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Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

Puffin Books, 2020

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760897970

It would seem that the song Baby Shark is the most popular tune our littlest ones have engaged with for a long time, (or the most annoying for the adults in their lives.)

However you view it, this clever rewriting of it which introduces the audience to the sharks seen in Australian waters is quite ingenious. 

Using the same bright illustrative style as the video, but changing the text to phrases such as funny shark, scary shark, even silly shark, young readers are taken on an underwater adventure with some other ocean-dwellers to discover which of these fascinating creatures can be found around our shores. Each double-page spread features a different shark with one side having the song lyrics and the other, a basic fact file.

Our youngest readers will engage with this from the get-go, learning not only about a most-maligned creature but also that information books can be as much fun as a screen. They might even be encouraged to create their own dance moves, just as in the original!

Not surprisingly, as a scuba diver from way back and having had my own adventures with these creatures, I loved it but beware of the ear-worm!

 

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway.  She has a range of talents -each different in each story – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old.  In each episode of the series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it. 

Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.

Included in this compendium are the first four books in the series – Movie Star, Ballerina, Pop Singer and Fashion Designer – offering  young girls who are becoming independent readers some great reading while supporting their new skills with  large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. 

Collections like these are always good value and during this stay-at-home time, four stories for the price of one will be welcome.

The Creature Choir

The Creature Choir

The Creature Choir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Creature Choir

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008262198

Warble the walrus loved to sing and her dream was to one day take part in The Great Big Animal Talent Show.  Sadly though, her warbling was somewhat less than melodic – in fact it was shocking – and eventually the other walruses banned her from ever singing again.   While this made Warble very sad, she tried hard to stay silent but she just couldn’t and burst into song.  The consequences were disastrous – she caused an avalanche and everyone was buried in deep snow. So while Warble slept that night they all crept away leaving her alone. 

But she continued to warble and that attracted a lot of other creatures who also liked to sing but whose voices were also a little rough around the edges.  Warble never said no to any of them and soon they had a choir, one that sang all around the world and was finally ready to enter The Great Big Animal Talent Show!

Being one of those with a voice like warble who liked to sing but whose singing seemed to offend everyone (even strangers on a bus trip in the middle of nowhere at midnight!) this story really resonated with me. Being about being true to yourself and doing what you love just for the sheer joy of it, not because you believe you are the best (or even want to be) epitomises the feeling behind the mantra “Dance like nobody’s watching!”

This would be the most wonderful story to have the children imagine and make the noises the various creatures would and create their own choir that sings and dances just for joy. There could be all sorts of ways to explore tone and rhythm and how they can combine to make something that is pleasing to the ear while just having fun!

A Banana is a Banana

A Banana is a Banana

A Banana is a Banana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Banana is a Banana

Justine Clarke & Josh Pyke

Heath McKenzie

Puffin, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760891664

Kids love singalongs and the sillier the lyrics, the more they engage and sing with enthusiasm. So when you get a song that includes lines like

If an eggplant really grew eggs, chickens would be out of a job.

If a catfish was really made of cats, then it might get chased by a dog.

And a banana is a banana. That’s what it’s called, I don’t know why.

then it’s likely you are going to have them joining in and appreciating our language and its weird meanings. In fact, older students might even be able to contribute tier own lines to make up a new verse!

Heath McKenzie’s illustrations enhance the quirkiness of the words and all in all, this is just a fun book to share.

My Dad Snores

My Dad Snores

My Dad Snores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad Snores

John Williamson

Peter Carnavas

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143793793

The family has a problem. Dad snores so loudly that the galahs fall out of the nearby trees.  He is so loud that no one can get any sleep and nothing they do stops him. What are they going to do?

This is another true-to-life story from iconic singer-songwriter John Williamson and its hilarious interpretation by Peter Carnavas is superb with its uniquely Australian twist.  Apart from resonating with so many children who have the same problem, the use of metaphoric language is sublime and just invites the reader to suggest some of their own, while the relationship between the text and the graphics is symbiotic, right from the front cover.

And of course, being John Williamson, there is a musical version. Not the usual upbeat, fast-moving tune we are used to, but perfectly reflecting the despair and tiredness of the family .

