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Finding You

Finding You

Finding You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding You

Robert Vescio

Hannah Sommerville

New Frontier, 2022

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

9781922326539

In the busy, anonymous concrete jungle that is the city, a little boy spots a stray dog that lives in a cold, discarded cardboard box that no one else even notices.  With each seemingly alone as each other, they begin to explore their surroundings, venturing into new areas that reveal hidden delights if you put your imagination on and see what is beyond what is really there, finding new friends in unlikely places – or not.  

This is an intriguing story that explores the new doors that new friends can open, opportunities that can be life-changing and unexpected if you’re willing to reach out or be brave enough to accept. It offers an opportunity to not only talk about the bond between humans and their pets, but also to take it deeper and consider those who are homeless or newcomers or different in any way, those who are isolated even in the city and who just need a friend or a kind conversation, or even just a smile so they know they are not invisible. As with Seal ChildInto the Wild and his other stories, this is more than a story about a boy and a lost dog. It’s about stepping out and reaching out beyond your boundaries to discover so much more than you thought was there, both without and within.

For me, Vescio is one of the masters in saying much in so few words, and Hannah Sommerville’s choice of palette, style and layout is the perfect accompaniment to not only interpret the text but also give it so many layers that there is something new to discover and ponder with each reading. It celebrates the acceptance and innocence of children, not yet tarnished and prejudiced by viewing the world through an adult lens.

Romi Sharp says, “Finding You is a book that signifies the true essence of humanity and friendship through the special nature of boy’s best friend. It is just sublime…. Finding You is a picture book for all ages, cultural and social backgrounds, that is literally and figuratively beautiful, heartfelt and just magical. This really is a must-read.” I have to agree. 

My Baba is the Best

My Baba is the Best

My Baba is the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Baba is the Best

Bachar Houli

Debby Rahmalia

Puffin, 2022

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

9781761046568

As Fathers Day approaches, this is a book to share to celebrate the special bond between fathers and daughters, and the fun times they share. 

My baba has a big beard and a big smile. He gives the best hugs and never sits still.
Gardening, jogging, fishing, watching movies or going camping . . . Baba and I do lots of things together.

My baba is the best. I love my baba!

And while you might think there are many such books available, this one is written by Bachar Houli, not only triple AFL Premiership player for Richmond and All-Australian on-field, but also the  first devout Muslim to play the game at that level.  So this is a unique opportunity for our Muslim students to see themselves in such a story, demonstrating that their relationships with their dads is pretty much the same as all kids, whilst acknowledging the subtle differences like the special bedtime prayer.  

Time and time again we hear those who are not from the dominant mainstream WASP community say that they despaired because they never saw anyone like them represented in books or on television – Dylan Alcott addressed it directly in his acceptance speech for Australian of the Year, 2022 –  “I used to hate having a disability. I hated it so much. I hated being different and, you know, I didn’t want to be here anymore. I really didn’t… Whenever I turned on the TV or the radio or the newspaper, I never saw anybody like me.”- and while this is gradually being addressed , how delighted young readers will be to see their family reflected in something so special. 

While we all have more in common than difference, it is the difference that seems to get the attention so by sharing such as this even our youngest readers can start to understand the threads that bind us are so much stronger.  Our relationships with our dads are the same no matter who we are, what we look like, what we do or what we believe in. 

You Are 25% Banana

You Are 25% Banana

You Are 25% Banana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Are 25% Banana

Susie Brooks

Josy Bloggs

Farshore, 2022

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

9781405299084

With an intriguing title that is as eye-catching as the cover, this will capture the imagination of any casual browser, and once opened, so will the contents. 

Using both bold fonts and illustrations, this is a fascinating early introduction to genetics that explains how humans are related to every other living thing on the planet, including bananas; that our closest relatives are chimpanzees with a 99% match; yet while our “recipe” is the same as 99.9% of everyone else on the planet now or ever, it is the 0.1% that makes us unique.  Only identical twins have the same recipe!

One of the most common activities in early childhood classes is to graph hair and eye colour, or map heights and so this book goes a long way to helping children understand why they have the colouring or the build that they do.  Learning this at an early age might help alleviate the body image issues that still plague our kids, particularly as they get older, helping them accept their red hair and freckles more readily and even celebrate their differences rather than their lack of conformity to some media-driven, arbitrary, preferred look.  

