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The Box Cars

The Box Cars

The Box Cars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Box Cars

Robert Vescio

Cara King

EK Books, 2019

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

9781925335835

Best friends Liam and Kai love to race around the park every day in their box cars, pretending to be everything from policemen to limo drivers! One day they notice a little girl watching them — she’s keen to join in, but there’s only room for two.  Each boy offered Eve his car but then that meant someone was left standing alone on the sidelines watching.  However, they solved the problem by the boys sharing a box, but cardboard box cars are not built for two people!

Robert Vescio has written yet another delightful story for the early childhood brigade, focusing on ordinary, everyday adventures familiar to so many and bringing them to life.  Who hasn’t seen a young child turning a large cardboard box into anything but a cardboard box, letting their imagination soar and having the time of their life? 

The gentle illustrations, which include the most charming endpapers, are perfect for the tone of the story and capture its emotions so well.  

 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Focusing on friendship, creativity and problem-solving, this is likely to become a much-requested favourite.

 

Eva’s Imagination

Eva's Imagination

Eva’s Imagination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eva’s Imagination

Wendy Shurety

Karen Erasmus

New Frontier, 2018 

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

 9781925594232

“Mum, I’m bored!” announces Eva as she throws herself onto the carpet.

But when her mum suggests she uses her imagination, Eva has no idea what that is, although her mum assures her she will know when she finds it.  So Eva pulls on her boots, gathers some snacks, a stick and her faithful dog Chops and sets out to find it.  

On her journey she wanders through a narrow valley, explores a pine forest while a lonely cuckoo calls, climbs up a steep mountainside while the wind whistles, pausing to rest at the top before continuing on her adventure in the hunt for her imagination.  Dark caves with scary creatures, bridges to rainforests full of ferns and vines and even a snake… on and on the search goes until she stumbles across a pile of books and seeks refuge on Mum’s knee for a story, convinced she can’t find her imagination anywhere!

As the excitement of Christmas and holidays pass but the hot days linger, every mum in Australia has heard the words, “I’m bored.”  And probably responded in the same ways as Eva’s mum.  Being bored is an essential part of life for not only does it mean we have to draw on our inner selves for the entertainment we seem to crave, but it also means we need to draw on our imaginations, our creativity, and wander into the world of “what if?”  It helps us pose problems and solve them, taking us out of the here and now and into the realm of possibility, daydreams and wonder, through valleys, up mountains and into scary caves.  Rather than fearing being bored (or having our kids be bored), we should welcome and embrace it as  the portal to the unknown. Who knows what we will find!

This is a story that may mean children never look at their own homes in quite the same way again! Adventures can be anywhere and everywhere with just a little imagination -even if you don’t know you have one!

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Sue Whiting

Anne White

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781742032344

People say that the deep dark forest is thick with danger – carnivorous plants and venomous snakes are just two of its threats – but when Rosie’s little pup Tinky runs into it, she knows she has to face its fearful reputation and rescue him.  Despite the strange noises that made her knees wobble and made her eyes as round as the moon, she put her brave on and in she went, going further and further into the unknown, calling for Tinky.  But then she came across something worse than a venomous snake or a carnivorous plant…

Echoing the perils that heroes have to encounter in traditional fairy tales and illustrated in a style that brings the creepy scariness of the woods to life, this is a story for young readers who like a bit of tension in their tales but no so scary that it can’t be a bedtime read.  There is plenty of scope for the young reader to predict what could be scarier than a venomous snake or a carnivorous plant or how Rosie might cross the “dizzily, dangerously, dreadfully, deep ravine”, encouraging them to let their imaginations roam and reveal a little of their own fears.

As well as immersing themselves in the stunning illustrations which add the atmosphere as well as the detail, they can explore the meaning of the vocabulary which certainly doesn’t talk down to them.  Knowing what words like ‘venomous’ and ‘carnivorous’ mean and investigating why animals and plants have such mechanisms can be very empowering, like being able to say the names of the dinosaurs.  And having them put themselves in Rosie’s shows as she encounters the problem of the ravine enables them to be active listeners rather than passive participants while being Rosie and shouting at the troll would just be pure fun! So much scope for follow-up activities too!

Stories that engage and involve readers so they become part of the action are my favourites – this would be one of those. 

 

 

The First Adventures of Princess Peony

The First Adventures of Princess Peony

The First Adventures of Princess Peony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Adventures of Princess Peony

Nette Hilton

Lucinda Gifford

Walker Books, 2018 

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760650445

Once upon a time there was a dear little girl called Peony.That’s P.E.O.N.Y. And it’s me. I live in a Castle with my Dragon whose name is Totts. That’s T.O.T.T.S And that makes me a Princess if you really want to know.

