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The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Bug Hunt

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Bug Hunt

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Bug Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Bug Hunt

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2022

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9780241553503

There are two phrases that, when seen on the cover of a book for littlies, guarantee an engaging and enjoyable read that will help them understand both the world around them and the power of books.  They are “the Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Eric Carle” . And while we sadly lost Carle to kidney failure almost a year ago, his work lives on in books like this whose tantalising , colourful, familiar illustrations entice children to open them and discover what’s inside.

This one encourages them to look up, look under, look inside  and look closely to discover the minibeasts that live in their world so that they will appreciate both the bugs and the environment as being their home.  Its lift-the-flap format ensures there are lots of surprises and of course there is always the challenge of finding that elusive very hungry caterpillar on each page.  

If you missed celebrating The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day earlier this year on March 20, perhaps May 23, the first anniversary of his death, could be the day to celebrate the life and legacy of this man who has touched so many lives since we first met the VHC in June 1969! 

How to Count to ONE

How to Count to ONE

How to Count to ONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Count to ONE

Caspar Salmon

Matt Hunt

Nosy Crow, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781839941924

You know how to count, right? GREAT! There are LOADS of fun things to count in this book. Whales, baboons, rainbows, pyramids…There’s just rule. You must ONLY ever count to ONE. So don’t even about THINK bigger numbers. OK?!

Following in the footsteps of a number of other books that really engage our youngest readers as they not only learn the concepts that are the book’s focus, but also a host of early reading behaviours, this is a masterpiece that ensures that the reader listens carefully to the instructions and then develops their visual acuity as they follow them, searching for that ONE item on the page they have to find and count.  They can’t be distracted by all the other things going on – there is just one of whatever it might be, such as the one duck rollerblading amongst all the other ducks.  Some are more obvious than others but there are also some tricky ones that will really make the reader focus on the picture’s detail, encouraging them to be discerning and also give illustrations more than just a brief glance.  There are always cues and clues within that enrich and enhance the text.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As well as being great fun for the young reader – and there is the chance for them to show their prowess with counting – if your school has a buddy system where older students become the companions of your youngest, this would be a great joint activity with the older kids creating their own page to contribute to a class book to share. Each little one could have their own copy as a memento of the relationship, and perhaps even be inspired to male their own page to share too. 

Books that teach so much in such a fun way are gold; books that keep on giving even moreso!  

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Racism

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Racism

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Racism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Racism

Jordan Akpojaro

Ashley Evans

Usborne, 2022 

14pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474995825

While the issue of racism has bubbled along in the background of schools for decades, the recent rise and focus on the Black Lives Matter movement has brought it forward into the loungerooms and lives of our students and many have many questions. This is to be expected if we accept the premise that “race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour” particularly when ‘race’ itself is defined as “the idea that the human species is divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences.” (Britannica, 2022

Therefore this book is a timely release that uses a simple lift-the-flap technique to answer children’s questions in a way that they will understand.  For example, while the Britannica definition can be easily unpacked by an adult here it is explained as “treating people differently and unfairly based on their skin colour, where they’re from, their religion or their family traditions.”

From ‘What’s wrong with the idea of ‘race’? and ‘Why is life harder for people with darker skin?’ to ‘Don’t ALL lives matter?’ and ‘What’s racism got to do with me?’ this book tackles powerful, pertinent questions in a direct, accessible and thought-provoking way. Even if the reader has not encountered racism, they learn why it is everyone’s problem to solve, and how we can all be part of the solution.

There is also a blog post  that offers guidance about how to talk to children about racism because “even by the age of two children begin to notice skin colour and other differences in appearance” and there are also the usual Quicklinks to help the reader understand more deeply. 

We Feel Happy

We Feel Happy

We Feel Happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Feel Happy

Katie Abey

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526619907

Our youngest readers are encouraged to explore their emotions in this vibrant book from the creator of such gems as We Catch the Bus and We Wear Pants.  Using  hooks such as counting, first words, recognising animals, interactive speech bubbles, prompts and ideas on how to understand and process emotions,  the reader is involved in the actions as they examine the vignettes to discover  lots of interesting things to spot on each page. While the animals are experiencing lots of different emotions, from the hippos who are excited to visit their friends to the shark who is grumpy about brushing its teeth, not only are there opportunities for the reader to speculate on why the animal is feeling the way it does and make connections, they are also given the opportunity to reflect on the occasions when they share the same emotions. .

