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A Stone for Sascha

A Stone for Sascha

A Stone for Sascha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Stone for Sascha

Aaron Becker

Candlewick Press, 2018 

48pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780763665968

Just before the family leaves on a holiday at the beach, they bury their beloved dog.  As Sascha grieves and dusk falls, she takes her bucket to the ocean’s edge to collect stones to take home to cover the bare mound that is her dog’s grave.  Among those she picks up is one that is particularly bright and shiny and as she looks up to the stars she begins to wonder and trace the stone’s journey to its resting place on the shore.  From a meteor that hurls itself to Earth in the time of the dinosaurs to being picked up by Sascha and eventually placed on her dog’s grave,  it has a long and fascinating history that reveals itself in a series of stunning illustrations in this wordless text, traveling through time and across lands. 

But, perhaps most important of all, although Sascha continues to miss her dog terribly, she begins to understand that nothing is truly lost – everything, even a stone and a dog, has a history and a legacy and is but one piece in the jigsaw that is both our own and the planet’s story.  We are more than what is happening to us in the moment – all that has gone before has shaped us and what we do now will change us for the future. 

Described by one reviewer as the “young person’s Shaun Tan”, this story has so many layers to explore and ponder with each visit – Becker’s decision to not add text means the reader has to impose their own making for a wonderful opportunity to reflect and consider and wonder. Against the background of the muted palette, the gold of the stone stands out like a thread weaving its way through a carpet, just as our own individual stories while being but one strand of a much larger tale, nevertheless stand out for us.

The Silver Sea

The Silver Sea

The Silver Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silver Sea

Alison Lester & Jane Godwin

Children from the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne

Affirm Press, 2018

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

9781925584745

Let’s go down to The Silver Sea,
Come on, I’ll hold your hand…

Take a journey with two little children as they explore what is beneath the waves in this magical adventure created by young people at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne with  Australian authors Alison Lester and Jane Godwin.

Inspired by a multi-storey aquarium that was once part of the RCH environment, and created during a series of drawing workshops with the young patients, this is a stunning collaboration that features the rhythmical lullaby-like text of Lester and Godwin and the distinctive artwork of children that can never be replicated by adults.   From splashing with the dolphins and seals in the waves to deep down in the indigo depths and back home again through diving shearwaters, the vast array of sealife is brought to life through the eyes and hands of the children.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Little ones will be inspired to create their own images of what they might see if they were able to go on an adventure like the children in the story. while older readers might like to investigate some of the creatures that they encounter.  There is nothing quite so entrancing as seeing a leafy sea dragon in amongst the seaweed – an enduring memory of my scuba diving days – and wanting to know more about them!

All proceeds from the book’s sales go to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, making an extra reason for ensuring this utterly charming story is in your collection.  

 

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Nicola Connelly

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594102

What makes you special?

Is it the way you look or something that you can do?

Is it the way you giggle or the way you wiggle?

This is a new take on a perennial topic that will encourage little people to think about what it is that makes them special.  With the entire text being in question format as though the author is speaking directly to the reader, it provokes thought about those things that are unique to us that make us stand out, going beyond the obvious of the colour of the skin, eyes and hair and starting to look at the inner person-their personality, their expertise  and their mannerisms.  Even those with low self-esteem will be able to contribute something and perhaps get a little lift that there is something special about them.  

Annie White’s charming illustrations in watercolour and pencil show that even within one family of four kids from the same parents and exposed to the same sorts of things, there is huge diversity amongst them which is accepted, appreciated and celebrated within the family. 

Extensive teachers’ notes offer new ideas about using this book with early childhood children but as a parent-child read-along, it’s a great opportunity for a chat about how the child and other family members are special and even what makes the family itself unique.

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl's 1 2 3

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9780241330364

What happens when you mix the master storytelling of Roald Dahl, iconic bright illustrations by Quentin Blake and the time-proven format of a counting book?  You get a fantastic book for very young readers that introduces them to an author/illustrator combination that will delight them for years.

Using The Enormous Crocodile as its base, young children will delight in seeing all the other chiddlers gather to play in the park while at the same time, in true pantomime style, wanting to yell out at warn them about what they can see hiding in the bushes.  Counting books are plentiful, those that tell a story not-so, and those which build to a climax that is only resolved by a cunning lift-the-flap conclusion, rare.  This book ticks so many essential boxes in helping our youngest readers continue their reading journey with confidence and independence  knowing that the BEST books tell a story.  Miss 3 adored it and will be a Dahl/Blake fan for life, just like Miss Almost-12!

