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Where’s My Stick?

Where's My Stick?

Where’s My Stick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Stick?

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678508

Maxie the dog loves finding and burying sticks at the beach and he is smart enough to know that he must leave markers at their burial site so he can find them again to play with.  But each time he does, his marker has disappeared – nature has ways of tricking him – and so he has to find an even bigger stick!

This is a story of perseverance and resilience because Maxie doesn’t get frustrated and give up when he can’t find either his marker or his stick, but works his way to another solution – and finally rewarded with something more than a stick. Young readers will relate to similar situations when they have found that things don’t work out for them the first time and so they must try again. 

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again.  

The Last Crayon

The Last Crayon

The Last Crayon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Crayon

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678522

When the squirrels find a box of crayons, each takes one and knows exactly what they are going to draw based on its colour.  Except for grey squirrel who gets the grey crayon.  If yellow is for the sunrise, blue is the sky and green is the grass, what is grey for?

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again and even build their own stories. What else could they draw with the red crayon? What might happen if the squirrels mixed the colours together?  Can they use pictures from magazines to make a collage of purple things?  Is one colour more common than the others? What might the world look like if it was monochromatic? And so on…

Which Egg?

Which Egg?

Which Egg?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Egg?

Roxane Gajadhar

Rob Foote

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678584

When a huge wind blows the eggs of Stork, Parrot and Crocodile off their nests so they all end up in a jumble,  who knows which egg is which? Luckily, they have the sense and patience to wait for the eggs to hatch, and sure enough they are able to tell which baby belongs to which parent.

 Even though the theme of whose egg is whose is familiar, nevertheless it sets up all sorts of investigations for young children to follow.  Stork, Crocodile and Parrot each mentions a particular characteristic that their baby will have to enable them to identify them so not only could the child predict what that might be, but they could also think about what might be the significant indicator for other creatures they know, such as a zebra having stripes, and maybe setting up a parent-child matching game.  This could lead to them looking at themselves and their parents and seeing what of which they share.

More broadly they could start to develop their research skills by investigating which creatures hatch from eggs – clearly it’s not just birds. Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones was always my go-to text for this  and the children were always fascinated with what they learned, often leading into questions about their own origins.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same and which is becoming one of my favourite series for young readers because of the places they can go because of their reading.

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Mum

Zoē Foster Blake

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2022

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

 9780143779681

Ana and Louis are tired after a long day at school and kinder. They just want to watch TV . . . but Mum wants to play battle! She has a whole bunch of new moves to try out and there’s simply no stopping her.
‘Just FIVE minutes!’ pleads Mum. ‘Pleasepleaseplease?’
So the kids drag themselves off the couch. Mum PROMISES not to be too rough and that there will be absolutely NO TICKLING.
So Ana and Louis prepare to take on Battle Mum! Hopefully they can complete the game before Dad gets home . . . and wants to play too!

This is another hilarious story from Zoē Foster Blake in which she takes an everyday situation and turns it on its head.  Just as in Scaredy Bath and Back to Sleep, she has reversed the roles of the characters so this time, instead of it being the children who want five minutes more to indulge in some raucous, boisterous play, it is the mother.  Once again,  young readers who will see themselves and their nighttime antics in the actions of the parents- although whether that will actually change things is problematic because “just five minutes more” is genetically programmed into preschoolers in my experience.  

Inspired by her own children’s actions, the author strives to teach children “to empathise, how to respect others and themselves and deal with life events”, using the humour that comes with role reversal to temper the lessons and put imagination and entertainment at the forefront.  Accompanied by action-packed illustrations  this is a bedtime story that will more likely invoke more laughter and tickling than the regular sleep-inducing lullaby. Perhaps it is one for a little earlier…

The Trip

The Trip

The Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trip

Paul Beavis 

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922678621

When a little girl and her dog take a trip into outer space in their hot air balloon, they are quite comfortable until they see footsteps in the surface that are not theirs… Are they afraid or do they get together for a picnic?

