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Group Hug!: A Collective Noun Safari

Group Hug!: A Collective Noun Safari

Group Hug!: A Collective Noun Safari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group Hug!: A Collective Noun Safari

Andy Fackrell

Ford Street, 2022

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922696007

Have you heard of a flamboyance of flamingos?  Perhaps a bloat of hippos or even an implausibility of gnus?

Wilbur is on a journey through his local zoo, visiting his favourite animals and discovering the wonderful words that describe groups of them.

Written in rhyme with a repetitive refrain, it is an entertaining way for students to investigate some of the more outrageous nouns, as they develop their vocabulary and perhaps even speculate on how the groups got their labels.  They might even investigate the noun associated with their favourite creature to create an extra page for the book, including illustrations that offer  similar extra information as the originals.   Teachers’ notes offer other suggestions for using this book in the English strand.

However, Fackrell has intended this to be more than a romp through a zoo to build vocabulary.  He is a strong supporter of The Lion’s Share, a fund backed by the United Nation’s Development Programme – its mentor David Attenborough –and its work protecting our most vulnerable wildlife groups. Thus, each spread features a supporting cast of unnamed species, all biologically correct to the ecosystem. For instance, in the Andes, alongside the Flamboyance of Flamingos there is a Knot of endangered, Lake Titicaca Water Frogs.

The endpapers of the hardback version are a definitive and fun reference source with a world map of all known collective nouns  drawn on the inside front, with the matching animal names on the inside back.

To learn more about the book’s creation, there is a Q & A with Andy Fackrell here. 

Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth

Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth

Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miimi Marraal, Mother Earth

Melissa Greenwood

ABC Books, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733341632

Miimi Marraal, she created us,
you and me …

Using a palette as soft and gentle as the accompanying text,  Gumbaynggir storyteller, artist and designer Melissa Greenwood, has created an ode between mother and newborn that tells the baby of the deep connections of First Nations Peoples have to Miimi Marraal (Mother Earth) from the moment of conception. While it is a story that echoes the feeling between any mother and newborn. it is expressed in a way that shows the long, strong threads of family that reach far into the past of First Nations families and, indeed, Greenwood says it was “channelled through my beautiful Nanny” and “inspired by my late great grandmother… and my own beautiful mother”, thus spanning five generations into “this life we will weave”. And, as well as that strong female thread, there is another equally strong one that ties them to the land on which they live and the need for its protection, thus from birth the baby is learning about their cultural heritage and tradition that is so important to our First Nations peoples..

Children learn their mother ;language, whatever it is, through listening to it.  They learn its meaning, its rhythm, its expression, its nuances from the first words that they hear. So while the baby may not yet understand the words that its mother is sharing, there is much that they are absorbing during these personal, precious moments. Therefore, these sort of lullabies have a unique place in language learning and should not only be among the gifts given to any new mother but also be the first in the baby’s library. 

 

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.

Bluey and Bingo’s Fancy Restaurant Cookbook

Bluey and Bingo's Fancy Restaurant Cookbook

Bluey and Bingo’s Fancy Restaurant Cookbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey and Bingo’s Fancy Restaurant Cookbook

Bluey

Puffin, 2022

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

9781761045769

Fancy an omelette? Some fish and chips?  Perhaps a pavlova? Or even a duck cake for your birthday?

All the familiar characters of the popular Bluey series, have come together to share their favourite foods in this easy-to-follow recipe book that might start young readers off on a culinary career! Beginning with the usual safety and hygiene tips and the necessary equipment list, including an adult helper, budding young cooks are stepped through each recipe with the help of their familiar friends.

With a sturdy spiral binding and wipe-clean pages, as well as opening up the world of food made at home, there is also all the literacy and maths of interpreting recipes, such as the vocabulary of cooking, sequencing, measuring, following instructions, time management and so on.  To tempt the taste buds before buying,  there is even a free recipe on offer.

When this generation grows up, this might be the one recipe book that they share with their own littlies as they proudly share where their cooking journey began!!!

Marshmallow Clouds: Poems Inspired by Nature

Marshmallow Clouds: Poems Inspired by Nature

Marshmallow Clouds: Poems Inspired by Nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marshmallow Clouds: Poems Inspired by Nature

Ted Kooser & Connie Wanek

Richard Jones

Walker Books, 2022

72pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9781529507072

There have been a number of books reviewed on this site over the last couple of years like The Secret Signs of Nature that have encouraged young readers to explore their immediate environment with  critical, sensitive eyes to discover the detail hiding in the big picture. 

