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The Time-travelling Caveman

The Time-travelling Caveman

The Time-travelling Caveman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time-travelling Caveman

Terry Pratchett

Doubleday Children’s, 2020

336pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780857536020

For the newly independent reader who loves wacky humour, this is a brand new collection of short stories from one of the most popular authors for that audience at the moment.  

When Pratchett was just 17 and a junior reporter for his local newspapers, he started writing the stories in this book, often based on the people and incidents he was sent to cover for the paper, but embellished with a touch of Pratchett magic. With lots of crazy illustrations to enrich the text, this is a collection that will entice those straddling that decision of whether reading for pleasure is going to be a thing for them or not to keep reading.  Being short stories they are quick reads, complete in themselves and in a few minutes; but being Terry Pratchett they are well-written and well-rounded full of imagination and wit, perhaps leading the reader to more of his works like Father Christmas’s Fake Beard .

 

How To Make A Bird

How To Make A Bird

How To Make A Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make A Bird

Meg McKinlay

Matt Ottley

Walker, 2020

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

9781925381894

“To make a bird you will need a lot of very tiny bones.  They will be smaller than you imagine, some so tiny they are barely there, And they will be hollow, these hundreds of bones – so light that when they rest in your palm you will hardly feel them.”

So begins a haunting, almost ethereal, picture book that takes the reader through the process of how a bird is made – particularly timely for me as I watch our resident Father and Mother Magpie patiently raise this season’s twins.  Like them, the girl is also patient and extremely careful as she patiently adds all the other elements like the feathers (saving the longest for the wings and the tail) and a heart that will beat sure and steady to carry the bird across oceans and continents at the end of a long winter, eyes, beak , claws and a song to sing.  But just the physical stuff is not enough – it is having the courage to let go of what you have made so it can find its place in the world that is the final piece of the jigsaw.

This is a stunning book, beautifully illustrated in a soft, calming palette that emphasises the care and the patience needed to create anything, and it could be an allegory for any creative process.  First you have to have the mechanical, physical elements and the know-how of how they fit together, but it is having the faith to let others see and test your creation and offer feedback that takes it from being an object to something more. Just as the little girl sets her bird free to explore the wild blue yonder so that it can truly reach its potential as a bird, so have McKinlay and Ottley set their creations off into the unknown to be explored, accepted, appreciated or not.  Just as we encourage our kids to take what they know and be brave enough to transform it and test it in new situations.   Just as we raise our own children and our students the best we know how, we have to give them that ultimate freedom of independence and making their own way in the world.  Are we able to relinquish our control and just let go?

This is a story that can work on many levels for many ages.  It can help a little person understand how birds can defy gravity and fly even when they cannot  but it can also work on that allegorical level of knowing you have done all you can and taking that leap of faith. Comprehensive teachers’ notes demonstrate how it can be used across the ages, stages and curriculum.

It would not surprise me to see this among the award winners in the future. 

Pages & Co (series)

Pages & Co (series)

Pages & Co (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilly and the Bookwanderers 

9780008229863

 

Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales

9780008229900

 

Tilly and the Map of Stories

9780008229948

HarperCollins, 2018-2020

400+pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 

 

“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.

Created for independent readers or perfect for classroom read-alouds, this is a series that really needs to be read from the first one in order so that the subsequent adventures have context but it will have the book lover hooked from the start, regardless of their age, and wishing they too could bookwander into the magical, mystical world of their favourite characters.  I just loved it!!! Once your students know about it they will be queuing up!

 

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

Kaliah Tsakalidis

Ross Morgan

Little Book Press, 2020

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

9780648591573

“There is a child named Molly Moores who has a house, just like yours with walls and windows and a timber floor. And a path that leads to a creaky door. 

But there’s a difference that you should note Around Molly’s house is a very deep moat…”

So begins an hilarious read for the little people in your life that just delights in the rhyme, rhythm and repetition of our language.  Using the familiar concept and contents of a fairly ordinary suburban house that young readers will recognise, each page has a twist to it that relies on the rhyme of the previous page. Little ears are encouraged to tune into that rhyme and try to predict just how Molly’s house might be different this time. While they may well come up with something that rhymes it is unlikely that it will be as wacky as the ideas that the author has imagined, ideas that are fun and madcap and which lead to all sorts of speculation.  Who has plants that grow rainbow trout?

