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Do Lions Hate Haircuts?

Do Lions Hate Haircuts?

Do Lions Hate Haircuts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Lions Hate Haircuts?

Bethany Walker

Stephanie Laberis

Walker, 2022

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

9781406388411

Leonard the Lion is king of the beasts, master of the Savannah, leader of his pride and … a great big baby when it’s time for a haircut!

Nobody, NOBODY, can cut Leonard’s hair to his liking. That is, until he meets a little mouse called Marvin. Despite his scepticism that a mouse could help a lion, Leonard gives him a try and is so impressed by the wild and whacky styles Marvin creates with his teeny-tiny comb and scissors that soon they are best buddies.

However Leonard wants Marvin to cut his hair and HIS HAIR ONLY. So when Leonard sees Marvin giving Zebra a new hairdo, Leonard is jealous and refuses to have his hair cut at all. But the folly of that plays out when he hears Marvin trouble and he rushes to his rescue…

This is a fast-paced story that has several twists and turns, including the ending,  and which will engage young readers, especially those who are not keen about getting their hair cut.  Perhaps they will suffer the same fate as Leonard!  Hilarious illustrations that are bright and bold really enhance the text and the creatures’ faces are so expressive that discussing how each is feeling and why is a must.  

Apart from a subtle message about finding friendship in unexpected places, this is a story that will be enjoyed just for the fun of it.  

 

Frankie Best Hates Quests

Frankie Best Hates Quests

Frankie Best Hates Quests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankie Best Hates Quests

Chris Smith

Puffin, 2022

400pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241522110

Frankie Best is not in a good mood.  Apart from the fact that her dad keeps calling her Princess, she was looking forward to spending a week with her Aunt Fi while her parents went off to the Arctic and spending the week eating pot noodles and watching You Tube but now her aunt is in hospital with a burst appendix and they’re heading to her grandfather’s house instead.  And she and her brother Joel are not looking forward to that because they hardly know him.

They are even more dismayed when they discover he lives in a ramshackle old cottage in the centre of an overgrown garden, has long white hair held in a pony tail and even though it’s 3.23 in the afternoon, he’s outside, in his pyjamas and dressing gown peering in through the window  of his house and holding a net!  How eccentric or crazy can this old man be? Things get worse as she is confronted by not only no phone signal but her grandfather doesn’t even know what wi-fi is, let alone have a code for her to access it. Or even a television.  How on earth is she going to entertain herself without her precious screen?

Well, she soon finds out when her grandfather is  kidnapped by gnoblins  and she is forced  to embark on a rescue mission across a magical realm filled with strange creatures and dangerous enemies that require her to use her ingenuity, and imagination and find inner reserves she didn’t know she had.. Can there actually be more things in the world than those that come via an internet connection? And could they actually be more important than what her ‘friends’ think?

This is another story for those who are independent readers who enjoy the currently popular genre that embraces parallel worlds populated by weird, fantastic inhabitants and becomes a good vs evil battle between them and the hero/heroine who is as ordinary as they are.  As well as the narration, the story is interspersed by Frankie’s journal entries telling the story from her perspective and the lessons about life and herself that she learns along the way – lessons that can also apply to the reader as they navigate the tricky pre-teen path to independence.   

But the serious is tempered with humour in the author’s choice of words, particularly place and creature names, and every now and then there are also detailed descriptions of some of the creatures encountered, which, if this were used as a class read-aloud, lend themselves to being used as examples for students to imagine and describe other creatures that might live in the world of Parallelia.

There are many books in this genre for this age group available at the moment – this is one of the better ones.

 

The First Tackle

The First Tackle

The First Tackle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Tackle

Rikki-Lee Arnold

Wombat Books, 2022

136pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781761110818

Daniella Murphy is on a mission. All she has ever wanted to do is play rugby league, just like her three brothers. However, her grandma who has come to live with the family since Daniella’s mother died says no, her dad stays silent and the school bully just laughs in her face. Their message is clear – girls don’t play footy. But is this just being sexist or is there another reason?

