Archives

The Inside Day

The Inside Day

The Inside Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inside Day

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2021 

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

9781761040085

It’s one of those day when the classroom windows rattle and shake as rain drums on the glass and rather than being able to go outside to play, it’s going to be one of those no-good, long, boring, inside days. Milly and her friends feel as gloomy as the weather but Miss Fish has all sorts of ideas that will make them feel sunny inside even though they are stuck inside. And soon, even Milly has joined her classmates in focusing on the things that make them feel good and has forgotten about the sandpit and all the attractions that the outdoors offers.

This is a timely release as so many children are stuck inside, not just because it’s winter but also the current public health orders.   So it’s the perfect time for teachers to become Miss Fish, adapt her ideas and help children see the possibilities and potential of this enforced stay-at-home time. As well as encouraging students to be in the moment, she also wants them to say how they are feeling so there are lots of similes and vocabulary to explore and illustrate.  If something makes you feel like “colours are bursting out of your mouth” what would that look like if it actually happened?

The final two pages of the book are devoted to directing the reader to focus on their own feelings and there is an activity pack available as well. The icing on the cake is that Penguin Random House is one of the publishers who have agreed to extending the exemptions of the 2020 Storytime Agreement to this period of lockdown so the book can be read online to a class behind a password-protected platform. 

 

The Colour of Music

The Colour of Music

The Colour of Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colour of Music

Lisa Tiffen

Matt Ottley

MidnightSun, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227871

Molly can see the music. Colours flash brilliantly as she listens. The music takes her on a journey into places filled with colour, revealing connections between music, emotions, and the world we live in.  As she lies on the floor with her eyes shut and her ears open, and the vibrations of sound running through the floorboards to make her fingers tingle, she is transported to a world of colours and pictures, impressions and feelings that not only give her a whole inner body experience but also a whole outer body experience.

Tiffen’s lyrical text, accompanied by Ottley’s magical illustrations offer the reader just a taste of the river of sights and sounds and sensations that Molly undergoes when she is connected to her music, an experience known as synaesthesia – an involuntary merging of the senses  such as hearing colours or seeing sounds.  But even though we might not be synaesthetic, nevertheless music can still evoke amazing images with the same piece of music interpreted differently by each individual. 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Play a piece for your class while they shut their eyes and let their imaginations drift and then have then share or draw what their mind’s eye saw. It is a soothing way to relax and spend an hour or two. Good for the soul and so much simpler than any contrived mindfulness exercises. . 

Not being the slightest bit musical, and having no love of classical music, I was amazed at how I could listen to ABC Classics on the nights I couldn’t sleep during my recent illness and the places my mind went so I eventually drifted off into a technicolour dream world that mirrored the sounds I was hearing.  So synaesthetic or not, the colour of music can be seen by all of us if we are willing to look. 

Pear of Hope

Pear of Hope

Pear of Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear of Hope

Wenda Shurety

Deb Hudson

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820867

At the bottom of Anna’s garden is an old pear tree that is her favourite place and secret hideout.  She loves being up in its branches, where it gives life and shelter to all sorts of creatures and allows her imagination to wander.  But as autumn and then winter roll in, it loses its magic and wonder, just as Anna does as she succumbs to a deadly illness. The tree stands bare and alone until one day Anna returns and gives it a soft hug. And together they start the journey back to wellness and fullness… 

Using the pear as a symbol of hope, as it is in many parts of the world, this is a delicate story of a young girl’s battle with cancer and chemotherapy tracing Anna’s journey in its illustrations more than its words so the reader really focuses on the parallels between tree and child. Just as the tree loses it leaves in winter but returns to its full glory as the warmer weather returns, so does Anna’s hope and resilience build until she is back able to celebrate her 10th birthday with her friends and family, under the shelter of the pear tree. 

While some of our students may be in Anna’s particular situation, there are many more who are facing other challenges and who need the reassurance that time will pass, and like the pear tree, they will prevail.  So this is one to share and talk about so each can take what they need from it. 

A Way with Wild Things

A Way with Wild Things

A Way with Wild Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Way with Wild Things

Larissa Theule

Sara Palacios

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781526628565

Poppy Ann Fields liked bugs.  In fact she liked them much more than she liked people and she much preferred letting the ants march over her or watching the spider spin her web than mixing with humans.   At any social occasion she kept in the background, often dressed in patterns that allowed her to blend in with the background so she could scarcely be seen.  Even when Grandma Phyllis turned 100 and all the family and friends were there to celebrate , she stayed well out of the limelight until a dragonfly landed on the top of the birthday cake, its wings shimmering in the light of the candles.  Then she found her voice, one she didn’t know she had and her life changed…

When I read this story it reminded me so much of a friend’s granddaughter who lost her mum at a very early age and who was so much more at home in the world of wildlife than people. For a little one she was like a mini David Attenborough (her hero) and knew so much more about the natural world than any of us adults who were “loud” and “scary” and “not nearly as nice” as the Goliath stick insect who was her particular pet.  (We don’t need to mention Frankie the snake who travelled entwined in her ponytail.)

