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Which Egg?

Which Egg?

Which Egg?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Egg?

Roxane Gajadhar

Rob Foote

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678584

When a huge wind blows the eggs of Stork, Parrot and Crocodile off their nests so they all end up in a jumble,  who knows which egg is which? Luckily, they have the sense and patience to wait for the eggs to hatch, and sure enough they are able to tell which baby belongs to which parent.

 Even though the theme of whose egg is whose is familiar, nevertheless it sets up all sorts of investigations for young children to follow.  Stork, Crocodile and Parrot each mentions a particular characteristic that their baby will have to enable them to identify them so not only could the child predict what that might be, but they could also think about what might be the significant indicator for other creatures they know, such as a zebra having stripes, and maybe setting up a parent-child matching game.  This could lead to them looking at themselves and their parents and seeing what of which they share.

More broadly they could start to develop their research skills by investigating which creatures hatch from eggs – clearly it’s not just birds. Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones was always my go-to text for this  and the children were always fascinated with what they learned, often leading into questions about their own origins.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same and which is becoming one of my favourite series for young readers because of the places they can go because of their reading.

Little Bat Up All Day

Little Bat Up All Day

Little Bat Up All Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Bat Up All Day

Brian Lies

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9780358269854

Little Bat has never stayed up all day before! He always goes to sleep at the end of the night and so he is very curious about how the world looks when he’s normally asleep. He’s excited to see how everything looks in the sun and so he decides to stay up all day.

It turns out the world is a much different place – it’s hot, bright, and noisy and full of new things. . Luckily, Rusty the Squirrel is willing to show Little Bat around, even though Little Bat struggles to stay awake.  But when these new, fast friends separate at the end of the day, how will they stay in touch when one is usually awake while the other is asleep?

With a distinctive illustrative style that has won him a Caldecott Honor award among others for The Rough Patch,  this is a charming story to share with young readers who always want to stretch their bedtime because they think that something magical happens to the world after dark.  And it does – for all sorts of creatures who have slept during the day emerge when the sun disappears and the shadows take over.  So it’s no wonder Little Bat is curious about what happens in the world while he is asleep. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As well as shining a light, so to speak, on the activities we diurnal creatures tend to take for granted, this is also an opportunity for young readers to learn about nocturnal creatures and consider why that is the best time for them to be awake. Why does Little Bat sleep during the day?  It can lead to investigations about why we have day and night, the phases of the moon, and even why all creatures need to sleep at some time.

More than just a bedtime story.  

 

Toodle the Cavoodle: Sniffle Snuffle

Toodle the Cavoodle

Toodle the Cavoodle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toodle the Cavoodle: Sniffle Snuffle

Richard Tulloch

Heidi Cooper Smith

Big Sky, 2022

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

9781922765772

Toodle the Cavoodle like to sniffle and snuffle because there were always lots of smells to tickle his nose.  

Sweet smells and sticky smells, muddy smells and messy smells, stink y smells, sweaty smells and could-be-good-to-eat smells…

But now the grandparents of Lillipilly Lane want to clean up the old abandoned scritchy-scratchy grass patch with its rusty cans, plastic bottles and old car and make it a safe play area for the sparkly-sandals girl and the other neighbourhood children.  Smelly sneakers grandpa and grubby-gumboots grandma shoo him away but can disaster be averted when he takes refuge in the old car?

This is a new picture book series for young readers – Whoops-a-diddle is due in December – that will delight dog lovers with its charming artwork and roll-off-the-tongue language that changes a simple story into a family favourite.  

Both the Australian Curriculum  and the new NSW syllabus have a focus on how the use of particular vocabulary promotes imagery and understanding of texts, and this is a perfect example of how the clever use of both alliteration and onomatopoeia combined with inspired design can invoke all the senses to make reading a 3D experience in the way that only print can.  Young readers will love hearing and playing with the language and then making up their own – have a look at their own shoes and think of how they would describe themselves, and then the  two words they would use for their grandpa or grandma or teacher or…? Have them lie in the grass and discuss how it feels or sniff the air and see what they can identify.  Apart from playing with language, there are extensive, AC-linked teachers’ notes available.

Taking it further is the hallmark of a quality read and this does it so well.   

 

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Turtle Becomes a Grandma

Julia Hopp

Michael Lee

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922678720

Wonderful news – Mrs Turtle is becoming a Grandma! But Mrs Turtle is worried she may not be a good enough Grandma for the new baby. After all, with her love of socialising, travelling and exercising she was not like most other turtles )or grandmothers) that she knew and she was concerned that she would not match expectations.

Beginning with the illustration on the front cover with a very glamorous turtle with flowing golden locks and red high heels, this is a great story for introducing young readers to the concept of stereotypes as well as building and meeting expectations.  

Currently, there is a series of advertisements on television for an insurance company that invites the viewer to make assumptions about various people based on their external appearance and the assumptions made could not be further from the truth of the reality, and this story is in a similar vein.  What assumptions do we already make about turtles and/or grandmothers? What do we expect them to look like or behave? Why do we have those expectations? Are they valid? How do we feel when their looks and actions don’t meet our expectations?  Important questions for children to discuss but equally so are those relating to the expectations we put on ourselves and the consequences if we feel we do not meet what we expect of ourselves, or what we think others expect of us. Do we hide away,  berate ourselves and have all sorts of negative thoughts that we eventually turn into truths, or are we able to learn from the situation and move on? Can we learn and accept that everyone’s definition of “perfect” is different and who we are as we are is enough?