This afternoon Princess Peony is in her Royal Gardens practising princessy things with her pet dragon (which bears a remarkable resemblance to a dog) such as being obeyed and taking her “dragon” on very long walks.  But when her big brother (aka Prince Morgan the Troll) ventures into the game and builds a bear trap for the bears  that might escape from the local zoo, she has to draw on all her courage and resourcefulness to sort out the consequences. 

What follows is a rollicking story that will appeal to young girls who dream of being a princess themselves and dress up and pretend.  Princess Peony believes very much in this world that her imagination has created, inspiring readers to let their own imaginations roam into their own Royal World, in what is the first of a series. To help them, there is a guide to being a princess at the end, which includes a list of pre-requisites which could find their way into the Christmas stocking of any potential princess. 

The text is very dependent on the illustrations, which are all pretty in pink themselves, and so it is a book that can be a read-aloud or one that supports the newly-independent reader.  

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Brave Knight

The Brave Knight

The Brave Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave Knight

Sally Gould

Celeste Hulme

New Frontier, 2018

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

978192559419

High in his treehouse, the handsome, brave knight stands guard over his lands – his backyard.  With his long, sharp sword and shiny, strong armour, he guards his castle against enemy knights, and when they arrive he tricks them, making them pay gold for knowledge of the secret entrance, eventually imprisoning them…

This is a charming story that will delight all those little lads who like to dream of being a knight in shining armour.  There are even instructions for making a sword so they too can be the guardians of their realm.

 

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Short & Curly Guide to Life

Dr Matt Beard & Kyla Slaven

Simon Greiner

ABC Books, 2018

192pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143792185

While helping students develop their information literacy skills is a critical part of enabling them to investigate the world around them, it is what to then do with what they learn that can be tricky.  As we teach them to be critical consumers of information we also need to help them be creative users of it, to interpret it in new situations, to view it from a different perspective, to ask “what if…” and to develop new knowledge and understandings.

Short & Curly is a podcast from the ABC aimed at 7-12 year-olds which asks short and curly questions about the world around them, focusing on ethics, the strand of philosophy that focuses on what is right and wrong and encourages thinking about “what should I do?”

In this print edition, using the Brains Trust – Arjun, Rabia, Koa, Sophia, and Mae – who are a team of young researchers who identify, observe and try to answer ethical dilemmas that face our students, the book puts forward a number of scenarios that demonstrate some of these issues like lying, being happy, learning, making choices, letting go, being fair, making promises, and so on. Each scenario is presented as a report rundown, a summary of the situation, which is accompanied by questions that focus thinking on the best way to handle the situation. Dr Matt responds with some ideas and poses some bigger questions that can be applied to a broader range of contexts, encouraging the reader to think about the situation from a variety of perspectives rather than just their own experience and then consider what they would do in that situation.

Philosophy and ethics seem like grown-up concepts on the surface, unlikely to have a place in the primary curriculum, but when they are expressed in the context of the everyday situations that children encounter such as whether it is OK to lie to protect someone’s feelings, it becomes much more practical and doable so this book is perfect for guiding the children’s development in this area, setting up discussions that allow a lot of perspectives and opinions to be aired in a calm, objective way, compromises to be made and solutions to be negotiated.  Not only does the classroom offer a forum for a wider variety of voices than the student’s family values, such discussions lay the foundations for calm, reasoned, evidence-based debates in the future as the students mature, are more able to cope with thinking on an abstract level and face bigger community-based issues as well as their own personal ones. 

While each scenario is a standalone within its pages, there are now many picture books that deal with the focus themes so using these in conjunction with each discussion would be value-adding in a significant way.  For those struggling with the Ethical Understandings strand of the Australian Curriculum, this is a solid base for your program, one that will reach far beyond both the classroom and a particular academic year.

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

David Whitney

Duncan Beedie

Walker Books, 2018

224pp., pbk, RRP $A16.99

9781406382495

Thirty years ago, I proudly showed off my first home computer to visitors – a Microbee-in-a-Box – because it was such a novelty to have such a thing in a home.  With its amber screen, mini floppy disks and text-only technology it was a step up from my friend’s BBC model that ran on cassette tapes, but such a long way from the devices and their capabilities that our students are so familiar with now. 

With 1988 classroom lessons focusing on manipulating a robot turtle around a pre-determined path with the only programming being done as students recorded the path it took on paper using  basic Logo language, to creating webpages using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver which required a basic knowledge of raw html, to trying (unsuccessfully) to make a cow jump over the moon using Macromedia Flash, the Web 2.0 world of drag and drop was not only a blessing for me but opened up the world of creating information as well as consuming it for anyone with a computing device. 