So even though we don’t necessarily see them,  (and young readers will have fun trying to spot Poppy in the illustrations) there are lots of Poppies and Ks in the world, children for whom the limelight and the spotlight are too bright  and who are often overlooked or even unseen.  But regardless of how shy they might be, sometimes it is nice to be acknowledged and while we shouldn’t be looking for ways to  make them the focus, if we can defer to their special knowledge or interest (of any subject) in authentic ways, that can sometimes give them that warm glow that tells them we know they are there and we respect who they are and what they know.  Perhaps they, like Poppy, will also gain enough confidence to bloom like a wildflower, rather than always blending in with the background.  At the very least, sharing this story with younger readers will let them know that we know they are there – they are not invisible because someone has seen them and cares enough to have written a story about them.

 

Upside-Down Friday

Upside-Down Friday

Upside-Down Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upside-Down Friday

Lana Spasevski

Nicky Johnston

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820850

Hugo the monkey doesn’t like Upside-Down Fridays. To be able to fit in sport, lunch time and morning tea time have been swapped on Fridays and Hugo’s  routine is the wrong way round. So school has become a scary place full of uncertainty and despite his mother’s explanation and reassurance, Hugo is full of anxiety about what the day will bring. However, with just a small gesture of friendship and understanding from Maddie the giraffe, Hugo begins to feel braver.

Many children depend on the familiar routine of the school day to be able to manage the busy-ness, noise and movement of an environment so much bigger than their home, which is why many teachers now display each day’s timetable clearly so that those dependent on routine can adapt and adjust if they have to.  For those who can adapt easily to change, it is often difficult to understand the anxiety of those who can’t so as well as supporting the routine-dependent by acknowledging their problem, this gentle story helps the others understand. 

Using a common device of depicting Hugo as a monkey and his classmates as familiar jungle animals, the story remains one step removed from any particular child in the classroom enabling anonymity so further anxiety is not caused.  It also offers the opportunity to discuss how normal and natural it is to be concerned about big changes such as going to school or hospital for everyone – we all feel anxious at times – and how to develop strategies to help ourselves and others to build confidence.  How did Maddie know that giving Hugo a balloon would distract him?

Comprehensive teachers’ notes linked to the early years of the Australian Curriculum are available to make the most of this delightful story and its perfect illustrations. 

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Mum

Penny Harrison

Sharon Davey

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781922326225

Everyone else seems to have the BEST mum – mums who can make fancy dress costumes, roller-skate; sing and dance, float like a fairy, even make rare, exotic sweets – but the little girl’s mum is a duffer at all of those sorts of things. But in the end it doesn’t matter because when it comes to cuddles and hugs, nothing can beat the love that comes with them.

So often we look at our mums, compare them to other mums and find them wanting.  Recent events have made me reflect on my childhood and think about how it was my best friend’s mum who taught me to knit (something I’ve picked up again to rebuild my arm and finger muscles) and to bake the best ginger fluff sponges, khaki cakes and banana cakes  (even though I’m not renowned as a cook of any type). But Helen’s mum was a stay-at-home mum, typical of the era, whilst mine was out breaking ground as she pioneered the way for female journalists in the world, particularly New Zealand and Australia.  Like this little girl’s mum she loved me deeply and whilst she didn’t show it by making me fancy dress costumes or roller-skating through the streets of Invercargill she showed it in a zillion other ways, ways that have shaped me all my life, and when it came to bedtime she gave the best cuddles too!

As the annual celebration of mothers comes around again, this is the perfect book and the perfect time to focus on all those things that mothers do daily to show and share their love each in their own unique, individual way.  The rhyming text and the bright, bold illustrations add to the joy of this time whilst validating those thoughts we have about others’ mums yet being so grateful for the one we have. 

The Song for Everyone

The Song for Everyone

The Song for Everyone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Song for Everyone

Lucy Morris

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781526631121

From a tiny window, too high in the eaves to be noticed from below and too small to let in much daylight, came a delicate tune.
A melody, a song, a sound so sweet which drifted on the breeze to the lanes and streets below. …

Day after day, the song is heard through the town. making the old feel young and comforting the lonely. It fills the whole town with joy and kindness. No one knows who sings the song, but they know it is good.  Until one day, the music stops. Can the town work together to save the song for everyone?

