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If You’re Happy And You Know It

If You're Happy And You Know It

If You’re Happy And You Know It

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You’re Happy And You Know It

Barbara Szepesi Szucz

Zonderkidz, 2017

20pp., board book., RRP $A15.99

9780310759225

There are few little ones who don’t learn this catchy tune very early and love to move to it as they follow the actions. So this new board book version, sturdy enough to survive the repeated readings it will get, is perfect for involving them in the reading process and helping them understand that they can be readers too. Asking about what makes them happy them for other actions that they can do to demonstrate their feelings is always a winning activity.

All sorts of creatures having fun together in the park  portrayed in a childlike way with happy expressions and bright colours will attract their attention and before long, instead of being a first-read at bedtime it will be an all-day favourite.

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swan Lake 

Anne Spudvilas

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781743318454

Over 140 years ago, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky brought a story about first love, betrayal, loss, and good versus evil to life through a musical score he called Swan Lake. and on March 4 1877 through the choreography of Julius Reisinger and a few years later that of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov that music was interpreted through dance, laying the foundations of one of the most loved and enduring of the classical ballets.

Now, in 2017, it has been reinterpreted through the stunning artwork of Anne Spudvilas.   

With a synopsis of each act to explain what the reader is going to experience, the story unfolds in pictures that echo the dark, hazy, haunting mood that permeates the story – the lake at midnight, the malevolence afoot at the Grand Ball,  the storm that accompanied Siegfried’s battle with the Sorcerer and the final tragic ending. Dramatic in their composition and demonstrating how many shades of grey there really are, Spudvilas has captured the essential elements of the story while also portraying the atmosphere that the music and choreography bring to the experience.

For those who are unfamiliar with Swan Lake as a ballet it is a complete sensual experience in itself; for those like me (and Spudvilas) who have been entranced with it since childhood, it is yet another layer adding to the wonder and love of the original. 

Definitely one to add to the collection for a range of reasons – at its basic level it is the story behind a classic ballet and its  interpretation in pictures;  but at a deeper level there is so much to explore and interpret such as  the creation of mood through a monochromatic scheme; the use of imagery and colour to identify emotions or portent…

While the long-ago LP record cover that took me into a lifelong love of ballet in general and Swan Lake in particular has disappeared forever, this new interpretation will be a suitable substitute and will join the other members of my treasured collection that brings back such happy memories. And even though I know I will only ever be Odette in my dreams maybe it will spark a dream for my granddaughters!

Watch this for in the 2018 awards lists…

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ready, Steady, Hatch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready, Steady, Hatch

Ben Long

David Cornish

Ford Street, 2017

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

9781925272536

Way down yonder in the pumpkin patch, ten little eggs were beginning to hatch.  As they did, they danced and twirled – it was time to go and see the world.  But the last little chick gets distracted by a large cherry, unseen by the others who marched on to meet their mother.  But she was very concerned when she counted them because that morning there were ten and now there were only nine! So with Mother Hen in front they set out on a hunt to find the missing chick.  But no matter how or where they searched, they had no luck until…

This is a rollicking romp in rhyme which will appeal to young readers as they enjoy the language, the search and the charming illustrations which add so much action and sound you are drawn into the story. The rhythm of the rhyme is reinforced as the chicks march to the musical notes and then drum on logs and stomp their feet trying to bring the little one out of hiding.  

There is something about the theme of Chooks in Books that has always appealed, perhaps because it lends itself to lots of research such as investigating whether chickens are the only creatures that start life as eggs as well as lots of artwork for there are so many ways to create chickens to build a class mural to retell the story, surround with chook facts, and build a wall of Chooks in Books stories. Imagine how much easier the concept of 10 and ordinal numbers will become as the children identify the subtle differences between the line of chooks and then line themselves up like the chickens and march or run or creep around to the beat of a drum.   

Ben Long and David Cornish have created a story that will capture the attention of little ones and reaffirm their understanding that there is much fun to be had between the pages of the book. 

 

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo

Mark Carthew

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2017

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

9781925059786

“When Jess and Jack open the gates to the zoo
It was strangely deserted. Nobody said BOO.”

So where have all the creatures gone? Because the more they look, the less they see – just trails of scats and feathers and tracks. Determined to find them they separate following the clues but as dusk falls and there is still no sign, Jess is getting concerned.  Then comes the sound of music from the nearby bush and a huge flash of a flare splits the sky and Jack emerges.  The animals are having a party but what are they celebrating?

