How Do You Say I Love You?

How Do You Say I Love You?

How Do You Say I Love You?











How Do You Say I Love You?

Ashleigh Barton

Martina Heiduczek

ABC Books, 2022

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


In every country around the globe,
we all have ways to show
the people who mean the most to us
what they ought to know.

And whether through actions or words, the three most important we can utter are “I love you” and every language has its own phrase to express the emotion.

In this companion to What Do You Call Your Grandpa?What Do You Call Your Grandma? and What Do You Do to Celebrate?  young readers journey around the world from dawn to dusk, having meals and school days in a variety of places and learn that wherever they are, the bonds are strong and each country has its own way of saying “I love you.’ Whether it’s Sami saying munayki in Quechua, one of the official languages of Peru and Bolivia or Tala in the Philippines saying mahal kita in Tagalog, or Henry signing in Auslan, it’s obvious that regardless of the words, it is the love that is shared that is the main thing. 

While there are clues to the locations in the illustrations, there is also a glossary that explains where the children are, the language they are speaking and where they are living.  It just screams to be added to by the children in your care as they add their own special words in their language. No wonder it’s a CBCA Notable Book for 2023. 

Aroha ahau ki a koe

Little Lunch (series)

Little Lunch (series)

Little Lunch (series)










Little Lunch (series)

Danny Katz

Mitch Vane

Walker, 2023

80pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

It’s only 15 minutes in the school day so really, what can happen in such a short time?  Ask any teacher who has ever been on playground duty and you will discover the answer is – a lot! And in this series of books that are perfect for those venturing into the world of novels because of their relatable characters and events and text/image balance, the reader discovers what teachers already know- it can be the most significant 15 minutes of the day.

Set in a suburban primary school in Australia each episode highlights  the adventures of a class of Year 5 students and their teacher Mrs Gonsha during morning recess as relationships ebb and flow over what seems like the most innocuous events. In fact, so much happens during that short time that there are three stories in each book. And whether it’s Tamara Noodle hogging the monkey bars, fighting over what kind of sandwich Manny was eating or Battie became SUPER BATMAN GUY, each provides an engaging read that not only has heads nodding but also offers opportunities to discuss how the issue was or could be solved without argument or violence.   

The series was first released 20 years ago, was made in to a TV series, still available on iView, in 2015-2016 and is as popular now as it was then because the characters and the things that happen essentially don’t change.  The issues a teacher deals with on the playground today at recess will be similar to those I dealt with all those years ago.  

Apart from just being a fun read, Danny Katz shows that writing about every day stuff, the stuff you know about and have done can be just as entertaining as the most far-fetched fantasy, and thus the stories in the book could be a basis for a writing exercise for a class.  Have them really observe what happens in the playground, analyse the relationships among those involved and how the dynamics made the incident worth watching, show them how to disguise real-life by giving the characters new identities and then have them create their own story for an extra addition to the series.  Usually picture books are the inspiration for a class writing endeavour, but this series is just ideal too. 


Grandad’s Camper





Grandad's Camper

Grandad’s Camper










Grandad’s Camper

Harry Woodgate

Andersen Press , 2022 

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


There’s nothing she loves more than to visit her Grandad, snuggle up on the sofa and listen as he tells all about the amazing places he and Gramps would explore in their camper.  But these days, Grandad’s camper van is hidden away in the garage – now Gramps isn’t around any more, the adventures they shared travelling in it just wouldn’t be the same. As she listens to his wonderful stories, Grandad’s granddaughter has an idea to cheer him up…

This is a delightful story of a little girl’s relationship with her grandfather, a bond that those of us who have been fortunate to experience it never forget.  But this story has a twist because there is no grandma – rather there is Gramps, her grandfather’s much loved partner. And while it is a reminder that there are many definitions and designs of “family” – the rainbow flag on the camper on the cover is an indicator- it is the little girl’s complete acceptance of the situation that is heart-warming because it shows we have come a long way, albeit there is still a way to go.  So while gender diversity is not the obvious in-your-face focus of the story, it is the memories that are so inextricably bound together by Grandad’s and Gramps’ relationship that are at its heart. 

Family diversity is so widespread and little ones need to see theirs in stories, so this is another opportunity to share and celebrate. 

Originally published March 4, 2022

Updated February, 2023

You Need To Chill





You Need To Chill

You Need To Chill










You Need To Chill

Juno Dawson

Laura Hughes

Farshore, 2023

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


When Bill can’t be found at school one day, the imaginations of the other children run wild. Is he on holiday? Is he lost in the park? Has he been eaten by a shark?! It’s up to Bill’s sister to explain…

This is a fun-filled celebration of family diversity that is filled with love, acceptance and humour as the suggestions of Bill’s whereabouts are contemplated and the only response is, “Hun, you need to chill.” But finally the answer is disclosed and it’s not what a lot of readers will expect, but knowing little kids, one they will accept. It opens up the opportunity for discussions about not only Bill’s new circumstances but also family diversity in general and the children will soon realise that no two families are the same.  Such growth in tolerance in the years I’ve been teaching, led by books like this which expose our young readers to new situations so they are ready for them when they encounter them.   


