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Jump!

Jump!

Jump!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump!

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2020 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804461

High up in the Cloud Tower, the little Quig stared at the world way below him.  As his brothers and sisters rolled out of their eggs, they did the same, quickly learning to use their clever tails and powerful fins to climb and clamber over the tower. But the little Quig didn’t join in because his tail was stumpy, not clever, and his fins were thin and wrinkly, not powerful.  And he was afraid of the open spaces around and beneath him.

So he sat and watched the others, trying to pluck up the courage to jump too, and enduring their torments because he was so different. But one day when their taunts got too much, he did jump.  And discovered something amazing…

If there was a signature book for this year’s Book Week theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds then this has to be it!  For Stumpy the Quig is indeed a curious creature and he does have a wild mind.  But he is also resilient and is not daunted about being different, which is the central theme. He may not be the same as the other Quigs but he has other talents that are probably going to make them very jealous when they are revealed!

Whenever I get a book by Andrew Plant to review, I know I’m going to get a beautifully illustrated, unique story and this is no different.  It is made for sharing and discussing.

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

Jackie French

Angus $ Robertson, 2020 

272pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460757727

 

Butter O’Bryan lives in a Very Small Castle with his father and three aunts – Aunt Elephant, Aunt Cake and Aunt Peculiar. These aren’t their real names, of course, just as Butter’s father isn’t really called ‘Pongo’.

And even though Butter is only twelve years old, and the grandson of one of Australia’s most successful Jam Kings, he is very aware of the hardship many people are experiencing.

Butter has been told there are ghosts at the nearby isolated Howlers Beach, but are there? And how can the children Butter plays cricket with on the beach simply vanish? Who are these children and why do they refuse his help?

The Ghost of Howlers Beach just sounds like one of those old-fashioned Secret Seven or Famous Five stories that generations have enjoyed for years, and in a way, it is. But this one has the unique Jackie French touch of magic, and rather than being a contemporary novel as those adventures were, this one takes the independent reader back to The Depression of the 1930s when the ramifications of World War I were still very evident and the realities of being unemployed, or worse, being a woman without a man but with a family, or even worse, being an indigenous person, are brought to light. With a light hand and intriguing characters, French brings to life life in the “susso camps” ; the great divide between the haves and the have-nots and the ever-present threat of diseases like polio before vaccines were available.

Read against the backdrop of today’s coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide economic collapse, it is very clear how far we have come in less than 100 years in both health, economic and social support and perhaps put things in perspective.

The subtitle to this novel is The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries, #1 and with the cast of characters now set hopefully more will follow quickly as we not only enjoy a good, meaty story but one that teaches us about a time not that long ago but eerily familiar all the same.

The timing of its release is remarkable (set long before the current virus was even heard of) and while there are comparisons that can be made between now and then, knowing that its setting and background are based on reality there is a sense of optimism that current times will pass and we will come out of the other side. Perhaps changed, but definitely intact.

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Katrina McKelvey

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820379

Isla’s family is about to grow and she is not happy.  “This family is full”, she declares.

So her mother sits her down and explains how families are like trees -they have a trunk that is formed by the grandparents, branches formed by their children and then the leaves are the children of those children like Isla and her cousins.  Isla begins to understand but when she learns that her mum is to have two babies, then there is no room for any more leaves on her branch and the family is definitely full.

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community. 

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is  scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different. 

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well.  There are teachers’ notes available.

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too. 

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities. 

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Kenneth Wright

Sarah Jane Wright

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781547601172

Lola Dutch‘s friends are not having their best day.  Gator is cranky and cold; Crane can’t find her favourite picture book and Pig is positively peevish.  But she knows just what each needs to cheer them up and goes about setting things right in her usual cheerful way. But what about Bear?  Has she left him out?  Or is it that she can’t decide how she can show him how much he means to her?

This is another in this series about this over-the-top little girl who seems to live life at full-speed. Based on the creators’ own family, it seems nothing is too much trouble or too difficult to achieve to make her friends happy and so there is a strong message about thinking about others, being unselfish and matching deeds to needs.  Little ones might like to think of a special person in their life who deserves a special something, one that can be given without a monetary cost while others might like to reflect on something they have received and learn about Pay It Forward, setting up a positive class or school culture.

A charming picture book series for young readers, most likely to appeal to girls.

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proudest Blue

Ibtihak Muhammad

SK Ali

Hatem Aly

Andersen Press, 2020 

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

9781783449712

The first day of the new school year is fast approaching and so Mama takes Asiya to buy her first-day hijab for her first day in Year 7.  Asiya chooses the brightest blue one because if you squint your eyes there is no border between the water and the sky, just as thereshould be no borders between people.  Her little sister Faizah is so proud of her but sadly not everyone understands what hijab is or represents and so both girls are teased and tormented because they are different.  But guided by their Mama’s wise words that echo in their head, both manage to navigate the day proudly, determined to keep the ancient tradition of covering the hair from puberty. 

