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Miimi and Buwaarr, Mother and Baby

Miimi and Buwaarr, Mother and Baby

Miimi and Buwaarr, Mother and Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miimi and Buwaarr, Mother and Baby

Melissa Greenwood

ABC Books, 2024

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733343018

Being your miimi (mother) is the most precious gift life can give.

When you were born you opened my heart as wide as the ocean.

There is no stronger bond than that between mother and child and using a palette as soft and gentle as the accompanying text,  Gumbaynggir storyteller, artist and designer Melissa Greenwood, has created an ode between mother and newborn that tells the baby of the connections to their family, totems, language and environment both past and present and how they can draw on the characteristics  to guide and protect them through their journey through life. 

While it is a story that echoes the feeling between any mother and newborn. it is expressed in a way that shows the long, strong connections to family, land and culture that reach far into the past of First Nations families.

While it is written in a combination of English and Gumbaynggirr  with a full Gumbaynggirr translation included, at the end, it is nevertheless one that could be in any language spoken in the world, so universal is it message. And as children learn their mother language-its meaning, its rhythm, its expression, its nuances -whatever it is, through listening to it, there is much that they absorb during these personal, precious moments beyond that expression of love. Therefore, these sort of lullabies have a unique place in language learning and should not only be among the gifts given to any new mother but also be the first in the baby’s library, regardless of their heritage..

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2024

96pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760655099

Take a bunch of familiar nursery rhymes from time immemorial, give them a new, uniquely Australian twist, add the iconic illustrations of Frané Lessac and you have the perfect present for any book-based baby shower, or newborn’s welcoming present you could ever wish for.

We know it is not so much the words of rhymes like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Old MacDonald had a Farm that little ones respond to, so much as the melodic rise and fall of the voice as it moves over the rhyme, rhythm and repetition of these hand-me-down jingles, but to embed our native wildlife into them is pure genius.  So it is not little stars that we wonder about, but southern stars; it is not the cow jumping over the moon but a big kangaroo; and it’s not Peter picking a peck of pickled peppers but Pygmy Possum picking a peck of pickled pollen…

So while Jack and Jill will always climb the hill to fetch their pail of water, perhaps a new generation will see them as something other than two little children, or it will be four and twenty kookaburras emerging from that famous pie…

Brilliant.

I Try

I Try

I Try

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Try

Susie Brooks

Cally Johnson-Isaacs

Farshore, 2023

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

9780008648282

One of the common complaints from kindergarten teachers is that new-to-big-school children often demonstrate little resilience – the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again, solving the problem through trial and error.  And they need to develop special lessons and programs to teach this  to compensate for the helicopter parenting where all the child’s potential problems have been eliminated in advance by over-zealous adults and thus the child hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to cope with setbacks and sadness.  So this book would seem to have been written especially for them to aid in those lessons.

Addressed directly to the child reader, it offers ways to encourage them to be adventurous and learn something new; be brave and do something tricky; be strong and don’t give up.  Using examples from the animal kingdom, this book motivates little ones to try new things, build their confidence and become resilient in all aspects of life.  If you’re too short to reach, ask someone to help; if something doesn’t go as you expected, try again; if you’re afraid, take the first step….  The cute and relatable cast of children work together and support each other, showing that there is always help around, especially when venturing into the unknown.

With anxiety levels apparently at an all0time high amongst our children, one of the kindest and most powerful things we can do is help them develop the belief in themselves and the strategies they need to face new situations so these simple suggestions provide an excellent starting point for that.  

Erin Hanson Poetry

Erin Hanson Poetry

 

When I’m Big

When I'm Big

When I’m Big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m Big

Karen Blair

Puffin, 2023

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

 9781761045813

Everyone keeps telling me
I’m going to be a big girl soon,

but I wonder . . . Just how BIG will I be?

Often parents tell their children of the impending arrival of a new sibling, that they will be a “big brother” or “big sister” and this charming story explores what happens when the little girl takes this literally, as children so often do.  To her, “big” only means “large” and she has grave concerns that she might become so big she won’t fit in the bath or her bed, and instead of her toy giraffe she will only be able to play with the real ones at the zoo!

