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One Bird Band

One Bird Band

One Bird Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Bird Band

Sacha Cotter

Josh Morgan

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678485

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.

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Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile: Junior Novelisation

Bernard Waber

Adapted by Catherine Hapka

HarperCollins US, 2023

208pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780358755432

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.

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cicada Sing Song

Pat Simmons

Katrin Dreiling

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

 9781922358462

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?

Diper Överlöde: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diper Överlöde

Diper Överlöde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diper Överlöde: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (17)

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2022

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143778417

 

When Greg Heffley decides to tag along with his brother Rodrick’s band, Löded Diper, Greg doesn’t realize what he’s getting into. But he soon learns that late nights, unpaid gigs, fighting between band members, and money troubles are all part of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. That it’s not all fame and glory and adoring fans. 

Can he help Löded Diper become the legends they think they are? Or will too much time with Rodrick’s band be a diper överlöde?

This is the 17th in this series that follows Greg Heffley and his friends through the trials and tribulations of middle school and remains as popular today as it was when it was first released in 2007 as  new waves of readers relate to his adventures.  And with a new movie Rodrick Rules  being released on Disney+ on December 2, it is likely to gather many more fans, particularly among boys.  Written in the first person that echoes the voice and thoughts of so many boys like Greg, full of humour and heavily illustrated with cartoon-like figures, this is a series that will appeal to your reluctant readers as not only is it an easy read, but its popularity puts the reader in the in crowd, important to those who might feel marginalised because they’re struggling academically.

Definitely one for the library’s collection, and one to recommend to parents for the Santa Sack. 

 

Violin and Cello

Violin and Cello

Violin and Cello

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violin and Cello

Catherine Greer

Joanna Bartel

Alexander Lau

EK Books, 2022

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

 9781922539274

While a high brick wall might separate the balconies of the two apartments and prevent the players from seeing each other, it doesn’t stop the music. One played a violin and the other a cello, and while each practised alone and at their own pace, both lonely, the music mingled.  And then the violinist had an idea and sent a secret message to the cello player.

Cello from a backpack.

Violin from a case

Each musician still played at their own pace.

It was tricky.

It took some time.

Then music flew from the violin and from the cello, too.  

And then the cellist made a paper plane and sent her own secret message to her new friend.  And together they played music from their balconies and connected many more than themselves. 

Learning and playing music can be a solitary activity, bringing pleasure to the music-maker but even greater isolation than has been enforced over recent times.  With between 45% of children (Australia) and 70% of children (UK) currently playing a musical instrument and even more (as many as 9 out of 10) wanting to learn -most beginning their classical music education with piano, violin or cello lessons- this is a story that will resonate with many young readers and show them that music is indeed a universal language and can indeed  “act like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens” as Maria Von Trapp declared in The Sound of Music. 

The score for the allegro and adagio movements of “The Mystery Friends”, the music which brings the children together, is  an original duet for violin and cello composed for the book by Australian composer, Alexander Lau, are printed in the book as well as being available via the links in this review.  Thorough teachers’ notes are also available so that even the most non-musical person like me can bring this book to life well beyond the words and pictures on the page. 

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2022

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 9781922326553

Tatty Mouse wants to play in her brother’s band, but given they already have a guitarist, a saxophonist and a singer, she has to find a place.  Known as the ‘mend-it, make-it mouse”, and so, after consulting a book she decides on maracas and drums and sets to, using everyday objects from her home to make her own musical instruments.

The board book format lends itself perfectly to a lift-the-flap experience for our youngest readers as they follow Tatty Mouse’s instructions, perhaps making their own versions as they do because everything she uses is readily available.  

Catch A Star continues to recognise the need for even our youngest readers to have engaging stories that are sturdy enough in their own hands so they can mimic the reading of those who read to them, a critical step in becoming a reader, and this is no exception. The text is simple but the story can be followed without being able to read it because the pictures are colourful and clearly amplify what the words say, while the lift-the-flap and the invitation to do so adds to the engagement.  Above all, this format shows little ones the value of the constancy of print – rather than being a fleeting image on a screen, it is one they can return to again and again, not just to enjoy Tatty’s inventiveness but also to explore their own. 

