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Tad

Tad

Tad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tad

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008212797

Tad was the smallest tadpole in the pond – so small she had to wiggle her tail twice as fast as her brothers and sisters to keep up – but that didn’t deter her from being brave.  Even though the others warned her about Big Blub, a great, big, nasty fish who was as old as the mud he lived in at the bottom of the pond, she wasn’t afraid  because she not only refused to believe in him but also made sure she kept to the shallow, sunny parts of the pond or hid carefully so he couldn’t find her – just in case he was real. But as the days went on, Tad’s sisters and brothers seem to be dwindling in numbers until at last she was the only one left.  And here comes Big Blub.  He is REAL.  What will she do?

Benji Davies has created a beautiful story that not only introduces young readers to the life cycle of frogs – a common topic in early biology curricula – but also to the concept of growing and changing and being brave enough to take the next step, generally.  With its stunning illustrations, it is full of opportunities and ideas to talk about, consolidating that special bond between reader and child and the stories they share.

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Juliet M Sampson

Karen Erasmus

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804218

Mrs Marino’s beautiful garden fascinates Grace and while she likes the veggie patch and the fish pond, it is the flowerbeds she loves best. And her favourite job is feeding the parrots their seeds, so when she comments that Polly likes a particular sort of seed and wonders what it is, Mrs Marino helps her investigate.  Firstly, she teaches Grace how to plant the seed properly and then helps her tend it till it grows.  But what sort of seed has she planted and what is the unique magic the particular species has?

Growing things always fascinates young people and this is a delightful story that will encourage them to try planting some seeds for themselves. The success of school kitchen gardens where students plant, nourish, harvest and eat the produce has been well-documented so any stories like this one that inspire them to go outside and get their hands dirty has got to be good.  There are teachers’ notes to assist both teacher and parent but the wonder of watching something grow is reward in itself.  The science side of things is obvious, but then there is always this to start a whole new exploration…

 

Colouroos

Colouroos

Colouroos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colouroos

Anna McGregor

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734418821

In the Red Centre of Australia live the red kangaroos; in the Blue Mountains live the blue kangaroos; and on the Gold Coast live the yellow kangaroos.  When the drought drives each group from their traditional homes and they go in search of water and end up gathered around the same waterhole, they look at each other and think they are strange. But they all enjoy the cool water, are afraid of dingoes, leap on their long legs and eat the juicy grass and when, at night. “the colour left to dance in the sky above”, they all looked the same.  And strange things began to happen…

On the surface this is a delightful Australian story for our youngest readers about the mixing of colours to create new ones, and it does this very effectively, although the adult sharing it might have to explain how joeys arrive. Full of colour, rhythm and repetitive text it engages and perhaps inspires the young child to do some experimenting with their own paints and ask What happens when…? It could give rise to a host of science and art activities about colour and light.

But a deeper look could also lead the older reader into considering how humans also mix and match, mingle and marry and give birth to the continuing story of multiculturalism and diversity that makes each community so special. Not just colours interacting but also cultures, foods, sports …

If there is one book to put on your to-buy list in preparation for the next Harmony Day, this is it. The best picture books span the age groups seamlessly and this debut by this author/illustrator has nailed it.

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Weather

Katie Daynes

Marie-Eve Tremblay

Usborne, 2019

14pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474953030

As the days go by and the calendar inexorably creeps towards the cooler months of the year, young students will start to notice that there is a change in the weather, the clothes they wear and the things they do.  Now there is football on television rather than cricket; they’re looking for a beanie rather than a sunhat and scruffling through the leaves is much more fun than crunching over dry, prickly grass.

So what causes these changes? This new lift-the-flap book from Usborne is another one in their excellent series that helps little ones understand the world around them using the interactivity of lifting the flap to find answers. Each question uses the simple language that children do – What are rainbows made of? How hot is the sun? – and the answers are just as direct, satisfying their immediate need. Grouped together under the headings Where, What, When, Why, How, Which, and Yes or No. finding the particular question is easy and the pictorial flaps make searching for the answer fun.  At the end, readers are challenged to offer explanations for some simple questions using what they have learned and there are even instructions for making their own water cycle using a ziplock bag! And, as is usual with these sorts of Usborne titles, there are Quicklinks to resources that provide more information for those who want to know more.

 As well as being ideal for early childhood, this is also a role model for older students as a presentation tool. Whatever the overall topic, each can pose a question that intrigues them (perfect for helping them develop the skill of asking questions rather than just answering them), find the answer and then collaborate to produce a text that covers a gamut of sub-topics so that the task is manageable, is engaging and is owned by them.