Focusing on the feelings of happy, calm, worried, shy, curious, grumpy, sad, scared, sorry, excited, there is also  a non-fiction spread for parents and teachers with lots of useful information for speaking to children about their emotions.

Often when our littlies feel big, overwhelming feelings they don’t realise that these are part of life and everyone experiences them, both the pleasant and the not-so,  Books like these that help them understand that such emotions are common and essential to our well-being are an important part of their development. 

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2022

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

9780241543498

Although formal reading instruction usually doesn’t begin until a child starts “big school”, so much of the rate of success and achievement is dependent on the groundwork that has gone before.  Mem Fox has said, ” If every parent -and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy in one generation!” 

But this new Peppa Pig adventure offers an even greater opportunity for our littlest readers to start developing those early reading behaviours that are crucial to underpinning reading development because it requires the child to create their own story. This is a choose-your-own adventure for the very young.   

Starting with a page of pictures of possible destinations, the child chooses where in the world they want to travel – to the jungle, the ocean, the desert, the city or even outer space – and then on succeeding pages they use the picture cues to decide which of Peppa’s family and friends they will take with them; their clothing; their lunchtime menu; how they will travel and so on, building an entire adventure as they turn the pages. There are musical instruments to play, shops to visit, parties to attend – and each is the child’s choice,  And when they return home safely, they can go back to the start and map out another adventure to tell!  The power of print over the fleeting screen! 

While listening to stories and building the pictures in their imagination is vital, having the scaffolding to build your own story with your favourite character is brilliant – there are so many skills involved and learning that takes place, not to mention the empowerment of being the author and making the decisions that this is, IMO, a must-have in the library of any beginning reader.  In all my years of reading and reviewing, showing and sharing books with little ones, books that are interactive with lift-the-flaps and other devices, I don’t recall one in this choose-your-own format for this age group.  Love it! 

 

 

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Matter: Be Your Own Best Friend

Sue Lawson & Sue Hindle

Prue Pittock

Wild Dog, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036144

With pandemic restrictions easing and life returning to a “COVID-19 normal” one of the most concerning things emerging from the lockdowns and limitations is the amount of global research focusing on the impact the time has had on children’s mental health.  And, with RATs and masks in schools bringing the disease to them directly, the anxiety and discomfort is likely to have  even greater consequences.  But while that might be the black cloud of the last two years, the silver lining is the focus that has been placed on the mental and emotional health of our young people – no longer is it just an illness of older people.

According to the experts, one of the greatest tools we can provide youngsters with is resilience -“the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity” – and this book, which talks directly to the reader, offers the tools to build this. Beginning with the affirmation that no one else in the world is like you, if offers practical ways to explore emotions and build a toolkit to help with the days when they “feel worried, worn out or just not quite right.” From learning to breathe deeply, tune into their emotions, and creating a place – physical or mental – that is safe and peaceful, the young person is offered ideas that are simple, doable and achievable.  They’re explicitly stated rather than being embedded in a what-would/could-you-do story that needs to be unpacked and have step-by-step instructions from learning to finger-breathe to writing anxieties , fears and feelings on paper and physically ripping them up. 

Mental health is a curriculum focus, even moreso now, and mindfulness part of everyday activities so as well as helping individuals directly, the suggestions could also be a toolkit for teachers to work through with students whenever there is a moment or a need. Sharing stories such as The World Awaits is an essential part of showing children that their feelings are real, shared and validated and this book is the perfect follow-up, empowering them to not only manage their emotions now but building strategies for the future.  

 

Fold-Out Timeline of Planet Earth

Fold-Out Timeline of Planet Earth

Fold-Out Timeline of Planet Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fold-Out Timeline of Planet Earth

Rachel Firth

Daniel Long

Usborne, 2022

16pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

9781474991506

Readers whose interest and imagination have been captured by the books exploring the development of the planet will be captivated by this book.  From the Big Bang to the Big Whack to the development of mankind, the history of our amazing planet unfolds at a glance in this graphic timeline. Then they can  turn it over to find out how, through billions of years of volcanic eruptions, ice ages and mass extinctions, life on Earth has emerged.