Grandma Turtle learns a really valuable lesson in this story and young readers can start to have conversations about the issues raised too. There is a saying about being “comfortable in your own skin” which eventually happens when you understand that the only opinions that matter are your own and those of those who are important to you, and so by starting the conversations early with stories such as this, our young people might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of peer pressure that are ahead of them.

A little story but with huge potential, well beyond the protection of turtles that the author includes in the final pages. . 

Cats in Chaos

Cats in Chaos

Cats in Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats in Chaos

Peter Bentley

John Bond

HarperCollins, 2022

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

 9780008469184

In the dark of night, as their owners sleep, the cats of the city are all headed to one place: Catsby’s Great Circus! Step this way and see conjuring cats, felines that fly, Siamese that swing from above, and don’t miss the mighty PURRCULES CLAW. But with so much activity, it only takes one little mouse in the wrong place to put the whole circus in chaos…

I have to confess to not being  a “cat person”  although I have always loved T. S. Eliot’s Macavity’s Not Therethat lingers in the back of my childhood memories as one of the few poems I truly loved from my schooldays.  But this rhyming, tumbling jumble of cats would be up there too, now, as one to share with students just for the fun of the language, let alone the storyline.  Bright, eye-catching pictures capture the chaos as the story hums along with humour and madness – all the qualities that are going to engage young readers who are going to wonder what their cats do at night.  Are they cunning criminals in league with Macavity, the Hidden Paw, or are they secret circus artists with talents hidden from their owners? 

Diary of a Rescued Wombat

Diary of a Rescued Wombat

Diary of a Rescued Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Rescued Wombat – The Untold Story

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9781460761823

Twenty years ago, a baby wombat was rescued from its burrow in southern New South Wales and began a story that not only continues today through the adventures of her granddaughter Wild Whiskers posted on Jackie’s FB page,  but which brought a whole new dimension to the stories published for preschoolers at the time. For despite Diary of a Wombat  being simple one-word captions accompanying Bruce Whatley’s adorable illustrations, those words told a story, endeared the character to the readers and left them wanting more.  And despite being simple one-word captions accompanying Bruce Whatley’s adorable illustrations, that book was loved by all ages and went on to win the Young Australian Readers’ Award (along with a host of others) for that year, an award for which I was co-coordinator but which was entirely decided by the reviews and votes of children throughout Australia.  

Since then, as well as being made into a stage presentation and having a commemorative coin minted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its publication, Diary of a Wombat is now a must-have staple in the collection of any new-born baby, as familiar and as loved as Grandma Hush and Poss, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and a small handful of others who have survived the test of generations. 

But what led Mothball to become such a part of Jackie French’s family and for her descendants to be as loved as she is?

In this new book, Jackie and Bruce take the reader back to where it all began, to where little Mothball was initially rescued and how she developed a love of carrots (but not so much for toilet paper) and how she learned she could train the humans she lived with to do her bidding.  In a world full of prequels and sequels, in my opinion, this is one of the best prequels ever!!!  And not just because it is charming and engaging and brings back so many memories including the beginning of a long-standing personal friendship with the author, but because of the joy and wonder and awareness that it is going to bring to another generation of children as the wombat is cited as being the most endearing of Australia’s indigenous creatures by so many.  

In her book The Fire Wombat , Jackie tells of the impact that the fires that ravaged the landscape three years ago had on the wildlife; but now our country has been devastated by floods and many wombat burrows and other habitats are under threat again.  How many other little Mothballs are there that now need our help, our care and our support?  By telling the original story in this way, so that both books go hand in hand, a new generation of readers is going to feel a similar connection to these creatures and thus ensure their safety and survival.  

The memory of Miss 6 sitting up in bed beside Miss 2 and reading Diary of a Wombat to her, one of the first she had ever read independently and was so determined to share with her little sister, is one of my most precious.  So my review copy is going to be in a special Santa Sack this Christmas, even though the girls are now 16 and 12, and it will be as warmly welcomed there as it will be by any other little (or big) reader who is given it. 

 

Far Away Granny

Far Away Granny

Far Away Granny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far Away Granny

Harriet Cuming

Angela Perrini

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922358417

When Granny lives far, far away, there are lots of ways her granddaughter can keep in touch with her. But what happens when her granddaughter fantastically slips through the screen? Well, they cuddle together and eat ice cream- sometimes caramel and sometimes mint green.

Connecting with grandparents via apps like Zoom has become the norm for grandparents and grandchildren over the last few years – perhaps it was one of the few positives of COVID as we all became a bit more tech-savvy- and it’s a far cry from my 50s childhood when we waited for our grandparents to make the 17 mile trip from their town to ours because they had a car and we didn’t!! (A trip that took ages then but is nothing now as both towns are almost linked by suburban sprawl.)

