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Scruffle-Nut

Scruffle-Nut

Scruffle-Nut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scruffle-Nut

Corinne Fenton

Owen Swan

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594768

As winter leaves tumble and twirl a wisp of memory wraps itself about me and whispers me back to long ago…

As a child, her Nanny Clementine took her to the park where she played on the swings and the see-saw and rode the carousel horses for as long as time.  And one day, she sees a squirrel, one that the others squirrels growl at and chase away because he has a stumpy tail, not a magnificent curled one like theirs. And so begins a brief friendship between them – the little squirrel who is a bit different and the little girl who is also a bit different – and there is a strong sense of empathy that builds up, until the snow falls and the park is closed. What is it that the little girl learned from that squirrel in those few short days that has stayed with her all her life?

Sensitive, with beautifully descriptive passages that are sublimely illustrated in a palette and manner as soft and gentle as the story, this is a story that tugs at the heart-strings for we all know the child who is shunned because of their “stumpy tail” and the silent pain and rejection they feel.  One to share and talk about what it would be like to be the one that is on the outside, rather than being part of the Bully-Bunch, and perhaps change a few perceptions. 

Children Who Changed the World: Incredible True Stories About Children’s Rights!

Children Who Changed the World

Children Who Changed the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children Who Changed the World: Incredible True Stories About Children’s Rights!

Marcia Williams

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781406384109

Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai?  What about Baruani Ndume?  Or Ryan Hreljac?

Forty years ago the UN declared that 1979 was to be the International Year of the Child  and as part of that. in 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was proclaimed, setting out 54 equally important articles that 196 countries have agreed to follow so that each child, no matter where they live, has the support and protection they deserve.  

Using her iconic graphic format, Marcia Williams has explored the lives of 13 children, all born since the Declaration and all of whom have made a significant difference to the lives of the children in their home countries and beyond.  Each double spread is devoted to the pivotal work of the child under the banner of one of those UN rights.

Deliberately designed to inform children of their rights, Williams speaks directly to the reader in the introduction and encourages them to not only be aware of those rights but to take action when they see injustice or something that needs changing.  With our students being so aware of the global picture these days, and being involved in actions like School Strike 4 Climate this is an important and timely release to help our students know that they can make a difference and will.  Perhaps one of them will become the new Greta Thunberg, who has risen to prominence since the book was prepared but who not only deserves a place in it but also demonstrates that kids can be heard and supported and change can happen. 

This is a book that needs to be promoted to kids everywhere, to give them inspiration and hope that their voices will be heard.

Who’s Afraid of the Quite Nice Wolf?

Who's Afraid of the Quite Nice Wolf?

Who’s Afraid of the Quite Nice Wolf?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s Afraid of the Quite Nice Wolf?

Kitty Black

Laura Wood

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594706

Unlike the not-nice wolf pack he lived with, Wilfred was a quite-nice wolf, who, instead of eating rabbits they captured, he preferred to help them! Rather than being a carnivore, he was a vegetarian much to the disgust of his wolf-pack brothers. So when they propose to raid the local herd of sheep, Wilfred is not only alarmed but feels he must do something…

Given a new meaning to “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, this is an hilarious romp that will engage young readers from cover to endpaper, as it celebrates the courage of the individual to be true to themselves and who they are rather than give into the pack and peer pressure. How hard was it for Wilfred to “betray” the leader of the pack?  But it could also spark discussions about stereotypes and the perceptions we hold about people and creatures because of our experiences or what we have been told, and perhaps encourage broader investigations. Stories that work well as entertainment, as this does, are fabulous but those that make the mind probe a little deeper, see the world through different eyes and perhaps hear a different tune are even better.  This is one of those.

Little Puggle’s Song

Little Puggle's Song

Little Puggle’s Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Puggle’s Song

Vikki Conley

Hélène Magisson

New Frontier, 2019

32pp,m hbk.  RRP $A24.99

9781925594690

All Little Puggle, the baby echidna, wanted to do was to be able to sing like the birds in his native bushland.  Each bird had its own sound – Little Blue’s was whispery like the wind; Fantail peeped like a bush mouse; Fancy Crest’s voice had a crack like lightning and when Brown Feather laughed the bush stood still – but Little Puggle made no sound at all.