 

Song of the River

Song of the River

Song of the River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the River

Joy Cowley

Kimberly Andrews

Gecko Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781776572533

High in the mountains where he lives, Cam tells his grandfather that he wishes he could see the sea and his grandfather promises to take him there “one day.”

But as winter turns to spring and the snows begin to melt, Cam watches a trickle of water running through the pine trees, water that splashed and sang in the voice of the snow, 
Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.” And unable to resist its song, Cam follows it and begins a journey that broadens his horizons in so many ways.

The beautiful, lyrical words of one of New Zealand’s premier authors for children, Joy Cowley and the stunning, detailed, muted illustrations of Kimberly Andrews which echo both the high country of New Zealand and the Canada of her childhood come together in what is indeed a song of the river.  With a text that builds much like the river itself, rises to a crescendo and then returns to its original melody like a piece of music, this is indeed an aptly named story both in content and style. It lends itself to all sorts of mapping activities, more than just the physical journey of the trickle to the sea. Even exploring why the author named it “Song of the River” rather than “Story of the River” will open up the beauty of the language and the build-up of the journey.

With a landscape very different from those of the illustrations, and much of the country in one of the worst drought’s ever, this is an ideal book to begin an investigation of Australia’s rivers and compare their origins and uses to those of the river in the story.  A search of the NDLRN using Scootle will bring up a number of units of work focusing on the Murray-Darling Basin such as A Sense of Place (TLF ID R11374) (written by me for Year 3-4 but which could be adapted for both age and situation) that could be the perfect companions to maximise the impact of this book.

 

Go, Go Pirate Boat

Go, Go Pirate Boat

Go, Go Pirate Boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go, Go Pirate Boat

Katrina Charman

Nick Sharratt

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408866344

Designed to be sung to the tune of the classic Row, Row, Row your boat…” this is an engaging story of all things pirate for very young readers as they join two seafaring pirates and their captain on a nautical adventure to find a treasure chest. From finding treasure to walking the plank, each activity has its own verse that they will love to sing over and over again, doing great things to develop their literacy skills as they engage with the text, use the bright pictures to bring their existing knowledge to the page and predict what the text will be about and understanding that there really is treasure in books.

 

The Flying Orchestra

The Flying Orchestra

The Flying Orchestra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flying Orchestra

Clare McFadden

UQP, 2019

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9780702249297

No matter what is happening in our lives, the Flying Orchestra has a solo, a symphony or a sonata to accompany it  Whether a happy, joyous occasion, or one that disappoints or even invokes sadness there is a piece of music to go with it and the orchestra is ready to play regardless of whether we are in the suburbs, at the airport, or out in the country.

This is the paperback release of of the hardback version which won the CBCA Crichton Award in 2011 and is perfect for introducing a new generation of young readers to the music around us.  It includes a list of appropriate orchestral pieces that may be the child’s first introduction to this sort of music, provoking plenty of discussion about why a particular piece was chosen and introducing them to how music can both provoke and reflect a variety of emotions and moods. While the notion of an actual orchestra flying around might be a piece of fantasy, nevertheless the concept that music surrounds us and that somewhere, sometime, someone has composed just the right piece of music to match our actions, thoughts and feelings is one that many children will find fascinating and may make them even more sensitive to their world and what it offers.  Just imagine the sounds that would accompany a day “so windy that even the angels lose their balance from the top of City Hall.”

Teachers’ notes for early childhood are available here while those for older readers are available here, while McFadden herself reads the story with a musical accompaniment on You Tube.

If you or your teaching colleagues are planning to introduce young students to the wide world of music this year and are looking for something beyond the traditional Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf or Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra or Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals, this could be it.

Sonam and the Silence

Sonam and the Silence

Sonam and the Silence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonam and the Silence

Eddie Ayres

Ronak Taher

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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

9781760293666

When Sonam turns seven, she is deemed no longer a child and her big brother orders her to cover her hair and begin to work. But the streets of Kabul and its market are too loud and scary for Sonam, the cacophony making a storm in her head and so she runs.  As she runs, she hears a strange sound and follows it, finding an old man with milky eyes and a curved spine in a garden of mulberry and pomegranate trees.  In his arms he is cradling a rubat, making music that Sonam has never heard before because in Taliban Afghanistan music has been banned.  

