Archives

Tabitha and the Raincloud

Tabitha and the Raincloud

Tabitha and the Raincloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabitha and the Raincloud

Devon Sillett

Melissa Johns

EK, 2020

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

9781925820133 

Nearly 50 years ago Judith Viorist wrote a book that has become a classic called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and that is exactly what Tabitha is having. From the moment she wakes up in the morning there is a dark raincloud hanging over her head and nothing goes smoothly.  Her scrambled eggs are soggy; her teacher thinks her picture of a giraffe is a dinosaur; and no one wants to sit with her at lunch. It really was a terrible, horrible, no good , very bad day! But then Tabitha remembers that every raincloud has a silver lining…

This is a story that will resonate with every reader for who hasn’t woken up with a raincloud hanging over them, at some stage.  Sadly though, whether we get out of bed on the wrong side or not, we have to get up and deal with what eventuates.  The redemption is though, how we choose to respond to those events and although it takes Tabitha a while, her resilience and natural optimism help see her through.  The most damaging and hurtful things we hear are those our inner voice tells us (particularly if they’re confirming what others tell us) but as we know from The Proudest Blue , we have to learn to“[Not] carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them.  They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.” Instead we need to be like Tabitha and look for the silver lining and change the messages and our actions into something positive. We can’t always get rid of the problems, but we can learn strategies to help manage them so we become more resilient and better people for having to cope. The close relationship between the text and the graphics (a unique form of collage) meld in the final picture that sums up Tabitha’s new knowledge perfectly.

This is an important addition to your mindfulness collection and there are comprehensive teachers’ notes to tease out all the strands of the story.

 

 

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Kenneth Wright

Sarah Jane Wright

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781547601172

Lola Dutch‘s friends are not having their best day.  Gator is cranky and cold; Crane can’t find her favourite picture book and Pig is positively peevish.  But she knows just what each needs to cheer them up and goes about setting things right in her usual cheerful way. But what about Bear?  Has she left him out?  Or is it that she can’t decide how she can show him how much he means to her?

This is another in this series about this over-the-top little girl who seems to live life at full-speed. Based on the creators’ own family, it seems nothing is too much trouble or too difficult to achieve to make her friends happy and so there is a strong message about thinking about others, being unselfish and matching deeds to needs.  Little ones might like to think of a special person in their life who deserves a special something, one that can be given without a monetary cost while others might like to reflect on something they have received and learn about Pay It Forward, setting up a positive class or school culture.

A charming picture book series for young readers, most likely to appeal to girls.

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

Lynn Jenkins

Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820126

Loppy the LAC  loves the feeling of sanctuary and serenity that the old tree in the park gives him whenever he is feeling anxious.  But when it starts to lose its leaves long before it is supposed to, his friend Curly points out that Tree’s days are numbered.  This makes Loppy very unsettled – how will he calm himself if it dies and disappears? But death is an inevitable conclusion to living and Loppy has to learn and accept that ‘his’ tree will soon be gone.

This is the fifth book in the  ‘Lessons of a LAC’ series, this one created to help children accept loss and process grief. Given the summer holidays that many of our students have experienced where all that was familiar is now blackened and gone, this is an important book to add to your mindfulness collection and share with the children.  While building a seat with a special photo might not be the option for them, nevertheless there are ways we can commemorate things that are important to us so that peace and connection return.  Because it might be in a different way for each person, it’s also an opportunity to acknowledge that we each value different things and how and when we remember this is unique to the individual.  There is no right way or wrong way – just different.

The author is a clinical psychologist whose specialty is early intervention in the social and emotional development of children and the previous books in this series have demonstrated that her words are wise and her stories resonate with their audience. 

When Sadness Comes to Call

When Sadness Comes to Call

When Sadness Comes to Call

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Sadness Comes to Call

Eva Eland

Andersen Press, 2020

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

9781783447954

As our new school year begins after the most trying summer break for many because of the effects of the drought and the bushfires, the mental health of our students has to be foremost as they try to cope with what they have seen and done and what has happened to them over the past few weeks.  School may be their one constant and seen as their safe haven, particularly if they have lost their home or been traumatised in other ways.

