In-Between Things

In-Between Things

In-Between Things










In-Between Things

Priscilla Tey

Candlewick Press, 2018

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


In between the covers of this book is a rollicking story about a cat and a dog who explore all the things in between things in the house. 

The cat is between that table that’s green and the chair with the tear sitting right over there,

The dog is between the floor and the cat (and does not enjoy being in the middle like that!)

As well as exploring all sorts of physical things like the glass of the fishbowl between keeping the fish wet and us dry,  there are all sorts of hybrids like mixed colours, spoons and forks called sporks, skirts and shorts that make skorts,  and dancing with a jig and a wiggle makes a jiggle that makes everyone giggle! 

As well as learning the language of position which is such an important maths concept, young readers will delight in examining the highly detailed illustrations for more examples of in-between while at the same time enjoying the rhyme and rhythm of a story that takes an everyday concept and turns it into a story.


Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?









Is It The Way You Giggle?

Nicola Connelly

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

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


What makes you special?

Is it the way you look or something that you can do?

Is it the way you giggle or the way you wiggle?

This is a new take on a perennial topic that will encourage little people to think about what it is that makes them special.  With the entire text being in question format as though the author is speaking directly to the reader, it provokes thought about those things that are unique to us that make us stand out, going beyond the obvious of the colour of the skin, eyes and hair and starting to look at the inner person-their personality, their expertise  and their mannerisms.  Even those with low self-esteem will be able to contribute something and perhaps get a little lift that there is something special about them.  

Annie White’s charming illustrations in watercolour and pencil show that even within one family of four kids from the same parents and exposed to the same sorts of things, there is huge diversity amongst them which is accepted, appreciated and celebrated within the family. 

Extensive teachers’ notes offer new ideas about using this book with early childhood children but as a parent-child read-along, it’s a great opportunity for a chat about how the child and other family members are special and even what makes the family itself unique.

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl's 1 2 3

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3









Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99


What happens when you mix the master storytelling of Roald Dahl, iconic bright illustrations by Quentin Blake and the time-proven format of a counting book?  You get a fantastic book for very young readers that introduces them to an author/illustrator combination that will delight them for years.

Using The Enormous Crocodile as its base, young children will delight in seeing all the other chiddlers gather to play in the park while at the same time, in true pantomime style, wanting to yell out at warn them about what they can see hiding in the bushes.  Counting books are plentiful, those that tell a story not-so, and those which build to a climax that is only resolved by a cunning lift-the-flap conclusion, rare.  This book ticks so many essential boxes in helping our youngest readers continue their reading journey with confidence and independence  knowing that the BEST books tell a story.  Miss 3 adored it and will be a Dahl/Blake fan for life, just like Miss Almost-12!

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf









The Perfect Leaf

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2018 

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


In the centre of the local town there are huge trees, planted generations ago and now the source of the most stunning leaf show in autumn that children and adults alike love to swoosh through, making them scatter, building piles to fall into and have some great free fun on Mother Nature.  

And so it is with Elly and Mai on this “cold-sun sort of day, this wind-in-the-branches day.  Both are in the park and they meet as they kick their way through the rustling, crunching piles, each searching for that perfect leaf and eventually finding something even more special.  Is there a perfect leaf to be found?  Is it yellow as butter or red as a summer apple? Delicate as gold or crimson velvet? Like a warm flame on a winter’s day of rain or like the sun on your face on a day so cold that your breath steams like a dragon’s? Does it matter if there is a tear, a mark or a hole or do they all have a special magic?

The language, the pictures, the colours of this story make the fun of playing in autumn leaves that we all remember burst from the page in a joyous celebration of childhood delight.  Young readers will readily relate to Elly and Mai and their special quest while adult readers will have a smile of reminiscence. Apart from the riot of colour, Andrew has also hidden lots of little woodland dwellers in the shapes and shadows pictures – you can find the list in the teachers’ notes  – so the reader is encouraged to not only look at the details in the picture but also to look more closely at the natural world that surrounds them so that something like a pile of autumn leaves becomes a full sensory experience.  Perhaps they, too, will find the magic as Elly and Mai did. 