This is a gentle story that shows how it is the little things that can shape our day and our well-being. With the music being depicted as whirls and swirls of tiny flowers and leaves small enough to get into everyone’s ears and heart, yet its origins not revealed till the climax of the story+, young readers can predict not only who or what is offering this gift to the town but also what has happened to make it stop.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

It also shows that music is a universal language and begin an investigation into its various genres and what they think would be the one tune that everyone would like to hear. How does music affect our mood? What mind pictures does it create ? Is there, indeed, a song for everyone?

Noisy Tom

Noisy Tom

Noisy Tom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noisy Tom

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761040078

No matter what he does, Tom is noisy.  There is not an activity that he does that is not accompanied by boisterous, enthusiastic sound effects. “When I’m playing, noise just spills out of me. “

But one day at the park when he sees two girls playing on the swings and not making any noise at all, he is puzzled. When he asks them whether they enjoyed the swings because they did not make a sound, they tell him that they enjoy the feel of the movement, the sensation of the cold air on their faces and although Tom also enjoys that, he is still confused.

Although he learns that there are lots of ways to express your feelings, loudly and quietly, and it is different for each person, for him loud wins.  

This is the third in this series that focuses on young children, enabling them to understand their feelings and responses and be a pre-emptive strike towards positive mental health. Our youngest readers will enjoy its exuberance and will see themselves either as Tom or one of the quieter characters.  Most importantly, they will begin to understand that being different is OK and being yourself is paramount.  

Blue Flower

Blue Flower

Blue Flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Flower

Sonya Hartnett

Gabriel Evans

 Puffin, 2021

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894450

Each morning when she wakes up, the little girl doesn’t want to go to school. There are so many reasons why.  She doesn’t make friends as easily as you’re supposed to; she can’t run and jump and climb as well as she is supposed too; she’s not chatty or fast of funny; not bossy or loud or wild.  And she anguishes about answering questions in case she is wrong.  She constantly compares herself to her peers and finds herself wanting, so the anxiety builds and builds.  

But she gathers her courage and goes each day, although it’s at her mother’s insistence.  Finally, her mother asks her why she doesn’t want to go to school and they have a conversation that turns her life around.  With her new-found perspective she ventures outside with her cat Piccolo and begins to see that being different is what everyone is and that it is to be celebrated rather than shunned or feared.  “Things being different is what makes the world wonderful.”

So many children suffer anxiety because they view the world through the lens of what they think they should be, rather than who they are. They watch others do things, listen to adults admire looks and skills and achievements , feel the impact of peer pressure as others boast… and all the while they don’t realise that others are admiring them for their unique attributes.  This story is one for the mindfulness collection as it now only has the power to spark discussion but to promote self-acceptance and a change of mindset.  Anxiety amongst children is on the rise at an alarming rate  and the sooner we can teach them that life is not a competition, that who they are at this time is enough; that it our uniqueness that makes the tapestry richer,  the better,  . Hartnett has done this beautifully. 

Courageous Lucy

Courageous Lucy

Courageous Lucy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courageous Lucy

Paul Russell

Cara King

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820775

Lucy is a child who worries constantly, and because she has such a vivid imagination she worries about the most incredible things such as one day her shadow turning into an enormous black hole and swallowing her up or that she might be the person who discovers Bigfoot on the day he stubs his toe… She didn’t like going first because she worried that she would mess things up, but she didn’t want to go last either in case she missed out.

But when her teacher Mrs Hunt starts auditions for the cast of the school musical, Lucy is either going to have to speak up or there will be no parts left.  Does she have the courage?

Many of our students are like Lucy, full of worry and anxiety about getting things right, not messing up and being laughed at and it is becoming a huge concern as not only does it impact their mental health, it also reduces their willingness to take those risks that allow us to learn.  Sometime, somewhere, somehow, someone has instilled in them that they are meant to be perfect first time and all the time, and thus their lack of faith in their own ability hampers their freedom to do something as simple as predicting what will happen in a story – an essential element of early reading.  This is a situation that needs more than a “Don’t worry…” and so this book could be really useful in opening up discussions about fear of failure and all that’s associated with that.  Because Lucy’s fears are so extreme and unlikely, readers will feel safer because it puts them at arm’s length, but they will relate to missing out on something they really want because they didn’t speak up. Providing students with strategies to cope if they do have to face their fears, or even a more general one when those uncalled for clouds start to loom in their heads are the ultimate goal but if sharing this so others understand that worry is natural and common, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming  may lead to less anxiety and thus the book has done its job.