There’s a feeling in the air, We’ve been waiting all the year…
Heath McKenzie has used his iconic stylised digital illustrations to bring to life this cheerful song about the excitement and anticipation of families on Christmas Eve as preparations are made. for the big day.. There are all the things that we associate with the celebration – Christmas lights, special food, the tree, decorations, traditional songs – all bound together like a tangle of lights in the love, joy and fun shared by the family. and all overseen by a new bright star “like the angel sitting on top of the tree, looking down from above, shining her love”.
As well as learning the words to the song, little ones will love seeing all those things that are so familiar to their family as much as they are to the book family, but they might like to talk about those things they do, say and eat that are different too.
One to share after your family night of decorations and preparations.
Deep under the ocean in the Shallow Side of Chumville Finley the reef shark lives with his dentist parents Su and Shi, and his siblings, Dash, Smash, Crash, Flash , Splash and Bash. During the day Finley goes to school with his mates Hunter the tiger shark, Gnash the pointer shark and Gilleon the lemon shark, but at night, they are secretly the super-famous rock band JAWSOME! But not everything is cruisy. Can JAWSOME get to the bottom of an ocean of shady shark-nanigans while keeping their secret identities watertight?
This is a new series for those emerging readers who like a light-hearted read, peppered with pun humour and plenty of illustrations. Verging on a graphic novel because as much of the action happens in the illustrations as it does in the text, it will also appeal to those students who like to be seen with thick books – it has over 300 pages because of the large font and copious graphics. But woven among the puns and other fishy jokes are facts about sharks that will de-mystify and maybe un-demonise these creatures so there is learning as well as laughing, as well as a strong lead character that has to learn to face his fears of singing in public step up to help his mates.
One to look for and perhaps give to some reluctant readers to determine if it is worth adding upcoming additions to the series to the library’s collection.
French bulldog Billy the Kid was born with an ear for music. And not just any music. He loves barking to the beat of country music! So Billy sets out to Nashville to sing his heart out.
But when he meets some big bullies at the Battle of the Bow-wows, Billy worries he’s barking up the wrong tree. But when they start to pick on one of his new friends, one much smaller than all the others, he knows it is up to him to stand up and call out the bad behaviour. But he knows he will need the help of his new friends, and so he comes up with a clever plan…
Based on the theme of one of Dolly Parton’s own songs, Makin’ Fun Ain’t Funny, based on her own life experiences, the anti-bullying message is strong as young readers are encouraged to celebrate differences rather than mocking them, a theme underlined in the illustrations which show dogs of every shape, size and colour. But as strong as that message is, there is an equally strong one about following your dreams, believing in yourself and persevering to make them happen as Billy the Kid faces adversity and rejection before he finds his niche.
Parton, herself, is well-known for her Imagination Library, a free book gifting program devoted to inspiring a love of reading in the hearts of children everywhere (including in some parts of Australia) with over 211 million books given to young children to help foster a love of reading and encourage them to dream. “The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.” So this copy will find its way into the local community as part of the hidden books initiative that is growing daily.
As Australia’s men and women’s cricket teams continue to do amazing things in this year’s Ashes series in England, the name of Usman Khawaja is now well-known well beyond cricketing fans and families, if it wasn’t already. The top scorer in both Australian innings in the first test, following his two centuries in the 2022 New Year’s game, having been recalled after being sensationally dropped from the team in 2019, Khawaja was headline news well beyond the sports pages.
And it is this rise and fall and rise again that is captured by music legend Paul Kelly in this tribute to the man’s determination, patience and resilience, given that Khawaja himself thought he would never represent his country again. Now in picture book format so all little cricket lovers, and Khawaja fans especially, can have it forever at their fingertips, this is the print version of Kelly’s song that he wrote and released on social media after that 2022 performance.
With the music based on the Hank Williams tune Kaw-liga, it is a catchy tune that will not only have young readers easily able to read the words for themselves, but also show them that perseverance and self-belief underpin success, regardless of whether it is cricket, sport or any dream. For even though Khawaja himself will likely be remembered for being the first Pakistani-born Australian and Muslim to wear the prized baggy green, it is the message of dedication, hard work, going-back-to-basics to make things better, application and commitment that will remain with the reader and inspire them.
Twelve-year-old Mia is just trying to navigate a world that doesn’t understand her true autistic self. Mia would be happy to just be herself, stims and all, but the other students have trouble understanding her and even bully her, while her mother is full of strategies to help her attempt to mask her autism. Although she wishes she could stand up to her bullies, she’s always been able to express her feelings through singing and songwriting, even more so with her best friend, Charlie, who is nonbinary, putting together the best beats for her.
Together, they’ve taken the internet by storm; little do Mia’s classmates know that she’s the viral singer Elle-Q! Ironically, one of her biggest fans is also one of her biggest real-life bullies, Laura. But while the chance to perform live for a local talent show has Charlie excited, Mia isn’t so sure.
She’ll have to decide whether she’ll let her worries about what other people think get in the way of not only her friendship with Charlie, but also showing everyone, including the bullies, who she is and what she has to say. Though she may struggle with some of her emotions, Mia does not suffer because of her autism. Rather than a cure as though there is something about her that needs to be fixed, she just wants acceptance, understanding and tolerance, just like the other characters who have other issues that drive their behaviour.
For older, independent readers this is a graphic novel by an autistic author/illustrator offering a sympathetic depiction of one young person’s experience of autism, and because it is by one on the spectrum it is an authentic voice giving an insight into what it is like to be different at a time when peer acceptance is so important to who we are.