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Best Friend is a Goldfish

Mark Lee

Chris Jevons

Carolrhoda Books, 2018 

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

9781512426014

“If you ask me, a best friend is the best thing in the world .  Best friends enjoy the same things. They play together all the time. and they always get along with each other.”

So it was never going to end well when one wanted to be the captain of the spaceship and the other, the captain of the pirate ship.  Harsh words are said, a friendship is split and a new best friend has to be found.  But dogs, cats, hamsters and even goldfish have their drawbacks as best friends and so…

This seamless combination of text and illustrations challenges the concept that many little people have that best friends are like peas in a pod, liking and doing the same things at the same time and never being different.  Is it possible to have different ideas and do different things and still be best friends? If someone disagrees with us, does that mean the friendship is doomed or does it offer an opportunity to explore and respect the differences, perhaps even learn something new?  Can we have more than one friend at a time? How is a best friend different from a regular friend? While in this book the friends look similar, is this a pre-requisite to being friends?  How do shared values and beliefs affect friendships? Is it OK to be angry with or disappointed in or surprised by your best friend?

“What is a friend?” is a perennial topic in early childhood education and this book can take the conversation a step further by having the children consider those sorts of questions. Having friends is about being a friend and there are many facets to that.

 

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish

Ben Long

David Cornish

Ford Street, 2018 

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

9781925736038

“By the corals of the ocean, where it’s quiet, calm and cool, 

an octopus named Jasper dragged his tentacles to school.

He felt that counting jellyfish was too much of a struggle.

“I just can’t do it,” Jasper said. “I’d rather learn to juggle.”

And so, with the help of some obliging jellyfish, he did.  First he tried throwing them all in the air but they splattered everywhere, so on the wise advice of freckle he started with just one, then two then three, then four.  But four proved a bit of a challenge so it was time for some more advice, this time from Curlywurly and soon Jasper discovered he could count way past the original five!

With its unique concept, rhyming text that is LOL funny, and bright bold pictures, this is a charming counting book that will engage the young reader because it has a real story to it.  It’s more than just pointing, matching and counting underscoring the book’s message that we can learn anything if we find a way that suits us.  And there is so much more in the story than just being able to count to 12, all of which would lend itself to some splendid artwork that could explain all that the children have learned while they’ve been having such fun.

Superb.

The All New Must Have Orange 430

The All New Must Have Orange 430

The All New Must Have Orange 430

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The All New Must Have Orange 430

Michael Speechley

Penguin Viking, 2018

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

9780143788973

Remember the fidget spinners of last year that were the essential, all-new, must-have for kids?  The beyblades? The shopkins? And a hundred other toys that clever advertising has made top-of-the-toy-parade but which fade as quickly as they appear?  Well, Harvey had them all – and then some! Boxes and buckets full of them! So when he heard about The All New Must Have Orange 430 then he had to have that too.

The only thing that was empty in Harvey’s room was his money box but after checking everything and everywhere he finally found enough coins to be able to buy his latest desire.  So intent was he on owning it that he didn’t notice the huge April Fools’ Sale sign or that this  All New Must Have Orange 430 sat on a shelf surrounded by items such as dead batteries, free fat, grey fluff and even a lead balloon! He was only focused on having The All New Must Have Orange 430!

When he got home he eagerly unwrapped it.  It had EVERYTHING _ a thingy that did nothing; a whatsit that did squat; a dooverlacky that was whacky; and a something that was silly.  But what did it do? No matter what he did, it did nothing and he finally realised it was “actually completely useless.”

So he decided to take it back – and then his life changed forever.

In a world that seems to be all about having the latest and greatest, keeping-up-with-the-Jones is paramount and we are bombarded by advertisements in every aspect of our lives (even in public toilets),  this book is a breath of fresh air.  As parents find it easier to give into pester power than suffer the sulks of a firm “no’ as their children mimic their own consumer-driven behaviour, the ideas of looking for value or even restraint and second thoughts seems to have disappeared in this age of instant gratification. So to have a well-written, superbly illustrated book that compels the reader to think before they buy is excellent and will serve as a brilliant teaching tool to introduce the power of advertising, peer pressure, impulse buying, the value of money and even saving for something that seems to be beyond the mindset of so many, including Miss 12! Maybe, for those who are a little older, there could be an examination of the psychology that drives the need to belong, to be one of the flock rather than individual.

