting to learn more and reading to do so- engaging in all those behaviours that show that print offers them something and that reading for pleasure is a worthwhile thing to do.  Guaranteed to hook young reluctant readers, appeal to more independent fans and even offer suggestions for the Christmas stocking as each model has details of its release date, set number, and the number of pieces and minifigures that come with it. There is even a Iron Man minifig included!

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Leigh Hobbs

A&U Children’s, 2023

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

9781760878276

Mr Chicken has been everywhere – Paris, London, Rome, and all over Australia.  But now, tired of being at home swamped by boring, everyday household chores, he is ready for a new adventure. And as he looks out at the night sky he knows just where he wants to go – Mars.  So, with the help of his friend Boris the rocket builder, within a week he is off. 

Undaunted by a myriad of complex levers, lights, switches and gauges, he uses his trusty guidebook to safely navigate his way past asteroids and other space travellers, and after a brief visit to a space station for lunch, he gets to his destination.  But will the inhabitants welcome him or…??? Will he return safely to Earth for another adventure in the future? 

For more than 10 years, the adventures of Mr Chicken have delighted young readers and led to all sorts of engaging, intriguing learning experiences  – read some ideas in the linked reviews – and this one is no different.  Imagine being here one day and on Mars in seven! 

When Mr Chicken asked Boris to build him a rocket, he says he wants “all the comforts of home” so that could set the designers in the class planning and drawing to show just what its interior might look like, and while Hobbs has had fun with naming all the gidgets and gadgets the linguists could not only work out what they are for but suggest new ones (with labels) for the class models. Those with a penchant for space travel could investigate the history of its exploration, the astronomers could identify, explore and explain asteroids, planets, stars and even Mars itself, while the practical thinkers could investigate what is currently happening in travel to Mars.  The writers could dream up Mr Chicken’s next adventure to another planet and the illustrators could bring that to life.

And all the while, everyone is enjoying this new adventure with this intrepid explorer as he enriches their learning and lives in a way that few ever do.