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.
It is Edward’s first day at knight school and to protect himself from the battles he expects to face, he puts on his full suit of armour. Sitting in the back of the Great Hall surrounded by unfriendly creatures , he is mortified when the king asks him to tell the others about himself. Even though at home he likes to fight giants and ogres, here at knight school he seems to be surrounded by them and he is not so brave. And when one sits beside him on the bench as he starts to eat his lunch, things are r-e-a-l-l-y scary…
It is that time of the year again when the prospect of Big School is looming closer and closer and some of our little ones are getting really apprehensive. There is a mixture and nerves that can become overwhelming.. So stories like these that not only show that fears are shared but they can be overcome are welcome as they offer such reassurance. Cleverly illustrated showing the ogres and dragons as ordinary boys and girls and the concept of the physical armour holding him back in the same way that mental armour does, Edward comes to some new understandings and discovers this school-thing isn’t as frightening after all.
This is one to add to your collection to share to give an added dose of confidence and show that even the bravest can feel nervous.
Bluey and Christmas – can there be a better combination to put together into an interactive book for a surefire winner for a Christmas gift that will not only entertain but will educate at the same time?
Christmas in Australia is very different to the Christmas so often featured in children’s books and other entertainment at this time of the year, and so all the things that are familiar to our kids are featured in double-paged interactive spreads that encourage the young reader to engage with them. Time in the pool, putting up the tree, playing backyard cricket, relaxing at the beach – each has its place with items to find in the pictures ensuring little ones continue to develop their visual acuity as they look at the details in the illustrations.
A peek inside
Then if the days to wait seem too long. offer them Bluey’s Christmas Craft so brains and fingers are engaged in making and doing all sorts of Christmassy things that can become their contribution to the celebrations. Step-by=step guides offer all sorts of things that can be made from candy cane bunting to designing their own Christmas rashie to building an entire gnome village.
Christmas is Puggle’s favourite time of the year as everyone helped to put together a very special day for each other. All he wanted to do was help them as they went about their special tasks, and to their credit, Long Tail, Lacy Tail and Mama Grey were willing to let him try. But even though he told his legs and his claws and his arms to be careful, somehow things didn’t go as planned. What can you offer when all you are clumsy, spiky and waddly? Despondent, Little Puggle wandered away and sat looking at the sparkly night sky. And then he made a special wish on a falling star…
We first met Little Puggle when he saved the bush choir’s performance to celebrate the birth of the emu chicks, and to have him back with a special Christmas story complete with the most glorious illustrations is a treat in itself. Once again the message of being yourself and making the most of what you can do is strong, and will particularly resonate with young readers who also want to help with the preparations in their own home but are just a little bit little to do some things. But, maybe instead of wishing upon a star, the family could work out just what they could do and that becomes their personal task to be responsible for – even if it’s just making sure the presents are still under the tree each morning!
Backyard cricket is every Australian kid’s rite of passage – every summer there are games going on somewhere as the sun sets and the joys and benefits of daylight saving are acknowledged. The rules are the same everywhere – the garbage bin is the stumps and over the fence is out! And everyone groans when that one player who is really good gets a turn at batting because they are never going to get them out.
Bluey would much rather play tiggy than cricket and her dad says that’s what they will do as soon as they get Rusty out. But Rusty would play cricket 24/7 if he could and despite everything they try, he remains obstinately at the crease until…
This year has been a big one for international cricket and with the ODI World Cup just finished and the domestic men’s Bog Bash about to start, interest in the game is reaching a peak, so this is a timely release. Based on the episode of the ABC series of the same name, this is another is this very popular collection of stories in print format that allows young readers to return to the story time and again, cementing in their minds the value of print as a medium as well as learning some of life’s necessary lessons – and there are several lessons in this one, not the least of which is learning some of the unique terminology associated with the sport.
And just to make sure everyone’s summer is Bluey-based, for those who aren’t so keen on cricket there is the new Bluey At the Beach colouring book as well. Christmas stockings sorted!
Behind the the curly red hair, pink shirt and orange dress of the main character is Emma Watkins, once known as the “yellow Wiggle” but also a woman passionate about raising awareness of Australia’s deaf community, who already has formal qualifications in Auslan and who is currently undertaking her PhD in “the affective, artistic integration of sign language, dance and film editing.” In consultation with artists who themselves are deaf, she is producing and releasing a range of formats that as well as the storybook will include, an ebook, audiobook and an Auslan video translation so that all young readers can be entertained through “movement, creativity, inclusiveness and friendship”.
In this new release Emma Memma takes a walk through her day teaching young readers how to sign each letter of the alphabet relating the letter to something she sees or does.
There is a lot of research relating to learning a second language in early childhood, not just because it is easier for the child but because of associated benefits so learning Auslan alongside learning the English alphabet makes a lot of sense. By using a recognised character, everyday situations and multi-modal delivery, Emma Watkins is doing much to normalise this way of communicating so that all children can be included.
A storm is brewing and the tiny woman realises she will need a coat to stay dry and warm. But where will she get the cloth, the scissors, the thread, the needle, the buttons?
On the surface this is a lovely story about friendship and co-operation in the tiny woman’s community but to those who understand how little children learn to read it is so much more than that.