When Brown feather gathered the birds together to begin a bush choir, even Little Grey and Long Tail were allowed to join, but all silent Little Puggle could do was watch from the sidelines.  But when disaster strikes the choir’s special performance for the birth of the emu babies, Little Puggle finds his voice in a very different way!

This is the most charming story, superbly illustrated, that introduces our youngest readers to the creatures that are unique to the Australian bush and to the concept that we, ourselves, are unique, each with their own way of contributing. An opportunity  to take the children outside and have them listen to the birdsong and notice that each species has a different sound, one that is individual to them but each of which contributes to the chorus, and then to have a discussion about each child’s special talents and how they help make the class or their family, a whole.

 

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Same Sky

Robert Vescio

Nicky Johnston

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594676

As the sun rises here and the stars appear there, summer happens here and winter there,  two children on opposite sides of the world crave friendship.  As close but as far apart as the sky and the sea, they reach out to each other, knowing they each exist but never coming into contact.  Or do they?

This is more than a story to explore night and day, summer and winter and the physical attributes of this planet. Beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated, this is a story that demonstrates the common need for humans to seek company and companionship.  We are social creatures not solitary beings and the desire to reach out for friendship is innate, despite any artificial differences like social, cultural or religious beliefs. This is underscored by the author’s decision to keep the children and their whereabouts  anonymous, such is their universality of the plight.  Vescio explains more about the inspiration for the story here.

My Dad is a Dragon

My Dad is a Dragon

My Dad is a Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad is a Dragon

Damon Young

Peter Carnavas

UQP, 2019

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

Some dads pull billycarts

painted blue and black.

But my dad is a dragon…

I sit upon his scaly back!

Dads do some amazing things in their lives and this is a celebration of their diversity whether they have “pointy pencils for designing bridges” or “tough trolleys for hauling heavy fridges” but what if your dad was really different? What if he were a dragon?

Often the acknowledgement of Father’s Day in schools is overshadowed by the celebrations of Book Week or it is kept low-key because so many children do not have live-at-home fathers, but nevertheless the role of a dad in a child’s life is critical and so this is the perfect book to add to your collection about families and diversity.  Superbly illustrated by Peter Carnavas, who himself might be considered a dad who is different because his daily life is not that of many fathers, this opens up the scope for a discussion on how dads are different and how they show us they love us.  Because even if the dad is not on the scene full-time for whatever reason, it is a rare dad who does not love his kids. Maybe it is that very absence that is the demonstration – protecting his children from a life of arguments and hostility after a relationship breaks down.  It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on how our dads influence our lives and the choices we make.  How many sporting heroes have followed their father’s footsteps?  How many budding architects or musicians or whatevers have fathers who have led the way?

One of a series of stories that takes a light-hearted look at family relationships, nevertheless, there is more to this than meets the eye.

Meerkat Splash

Meerkat Splash

Meerkat Splash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meerkat Splash

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143792895

Digging down, down into the meerkat burrow, Meerkat Red discovers it is bathtime for the meerkats and he joins in what quickly becomes a riotous time for meerkats of every hue – blue, green black, orange , brown … even Rainbow Meerkat joins in the fun!

Action-packed with lots of humour, this is a story-in-rhyme that not only teaches young readers about colours but also inclusivity.  No matter what its colour, each meerkat is welcome to come and join the bathtime fun before bedtime as they live in harmony in the beautiful burrow mapped out on the endpapers. 

Meerkats have enjoyed a popularity since we were introduced to Timon in the 1994 release of The Lion King, and now rebooted with the current version, as well as the popular Meerkat Manor and so our youngest readers are familiar with their cheeky antics and they will not be disappointed with this new incarnation. Lots of fun!

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hackathon

 9780143795056

Game On

9780143795063

Alex Miles

Puffin Books, 2019

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

From the Girl Geek Academy website…

What would the internet look like if there were more women building it?

  • By the age of 6, children classify jobs as male and female.
  • By the age of 8, they are limiting aspirations
  • By 13 many of them have already ruled out career options that don’t fit with gender stereotypes.
  • By ages 16-17 60% of girls aspire to stereotypically ‘female’ jobs.