 

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Aitziber Lope

Luciano Lozano

Wide Eyed Editions, 2019

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

9781786037046

As the daytime temperatures drop and you enjoy the warmth of your car heater during the morning commute, are you aware that you can thank a woman for the privilege?

Or if you have a baby and bless the convenience of disposable nappies that it was a woman who invented the first prototype? Or if you have used technology involving wifi, bluetooth and GPS today, then that is also the idea of a woman beginning during World War II as a secret communication system between actress Hedy Lamarr and American composer George Antheil.

This intriguing book brings together “15 incredible inventions from inspiring women” , pioneered decades ago and now household items taken for granted.

Small, no-frills text giving just enough information to outline the what, why, where and when is set against large illustrations making this an ideal book for the emerging reader who wants to know the basic story behind such everyday items, not only setting them up to want to know more about these particular inventions but also setting them wondering about the story behind so many other things.  They say “necessity is the mother of invention” but how many of those inventors were actually mothers? 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With STEM subjects having such a focus in current curricula, to discover that so many of the things we use daily without thought were the invention of women with a need and an imagination must surely continue to inspire our girls who sadly, still seem to think that they are venturing into a man’s world.

One to share, promote and celebrate.

 

One Tree

One Tree

One Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Tree

Christopher Cheng

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143786733

Long, long ago Grandfather lived high on a hill in a one-room house with nine other people, a dog and a goldfish. He loved his mountain home. “Better than an Emperor’s palace “, he would say, and when he went to the village market he could always see his home perched beside the tallest tree on the mountain.  At night, Grandfather would tell stories and everyone gathered around to hear them because his stories were the best.

But time passes and Grandfather is old and now he lives in his grandson’s apartment in the city, a busy, noisy, crowded city that has swallowed up the fields, killed the trees and silenced the birds. No longer does he tell stories – he just stares at the fading painting of his mountain and a visit to the markets is one of haste rather than leisure, of fie de lah rather than conversation, where all the buildings look the same and there is no way they can spot their apartment. 

But one day the little boy sees a little plant with two pale leaves growing through a crack in the path, and knowing that it will soon be crushed by the hundreds of rushing feet, he rescues it and despite his grandfather’s pessimism about its future, the little boy nourishes it and it flourishes – and slowly something amazing begins to happen…

If you pick up a book by Christopher Cheng , you know you are going to get an outstanding story, one that will have a profound effect on you. In my opinion, One Tree is as impressive as his iconic One Child  (now 21 years old) with its powerful message about the power of one and the change that can happen because just one child believes. 

And true to form, Bruce Whatley who says he would “get bored if I stuck to one or two [illustration styles}” has illustrated this book in a completely new style, one that complements the text perfectly. “For One Tree I wanted to do something new yet it had to have a traditional feel. I have fond memories of doing Linocuts in college, carving into soft ochre layers, taking away the space between the lines. Then rolling ink onto it and printing the result. Such a great medium. Not having the time or space and being mobile for most of the time I decided to create the technique using Photoshop on my portable Wacom Cintiq tablet and my Mac. I constructed 3 layers in Photoshop, an off white base layer, a dark ochre middle layer, (these colours echoed the lino and were purely for nostalgic reasons) and a top transparent layer where I copied my pencil roughs. I then used the eraser tool with a stylus pen on the ochre layer to ‘gouge’ out the space between the lines. What was left I converted to a black textured line and added the colours on the layer beneath.” Books Illustrated

Like all quality picture books, this is one that spreads itself across all age groups, inspires the reader to act on what they have read and is a pleasure to read, review and recommend. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

I'm not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

Anna Milbourne

Daniel Riebey

Usborne, 2019

24pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

9781474940726

During the daytime I’m not afraid of the dark. In the daytime the Dark is small and tucks itself under things almost as if it’s hiding.  But it’s different as the day draws to a close and the Dark starts to stretch out and starts to cover EVERYTHING. It’s not too scary when the lights are on even though there are corners where the Dark lurks, but once the lights are off…

And when Dad suggests a camping trip that means being outside in the Dark where the noises are unknown, well that’s a whole new level of scared…

Fear of the dark is a common phenomenon, particularly for little ones who don’t yet understand the concept of Earth’s rotation and night and day and thus it is also a common theme in stories for them. What sets this one apart though is the way that the Dark is personified and explored using engaging language that expresses the child’s thoughts so well.  Instead of referring to “shadows”, the little boy says it “tucks itself under things almost as if it’s hiding.” and illustrations that show those same shadows getting longer and longer.  But the standout feature is the use of cutouts throughout the book that cleverly highlight  the text -“the feeling inside me gets bigger too-like a hole I could fall into” as well as offering a peek into what’s coming.  Even the very last page has some that provide the perfect ending.