When I started my initial teacher ed course in New Zealand in 1970, Joy Cowley was the leading author behind the Ready to Read series, a collection of basal readers that was used in junior classrooms in every school in New Zealand for reading instruction. In the 70s there would have been few Kiwi children who were unfamiliar with Early in the Morning , Grandma Comes to Stay and The Fire Engine, and the thrill of moving from red to yellow, blue and green levels before starting on ‘chapter books” like The Donkey’s Egg or The Hungry Lambs. The series was revolutionary in its approach to teaching children to read because it used natural language rather than phonics or controlled vocabulary, drawing on the research on world leaders in early literacy like Sylvia Ashton-Warner and Dr Marie Clay. She then went on to be the talent behind the Storybox Library series with titles like Mrs Wishy Washy and The Kick-a-Lot Shoes.
And it is her knowledge and experience of how children learn that underpins this story so that they can experience “real reading” and consolidate their belief that they can be “real” readers. To start with the tiny woman wonders where she will get the cloth for her coat, focusing the reader’s attention of the sorts of things that will be needed to construct it so they can draw on their own experience to suggest the items that will be required. Then each “chapter” starts with the repeated statement and question… “The tiny woman wanted a coat. “Where will I get some…” leaving the reader to suggest what the next word might be and possible solutions. All the while the sky is changing building the anticipation of whether she will get her coat completed before the storm hits.
While there are hundreds of stories written and published for our youngest readers every year, there are few that are so deeply rooted in understanding those early reading behaviours and which consolidate our children’s expectations of being readers as well as those by this author. While the world has clearly moved on from the scenario of Grandma arriving in a Vickers Viscount (after 50+ years I still remember the theme of the stories) , the process of learning to read remains the same, and this is the perfect support to that.
Turtle and his friends are hiding under the rocks wanting to go back to the water but wary of a pesky pelican who is hovering with a hungry look in his eye. when Postman finds a unique way to safely deliver a parcel from Koala.
But what could it be? It doesn’t sound like a remote control car that could whizz them to the water’s edge; it’s not the right shape for a beach umbrella that could shelter them as they ran and and it’s not big enough to be a trampoline so they could bounce back either. There is one way to find out… open it.
As with its predecessors, Penguin, Gorilla and Koala, the contents are unexpected but perfect for solving their problem. And, as with those predecessors, the premise of the story is summarised in the intriguing endpapers so there are two stories that can engage our youngest readers as they put their predictive and deductive skills to the test – both key elements of mastering the printed word and becoming a reader! Bright, appealing illustrations, funky characters (even if they have evil on their mind), the opportunity to think about how the characters might be feeling as the story progresses, and the unexpected twist in the tale all make this a story that will move from a first-read to a favourite very quickly!
Apart from putting a smile of sheer delight on my face when I open each new title in this series, it is one that should become as much as a staple in a little one’s library as other classics like Where’s Spot , Ten Minutes to Bed and those by Hervé Tullet. Stories that first and foremost entertain and engage the reader so that start to develop the expectation and anticipation of being “real readers” are the foundation of literary and literacy success and this series is definitely one of those. Originally intended to be just a collection of four stories, I, for one, would love to see more.
One of the common complaints from kindergarten teachers is that new-to-big-school children often demonstrate little resilience – the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again, solving the problem through trial and error. And they need to develop special lessons and programs to teach this to compensate for the helicopter parenting where all the child’s potential problems have been eliminated in advance by over-zealous adults and thus the child hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to cope with setbacks and sadness. So this book would seem to have been written especially for them to aid in those lessons.
Addressed directly to the child reader, it offers ways to encourage them to be adventurous and learn something new; be brave and do something tricky; be strong and don’t give up. Using examples from the animal kingdom, this book motivates little ones to try new things, build their confidence and become resilient in all aspects of life. If you’re too short to reach, ask someone to help; if something doesn’t go as you expected, try again; if you’re afraid, take the first step…. The cute and relatable cast of children work together and support each other, showing that there is always help around, especially when venturing into the unknown.
With anxiety levels apparently at an all0time high amongst our children, one of the kindest and most powerful things we can do is help them develop the belief in themselves and the strategies they need to face new situations so these simple suggestions provide an excellent starting point for that.
When a little girl wakes up on the first day of school, the butterflies in her stomach feel positively giant-sized! She really wants her mom to stay with her, on this first day. As she and her mother make their way to school, her mother explains how the butterflies are a good thing. Everyone gets them (including parents) and they are a sign of something exciting happening—that we’re about to learn and grow from a new experience and they can help us through it. So with the butterflies as her guide, the girl soars into her first day.
As little ones’ thoughts turn to the next big step in their lives – moving from preschool to big school – it is natural that there are going to be nerves and anxiety as the transition will be daunting for many. So this is another one to add to that collection to share to reassure them that their feelings are natural but they can be managed if they look through a positive lens. Even though it is American, it carries the universal message that everyone shares a fear of the unknown to some degree and that, in itself, can bring peace and calm. It also reassures them that they are old enough and brave enough to take this step, and it will only be a short time with new and familiar friends before their butterflies have disappeared.