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The Most Amazing Thing

The Most Amazing Thing

The Most Amazing Thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Amazing Thing

Ian Hayward Robinson

Matt Shanks

A & U Children, 2024

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

9781761180118

It’s wet. gloomy, indoors day ad Henry is stuck inside with nothing to do.  His dad is tinkering with his telescope, his sister is doing an experiment, his brother is meditating and his mother is working on her novel.  None of these were activities to include Henry, and so he asks his mum for a suggestion.

“Why don’t you draw me the most amazing thing?” she suggests.

But what is the most amazing thing.  Henry is baffled and all the other family members have a different answer. Is it life, like his sister says?  Is it the universe like his dad says? Or is it the mind like his brother says?  Or is it something else entirely? So, at the risk of disturbing his mum again, he asks her… and she gives him the most amazing answer.

Little people often have big questions and this is an intriguing way to introduce them to the idea of wondering and imagining, as it would be so easy to have them ask Henry’s question and draw their responses before the story is finished.  Are they as bamboozled as Henry?  Do they draw what his mum suggests?  Why does each draw something different? Can there be many answers to the same question, whether it’s the one posed by Henry’s mum or something else?  What is perspective and what role does that play? Do all questions have answers?

Author Ian Hayward Robinson was a tutor in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and taught Philosophy of Education at Coburg Teachers College and so it seems appropriate that his first picture book for children opens up so many questions for little ones to consider and explore. 

How to Find a Rainbow

How to Find a Rainbow

How to Find a Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find a Rainbow

Alom Shaha

Sarthak Sinha

Scribble, 2024

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

9781761380372

Reena and Rekha may be sisters, but when it comes to the weather, they couldn’t be more different.  Reena hates rainy days because she sees them as grey and gloomy, depriving her of being outside painting all the bright and beautiful things.  Whereas Rekha loves the smell of wet earth and the solitude of being outside when everyone else is in.

As she splashes in the puddles she sees a rainbow, and knows immediately that it is something Reena will want to see.  But by the time Reena joins her, the rainbow has disappeared.  Where can it be?  Will they find it again?

There is a saying, “Without rain, there can be no rainbows”, and this charming story can be read on two levels – that of two sisters in search of a physical rainbow and that of emerging from a gloomy emotional episode and beginning to find joy again.  It offers scope for investigating the science of rainbows (as well as instructions for creating one) , but also helps young readers understand that even if siblings or friends don’t like the same things, there are still ways to come together.  With much of the story carried in the dialogue which is assigned directly to each character, and an original style of artwork, this is a story of two red pandas that offers much to young readers learning to explore the world around them so that they will be looking forward to the next rainy day to explore for themselves. You could even teach them the word “petrichor” which is the grown-up word for the smell of dry earth as rain hits it, and watch them impress others with their knowledge! 

Night Watch

Night Watch

Night Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Watch

Jodi Todering

Tannya Harricks

Walker Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760655310

As Sun’s final flames linger in the sky and Dusk whispers, Tawny Frogmouth wakens and with a drumming noise, calls Moon over the horizon because together they have a journey to make.  It is time for the Night Watch.

And so, over Australia’s vast and diverse landscapes they travel, bidding goodnight to her many creatures with their babies as they settle down…

Over the years I have read and reviewed many books focusing on Australia’s unique wildlife, each special in its own way, but this lyrical, lullaby-like tale is outstanding. With its bold, oil painting illustrations that echo not only the deepening and then lightening of the night but also the strength that is required to thrive in the landscape, the  reader is taken on the same journey as Moon and Tawny Frogmouth with the words calming and gentling as both reader and those in the book settle down to sleep. It reinforces the notion that even though it might be dark, nevertheless someone or something is looking over the sleeper and dawn will come to begin another day, and with all being well, Tawny Frogmouth’ work is done for the night..

Loved it and if ever there were a must-have book to share at a baby book shower to start the little one on their 1000 books before big school,  this is it.  Timeless and one to pass on and on and on… 

 

When The Fog Rolls In

When The Fog Rolls In

When The Fog Rolls In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Fog Rolls In

Pam Fong

Greenwillow, 2024

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

9780063136540

On a clear day, when the sea and the horizon stretch endlessly around, the flock of puffins takes flight from their rocky island home – except for one, who is a little tentative and anxious.  But, when he has the courage to follow his mates, the fog rolls in and things become murkier and murkier until it is so thick, he stumbles and can’t find his way forward.  Perhaps it would be safer to stay just where he is, but when a walrus looms in front of him, he realises that that can be dangerous.  And so, he summons his brave that let him leave his home in the first place, and goes forward learning that “the closer you get, the more you see. And the more you see, the clearer the path becomes.” And eventually, the fog lifts and the world and the horizons spread in front of you again.