But what hasn’t changed is the anticipation, excitement and love when a meeting happens and this book celebrates the connections and special bonds, regardless of the means used to make it. 

As the holiday season approaches and plans are made for family gatherings, the physical distance between the generations is often emphasised as some make plans for long-awaited visits while others realise it won’t happen so this is one to help them understand that even though they can’t be together, the love is just as strong and undiminished and there will be a real-time, real-life get together to share that ice cream.

Lots of opportunities for little ones to share their special relationships with their grandparents, the things they will do together when they do get together – and their favourite ice cream flavour!

 

Peg Leg Pedicure

Peg Leg Pedicure

Peg Leg Pedicure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peg Leg Pedicure

Eliza Ault-Connell

Aimee Chan

Angela Perrini

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922358424

Eva is so used to her mum having artificial legs because she had lost her real ones after a childhood illness, that she is quite taken aback when a school friend calls her mum “weird” because of them.  Eva sees her mum as strong and brave and busy just like all the other mums, one who makes light of her metal legs by pretending to be a pirate and who lets Eva give her old, more traditional peg-legs pedicures and paint the toes like rainbows.  

But rather than be cross with Rishab for upsetting Eva, her mum has the perfect solution – and so she shows the kids how being different in one way or another is what makes them extraordinary.

While stories about children being different are quite common for little ones, it is not often there is one about the parent, particularly one based on a true situation because co-author Eliza Ault-Connell, an Australian wheelchair track athlete who has competed at the Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships after losing her legs and most of her fingers but surviving meningococcal disease is Eva’s “mum”. 

Thus, by celebrating her “disability” – something that opened more doors for her than she could probably have imagined as an able-bodied person – young children can be inspired to make the most of what they have.  That that which sets them apart is what makes them unique and extraordinary. I can always remember my mum telling me as a young child in the 50s that with red hair, glasses and freckles I probably wouldn’t win a beauty contest but I had brains that would outstrip anyone and so that is what I used as I grew up and they lasted much longer than any pretty face might have.

This is an uplifting story that encourages our young readers to focus on what they perceive to be their weaknesses and then work out how they can use them to be brave and bold and smart, no matter what.   

The Sun and the Mayfly

The Sun and the Mayfly

The Sun and the Mayfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun and the Mayfly

Tang Tang

Zhang Xiao

Little Steps, 2022

44pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678041

As Little Mayfly is born in the depths of the lake, moving upwards through the water she greets the sun who is rising over a new day. 

“Hello”, she says, ” you are amazing. You light up this world as soon as you wake up. Who are you?” 

Sun tells her but when it learns that Little Mayfly only lives for one day and when it’s journey is over so will be her life, it has no words because it knows just how brief a day is.  But to Little  Mayfly, a day is a lifetime and there is so much to see and do, and even though she learns that she is going to miss out on things like the tadpole turning to a frog and the flowers booming., she remains cheerful and optimistic, determined to make the most of the time she does have.

Tagged as “an uplifting story about the power of positivity and making the most of every day” this is an enchanting story from a leading Chinese author that not only introduces young readers to the passage of time and encourages them to make the most of their time, it also helps them start to see the world through a different lens – an abstract concept that is tricky for little ones.  It is like that saying that not stepping on the ant makes a huge difference to the ant, if not the walker.  If we only have one day, do we spend it in despair or delight?

Even though the reader longs for a happier miraculous ending as the sun gradually sinks in the west, the inevitable happens and so this is also an opportunity to introduce the concept of life cycles  the tadpole’s is illustrated in the story but in a joyful way – and so the focus becomes not the inescapable but what can be done in the time we have.  Definitely one for the mindfulness collection and to inspire positive  mental health. 

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Mum

Zoē Foster Blake

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2022

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

 9780143779681

Ana and Louis are tired after a long day at school and kinder. They just want to watch TV . . . but Mum wants to play battle! She has a whole bunch of new moves to try out and there’s simply no stopping her.
‘Just FIVE minutes!’ pleads Mum. ‘Pleasepleaseplease?’
So the kids drag themselves off the couch. Mum PROMISES not to be too rough and that there will be absolutely NO TICKLING.
So Ana and Louis prepare to take on Battle Mum! Hopefully they can complete the game before Dad gets home . . . and wants to play too!

This is another hilarious story from Zoē Foster Blake in which she takes an everyday situation and turns it on its head.  Just as in Scaredy Bath and Back to Sleep, she has reversed the roles of the characters so this time, instead of it being the children who want five minutes more to indulge in some raucous, boisterous play, it is the mother.  Once again,  young readers who will see themselves and their nighttime antics in the actions of the parents- although whether that will actually change things is problematic because “just five minutes more” is genetically programmed into preschoolers in my experience.  

Inspired by her own children’s actions, the author strives to teach children “to empathise, how to respect others and themselves and deal with life events”, using the humour that comes with role reversal to temper the lessons and put imagination and entertainment at the forefront.  Accompanied by action-packed illustrations  this is a bedtime story that will more likely invoke more laughter and tickling than the regular sleep-inducing lullaby. Perhaps it is one for a little earlier…