For younger readers, particularly those who are likely to be experiencing not only the introduction of a new baby to their lives, but all the anxieties about the impact that accompany that, this book is a conversation starter about the changes they can expect and how they will be an important and integral part of them. Little ones worry that the new arrival will usurp them in their parents’ affections and they need reassurance as well as examples of how they will be a vital part of the new situation.

But it can also be a starter for helping them understand how they have grown and changed already, reflecting on what they have learned and achieved so they start to realise that “big” can mean a lot of things.  A. A. Milne’s classic poem, The End is the perfect accompaniment as is this poem from Sounds of Numbers by Bill Martin Jr. (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston; First Edition (January 1, 1966) which could lead to all sorts of writing and maths activities.

My name is Tommy

I am not very big

I am not as big as a goat

A goat is bigger than I am

I am not as big as a horse

A horse is bigger than I am.

I am not as big as a n elephant

An elephant is bigger than I am

I am not as big as a whale

A whale is bigger than I am.

I am not as big as a dinosaur

A dinosaur is the biggest thing I know. 

Sometimes you pick up a book that has the power to take you well beyond its pages – and this is one of those.

Tjitji Lullaby

Tjitji Lullaby

Tjitji Lullaby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tjitji Lullaby

Michael Ross

Zaachariaha Fielding

Lisa Kennedy

ABC Books, 2022

20pp., board book., RRP $A9.99

9781460715703

Tjitji – sleep is a present from a day that was gorgeous.

In the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara languages, tjitji  means child and the beautiful, lyrical words in this book make it the perfect finale for the bedtime read as the curtains are drawn on the day.  The stunning artwork features Mother Kangaroo and other animal mothers  settling their little ones as dusk creeps over the landscape, singing them to sleep as they prepare for the night with images of calm, peace, tranquility and safety painted in both the words and pictures.

As the anticipation towards a certain day in December grows, this is one that will  be ideal to soothe and quieten the excitement so that the child can have a restful night – just as all the animals in the bush are doing.

Little people can watch the Tjitji lullaby just after 7.25pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays on ABC Kids, or anytime on the  ABC Kids app or ABC iview, but to have it in book format so they can have it every night when it is the perfect time for them is such a bonus. Parents can learn more, including how to pronounce the words, here

 

Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media Survival Guide

Holly Bathie

Usborne, 2022

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781474999267

Like it or not, use it or not, social media is an integral of today’s life and despite it being illegal for those under 13 to have accounts because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which prevents collection and storage of personal information from children under 13 years of age which originated in the US but which is pretty much universal, many of our young students still access sites and apps daily. 

For many parents, the world of social media and instant connectivity is not one in which they grew up – it’s all happened in the last 20 years –  and so helping their children navigate where they never went when they were children can be tricky.  Perhaps the recent hacking of Optus and Medicare and the exposure of personal date gathered legitimately can have a silver lining if it alerts parents to the spread of their digital footprint and propels them to start considering what they are sharing, and thus, their children. 

For even though way back in 1996 my school had a huge focus on safe surfing of the web and the kids, most of whom did not have access to computers and the internet at home, had the basics drummed into them from the get-go, the issues caused by the use of these instant, anonymous platforms continue to rise as our young people seek attention, fame, and in some cases, notoriety. Who can forget the death of 14 year old Dolly Everett who took her own life because of online bullying.?

Thus this book which enables our young readers, even those under the required 13 years) to manage their life, relationships and mental health on social media platforms and empowers them to stay safe online is an important read for all.  With the usual engaging layout we associate with Usborne, but in monochrome rather than colour, it offers in-depth coverage of a range of important a difficult issues young people face including body image, appearance-enhancing filters, influencers, sexual content and mental health. It uses recognisable themes rather than platform specifics, making the content relevant long-term, and tips on how to set up accounts safely and best manage privacy and messaging settings. It also addresses the user’s online persona, online reputation, and relationships; helps them understand  fake news and information and how to handle online bullying, as well as avoiding trolls.