On the surface this is a story about a little puffin separated from his flack, lost, afraid and bewildered until he finds them again, but it has been deliberately written as an allegory for helping young ones navigate uncertainty, open their minds and finding their way back to a place of safety and certainty. It helps them understand that, at times, we all face feeling lost and unsure, having to make decisions and having faith that what we decide will lead us to clarity.  

While there are lots of stories that celebrate being happy and positive, and others that deal with anger and sadness, there are few that confront confusion and uneasiness in such a way that makes it easy to start conversations and explore those emotions so that the child not only understands that there can be a pathway through without becoming too anxious, but others feel the same way at times.

An exceptional addition to your mindfulness collection for little ones, while useful for teaching older students about allegories and learning to read between and beyond the lines to what the author is really saying – an essential skill in being a critical reader.   

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Rabbits

Larissa Ferenchuk

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2024

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

9781922539656

On a dark rainy night, in a cold wet field, Little Grey Rabbit and Little Brown Rabbit had an argument, their words carried away on the wind. And as you do when you have had an argument, each stormed off – Little Grey Rabbit into the street towards her home, and Little Brown Rabbit into the lane towards hers… Will they be able to come back together and find a way to save their friendship?

Using a clever textual technique where the actions and thoughts of each are mirrored in the text, this is a charming story for little ones who are still feeling their way with forming friendships beyond the family and learning that you can still be friends even if you disagree on some things.  Yes, there is anger and sadness and even loneliness, but these become reasons to mend the friendship rather than destroying it.  Apologising is being smart and grown up, not a weakness, and with the reason for the original argument not disclosed, the focus is on those feelings and the coming together again.  

The endpapers are interesting – see if the child can spot the difference – and they will have fun spotting places and tracing journeys of the map.  

One that is perfect to add to the collection exploring how to make and maintain friendships, particularly in those early months of school. 

Artichoke to Zucchini

Artichoke to Zucchini

Artichoke to Zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artichoke to Zucchini

Alice Oehr

Scribble, 2023

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

9781761380617

Many of us grew up learning that healthy eating was based on selecting something from the five food groups each day…

 

Five Food Groups

Five Food Groups

And then we learned that we should be judicious in our choices using the Food Pyramid as a guide…

Food Pyramid

Food Pyramid

Then we were encouraged to eat a rainbow every day…

Food Rainbow

Food Rainbow

So it seems only logical that now we can indulge in an entire alphabet of food in this beautifully illustrated new release from graphic artist Alice Oehr, a follow up to her successful first book, Off to Market. a CBCA Notable and the Winner of the 2023 ABIAs Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year.

A is for artichokes and long spears of asparagus. It’s for bright, creamy avocados and salty little anchovies …

While these sorts of books appear, on the surface, to be for very young readers learning new vocabulary as they pick out those foods they recognise, they have a much wider value as we try to encourage little ones to learn to make healthy choices from the get-go.  Students can have fun classifying the various foods into those familiar food groups; they can tick off those they have tried and those they are yet to try; they can suggest foods they know that start with a particular letter but which haven’t been included on the page; those from other countries can contribute foods they are familiar with which we might not know; they can seek out recipes and ways to cook and prepare the foods they are unfamiliar with; they can carry out research and data collection of favourite foods; they might even venture into the history of food, the concept of food miles, traditional foods for traditional celebrations – the list is endless.

This is the first book I’ve reviewed for this company and if this is the calibre, then we are in for some good stuff.  I’m just glad I did the review after my healthy chicken and salad meal! 

Questions and Answers About Refugees

Questions and Answers About Refugees

Questions and Answers About Refugees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions and Answers About Refugees

Katie Daynes

Ashe De Sousa

Oksana Dkachkovska

Usborne, 2023

14pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

9781803709987

Who are refugees?

Why do people become refugees?

Can anyone become a refugee?

What do ‘asylum seeker’, ‘migrant’ and ‘internally displaced person’ mean?

These are some of the questions asked and answered in this new release Q&A from Usborne, the masters of making the complex simple. With its lift-the-flap format, all the big questions like “Why do wars start?” are explained in short, easy-to-understand paragraphs so that students can have a basic understanding of what some of their classmates may have faced in a previous life and time.  And with current and potential conflicts creating an even greater problem than previously, there are many who will be seeking answers.

 Written with advice from the Refugee Council and drawing on conversations with refugees and aid workers from around the world, the questions cover all stages of a refugee’s journey, from fleeing danger and embarking on hazardous journeys, to seeking asylum and struggling to find a new place to call home. The language and scenes have been carefully considered to be appropriate for younger children, providing an extremely useful educational tool for families and schools. And for those wanting to know more, there are the usual Quicklinks to carefully selected and vetted online resources.