Like others on this theme, there is much that both parent and teacher can explore with the child as the book is shared – the concept of darkness and how it is created and needed, emotions and fears and how these can be addressed, the stars and other bodies in the night sky … 

All in all, a great story beautifully told and brilliantly illustrated that offers both comfort and learning.

Circle

Circle

Circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circle

Mac Barnett

Jon Klassen

Walker Books, 2019

4899., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9781406384222

Triangle and Square are visiting Circle, who lives at the waterfall. When they play hide-and-seek, Circle tells the friends the one rule: not to go behind the falling water. But after she closes her eyes to count to ten, of course that’s exactly where Triangle goes. Will Circle find Triangle? And what OTHER shapes might be lurking back there?

This is the third in this trilogy which started with Triangle  and continued with Square., and it is just as engaging as its predecessors.  As well as Barnett’s text, Klassen’s almost monochromatic illustrations carry the action with much of it being conveyed through the eyes alone. As with the other two, there is a subtle message in the story – this time, after running out from behind the waterfall because they are scared of the unknown shape, Circle ponders about whether the unknown really is scary.  In addition, the reader is invited to imagine just which shape the two may have been talking to, opening up the scope to explore other common 2D shapes and perhaps even craft their own stories about them.

This is an intriguing trilogy, unlike anything done before which deserves a place in any home or school library because it is timeless and will cross the generations.

The King Who Banned The Dark

The King Who Banned The Dark

The King Who Banned The Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King Who Banned The Dark

Emily Haworth-Booth

Pavilion, 2018

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

 9781843653974

As a small boy, the prince was afraid of the dark and so be vowed that when he became king he would banish the dark.  And, despite the people’s protests, that’s what he did. Employing a popular political tactic of spreading disinformation so that the people thought the dark was a bad thing and demanded it be banned, he “succumbed” to their wishes and the ban was put in place. He had a huge artificial sun hung above the palace so that the night was as light as the day,  and light inspectors were employed to report and punish anyone who turned lights off in their houses.

At first the people thought it was a great idea and celebrated the light, but then their opinions began to change…

As well as being an engaging read for young readers that could have them investigating night and day and how life needs the dark to continue its cycle,  it could offer them an opportunity to talk about their nighttime fears, perhaps discovering that they are not alone with them and finding some strategies to deal with them. Would the prince have been better to find another way to ward off his fear of the dark? What sorts of things could he do?

It could also provoke a lot of discussion with older students about current political practices, acting in haste on a tide of popular opinion and the collective power we, in democracies, have to make change.  There could also be philosophical discussions about how we need dark to appreciate the light, rain to appreciate rainbows and so forth, focusing on the need for ups and downs in our lives and that like the night, the downs will pass and the ups will come again and we will value them all the more.

The predominantly yellow, black and white colour palette is perfect for spotlighting the messages of the story, whether literal or figurative, and given the depth of the story, one that spans many age groups.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Green Giant

The Green Giant

The Green Giant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Green Giant

Katie Cottle

Pavilion, 2019

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

 9781843654001

Every summer, Bea left her home in the city to stay with her grandad in the country. Iris, her dog, always went along with her. Bea is adventurous and she has explored everywhere in Grandad’s garden apart from one place – the small and rusty old greenhouse. So one day she decides to take a look inside. On the outside the greenhouse may be small, but inside it is huge – packed with plants, and a little creepy. Bea has a distinct impression that someone, or something, is watching her. Then a shadow falls, and standing over her is… … a giant. A giant made entirely of plants and greenery. Bea is scared, but the giant reassures her and explains that he has escaped from the grey city. Bea and the giant become friends, but can they do anything to make the grey old city, and the world, a greener place?

With huge concrete and glass buildings dominating today’s cityscapes rather than the trees of yesteryear,  the constant urbanisation of our planet is putting it at risk and so this is a timely tale that helps our young readers focus on their immediate environment and how they might be able to “think global, act local.” Even though they, themselves, might live in one of those ginormous apartment blocks with little green to be seen, perhaps there is scope for a school garden or perhaps even a garden on their home balcony. Wherever there is space for a pot, and access to light and water, there is space for a plant.

This is an ideal book to introduce the concept of our dependence on plants, their needs and life cycles and those of the creatures that are not only sustained by them but, in turn, sustain them too.  With another summer of devastating fire and flood almost passed, now is the time to think about what the land needs most to recover.