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Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Ready for School

Jane Porter

Carolina Rabei

Walker, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781529502343

It’s time to go to big school but what will it be like?  How will the day be filled?  What are the expectations?

Using a double-page spread for topics such as getting ready, how to get there, what will happen and even why we go to school, this book follows six children as they begin this new adventure in their lives. The text speaks directly to the child and there are plenty of illustrations to help them imagine this new adventure they are about to embrace.

Even though it is an English production, both the anxiety that children feel and the activities of the new entrants’ classroom are universal and so this translates to the Australian situation well, including a page for the children to talk about the concerns they have..  

With big school getting larger on the horizon for our little ones but visits to those early childhood classes limited in some states, this is an opportunity for parents to start preparing their child for what can be expected and if there are online orientations, for classroom teacher to use it as a way to guide their viewers through the first days.  They might not be able to show their own classes in action but this is a suitable substitute. 

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Peta Baxter & Connie Hemmens

Marjorie Gardner

Ford Street, 2021

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

9781925804683

It’s an exciting day for Frankie – it’s his day for kindergarten.  But Frankie isn’t a timid, shy child about to take his first step on a new adventure – he’s a dog who goes with his owner, the Kindy teacher, to join in all the fun of meeting up with friends, playing inside and out, visiting the pets. listening to stories, having lunch and quiet time and learning all sorts of new things.  His mate George the cat would like to go too but he is deemed too little, so he hops in a box…

Written by two experienced kindergarten teachers based on their own kindy – Frankie belongs to Miss Peta – this is a joyful introduction to the kindy/preschool day that will be a new adventure for many of our littlest readers very soon. Many of them will experience trepidation rather than anticipation so this story with its bright, bold illustrations will be excellent for helping to prepare them and pave the way.  Even though there might not be a Frankie (or a cheeky George) to join them, nevertheless all the activities will be there awaiting them as will the welcoming teachers and lots of new friends to play with.  

With lockdown and restrictions, preventing many of the face-to-face orientations that usually start about this time, so this would be the ideal story to share as alternative preparation.  

Let’s Go, Little Roo

Let's Go, Little Roo

Let’s Go, Little Roo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go, Little Roo

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760896751

It is time for Little Roo to leave her mother’s pouch and be a little more independent. But Little Roo is afraid and no matter how much her mummy tempts her, she really just wants to stay put in the comfort and safety of what she knows. Deep down, she really wanted to taste the fresh green grass and play with the other babies but her fear made her want to stay hidden even more. 

But then Mummy Roo spots another little joey also tucked down in the pouch and Little Roo starts to think about just what she is scared of, and soon…

Apart from the fact that this has Renée Treml’s name on it and she has created so many stunning stories for little readers, this is the perfect one for this time of the year when so many of them are facing new worlds of kindy, prep, reception, whatever or even preschool and childcare.  Because, despite the anticipation and excitement in the lead-up, there are always those inner voices than can cast doubts that cause shadows.  Mummy Roo is very wise and knows that this is a step Little Roo needs to take, and while she acknowledges Little Roo’s fear , she is determined to show her that it is natural and can be overcome, with any anxiety she may have being well hidden.

With her characteristic, evocative line drawings that bring the characters to life, once again Treml has given our youngest readers a gift – not just of her talent but her understanding so they too can be like Little Roo and Little Wallaby, put their brave on and discover new worlds. Instead of stepping in, she is teaching them to step up!

It’s OK to Cry

It's OK to Cry

It’s OK to Cry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s OK to Cry

Molly Potter

Sarah Jennings

Featherstone, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A21.99

9781472942425

Not so long ago, when boys got to about six or seven, they started hearing the familiar mantra of “big boys don’t cry”, encouraging them to “be tough” and suppress their emotions.  While such a philosophy is still acceptable in many parts of society, for the most part it has been phased out but there are still many other less explicit messages that we pass on to our boys which have the same effect.  Our words and our actions and reactions to particular circumstances all combine to pass on a subliminal message that somehow it’s not OK for boys to be in touch with and express their emotions.  To do so is “girly” and sadly, that is somehow is showing weakness.