Sticking Out

Sticking Out

Sticking Out











Sticking Out

Terri Owbridge

Emma Stuart

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95


Simon was shy at the best if times, and luckily for him, being a stick insect meant he could change colours to match his surroundings and hide from those around him.  That was until the day he stayed the glowing pink of the rose he had been resting on!  He was certain that all the other bugs who were gathering for the Spring Fest would laugh at him and the thought terrified him, so when a friendly beetle told him that there would be a magic gypsy moth who would help him, Simon set off in search of this saviour.  But as well as eventually finding her, he also discovered something much more important…

Told in rhyme, this theme of who you are as you are is enough is a common one in literature for young children but it is one that they need to hear again and again in all sorts of situations so they learn that it is okay to be pink or purple, or straight or bent, or spotty or striped or whatever… That no one really looks twice at your differences because they’re too busy involved in whatever else is going on, and if someone does make a nasty comment, then they are not worth your time.  For some, this is not something easily accepted and body image can become a major issue in the future so perhaps they can have fun imagining what it would be like to be able to change colour like Simon and how that would change who they are inside.  

As little ones face the challenges of new places, new schools, new people at this time of the year, this is one to help them overcome any anxieties they might have. 


Strong and Tough

Strong and Tough

Strong and Tough












Strong and Tough

Rico Hinson-King

Nick Sharratt

Bloomsbury, 2022

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


With the FIFA World Cup well under way,  many young lads will have thoughts of becoming a Socceroo and representing their country in the future. 

So this is a timely story to share with them to show that dreams can come true if they hold on to their hope and stare down whatever difficulties might confront them on the way. They need to stay strong and tough. 

Written during homework club at Manchester City FC in 2020 by the amazingly talented ten-year-old Rico Hinson-King. an everyday boy with an extraordinary story to tell through the character of Charlie about being taken from his birth parents, being separated from his sisters and being placed in foster care and despite being scared and lonely at times, surviving because of his love of football.  Practising to be the best he could be helped keep his mind off things, his determination and resilience helped him to be brave, strong and tough no matter what and one day he scores a goal that is even better than scoring the winning sudden-death penalty at a cup final!  

But as much as it is about football, it is also about his journey in the foster-care system, something that many of our readers will know about but never read about.  So although they might not have the same dream as Charlie, they can be inspired to follow their own passion, to understand that it can be scary and lonely at times but there are ways to distract from those big feelings with even better ones.  


Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide

Social Media Survival Guide











Social Media Survival Guide

Holly Bathie

Usborne, 2022

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Like it or not, use it or not, social media is an integral of today’s life and despite it being illegal for those under 13 to have accounts because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which prevents collection and storage of personal information from children under 13 years of age which originated in the US but which is pretty much universal, many of our young students still access sites and apps daily. 

For many parents, the world of social media and instant connectivity is not one in which they grew up – it’s all happened in the last 20 years –  and so helping their children navigate where they never went when they were children can be tricky.  Perhaps the recent hacking of Optus and Medicare and the exposure of personal date gathered legitimately can have a silver lining if it alerts parents to the spread of their digital footprint and propels them to start considering what they are sharing, and thus, their children. 

For even though way back in 1996 my school had a huge focus on safe surfing of the web and the kids, most of whom did not have access to computers and the internet at home, had the basics drummed into them from the get-go, the issues caused by the use of these instant, anonymous platforms continue to rise as our young people seek attention, fame, and in some cases, notoriety. Who can forget the death of 14 year old Dolly Everett who took her own life because of online bullying.?

Thus this book which enables our young readers, even those under the required 13 years) to manage their life, relationships and mental health on social media platforms and empowers them to stay safe online is an important read for all.  With the usual engaging layout we associate with Usborne, but in monochrome rather than colour, it offers in-depth coverage of a range of important a difficult issues young people face including body image, appearance-enhancing filters, influencers, sexual content and mental health. It uses recognisable themes rather than platform specifics, making the content relevant long-term, and tips on how to set up accounts safely and best manage privacy and messaging settings. It also addresses the user’s online persona, online reputation, and relationships; helps them understand  fake news and information and how to handle online bullying, as well as avoiding trolls.

While social media can have a really positive side – many would have been very isolated without during COVID lockdowns – and it would be wonderful if we could instil such a sense of confidence and well-being in the younger generation that they never feel the need for anonymous, meaningless affirmation, nevertheless there is a dark side and users must be aware of the potential for harm as well as good.  Once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. 

As well as being an important guide for the kids, it is also really useful for parents themselves as they learn what it is their child needs to know and do, understand and value as what was once just “peer pressure” from your immediate social circle is now a universal phenomenon right there in their hand. It goes hand-in hand with the excellent site and work of the E-Safety Commissioner established by the Australian government which has information for everyone from parents to teachers to kids to women to seniors and even a host of diverse groups who may be targeted or marginalised. 

Despite the care we take, every keystroke or finger tap can unknowingly add to our digital footprint, and so the better informed we are the safer we will be. Thus this is one to recommend to parents, to teachers and for yourself if you have responsibility for students or your own children online. 


Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country











Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Adam Goodes

Ellie Laing

David Hardy

A&U Children’s, 2022

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


Mum is taking David and Lucy on a road trip to visit her family and they are as excited as they are curious for this is their first time back on Country and there are so many special places to see, things to do, stories to hear and words to learn. This is their time to reconnect with their Aboriginality, and learn about their land and culture and how they fit within it from their Elders. As the children find out, it can be very emotional and spiritual as they learn of the generations who have gone before and how those ancestors continue to influence and impact their modern lives.

The third in this series, which includes Somebody’s Land and  Ceremony, young readers continue to learn about what is behind the Acknowledgement of Country that has become an integral part of the day in so many schools now.  As with the others, this is a story from the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders ranges in South Australia, the country of author Adam Goodes. with  stunning illustrations and text featuring both English and Adnyamathanha words (which are explained in a visual glossary on the endpages).  As well as the introductory background notes on the verso, there is a QR code that leads to a reading of the story as well as teachers’ notes  available to download. 

In my opinion, this series is one of the most significant publications available to help our young children understand and appreciate the long-overdue recognition of our First Nations people in schools, so that when they hear a Welcome to Country or participate in an Acknowledgement of Country they do so with knowledge of and respect for all that is contained in the words.  


Digging Up Dad And Other Hopeful (And Funny) Stories

Digging Up Dad

Digging Up Dad











Digging Up Dad

And Other Hopeful (And Funny) Stories

Morris Gleitzman

Puffin, 2022

256pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Over 30 years ago, Morris Gleitzman was so overtaken by an idea for a story that he says came from nowhere that by the time the afternoon was up he had the outline completed and the journey of Two Weeks with the Queen had begun. Not only was it life-changing for Morris, but it had a profound effect on children’s literature at the time for while there were many authors writing wonderful stories for young readers, this one was contemporary, featured characters and situations that resonated with its audience, and his way with words appealed to boys who were on the cusp of being able to read but turning away from it as a leisure time activity.  

As well as a host of other novels, his iconic Once  and Toad series, Boy Overboard and Girl Underground, and his collaborations with Paul Jennings, Gleitzman has also written anthologies of short stories including Snot Chocolate , Pizza Cake , Give Peas a Chance, and Funny Stories and Other Funny Stories Digging up Dad is the latest addition to that collection and once again, readers are treated to short stories that are contemporary, realistic, real-life incidents that focus on children helping adults to be their best selves.  The title story is particularly poignant as Rose battles the problem of having to leave their rented house – the only home she has ever known – and leave her dad behind because his ashes are scattered in the garden. 

Gleitzman says he enjoys writing short stories. “You get to play with enjoyable and interesting and sometimes silly ideas that are not quite big enough for a longer work. Perhaps ‘not quite big enough’ isn’t the right way of saying it. Perhaps ‘not quite sensible and believable enough’ is closer. Some short stories grow out of very big ideas, but when you’re only asking readers to hang in for a few pages you can present those ideas in a slightly more exaggerated and comedic way. In a way that, if stretched over a couple of hundred pages, might well have readers thinking, hang on, that’s not very believable and not even that funny any more.”

And so are they perfect for readers who need a break from intense novels, often analysed until there is no enjoyment left, or who just want a short interlude from life while they re-gather their thoughts.  Teachers also love them because they’re perfect for filling in those final few minutes and with Gleitzman’s work, you know you are presenting quality literature that is likely to build a taste for his other works.  

There is a reason that books by Morris Gleitzman did not stay on the shelves and there was always a long reserves list;  why he won the Young Australian Readers’ Award in 2002 for Boy Overboard among many other awards over time; and why, 20 years on, he is still writing for kids and entertaining and delighting them.  If your students haven’t met him yet, then now is the time to ensure they do. 



11 Words for Love

11 Words for Love

11 Words for Love











11 Words for Love

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Maxine Benebe Clarke

Lothian Children’s, 2022

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



There are eleven words for love, and my family knows them all.

A family flees their homeland to find safety in another country, carrying little more than a suitcase full of love.

As their journey unfolds, the oldest child narrates 11 meanings for love in Arabic as her family show, and are shown, all different kinds of love in their new home, and they also remember the love they have for their homeland and for those left behind or lost along the way.

This is a heartwarming book takes you on a journey through 11 of these Arabic expressions for love, at the same time telling the story of the family’s journey in the distinctive illustrations making the Arabic script immediately obvious even without the lyrical English translation.

While there might be over 50 words describing the degrees of love in the Arabic language, each pertaining to a different relationship, and there is seemingly only one in English for the same emotion, nevertheless there are many ways that we can show love without needing words.  

In 1970, the film Love Story (based on the book of the same name by Erich Segal) swept the world, inspiring a series of cartoons from New Zealand artist Kim Casali, the most famous being  “Love Is…being able to say you are sorry”, itself inspired by a line from the film “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” 

Use this book to inspire our students to think about the many ways they show and share love and how it is shown and shared with them, illustrating their statements for a display.  Apart from having them consider the meaning of the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, it will also help them understand that sometimes putting our feelings into words can be hard, particularly if we don’t have the words yet, but nevertheless we are loved.  Another step towards helping positive mental health.