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Wild Symphony

Wild Symphony

Wild Symphony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Symphony

Dan Brown

Susan Batori

Puffin, 2020

44pp., hbk., RRP $A44.99

9780241467916

Before he wrote classics like The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown wrote music. It was a secret sanctuary for him bringing peace and calm and solace. And in this wonderful, interactive book he has combined those two gifts into a remarkable story for children that offers messages of affirmation and guidance. It is a place for them to seek that same peace and calm and solace.

Led by Maestro Mouse, the reader is taken on a journey of the animal kingdom and invited to learn something from each one that helps them deal with life. At the same time by using a QR code or going to the website, and downloading the app, they can  tune into the music of the creatures. Along the way, Maestro Mouse has left surprises  — a hiding buzzy bee, jumbled letters that spell out clues, and even a coded message to solve – making this a book that has many layers and which begs to be explored again and again.

 

 

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man Emu

John Williamson

Simon McLean

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760898793

Fifty years ago teacher John Williamson wrote a ditty about an old emu racing across the Australian countryside in pursuit of a female friend.  As he goes he meets many iconic creatures such as a galah, cockatoo, wedge-tail eagle, kookaburra and the kangaroo, but while they all they have their unique characteristics, none is as charismatic or as fast as Old Man Emu.

“He can’t fly but I’m telling you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo.”

 

Such hilarious and well-known lyrics, which not only launched Williamson’s career as a singer and songwriter but became essential singing in classrooms, demand to be illustrated and Simon McLean has done an outstanding job bringing them to life so that a whole new generation can  sing and laugh along and be introduced to the work of the man who gave us True Blue , regarded as one of our national anthems, and the haunting Raining on the Rock.

Over the past half century, Williamson has given us so many songs, each with such a unique message about this country, its people, its places, its past that they cry out to be the basis of investigations to discover what it is that makes us unique.  What is he saying in Rip, Rip Woodchip? What is the story behind A Flag of Our Own? So to have this very first one in picture book format to open up a study of not only emus but a whole range of fauna is just precious, and I’m sad that I’m no longer in a classroom or library to make it happen.

Something special for any child, Australian or otherwise. 

The Whales on the Bus

The Whales on the Bus

The Whales on the Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whales on the Bus

Katrina Charman

Nick Sharratt

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781526603432

Can you imagine whales on a bus riding round the town?  Or some goats on boats?  Dragons is wagons? Sheep in a jeep?  Perhaps bees on skis is more your thing? Well, Katrina Charman and Nick Sharratt have and the result is the most vibrant picture book with a familiar rhyme and rhythm that is not only going to enable our littlest readers to read this book for themselves but also put a song in your head and a smile on your face for the rest of the day. 

Because the concept is so familiar  and the pictures so clear and energetic, it won’t matter if your child can’t decode the words yet – they can work them out for themselves.  And voilà! They are reading.  Just like a real reader.  Such a huge boost to their confidence and self-esteem!

This book is just a joyful celebration of silliness in the boldest of colours that it will be loved and read over and over again – just like that song…

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.