As Daniella watches her older brother Jimmy practise with the Banford Saints she spies a girl playing!  One who becomes an even bigger hero for her than Kalyn Ponga because here is proof that girls can and do play rugby league! She is more determined than ever and so, against the adults’ wishes, she gets Jimmy to teach her to tackle – until an accident that lands her in hospital blows open the lies and the secrets…

This is an engaging read that encourages readers to follow their dreams, to not give up and not give in, even if they’re somewhat out of the ordinary – an inscription my mum wrote to me in a dedication in her book she wrote after she became the first female journalist to go to the Antarctic over 50 years ago, and one I’ve believed in since then.  So, at first, the grandmother’s attitude annoyed me because it seemed so sexist, so out-of-touch and so dated, particularly as I have a grandchild the same age as Daniella who is definitely not the girly-girl Daniella is expected to be.  But as the story evolves the reasons behind Grandma’s thinking emerge, her father begins to function as a father and even the school bully begins to reveal what’s behind his attitude (so common to many bullies) giving the story depth and currency.  

As the AFLW and NRLW reach their peak, young female league players might begin to wonder why the existence of the NRLW is such a revelation to Daniella, but, nevertheless, they will resonate with her determination and passion to play the game she loves as they immerse themselves in her story.  In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey included, “Begin with the end in mind so all your steps are in the right direction” and so it is common to have even quite young students start their school term with a goal-setting exercise and thus this book could be a useful read-aloud for them to identify not only their goal for the next 10 weeks or so, but also the things they need to do for themselves to achieve it.  Who are the people they need to approach for help, what actions and activities do they need to commit to, how will they know that they are making progress or even success?  What can they learn from Daniella’s realisation about having to do it for herself  rather than expecting it to be handed to her and from Steph’s revelation that “you can’t be what you can’t see”? Further teaching notes are available. 

 

The Unfunny Bunny

The Unfunny Bunny

The Unfunny Bunny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unfunny Bunny

Adrian Beck

James Hart

Puffin, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9781761043093

’Twas the night before EASTER
When I spotted the BUNNY!
So I offered to help
Make the EGG HUNT more FUNNY!

Like many other families, this one has gathered en masse at the beach house but with the rain tumbling down it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the fun holiday they had planned.  But when the mischievous little kid finds the Easter Bunny hiding eggs in the house, they decide to take matters into their own hands and help out, hiding the eggs in places that are significant to each recipient. But not only are the placements accompanied by an explanation, they also all the worst puns of the season…

Pop’s on a health kick, which he finds unappealing.

So we placed all his eggs up near the ceiling. 

He’ll have to do some hare-robics!”

While the new Easter Bunny is carried away with the pranks and the  jokes, they finally notice that the real Easter Bunny is not amused, and perhaps there should be a re-think of the  plans… Perhaps the funny bunny isn’t so funny after all. 

From the rollicking rhyme, to the predictable puns to the perfect illustrations this is a story that needs to be read aloud to an audience because the groans of those who get the incessant plays on words will just add to the atmosphere. Even though the Easter Bunny has heard them all before, the listeners will not and they will delight in the fun and the joy as they add to them with their own (while learning a bit more about how our language works.)  And because James Hart has cleverly depicted the main character as gender-neutral, each child will see themselves being the Easter Bunny’s offsider and wondering how they could play similar pranks. 

But this is more than just an “hare-larious” story that opens up opportunities for the more serious to explore puns in particular and humour in general – it’s just plain fun and while Easter may again look different for many this year because after the fires and the pestilence, many are now coping with floods, it it still those strong family connections that glue us together whatever the circumstances.  

One to share year after year…

 

 

That Cat

That Cat

That Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Cat

Jacqueline Harvey

Kate Isobel Scott

Puffin, 2022

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

9781761040702

All over the country I meet lots of interesting cats

Cats of all shapes and sizes in many different guises…

Using simple rhyming terms but very clever, detailed illustrations to completely engage the reader, this is a brilliant book for all cat-lovers and all ages.  For the Mat Cat is not a modest moggy curled up on a rug in front of the fire as you might expect, but a very fit, energetic yoga expert!  The Rat Cat hasn’t caught something nasty to leave at the front door but an echo of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

While young readers will love being able to read it for themselves because of the simple rhyming pattern, it is drawing the connections between the words and the pictures that adds depth, humour and a storyline that has the most comforting ending. Author and illustrator first met when Harvey taught Scott at school and that relationship shines through this book as though Scott knew that Harvey would never intend for a Fat Cat to be a self-satisfied feline surrounded by dead mice. 

