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Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2022

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 9781922326553

Tatty Mouse wants to play in her brother’s band, but given they already have a guitarist, a saxophonist and a singer, she has to find a place.  Known as the ‘mend-it, make-it mouse”, and so, after consulting a book she decides on maracas and drums and sets to, using everyday objects from her home to make her own musical instruments.

The board book format lends itself perfectly to a lift-the-flap experience for our youngest readers as they follow Tatty Mouse’s instructions, perhaps making their own versions as they do because everything she uses is readily available.  

Catch A Star continues to recognise the need for even our youngest readers to have engaging stories that are sturdy enough in their own hands so they can mimic the reading of those who read to them, a critical step in becoming a reader, and this is no exception. The text is simple but the story can be followed without being able to read it because the pictures are colourful and clearly amplify what the words say, while the lift-the-flap and the invitation to do so adds to the engagement.  Above all, this format shows little ones the value of the constancy of print – rather than being a fleeting image on a screen, it is one they can return to again and again, not just to enjoy Tatty’s inventiveness but also to explore their own. 

 

The Very Hard Book

The Very Hard Book

The Very Hard Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hard Book

Idan Ben-Barak

Philip Bunting

A&U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760526221

Can you make up a joke that makes you laugh? Sit in an empty room?  Or be somewhere else for a minute?

At first, this book with its short sentences, large font and intriguingly ‘simple’ pictures looks like one of those fun ones that engage young children in the joy of reading through the power of the absurd,  And, indeed, it is just that – but a closer look, as well as the diagram on the final endpaper, show that it is so much more.

Because once again, the author of the very popular Do Not Lick This Book has put his scientific brain to work to create an introduction to the world beyond the words, this time about thinking about thinking. The act of thinking about thinking is known as metacognition and forms the basis of all critical thought. It is also a concept that comes easily to children whose inquisitive nature makes them able to engage in abstract questions and open-ended thinking without the constraints, learning and lenses that the adult brain automatically imposes.

Bunting, who teamed up with Ben-Barak to create We Go Way Back has very cleverly used characters that resemble dendrites , the brain cell’s message receptors, to further emphasise the confusion and complexity of the tasks that seem so simple on the surface.  

Some years ago when science made it possible for specialists to really start delving into how people learn, and people like Bob Sylwester, Renate and Geoffrey Caine  Eric Jensen and Robin Fogarty  began to interpret what this looked like in the classroom providing the foundations for the pedagogies we now use, students were encouraged to think about their thinking, to know how their brains worked and apply that to their learning.  And they were engaged and fascinated as they learned about “the magic trees of the mind” . Even though this might not be such a focus now, nevertheless this would be an excellent introduction to get them to start thinking about thinking and stretching and growing their brains beyond the screen and someone else’s imagination. 

For surely, if our students are to become critical thinkers, they must first know how and why they think and the influences that play on that. 

 

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur Hide and Seek

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur Hide and Seek

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur Hide and Seek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur Hide and Seek

Janeen Brian

Ann James

Puffin, 2022 

10pp., board book, RRP $A16.99

9780143777427

The dirty dinosaur is back and this time he’s looking for his friends – Bird, feathery and flittery, tweety and twittery; Bee, busy and buzzy, stripy and fuzzy – and all the others.  But it seems like they’re hiding from him and the young reader is going to have to think about where they might be in the landscape and lift the flaps to discover them!

Rhyme, rhythm, repetition, dinosaurs and interactivity – the perfect combination to engage young readers in endless hours of fun as they tell themselves the story over and over again, and delight in their success as they uncover the hiding places!!!  Who can be hoppy, water ploppy like Frog? Or slippery, silver tail flippery like Fish?

Once again, links to research and memes about the importance of reading with the very young are doing the social media rounds, and it’s books like this one that are going to be the hook,  And, to me, even more powerful than reading a story (1825 if one a day in the first five years; 5475 if you share a familiar, a first-read and a favourite) is offering one that they can then read themselves! 

This one is a winner!!!

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Look Inside a Coral Reef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Minna Lacey

Sam Brewster

Usborne, 2022

14pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9781474998918

Despite it being in board book format, this is one for anyone with a new interest in coral reefs, their formation, inhabitants and the secrets they hold.  The board book format allows it to have a sturdy lift-the-flap feature encouraging readers to explore further and learn more as each phenomenon is explained in a little more depth beneath the flap.

 


And for those who want to know even more, there are the usual Quicklinks that accompany most of the books from this publisher, including games and activities. 

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Bluey

Puffin 2022

8pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

 9780143777878

Just as the new season of Bluey appears on the screen, and the controversy about whether Bandit is a “bad dad” fills talk shows, comes a new, interactive print edition  for the lovable character’s fans. 

Each double page includes a put-together puzzle that emerges into a new adventure for Bluey and her family, then young readers can flip each puzzle over for a new picture.

Despite what those who have to politicise everything through their narrow, adults lenses have to say, this series, its characters and situations remains one of the most popular for young children ever, and interactive books like this which rely on their interaction with both the book and the story are perfect for developing those critical early reading behaviours!  At last the preschool population are being seen as a real audience with specific needs and interests and these are being met by print-based publishers. While Mem Fox has continually stated, “” 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!” it is also essential to actively engage the child in the story, either through the reading itself, talking about it, creating something or music and movement, giving the child the power to manipulate it, as this does, is also vital.  

Another essential for those who care for our very young. 

Where’s Wally?

Where's Wally?

Where’s Wally?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s Wally?

Where’s Wally? The Super Six

boxed set, six books + puzzle & poster.,  RRP $A69.99

9781406396744

 

Where’s Wally? At the Movies Activity Book

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781529503166

 

Martin Handford

Walker Books 2021-2022

One of the most enduring memories from my days in the library is watching groups of young boys, particularly, racing in at lunchtime to get hold of a Where’s Wally book and then being bunched around a table, heads together, eagerly being the first to spot him amongst all the other incredible busyness on the page. They were so popular that they had to be on the Not For Loan shelf, and I can still hear the shouts of delight as new discoveries were made – often not even involving the finding of Wally, but something else intriguing. So as well as developing their visual acuity, so important for discerning letters and words accurately and interpreting details in illustrations, they were thoroughly engaged in a print resource at a time when the personal screen was just emerging as the entertainment-du-jour.

So it is grand that Walker Books have just released a compendium of six of the classic titles – Where’s Wally?, Where’s Wally Now?; Fantastic Journey; Where’s Wally in Hollywood?; The Wonder Book and The Great Picture Hunt–  all in the original large size format and at a price that allows libraries and families who don’t have these basics to afford them.

Then, as well, there is the new Where’s Wally? At the Movies Activity Book in which readers can visit the sound stage to watch a song and dance rehearsal, plan out your own film plots in the writers’ room, choose a star-studded cast, then step on to the red carpet for a glitzy, glamorous movie premiere through an array of games, puzzles, searches and stickers.

There are a handful of series of books that were available 20 years ago that I credit with getting a generation of reluctant readers to engage with text and start a lifelong journey of reading – the incredible work of Martin Handford in the Where’s Wally series is one of them.

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.