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Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swim, Little Wombat, Swim!

Charles Fuge

Walker Books, 2021

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760653538

Little Wombat is so very excited because he’s found a fun new friend to play with – one with a strange name Pla-ty-pus and with an even stranger walk, a funny face and who can swim like a fish. But when Little Wombat tries to mimic Platypus’s walk and finds himself in the water and having to be rescued by his new friend, he realises water is not for him.  Nevertheless, he is determined to learn to swim and while tries teaching Little Wombat  Rabbit and Koala begin to wonder if wombats should, after all, stick to dry land!

Swimming lessons are such an integral and necessary part of our littlies’ lives that when the NSW “roadmap to freedom” was released it was quickly changed to bring forward the opening of indoor pools because of the outcry of parents demanding access to swimming lessons for their young children.  Indeed, in my teacher ed days in New Zealand we could not graduate until we each had our swimming teacher quals as swimming lessons were a compulsory part of the phys ed curriculum for both term 4 and Term 1 with most schools, even in the coldest parts of the country, having their own learner pools installed as a matter of course. 

So this is a timely tale about the importance of learning to swim and the fun it can be, as Little Wombat learns to kick his legs and float using a log, to paddle like a dog and dive like a frog.  After all, if a wombat can learn to swim and become a wom-bat-y-pus, then so can any little child! So sharing this message with a lovable little character with the most endearing expressions with them will give them confidence to try and the expectation that if they work hard as Little Wombat does, they will succeed.  Swimming is just what Australian kids do. 

Cat Dog

Cat Dog

Cat Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Dog

Mem Fox

Mark Teague

Puffin, 2021

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

9781761045868

This is an hilarious story about a dog, a cat and a cheeky mouse, who because they are traditionally enemies, are always a combination that can have any number of outcomes and this one does.

Its format  will appeal to very young readers because each page is based on a question that the reader has to answer Yes or No to, ensuring they use the clues to make their prediction. And not everything is what it seems.  And with the ending in the reader’s hands,  there is so much scope for imagining ‘what if’.

Mem Fox is the master of creating stories that not only engage young readers but draw on all her knowledge and expertise of early reading behaviour to ensure they discover the joy of stories and reading and sharing them from the earliest age.  Teague’s depictions of the characters not only add to the intrigue but also add humour and a touch of whimsy.  Definitely one for the younger readers in your life, but also for those studying the art of the picture book because this is an example of the very best at their best. 

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noni the Pony Counts to a Million

Alison Lester

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760524395

Former Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester first introduced us to Noni the Pony in 2011 and it was shortlisted for the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year.  This was followed by another adventure Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach.in 2014 and then Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey  in 2018. So she has become a favourite of  many preschoolers over time, and this new adventure, written in rhyme and beautifully illustrated, will become a favourite too, particularly if today’s preschooler has an older sibling who remembers the earlier stories.

Little people know that learning to count is a sign that they are growing up and Noni the Pony is no different.  So as she watches her farm  friends play and frolic, she counts them – all the way to a million!! And while most counting books just introduce the words for one to ten, this one includes the concepts of dozens, hundreds, thousands and a million – as the stars shine overhead on what has been a very busy day.  

Featuring all the vital elements that help develop young readers’ concepts about print, this is one that they will be able to read to themselves within a very short while because the illustrations support the text so well, adding another layer to their belief that they will be a successful reader.  Who could ask for more?

The Witchling’s Wish

The Witchling's Wish

The Witchling’s Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Witchling’s Wish

Lu Fraser

Sarah Massini

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781408899953

 

Above the misty mountains, below a glowing moon

lived  lonely little witchling, with a wibbly, wobbly broom…

While she could tolerate most things, her loneliness was beginning to get to her and she realises she needs a friend.  And because she can’t grow one, or sew one she decided to magic one instead. But what happens when she needs something that is already a friend to someone else?

This is a heart-warming story that has a universal message about friendship that will have wide appeal.  The illustrations are just perfect, enhancing the rhyming text perfectly making it an ideal read-aloud particularly as our little ones return to the classroom and have to navigate making friends all over again. Loved it. 

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afloat in Venice

Tina Wilson

Matt Ottley

One Tentacle Publishing, 2021

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

9780648511960

Long ago when people were allowed to travel where and when they wanted, Monkey decided to take a holiday. First to be packed was his new camera and then everything else he was sure he would need.  Two days in a plane, a long boat ride and a lot of stairs saw him arrive in a city that seemed to grow straight out of the sea!  He was in Venice in Italy.

Almost as soon as he steps pout to explore the city, he meets Clarabella, a friendly cat who offers to show Monkey the sights of the city and they spend the day taking photos of all the iconic places.  But when Monkey drops his camera and it falls into a disappearing gondola, he discovers that there are more important things in his life…

This is a unique book and it is going to appeal to a broad audience, not just those who are familiar with Venice or who have dreams to go there.

Most striking are the  illustrative techniques. Monkey and his friends are soft toys, lovingly knitted by the author’s mother who has also provided the patterns on Monkey’s website, and they are pictured against stunning photographic images of Venice. After being given Monkey as a gift and sharing photos of him with her partner Matt Ottley while they were separated because of work. the author realised that  soft toys are a universal language among adults and children, particularly given the number that have their own Instagram accounts, and that this could be a unique way for readers to travel .when circumstances (not just COVID-19 restrictions) prevented it. Monkey’s adventures were born.

Monkey’s adventures reminded me of the fun we had with hosting exchange teddies back in the early days of the Internet when we could share their adventures in almost real time using the early digital cameras and creating webpages using raw html code. The places those toys could take us once people learned why we were photographing them against particular backdrops!  And what our students learned about the world and their place in it, the friendships made – Monkey and Clarabella epitomise those.