Little Horses

Little Horses

Little Horses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Horses

Deborah Kelly

Jenni Goodman

Wombat Books, 2024

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

9781761111310

Out in the bay, where sailboats glide

Little horses drift and glide

Changing colours so predators pass

In gardens of sponge and coral and grass

In the calm peaceful waters, disturbed only by the rise and fall of the tide, little seahorses spend their lives swaying with the movement of the water, occasionally spotted by sharp-eyed scuba divers who are lucky to see them amongst the seaweed. They give birth and raise their young in a way that only seahorses do, continuing a cycle that is generations old.

But then a storm hits the bay and the seahorses are swept away from their home by the tumbling, crashing waves to a barren place where there are no sponges, coral and grass until…

Inspired by true events when severe storms hit Port Stephens, NSW between 2010 and 2013 and almost wiped out the fragile population of White’s Seahorses (hippocampus whitei) – so much so that it was declared endangered on the IUCN list – this story tells the story of how scuba diver David Haraski spotted two seahorses beginning to build a new home on an old lobster pot that had also been swept away bit which was starting to sprout new corals and sponges. With the adage, “If we build it, they will come” in mind, in 2018 Haraski  built and placed the first seahorse hotel onto the Port Stephens seabed – and it worked.  Haraski the tried his concept in Sydney Harbour where there were other endangered populations and now these seahorses hotels are springing up around the world, including a dedicated breeding program at Sydney Sea Life.

This is such a positive spin on how humans are working to save the environment and its creatures that it deserves a place in any library collection to support the environment and sustainability curriculum. The gentle rhyme has a rhythm that mimics the wave movement, building to a crescendo when the storm hits, and all set against eye-catching artwork that is so lifelike.  There are notes about both the seahorses themselves and the seahorse hotels to add context and whet the appetite to know more and explore further.

With summer beach holiday memories still fresh in the mind, this is the ideal time to encourage students to think what lies below the yellow sands, beneath the rockpool calm and beyond the sparkling waters and used together with Beach Song and Voice of the Sea, there is the trifecta of storybooks to form the basis of the investigation.

 

 

 

Voice of the Sea

Voice of the Sea

Voice of the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voice of the Sea

John Williamson

Andrea Innocent & Jonathan Chong

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761344237

Described as “an unrequited love song to the ocean, a national anthem of the sea”, this is the picture book version of the iconic song by one of Australia’s most loved musicians that has become so integral to the campaign to conserve the oceans that it won an ARIA award.

With references to global warming, overfishing and the risk of losing some of our incredible marine wildlife a turtle swims through what were once pristine waters, narrowly escaping the clutches of a plastic bag already filled with precious creatures, lamenting, “Where did it go? Where has it gone, your love for me?” From the time that the first European settlers landed, the oceans of this country “girt by sea” have been exploited and now, with the personification of the ocean as a friend in need, students are encouraged to think of how we can preserve this natural wonderland – how we can give rather than take.

Written specifically for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, there are both teachers’ notes and a free education kit  to encourage not only an awareness of humans’ impact on the ocean but also how we can embrace it as a friend again including investigating the projects already in place like The Accidental Penguin Hotel.  the seahorse hotels and others that they might become involved in, offering hope for those who are concerned about the planet’s future. 

This is most definitely one for any collection, and the perfect starting point for any investigation of the oceans, it creatures and their challenges. 

 

Alfie the Kind

Alfie the Kind

Alfie the Kind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alfie the Kind

Richard Harris

Simon Howe

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761341328

Alfie, the Staffordshire bull terrier, wasn’t particularly brave – he liked to chase the galahs but the magpies who stood and stared frightened him – but his family loved him and he loved them.  Together, they had a lot of fun and there were lots of things that Alfie did that brought them (and him) joy. And then, one day at the park, not only does Alfie find his brave but he also realises that there is something else that he is good at…

We first met Alfie, the son of champions but who didn’t feel like one, in Alfie the Brave  and this new chapter is equally delightful and positive reinforcing the message that not everyone has to be a superhero in a cape – there are many ways to be a hero without one.  

Written by Australian anaesthetist Dr Richard ‘Harry’ Harris, a key member of the international cave-diving group who rescued the Wild Boar soccer team in Thailand and 2019 Australian of the Year and accompanied by illustrations that portray Alfie and his feelings so perfectly, this is a charming story that tells our little ones that each of us has our particular strengths that mean so much to those around us. And giving love and joy to others is one way to give ourselves love and joy.

You can find out more of the story behind the story here.