Now coding is an official part of the Australian Curriculum, the behind-the-scenes world of the computer screen is coming alive for even our youngest students. There are  even coding competitions for kids (Miss 12 is an enthusiastic participant) and thousands of youngsters are intent on creating the next Minecraft or Fortnite. So this new book which teaches them to create five new games using HTML and Javascript so their games will run in a web browser will be a welcome addition to their libraries, as well as that of teachers tasked with teaching this topic.  So much more engaging to have an authentic project so that new knowledge is embedded in context.  

With its straightforward introduction and each game/mission having its goals clearly articulated, users can begin at their particular ability level so that their development is based on a solid platform of understanding. With plenty of illustrations and instructions (a far cry from the confusing, monochromatic books I remember buying in the 80s and never mastering), this is a book both for beginners and the more-advanced as even the initial mission has suggestions for extensions.

Miss 12 will be delighted to see this in her Christmas stocking. 

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears

Alastair Chisholm

Jez Tuya

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781406365139

When it’s time for Jamie’s bedtime story, his Dad begins to tell an age-old fairy tale about a prince in a faraway land full of dragons, wolves and princesses in distress. But inquisitive Jamie can’t help but add to his dad’s story, and the prince is soon joined by an evil-eyed witch who turns people to jelly, a broccoli-wielding ninja frog and a jewel-thief, lock picking princess. It may not be the story Dad set out to tell, but together, he and Jamie create something much more energetic and hilarious than they could have alone.

Familiar to nearly every parent who has set out to tell their little one a bedtime story only to find that their child has very definite ideas on what the story should be about and what should happen, this is a lovely story that incorporates all the familiar characters of traditional fairy tales but with a modern twist. Young listeners will enjoy Jamie’s interruptions as they relate to him and learn that stories can be whatever you want them to be.  It just takes some imagination.

Dinosaur Day Out

Dinosaur Day Out

Dinosaur Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Day Out

Sara Acton

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781760650049

When Sally and Max go to the museum with their dad and discover their favourite dinosaur exhibition is closed for the day, they head into the city for a day out instead.  There are lots of things to see and do, but it’s amazing what a little knowledge and a lot of imagination can conjure up and their day is filled with dinosaurs.  

This is a charming story to share with young readers and even those not-so-young who are dinosaur fans.  As each dinosaur is encountered they will be able to add to the information that Dad  shares from the new book about dinosaurs he bought at the museum, and those who live in Sydney may well recognise some of the more familiar landmarks. 

Dinosaur books are always popular so to have one that entertains as well as educates and which is aimed at our youngest readers is a gift. 

Ideas for extending the story are available.

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book - 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

Daniel Lipkowitz

DK, 2018

280pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241314227

In 1932 and facing the Great Depression which was engulfing the world, Danish master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen closed his carpentry business and turned his attention to making wooden toys for children. Fifteen years later, after World War II and all its development with technology and materials, particularly plastic, Kristiansen purchased an expensive plastic injection-moulding machine and his wooden toys were now made of plastic. Using a name that is a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, the LEGO group was established and by 1954, the idea of building bricks that locked together firmly so they were stable but which also came apart easily was launched with the Town Plan range of construction sets.  Finally, in January 1658 the block was perfected, the patent lodged and the rest, as they say, is history. 

And it is the history of that block from its evolution as a plan for a toy that could be used to build virtually anything to that realisation that is the focus of this fascinating new release, marking the 60th anniversary of the building block as we know it. 

Driven by the belief that children and their development mean everything and that this must pervade everything that is created, and based on the principles that the system must

  • provide unlimited play opportunities
  • be for girls and boys
  • inspire enthusiasm in all ages’
  • be able to be played with all year round
  • provide endless hours of healthy, quiet and safe play
  • inspire imagination, creativity and development
  • be topical and provide add-on value for preceding products

those initial town construction sets have evolved into a world of designs and models that span buildings, characters, transportation, books, movies, furniture, fabric, licensed merchandise, even theme parks! That journey is traced in full colour photographs, easily-accessible text and the signature DK layout making this a dig-and-delve must-have in any LEGO fan’s collection or any library whose clients are LEGO fans.  Every page has something to pore over, wonder at and learn, making it perfect as a shared conversation book so important to emerging readers.

Something particularly special for the Santa Sack for any age!

If your foot has ever found Lego in the night and you hate it, this might restore your faith…