This book has been written to demonstrate to boys, particularly, that it is OK, in fact beneficial, to know and understand and express their emotions. Starting with a collage of some of those ways we parents make statements that suggest that to cry when you’re hurt is not tough and followed by another that has all sorts of similar subliminal media messages, it is clear that it is no wonder our boys can be confused.  The pages that follow offer insights into a range of feelings, positive and negative, situations in which they might arise and words to describe them so when they occur they can be shared.   There is a strong message that experiencing a variety of feelings over the day is completely natural – in fact it is what makes us human. It demonstrates that we won’t all have the same response to the same situation and that at any one time, there can be all sorts of emotions happening within a group of people.

It acknowledges that sometimes our feelings can make us uncomfortable and offers strategies to deal with these and there are also notes to enlighten parents about helping their children acknowledge, own and deal with their emotions in a healthy way rather than just suppressing them.

Even though this book has particular application at this time when life is not normal and adults are struggling with their mental health in an unprecedented way, it has application far beyond that as we pay more attention to the mental health of our students and address them. It could form the basis for a term’s work exploring much more deeply than the more traditional “I feel happy when…; I feel sad when…” offering students insight that could be the foundation for lifelong learning that takes us all to a calmer, more empathetic place.

Grumbelina

Grumbelina

Grumbelina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grumbelina

Esther Krogdahl

Aleksandra Szmidt

Moa, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781869714291

On the day she turned three and a half, sweet, compliant Hazel turned into Grumbelina , a grumpy child, so disgruntled yet small, with a list of complaints that could cover a wall”. Despite being a cranky cross-patch her parents were very patient with her and were sure that she would be better in the morning after a good night’s sleep.  But Hazel/Grumbelina has other ideas…

There are certain ages and stages in a child’s life where they turn from mild to monster and the experts say it’s because of their brains going through rapid periods of change.  But whatever the reason, parents will all relate to Hazel/Grumbelina and her mood swings as they share this rhyming tale with their little ones which takes a humorous look at tantrums and lets everyone relax for a little while.  While tantrums and loud voices might be pictured as spiky and sharp-edged, the soft lines and palette of the illustrations takes the edge off Hazel’s behaviour offering a sense of peace and understanding rather than confrontation and exasperation.  

One to recommend to parents who need a new way through this time. 

No! Never!

No! Never!

No! Never!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No! Never!

Libby Hathorn

Lisa Hathorn-Jarman

Mel Pearce

Lothian Children’s, 2020

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

9780734418906

There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:
‘NO! NEVER!’

No matter what activity her parents suggest, including those that have always been her favourites, Georgie’s response is No! Never!  It becomes very frustrating for her parents who are at their wits’ end until they try a little reverse psychology.

Written in clever rhyme that bounces the story along, and illustrated in a way that emphasises the discord in the household because of Georgie’s attitude, this is a book that will resonate with preschoolers who are testing the boundaries and parents who are trying to manage that. While parents might like to use the strategy with their own children, or just remind their children  of what happened to Georgie when their children try a similar tactic. 

A fun, modern cautionary tale that will have broad appeal.

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Family Tree

Katrina McKelvey

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820379

Isla’s family is about to grow and she is not happy.  “This family is full”, she declares.

So her mother sits her down and explains how families are like trees -they have a trunk that is formed by the grandparents, branches formed by their children and then the leaves are the children of those children like Isla and her cousins.  Isla begins to understand but when she learns that her mum is to have two babies, then there is no room for any more leaves on her branch and the family is definitely full.

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community. 

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is  scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different. 

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well.  There are teachers’ notes available.

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too. 

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities. 

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Steps to Get Your Child Reading

Louise Park

Nené May Pierce

Allen & Unwin, 2020

256pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524678

As the new school year approaches there is great excitement for new students as well as their parents as one of the biggest milestones in their lives approaches.  And for the little ones, no matter what else is promised, it is the prospect of learning to read that is predominant.  So much so, that for many there is great disappointment because they don’t achieve that goal on the first day!  