Ross Morgan has interpreted the text into pictures that are as imaginative as the text, and the ending is just unexpected! But so much fun!

Children to learn to speak their native language by listening to the sounds and nuances of the language that is spoken around them, long before they are able to speak it themselves and to be able to share a story that revels in the fun of the spoken word and the visual impact is a surefire way of capturing their attention and having them share in its magic. Focusing on the rhyme to carry the story forward helps them develop their audial acuity, such a vital part of early reading behaviour.

This is a story to lift the spirits and just share in the joys of reading to our little ones.

The Lost Library

The Lost Library

The Lost Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Library

Jess McGeachin

Puffin. 2020

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

9781760892715

Oliver has just moved house and is surprised to find a book left behind in his new cupboard, one that is inscribed “Please return to The Lost Library.”  Being a book lover he knows he needs to do that, but where is this Lost Library? His family is too busy to help but his new friend Rosie knows who to ask and so they head to the local library to talk to the librarian. 

Before Rosie has a chance to ask, Oliver slips the book in the Returns chute and suddenly the floor opens up beneath them! Suddenly they find themselves hurtling down into the hidden depths of The Lost Library and all sorts of adventures as they try to find their way back again.  It’s amazing where your imagination, a good friend and the power of stories can take you…

This is another enchanting and different story from the author of Fly that will be read over and over as a new layer is revealed each time. 

Toffle Towers (series)

Toffle Towers (series)

Toffle Towers (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toffle Towers (series)

Tim Harris

James Foley

Puffin, 2020

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

Described as “Fawlty Towers meets Treehouse ”  this is an hilarious series for newly independent who like a bit of a challenge but still need some support with their reading.

Toffle Towers, a rundown, family hotel, has been inherited by ten year old Chegwin Toffle, a young lad with an entrepreneurial streak, a wild imagination and just enough common sense to change Toffle Towers from a boring hotel for grown-ups into an incredibly exciting destination for children (and their families). But running a hotel isn’t easy. Chegwin has a lot to learn, and his tendency to drift off into daydreams doesn’t help He has plenty of ideas. But can he turn his madcap daydreams into reality?

In the first in the seriesFully Booked   the reader meets Chegwin who has inherited the hotel from his great-uncle Terence and sets out to transform it so that is a money-spinner rather than a millstone.  Even with the competition from a nearby hotel, with the help of some new friends and the somewhat eccentric staff whose jobs he is determined to save Chegwin and his parents are focused on their goal, come what may.

The Great River Race continues the saga as  one by one, his hotel staff are ‘reverse mugged’ by two mysterious men. Chaos ensues and it’s Chegwin’s job to get to the bottom of these attacks before Toffle Towers loses all its hard-earned guests. Meanwhile, the town of Alandale is preparing for the annual Great River Race. Once Chegwin discovers his saboteur is no other than Brontessa Braxton,(no relation to me) owner of the rival hotel in town, Chegwin find himself preparing to go head to head with her in the Great River Race to save his beloved staff and Toffle Towers.

The latest in the series. Order in the Court sees Toffle Towers facing yet another challenge from Brontessa Braxton setting up a court challenge that can only have one winner.

Many of our students will be familiar with the writings of Tim Harris because they have shared his adventures of Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables   and so they will be delighted that there is another series that continues the fun and hilarity as they either envisage themselves in Chegwin’s shoes or are lining up to make a booking for this remarkable place once these travel restrictions are over.  In the meantime, all they can do is delve into their imaginations and enjoy the ride. At least that’s safe!

Ellie’s Dragon

Ellie's Dragon

Ellie’s Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellie’s Dragon

Bob Graham

Walker Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781406387629

Hidden among the boxes of eggs on the supermarket shelf, Ellie discovers a tiny dragon, so small it’s eyes are not yet open.  Because its claws tickled the palm of her hand she called it Scratch and made it a bed in a matchbox. But when she asked her mum for some match heads for its breakfast, her mum can only see the matchbox.

