Archives

Little Lon

Little Lon

Little Lon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lon

Andrew Kelly

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2020

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

9781742035970

In the heart of Melbourne is a narrow street running between Spring Street and Spencer Street known as Little Lonsdale Street. In an area originally built from gold rush money, “Little Lon” was a dark, dingy place hidden from the elegant homes, shops and hotels of the main streets surrounding it, but it was home to many, and even if they were poor and not so flash as their nearby neighbours, immigrants newly arrived and those down on their luck, it was a thriving, energetic place, a melting pot of cultures and customs and colours that made it unique.

In this exquisitely illustrated book, the reader is taken back in time to that time when families created lives very different to today’s, where the only place to play was on the street so kids made friends with everyone; where Saturday night was a dip at the local pool to wash away the weekday grime; and on Sundays you dropped your roast and veg into a shop on the way to church and it was cooked ready for you to collect on your way home!

Drawing on the memories of one of the children, Marie Hayes, Andrew Kelly shows the 2020 reader a different life in a different time where everyone was accepted for her they were and valued for what they added to the community.  

Children’s lives have not always been rush, rush, rush, screen-driven hives of activity and this will be a valuable addition to that collection that takes them back in time to discover how things have changed and to consider whether it is a time to envy. Extensive teachers’ notes are available.

Julian at the Wedding

Julian at the Wedding

Julian at the Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian at the Wedding

Jessica Love

Walker, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406397482

Julian and his grandmother are attending a wedding. In fact, Julian is in the wedding along with his cousin Marisol. When wedding duties are fulfilled and with a new dog friend in tow, the pair takes off to roam the venue, exploring everywhere from underneath tables to enchanting willow trees to muddy puddles!  So when Mariola’s dress gets ruined, Julian has the perfect solution. But how will the grown-ups respond?

We first met Julian and his flamboyant grandmother in Julian is a Mermaid, a brilliant but controversial interpretation of being true to oneself. This sequel is just as good as it subtly shifts the narrative of convention so that the wedding being that of two brides is as normal as any other is almost unremarkable. After all, a wedding is just “a party for love.”

However, its impact may be more profound. 

The story behind Charles M. Schultz introducing a black character into the Peanuts comic strip has been well-documented and there are stories galore of how this impacted young black readers in the US, particularly.  Suddenly they were seeing themselves in literature in a new and positive portrayal. And so it may well be with children like Julian – those who don’t live in a conventional family; those for who two mums and two dads is the norm; those who prefer to be mermaids than superheroes. Here they are in a story that treats their situation as the norm and moves on to the real issues – ruining your bridesmaid’s dress at a wedding where, traditionally, you’re supposed to remain pristine!

Like its predecessor, most of this story is told in the stunning illustrations with the minimum of text, and they hold so many riches that the book demands to be explored again and again. Jessica Love won the Bologna Ragazzi Award and Klaus Flugge Prize for Julian is a Mermaid, her debut picture book and it is quite probable that this will be among the prizewinners too. 

Ruby and Graham

Ruby and Graham

Ruby and Graham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby and Graham

Lucy Barnard

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781921928758

Ruby the red squirrel loves to party and have fun, whereas Graham the grey squirrel prefers to be more organised and less spontaneous.  Between them, Acorn Wood is a good place to live although, to Graham, Ruby seems to be more popular and have more friends.  So one day he decides that the party life is for him so he throws away his clipboard with its list of things to do and joins in the fun.  If changing who he is means more fun and more friends, then that’s the life for him.

But as he parties, gradually Acorn Woods starts to change and it is no longer the pleasant place it was. Chaos and confusion become the norm. No one liked it, least of all Ruby who decided she would speak to Graham about it and confesses her secret desire… 

Little ones will love this story that shows them that while each of us is different, it is the differences that keep everything in balance.  We can’t all be spontaneous and carefree like Ruby, no matter how much fun that might look from the outside, and trying to change who we really are inside can be tricky.  But it is possible to be both sensible and sensational at the same time – it’s just that there are different times for the different sides to shine! 

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

Ashleigh Barton

Martina Heiduczek

ABC Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9780733340864

In every country around the world are grandpas short and tall,

Though they go by different names, we love them one and all

A Poppy here, a Grampa there – or maybe he’s a Pa?

Turn the page, let’s meet a few of the finest near and far…

My friends and I are definitely in the grandparent generation and amongst us there is a Grandma, a Nonna, a Nanna, a Gr’Anne, a Biddy, a Mimi and a Gran.  But all the grandfathers are either Granddad or Poppy. Not much diversity at all.  So this is an interesting book, both delightful and enchanting, that takes the reader on a journey around the world and introduces them to grandchildren and their grandfathers and the special names they are known. Who knew there were so many?  Saba, Taid, Vô, Babu, YeYe, Koro, Bompa, Nua Nua, Daada, Belo, Nonno, Lolo, Kaku, ..so many terms of endearment from so many languages and cultures, all of which are identified in the glossary on the final page. 

Despite the many terms though, what shines through this story in rhyme is that no matter where we are, that special relationship between a child and their grandfather is universal and the memories made are enduring.  As well as teaching little ones new names – I can envisage of wall display of photos of the children’s grandparents and the special names they call them, especially as the author invites the reader to share – this would also be a grand book for those who are learning English as a new language because they will delight in seeing their own culture represented in a way that connects us all.

 Our family?  Very ordinary.  One of us is Grandma Gruesome and one is Grandpa Grumpy!  And we work hard to live up to expectations! 

