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A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Mary Lee Donovan

Lian Cho

Greenwillow, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9780063228658

“There are almost as many ways of making someone feel welcome as there are people on the planet. ” 

However, regardless of the race, religion, culture or creed there are two things that particularly permeate our need to connect with others, to seek acceptance if not friendship, and offer help and protection for those in need and that is the verbal language of welcome and the sharing of food.

In this book, written as a poem to the world as a “protest against intolerance, injustice and inhumanity” both are explored and explained through the text and illustrations. Beginning as a way to discover how to say ‘welcome; in as many languages as possible, it has evolved into an exploration of the various customs that usually accompany the word when it is spoken.   Sitting alongside the text, the illustrator illuminates this with pictures of everyday families sharing food as they welcome strangers to their homes, culminating in a huge four-page spread that has everyone at the same table.  There is even a pronunciation guide to help you get your tongue around the unfamiliar words. 

Even though there are many languages throughout the world, there is a limit to the number that can be included and so the author has selected 13 of those most commonly spoken – English, Indonesian, Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Bengali, German, Hindi, Urdu, Lakota Sioux, Bashkir and Gaelic – immediately offering an opportunity for your students to add their own version both of the words and the customs, providing an authentic activity to celebrate both diversity and inclusion. Astute teachers would include a focus on the language of our First Nations peoples and a closer examination of the meaning, purpose and origins of the traditional Welcome to Country.

Just as the author discovered that there is so much more to ‘welcome” beyond the spoken word, so, too, there can be so much more to sharing this book to explore and share meaningful, purposeful learning. 

The Amazing Meals of Martha Maloney

The Amazing Meals of Martha Maloney

The Amazing Meals of Martha Maloney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Meals of Martha Maloney

Margaret Wild & Dan Wild

Donna Rawlins

Walker Books, 2021

25pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781921529238

Martha Maloney is on an excursion with her class to the Museum of Famous People – it’s a visit she has looked forward to all term because she has a unique way of exploring the life and times of those who have gone before.  Although her long-suffering teacher Mrs Souza warns her that “eating and drinking is absolutely, totally forbidden here”, Martha doesn’t hear a word because she is off having meals with the various folks she finds -King Henry VIII, Princess Marie Antoinette, Queen Nefertiti , Emperor Claudius, and Emperor Puyi travelling not only through time but also countries. 

Accompanying the spectacular illustrations is a commentary by Martha about the person and the banquet she finds herself at as well as the menu and fascinating endnotes that give a few facts about her host and the food of the time, all held together by the increasingly overwhelmed Mrs Souza who, as any teacher knows finds keeping lids together on an excursion is like the proverbial herding cats.

So far this review year, there has been a thread of discovering history – Our Country: Ancient Wonders; BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began; Earth is Big; Australian Backyard Explorer; and  The History of Everywhere , each giving a different perspective and offering ways to help our students explore times past through their various lenses and interests.  The Amazing Meals of Martha Maloney continues this trend offering a new way to investigate a people and their times, either expanding on those offered by the creators or by selecting someone at a different time who interests them. They could even compare the tables of the rich and famous of the time with those of the ordinary people, investigating the choices and the differences; compare the banquet of Henry VIII to that of Emperor Puyi and examine the menu’s variety  and what were considered delicacies where while comparing them to a similar occasion here… For those wanting a more modern and immediate focus they could compare what were considered festive foods in the time of their great-grandparents to what they eat (in the 50s, roast chicken was the Christmas table treat)  and perhaps even develop an extra entry for the book based on a 21st century treat.  They could investigate the food of their classmates and how it varies from what their own dinner table looks like, perhaps even culminating in an international food fest and recipe book!

If we consider food to be the essential common denominator across time and place, there is endless inspiration in this unique book that I believe will feature in many awards lists this year. 

 

Curious About Crocodiles

Curious About Crocodiles

Curious About Crocodiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious About Crocodiles

Owen Davey

Flying Eye, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781838740375

“The term ‘crocodile’ or ‘crocodilian’ is used to describe the roughly 26 species of the order Crocodilia. This order includes species known as ‘true crocodiles’ as well as alligators, gharials and caimans.” And to demonstrate the difference the first page of this fascinating book shows profiles of the differing heads of each species so before a page is turned something new has been learned.

Did you know that crocodiles can live to be over 100 years old, and can climb trees to sunbathe? They can even sense the vibrations from a single drop of water falling from the mouth of a drinking wildebeest over twenty metres away.

This is the seventh book in Owen Davey’s fascinating series which includes Bonkers About Beetles and Crazy About Cats  as well as Fanatical About FrogsMad About Monkeys , Obsessive About Octopuses, and  Smart About Sharks.   

While crocodiles traditionally evoke some degree of fear, the likes of Steve Irwin and Matt Wright, and perhaps even the early Crocodile Dundee, have taken them out of the swamps and the estuaries and given them a profile which means young readers are fascinated by them.  So this book with its clear explanations and multitude of diagrams is a great starting point for answering all those questions that little ones invariably have. 

After years of experience working with little ones and watching their reading habits, I know that the boys, particularly, like to borrow books about the scariest, fiercest, largest creatures – perhaps as some kind of personal armour – and so this one not only fits perfectly into that category but offers them much to investigate, learn and share in a very accessible format.  

While We Can’t Hug

While We Can't Hug

While We Can’t Hug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While We Can’t Hug

Eoin McLaughlin

Polly Dunbar

Faber, 2020

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

9780571365586

Hedgehog and Tortoise are the best of friends. They met when each was trying to find someone to give them a hug but now this nasty disease has hit the world, they are not allowed to hug each other any more. And that makes them sad.  But then Wise Owl shows them that there are many ways to show your love even if you can’t actually touch each other,

This is the sequel to The Hug, and is equally as heart-warming. Even though it was published a year or so ago it is a timely then as it was then with similar social distancing still being in place, although the pandemic is not mentioned because there are many reasons why friends might be separated and unable to hug each other.  And while Hedgehog and Tortoise offer a number of suggestions for connections, no doubt the children can offer more and can have fun doing so, putting them into practice so they can catch up with many different unseen people.  Remember when people put teddies in their windows so little ones could see them on their daily walk?  If not then, why not now? It all goes to telling each other we are seen and loved and thus, protecting and promoting our mental health. 

Rabunzel

Rabunzel

Rabunzel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabunzel

Gareth P. Jones

Loretta Schauer

Egmont, 2021

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

9781405298582

Rabunzel has a teeny tufty tail, a twitchy nose and two wide brown eyes. She also has VERY long ears – so long that her mother worries they will make her easy bait for the hungry creatures of the forest.

The answer? Rabunzel must be kept safe … in towering hutch, high in the sky. Here Rabunzel, bored to bits,  waits grumpily for her mother’s daily visit with carrots and fresh lettuce, letting down her ears so she can climb up the tower.

But one day, it isn’t her mother who climbs up Rabunzel’s very long ears…

Usually I’m wary of these fractured versions of fairytales because they can be a bit silly, but this new series is subtitled Fairy Tales for the Fearless and it has a feminist twist which sits with Neil Gaiman’s message perfectly.

With its rhyming text and lovely pictures, it is an entertaining story in itself and Rabunzel’s solution for dealing with the hungry animals and her rejection of her “saviour” Flash Harry Hare offer lots of discussion points that can initiate some critical thinking of other stories that our girls, particularly, are dished up as essential reading – still! It can also pose some provocative questions to challenge the thinking of some of our boys.

This video clip is the perfect accompaniment and summary…

 

 

And if you’re looking for more in this vein, this is from A Mighty Girl… The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess    ‘These princesses are smart, daring, and aren’t waiting around to be rescued – more than likely, they’ll be doing the rescuing themselves! Fans of independent princesses will also appreciate our collection of girl-empowering dolls, which includes several of the princesses depicted in these stories, as well as our collection of dress-up clothing which features several independent princess outfits. Our clothing section also features a Princess Alternative section with shirts depicting both independent princesses and alternative princess themes. For a diverse selection of more empowering fairy tales, visit our Fairy Tale & Folklore Collection.”

 

Cat Problems

Cat Problems

Cat Problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Problems

Jory John

Lane Smith

Walker, 2021

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781529506136

What could a pampered house cat possibly have to complain about?

Just like most cats, this cat lives an extremely comfortable life. But he has his problems, too… The sun spot he’s trying to bathe in just won’t stop moving. The nosy neighbour squirrel just can’t seem to mind its own business. And don’t even get him started on the monster that is the vacuum cleaner! It’s an absolute menace! Will this cat ever find the silver lining? 

The creators of both Penguin Problems and Giraffe Problems  have teamed up again with this new story that not only entertains but, like the others, has a subtle sub-text that is just right for these times.  Because while it has been an inside-cat for eight years and longs for a change of scenery, the squirrel has a different perspective on the outdoors and tells the cat so. Instead of being hand-fed in a warm cosy, exclusive setting, it has to share its tree, be out in all weathers and continually forage for its food. So while we might be tired of this pandemic and all its restrictions, there are those in other places who have it much tougher.  The grass is not necessarily greener… And while life, particularly misery and grief, is not a competition it is useful to view things through a different lens at times so we can be grateful for what we have. Even if we can’t get our favourite takeaway chicken right now because of supply chain issues, what would it be like to not even know if and when you are going to have another meal at all?

This a particularly relatable story for our young readers, not only because they have experienced the cat’s frustration of being confined, but because many of them will have their own cats and will have seen the behaviours that John and Smith so clearly articulate in words and pictures. But it might also give pause for thought – even though the preferred option is for cat-owners to keep their pets indoors these days, is that fair on a cat whose origins are wild and whose instincts are to be outdoors?

As with Penguin Problems and Giraffe Problems, the reader is once again encouraged to view particular situations through the perspective of others, a skill that helps develop both empathy and compassion while making them more aware of the impact of their own actions on others.  A powerful trilogy in the mindfulness collection. 

