Monkey Time

Monkey Time

Monkey Time










Monkey Time

Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


It takes time to spin a web.

It takes time to climb a tree.

It takes time to hatch from an egg.

It takes time to eat a meal.

It takes time to bloom.

Monkey is trying to catch time.

Up, down, and all around Monkey goes.

Can Monkey catch a minute

Can you?

From the creator of  both Little i  and  Red, A Crayon’s Story  comes a new story that explores time, this time. Asleep in a tree with branches remarkably like a clock face, Monkey is taunted by Minute who challenges him to catch him as he races around the “clock”. And when, despite Monkey’s frantic effort, Minute beats him another Minute pops up with the same challenge. 

“We are lightning fast, and you are a slowpoke, Monkey.”

Fifty-nine times, Monkey chases the minutes until…

Time is a very abstract concept for young children and while they constantly hear about “Just a minute” and “Wait a minute” and so on, it is hard for them to know just how long a minute is. For anyone, even an adult, who is watching the clock a minute can whiz by or it can drag like a gammy leg, so it’s no wonder it’s a tricky concept for a little one to grasp.   However, by having fun with the book and challenging the child to see what can be accomplished in a minute using a one-minute egg-timer as a visual reference, it will start them on the journey towards understanding.  The addition of the strategy for breaking an hour up into blocks and the counting endpapers enhance  the power of the book, as do the descriptions of the rainforest creatures that appear in Monkey’s story. 

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children's Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]










Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Maps

Steve Evans

Collins/Times, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99


In all my years of teaching (nearly half a century!) either as a classroom-based teacher or a teacher librarian, it has never ceased to amaze me how little ones are fascinated by maps and atlases and they pore over them for hours, dreaming dreams and making plans for the future.  I remember as a youngster spending endless hours with an atlas mapping out a route around the world that would take me to every capital city, and surprisingly (not) that atlas is now among my treasured possessions inherited from my wanderlust mum, (along with an amazing dictionary that got just as much attention!)

So there is no doubt that this new atlas for young children will have the same sort of fascination for your young readers. 

Designed to take children on a journey of discovery around the countries of the world, it begins with intriguing endpapers of the world’s wildlife and then plots a contents journey around the continents that is perfect for its target audience.  Funky, colourful illustrations  depict a range of themes of the iconic features of countries, building up a hankering to see these in real life when they are older.  Minimal text provides basic information and there are the usual non fiction features like an index to help them navigate their way through the book as well as around the world.

Guaranteed to provide hours of engagement and entertainment! 

Now What? A Math Tale

Now What? A Math Tale

Now What? A Math Tale








Now What? A Math Tale

Robie H. Harris

Chris Chatterton

Candlewick Press. 2019

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


Dog has found a pile of wooden blocks scattered on the floor, and he decides to make a bed with them for himself and his teddy.  But the first block – “1,2,3,4 corners; 1,2,3,4 straight lines; 2 are long. 2 are short. This is a rectangle” – is too short and too skinny for him so he starts to investigate the other blocks to see how he can combine them to meet his needs. 

A companion to Crash! Boom! A Maths Talethis is a charming story that explores shapes and dimensions in a way that will inspire young readers to do the same.  Maths is not a stand-alone subject all about abstract signs and symbols, operations and knowing BODMAS. Rather it is about problems, processes and products that permeate our everyday world, just like Dog discovers when he tries to make himself a bed and Elephant, a tower. 

Combine either or both of these books with a box of blocks (perhaps scrounged from your local hardware store) and you have the perfect gift for a young person that combines reading, maths and learning all in one. 













Mac Barnett

Jon Klassen

Walker Books, 2019

4899., hbk. RRP $A24.99


Triangle and Square are visiting Circle, who lives at the waterfall. When they play hide-and-seek, Circle tells the friends the one rule: not to go behind the falling water. But after she closes her eyes to count to ten, of course that’s exactly where Triangle goes. Will Circle find Triangle? And what OTHER shapes might be lurking back there?