Even if they have not yet discovered the fascination of finding out where we have come from, this is one of those books that is going to have groups spreading it on a table at lunchtime and gathering around to share their discoveries and knowledge.  And while this may just whet their appetite, as usual publishers Usborne have curated lots of links so they can delve deeper and take their explorations further.  

Sometimes it is hard for our little ones to understand the abstract concept of time -in their world of instantaneous, ‘past’ and ‘future’ are just words to them – but publications like this that use their format to underpin the concept really go a long way to helping them.  One for anyone with an interest in the planet’s past and who prefers a highly graphic approach to one with lots of text. 

Big Green Crocodile

Big Green Crocodile

Big Green Crocodile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Green Crocodile

Jane Newberry

Carolina Rabel

Otter-Barry Books, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781913074531

Regular readers of this blog will know that I always promote early reading behaviours – those that come long before any direct interaction with the marks on a page – whenever I can, and that these include the acquisition of language in the first place. And this book certainly fits into that.

Over 50 years ago when I first began my formal teacher ed studies I became fascinated with how children learn to speak, and this deepened when my son was born and so I delved into the research with enthusiasm. Not to bore you with the details, but it was evident that oral language development is inherent and that children will learn their mother tongue by listening to it, engaging with it, practising it, having fun with it and a belief that they will master it.  Integral to that development is repetition, rhyme and rhythm so throughout the generations little ones have enjoyed rhymes and ditties that roll of the tongue and especially those that accompanied by body movement, particularly finger play.  

And while there are hundreds of well-known rhymes that are passed through families, it is always interesting to have some new ones and this book offers 16 of those, complete with imaginative illustrations and instructions for actions. They cover the activities of a child’s day and play, encouraging movement and imagination while being short and simple enough for the child to learn them quickly so they can join in enthusiastically.  

Written by someone who has been teaching music to nursery-aged children for decades, the book was one of just five shortlisted for the UK Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (won by Michael Rosen for On the Move: Poems about Migration) and although it didn’t win, the fact that rhymes for this age group were acknowledged is significant. Recognition that this is a vital part of children’s language development will add weight to the writing and publishing of quality works for this age group. 

You can share Jane’s presentations of some of the rhymes here

Peppa Visits the Australian Rainforest

Peppa Visits the Australian Rainforest

Peppa Visits the Australian Rainforest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Visits the Australian Rainforest

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2021

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9780241519226

Peppa Pig and her family are on holiday in Australia visiting her friend Kylie Kangaroo and they are all off to visit the Australian rainforest.  To guide their explorations, they have a scavenger hunt to complete and so each page has a lift-the-flap experience to discover. 

As with her other Australian adventures , this is a novel way to introduce our youngest readers to environments and the creatures that live in them that they may not be familiar with.  Combining familiar characters and the interactivity of the lift-the-flap format, preschoolers can start to develop conceptual ideas and vocabulary about Australian landscapes and habitats they are likely to encounter in other stories.  It also offers the opportunity to introduce atlases and other non fiction texts if the astute adult asks questions such as “If we wanted to visit the rainforest, where would we have to go?”  or “What other things might they have found in the rainforest?’ or even, “Why does it rain so much in the rainforest?”  There is always the opportunity to model questions that start new investigations. 

 

Eric Carle’s Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes

Eric Carle's Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes

Eric Carle’s Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Carle’s Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes

Eric Carle

Penguin, 2022

10pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

9780593224311

Children learn their mother tongue by listening to it, playing with it and sharing it and hence rhymes like those in this book have endured over generations because of the rhythm and repetition than encourages them to engage all their senses.  Added to that there is often the bonus experience of sitting on the lap of a loved someone and sharing something that goes beyond the exchange of sounds and syllables.

There would be few young children who are not familiar with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and so to have this little critter wandering in and out of the pages of this book, illustrated in Carle’s distinctive style and palette will have surefire appeal.  Add to that, the fun of lifting the flaps to discover what is underneath and all in all this is a wonderful addition to the libraries of our youngest readers.  

Five rhymes feature – “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Hickory Dickory Dock,” “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.” – carefully chosen because each focuses on something the little one can relate to and by using the technique of not disclosing the final line until the flap is lifted, there is plenty of opportunity for the child to predict what might be uncovered, thereby not only showing off their existing knowledge but also having power over the print!

Ideal for those who know the VHC already but for those who don’t, it opens up a whole new reading experience as they discover his adventures!  There’s a reason the little character has endured since 1969!