 

Winston and the Indoor Cat

Winston and the Indoor Cat

Winston and the Indoor Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winston and the Indoor Cat

Leila Rudge

Walker Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760652609

Winston is an outdoor cat and because that’s all he has ever known, it suits him perfectly.  Then he spies the Indoor Cat and thinks that it is trapped so he devises a plan to free it so it, too, can enjoy the outdoors as he does.  But the Indoor Cat soon learns that it prefers the indoors – can the two ever be friends?

In the vein of the old story of the town mouse and the country mouse, this is a story that introduces the concept of being able to be friends even if you have differences in beliefs, values and habits.  Both the simple but powerful text and the gentle illustrations in their subtle palette convey a tone of harmony even though the cats are distinctly different.  

A good one for the beginning of the school year when new classes are formed and friendships forged even though everyone is a unique individual. 

 

 

The History of Everywhere: All the Stuff That You Never Knew Happened at the Same Time

The History of Everywhere: All the Stuff That You Never Knew Happened at the Same Time

The History of Everywhere: All the Stuff That You Never Knew Happened at the Same Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The History of Everywhere: All the Stuff That You Never Knew Happened at the Same Time

Philip Parker

Liz Kay

Walker, 2021

64pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

 9781406391213

“History can seem a confusing and complex subject.  Civilisations rise and fall and the connections between them can be hard to understand.”

So in this innovative book, there is an attempt to show what has happening all over the world in any one period from the ancient civilisations to the modern world at the end of the 20th century. It shows that woolly mammoths were still around when the Egyptians built their pyramids and that Leonardo Da Vinci lived at the same time as Henry VIII and the Aztecs,

Divided into broad periods of history starting with 4000-1000BC double spreads have a background map of the world and superimposed on this are brief paragraphs about what was happening where at the time. There is a brief description about life during the time in general, and a key event is given more detail, encouraging budding historians to find out more and consider how that shaped the world overall.  Expanding on this are special “Focus on…” pages which take a closer look at those events or eras that had a major influence on the world such as Greece, Rome, China, Aztecs, Japan, Mughal India and so forth.  

Today’s events are also addressed, inviting readers to contemplate how events such as the development of smart phones and social media, the GFC, the environmental crisis and even the current pandemic will be viewed by the historians of the future.  How has the internet impacted on how the world’s peoples are so connected now and how has that shaped our lives, particularly the government policies that tend to drive so many decisions?  

If books like Ancient Wonders, and BANG   have sparked an interest in where we have come from and how we re who we are because of that, then this is the perfect introduction to encourage students to take a closer look via a format that is visually appealing and easily accessible. 

 

 

 

Monster! Hungry! Phone!

Monster! Hungry! Phone!

Monster! Hungry! Phone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster! Hungry! Phone!

Sean Taylor

Fred Benaglia

Bloomsbury, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99 

9781526606808

Monster is hungry and craves a pizza.  So he picks up his mobile phone to order one.  However, in his frustration he keeps dialing the wrong number…

This is a book for those who relate to the concept of reaching for the phone when they are hungry rather than on-hand ingredients.   Monster’s mood is captured in the bold colour palette, sharp illustrations and the heavy black font making it a not-so-restful book even though it is funny.  Perhaps an opportunity to discuss what else Monster could do rather than automatically order-in and maybe even a chance to teach about making a sandwich or other simple snack with all that following instructions incorporates. Opportunities to graph the children’s eating habits, favourite snacks, sandwich fillings and so forth – there is always maths embedded in stories if we just look, enabling this to be more than a one-off read. for both teachers and parents.

The Mountain

The Mountain

The Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mountain

Rebecca Gugger

Simon Röthlisberger

NorthSouth, 2021

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780735844575

The bear knows exactly what the mountain looks like—a forest. The sheep, octopus, and ant also know the mountain. It’s a meadow! It’s surrounded by water! It’s a maze of tunnels! The chamois and snow hare have their opinions too. It seems the mountain looks different to every animal. How can that be? And whose point of view is right, particularly when bird challenges them by asking if any of them have actually been to the top of it to investigate…

Reminiscent of the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant this is a great story to demonstrate how we each see things through the lens of our own experience and form opinions based on our relationship to an object or situation.  It’s why witnesses to an incident can each have a different account because different things have different priorities for them or their personal experience throws something into sharper relief. It’s why this Kiwi who grew up with the rugged, jagged Southern Alps as her stage setting now sees the current backdrop of the Snowy Mountains more as rolling hills, even though she knows and understands the geological differences. 

Thus, it is a wonderful way to explore the concept of perception with even young students – read them The King’s Breakfast by A. A. Milne and have them draw the king then compare and contrast the drawings so they begin to understand how their preconceived ideas influenced their drawing.  Continue with either the description of the BFG (Dahl) or the hobbit (Tolkien) and discuss how, even when they were working with identical words, each drawing is different. Have them retell Little Miss Muffet from the spider’s perspective and venture into the world of stereotypes and even “judging a book by its cover.” 

One book – so many options.  Perfect!