Its sepia tones used for all but The All New Must Have Orange 430 add to its layers as they depict what appears to be a beige life with the only spot of colour being a new purchase. But once the brief thrill of the purchase is made, and everyone has what the other does, it too fades to beige in anticipation of the next best-thing.  

As nearly all of us seek more and more storage for more and more stuff, swearing that we will declutter someday soon, reading and taking heed of the important themes of this book may help our younger students refrain from being Harveys in the first place!  

Definitely one for Miss 12 and Miss 7 – perhaps even their parents!  And definitely one for any unit of work that focuses on consumerism and marketing. 

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Leaf

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2018 

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

9781925736007

In the centre of the local town there are huge trees, planted generations ago and now the source of the most stunning leaf show in autumn that children and adults alike love to swoosh through, making them scatter, building piles to fall into and have some great free fun on Mother Nature.  

And so it is with Elly and Mai on this “cold-sun sort of day, this wind-in-the-branches day.  Both are in the park and they meet as they kick their way through the rustling, crunching piles, each searching for that perfect leaf and eventually finding something even more special.  Is there a perfect leaf to be found?  Is it yellow as butter or red as a summer apple? Delicate as gold or crimson velvet? Like a warm flame on a winter’s day of rain or like the sun on your face on a day so cold that your breath steams like a dragon’s? Does it matter if there is a tear, a mark or a hole or do they all have a special magic?

The language, the pictures, the colours of this story make the fun of playing in autumn leaves that we all remember burst from the page in a joyous celebration of childhood delight.  Young readers will readily relate to Elly and Mai and their special quest while adult readers will have a smile of reminiscence. Apart from the riot of colour, Andrew has also hidden lots of little woodland dwellers in the shapes and shadows pictures – you can find the list in the teachers’ notes  – so the reader is encouraged to not only look at the details in the picture but also to look more closely at the natural world that surrounds them so that something like a pile of autumn leaves becomes a full sensory experience.  Perhaps they, too, will find the magic as Elly and Mai did. 

Each time I receive a book with Andrew Plant’s name on it (The Poppy, Spark and Glitch) I look forward  to something special – and this is no different. A wonderful kickstart to asking “Why do the leaves change colour?” and all the STEM activities associated with that.

Scaredy Cat

Scaredy Cat

Scaredy Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scaredy Cat

Heather Gallagher

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2018 

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

9781925594171

“Have you seen my Scaredy Cat?

He’s afraid of this and afraid of that…”

There are many things that put fear into her beloved pet like “noise and walking toys and  calling, sprawling, brawling boys”  but the little girl is very brave and protective and happy to keep him safe.

The repetitive text, rhyme and rhythm make this a catchy story to read and share and the clean, crisp illustrations provide lots to enjoy but don’t overwhelm the page so that the reader can still have fun trying to find Scaredy Cat in them.  He’s there in each one.  The ending is quite unexpected. 

One to make us think about how far we would go for our pets. 

 

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

Laura Gehl

Sarah Horne

Carolrhoda Books, 2018

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

9781512431308

Three times Ana asked Abuela Lola for tickets to the amusement park for her birthday but instead, she got a CHICKEN. Somewhat pragmatic Ana figures it’s better than socks or a sweater or underwear and she does like scrambled eggs, but this is not ordinary chicken.  Rather than laying eggs and doing other chicken things, this one has a long list of the most extraordinary things including straw, sticks and bricks, 100 steel girders, 10 000 screws, 60 000 nails, a host of familiar nursery characters, even a partridge in a pear tree!  

Then with the help of Ana’s other pets, the chicken sets to work digging, building, hammering… what on earth is happening?

This is a unique story that has the most outrageous but fun ending that will delight young readers.  Told by the bewildered Ana with the title being the repetitive pattern, and the chicken only communicating through placards, the sparse text is in direct contrast to the illustrations which are full of busyness, action and foreground detail. Little ones will be wondering just what it is the chicken is doing and even the adult reader will suspend their disbelief as the story rollicks along.

Fun for everyone especially if they are then challenged to design their own amusement park or work on Ana’s wish for her next birthday.