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Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Monsters

Sharon J. Yaxley

Forty South Publishing, 2019

46pp., hbk., $25.00

9780648168881

A walk along the beach is often characterised by the sound of the waves, the fresh air and the sheer exuberance of being able to move with such freedom as we pass rocks, seaweed and other detritus washed up by the tides. Being king of the castle, drawing pictures in the sand with sticks, feeling the texture of the sand and shells under our feet and the delight of beating the waves as they try to soak our clothes are just a few joys of this most pleasurable experience.

But what if we slowed down and took the time to look at what is there, to examine the shapes and colours and textures of the landscape? Where might our imaginations take us? Into a world of monsters or somewhere different?

Environmental activist David Suzuki says

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.

Author/photographer of this new book for young readers, Sharon Yaxley has used this quote to describe the concept of this remarkable book for young readers, to encourage them to look more closely at the things in their world and let those things talk to their imaginations.  Tails, tusks, dark eyes, sharp noses and jaws with jagged teeth are all there in the seaweed, driftwood, rocks, sand… and when the tide crashes in and the wind does its work, they change into something different.  Looking closely, thinking about the object’s story and the story it could inspire all help to slow the child down in this breakneck world, to be curious and spark their wonder.

Even if your students live nowhere near a beach, this can still be the inspiration to take them outside and let them immerse themselves in what is there and imagine… Let’s take the opportunity to connect our kids to the real world so they want to protect it too. Extensive teaching notes aligned to many strands of the Australian Curriculum are available. 

 

 

Ten Minutes to Bed (series)

Ten Minutes to Bed

Ten Minutes to Bed

Ten Minutes to Bed (series)

Little Mermaid

9780241372678

Little Monster

9780241348918

The Little Unicorn

9780241348925

Rhiannon Fielding

Christ Chatterton

Ladybird, 2018

32pp., pbk., $A14.99

Magical creatures live in the Land of Nod, but each of them is not keen on going to bed because they are having too much fun.  But sleep they must if they are to be ready for more fun tomorrow and so using rhyme and enchanting illustrations, author and artist take both the characters and the young reader on a calming countdown to bedtime leading them gently to the land of sleep.

Beginning and ending with maps of The Land of Nod which are subtly different, and the appearance of a tiny creature on each page to encourage attention to detail, each story becomes a gentle lullaby to help draw the curtains on the day and help even the most rambunctious little one understand that everything needs to sleep at some time.

Even though the stories are available on the screen, there is nothing as precious as the bond established between parent and child through sharing stories during those ten minutes to bedtime so this is perfect for parents starting the bedtime story routine and wanting to complete it with the same story each night, this series would be an ideal gift for them or their child to encourage a love for stories and the magic they hold.

 

That’s Not My Koala

That's Not My Koala

That’s Not My Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Koala

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781474945561

For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. 

That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and Mrs Gooseberry

Vikki Conley

Penelope Pratley

EK Books, 2019

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

9781925335255

When Mrs Gooseberry was in her front yard she always seemed grumpy, slamming her door and making the children afraid to ask for their ball when they accidentally kick it into her yard.  But when Ella, who lived next door, saw Mrs Gooseberry in her backyard, it was a different story.  She had a lovely vegetable garden  and chickens that she talked to and she seemed happy.  Confused, Ella asks her mum how a person could be grumpy in their front yard yet happy in the back and she learns that Mrs Gooseberry has “lost her love.” That confuses her even more because she didn’t know that you could lose love and whether it might be found again.

