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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.”

 

The Claw

The Claw

The Claw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Claw

Karen Witt

Aaron Pocock

Little Steps, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9781922358103

‘Clive was charming, friendly and chipper, and on each side of his body, he boasted a nipper.’

He had many friends in the mudflats and played with them during the day although there were occasions when he had to defend himself.  and during one fight he not only lost a nipper but also his confidence.  He felt that because he was not whole and perfect like the others he had no place among them and despite their efforts to entice him out, he spent the day hiding in the weeds 

Mud crabs are born to be BIG and STRONG

But with only one nipper, I don’t belong.

But when his friends are captured by Mr Beerbellio a greedy fisherman, who is intent on crab sandwiches regardless of the storm raging, Clive is forced to set his self-pity aside to help his friends.

While the premise of this story of lacking confidence because of being different is common, interpreting it in this way is new and young readers will enjoy predicting if and how Clive can be a hero, and particularly what might happen in the future given the twist in the end.  The illustrations are the highlight bring Clive and his environment, and particularly Mr Beerbellio to life with their clever choice of colour and use of shading producing a 3D effect. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As well as resonating with those readers who might also be lacking confidence because they believe they don’t meet the demands of the invisible, anonymous body police, this is also an opportunity to examine the behaviour of those like Mr Beerbellio and consider whether it’s right to take more than you need. Many will have been fishing for all sorts of species over summer and may have been frustrated by bag limits, but what is their purpose?  A gentle way to introduce the concept of sustainability even to our youngest readers. 

 

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

 

 

 

 

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

 

An Aussie Night Before Christmas (10th Anniversary edition)

Yvonne Morrison

Kilmeny Niland

Scholastic Press, 2015

32pp., hbk.,

9781760157487

 

Twas the night before Christmas; there wasn’t a sound.

Not a possum was stirring; no-one was around.

We’d left on the table some tucker and beer,

Hoping that Santa Claus soon would be here…

So begins this iconic salute to Christmas in Australia drawing on the familiar sights and sounds of a night that is usually so hot and it’s hard to sleep because it’s still daylight outside, never mind ‘dreams of pavlova’ dancing around heads.  And when there’s a ruckus outside that needs to be investigated, who would be surprised that it’s Santa in a rusty ute pulled by eight mighty kangaroos? Kangaroos called Kylie, Kirsty, Shazza and Shane, Kipper and Skipper, Bazza and Wayne?  

There are many stories that put the Aussie spin on Christmas, but this is such a rollicking good yarn, funny and engaging that it’s no wonder this is a 10th anniversary edition and it is popping up all over the Internet in full, although the YouTube version loses some of its charm with the American accent and the change from ‘beer’ to ‘root beer’.  Australian Santas drink real beer!

Accompanied by the distinctive illustrations of Kilmeny Niland, this is the perfect story to read to the little ones before they settle down, and the perfect story to end our Christmas Countdown.

 

 

 

 

An Aussie Day Before Christmas

An Aussie Day Before Christmas

 

 

 

 

An Aussie Day Before Christmas

Kilmeny Niland

Scholastic, 2008

32pp., hbk., RRP $A15.99

9781741690972

‘Twas the day before Christmas
And in his beach shack,
Santa was snoozing,
Flat out on his back.

‘Shake a leg, love,’
Sheila Claus said.
‘Time to get ready
For the big night ahead.’

There is much to do before Santa makes his once-a-year flight…chooks to feed, breakfast to have, a walk with his missus, the news to read, pressies to wrap and the ‘roos to sort out. “The koalas won’t help me, they’re too flamin’ slow.” 

Putting iconic Australian sayings and slang to the familiar rhythm of the Clement C. Moore poem, Kilmeny Niland uses her artistic talent to portray a DownUnder day before Christmas through stunning illustrations that capture a very different picture of Santa than the traditional one our children are so familiar with.  

Before sharing it, children might like to speculate on what it is that Aussie Santa does in preparation – perhaps a surf, perhaps a nap, perhaps prawns and a beer – whatever they predict they will delight in Niland’s interpretation that might dispel their snowy North Pole images forever. And a must for any collection of Australian Christmas stories you might be sending to children overseas.

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

 

 

 

 

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Little Festive Frogs

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2021 

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

The twelve little frogs who taught our young readers the initial poses of yoga are back in their version of the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas.  

However, their interpretation involves a giant game of pass the parcel in the woodlands, one that can go on and on even after the first 12 days! Like the song, and its predecessor, this is a counting book with lots of opportunities to predict what might come next as well as counting those who are already there. 

While it is set in the snowy regions of the northern hemisphere, it is an opportunity to talk about why what the frogs do is so different to our little ones’ experiences and perhaps even create an Australian version which would give it a wider audience and a meaningful activity for those last wind-down days!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Feast

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Australian Feast

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Feast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Feast

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2021 

12pp., board book., RRP $A16.99

9780241489536

We all know of The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s liking for food and the foods on the menu of his first feast, but what would be on the table if he came to an Australian feast? Particularly one designed for a picnic on the beach?