So this new book which acknowledges sadness as real and natural encouraging the child to accept it and offering strategies to cope with it might be an important tool in each teacher’s shed right now. Depicted as a doleful, but soft greenish shape which threatens to envelop the child but once it is recognised for who it is there are ways to deal with it so the child is not overwhelmed. As the child listens to music with it, walks with it, and even drinks hot chocolate with it, gradually Sadness reduces in size until one morning it disappears as suddenly as it arrived, leaving the child to enjoy a brand new day.

This is a difficult time for us as adults, but moreso for those in our care who don’t have the big-picture perspective, so anything we can use to help them cope and get through another day is welcome. The overarching message has to be that sadness at this time is going to be normal, that is perfectly OK to feel it and talk about it, and that we can divert it as we add a few more layers to the onion that has despair at its core. 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and My Boots

Penny Harrison

Evie Barrow

Little Hare, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760502331

Bronte loves her boots and she wears them all the time.  But they seem to take a role of their own depending on who she is with.

Mum calls them my brave-girl boots.
My bold-as-brass, adventure boots
I’m off to snare the dragon boots.
I’ll drag him home for tea.

My teacher calls them bustling boots.
My buckle-down-to-business boots.
I’m the best at jobs boots.
I’m busy as a bee.

Bouncing along with a rhythm that is as engaging as Bronte, with clever language and joyful illustrations, Bronte learns that who she is when she is wearing them is shaped by the relationships and circumstances at the time. But most importantly, she knows that all of these personalities make her who she is, even if she does have more layers than a triple-chocolate cake. 

This is the first in a new series about this thoroughly modern young girl who is confident and assertive and very comfortable in her own skin. The endpages and illustrations show she is not restricted by gender stereotyping or other artificial boundaries, complementing the text perfectly as she rejects the notion that her boots make her bossy or stubborn.

Looking forward to many more in the series.

 

 

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

Charlotte Barkla

Erica Salcedo

Little Hare, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760503932

I love hands!
Hands that are white and hands that are brown,
Freckles mean sunshine has sent kisses down.
Short fingers, long fingers, bendy or straight,
Hands to clap, or high-five your mate.

Even though the human body comprises the same elements, each is unique. No two are the same unless you are an identical twin.  In this superbly illustrated book, each body part such as hands, hair, eyes and even tummies is featured while those characteristics which make them unique are celebrated.  It doesn’t matter if your nose is long and thin or short and flat or even turned up like a pussycat, we each have one and each does its special job.

With its bouncy rhyme and positive message about accepting the diversity and differences which make each of us special, it actively promotes the acceptance of the body regardless of shape, colour, or size so that we appreciate our individuality and are inclusive in our choices. When even our youngest readers are aware of their physical appearance these days and start to develop their relationship with their body, this is a critical message that encourages the positive mental health mindset so essential to developing resilience and empathy and offering lots of scope to collect and interpret data as the children compare and contrast their differences. 

 

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Heart, Take Action

Beci Orpin

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734419866

As the devastating bushfires continue and the calls for climate change action get louder, this is a timely book that offers a range of suggestions of things that individuals can do to make a positive impact.  Just as climate change is not an overnight phenomenon, so too its solution is long term but this series of slogans presented as simple posters can offer a start.  Backing up the posters are two pages that offer suggestions for how each can be achieved by even our youngest readers, so that each can feel they can make a contribution and be part of the global community while acting locally.  As well, each poster could be the springboard for individuals or partners to dig deeper and investigate how the action will help and how it can be achieved within the school or the local community.  

So often our students are presented with the problems of the world but no guidance about how they might be solved.  The final message in this book is to “Have Hope” and given it is solution-driven, that becomes possible. 

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780008357917

There was once a man who believed he owned everything and set out to survey what was his.