A charming story told in rhyme which  will enchant young listeners as they try to guess where the animals have gone, and once they’ve been discovered, predict what they are up to. Filled with movement and sound both words and pictures convey the fun and excitement of a party  – just the feel of the word ‘hullabaloo’ on the tongue is fun.  But being part of it is even more fun so be prepared for making music!

But  there is also the opportunity for little ones to learn more about the creatures in the zoo – the fact that each has a different-shaped foot that makes a unique track starts the exploration on the endpapers, the references to the different feathers of the different birds and the introduction of the term “scats” and what they are and how they offer valuable clues about their producer all meld to make this an intriguing initiation into a more in-depth recognition of animals than just their shape and colour.

Further ideas are available in the teachers’ notes and Anil Tortop has demonstrated her illustrative techniques  to show how a pencil sketch becomes such a beautiful picture full of depth and colour.

Baby Band

Baby Band

Baby Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Band

Dianne Jackson Hill

Giuseppe Poli

New Frontier, 2017

28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925059779

Many people live in the tall apartment block, each living their lives without even knowing their neighbours let alone socialising with them.  They didn’t even say hello to each other in the corridors! That is, until the baby moves into an apartment on the 8th floor. And like babies do because they have to, the baby cried, and cried a lot no matter how much his mother try to calm and soothe him.  His cries could be heard all over the 8th floor.

And then one day, when he was a little older he found the pits and pans, as babies do, and of course he clanged them together, as babies do. His mother screamed in delight and the CLANG, AHHH could be heard in every unit.  And something amazing began to happen…

This is a charming story that takes the everyday event of a baby crying and turns it into a tale that many will resonate with .  Exploiting her personal passion for music, the author has shown that there is music  in anything, it can come from anywhere and can creates harmony, and not just the musical kind. Guiseppe Poli’s little vignettes capture the lives of the people in the apartments, emphasising their separation whilst providing little clues for what is about to happen, and the things they share like the teacher who teaches drama and the teen creating movies; the girls and the older lady both enjoying knitting that suggest this baby is going to be the catalyst for some enduring connections.  Even the front and back endpapers suggest that there will be a remarkable journey taking place between them.

On the surface this appears to be just a book for our very young readers whereas it has a place for older readers too, especially if it is shared by a teacher with a purpose.  There is the theme of isolation even though the people live so close together and the theme of friendship through common interests that can be explored, while there is also the fun of making a body band – using the parts of the body to make a sound and a rhythm that can be melded together and then the exploration and combination of the sounds of ordinary objects. 

Diane Jackson Hill started writing children’s books including the wonderful Annabel’s Dance after a long career in teaching, and her understanding of what children want in a story is very clear. This should become a family favourite as who can sit still when all around music is being made.

 

Digby and the Yodelayhee…Who!

Digby and the Yodelayhee...Who!

Digby and the Yodelayhee…Who!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digby and the Yodelayhee…Who!

Renee Price

Anil Tortop

Create It Kids, 2017

24pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780992345754

High in a very tall tree Digby Fixit hears an unusual and very noisy noise.  Being a lover of music he scrambles down the tree to discover who is making it. Perhaps it is one of his very-bestest friends.  Is it Stanley strumming his guitar? Or Sophie tooting her kazoo? Perhaps it is Freda on the piano or Theo thumping his drum.  Maybe it is Wilfred on his double bass or Tarquin tapping the sticks.  No.  None of these and the noise was still noisy.  So using his trust noise-o-meter he followed its lead and found…

Written in rhyming verse to echo the passing of time and the rhythm of the music, author Renee Price has used her early childhood teaching and music educator experience to bring an engaging tale to young readers, introducing them to a variety of common instruments and their sounds along the way. Full of energy, fun and colour, readers are taken on a journey that will have them showing you their knowledge of the movements and sounds associated with the various instruments and then wanting to join in the jam session at the end- which they can do because there is a recording of the song that can be downloaded via the QR code provided.  They will also recognise that final sound that brings the music to an end – but not the fun.

Illustrator Anil Tortop has also hit the mark with her illustrations – each set on a background of a bold, solid colour and capturing such a wide range of action and emotion in clever, unfussy strokes that even include an intrigued cat. And, as with many characters, Digby now has his own website so the fun can continue.

An original storyline that teaches children a little about musical instruments (a change from Peter and the Wolf),  a little about the passage of time and a lot about curiosity, friendship and fun will be a welcome addition to home and library collections.