Adorable in itself, and never written to be an instructional text, nevertheless this is one that could be shared with a class focusing on phonics and word families (don’t get me started…) but in a fun way where the children search out other -at words and then use their imaginations to illustrate them in surprising ways.   Or just re-interpret the words in the story.  Either way, they will not only learn a common sound for the -at combination but also start to look at character and how that can be expressed in the details of an illustration.  Can what has happened to Scat Cat be any more obvious even though there are but three words on the page???  The cues and clues offered through the pictures in a picture book are a critical, integral part of the child’s early language and reading development and texts like there that require a focus on both are an essential part of any book collection. 

 

Round the Twist

Round the Twist

Round the Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round the Twist

Paul Jennings

Puffin, 2022

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780140342130

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to capture the kids’ attention, particularly boys, through books, no teacher was without a copy of one of the latest Paul Jennings short story collections.  Unreal, Uncanny, Unmentionable, Un-anything – pull it out at any time and you immediately had their undivided attention.  Here, in a few short pages, was someone who mentioned the unmentionable and who brought a blush to the face of many a sensitive teacher (part of the appeal of the stories).

And then Jennings invented the Twist family, fourteen-year-old twins Pete and Linda, eight-year-old son Bronson, and father Tony, a widowed artist who makes sculptures. They live in an old lighthouse on a rugged part of the Victorian coastline and their madcap adventures became one of the most popular on television at the time, and which is now enjoying a resurgence on streaming services.  Beginning in print form first (the new release has the original cover) Jennings agreed to work on the television series in partnership with Esben Storm and this gave him the unique insight into how the series was made that is included in this latest release which includes three of the original stories.

Because of the popularity of both Jennings himself, and the series which ran for 11 years, there is a generation of Australians who not only know his name but can attribute their reading success  to his works and so they will be delighted that such a significant part of their childhood is now opening up for their own children – if, indeed, it ever disappeared.  Fun for fun’s sake! 

 

 

Big Green Crocodile

Big Green Crocodile

Big Green Crocodile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Green Crocodile

Jane Newberry

Carolina Rabel

Otter-Barry Books, 2021

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

 9781913074531

Regular readers of this blog will know that I always promote early reading behaviours – those that come long before any direct interaction with the marks on a page – whenever I can, and that these include the acquisition of language in the first place. And this book certainly fits into that.

Over 50 years ago when I first began my formal teacher ed studies I became fascinated with how children learn to speak, and this deepened when my son was born and so I delved into the research with enthusiasm. Not to bore you with the details, but it was evident that oral language development is inherent and that children will learn their mother tongue by listening to it, engaging with it, practising it, having fun with it and a belief that they will master it.  Integral to that development is repetition, rhyme and rhythm so throughout the generations little ones have enjoyed rhymes and ditties that roll of the tongue and especially those that accompanied by body movement, particularly finger play.  

And while there are hundreds of well-known rhymes that are passed through families, it is always interesting to have some new ones and this book offers 16 of those, complete with imaginative illustrations and instructions for actions. They cover the activities of a child’s day and play, encouraging movement and imagination while being short and simple enough for the child to learn them quickly so they can join in enthusiastically.  

Written by someone who has been teaching music to nursery-aged children for decades, the book was one of just five shortlisted for the UK Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (won by Michael Rosen for On the Move: Poems about Migration) and although it didn’t win, the fact that rhymes for this age group were acknowledged is significant. Recognition that this is a vital part of children’s language development will add weight to the writing and publishing of quality works for this age group. 

You can share Jane’s presentations of some of the rhymes here

This Tree is Just for Me!

This Tree is Just for Me!

This Tree is Just for Me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Tree is Just for Me!

Lucy Rowland

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781408892954

Jack was very excited. He had just received a new book in the mail and all he wanted was a small quiet nook so he could read it in peace.  But with blackbirds tweeting and squirrels eating, he was having a hard time finding somewhere secluded so he decided to find a tree of his own.  And there it was in the corner of the garden- the perfect tree!  Or is it?

The perfect book for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme Dreaming with eyes open, this is a delightful story about being careful what you wish for and learning that there are times when sharing your good fortune is so much better than keeping it to yourself.  With its rhyming text and vibrant illustrations, young readers will really be attracted to it and will want to share not only their favourite stories but their favourite places to read them.  It’s the perfect opportunity to share Dr Seuss’s iconic poem and develop a stunning display for the beginning of the year… students can draw themselves reading or better still, share a photograph.  Don’t forget to include yourself in it!

Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat

Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat

Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat

Monica McInerney

Danny Snell

Puffin, 2021

256pp.,  hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781760894139

The Christmas break is not working out for Marcie Gill the way she expected or intended.  Her family own the caravan park at Snorkel Bay, SA but rather than being the idyllic time of past summers, this time her mum and dad have had a big argument and her dad is living in one of the empty caravans, her beloved Gran has had a fall, broken her hip and is slowly recovering in hospital and there are big financial worries as well.

Marcie, like most 10-year-olds, prefers things to be predictable but they’re not helped by Fred, her younger brother that we all know and may even be, or Jemima, her tennis-mad older sister who has all the wisdom and arrogance of a new teen but is still just a kid.  It seems Marcie’s only peace comes when she is visiting George, Gran’s beloved cat who has stayed on in Gran’s caravan. However, after a visit to her Gran who gives her a ‘wishing stone”, a treasured family heirloom, things begin to change, starting with George the cat being able to answer Marcie’s questions…

McInerney has turned all her skill and experience in writing for adults in crafting this charming story for children combining a relatable family with all its foibles and flaws with just a teensy bit of magic so it straddles the real-life/fantasy fence just as its intended audience does.  Even the sceptics can suspend their belief to accept the wisdom of George but can argue that the wishing stone is perhaps what Marcie believes rather than having special powers. Because George can only speak if Marcie asks him a question, McInerney has used a smart technique that enables the reader to get inside Marcie’s head as she ponders some questions and articulates others, demonstrating that sometimes adults underestimate not only just how much this age observes of the relationships and events around them but how much they deserve an explanation so they don’t continue to blame themselves or fix what can’t be fixed. While the wishing stone plays its part in the narrative, it also helps us realise that wishes don’t necessarily come true through magic – we can make them come true with some thought, logic, and application. 

Deep thoughts for a book that is, above all, a delightful, well-written read that will resonate with so many, particularly those who have spent time in a caravan park and who will be able to visualise Marcie’s life. The addition of Claude and Helen to the cast adds even more reality, especially Claude’s shyness being overcome by the “public” life of the typical park.

A great read-aloud to start the new school year and to encourage students to set some goals and then develop some plans to achieve them.  

 

 

Old Grandpa’s Book of Practical Poems

Old Grandpa's Book of Practical Poems

Old Grandpa’s Book of Practical Poems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Grandpa’s Book of Practical Poems

Peter Macinnis (curator)

Amazon, 2021

337pp., pbk., RRP $A22.00

ebook $A4.00

9798583706266

Imagine having at your fingertips a comprehensive collection of the poems that are most often quoted, or pop up in allusions and crosswords. 

This collection carefully curated by wordsmith Peter Macinnis includes rhymes, brief and not-so from Britain, North America and Australia and in his words, should be “read aloud: adult to child; child to child; child to adult.” While he believes it is a collection that  “young people of all ages can benefit from encountering” it is, “above all, a work of love, both of language and also of grandchildren, official and unofficial, everywhere. “

However, IMO, it is one that should be in the collection of all educators and school libraries because it provides such ready access to all those verses that we know snippets of but can’t quite recall the whole thing.   Grouped under these rough headings: Short, Sweet and Sour; Pieces to Get the Tongue Around; Parodies; Fun with words; Adventures; Stories; Travel; Myths and Other Animals; Books and the arts; Seasons; Love and beauty; Funny; Society and its oddities; Nature; Science; Sport and The game of war, it spans works such as The Elf and the Dormouse (particularly topical given the weather we are experiencing on the East Coast and that which is predicted for the summer) to Banjo of the Overflow, a parody of my favourite Clancy of the Overflow,

This is the third edition of this work, again as carefully and meticulously researched as any who know Peter expect, and for many has proven to be the turning point in their relationship to poetry. There is something special about sharing something so personal as poetry preferences with those you love., be they children, grandchildren or your students. How many times have I had fun with young ones exploring Southey’s The Inchcape Rock (p59)  and the inglorious fate of Sir Ralph the Rover? Sometimes words with no pictures to shape the imagination are exactly what is needed. 

This anthology is the perfect vehicle for whenever you and yours need to just shut your eyes, listen and watch the images on the screens of your eyelids.