But what if, as well as their senses and science brain, they also took their imagination out to play? And what they saw really did become a clown on the top of the hill, up on one leg, juggling a pie, rather than just a winter tree with a long-vacated squirrel’s nest on the end of a branch? 

The subtitle of the US version of this book by former US poet laureate Ted Kooser and and poet Connie Wanek is ” Two Poets at Play Among Figures of Speech” and while a bit dull, nevertheless, it sums up this stunning collection of blank verse poems perfectly.  By letting their imaginations out to play, and using similes and metaphors and other literary devices beloved of English teachers, a thunderstorm becomes something that has become lost in the dark of the house, not wanting to wake us but crashing into walls as they stumble about, occasionally striking a match to see their way; tadpoles become commas making them “the liveliest of all punctuation” ; and a book is transformed into a sandwich with all sorts of goodness between its folded pitta covers!

 Organized by the elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth and accompanied by distinctive, sparse illustrations that interpret the words but which don’t interfere with the picture created by the reader this is an intriguing anthology to dip and delve into, for letting the imagination roam free, wander, and stay healthy. So while we understand that a fire has no stomach, is “never full, never satisfied” and thus must never be set dree, it is an entirely different story for our imaginations.

 

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! 

Our Library

Our Library

Our Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Library

Donna Rawlins

Wild Dog Books, 2022

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

9781742036342

Sharing a book called “Our Library” on networks dominated by teacher librarians seems to be like preaching to the converted but…

Although libraries for the public have their roots deep into history – they have been traced back to the Assyrian Empire in Mesopotamia in 700BCE and the Library of Alexandria in Egypt in 300BCE  and down through the centuries and civilisations although they were  only for the exclusive use of royalty and scholars as a symbol of wealth, position and power- it wasn’t until the 17th century with the development of the printing press and paper that their transformation to what we know now began, although they were still only accessible to those with the income to pay the subscription.  And then along came wealthy but philanthropic Andrew Carnegie…

And he would have been delighted to see the 21st century realisation of his vision which is captured in this delightful book for little people who adore their public library and its librarian, Suzy.  Every day, Monday to Saturday, she has a special session planned for them including Make-new-friends-Monday, Dinosaur Tuesday, I-can-do-it Wednesday, Wiggle and Jiggle Thursday, Nature Day on Friday and Everyone and Everything Day on Saturday. With Librarian Suzy’s rich array of books and resources, her imagination and her unfrazzled nature she welcomes the children to new adventures every day and parents and pre-schoolers alike not only value what she offers but sees their visit to the  library as the highlight of their day. Suzy is that librarian we all saw ourselves being until bureaucracy, curriculum, ignorant principals and paperwork got in the way.  

It celebrates the communal nature of the library where there is so much more than books and reading (although they are central) and while it might seem a million miles from the precepts of the founders of the first public library in Australia, the Melbourne Library (now the State Library of Victoria ) in 1854 who believed ” that access to knowledge was critical for the development of a civil and prosperous community, and [they] created the library as ‘the people’s university,’ nevertheless Suzy is laying those critical concepts in the children’s minds of the library being the place to go to find out about what you don’t know, of it being a fun place to learn where there are people who will help you and new pathways stretch into the future at the turning of a cover… Her space is the epitome of the recommendations of the Horton Report commissioned in the 70s by then prime minister Gough Whitlam which was that libraries should be community hubs, one of more than 1600 public library outlets now in this country. 

When I did my Master of Information Studies in 2011 I viewed it through the lens of how my expertise and experience of being a teacher librarian could enrich and enhance a Children’s Services Librarian role, but this book offers the opportunity for us to look at that CSL role and envision how that could enrich and enhance the position of the TL.  What can we learn from Suzy?  At the very least we can teach our littlies about the local public library and what it offers, that there is a facility in their neighbourhood or nearby that offers an even wider range of resources than the school library, that is a great place to discover new reads, do new things and meet new friends, and that it is all free!  We could even team up with the local CSL and make sure that students have the  application for their very own library card in their hands by the time you have shared this book.  

 

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!  

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!