And so it is with all the adults in her world.  None of them can see Scratch even though as she grows her friends can and Scratch just becomes a normal part of their activities.  But, just like Jackie Paper and that other famous dragon, Puff, as Ellie gets older, Scratch begins to fade.  Until one day a little boy called Sam found him wandering in the High Street, a fully-grown, house-trained affectionate dragon just looking for a new home…

Bob Graham is a master storyteller who has been delighting young readers around the world for the best part of 40 years with so many charming stories like The Poesy Ring   and Home in the Rain , and this gentle story about growing up with an imaginary friend is just as inviting as all the others. His signature style in both text and artworks is there again for a whole new group of fans to enjoy as so many of them will relate to Ellie either as the very young girl or as she grows older.  There is a reason that Graham has won so many awards for his writing and it’s encapsulated again in this new book.  Perfect for invoking discussions about imaginary friends particularly at this time when so many of our little ones are deprived of the company of real ones, but also for thinking about the possibilities and pitfalls of providing a home for a dragon.  

In My Dreams

In My Dreams

In My Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Dreams

Stef Gemmill

Tanja Stephani

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781925594928

It is amazing where our imaginations and subconscious take us when we sleep – we can float on marshmallow clouds,splash in jelly puddles and showers of strawberry rain… Or we can dive deep, chase fast fish and race against pirates… Even if those adventures are sometimes dark and shadowy, a blink of the eyes sends them on their way.

Author Gemmill has really let her imagination go wild as she retells the little boy’s nighttime adventures which Illustrator Stephani has brought to life in a riot of colour and fun while still maintaining the dream-like quality with the muted, merged backgrounds. From the gilded, bejewelled cover, and echoed in the rolling text, this is a delightful romp through the imagination to the very end, which just begs the input of the reader to tell and illustrate their own dreams.

 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Happiness is a Cloud

Happiness is a Cloud

Happiness is a Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness is a Cloud

Robert Vescio

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2020

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

9781922265715

Out for a walk with his father and dog, Jasper, Harry sees a flying pig! Well. it’s actually a cloud shaped like a flying pig and suddenly the walk is made more interesting as the two spot all sorts of shapes in the clouds overhead.  Even when dark, ominous ones roll in with menacing shapes like a rhinoceros and a wolf that make Harry shiver,  his dad shows him how they are good for the earth and all that grows in it.

 Just as the clouds change shape and colour so does Harry’s mood, particularly when Jasper disappears, and Vescio has cleverly mirrored these changes so young readers can understand that while they may be sad and unhappy now, there will come a change to happier times, just as the sun will always return to peek through and fill us with joy and hope again.  We just need to be patient and resilient to wait for it. That is the silver lining of clouds.

As well as being an engaging way to help young children understand the cycle of moods and feelings, this is also a wonderful way to build imagination and vocabulary as there are few things more peaceful than lying down and watching the endless patterns of clouds. Harry even touches on the question of what clouds are and why they can’t be touched, so that opens up another avenue of investigation while Bevington’s illustrations of Harry, his father and Jasper superimposed onto real cloudscapes will attract the artistic mind.

Living in a rural landscape with no pollution, reading the clouds to predict the weather and just appreciating their diversity of shape, colour, density and speed is one of the joys of the simple life. This book will connect our kids to these oft-overlooked phenomena while also showing them that there is always hope on the horizon.

This Is a Ball and Other Books That Drive Kids Crazy!

This Is a Ball and Other Books That Drive Kids Crazy!

This Is a Ball and Other Books That Drive Kids Crazy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Is a Ball and Other Books That Drive Kids Crazy!

Beck & Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020

176 pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780733341076

Five years ago we were introduced to a book called This is a ball, a book guaranteed to engage because of its intriguing cover which promised something offbeat and delivered it!

This is a ball

Since then, Beck & Matt Stanton have gone on to create four other books in the series, including Did you take the B from my -ook?The Red Book, Wait ! and The Book that never ends , and now they are all together in this one collection.  Using block colour, large font, line drawings and text that appears simple but in reality, makes the reader read and re-read it and try to refute its truth because the brain is not reading what the eyes are seeing, these stories are worth reading over and over again across the years, 

Compendia like these are always good value and this is an opportunity to have a collection that will intrigue and entertain again and again, while engaging young readers in the power and fun of print.