She asks the important adults in her life what love is and gets a different answer from each one, and gradually realises that love can be many things. When she sees her cat’s kittens snuggling into their mother’s warm tummy, she has an idea…

This is a charming story that will help young readers understand that love can take many forms and it doesn’t always have to be encased in the words, “I love you.”  It can be expressed in the things we do (or don’t do); the way we look at and treat others; the care we take; the extra gestures or actions we make… It is an ideal way for them to start thinking about how those who are important to them show their love and how they reciprocate those feelings.  It cries out for an activity where children inscribe one side of a heart with “My —— loves me because —–” and the other side with “I love —– because —-” where the blanks are filled with the little personal things that show love without being words.  Apart from raising awareness of how they are loved, it might also inspire them to think of new ways to express their love such as cleaning their room or doing the dishes so the adults have one less thing to do. And perhaps it might show those who think they have lost their love, that they haven’t – it’s just in a different shape now.

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Does a Giraffe Go to Bed?

Craig MacLean

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9781460752289

 

“When it’s too dark to see, a koala sleeps in a tree.”

Sleeping until tomorrow, a wombat snores in its burrow.”

But where does a giraffe go to bed?

We all need to sleep but not everything curls up in a soft, warm bed like we do, so this story-in-rhyme with its repetitive question explores the sleeping habits of some of the creatures familiar to its preschool audience,

Set against a night sky palette, the illustrations are as perfect as the text to make a lullaby for bedtime, one that the young child will be able to recite within a couple of reads as they snuggle down and close the curtains on their day.  And for those who are reluctant to settle they will begin to understand that everything needs to sleep, even the giraffe.

Loved it.

 

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Max's Dinosaur Feet!

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Lana Spasevski

Penelope Pratley

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594638

Max loves to STOMP, STAMP and SMASH around on his dinosaur feet.  But his mum tells him to walk quietly because he will wake baby Molly.  She has to reach him how to tiptoe as though he is walking on dinosaur eggshells. 

All is quiet for a while until Dad’s happy summer feet drip. slip and flip as he comes in from surfing.  So Max teaches him how to walk on dinosaur eggshells and all is quiet 

again.   But then Pop comes in with his walking feet, and Merida with her dazzling  dancing feet… Still Molly sleeps on until Rufus arrives with his wrinkly wet nose that just loves feet….

This is a joyful story for young readers that will speak to them about a familiar situation.  With its charming illustrations it offers all sorts of scope for stomping around like dinosaurs and dragons and elephants and then learning to tiptoe on dinosaur eggshells! Little ones will love it. 

One Runaway Rabbit

One Runaway Rabbit

One Runaway Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Runaway Rabbit

David Metzenthen

Mairead Murphy

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523558

Lulu is happy to live in her hutch in the backyard but one night when she spots a hole in the fence, she is tempted through to explore the world further. Unfortunately a hungry fox is on the prowl and his nose smells Lulu and the chase is on.  Can she escape?

Metzenthen has used the minimum of words to tell this tale because with the exquisite illustrations in a style that might be unfamiliar to younger readers, no more than what are there are needed. This is perfect for encouraging the reader to look carefully, tell their version of the story and predict the outcome.  All are essential elements of the early reader’s arsenal in making sense of print and stories and demonstrate their level of comprehension. 

A delightful story that offers something new to explore each time it is read, especially if the astute adult asks “what if…?”.  Metzenthen says he dreams of writing the perfect story – this is getting close to it. 

 

Goodbye House, Hello House

Goodbye House, Hello House

Goodbye House, Hello House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye House, Hello House

Margaret Wild

Ann James

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.99

9781743311103

This is the last time I’ll fish in this river. 
This is the last time I’ll run through these trees. 
This is the last time I’ll dream by this fire …  

In scenes familiar to many, Emma is saying goodbye to all the familiar places in her old home in the country as her family prepares to move to a new one in the city.  Perhaps the most poignant is when she  changes the writing on the wall from Emma lives here to  Emma lived here. But rather than being maudlin and upset, the story turns around as she arrives at the new house and she anticipates all the possibilities it offers. And this time changes the writing on the wall of her new room by changing the old Kim lives here to Emma lives here now, consolidating the idea that change happens and things move on. 