I Believe I Can

I Believe I Can

I Believe I Can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Believe I Can

Grace Byers

Keturah A. Bobo

Balzer & Bray, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780062667137

One of the downsides of this new instantly-connected world with its emphasis on social media is that there is a generation growing up who are becoming dependent on external validation for everything they do, who view their self-worth through the lens of the number of likes and friends they have, and whose self-belief and self-confidence as a person is very low.  In this look-at-me world, resilience seems to be in low reserves and what came naturally as previous generations dealt with what we encountered, is now explicitly taught.

In this companion to I Am Enough, young children of all shapes, colours and sizes are encouraged to be their best selves and to reach their potential by believing that they can without needing approval from outside sources. They let the power of their imaginations project them into the future and know that because they are just who they are, they can achieve those dreams.  They can be as fierce as the lion’s roar and as powerful as the dragon’s flames, and even though they might falter and make mistakes or not succeed at what they try, they learn from those experiences to build on what they tried and take another step forward.

It is aimed at our younger readers in the hope that they can build their sense of identity and worthiness before they are old enough to officially be on social media platforms (COPPA  restricts membership to 13+) and promote positive mental health, an area that is of increasing concern amongst our youngest.

While the dark side of social media is now being recognised and explored and talked about in mainstream media, this video shows what can be achieved through the power of self-belief.  Molly suffered horrendous epileptic seizures from the age of 2 and in an effort to save her life, had a third of her brain removed at 16.  Look at her go!!!

 

,

A must-have and a must-promote in any mindfulness collection and program.

Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brain Freeze

Oliver Phommavanh

Puffin, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760897147

Oliver Phommavanh is one of the masters of the modern short story, particularly for those who are either independent readers looking for something meaty but quick, or for teachers who are looking to share quality literature with students while being squeezed by timetables.

Using characters who are familiar to the reader and his quirky sense of humour,  he creates quirky stories that are perfect as read-alouds or read-alones. In this new collection he ventures into new territory with some of the stories featuring fantasy and animals, but in the main the 12 stories are about kids being brave -something our students have had to do in so many ways themselves, this year.  From a dog who accidentally becomes the first animal on Mars, a hopeless chess player dealing with his sports-mad dad, a girl whose dreams are getting too big for her bed, to a boy who has had 1000 names – so far. and a  strange boy who never seems to get brain freeze until…, this is a collection that will bring a smile to those who loved Thai-riffic, (Lengy makes a special appearance in one of the stories);  Con-nerd  and The Other Christy

Drawing on his own experience as being Thai-Australian, he introduces characters from backgrounds that so many will relate to and enjoy reading about as they see their own story in his. If your students haven’t met this remarkable young author yet, now is the time.

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Aunty's Wedding

Aunty’s Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Miranda Tapsell $ Joshua Tyler

Samantha Fry

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524838

In the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, it is time to get dressed for Aunty’s wedding.  But in this hot, humid climate it is not a time for long white dresses, high-heeled shoes and other fancy finery  – although Uncle, the groom, does dress “like a penguin”.  No, this is a time for a light, pretty hat, a wurrijinga in the hair or on the shirt, and a japalingini and pamijini for the bride…  But what is a wedding and why do we have them?

Beautifully illustrated with the meaning of the unfamiliar words made very clear, this is a story that not only celebrates Aunty’s wedding but also makes us think about the rites and rituals of other weddings the reader might have attended or seen.  Is Aunty any less married because her wedding ceremony is different or is Maningawu’s explanation of it being about love and two people publicly promising to care for each other forever at the core of all marriages and the rest of it just added extras?  What a stunning way to introduce an exploration into the ceremonies of the different cultures represented in the school. A worthy addition to the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection now available through the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear in Space

Deborah Abela

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781760651510

Bear is different. While all his friends were noisy and busy and never seemed to stop, Bear preferred his own company and the quietness and solitude of his books – particularly his books about space.  Because even though the other bears sometimes laughed at him and called him names, Bear was absorbing all he could learn about the mysterious place beyond the planet because he had plans…

This is a charming story for early readers that has so many layers.  Firstly, it is a tribute to those children who are more introverted, who are happy and complete in their own space and who single-mindedly pursue their dreams, prompting discussions about how there are all sorts of people in the world who may have different values and dreams to us. But it also shows how those dreams can be enriched and enhanced when they are shared with like-minded souls and friends, changing perceptions of relationships and how the world works.  It also has lots of facts about space embedded into it so as well as sharing Bear’s adventures, the reader also learns a little on the journey.

This is one of those perfect pictures books where the text and illustrations are seamless and one would be so much less if the other weren’t there.  Even though both themes of being a loner and having dreams of space travel have been visited in children’s stories before, this is a stand-out because of the story’s layers and that integration of words and pictures that entertain and educate at the same time. A marriage of imagination and information.

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Pink!

Pink!

Pink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink!

Margaret Wild

Judith Rossell

Working Title Press, 2020

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

9781460757499

When Pink hatched from the egg, the only one left after a great storm washed away all the others, her parents were somewhat surprised because she was pink!  She certainly stood out from all the other green and grey and brown dinosaurs and at first, Pink was okay with being different.  But when it meant that she was always found first during her favourite game of hide-and-seek with the other dinosaurs, she soon grew despondent and wished she wasn’t so recognisable. 

Being pretty and sweet wasn’t enough for Pink – she wanted to be brave and smart but wasn’t sure how she could be.  The answer comes one afternoon during a wild and boisterous game of hide-and-seek when she discovers that there can be distinct advantages to being different.

Combining young readers’ fascination with dinosaurs with the theme of accepting and being yourself, Margaret Wild and Judith Rossell have crafted a charming story that will appeal across the ages.  As well as opening up discussions about celebrating our differences and how we can be brave and smart, this is also a great opportunity to explore the differences between fiction and non fiction texts.  The teaching notes are excellent – I wrote them! LOL!