While social media can have a really positive side – many would have been very isolated without during COVID lockdowns – and it would be wonderful if we could instil such a sense of confidence and well-being in the younger generation that they never feel the need for anonymous, meaningless affirmation, nevertheless there is a dark side and users must be aware of the potential for harm as well as good.  Once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. 

As well as being an important guide for the kids, it is also really useful for parents themselves as they learn what it is their child needs to know and do, understand and value as what was once just “peer pressure” from your immediate social circle is now a universal phenomenon right there in their hand. It goes hand-in hand with the excellent site and work of the E-Safety Commissioner established by the Australian government which has information for everyone from parents to teachers to kids to women to seniors and even a host of diverse groups who may be targeted or marginalised. 

Despite the care we take, every keystroke or finger tap can unknowingly add to our digital footprint, and so the better informed we are the safer we will be. Thus this is one to recommend to parents, to teachers and for yourself if you have responsibility for students or your own children online. 

 

Everyday Play

Everyday Play

Everyday Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday Play

Kate Ritchie

Puffin, 2022

176pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99

9780143777991

Sometimes in these days of high inflation, rising prices and general busy, busy, busy, we can get to the end of the day and realise that we haven’t had time to just play with our children, to enjoy their company and encourage their imagination and creativity.  And suddenly, they’re in school or college and those precious years are gone.

There is so much research into the importance of play for children of all ages – it’s commonly called “the child’s work” because it is critical for physical, social, emotional, cognitive and literary and numeracy development – that it is essential that we make time to really engage with the young ones in our lives and explore the world alongside them. Thus, this new book which is full of ideas for simple things to do together inside and out will be very welcome to parents who may have forgotten that most play does not need  time-consuming preparation or elaborate props.  A sheet over two chairs and there’s a secret cubby, add a torch and a book and there’s the bedtime story made extra special. 

Arranged according to the seasons but not restricted to following that timeframe, the book is full of ideas that both parent and child can dip and delve into to find fun together or individually.  From growing things, cooking things or learning a new craft to learning to breathe deeply, to taking the time to just appreciate Mother Nature or even just savouring a warm bath , there are suggestions that are simple but fun. The activities cover a broad age range so it is one that parents will find useful to have to stave off that inevitable “Om bored” wail, while independent readers can challenge themselves by making their own jigsaw puzzle , creating a workout circuit at a local park with friends or cooking shortbread for the family. 

Perhaps, instead of sweets and treats in the Christmas Countdown advent calendar, each family member could suggest an activity from the book, or another one they love, to be enjoyed each day and shared at the dinner table. A time that is family fun and screen free and the best for building family relationships that will last forever. Kids will remember the fun long after the novelty of a new bathroom has been forgotten.

 

The Muddy Chef

The Muddy Chef

The Muddy Chef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Muddy Chef

Penny Whitehouse

Emma Bear

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036380

Across Australia, and particularly in NSW, the one thing that there is plenty of right now is MUD. And kids who want to play in it. 

So this is a timely release that encourages children to play outside and make mud cakes, although these are quite fancy using all sorts of natural ingredients and with names like unlickable lasagne, mud and seed cupcakes and nature’s nachos!  Set out like a traditional recipe book, beginning with setting up the mud kitchen and stocking it with the appropriate utensils and ingredients, each recipe is based on a familiar food item with step-by-step instructions on how to make it, including a photo of the finished product. 

Designed to get children to play outside rather than necessarily developing their culinary skills – there are warnings about NOT eating what is created- as well as following the suggestions in the teachers’ notes  to entice children away from screens and out into their natural environment, this could also be an engaging way to introduce them to procedural texts and all the concepts and vocabulary of measurement, time and sequencing that go with those. 

Certainly something different to share with your parent body.

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Careful, Xiao Xin!