Each time I receive a book with Andrew Plant’s name on it (The Poppy, Spark and Glitch) I look forward  to something special – and this is no different. A wonderful kickstart to asking “Why do the leaves change colour?” and all the STEM activities associated with that.

Let’s Visit the Olobobs

Let's Visit the Olobobs

Let’s Visit the Olobobs









Let’s Visit the Olobobs

Leigh Hodgkinson

Bloomsbury Children’s, 2018

12pp., board book, RRP $A12.99


Olobob Top is a children’s television series currently screening on ABC Kids in Australia. It follows a group of young creative creatures called the Olobobs. Tib, Lalloo and Bobble live in a big forest and have fun playing, exploring and solving everyday problems. In each episode, they work together combining shapes, colours and patterns to create a new character, who joins in with the Olobobs’ fun, while a friendly narrator encourages them to think for themselves to solve everyday problems using their imagination and creativity.

So this lift-the-flap book and its companion Make Your Own Olobob Home an activity book that demands their input will encourage very young readers to find their favourite characters in another medium.

Make Your Own Olobob Home

Make Your Own Olobob Home

Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of KMart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading.  To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own page, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey. 

Focusing on shapes, colours and patterns both of these titles (with several more to come over the next two years) encourage interaction and learning and demonstrate the rigorous quality required for books for even our earliest readers these days. 


What are Stars?

What are Stars?

What are Stars?









What are Stars?

Katie Daynes

Marta Alvarez Miguens

Usborne, 2017

12pp., board book., RRP $A19.99


As soon as children are old enough to see the night sky and the stars, they have questions about them…

What are stars?

Can I visit a star?

How many stars are there?

Which star is the nearest?

Are all stars the same?

These, and others, are answered in this lift-the-flap book especially designed to answer the questions of  very young readers.  With several flaps on each page to lift, they can discover so much about the worlds that are revealed after the sun sets, the curtains are drawn and the lights turned off.

Driven by providing answers to questions, it is a great introduction to the inquiry process and information literacy as the child learns to seek answers, searching for them in different places and  discovering that often, answers lead to even more questions.

Young readers will delight in learning new things and sharing their developing knowledge. 



Who Hid the Socks?

Who Hid the Socks?

Who Hid the Socks?









Who Hid the Socks?

Rosemary Coombs

Lorraine Robertson & Warren Brown

Bullawai Books, 2018

24pp., pbk., RRP $A15.00


Laundry day and everything is in the basket – but where are the socks?

David and Stephen are sent out on The Great Sock Hunt and find them in the most amazing places!

In the garage they peered around

and on Dad’s messy bench they found

cotton socks, wool socks,


Dave’s were in the tool box

from cleaning up his trike.

They tossed them in the wash and then set off to look for more.  

In the lounge room, inside a chair

were hidden with some of their underwear…

new socks, old socks


stripy, spotty, bold socks,

with cars and boats and bikes.

So many socks for just four feet but who has been hiding them?  Has Dobby been collecting them to free his house-elf friends or is there something else afoot?  Missing socks is one of the mysteries of the universe – there’s even a Lost Sock Memorial Day!

Image result for lost socks meme

But in this charming  story that rattles along at a great pace because of the clever rhyme and rhythm the answer is much more simple. And, as well as enjoying the tale, young readers can also have fun trying to find all the items in each illustration, using the lists at the back as a guide. 

Matching and pairing socks and counting them is a great early childhood maths activity but wearing matching socks is overrated IMO!

A lot of fun either as a bedtime read or a class activity, both the book and teachers’ notes are available directly from the publishers.

