Archives

All About Friends

All About Friends

All About Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Friends

Felicity Brooks

Mar Ferrero

Usborne, 2020

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

9781474968386

It can be fun to spend time by yourself, You can play whatever you want and you don’t have to share your toys or your snacks…

But what every one of us has learned over the isolation of the last few months is that friends are critical and a crucial part of our mental well-being.  As schools gradually return to full-time face-to-face teaching, some little ones may have been at home for so long that they have forgotten what it is like to work and play with others and how to be a friend, so this beautifully designed book will be the perfect platform for getting things back on an even keel.  Each double page spread focuses on an issue such as what are friends, why we need them,  what makes a good friend, who can be friends and so on, offering lots of scope for sharing personal stories and contributing to discussions in a way they haven’t done for some time. There are also pages devoted to how friendships grow and change, how they can be destroyed and how they can be mended so that the children realise that there will be ups and downs and part of growing up is knowing what to do and doing it, developing tolerance, understanding, forgiveness and resilience.

The final pages include a “friendship puzzle” offering the reader a few scenarios for which they have to select the most appropriate behaviour, and two pages of information for new parents about their children’s friendships, skills and strategies to help them develop and some reassuring words about imaginary friends and dealing with conflict. – the most important being to give the child time to try to sort it out.  That perspective alone tells me that this author knows her stuff and her advice is sound.

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing with Wings

Trace Balla

Allen & Unwin, 2020

80pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781760296957

Mira and her mother are moving from their home near the sea to the goldfields of the Bendigo area, somewhere very foreign to Mira and she has no idea what to expect.  Her life is being turned upside down and she writes a farewell letter to her favourite tea-tree, beginning her recording of this new adventure which is scary but also a teeeeeny bit exciting. “Just a bit. It’s sort of like not knowing what’s on the next page and wanting to turn it to see what happens.”

Like Miri, Trace Balla loves to observe nature by sketching it and so, inspired by a story she saw about a refugee Syrian girl in an Australian detention centre whose future was equally uncertain, she has taken Miri on this journey of having her life upended and gradually discovering this new place, one that takes her back to her indigenous roots of the Dja Dja Wurrung people until she finally finds her home.

This is another intriguing graphic novel from the creator of Rivertime and  Rockhopping  that is just as extraordinary as those predecessors because of the levels and layers within the story. While  on the surface it seems like a personal recount of moving from one place to another, emphasised by the first-person narrative and hand-written font, there is also a bigger picture journey being told, that of anyone whose life is suddenly and permanently disrupted and having to find their place in a new landscape, whether that is physical, emotional or metaphorical. If they are lucky, they will land with wings and with the insight of someone like Trace Balla to guide them, they will learn to reflect on their experience and understand how it has shaped them just as much as the original catalyst.

A silver lining of this current situation of isolation is that we now have the time to read and appreciate this book in all its nuances, for we have each had our own journeys and this encourages us to revisit, review and reflect on them and their impact. It is just what we need at this time to get our lives back into perspective and see the whole rather than just the daily detail, yet, as Balla illustrates, it is the daily detail that builds up the whole. 

 

The Astronaut’s Cat

The Astronaut's Cat

The Astronaut’s Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Astronaut’s Cat

Tohby Riddle

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524944

The astronaut’s cat is an inside cat.
And she likes it like that.

But unlike other inside cats, the astronaut’s cat is on the moon, where it is so hot during the day a bowl of water would quickly boil, and so cold during the night it’s ten times colder than being in a fridge freezer!!  So each day Cat looks out the window at Astronaut working while she watches and snoozes and dreams of going outside to pounce and bounce lighter than a birthday balloon.  But when Earth rises on the inky black horizon she dreams of being back where there is colour and movement and shapes and forms and Mother Nature fills her with sights and sounds and scents…

When the masterful Mr Riddle created this book he would have had no idea that it was going to be released at a time when many of its readers were going to be cooped up inside, just like his cat. That being able to go outside and breathe fresh air and savour the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors would be as much a risk for them at this time as it is for Cat. That they would gaze through their windows and dream of earlier times… 

He probably thought that he was just creating a story about his cat Pom Pom who is just like the cat in the story – completely white, odd eyes and pink ears – and who, being an inside cat, spends her time gazing at the window outside.  While he has cleverly superimposed Pom Pom and Astronaut onto real backgrounds of the lunar landscape to help intensify the feelings of isolation and disconnectedness, here on Earth it is a deadly disease keeping people indoors rather than a hostile environment.  But unlike Cat we can connect so perhaps sharing this story could be the catalyst to connect our kids with the Through My Window activity. Have each one look out their window as Cat did, and draw or photograph what they see, including the sounds and the smells they are missing (good or not-so) and write an explanation to share with their friends. Maybe they could pop a teddy or something in the scene and challenge others to find it. 

Here’s what is outside my window this morning…

But here’s what I am missing…

 

A great way to think about how Cat might be feeling and the things we take for granted. As Joni Mitchell sand in Big Yellow Taxi, “You don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone…”

Extraordinary!

Extraordinary!

Extraordinary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary!

Penny Harrison

Katie Wilson

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781925594911

While we may all have had an extraordinary wish to skip through the stars, harness a unicorn or sail around Mars, this story encourages us to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.  To find what Mother Nature has provided; or the shared time with friends and family; or the sounds and smells of silence. 

Written in rhyme and illustrated with rich detail so there is as much to discover in the pictures as there is in the world around us,  this is a timely release at this time when we are all but confined to home.  Psychologists and others are telling us that more important than any formal schoolwork undertaken at this time are the relationships we build with our families and the memories we make as we pull together, so having such a beautiful book to share to help us focus on the ordinary and find the extraordinary is serendipitous. One to share under the conditions granted to schools at this time and to encourage students to share their extraordinary in the ordinary.  Keep them connected. What one finds, another may also discover.

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.