Archives

Lottie and Walter

Lottie and Walter

Lottie and Walter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie and Walter

Anna Walker

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143787181

Lottie had a secret that neither her mother, baby brother or swimming teacher knew.  At the bottom of the learners’ pool lived a shark that only wanted to eat Lottie.  So every Saturday, Lottie would go to the pool, get changed, watch and wait and then get dressed again without getting wet.  But then she met Walter the Walrus who liked the things she did- books, bubbles and fish fingers. So she told him her fears.  Would Walter be able to help her before the pool party next Saturday?

Anna Walker, who created the iconic Mr Huff, has again used a child’s fear as a focus for her new picture book, exploring something common to many children and helping them understand that such fears can be overcome with a little help and imagination. Little people don’t always have the language yet to be able to articulate what is bothering them so Lottie’s use of a shark in the pool is a common device.  Even though her mother and swimming teacher might be able to prove to her there is no actual shark in the pool itself(if they knew it was there), nevertheless it masks something that Lottie can’t express yet.  The strength in the story lies in only Lottie knowing the secret and therefore only Lottie can sort it out, empowering her rather than making her dependent on grown-ups, demonstrating that both Lottie and the reader that little people can solve problems if given the space to do so.

Swimming is an essential skill that all Australian children need to master but there are many Lotties amongst them so this is a perfect book to share and discuss before swimming lessons begin, so that those who do have fears can realise they are not alone and can develop some strategies to overcome the “sharks in the water”. 

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

Kenneth Wright

Sarah Jane Wright

Bloomsbury USA, 2018

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

9781681195544

Lola Dutch  is frantic because she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up and even though her sensible friend Bear thinks there is time to discuss it, Lola sees it as an emergency.  So she drags him to the den where she consults all sorts of books and decides that she wants to be on the stage and lets her imagination wander…But then she thinks she might be an inventor, or a botanist, or a high court judge or…

This is another delightful book that explores the wonderful world of Lola Dutch and her imagination, but concludes with her being happy with just who she is – for the moment at least!

Young girls will delight in seeing themselves in Lola while those who are looking for diversity in books about girls will be glad to see the various ambitions that Lola has that go beyond the traditional choices, that open up all sorts of opportunities for dreams and plans but also acknowledges that it is perfectly fine to be just who you are. No decisions have to be made right now! Great as a read-aloud or a read-alone and perfect for satisfying any curriculum outcomes about career education.

 

The Flying Orchestra

The Flying Orchestra

The Flying Orchestra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flying Orchestra

Clare McFadden

UQP, 2019

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9780702249297

No matter what is happening in our lives, the Flying Orchestra has a solo, a symphony or a sonata to accompany it  Whether a happy, joyous occasion, or one that disappoints or even invokes sadness there is a piece of music to go with it and the orchestra is ready to play regardless of whether we are in the suburbs, at the airport, or out in the country.

This is the paperback release of of the hardback version which won the CBCA Crichton Award in 2011 and is perfect for introducing a new generation of young readers to the music around us.  It includes a list of appropriate orchestral pieces that may be the child’s first introduction to this sort of music, provoking plenty of discussion about why a particular piece was chosen and introducing them to how music can both provoke and reflect a variety of emotions and moods. While the notion of an actual orchestra flying around might be a piece of fantasy, nevertheless the concept that music surrounds us and that somewhere, sometime, someone has composed just the right piece of music to match our actions, thoughts and feelings is one that many children will find fascinating and may make them even more sensitive to their world and what it offers.  Just imagine the sounds that would accompany a day “so windy that even the angels lose their balance from the top of City Hall.”

Teachers’ notes for early childhood are available here while those for older readers are available here, while McFadden herself reads the story with a musical accompaniment on You Tube.

If you or your teaching colleagues are planning to introduce young students to the wide world of music this year and are looking for something beyond the traditional Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf or Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra or Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals, this could be it.

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.