Lego Animal Atlas

Lego Animal Atlas

Lego Animal Atlas










Lego Animal Atlas

Rona Skene

DK, 2018

78pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00


No matter which part of the planet you live in, there will be fascinating and unique creatures to see and learn about.  From the blue-ringed octopus of Australia to guanaco of South America to the addax of Africa each continent and each habitat within that continent is populated with wildlife, familiar and not-so. In this new book from master children’s publishers DK< young readers are not only introduced  to these creatures but are also provided with the Lego blocks to start constructing some of them.

Beginning with building instructions for a mini giraffe, panda, penguin and kangaroo for which the blocks are provided, suggestions are then made for making body parts like noses, eyes, teeth and beaks using the reader’s own collection of bricks. And if the reader doesn’t have them, they are encouraged to use their imaginations to substitute what they do have.   There are tips on how and what to build with the emphasis on the fun of building rather than a perfect product. 

Readers are then introduced to the world’s major habitats and continents and the unique species of each.  As well as the clear photos and tips and tricks that will inspire building there is also a ‘model map’ with  a colour-coded key designating the different bricks used for each habitat.  So as well as making the unique creatures of Australasia, for instance, these can also be placed on a map base to show where they are found. 

Of course it wouldn’t be DK without lots of tidbits of interesting information about the creatures backed up with a comprehensive glossary and index which support the child’s information literacy development.  Learning is definitely fun! Because there are no step by step instructions for making the creatures apart from those for the giraffe, panda, penguin and kangaroo, just the clear photos and some suggestions for the trickier bits, challenging children to create their own instructions for a particular model using step-by-step photos using those initial instructions as an example would provide an authentic learning experience that would definitely stretch their skills, demonstrate their knowledge and be fun!

This would be a wonderful addition to those with makerspaces but because of the small parts provided it is only suitable for those over 6. 

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path










Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

Simon Hugo

DK, 2018

125pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


What more fitting book to review for May the 4th than one with a Star Wars theme? Even though it is not released till May 28, there is no harm in building up anticipation for something new and different that is going to encourage even the most reluctant of readers to explore.

With the book comes protocol droid U-3PO, a small toy suitable for those 6+, who accompanies the adventures, gives advice and maybe even leads the adventurer astray. The reader chooses one of three quests- Hunt the Sith, Fight the Empire or Defeat the First Order – and then sets off to achieve it while meeting favourite characters and creatures, travelling in awesome vehicles as they move from planet to planet, all the while remaining in charge of the journey as they select the route according to the choices on offer.  

Along the way there are photos, facts and figures and information about a range of incredible Lego models that can be purchased – Star Wars fans like my son are so easy to buy for! –  as well as challenges to build new, original models.

The power of choose-you-own-adventure has long been proven as an inducement to read and discover, so to combine it with both Star Wars and Lego is just genius.  Perfect for that collaborative reading that young boys who are verging on independence love and need, or for any Star Wars fan. 

The Walkabout Orchestra

The Walkabout Orchestra

The Walkabout Orchestra











The Walkabout Orchestra

Chloe Perernau

Quarto, UK, 2018

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


The orchestra have an important concert to play… but all the musicians have gone walkabout! But each has sent a postcard to  the Maestro saying where they are. So the challenge for the reader is to help him and his faithful assistant find them using the clues in those postcards.

From Reykjavik to Rio young readers will enjoy this search-and-find tour of the world that introduces them to the instruments of the orchestra as they test their powers of observation using the pictures of each in the introductory pages as a starting point.

With busy pages that test the eye (although not quite as busy as Where’s Wally?) this book encourages readers to examine the details in things rather than just glancing quickly at them and moving on.  To add to the mix there is a little yellow bird on each double-spread with his own quest that adds a further challenge.  All eventually come together in a concert hall with some interesting audience members, and for those who just can’t find them, an answer key is provided.

While this ostensibly introduces children to the instruments of the orchestra, it works better as a search-and-find book which is much more fun and informative.  

A great addition for those who have pored over Where’s Wally and who are looking for a new challenge in that collaborative reading activity that is so important to emerging readers, particularly boys.