For older students, it could help them understand the stupidity and futility of racism, particularly if they also watch the pioneering documentary Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes,  Whether our beliefs about human development are based on Glasser’s Basic Needs theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or any other theory, the need for love and belonging is common, and physical acceptance is high – so the more we can understand the importance and influence of our genetic makeup from an early age, the more likely we are to value ourselves and others.  Therefore, this is an important book to start the conversation, even if we don’t like bananas! 

 

 

Egg

Egg

Egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg

Clare Atkins

Harrison Vial

UQP, 2022

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

9780702265594

In a world where climate change has finally won, something strange washes up on the eggs’ island and  they are scared. Although it looks like them, it is different and they are afraid.   What if it hatches? What if there are more of them? Most of the eggs hope the newcomer will float back to where it came from, but in case it doesn’t they roll it to the tip of the island and build a wall around it.  

But Little Egg is not afraid and climbs to the top of the wall, its shadow providing a welcome speck of shade for the stranger. And strange things begin to happen…

This is a unique picture book, one of those special ones that looks like it is for the very young but which has issues and a message that span a much wider age group.  Is it about the ultimate impact of climate change, or the fear of strangers in our midst? Racism? Having to move and being shunned rather than accepted? Rejection? Belonging? Friendship and compassion? Or all of these?  Despite its seemingly juvenile appearance, this is one that has many thought=provoking layers that raise more questions than answers , yet all the while engaging the reader as they want to know what happens!

Comprehensive teachers’ notes will help you explore the issues with students, leading to all sorts of explorations, including the historic building of walls to keep people out (or in.), perhaps even leading to reading stories such as The Trojan Horse.  Is Little Egg a modern version of that? There’s a compare, contrast and consider activity right there!

 

Dancing with Memories

Dancing with Memories

Dancing with Memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing with Memories

Sally Yule, Maggie Beer & Prof. Ralph Martins 

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2022

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

9780733342578

I am Lucy and I dance with memories.
Sometimes I remember.
Sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I remember that I forget.
Sometimes I forget that I remember…
My doctor says I have dementia.
I wish I didn’t but I do.
‘Your brain has changed’, she says, ‘but you are still Lucy.’
She knows that I have a brain AND a heart.

Sometimes Lucy remembers that she forgets, and sometimes she forgets that she remembers. But even if her memory plays tricks, she still has all the love in her heart for the people and activities she has always enjoyed.  On this particularly important day, the day of her granddaughter’s wedding, she is determined to get to the wedding on her own even though her daughter has left her a note telling Lucy she will pick her up.  But things go a little astray and she ends up lost….

As grandparents and great-grandparents live longer, more and more of our students are coming into contact with those with dementia and so this is an important book to have on hand to help them understand and cope with the condition. The author, Sally Yule, has been working with people with dementia, including her own parents, for over 30 years and as she says, her main purpose was to help children “learn the role they can play supporting people living with dementia in their family or community.”  Lucy’s story and the lively illustrations which accompany it demonstrate that there is still plenty of love and joy in a patient’s  life even if the memory is muddled, and that the person deserves the same respect and dignity as well as being able to continue to do the things they can for themselves, regardless.  

As well as the story itself, Professor Ralph Martins, Foundation Chair in Ageing and Alzheimer’s Disease at Edith Cowan University WA, and Professor of Neurobiology at Macquarie University NSW has contributed a Q & A that helps anyone understand the disease. In my opinion, the core message of this story is summed up in this one paragraph…

Q. Is someone with dementia still the same person on the inside, even though they act differently on the outside?

A. Yes, they are definitely the same person inside.  They can feel so much, even if they cannot tell you about it…

While there is not yet a cure for dementia, scientists are working towards discovering its cause, and, as with many diseases, a healthy diet is always a good start so Maggie Beer’s recipes for healthy lunchboxes that could be shared between child and patient add another dimension and there are some simple teachers’ notes that can offer suggestions for supporting those we know who are living with the illness. 

There is more and more evidence that intergenerational relationships offer so much to all involved, and this is yet another essential addition to the collection to not only promote this but encourage them. 