After almost 50 years of teaching our youngest readers to master that mysterious code of squiggles on the page, I know that it is imperative to have them able to begin their journey in both the classroom and the library from that very first day. But there is much that can be done at home in preparation for that more formal instruction and this book from author and education consultant Louise Park outlines a series of steps that parents can implement long before the classroom doors open.  

While there are many books written by many people who have experience in the literacy field from all of its diverse angles, this one focuses on the children of the tech generation where there is so much competition from screens.  It combines the traditional thinking while embracing technology so that the two are not mutually exclusive.  The seven steps are 

Step 1: Talking their way to literacy
Step 2: Reading their way to literacy
Step 3: Linking writing and reading
Step 4: Taming the tech and making it count
Step 5: Harnessing the power of book ownership
Step 6: Embracing two reading philosophies
Step 7: Finding just-right books for any age
Difficulty learning to read, write and spell

Each is set out in an appealing format with language that parents will readily understand – it’s not full of the eduspeak that so many teachers favour – yet treats them as intelligent human beings. It clearly explains what the brain is doing when we read and that there is no one-size-fits-all magic bullet simple because every child’s experiences and circumstances are different.

That 50 years of working with little ones and their parents has also taught me that when it comes to reports and interviews, it is the child’s literacy development that parents are most interested in because they know that that is the key that unlocks all the other doors.  But I also know that reading begins long before a child comes to school, that success is a partnership between parent and professional  and so providing books like this either informally or formally as part of a parent participation program can help them enormously.  As the professionals we have the responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure the children in our care explore and explode their potential so helping their parents help them is an essential foundation. 

Beginning the night she was born!

Beginning the night she was born!

 

Story Time Stars: Favourite Characters from Australian Picture Books

Story Time Stars

Story Time Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Time Stars: Favourite Characters from Australian Picture Books

Stephanie Owen Reeder

National Library of Australia, 2019

148pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279408

Years ago, when Jackie French was asked by one of my students about how she created her characters, she told the class that the most important thing was to create someone that the reader cared enough about to want to know what happens to them. For without that emotional investment in the character, they won’t bother turning the pages till the end of the story.

So what is it that makes a character in a story so memorable that often as adults, we remember our childhood favourites, even to the point that we pass on those stories to our own children? Why they resonate with us is as individual as the characters themselves, but in this fabulous book, Dr Reeder has collected together some of the most well-known characters from Australian children’s literature, characters that have resonated with so many that we instantly know who they are and are transported back to those childhood memories with love and affection and a warm feeling of well-being. 

Whether it’s Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Mulga Bill, Grug, Koala Lou, Leonie, the Paw, or even the more recent Mr Huff, each is gathered here in chronological order to tell their stories, share their debuts, successes and encores so that we can not only get to know our favourites a little better, but also discover new ones waiting to be friends too. And perhaps consider who we might add to the collection.

Coinciding with the launch of the new NLA exhibition, Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature  presented in conjunction with  the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature, this is another addition to the preservation of the creation and history of children’s literature in Australia and complements the  books, manuscripts, illustrations and ephemera from the NLA’s extensive collections alongside significant loans of the exhibition, which is free and open until February 9, 2020. A must-see and a must-buy for anyone with a love of Australia’s favourite storytime characters.  Most definitely Australia: Story Country.

 

You Made Me a Dad

You Made Me a Dad

You Made Me a Dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Made Me a Dad

Laurenne Sala

Mike Malbrough

Harper Collins US, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

 9780062396945

From the time a man first discovers his partner is pregnant, the bond between father and child begins to grow and this relationship is celebrated in this charming book.  From the time of the first baby bump through to camping out beneath the stars, the father shares his joy and his wonder and his gratitude at being able to guide and share the life of his little one, the big occasions and the not-so.

Perfect for a dad to give to his child on a special occasion, this is a companion to You Made Me A Mother  and turns the tables on the usual format of the story being told by the child about the dad.