 

100 Things to Know About Music

100 Things to Know About Music

100 Things to Know About Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Things to Know About Music

Alex Frith, Alice James, Jerome Martin, Lan Cook

 Dominique Byron, Federico Mariani, Shaw Nielsen, Parko Polo

Usborne, 2022

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781474996730

Continuing this popular series which includes titles such as 100 Things to Know About Science,  100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet 100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding, 100 Things to Know About Food,  100 Things to Know About the Human Body, 100 Things to Know About Space, 100 Things to Know About the Oceans, 100 Things to Know About Planet Earth and 100 things to Know About History, young musicians can now investigate which tunes could save a life, and which should come with a health warning; how  talking drums tell the history of Africa; what happens in your brain when you listen to music; the part that termites play on creating didgeridoos and even how parachuting pianos into war zones helped win World War II! 

Without a contents page but with an extensive index, this is a dip-and-delve book that can lead the reader down all sorts of interesting paths depending on where they open the book.  Who knew that playing music to plants could make them grow faster or that sleigh bells and harmonicas were the first instruments into space?

With lots of illustrations and easily accessible facts in small chunks, this is the perfect book ( and series) to get reluctant readers who prefer non fiction to consolidate their skills as they  become engrossed in stuff they didn’t even know they didn’t know yet want to discover more about!  

Playing At The Border

Playing At The Border

Playing At The Border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing At The Border

Joanna Ho

Teresa Martinez

HarperCollins US, 2022

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

9780062994547

“Feet planted on the soil of one nation, eyes gazing at the shores of another, Yo-Yo Ma played a solo accompanied by an orchestra of wind and water.” 

On April 13.2019, on the  US banks of the Rio Grande he played a piece of music hundreds of years old to an audience on the opposite banks in Mexico to show that building bridges is so much better than building walls.  

But this is more than just a story of one man playing a cello alone to be heard by a few – this is the story of a renowned cellist, himself a blend of cultures as he was born to Chinese parents in France and raised in the US. Because his fingers were too small for a double bass, as a little child he chose the cello – and its particular blend of international origins is woven into both the story and the music.  And from its strings comes the music dancing ‘over rocks and rivers and walls into the sky”, born in Germany 300 years before, lost,  then found in Spain, and renewed in the US to unite those who had once been one but who were now separated…

Connecting cultures and countries through music was Yo-Yo Ma’s ambition when he began the Bach Project in 2018, reviving the rare cello solos which “create the sound of harmonising melodies on one instrument” there was as much symbolism as there was entertainment on that day in 2019 when the people of two nations momentarily joined together again, in defiance of the rhetoric and actions of the then POTUS. And in Johanna Ho‘s text, which is as lyrical as the music itself, we discover that there were many more than just two nations involved in making it happen. 

Piano Fingers

Piano Fingers

Piano Fingers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piano Fingers

Caroline Magerl

Walker Books, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760652616

Isla and Bea are two sisters who share a love of music. Big sister Isla plays the violin (her honey fog machine) but Bea is waiting for her music to start. She knows it will because she comes from such a musical family but somehow binking on a triangle (no matter how dramatic it can be at the right place) just isn’t enough. And then she discovers the piano, “on tiny gold wheels… a baby mountain, smelling gently of mouse.”  

But even though it is big, it still doesn’t play the sweet music that Bea craves and so she declares, “The world is not ready for my genius”.

But, with the help of Maestro Gus, the cat ghost of the piano, Bea will make her sparkling debut and she and Isla will at last make beautiful music together. 

Over the years, Magerl has offered us some stunning stories including Nop, Maya & Cat and Hasel and Rose and this new one is no exception. Subtly exploring the theme of finding one’s own talent, the text is as lyrical as the music from  Isla’s honey fog machine and the illustrations as light as a touch on the keyboard. 

From one who, despite years of lessons and hours of practice, still has dreams of mastering the piano that has pride of place in the lounge,  this is an inspirational story that all hope is not lost.  Perhaps today is the day I will find my own Maestro Gus – perhaps not.  When it comes to music I don’t have the belief, the expectation, the tenacity or the  perseverance of Bea but young readers will enjoy her story and be encouraged as they realise that even those with natural talent (once they discover what it is) need to learn and practise and persevere.  Something that many will need to hear at the start of this new learning year. 

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

 

 

 

 

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2021 

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

The twelve little frogs who taught our young readers the initial poses of yoga are back in their version of the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas.  

However, their interpretation involves a giant game of pass the parcel in the woodlands, one that can go on and on even after the first 12 days! Like the song, and its predecessor, this is a counting book with lots of opportunities to predict what might come next as well as counting those who are already there. 

While it is set in the snowy regions of the northern hemisphere, it is an opportunity to talk about why what the frogs do is so different to our little ones’ experiences and perhaps even create an Australian version which would give it a wider audience and a meaningful activity for those last wind-down days!