Enriching the experience enormously, partner/composer/illustrator Matt Ottley (winner of the 2021 CBCA Picture Book of the Year ) has composed a soundtrack to accompany the book so that all its nuances are experienced in full sensory mode. There are two tracks – one to accompany the child holding the book and listening to it being read to them;  the other a more extended version to take the whole experience into the world of those with visual disabilities who may have braille for the words but nothing for the pictures. The extended narration and music enable them to ‘see’ the whole thing. These are included with the book as a CD but for those without the equipment, it can be downloaded.

And there are more of Monkey’s adventures to be released in 2022.

This is going to be a stand-out read-aloud and read-alone in your collection because it is that wonderful combination of story and illustrations with characters and situations that its audience will relate to and all the added extras will make Monkey and his friends their friends too.

Hello World

Hello World

Hello World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World

Lisa Shanahan

Leila Rudge

ABC Books, 2021

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780733340826

There would be few in Australia who have not held their breath these past few days as the search for little AJ Elfalak went on and then let it out in relief when the autistic, non-verbal three-year old was found after four days.  It was a time to hug family, small and bigger, a little tighter and see the world just a little more brightly today.

And that’s exactly what this new book by Lisa Shanahan and Leila Rudge does.  It is early morning and the toddler wakes in her cot and greets the world with a enthusiastic “Hello world.”  Then the reader joins her greeting all the things in her day with repetitive rhyming text that encourages them to predict the words, relate to the events through the charming illustrations and talk about their own experiences.  Perhaps even create their own day’s story with the help of a parent and a camera.  

This is just a pure celebration of viewing the ordinary through the eyes of a young one, to relive the joy in what has become a bit ho-hum and maybe even rediscover our own joie de vivre as winter finally rolls away.

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Ready for School

Jane Porter

Carolina Rabei

Walker, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781529502343

It’s time to go to big school but what will it be like?  How will the day be filled?  What are the expectations?

Using a double-page spread for topics such as getting ready, how to get there, what will happen and even why we go to school, this book follows six children as they begin this new adventure in their lives. The text speaks directly to the child and there are plenty of illustrations to help them imagine this new adventure they are about to embrace.

Even though it is an English production, both the anxiety that children feel and the activities of the new entrants’ classroom are universal and so this translates to the Australian situation well, including a page for the children to talk about the concerns they have..  

With big school getting larger on the horizon for our little ones but visits to those early childhood classes limited in some states, this is an opportunity for parents to start preparing their child for what can be expected and if there are online orientations, for classroom teacher to use it as a way to guide their viewers through the first days.  They might not be able to show their own classes in action but this is a suitable substitute. 

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Peta Baxter & Connie Hemmens

Marjorie Gardner

Ford Street, 2021

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

9781925804683

It’s an exciting day for Frankie – it’s his day for kindergarten.  But Frankie isn’t a timid, shy child about to take his first step on a new adventure – he’s a dog who goes with his owner, the Kindy teacher, to join in all the fun of meeting up with friends, playing inside and out, visiting the pets. listening to stories, having lunch and quiet time and learning all sorts of new things.  His mate George the cat would like to go too but he is deemed too little, so he hops in a box…

Written by two experienced kindergarten teachers based on their own kindy – Frankie belongs to Miss Peta – this is a joyful introduction to the kindy/preschool day that will be a new adventure for many of our littlest readers very soon. Many of them will experience trepidation rather than anticipation so this story with its bright, bold illustrations will be excellent for helping to prepare them and pave the way.  Even though there might not be a Frankie (or a cheeky George) to join them, nevertheless all the activities will be there awaiting them as will the welcoming teachers and lots of new friends to play with.  

With lockdown and restrictions, preventing many of the face-to-face orientations that usually start about this time, so this would be the ideal story to share as alternative preparation.  

Bluey: Daddy Putdown

Bluey: Daddy Putdown

Bluey: Daddy Putdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: Daddy Putdown

Bluey

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781761041174

Mummy has gone to a baby shower and Daddy has been left to put Bluey and Bingo to bed.  But Bluey is very concerned because it won’t be the same. No matter what ideas Daddy has, she longs for her mum to be home.  Until she has an idea…

Based on the highly successful television series, this new release strengthens  the link between screen and media, a critical one as they learn about the value of being able to take their time with print, examine the illustrations and read it again and again whenever they want – all vital concepts about print. They easily relate to characters they know which as well as adding another dimension to them by offering a behind-the-scenes look at their lives and loves,  they can also focus on the story more deeply.

Perfect for fans of the show…

 

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Aleesah Darlinson

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899233

 In the Mary River in South-East Queensland lives a creature found nowhere else in the world- one only identified in 1994 and already facing extinction. The Mary River turtle, Elusor macrurus,  is a new genus and species of freshwater turtle affectionately known as the punk turtle because the slow-moving water of the river allows green algae to grow all over it. 

 

But that’s not Poppy’s only unique feature – as well as breathing normally on the water’s surface, she can also breathe through her bottom! Plip! Plop! Parp!  However, despite her ancestors being in the river for millions of years Poppy and her relations now face many threats, mostly from the impact of humans and these are explored for young readers in the second in this series that investigates lesser-known endangered species. Combining the author’s ability to pitch the text perfectly for the intended audience with the same big, bright, bold illustration style of Coco, the Fish with Hands, young readers have a story that entertains and educates them. Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike.

Perfect for those like my little friend Xander who is fascinated by the world around him, prefers non fiction over fiction and has almost mastered reading independently.   And for his parents who will share it with him and spur his quest to learn more. As it did for me!.