Claiming a flower, a sheep and a tree with relative ease he meets opposition from first the lake, and then the mountain but shaking his fist, stamping his foot and shouting brings them into line and they too, finally bow before him.  But still unsatisfied with those possessions and his seemingly invincible power, he commands a boat and sails out to sea, determined to conquer that too.  But the sea has other ideas…

Using traditional lithography and deceptively simple text, this is one of those books that those who adhere to reading levels would classify as juvenile fiction suitable for 4-8 year-olds, and perhaps on the surface, that’s what it would seem to be. Younger readers might say it is about being friendly, more co-operative and not being bossy because no one will like you.

But to really appreciate what Jeffers is saying, particularly in light of the explanation of its dedication, readers need to have a much deeper knowledge of human behaviour, of the drive of an individual’s ego and its need to be fed often by power and greed; of the transient nature of human life against the backdrop of Mother Nature; and a realisation that who we are as individual, compassionate beings is enough. Even the choice of the protagonist’s name is significant, presumably referring to Faust who, in the German legend, is highly successful but still dissatisfied with his life, leading him to make a pact with the Devil exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. In addition, the subtitle A Painted Fable suggests that there is more to this story than meets the eye, opening up discussions that are likely to run deep.

If ever there were a “poster-child” for picture books being for all ages, this would be it.  Jeffers is a genius.

 

 

Sulwe

Sulwe

Sulwe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sulwe

Lupita Nyong’o

Vashti Harrison

Puffin, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241394328

Sulwe was born the colour of midnight – not the colour of dawn like her mother; the colour of dusk like her father or even the colour of high noon like her sister Mich. No one in her school was as dark as Sulwe and while Mich was called “Sunshine’ and “Ray ” and “beauty”, Sulwe was called “Blackie’ and “Darky” and “Night”, names that hurt her so she hid and wished with all her might that she could be lighter like her sister.  But not even wishing, using an eraser on her skin, Mama’s makeup, eating only light-coloured foods or even praying made the slightest difference.

Desperately unhappy, she finally told her mother how she was feeling and her mother gave her some great advice but it is not until she has a magical nighttime adventure and hears the story of Day and Night that she finally gets some self-belief.

In some ways mirroring the experiences of the author, actress Lupita Nyong’o , this is a story deliberately written to inspire those who look different to look inside themselves for their beauty. While “what is on the outside is only one part of being beautiful…[and] it’s important to feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror …what is more important is working on being beautiful inside.” With body image still playing such a key role in our mental health, any story like this that helps our young readers begin to feel positive about themselves as early as possible before the ignorant taunts of others do their damage, has to be shared and discussed.  Highlighting how Sulwe felt when she was called names, asking what if Sulwe was in this class, listing the mean names directed at students that are heard in the classroom and playground and their impact on their peers might be what is needed to confront the bullies with the impact and power of their words, calling the behaviour for what it is could be the tough love that some of our students need.Starting with the fiction but transferring it to reality, having the students be in the shoes of Sulwe, can be the most powerful teaching tool.  This is a story that is not just about empowering the individual, it’s about awakening the collective. 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Cori Brooke

Fiona Burrows

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594751

Nabila is the new girl in school and like many new kids, she’s finding it hard to fit in with the established crew, particularly when she looks different to them and eats her strange lunches alone. But Holly comes to her rescue as their common love for soccer takes over.  But when both Holly and Nabila are picked for the school team, there is still disunity and the two girls realise if they are to come together to play well, they need a plan…

A search for “Twelve Days of Kindness” on the Internet brings up a number of projects and resources, mostly connected to Christmas but this is something that could be developed by a group or an individual at anytime to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and build something harmonious. Some schools like to take students on camp in the early days of Term 1 to build bonds for a successful year, but if this is not viable, organising something like Twelve Days of Kindness could be an alternative.  Having students directly involved by having them articulate those things they don’t like and identifying how such behaviour can be changed and the environment they would like to be in gives ownership and helps them understand the power to change is in their hands.  Promoting empathy activities  rather than always focusing on the ‘don’ts’ of bullying can be a new approach that has an impact by making it personal.  Again, the solution is theirs to decide and implement.

Author of the CBCA shortlisted All I Want for Christmas is Rain, (as appropriate now as it was in 2016) Brooke has again delivered a story that promotes thought and inspires action.