So the mission of the Girl Geek Academy is to increase the number of women and girls in tech, games, making, robotics, 3D printing, aviation, drones and space by teaching one million women
to learn technology by 2025. Launched by five women with the aim of making girls in STEM and IT the norm, they are developing a series of initiatives aimed at those from five years old up to mature women, one of which is this new series of books that put geek girls in the spotlight and in charge.  They show that technology is fun and girls are awesome, with each focusing on each of the girls, Hamsa, Eve, Niki and Maggie and their particular talents – hacker, hipster or hustler. With characters that young girls such as my Miss 13 will recognise, they take everyday situations that arise in schools and show how the girls use their strengths to solve them, demonstrating that being a ‘geek girl’ is as normal as being any other sort of girl.  It’s just one part of who they are.

As well as this new series (four in the pipeline so far) there are many other programs and resources available on the academy website to support and enable the development of digital technologies in the school and across the curriculum so this is both a series and a website that could and should be promoted widely to staff and students.  So often, geeks don’t see the library as having anything for them, particularly when there is still such an emphasis on books and reading, so this is yet another way to reach out to that long tail – all those potential patrons that a library has but who don’t use the facility because they don’t believe it has anything to offer them.

Well-written, illustrated and as perfect for the newly-independent reader as it is for those whose appetite for reading is never sated, this is a series with a difference and with huge potential. 

 

Leaping Lola

Leaping Lola

Leaping Lola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaping Lola

Tracey Hawkins

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2019 

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

9781925594591

Down in the meadow, all boggy with mud, Clarissa the cow was chewing her cud. Up on the hilltop a calf caught her eye: flouncing and bouncing, she frolicked on by. “Oh no!” cried Clarissa. “Lola, don’t prance. Jerseys are milk cows – we’re not meant to dance.”

But Lola is determined to practise her moves so she can be perfect at that evening’s ball.  Not even the fact that she is a brown cow and it is a Black and White ball deters her. She enlists the help of her friend Pearl the Pig to disguise her and with great confidence she sashays in. With the twang of the band making her wriggle and giggle,  she has the time of her life and is the belle of the ball until…

Just the mental image of a cow leaping, let alone “whoomping and boomping her beautiful hide” is enough to set up the reader for the joyous, funny story this is and it is compounded by the rollicking text – who knew there were so many ways a cow could move its body? – and the delightful illustrations that take it into the fantasy that it is.  Occasionally as you travel through the countryside, you might see young calves frolicking but the concept of a dancing cow is the antithesis of what really happens. Thus, the stage is set for a story that will engage and delight, as young readers’ toes start to twitch and they feel compelled to try out some of Lola’s moves. But there is also an underlying message about being true to yourself, following your passion and not settling for being a stereotype. Thirty-two pages of fun!

 

Detention

Detention

Detention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Tristan Bancks

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791799

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one. 

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. 

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block. 

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?

Whatever decisions are made will change their lives forever.

With the rise and spread of nationalist, right-wing conservative governments around the globe, xenophobia is alive and well in communities and countries around the world. In Australia it is always a hot topic particularly around election time and especially since former prime minister John Howard declared, “It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people, taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” in an election speech just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.

Having just had another federal election with the rhetoric of asylum seekers, detention centres and people’s rights claiming a lot of media space and votes, this new book from Tristan Bancks is very timely. In it, through the students in the Reading Superstars class and their teacher Miss Aston, he asks the questions that need to be considered about the plight of refugees, particularly as much of what the children say is the echo of their parents’ perspectives. Bancks says he has tried to tell the story as “a human one, rather than a political one” and he has achieved this as the reader becomes very invested in the plights of Simi and Dan and constantly wonders what would they do if they were either of those characters.

In my opinion, the greatest power of this book is in the hands of a class teacher reading it aloud and discussing the issues as Miss Aston does while she and her charges are in lockdown. That way, a range of points of view can be explored and explained, taking the story to a whole new level, rather than being an individual read that throws up questions but for which the reader doesn’t seek answers. And that teacher should be prepared to answer the inevitable, “What would you do if you were Miss Aston?”

Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get. Superb.