Alice Pung

Sher Rill Ng

Working Title Press, 2022

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

9781922033932

All through the day, no matter where he is or what he is doing, Xiao Xin’s family is warning him to be careful.  Even the most common things that children do like climbing on the monkey net come with warnings and commands not to do it. If ever an example of helicopter parenting were needed, this is it. 

But rather than feeling loved and protected, Xiao Xin feels stifled. 

They don’t understand what I can do!

They don’t understand what I can be!

For he dreams with his eyes wide open and sees himself as a Red Fire Warrior capable of doing “infinite things”. But more than that, he also sees how this constant care and concern is limiting him and his little sister.

So, when one day Xiao Xin leaves the house to prove he can be independent and safe,  and doesn’t tell anyone, panic sets in, until…

Children are often the most-longed for gift, and certainly the most precious, and so it is understandable that parents want to protect them, but this deeply-layered story with its stunning illustrations which add another dimension in themselves, demonstrates that just as our children grow up, so must we and we must be willing to let them become the confident, competent, independent adults they need to be. 

Written in both English and Mandarin (itself another layer of complexity), it is one that straddles all age groups as the child who hears it may well relate to Xiao Xin’s situation and the parent who reads it might also reflect on how their protectiveness and expectations might be stunting the child’s growth.  I was reminded of a vignette in a recent episode of Old People’s Home for Teenagers in which a young girl who, because of parental expectations, worked hard to excel academically stumbled when presented with a problem that could not be solved by the technology in her hand.  Reading a print street directory was too much of a challenge, but more concerning was her response to not being able to do so.  There is a fine line and Xiao Xin not only pushes it but has the courage to cross it!

Watch for this one in awards season! 

Dancing with Memories

Dancing with Memories

Dancing with Memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing with Memories

Sally Yule, Maggie Beer & Prof. Ralph Martins 

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2022

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

9780733342578

I am Lucy and I dance with memories.
Sometimes I remember.
Sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I remember that I forget.
Sometimes I forget that I remember…
My doctor says I have dementia.
I wish I didn’t but I do.
‘Your brain has changed’, she says, ‘but you are still Lucy.’
She knows that I have a brain AND a heart.

Sometimes Lucy remembers that she forgets, and sometimes she forgets that she remembers. But even if her memory plays tricks, she still has all the love in her heart for the people and activities she has always enjoyed.  On this particularly important day, the day of her granddaughter’s wedding, she is determined to get to the wedding on her own even though her daughter has left her a note telling Lucy she will pick her up.  But things go a little astray and she ends up lost….

As grandparents and great-grandparents live longer, more and more of our students are coming into contact with those with dementia and so this is an important book to have on hand to help them understand and cope with the condition. The author, Sally Yule, has been working with people with dementia, including her own parents, for over 30 years and as she says, her main purpose was to help children “learn the role they can play supporting people living with dementia in their family or community.”  Lucy’s story and the lively illustrations which accompany it demonstrate that there is still plenty of love and joy in a patient’s  life even if the memory is muddled, and that the person deserves the same respect and dignity as well as being able to continue to do the things they can for themselves, regardless.  

As well as the story itself, Professor Ralph Martins, Foundation Chair in Ageing and Alzheimer’s Disease at Edith Cowan University WA, and Professor of Neurobiology at Macquarie University NSW has contributed a Q & A that helps anyone understand the disease. In my opinion, the core message of this story is summed up in this one paragraph…

Q. Is someone with dementia still the same person on the inside, even though they act differently on the outside?

A. Yes, they are definitely the same person inside.  They can feel so much, even if they cannot tell you about it…

While there is not yet a cure for dementia, scientists are working towards discovering its cause, and, as with many diseases, a healthy diet is always a good start so Maggie Beer’s recipes for healthy lunchboxes that could be shared between child and patient add another dimension and there are some simple teachers’ notes that can offer suggestions for supporting those we know who are living with the illness. 

There is more and more evidence that intergenerational relationships offer so much to all involved, and this is yet another essential addition to the collection to not only promote this but encourage them.