The music captures Sonam’s heart and each day she visits the old man, learning to play the rubat that he has given her – the one he played as a child.  But when her brother hears her humming and investigates further, he takes Sonam’s rubat forbidding her to sing or play again.  And as the noise builds in her head again, and the roar of gunfire and rockets is so close, she becomes withdrawn and her heart shrinks.  Until one day, she knows she just has to go back to the pomegranate garden…

This is “a lyrical fable-like story by the well-known musician, author and broadcaster Eddie Ayres, about the irrepressible power of music.” Based on his own experiences in Afghanistan and a young girl he knew there, he challenges the reader to think what a world without music would be like, particularly as it is often the key connection between peoples with no other common language. But as Sonam discovers, even if there is no audible external sound, there is still music.  

Illustrated by Iranian-Australian visual artist Ronak Taher using sombre colours and many layers and textures, which offer uplifting features like Sonam floating above the noise and chaos of the city, this is a thought-provoking story about how other children live in other parts of the world, and, indeed, how some of those in our classes have lived. While music has now been allowed in Afghanistan, the six years that the silence reigned must have been devastating for those for whom music is as essential as food. Readers are challenged to consider what their life would be like if something they held dear was banned, and if others prevented them from indulging in it because of the dangers such behaviour could invite.  Ayres suggest an Australia without sport, but what about a country without books? As with no music, how would the stories be told and continued?

As Christmas draws closer and the hype escalates, this is a book to share and consider those whose lives are very different and for whom joy comes from something other than a brightly wrapped present. 

The Dam

The Dam

The Dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dam

David Almond

Levi Pinfold

Walker Studio, 2018

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

9781406304879

It looks like death will come to this valley as the dam is almost completed, and when it is and the waters rise, so much will be washed away, drowned and never seen again.  In tribute to all that have gone and for all that are still to come, the musician sings and his daughter plays her violin as they wander through the empty houses that were once homes. But even though the physical things may be gone or going, the music plays on, locked in the memories as new opportunities await.

Forty years ago when a great dam was built by the Kielder Water in Northumberland,  UK, the valley below slowly filled with water. But just before this, when the villagers had been moved out, two musicians went back to the abandoned valley. They tore down the boards over the houses, stepped inside and started to play – for this would be the last time that music would be heard in this place.  But while much of the natural landscape was lost, a new one was created, one which brought new activities and adventures and allowed for new memories to be created.

While this is the story of a dam in the UK, it could be the story of places in Australia like Adaminaby, moved in the 50s to allow for the creation of Lake Eucumbene, nine times larger than Sydney Harbour and part of the might Snowy Hydro scheme that changed Australia forever.  Yes the valley was drowned, and as droughts wrack this country, sometimes, as now, remnants of what was lost rise from the deep, but in its place is a haven for fishers, boaters and artists, and the influx of European refugees who came to help build it changed the shape of Australia forever.

It could be the story of parts of the South Island of New Zealand as dams like Benmore and Aviemore reshaped that landscape as the need for electricity grew; parts of Tasmania where building dams on Lake Pedder in the 60s and the proposed damming the Gordon below the Franklin River in the 70s shone the brightest spotlight on the environment and its conservation that this country had seen.

It could even be the story of those living near Badgery’s Creek where Sydney’s new airport is at last being constructed after 50 years of talk.  It could be the story of 1000 places where human needs have outweighed those of Mother Nature and “progress” moves inexorably onwards and outwards.  

But this is not a morbid book, despite its dramatic, monochromatic sombre palette, vignettes of things lost like fleeting memories and the haunting text which is like music itself.  While it is a memorial to those who have gone before it is also a promise that there will be new life, new different memories  waiting to be made and celebrated just as the change in colours and mood of the illustrations indicate. 

Change throughout our lives in inevitable – some visible and dramatic, others not-so and more subtle – but each alters the path that we have planned or dreamed of.  While this book might be overtly about a true story of the Northumberland wilds, it is a conversation starter for all those who are facing life-changing circumstances, physical or emotional.  The musician and his daughter chose to remember through a musical tribute but were also ready to embrace the new landscape, illustrating that it is how we deal with and embrace that over which we have no control that shapes us.  “That which doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger” has never been more apt.