Now when I was a young man, I carried me pack, and I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback, well I waltzed my Matilda all over
it tells the story of a young man, almost any young man of 1915 in Australia, who took up arms to fight in the war at a time when Australia was trying to meet its quota for Britain and to not fight for King and Country branded you a coward.
They gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun, and they marched me away to the war.
Throughout the song and the journey, from the ship departing, the slaughter of Gallipoli, the hospital for the wounded and the arrival of “the crippled, the wounded, the maimed…the legless, the armless, the blind, the insane” at Circular Quay there is the poignant refrain of the band playing Waltzing Matilda, the iconic song that many believe should be our national anthem as it connects us in a way like no other. And finally, as an old man, he sits on his porch and watches the parade with his comrades passing before him and he knows that soon, as more old men disappear, “Someday no one will march there at all”. But how proud and amazed would those who came home -and those who didn’t- be to see that this is not a forgotten war, they are not forgotten heroes and rather than no one marching, each year the crowds at the annual commemorations wherever they are get larger.
However, the most provocative stanza is
And the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question.”
Written in 1972 at the height of the protests against the Vietnam War, many were wondering that aloud and as still engulfs parts of the world and threatens Australia’s future, we may well all ask ourselves the same question again.
With superb illustrations by Bruce Whatley that show every emotion of the text –drawn with his left hand because he has discovered he draws “with much more emotion” with that hand –using the restrained palette that one associates with Gallipoli, this is a book that has to be in your library’s collection as it is a song that should be known by everyone before this year is done. However, this is so much more than one of Australia’s leading illustrators putting pictures to an iconic tune. There are teachers’ notes that provide many ideas for exploring the content, its imagery and its images and the full lyrics are available via an internet search
A memorable contribution to the collection of books on this topic.
Sunday morning in the city, and Emmelene is accompanying her Grandma Jean to church where there is a choir singing and trumpets blowing and hand-clapping to hear and join in with. But Grandma Jean is getting cross because Emmelene is lagging behind because she is listening to the music of the city – the tap-tappa-tap, the yip-yippa-yip, the pitter-patter-drip and all the other sounds that her ears hear but her eyes can’t see.
And in church, when Grandma Jean’s music makes little impression on Emmelene , Grandma gets even crankier and just doesn’t understand what Emmelene can hear – although she does try. And then Emmelene shows her…
A long time ago, I read a poem about the sounds of night falling and it made such an impression on me, that now, mosquitoes willing, one of my favourite wind-down activities is to listen to the dark creep across our bushland home. I have to admit that I’m a bit like Grandma Jean and haven’t heard the music of the city so maybe I should sit in the park in town and close my eyes… Certainly, it is something we can do with our kids on a nice day – take them outside, let them lie on the grass in the sun and just listen to the music of the outdoors. And if someone falls asleep, that’s fine – either they needed the rest or the activity had the desired effect of putting them in the zone for a while.
But, while this is a great book to inspire an awareness of our surroundings and be mindful in the moment, on a more practical level it is also one for exploring the concept of onomatopoeia as the sounds of the vehicles and other things that Emmelene hears are illustrated in a way that makes you see them as well as hear them. Another opportunity to explore and experience our language.
With its rinky-dink-dink, rat-a-tat-tat, toot-a-toot-toot, and clang-a-clang-CLANG, the little bird really is a one-bird-band, But as it makes its way through the jungle, it discovers other creatures who are really sad and to cheer them up, it gives away its instruments one at a time, until it has none left. Now it is the sad one! But then…
While the main focus of the story is the concept of sharing, little readers could have fun deciding which instruments make each sound, and then perhaps even discover what noises other instruments make and suggest vocabulary for them in the style of the author. What would their one-man-band sound like? While onomatopoeia is a big word for little mouths, it can be a lot of fun as the child pays attention to the sounds around and increases their vocabulary so this is a charming story to share and build on.
When 12-year old Josh Primm and his family move to New York City, they are surprised to discover a crocodile living in their attic – a crocodile that is fun, playful, and can sing! Josh and Lyle become best friends but then Lyle’s former owner turns up to claim him for a new musical act and despite the issues Lyle has caused with a neighbour, the Primms realise how much Lyle means to them and that they need to keep him as part of the family.
Based on the original story by Bernard Waber , this is the novelisation of the film currently so popular with young children, making it an ideal addition to any family or school collection as we encourage them to read and revisit the fun they have shared. Knowing the scenario will support those who are consolidating their skills while others may seek out the original as well as others in the series and others by the same author, expanding reading horizons beyond the screen.
After spending so many years underground as nymphs, the warm winds have brought the cicadas to the surface and they are ready to get together to make their music, the loudest insects on the planer and the sound of summer evenings in Australia for so many.
Yellow Monday, Black Prince, Green Grocer, Orange Drummer, Brown Bunyip, Floury Baker, Razor Grinder… all the males are pumping out their own particular song to try to attract a mate and begin the cycle again. Even their rock star names suggest something special- which other insects have such tags?
Written in rhyme, this is a fascinating book that brings the songs of the cicadas to life in what to some humans is just a cacophony because it can be up to 120 dB at close range (approaching the pain threshold of the human ear), or so high in pitch that the noise is beyond the range of our hearing but which is unique to each species so that they only attract the females of the same species.
So as well as being entertaining it is also educational and combined with a book such as Searching for Cicadas could open up a whole new world of investigation for the young reader as they not only discover new things about this ubiquitous creature but perhaps the world of music too. Which is their favourite genre? And if they were a cicada, what would their name be?