 This is a deceptively simple book about the nature of inclusiveness because the story is told solely through the use of pronouns – me, you, us, mine, yours, ours,  and so on – and the reader really has to interpret the illustrations to tell the story making it perfect for encouraging those connections between text and picture that are critical early reading behaviours.  It also means they can tell the story using their own language as they expand on the illustrations to explain what is happening , particularly if the astute adult sharing it with them guides their reading with targeted questions to draw out the events. and thus enabling the child to return to the story independently when they wish, helping them to understand that they do have power over print and they can  read. They also learn that print stays constant – they can return to it again and again whenever they wish and take as much time as they like to absorb and tell the story.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same. 

 

 

The Muddy Chef

The Muddy Chef

The Muddy Chef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Muddy Chef

Penny Whitehouse

Emma Bear

Wild Dog, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036380

Across Australia, and particularly in NSW, the one thing that there is plenty of right now is MUD. And kids who want to play in it. 

So this is a timely release that encourages children to play outside and make mud cakes, although these are quite fancy using all sorts of natural ingredients and with names like unlickable lasagne, mud and seed cupcakes and nature’s nachos!  Set out like a traditional recipe book, beginning with setting up the mud kitchen and stocking it with the appropriate utensils and ingredients, each recipe is based on a familiar food item with step-by-step instructions on how to make it, including a photo of the finished product. 

Designed to get children to play outside rather than necessarily developing their culinary skills – there are warnings about NOT eating what is created- as well as following the suggestions in the teachers’ notes  to entice children away from screens and out into their natural environment, this could also be an engaging way to introduce them to procedural texts and all the concepts and vocabulary of measurement, time and sequencing that go with those. 

Certainly something different to share with your parent body.

What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

What to Say When You Don't Know What to Say

What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

Davina Bell

Hilary Jean Tapper

Lothian Children’s, 2022

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

9780734421142

Sometimes we are confronted with situations that are so incomprehensible that we don’t know what to say – and that is our response. “I don’t know what to say.”

So imagine what it is like for our children when they find themselves in the same position, with not only no previous experiences to draw on but also no words to express the feelings that are overwhelming them.  Whether it’s surprise, anger, frustration, fear, or any of the other big emotions that swamp them from time to time, the words just aren’t there.  And while, for adults, it’s big life-changing things like a death, a diagnosis, a flood or fire or other devastating loss, for little ones it can be everyday occurrences such as leaving the family home, being excluded from a group activity or not being brave enough for a sleepover.

This is an excellent and important book  that should be in every parent’s library or teacher’s toolbox to help prepare little ones for these sorts of events, help them build the strategies and vocabulary to express their feelings and develop empathy as they negotiate big things in their lives such as starting a new school, joining a new group, or the loss of a pet.  Each page features an everyday situation that they are likely to encounter, either as the “victim” or the one reaching out, and each is captioned with a single sentence that encapsulates an empathetic and kind response as a way of dealing with it.  It acknowledges that events can evoke feelings of fear, guilt, loss, pain, uncertainty, embarrassment, being different, brave, shy, or uncomfortable, or needing to ask for help or negotiate a solution  but each of these can be overcome.

It is a dip-and-delve book in which the adult might show the child the picture, perhaps one that relates to an upcoming situation, discuss what is happening and then help the child develop strategies to deal with it or the words of comfort that might help someone else deal with it. For example, when the bullies destroy a friend’s carefully constructed sandcastles, acknowledging their feelings by saying, “That shouldn’t have happened to you. It was unfair,” can go a long way to soothing the situation that might otherwise escalate into something larger. Teachers’ notes can guide these sessions.

Although  the cover of the book depicts the idyllic freedom of childhood that we all imagine for our children, the front endpage is more realistic.  But then, the back endpage shows that a simple act of kindness can go a long way to making things right again.  