Written by one who has been Asiya, Ibtihak Muhammed is the Olympic fencer who became the first Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab while competing for Team USA, this story is not only an insight into the wearing of hijab as a testament to the faith and love of Allah, it is also about being proud of who you are and what you believe in regardless of whether that is based on religion, culture, colour or any other dimension that can be perceived as setting us apart. (Try being a round redhead with glasses in a world that was in love with Twiggy!) There will be many Asiyas and Faizahs in our classrooms this year, Asiyas wearing hijab and navigating the taunts of the ill-informed, and Faizahs fielding questions while feeling enormously proud so this is a book to share across the year levels to help the acceptance and understanding. 

Regardless of the reason that someone may be isolated by their peers, perhaps the most memorable part of the story are the words of the girls’ mother… “Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them.  They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.” Wise words that we can all learn from.

An Internet search will bring up many resources for using this book in the curriculum.

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Are These Hen's Eggs?

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are These Hen’s Eggs?

Christina Booth

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760523497

In “one sunset, two, one sunrise more” Hen’s eggs will hatch. Snuggled down deep in her nest under the trees, she waits patiently but then the storm hits and the next morning she cannot find her eggs.  All the farm creatures help her search, amassing a collection of eggs – but are they all Hen’s eggs?  When they do hatch there are some surprises, particularly the final one but that doesn’t stop Hen loving them all anyway.

This is a charming story that can spark all sorts of investigations about hens, eggs, how they are made, their sizes, shapes and colours, the range of creatures that come from eggs and the names of baby creatures. But it is also a story about helping others after loss, unselfishness as Duck gives Hen one of her eggs to cheer her up, and unconditional love when something entirely unexpected is added to the mix. Can a happy family be a blended mix of heritage, culture and parentage?

Christina Booth always gives us great stories like One Careless Night, Welcome Home and Purinina; A Devils’ Tale that cause us to ponder on big picture things and this is no exception. 

Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy

9781760893651

 

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg

9781760894528

Puffin Books, 2020 

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Edie's Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Charlotte Barkla

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020 

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

9781760891770

“If there is one piece of advice I can give you for your first day at a new school, it’s this: avoid sliming your entire classroom. Even if it’s only an accident, you’ll probably end up in trouble with your new teacher…or your classmates… or your new principal. Or with all of them, like I did.” 

Edie loves science so when she starts at a new school she decides to treat it like a giant experiment but after a number of debacles she realises that making new friends isn’t an exact science. 

This is a new series for the independent young reader and perfect for this time of the year when there will be many like Edie who are starting at a new school and whose greatest concern is how they will make friends in this new environment when friendships groups are long established.  Interspersed with experiments and illustrations, this would make the perfect read-aloud to explore how to make new friends when you are just that bit older and inhibitions and uncertainties have already started to creep in. It works for both sides of the fence – those who already know each other and are unsure of how a new person might change the group dynamic, as well as the newcomer who might not resort to sliming the classroom but who feels they have to prove their worth in this new situation.  It might even inspire an interest in science – can making friends become an experiment? Is there a list of ingredients or elements and a procedure to follow?  And if there are, what could go wrong and why? How do human characteristics intervene on even the best plans? 

Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Milky Way

Frané Lessac

Candlewick Press, 2020

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

9781536200959

In 2018 acclaimed Australian author Frané Lessac showed Australian children how we were all united under the Southern Cross constellation regardless of where we lived in this vast continent. Now, she has broadened the concept to the Milky Way galaxy and shows how the people of North America are united in a similar way.  Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow — each portrayed through vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada. To cap it off there are pages which explain the concept of galaxies, the Milky Way and how to find The Big Dipper and the North Star, iconic sights of the Northern hemisphere night sky.

A stunning book that has just an important place in the Australian school library’s collection as it does in those of North America because it begs an investigation into night and day, the night sky of the two hemispheres and how, regardless of our differences and different activitie,s we are all united under the one overarching star system.

 

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

Charlotte Barkla

Erica Salcedo

Little Hare, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760503932

I love hands!
Hands that are white and hands that are brown,
Freckles mean sunshine has sent kisses down.
Short fingers, long fingers, bendy or straight,
Hands to clap, or high-five your mate.

Even though the human body comprises the same elements, each is unique. No two are the same unless you are an identical twin.  In this superbly illustrated book, each body part such as hands, hair, eyes and even tummies is featured while those characteristics which make them unique are celebrated.  It doesn’t matter if your nose is long and thin or short and flat or even turned up like a pussycat, we each have one and each does its special job.

With its bouncy rhyme and positive message about accepting the diversity and differences which make each of us special, it actively promotes the acceptance of the body regardless of shape, colour, or size so that we appreciate our individuality and are inclusive in our choices. When even our youngest readers are aware of their physical appearance these days and start to develop their relationship with their body, this is a critical message that encourages the positive mental health mindset so essential to developing resilience and empathy and offering lots of scope to collect and interpret data as the children compare and contrast their differences.