Even though Wild has used a minimum of text, James’s illustrations tell much of the story with the backgrounds depicting the juxtaposition of the two houses, with the unique depiction of Emma superimposed on them showing that she remains the same and the experiences she will have will still be familiar in many respects. Against the muted background, Emma really pops out with all her emotions on display, again demonstrating that the story of a little girl is what’s important rather than the place she finds herself in.  We are still who we are despite the circumstances that surround us. 

Many young readers will have stories to tell that are similar to Emma’s and this offers them the opportunity to open up about their experiences and emotions, particularly those around starting a new school as Emma will have to do. It may offer some insight into how scary things can be for those who have not had the experience.  

Saved!!!

Saved!!!

Saved!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved!!!

Lydia Williams

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

9781760524708

Living alone in the Australian outback, Lydia loves her sport but she doesn’t have anyone apart from the animals to play with.  And even then, she seems to be beaten before she starts.  Kangaroo can bounce too high and blocks all her shots at the basketball ring; Emu gives her a good start in the running race but still whizzes by,; and even sleepy Koala has her covered when it comes to Aussie Rules.  Lydia really wanted to be the best at something but didn’t know what that could be until Kangaroo suggests a game of soccer…

The author, Lydia Williams is an Indigenous Australian soccer player who grew up on the red dirt of Western Australia, travelling with her family to many Aboriginal communities where she learnt how to play sport with bare feet. Her family taught her how to live off the land and the values of Indigenous culture; they even had two pet kangaroos. When her family moved to Canberra, Lydia started playing soccer competitively as a way to make friends. Having played soccer for nearly twenty years, she currently plays for Melbourne City in the W-League. Lydia is the first-choice goalkeeper for the Australian Matildas, and is also signed to the Seattle Reign FC in the United States. 

Using her experience and expertise, she has crafted a charming story for young readers about persevering to find your niche and being the best you can be. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the outcome of the story had been different because you just know that she would have dealt with either result well, echoing her real-life experience of leaving WA at 11 years old and having to forge a new life in Canberra, not only 3000km away but also a busy city! ‘”It’s a bit of an autobiography, a little bit of fantasy and has a good message as well. It has a unique take on it to go out in the world…It encourages kids that no matter what their background is or what challenges are in their way, they can have fun and actually achieve something they enjoy if put their mind to it.” You can learn more about her early life in this interview

Accompanied by Lucinda Gifford’s delightful illustrations that echo the palette of the outback, this is a story with a difference because of its authenticity that will resonate with young readers particularly those with older siblings who seem to be better at things than they are. 

 

Song of the River

Song of the River

Song of the River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the River

Joy Cowley

Kimberly Andrews

Gecko Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781776572533

High in the mountains where he lives, Cam tells his grandfather that he wishes he could see the sea and his grandfather promises to take him there “one day.”

But as winter turns to spring and the snows begin to melt, Cam watches a trickle of water running through the pine trees, water that splashed and sang in the voice of the snow, 
Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.” And unable to resist its song, Cam follows it and begins a journey that broadens his horizons in so many ways.

The beautiful, lyrical words of one of New Zealand’s premier authors for children, Joy Cowley and the stunning, detailed, muted illustrations of Kimberly Andrews which echo both the high country of New Zealand and the Canada of her childhood come together in what is indeed a song of the river.  With a text that builds much like the river itself, rises to a crescendo and then returns to its original melody like a piece of music, this is indeed an aptly named story both in content and style. It lends itself to all sorts of mapping activities, more than just the physical journey of the trickle to the sea. Even exploring why the author named it “Song of the River” rather than “Story of the River” will open up the beauty of the language and the build-up of the journey.

With a landscape very different from those of the illustrations, and much of the country in one of the worst drought’s ever, this is an ideal book to begin an investigation of Australia’s rivers and compare their origins and uses to those of the river in the story.  A search of the NDLRN using Scootle will bring up a number of units of work focusing on the Murray-Darling Basin such as A Sense of Place (TLF ID R11374) (written by me for Year 3-4 but which could be adapted for both age and situation) that could be the perfect companions to maximise the impact of this book.