At a time when many of our little people haven’t been able to have the normal beyond-family contacts that usually help them develop their social skills, building empathy and resilience can be tricky so this is a timely release to help. 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Very First Encyclopedia

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Very First Encyclopedia

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Very First Encyclopedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Very First Encyclopedia

DK, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241586426

Even though families may no longer invest hundreds of dollars into impressive looking encyclopedia sets when their children are little, nevertheless it is handy to have a general reference book that can give deeper information to answer their interminable questions in language they can understand than any click-and-collect site.  And if that book features a well-loved book character like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, so much the better because they learn as much about the power of print as they do about the topic they seek.  

They learn that this is a resource they can go to time and time again and it is always there; that they have the power to navigate it and read it for themselves when they are ready; and that what they see remains constant with no distracting eye candy trying to sell them something or push a point of view. 

Each chapter focuses on a different theme, with a new topic every time you turn the page. Bite-size chunks of information are complemented by captivating illustrations by the World of Eric Carle, eye-catching photography, and simple how-it-works diagrams, while pull-out images and facts provide extra nuggets of interest. Young learners can find out all about light and sound, the planets in the Solar System, how plants grow, and much, much more in this one-of-a-kind introduction to subjects that they are interested in, offering enough information to satisfy their immediate curiosity, which is the purpose of encyclopedias, and providing the springboard for them to explore further if they wish.  

This would be the perfect gift that will far outlive almost any of the towel sets and nappy caddies and so forth that are usually given to new mothers, and will have a much more profound influence on the child.  One to treasure and to keep. 

 

Quickly Slowly Day

Quickly Slowly Day

Quickly Slowly Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quickly Slowly Day

Martin Baynton

Rob Foote

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922678515

Slowly up the steep steps, quickly down the slide

Slowly count to twenty, quickly try to hide.

The passage of time is one of the most abstract and difficult concepts for little children to understand, particularly when some things seem to pass quickly while others drag on and on. So this rhyming story featuring Baby Bear and his Mama introduces them to the vocabulary of ‘quickly’ and ‘slowly’ by sharing a day and showing the difference between the two terms.  Not only will young children relate to the activities, but they could also have fun classifying which of their own activities would be in the ‘quickly’ column and which in the ‘slowly’. This could be extended to embrace means of transport or animal movement, all the while consolidating and extending vocabulary in an interactive way.

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them, is critical so they learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again and even build their own stories.  

Slowly choose a book, slowly read the pages,

Slowly share the words, Let’s make this last for ages.

 

Storm Goliath

Storm Goliath

Storm Goliath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storm Goliath

James Sellick

Craig Shuttlewood

New Frontier, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781922326546

Goliath the Gorilla is always angry.  He wakes up angry because the jungle birds sing too loudly, and even though he tries to not lose his temper, it’s not long before he does.

Anything can spark his anger and it means that not only does he have a miserable day, but all the animals around him do too as they fear the consequences of even the most simple pleasures like celebrating a birthday.  Things come to a head when Paco the Parrot mimics everything he says, and Goliath is set to blow his top but then….

Written for young readers who are just learning to understand their feelings and manage them, this is an ideal one to share with them because as well as offering them an opportunity to develop their own strategies to employ when big feelings overtake them, it also demonstrates how these feelings and subsequent actions impact those around them.  

This is the first in a series of picture books focusing on Dealing with Feeling in which the author wants children to recognise and manage their emotions by talking about them, learning their trigger points and developing ways to cope with them when they are overwhelmed.  He has written teaching notes  to guide those sharing the book with the sorts of questions to have children think about as well as helping them name and understand their emotions – in this book, as well as anger the focus is empathy as Goliath starts to realise how his emotions affect others. 

Such books play an important role in the development of our little ones who experience these natural emotions but who don’t yet have the insight to understand them nor the words to articulate the reasons behind them. Learning their anger is usually a result of frustration at expectations not being met can not only help them control their outburst but also help them build the vocabulary to express it and the resilience to cope with it.  Helping them understand that everyone has similar feelings at times, so they are neither alone, unique or naughty, and that they have the power to manage them is a huge step forward for positive mental health in the future. 

A second book, Saving Piku featuring a penguin learning to sing, will be available in November.