 

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

christmas_countdown_2016

 

 

 

 

John Williamson's Christmas in Australia

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

John Williamson

Mitch Vane

Penguin 2014

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

9780670077724

Christmas in Australia – time for families to get together and of, course, the perfect family photo for posterity.  But getting everyone together at the same time is not as easy as it sounds.

This is an hilarious, rollicking tune, probably known to every Australian school student, brought to life in picture book format through the talents of Mitch Vane.  As families gather together as the big day draws closer, no doubt its scenarios will be played out in real life in many backyards and children will be heard singing the song.

A must-have in any Christmas collection and for sending overseas to those who want to know about a summer Christmas as well.

 

Emily’s Bush Christmas

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Emily's Bush Christmas

Emily’s Bush Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily’s Bush Christmas

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

HarperCollins, 2015

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

9780732286934

It’s Christmas Day in Shaggy Gully and all the animals are doing the things they do best – the kangaroos are bouncing, the echidnas are prickly, the emus are peckish, koalas are relaxing and the bats and wombats are just hanging about.  The Shaggy Gully chorus are sharing their Christmas carols  – the cockatoos and kookaburras are giving it their all while Emily tries to keep in tune with her tuba.  Suddenly the ambiance is shattered by a ghastly groan coming up from the creek.

“ooooogggggghhhhhh! I’m mad and I’m mean! I’m the BUNYIP ooooogggggghhhhhh!.”

In response, Emily Emu’s tuba echoes the same ghastly sound! The bunyip’s’ moan makes her tuba groan. But Emily decides that everyone, including bunyips, should be happy at Christmas and so she sets about trying to change the bunyip’s mood.  But no matter what she and her friends do, the bunyip stays mad and mean!  Until he discovers Emily’s tuba…

You just know that a Christmas story from Jackie French and Bruce Whatley is going to be Australian and it’s going to be good.  And so it is with this tale which is uniquely Australian and which will bring a smile to the face of little ones (and bunyips.) They will love to see what their favourite creatures get up to in the bush on this special day – even Ringo the Dingo is there – as Jackie always weaves a wonderful story that is worth reading over and over, especially if you play them this sound clip so they can hear the sound of the tuba and why it is so perfect for a bunyip!  

This team always produces the best – and this is no exception.

All I Want for Christmas is You

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All I Want for Christmas Is You

All I Want for Christmas Is You

All I Want for Christmas Is You

Mariah Carey

Colleen Madden

Doubleday, 2015

32pp., hbk.

9780399551390

It is more than 20 years since Mariah Carey wrote and released the song in 1994 but it wasn’t until  December 2015, that he song peaked at 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it its highest peak since its original release. Now it is one of the most iconic tunes of the season.  

So it seems fitting that it become a picture book with bright. bold pictures, all the lyrics and a special twist at the end that makes it particularly suitable for young readers although the clues are there in the pictures from the beginning.  The little girl’s wish is clear for the astute to find because she manages to drop her hint into every part of the Christmas preparations.  Making cookies and decorations, hanging stockings, even out playing in the snow she clings to her dream.  Then,   amidst all the presents for all the family, there is one special gift … one that so many little ones wish for!!!

This is an interpretation that will make this a favourite in your family too – and you will have an earworm for the rest of the day!

 

 

 

Christmas Songbook

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Christmas Songbook

Christmas Songbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Songbook

Sam Taplin

Richard Johnson

Usborne, 2016

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

9781474921244

In certain countries and to certain generations, the images of carol singers going door to door at this time of the year sharing their music is not far from the mind.  More recently, the school-based Carols by Candlelight was always a sign that the festive season was here as neighbourhoods joined together to herald this fun time in song, sentiment and a sausage sizzle.  Classes practised those traditional songs in preparation for the annual Christmas concert and there were few who did not know all the verses of Away in a Manger and Silent Night.

So to find a new illustrated  volume of these well-known tunes arranged for voice, piano and guitar is a delight as yet a new Christmas season is here and another generation needs to know the music that binds this time.  Some are very familiar, others not so, but each is presented on a clear double page spread with all the verses and music as well as an illustration that makes this more than just a book of sheet music.  Even the extra original verses of  Jingle Bells – nothing to with Batman or even a rusty Holden ute – are there right alongside I Saw Three Ships, the first song my sea-loving grandfather ever taught me!

Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl remains one of the most  watched television broadcasts on Christmas Eve – how wonderful if our children could fully participate because the tunes are familiar and the words are known!

A perfect addition to both your privet and professional collection.

And in the meantime here are a couple of clips I know you will enjoy…