Very young Australian fans of the VHC will delight in this exclusive release written just for them as they lift the flaps on iconic treats searching for their little hero.  Interactive, a familiar character, vivid illustrations in Carle’s recognisable style and rhyming text make this a terrific addition to this collection as young readers discover another adventure.  Is their favourite food mentioned?  What would be in their beach picnic basket?  (And who’s the ladybird? Could that be another story from the master storyteller?)

An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree

 

 

 

 

An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree

An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Aussie Christmas Gum Tree

Jackie Hosking

Nathaniel Eckstrom

Walker Books, 2021

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

9781760652715

From his lofty watch post, Possum is drawn to the sight of a distant tree covered in sparkling trinkets. A Christmas Tree, according to Kookaburra. So begins a quest in which Possum and his crafty crew of helpers try very hard to decorate their very own Christmas gum tree from Bowerbird’s treasure trove. But it’s not as easy as you might think.

There is something about Christmas books that celebrate the Australian experience that make them stay in my mind moreso than any of the other classics.  Over all the years that I have done a Christmas Countdown both with my class and my family, and in more recent times, on this blog, there are a handful that truly encapsulate what it is to have Christmas in this country, and this new offering is now one of those.  

While we know that many of our Christmas traditions have their origins in northern hemisphere customs were brought here by those earliest European settlers so they could still feel the connection to their own origins, (and the concept of a Christmas tree stretches back to pagan times)   and continue to be perpetuated slowly, slowly we are building a set of uniquely Australian customs and this story is an important contributor to that.  How much family fun could there be in doing what the animals did and decorate a branch of a gum tree with things found in nature?  May be easier to say than do for those in the city, but for those who can take a drive in the bush there are plenty of fallen branches to gather and keen eyes will soon find a store of decorations as rich as any bowerbird’s collection.  

Hosking’s rhyming text is superbly supported by Eckstrom’s illustrations which capture our unique flora and fauna in a fun-filled way that befits the joy of working together to create a spectacular centrepiece.  Young readers will delight in identifying those they recognise and meeting those they don’t but for me, the essence of this book, is the co-operation and collaboration. A couple of years ago when S & S came they were disappointed that my usual masterpiece wasn’t waiting for them (but to be fair I’d had a heart attack and was recovering from heart surgery) but this year a new activity will be born. Grandad can find a suitable branch from the thousands on our bush block and we will all spend a couple of hours using what we can find to make it our own.  Maybe in years to come that will be the norm in the family and the tree will have so much more meaning for coming generations. . 

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

 

 

 

 

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Williamson’s Christmas in Australia

John Williamson

Mitch Vane

Puffin, 2017

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

9780143507178

Christmas in Australia – time for families to get together and of, course, the perfect family photo for posterity.  But getting everyone together at the same time is not as easy as it sounds. And given the separations of the last few Christmases and the reunions taking place for many this year. family photographs will be high on the agenda so both the book and the song will echo in the minds of many.

This is an hilarious, rollicking tune, probably known to every Australian school student, brought to life in picture book format through the talents of Mitch Vane.  As families gather together as the big day draws closer, no doubt its scenarios will be played out in real life in many backyards and children will be heard singing the song.

A must-have in any Christmas collection and for sending overseas to those who want to know about a summer Christmas as well.

Once Upon A Silent Night

 

 

 

 

Once Upon A Silent Night

Once Upon A Silent Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once Upon A Silent Night

Dawn Casey

Katie Hickey

Bloomsbury, 2021 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781408896921

Once upon a silent night,
a stable stood. A star shone bright.

This is a new interpretation of the timeless story of the Nativity, retold in a manner reminiscent of the Christmas song, The Friendly Beasts as it tells the story of how the animals assisted the new parents once they were turned away from the inn.  First, the cow white and read offers up his manger for a bed,  the donkey shaggy and grey gives his hay and the sheep with the curly horn offers its wool to keep the baby warm while the doves will sing the babe to sleep, the trees will watch over him, and the moon will fill his dreams with silver light. 

But while the story may be old, the illustrative interpretation is is more modern with Joseph and Mary portrayed in modern clothes, adding to the concept that not only is the story timeless but it transcends time. So this is a new way of introducing the story of the first Christmas so that our youngest readers understand not only the origins of this celebration but also the references to it that they will encounter time and again. 

A worthy addition to your collection. 

 

Who’s This Little Chick?

Who's This Little Chick?

Who’s This Little Chick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s This Little Chick?

Auntie Aldang

Little Steps, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9781922358370

When a little chick hatches from a little rock in their garden, Jay and Essie go on a mission to find her family.  Assuming that because she hatched from an egg. they go to the chicken zoo to search.  But while they find all sorts of different chickens, none of them are the little chick’s parents.  Will there be a happy ending?

Told in rhyme, this story follows a familiar theme of searching for a parent by comparing the baby’s characteristics to those of the adults, but this has the twist of introducing young readers to some of the different species of chooks that there are, beyond those that are more familiar.  Some of very strange but sadly, this little chick isn’t like them at all.

As well as that aspect, young readers can also consider whether chickens are the only things that hatch from eggs, and they could even start to compare their own looks to those of their parents so they can see the various features they share that make them a unique blend of genes. 

Was the little chick even a chick? Perhaps a story that initiates the discussion about where they came from.