 

Where?

Where?

Where?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where?

Jordan Collins

Phil Lesnie

A & U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760526382

‘Where are you from?’ they say.
What they mean is,
‘Why is your skin that colour?’
‘Why does your hair look like that?’

I am from the mountains,
The seas and the sky.
I am from children of millions of years,
A timeline of humanity.
I am from this planet
And all others.

Being  African-American-Greek-Australian with  dark skin and curly hair, the author wrote this poem in response to a lifetime of being asked questions like, ‘where are you from?’ in an attempt to show, that, ultimately, we are all from the same place … “the primate who decided to walk upon two legs for the first time” and all those who have followed through time and generations. 

Powerfully illustrated by another who has also experienced that constant questioning, this is a book to challenge the reader’s thinking to look beyond the immediate physical appearance that makes us unique and consider all that has gone before to make us the same.  It is an opportunity for more mature readers to step beyond the multitude of stories that focus on who they are as individuals and the importance of being true to oneself, and look at a bigger philosophical picture of humanity as a whole with a shared heritage and history.

 

Phyllis & Grace

Phyllis & Grace

Phyllis & Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phyllis & Grace

Nigel Gray

Bethan Welby

Scallywag Press, 2022

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

9781912650514

Phyllis and Grace live next door to each other, and Grace like to take Phyllis little gifts like a slice of cake Mum has baked, or biscuits she has baked herself.  Phyllis is always grateful and invites her in, even though she doesn’t always remember Grace’s name or even her own…

This is a delightful story that is being replicated in many communities and families as the Baby Boomers move into senior citizenship and choose to stay in their own homes rather than “being a burden” on family.  Not only does it echo the difficulties faced as their independence declines, but it reflects the rewarding relationships that children and older people can share.  Grace sees Phyllis through the clear lens of a child, accepting her for het she is in the moment and responding to the moment, rather than getting impatient and frustrated as some adults do because they wish the old “Phyllis” who was sharp-thinking and focused was still there.

Grace’s visits give Phyllis the connections she needs, not just with her immediate community but also those she has known before, bringing back the memories of childhood in a gentle way,. Even when Phyllis can no longer live on her own, encouraged by her parents who clearly see this as a friendship that is as important for Grace as it is for Phyllis, Grace continues to visit, meeting Phyllis’s son and learning that this old lady is more than her dementia; that there is so much more to her than an illness or disability.

With soft illustrations as sensitive as the story, this is one to not only help little ones understand dementia better, but also to help them understand that whatever a person’s illness or disability, they are more than that with a rich life to share or dreams and wishes to fulfil.  While their condition might shape their life in the now, there is so much more that was and will be in the sufferer’s story. And that should be our focus as friends.

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

Rebecca Schiller

Sophie Beer

Walker Books, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406397024

In the USA school students are walking out of school to protest the lack of gun control laws; in Australia, they walked out of school in 2021 to protest the lack of action on climate change… The names of Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, and other young activists are as well-known to them as those of their favourite singers and movie stars as the mantle of protest moves from its traditional university setting to the classroom.  

But who are they inspired by? On whose shoulders do they stand? 

Defining an activist as one who uses their knowledge, skills and energy to make the world a better place by protecting human rights, ending prejudice and inequality and protecting the planet from harmful human activities so all its creatures are safe, this book introduces young readers to 20 people who have made a significant contribution to changing the world – some names familiar, others not-so – including Sonita Alizdeh; Rachel Carson; Favio Chavez; Mahatma Gandhi; Jane Goodall; Helen Keller; Martin Luther King Jr; Nelson Mandela; Wangari Maathai; Aditya Mukarji; Emmeline Pankhurst; Autumn Peltier; Boyan Slat; Gareth Thomas; Harriet Tubman; William Wilberforce; Ai Weiwei Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah as well as both Yousafzai and Thunberg.

Each person has a double-page spread that includes an outline of what they have achieved, the core motivation for their actions, the particular powers that they employed, as well as a significant quote to inspire the readers to continue their work.  There is also an activity suggested so that this can be done so the reader begins to realise that no one is too small to make a difference. For example, they are encouraged to build their public speaking powers so when they have something important to say they can speak out with confidence as Mahatma Gandhi did, or perhaps create something that will solve a problem as Boyan Slat did when he was confronted with an ocean of plastic rather than marine creatures on his first scuba diving trip.

