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Let’s Build a Backyard

Let's Build a Backyard

Let’s Build a Backyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Build a Backyard

Mike Lucas

Daron Parton

Lothian, 2022

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

9780734421289 

Chug! Chug! Chug! That’s the sound of the tipper truck.

Bang! Bang! Bang!  That’s the sound of the nails being hammered into the fence.

Sing! Sing! Sing! That’s the sound of the birds in the big tree that offers shelter and shade to countless living things and which must be protected.

In this charming companion to Let’s Build A House, Dad and his daughter are back again, this time building the backyard from bringing in quality topsoil to building a bee motel to planting the vege patch, installing a frog pond and planting bright flowers that feed on stinky chicken poo.  Using simple rhyming sequences and repetitive text, Mike Lucas and Daron Parton have once again combined to bring the complex task of creating a backyard haven for the family and wildlife alike into the realm of our youngest readers.  The bond between father and daughter is just as strong as she helps him with all the tasks – imagine the fun of being allowed to control the bobcat – with the final spread showing them sharing the joy of their labour together, suggesting that there is no mother in the story, a situation many will relate to.

As well as introducing young readers to all the tasks involved in creating a backyard and the order in which they must be done, the story opens up the opportunity for students to dream with their eyes open and plan their own backyard.  What features should it have so that it is perfect for playing and relaxing while still being a safe haven for the local wildlife and environmentally sustainable?  Teach them about bird’s-eye-view maps and drawing to scale so things fit. Big concepts for little children but made thoroughly accessible through this must-have book. (And if the prospect of a backyard is not feasible, how could the school playground be improved in a similar way? )

 

An Artist’s Eyes

An Artist's Eyes

An Artist’s Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Artist’s Eyes

Frances Tosdevin

Clémence Monnet

Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2022

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

9780711264830

When Mo looks at the sea, she sees “dazzling duck-egg blue, a swirl of peacocks and the inky indigo of evening” but all Jo sees is blue.  

When Mo looks at the forest, she sees “shiny apple-green, the lime of gooseberries and the springy zinginess of moss” and shadows that make the green go darker.  But all Jo sees is green, making him more and more frustrated because he can’t see what Mo does.  But Mo is patient and gradually Jo begins to use his imagination although instead of seeing the shades and hues that Mo does,  he starts to see something different…

This is a powerful yet gentle story that reminds the reader that two people can look at exactly the same thing and see it differently- that each of us has artist’s eyes that are shaped by our imagination, experience and perceptions and it can take us a while to align them.  Monnet’s watercolour interpretation of Tosdevin’s lyrical text is enchanting and with their shapes, lines and colour choices the reader will view them through Mo’s eyes or Jo’s eyes or their own eyes…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

At the age where our children are exploring a new independence and making a wider friendship group, they look at those around them and think that being like them is the key to “success:” and they try to change who they are to be like those they admire.  So this familiar message of being comfortable in your own skin, being the unique individual you are, perhaps even being the ‘you’ that others admire and seek to emulate is important and cannot be shared too often.  So this iteration of that truth is not only important but being a completely different interpretation gives it added reach and recognition.  Whether our eyes kiss in the corners or speak to the stars, sees shapes or colours or sparkles, what we see is unique to us and is as valid as what our neighbour sees. 

Emergency Emergency

Emergency Emergency

Emergency! Emergency!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency! Emergency!

Rhiân Williams

Tom Jellett

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036106

Sadly, our youngest readers are becoming all too familiar with emergency vehicles as they rush around the cities and the countryside in these times of floods and fire and other devastating events.  For many, it is the sight of those familiar uniforms that bring relief and hope as well as help.

In this rhyming story with its bold, colourful pictures, young readers discover that there are many more vehicles in the fleet beyond the usual fire trucks, police cars and ambulances as they are introduced to jet skis, helicopters, water bombers, drones and even the RFDS as each plays a unique role in particular situations from clifftop rescues to getting people off their rooftops.  

However, as entertaining and engaging as the book is, it is the teachers’ notes that really add extra value as they guide both parents and teachers through raising the issues of “what if” with their young children including keeping themselves and their pets safe; the role of 000 and when to use it; knowing what to do in case of a fire, being lost, and other critical situations they might find themselves; and preparing for a disaster.  Simple things like knowing your name, address and phone number to tell a police officer, or having a password that must be said if a stranger talks to you can be life-saving but can also be neglected as we hope they’re never needed. While the story itself touches on calling 000 it is these additional activities that open up essential conversations in a non-threatening scenario that add depth and make this book a valuable addition to a family’s safety preparations. Even moreso because its focus is on the familiar vehicles and people that we see in Australia. 