This is the third in this trilogy which started with Triangle  and continued with Square., and it is just as engaging as its predecessors.  As well as Barnett’s text, Klassen’s almost monochromatic illustrations carry the action with much of it being conveyed through the eyes alone. As with the other two, there is a subtle message in the story – this time, after running out from behind the waterfall because they are scared of the unknown shape, Circle ponders about whether the unknown really is scary.  In addition, the reader is invited to imagine just which shape the two may have been talking to, opening up the scope to explore other common 2D shapes and perhaps even craft their own stories about them.

This is an intriguing trilogy, unlike anything done before which deserves a place in any home or school library because it is timeless and will cross the generations.

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants









A Parade of Elephants

Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Here they come ….one, two, three, four, five.  A parade of elephants who like to march and march and march.  Round and round they go, up, down, under, over, in and out – they march all day.  Until bedtime when they lift their trunks and trumpet and scatter stars across the sky.

From the butterflies and sun on the front endpage to the moon and stars on the back, this is a charming story that will help little ones learn to count and understand positional words.  They will enjoy being elephants and finding their own places to march though, up, under, in and out and over. Perfect for our youngest readers who will be able to match the words and pictures learning valuable concepts about how print works, this is a charming bedtime story as well as an early maths book! Promote it to your early childhood teachers and parent body who are looking for something delightful but different.


100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding











100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

Alice James

Usborne, 2018

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Did you know that out of 30 million emails sent in the time it takes to tread this line, 20 million of them will be spam?

That a champion mathlete can add ten 10-digit numbers in their head in 13 seconds?

The first computer game for two players was based on playing tennis and was created over 60 years ago?

These are just some of the interesting facts that are shared and explained in this fascinating new book from Usborne that is so easy to explore, navigate and read.

Way back when, in a time when I did not teach maths well and avoided it if I could, I was presented with a class of eight-year-olds who were as turned off the subject as I was.  In the days when text books and workbooks were the norm and the curriculum comprised going through said books which were cheaply produced, unattractive and unappealing, it was no wonder that those for whom maths was a mystery were not enthused to participate.  However, I was a successful “language arts” teacher and so in the interests of my students, I had to invigorate my interest and so I examined what I did well in my whole language classroom and translate it into a whole maths classroom.  By the end of the year, we were all thriving, I’d written many articles about my approach and even had several book contracts lined up!

The secret was to show the kids how maths related to their everyday lives, in both overt and obscure ways so that it became apparent that it permeates everything we do.  We started with a focus question of “What would we do without numbers?” and delved into the history of number and so on, and things just flew from there. This book, 100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding would have been a godsend in those days as even though its focus is computing and coding, there is enough in it to build a lesson a day for almost an entire school year and that doesn’t include the offshoot investigations that would take you off on a tangent! I can envisage those eight-year-olds of 30 years ago pouring over it!

There are often queries to teacher librarian forums about how to engage with the maths teachers to show that the library offers them something, and the usual answers of teaching the Dewey Decimal System pop up, but imagine the interest there would be if you shared a fact a day and invited explorations as part of your library displays!  Those who see libraries as being about books and reading and therefore not for them would be engaged and their learning could go off in any direction, while not even realising they are engaging with reading, books and information literacy.  Sort of like hiding vegetables in cakes.

Don’t buy this book and hide it away in the 004 section.  Buy it and use it as the basis to turn students’ attitudes towards maths, computing and coding into something positive!

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

Crafty Science










Crafty Science

Jane Bull 

DK, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Whether the little fingers of our youngest readers are making a sun clock, weaving paper, floating boats to escape sharks or concocting chocolate chunk cookies, as well as the fun there is also science involved.  Whether the final product works  because of energy, temperature, strength, aerodynamics, or the combination of molecules, simple science is behind many of the common craft activities that children love to create.

So in this new release from DK, Jane Bull has taken some of these popular projects and explored not only the steps involved in making something from start to finish, but has also explained the science behind each one.  

From making a beautiful ice lantern that could grace the Christmas table, to a balloon that doesn’t pop to investigating how beans know which way is up, there are 20 different activities that will young minds occupied and, in some cases, mesmerised, as they are fascinated by the “magic” while they learn to follow procedural texts.  Guaranteed to engage is the popular grass-head figure made by putting some grass or wheat seeds into a piece of stocking or kitchen wipe, filling it with potting mix and securing it tightly before putting it wick down into a jar of water.  Draw a face with permanent markers and place on the classroom window-sill.  Your young scientists will make a beeline for theirs each morning to see if it has started to sprout hair, and having competitions to see whose will grow the longest!  (Can you tell I’ve done this once or twice or more in my 45 years in schools?)

Learning science through play from an early age using easy-to-find materials opens up so much of the world for the young child, and with a simple equipment list, clear step-by-step instructions, lots of photographs and the simple science explanations this is a book that should be in every school collection, available on the makerspace table and also in Christmas stockings for a child’s personal library this year. 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript










Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

David Whitney

Duncan Beedie

Walker Books, 2018

224pp., pbk, RRP $A16.99


Thirty years ago, I proudly showed off my first home computer to visitors – a Microbee-in-a-Box – because it was such a novelty to have such a thing in a home.  With its amber screen, mini floppy disks and text-only technology it was a step up from my friend’s BBC model that ran on cassette tapes, but such a long way from the devices and their capabilities that our students are so familiar with now. 

With 1988 classroom lessons focusing on manipulating a robot turtle around a pre-determined path with the only programming being done as students recorded the path it took on paper using  basic Logo language, to creating webpages using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver which required a basic knowledge of raw html, to trying (unsuccessfully) to make a cow jump over the moon using Macromedia Flash, the Web 2.0 world of drag and drop was not only a blessing for me but opened up the world of creating information as well as consuming it for anyone with a computing device. 

Now coding is an official part of the Australian Curriculum, the behind-the-scenes world of the computer screen is coming alive for even our youngest students. There are  even coding competitions for kids (Miss 12 is an enthusiastic participant) and thousands of youngsters are intent on creating the next Minecraft or Fortnite. So this new book which teaches them to create five new games using HTML and Javascript so their games will run in a web browser will be a welcome addition to their libraries, as well as that of teachers tasked with teaching this topic.  So much more engaging to have an authentic project so that new knowledge is embedded in context.  

With its straightforward introduction and each game/mission having its goals clearly articulated, users can begin at their particular ability level so that their development is based on a solid platform of understanding. With plenty of illustrations and instructions (a far cry from the confusing, monochromatic books I remember buying in the 80s and never mastering), this is a book both for beginners and the more-advanced as even the initial mission has suggestions for extensions.

Miss 12 will be delighted to see this in her Christmas stocking. 


Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book









Disney Ideas Book

Elizabeth Dowsett

DK, 2018

200pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99


Whether its 101 Dalmatians, Coco, The Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse or Tangled, every child has a favourite Disney movie, and in this super-sized activity book there are  projects to accompany more than 50 of them!

 Listed firstly by the type of project and then by the movie, young readers can easily find their favourite and soon find themselves making Elsa’s sparkly cape, Buzz Lightyear’s Wings, Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, Belle’s book garland or even doing the boogie with Baloo. Each activity is related to a character from the movie, has a list of the equipment needed, if any, and clear step-by-step instructions so that young readers can follow the steps independently.  There are templates, tips, tricks and explanations and the typical DK layout makes it accessible to all ages and abilities, although some may need adult assistance. 

Each activity provides a procedural text to follow, which could be used as a model for students to create their own, while others like the parachuting soldiers from Toy Story offer science to be explored and explained.

With so many activities, this one book could form the basis of your STEM and craft curriculum for the year, while being the perfect addition to the family entertainment library as the long summer holidays loom.  No computer screens required!

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes










One Shoe Two Shoes

Caryl Hart

Edward Underwood

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


One shoe
Two shoes
Red shoes
Blue shoes

Wet shoe
Dry shoe
Old shoes
New shoes

Shoes, shoes and more shoes . . . this book is bursting with them. From party shoes and flip-flops to cowboy boots and clogs, there’s a pair here to suit everyone. There’s even a shoe house for a little mouse!

Reminiscent of Ffrida Wolfe’s poem Choosing Shoes this story follows a dog out for a walk with its master noticing all the different types of shoes and then switches to its discovery of a family of mice who have made their home in a shoe! Its bouncy rhyme and rhythm will appeal to young listeners as they are introduced to colours, patterns and numbers in an engaging way.  

Great for preschoolers who will chant along with you and can have fun exploring colours and patterns by matching the shoes in the family’s wardrobes!.