Conservative, right-wing, middle-aged men in suits (and those who follow them) condemned those children who left their classrooms to protest – they should have stayed there to study and learn –  yet it could be strongly argued that those same children were actually putting their learning into practice, determined to make the world a better place for themselves and others, because “there is more to life than increasing its speed” as Gandhi said.  By introducing our students to those who have gone before, and those who are already forging a new path, through books such as this,  Children Who Changed the World , and others, perhaps we can plant the seeds that will grow the future.  Encourage each to “dream with their eyes open.” 

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Join Forces

Mr Bambuckle's Remarkables Join Forces

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Join Forces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Join Forces

Tim Harris

James Hart

Puffin, 2022

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761044557

Even though the students is 12B of Blue Valley School have been labelled the misfits and miserables of the school, they are beginning to blossom and bloom  under the influence of their teacher Mr Bambuckle, who, unlike Principal Sternblast, sees and teaches them as the unique individuals they are, each with their own stories and challenges.  They are now a cohesive group who value and support each other, but that connection may be challenged when they are joined by four new students from Blue Valley Grammar, the rival school which has just closed. 

But when Principal Sternblast’s plan to create a school for high achievers so he will get paid more and have new students join while existing students who do not pass the academic entry test will be excluded, the class feels threatened and doomed.  Are they to be disbanded and each marginalised yet again?  Are they going to be able to set aside their differences with the new students to unite to come up with a plan to save their school? How will they be able to put what they have learned about themselves and each other through Mr Bambuckle’s teaching into action that means they can stay together? But while the solutions are hilarious, amidst the shenanigans and LOL moments, there are some serious messages about working together, trusting others even if they may seem to be very different, and finding the joy in deep friendships that come through the storyline that every reader can appreciate. It might even set up philosophical discussions about the concepts of division based on academic ability, a practice still rife in the education system, and whether success is only measured in grades, scores and potential salaries. 

Readers who took a shine to Mr Bambuckle in the first of this new series, and those who have not yet met him, will be glad to see him making a  comeback in the fifth in this series ideal for independent readers with its humour, identifiable characters, short chapters, copious illustrations and other inserts that break up the text. Each student in the class each has a thumbnail introductory sketch at the beginning of the book enabling the reader to see that these kids are just like them, thus immediately building connections and suggesting that this is a school story that reflects their experiences.

As well as being an ideal read-aloud,  it is also perfect for moving some of the more reluctant readers along their reading pathway, While each book is a stand-alone read, with five in the collection there is scope to satisfy those who become hooked as well as introducing other equally engaging Tim Harris reads like the  Toffle Towers  or Exploding Endings series or James Hart’s Super Geeks  series, each building confidence and opening up even more doors. 

 

Marmalade – the Orange Panda

Marmalade - the Orange Panda

Marmalade – the Orange Panda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marmalade – the Orange Panda

David Walliams

Adam Stower

HarperCollins, 2022

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

 9780008305758

One morning, deep in the forest, a beautiful baby panda was born. The panda was different to all the others, as he had dazzling orange fur.

“I will call you Marmalade,” his mummy whispered. . .

But when the other pandas see him they are not impressed – rather this embarrassment of pandas is embarrassed.  And so, Marmalade sets out on a perilous adventure through the jungle to find out  just where he belongs….

Setting aside the fact that pandas are solitary animals and that the creatures Marmalade meets would not be found anywhere near his natural home, this is a story about family love, being yourself and finding your place in the world – a message our youngest readers need to hear often as they begin to develop their own identity and be comfortable with it.  And while they would have or will hear the theme in many stories, it is the ending that makes this one different.  For it doesn’t come to a cosy conclusion with Marmalade snuggling in close to his Mama again – they get up to some hilarious mischief that lightens the message and leaves the reader with a smile.  

Using a series of framed illustrations, Walliams and Stower have packed a lot into this story as Marmalade discovers that he is not the only orange creature in the jungle and that not everyone is as friendly as they look, making it seem much longer than the traditional 32-page read. The humour, vocabulary and layout carry it along at a fast pace with much to discover on every page and every read.