Hopefully, like learning CPR, there is never a need for them to use their knowledge but as the saying goes, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. 

How to Count to ONE

How to Count to ONE

How to Count to ONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Count to ONE

Caspar Salmon

Matt Hunt

Nosy Crow, 2022

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

9781839941924

You know how to count, right? GREAT! There are LOADS of fun things to count in this book. Whales, baboons, rainbows, pyramids…There’s just rule. You must ONLY ever count to ONE. So don’t even about THINK bigger numbers. OK?!

Following in the footsteps of a number of other books that really engage our youngest readers as they not only learn the concepts that are the book’s focus, but also a host of early reading behaviours, this is a masterpiece that ensures that the reader listens carefully to the instructions and then develops their visual acuity as they follow them, searching for that ONE item on the page they have to find and count.  They can’t be distracted by all the other things going on – there is just one of whatever it might be, such as the one duck rollerblading amongst all the other ducks.  Some are more obvious than others but there are also some tricky ones that will really make the reader focus on the picture’s detail, encouraging them to be discerning and also give illustrations more than just a brief glance.  There are always cues and clues within that enrich and enhance the text.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As well as being great fun for the young reader – and there is the chance for them to show their prowess with counting – if your school has a buddy system where older students become the companions of your youngest, this would be a great joint activity with the older kids creating their own page to contribute to a class book to share. Each little one could have their own copy as a memento of the relationship, and perhaps even be inspired to male their own page to share too. 

Books that teach so much in such a fun way are gold; books that keep on giving even moreso!  

Daddy’s Rainbow

Daddy's Rainbow

Daddy’s Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s Rainbow

Lucy Rowland

Becky Cameron

Bloomsbury, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526615787

Erin’s daddy sees the colour in everything. Even on the greyest days, they put on their wellies and go splashing in puddles because, Daddy says, We can’t see rainbows without rain!’

But what happens when the greyest day of all comes, and Daddy isn’t there any more? Can Erin learn to find colour in the world again?

Even though we wish it didn’t happen, there are a number of our students who are going to suffer profound  loss during their time with us, and are going to have to move through their grief.  This is a moving , poignant story that might help them understand that the grey days are normal an natural but, in time, they too will begin to see rainbows again.  But it takes time… 

We Feel Happy

We Feel Happy

We Feel Happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Feel Happy

Katie Abey

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526619907

Our youngest readers are encouraged to explore their emotions in this vibrant book from the creator of such gems as We Catch the Bus and We Wear Pants.  Using  hooks such as counting, first words, recognising animals, interactive speech bubbles, prompts and ideas on how to understand and process emotions,  the reader is involved in the actions as they examine the vignettes to discover  lots of interesting things to spot on each page. While the animals are experiencing lots of different emotions, from the hippos who are excited to visit their friends to the shark who is grumpy about brushing its teeth, not only are there opportunities for the reader to speculate on why the animal is feeling the way it does and make connections, they are also given the opportunity to reflect on the occasions when they share the same emotions. .

Focusing on the feelings of happy, calm, worried, shy, curious, grumpy, sad, scared, sorry, excited, there is also  a non-fiction spread for parents and teachers with lots of useful information for speaking to children about their emotions.

Often when our littlies feel big, overwhelming feelings they don’t realise that these are part of life and everyone experiences them, both the pleasant and the not-so,  Books like these that help them understand that such emotions are common and essential to our well-being are an important part of their development. 

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Pig: My Peppa Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2022

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

9780241543498

Although formal reading instruction usually doesn’t begin until a child starts “big school”, so much of the rate of success and achievement is dependent on the groundwork that has gone before.  Mem Fox has said, ” If every parent -and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy in one generation!” 

But this new Peppa Pig adventure offers an even greater opportunity for our littlest readers to start developing those early reading behaviours that are crucial to underpinning reading development because it requires the child to create their own story. This is a choose-your-own adventure for the very young.   

Starting with a page of pictures of possible destinations, the child chooses where in the world they want to travel – to the jungle, the ocean, the desert, the city or even outer space – and then on succeeding pages they use the picture cues to decide which of Peppa’s family and friends they will take with them; their clothing; their lunchtime menu; how they will travel and so on, building an entire adventure as they turn the pages. There are musical instruments to play, shops to visit, parties to attend – and each is the child’s choice,  And when they return home safely, they can go back to the start and map out another adventure to tell!  The power of print over the fleeting screen! 

While listening to stories and building the pictures in their imagination is vital, having the scaffolding to build your own story with your favourite character is brilliant – there are so many skills involved and learning that takes place, not to mention the empowerment of being the author and making the decisions that this is, IMO, a must-have in the library of any beginning reader.  In all my years of reading and reviewing, showing and sharing books with little ones, books that are interactive with lift-the-flaps and other devices, I don’t recall one in this choose-your-own format for this age group.  Love it! 

 

 

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

Jarvis

Walker, 2022

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

 9781406392517

David has flowers in his hair and that’s just fine with all the other kids in the class, particularly his best friend. But when the bright, pretty petals start to fall off and David just has spiky twigs, things changed.  David was quiet, he didn’t want to play and he started to wear a hat. He never wore hats.  And when he took it off and reveled that he was twiggy, spiky and brittle, the other kids didn’t want to play with him either.  Until his best friend had an idea…

This is a touching story about what being a best friend really means – being there when your mate is at their most vulnerable, whether that be through illness or any other hardship that might strike.  The clichéed “thick and thin” that few are fortunate to experience, but when they do it means a lifelong bond that is remembered forever. Even though having flowers growing out of your head might be noticeable in the adult world, it is totally accepted as natural by the children who haven’t yet learned about adult perceptions or prejudices. But whether it’s because they’ve heard parental whispers or it just takes them a while to adjust to David’s new look, their attitudes and behaviour changes when he does, leaving him even more vulnerable than he would have been just dealing with its cause. Thank goodness for his best friend who supports him regardless.

While the story itself deals with David’s hair, which, while being the thing we often notice first about a person yet which is really the easiest thing to change, it could apply to any situation where the child feels isolated or marginalised and so, in the hands of a sensitive adult, it can help little ones share their own stories – perhaps illness, divorce, financial hardship, whatever – while helping to build compassion and empathy amongst their mates as they understand that their friend is still the same inside,  

Sensitively written and illustrated, this is one for the mindfulness collection that deserves to be shared and discussed and valued for its bravery/rarity in touching on a delicate subject in such a tactful way. I could use the other cliché, “Ask me how I know” but all I will say is that I have been David, and hopefully I’ve also been his best friend. 

Little Owl’s New Friend

Little Owl's New Friend

Little Owl’s New Friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Owl’s New Friend

Debi Gliori

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526628282

Little Owl is back in another story for littlies but this time instead of waiting anxiously for a new sibling; being concerned about starting preschool  or looking for any reason not to stop his game and have a bath , or trying to avoid going to bed. Little Owl is introduced to a new friend in the middle of his game with Hedge.  But this new friend talks so much and tries so hard, that Little Owl doesn’t want to be friends until… 

Over the last few years, Little Owl has become a favourite with our youngest readers as his adventures and concerns mirror their own so closely, and this new one is no exception.  They will all remember a time when a third party to a game becomes a third wheel.   And as always, wise Mummy Owl is there to help without intruding and taking over., knowing that Little Owl has to work these things out for himself. Alison Brown’s illustrations capture the author’s text perfectly making the characters very endearing while having enough detail for the young reader to work out what’s happening even if they can’t manage all the words yet. 

A series worth collecting for your little ones. 

 

When You’re Older

When You're Older

When You’re Older

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You’re Older

Sofie Laguna

Judy Watson

A & U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760291341

Baby brother, I can’t wait until you’re older.
Just imagine the adventures that lie ahead…

As he watches his baby brother sleep, the little boy begins to dream with his eyes open as he imagines the adventures that the two will have together “when you’re older’.  From riding their bikes through a jungle whose branches are festooned with snakes to being marooned in Arctic wastes, they will have the most magnificent adventures together… each bigger and better and more daring than the last. And each having them side by side through thick and thin. 

Laguna’s words are brought to life by exquisite illustrations that carry the reader along on the tide of the boy’s dreams, sparking dreams of their own, until we return, grounded, by the final page.  This is a celebration of the bonds between brothers that will resonate with all who have a brother or who have wished for one. Perfect for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme.