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Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away, Worry Monster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Away, Worry Monster!

Brooke Graham

Robin Tatlow-Lord

EK Books, 2020

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

9781925820393

It is the night before Archie is due to start at a new school and the Worry Monster has crept into his bedroom spruiking all the usual worries about getting lost, not making friends, doing maths all day and no sport that such monsters do.

Normally, Archie would call on his mum and dad to scare it away because it is scared of them, but this time he tries to have a go himself.  He thinks back to the things his mum taught him the last time, and summoning all his courage he applies them.  He takes a deep breath so his lungs make his belly grow bigger like a balloon; he thinks of the facts and tells them to the Worry Monster; he tells the Worrmy Monster to go away; and then he reads a book to ignore it and distract him.  But do his strategies work…

Worry Monsters have been out and about all this year, not just before big events like starting school and any stories that help our littlies develop strategies to send them on their way are welcome.  This one is beautifully written and illustrated and any child could put themselves in Archie’s pyjamas and feel empowered.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Encouraging littlies to dig deep to find the courage and determination to send the Worry Monster scampering is an ongoing process because they’re not necessarily ready to do it at the same time as their siblings or peers.  So to have another book in the arsenal is valuable – sharing Archie’s story might just be the one that reaches a particular child.

 

I’m a Hero Too

I'm a Hero Too

I’m a Hero Too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Hero Too

Jamila Rizvi

Peter Cheong

Puffin, 2020

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

9781761040115

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and most of them don’t wear capes – that’s the lesson we can learn from this pandemic that has rocked the nation, indeed the world.  In fact, in some countries people have stood outside at a certain time and applauded the local heroes, particularly the health care workers . However, while the children have joined in, many have been left bewildered about the changes in their lives. Children like Arty who doesn’t understand why he can’t listen in on Mum’s conversations any more; or why his dad is working at home and often grumpy; or having to be at the end of the skipping rope from Granny and not being allowed to play in the playground.   

Why are there all these changes?  Why can’t the world go back to the way it was?

When his dad finally explains that that can’t happen until people like Arty’s mum find a way to beat the virus, Arty realises he can do things that will help to beat it too. That he is not powerless and that he can be a hero fighting this invisible, supersonic virus by doing ordinary, everyday things like washing his hands properly and often; not touching things like supermarket trolleys and his face; coughing into his elbow and putting his tissues in the bin; and helping at home by getting dressed when he is told and waiting for his dad to finish his video calls before interrupting. He can even  draw beautiful pictures and post them to Granny.  And one day, if he and everyone else is a hero, things will change back to the way they were.

Our kids are remarkably resilient and if they understand why they have to do certain things they will adapt and adopt quickly, but sometime we adults forget the explanation.  This is a remarkable book that takes the time to talk to the children and show them how they too, can be heroes just by doing what they have been asked.  That while restrictions may be tiresome and boring, every little bit helps and together, we can defeat this insidious enemy. 

Share the story, and make a wall display in a cape-shape that details the things that our kids can do to be heroes and then let them look for their friends being heroes so they can add their name to the display.  Reinforce the everyday hero concept so they feel empowered and powerful. That’s the way to win.

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

Katherine Mengardon

Dominic Wilcox

Collins, 2020

152pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008382896

Little Inventors is a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously. Their mission is to give children across the world the opportunity to develop and showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills, build their confidence, curiosity and resilience to become caring citizens of our planet, all invaluable attributes that will support them as adults in their everyday life and chosen career paths.

The organisation is designed specifically to encourage and support children to invent things and they do this by

  • creating free resources for organisations, teachers and parents to encourage children to think up and draw great invention ideas, working with partners to run challenges, events and workshops
  • challenging skilled experts and makers to work with children to turn their ideas into reality, from the practical to the fantastical, no limits.
  • showcasing children’s inventions online and in books and exhibitions to inspire tomorrow’s inventors, scientists, makers and problem-solvers to believe in their ability to make a difference.

As well as offering children the chance to take part in mini-challenges, the organisers also offer them the opportunity to upload their own ideas to the website.  Little Inventors Go Green is the latest in a series of books (including The Little Inventors’ Handbook) which features information and ideas that will inspire young inventors to consider how they can make this planet a better, greener place for its inhabitants.  While there have been any number of books focusing on climate change and how even our youngest students can take action to help fix it, this one uses the children’s own ideas rather than those created by adults. 

Using diagrams and minimal text that is accessible and speaks directly to the reader motivating them to put their thinking caps on to address whichever problem resonates with them, its format oozes energy and an urge to get involved in doing something. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With the support available from the website and an enthusiastic teacher offering guidance this is a book, and a series, that could easily morph into a lunchtime club attracting kids who like to explore their curiosity, who like to ask questions such as what if…, what could…, how would…, who have lots of ideas whizzing around their head which they just need an outlet for, and who enjoy the company of like-minded thinkers.

 

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Call Your Grandpa?

Ashleigh Barton

Martina Heiduczek

ABC Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9780733340864

In every country around the world are grandpas short and tall,

Though they go by different names, we love them one and all

A Poppy here, a Grampa there – or maybe he’s a Pa?

Turn the page, let’s meet a few of the finest near and far…

My friends and I are definitely in the grandparent generation and amongst us there is a Grandma, a Nonna, a Nanna, a Gr’Anne, a Biddy, a Mimi and a Gran.  But all the grandfathers are either Granddad or Poppy. Not much diversity at all.  So this is an interesting book, both delightful and enchanting, that takes the reader on a journey around the world and introduces them to grandchildren and their grandfathers and the special names they are known. Who knew there were so many?  Saba, Taid, Vô, Babu, YeYe, Koro, Bompa, Nua Nua, Daada, Belo, Nonno, Lolo, Kaku, ..so many terms of endearment from so many languages and cultures, all of which are identified in the glossary on the final page. 

Despite the many terms though, what shines through this story in rhyme is that no matter where we are, that special relationship between a child and their grandfather is universal and the memories made are enduring.  As well as teaching little ones new names – I can envisage of wall display of photos of the children’s grandparents and the special names they call them, especially as the author invites the reader to share – this would also be a grand book for those who are learning English as a new language because they will delight in seeing their own culture represented in a way that connects us all.

 Our family?  Very ordinary.  One of us is Grandma Gruesome and one is Grandpa Grumpy!  And we work hard to live up to expectations! 

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man Emu

John Williamson

Simon McLean

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760898793

Fifty years ago teacher John Williamson wrote a ditty about an old emu racing across the Australian countryside in pursuit of a female friend.  As he goes he meets many iconic creatures such as a galah, cockatoo, wedge-tail eagle, kookaburra and the kangaroo, but while they all they have their unique characteristics, none is as charismatic or as fast as Old Man Emu.

“He can’t fly but I’m telling you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo.”

 

Such hilarious and well-known lyrics, which not only launched Williamson’s career as a singer and songwriter but became essential singing in classrooms, demand to be illustrated and Simon McLean has done an outstanding job bringing them to life so that a whole new generation can  sing and laugh along and be introduced to the work of the man who gave us True Blue , regarded as one of our national anthems, and the haunting Raining on the Rock.

Over the past half century, Williamson has given us so many songs, each with such a unique message about this country, its people, its places, its past that they cry out to be the basis of investigations to discover what it is that makes us unique.  What is he saying in Rip, Rip Woodchip? What is the story behind A Flag of Our Own? So to have this very first one in picture book format to open up a study of not only emus but a whole range of fauna is just precious, and I’m sad that I’m no longer in a classroom or library to make it happen.

Something special for any child, Australian or otherwise. 

It’s OK to Cry

It's OK to Cry

It’s OK to Cry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s OK to Cry

Molly Potter

Sarah Jennings

Featherstone, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A21.99

9781472942425

Not so long ago, when boys got to about six or seven, they started hearing the familiar mantra of “big boys don’t cry”, encouraging them to “be tough” and suppress their emotions.  While such a philosophy is still acceptable in many parts of society, for the most part it has been phased out but there are still many other less explicit messages that we pass on to our boys which have the same effect.  Our words and our actions and reactions to particular circumstances all combine to pass on a subliminal message that somehow it’s not OK for boys to be in touch with and express their emotions.  To do so is “girly” and sadly, that is somehow is showing weakness.

This book has been written to demonstrate to boys, particularly, that it is OK, in fact beneficial, to know and understand and express their emotions. Starting with a collage of some of those ways we parents make statements that suggest that to cry when you’re hurt is not tough and followed by another that has all sorts of similar subliminal media messages, it is clear that it is no wonder our boys can be confused.  The pages that follow offer insights into a range of feelings, positive and negative, situations in which they might arise and words to describe them so when they occur they can be shared.   There is a strong message that experiencing a variety of feelings over the day is completely natural – in fact it is what makes us human. It demonstrates that we won’t all have the same response to the same situation and that at any one time, there can be all sorts of emotions happening within a group of people.

It acknowledges that sometimes our feelings can make us uncomfortable and offers strategies to deal with these and there are also notes to enlighten parents about helping their children acknowledge, own and deal with their emotions in a healthy way rather than just suppressing them.

Even though this book has particular application at this time when life is not normal and adults are struggling with their mental health in an unprecedented way, it has application far beyond that as we pay more attention to the mental health of our students and address them. It could form the basis for a term’s work exploring much more deeply than the more traditional “I feel happy when…; I feel sad when…” offering students insight that could be the foundation for lifelong learning that takes us all to a calmer, more empathetic place.

Aussie Kids series

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Dooley on the Farm 

Sally Odgers 

Christina Booth

9781760893682

Meet Matilda at the Festival

Jacqueline de Rose Ahern

Tania McCartney

9781760894511

Puffin Books, 2020

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

These are the final two books in this series first launched in February, and continuing in April and September, meaning newly independent readers can complete reading about this diverse group of kids within the year.  Featuring a story from each state or territory, readers have journeyed around the country learning about its diversity through the children and their adventures.  In these final two, Dooley’s cousin is coming to visit him on his farm in Tasmania where they are planning to sleep out in the barn,  and Matilda takes us to a festival at the Japanese embassy in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory as she bids farewell to her special friend Hansuke is returning home with his family.

At a time when travel between the states and territories has been all but impossible, this series has allowed young readers to visit various parts of the country from the comfort of their favourite place to read enjoying stories about kids just like them specially written and illustrated by leading Australian creators for those who have new skills they need to consolidate.

This is a unique series which lends itself to all sorts of activities and with all eight now available, there is scope for each student to individualise their learning by choosing the one that resonates with them the most.  

 

A Climate in Chaos

A Climate in Chaos

A Climate in Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Climate in Chaos

Neal Layton

Wren & Rook, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781526362315

Planet Earth has been very good to us. But 150 years ago, humans began making machines powered by burning things…

You’ve probably heard about climate change. At least I hope you have – because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT. It affects all of us living on Planet Earth right now, and everyone and everything that will live on our planet in the future.

This year seems to have been the year for books about climate change, its impact on the planet and what we, as individuals, can do to help revert the damage that has been done.  Given that any book begins life well before it is published, it would almost seem prophetic that production must have started well before 2020 and its planet-changing events evolved.  What sets this book apart though, is that it helps our youngest readers understand the difference between climate and weather and just what is causing the climate to change.  Using the picture book format and easily accessible language in a narrative style that speaks directly to the reader, the impact of industrialisation over the last 150 years or so is explained simply and clearly using examples that little ones can understand and relate to.  It then moves on to showing how simple activities and lifestyle changes can make a difference and help sustain the improvement that has been caused by the pandemic.

With the environment at the forefront of so much curriculum work, this is one that will help even the youngest readers understand the words they hear every day while offering practical help and hope so that chaos doesn’t become disaster.

I Believe I Can

I Believe I Can

I Believe I Can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Believe I Can

Grace Byers

Keturah A. Bobo

Balzer & Bray, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780062667137

One of the downsides of this new instantly-connected world with its emphasis on social media is that there is a generation growing up who are becoming dependent on external validation for everything they do, who view their self-worth through the lens of the number of likes and friends they have, and whose self-belief and self-confidence as a person is very low.  In this look-at-me world, resilience seems to be in low reserves and what came naturally as previous generations dealt with what we encountered, is now explicitly taught.

In this companion to I Am Enough, young children of all shapes, colours and sizes are encouraged to be their best selves and to reach their potential by believing that they can without needing approval from outside sources. They let the power of their imaginations project them into the future and know that because they are just who they are, they can achieve those dreams.  They can be as fierce as the lion’s roar and as powerful as the dragon’s flames, and even though they might falter and make mistakes or not succeed at what they try, they learn from those experiences to build on what they tried and take another step forward.

It is aimed at our younger readers in the hope that they can build their sense of identity and worthiness before they are old enough to officially be on social media platforms (COPPA  restricts membership to 13+) and promote positive mental health, an area that is of increasing concern amongst our youngest.

While the dark side of social media is now being recognised and explored and talked about in mainstream media, this video shows what can be achieved through the power of self-belief.  Molly suffered horrendous epileptic seizures from the age of 2 and in an effort to save her life, had a third of her brain removed at 16.  Look at her go!!!

 

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A must-have and a must-promote in any mindfulness collection and program.

The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Realisation

Tomos Roberts

Nomoco

HarperCollins, 2020

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

9781460759806

London is in lockdown and poet and performer Tomos Roberts finds himself home-schooling his much younger brother and sister.  One evening, as he tucks his brother into bed, Cai asks him to tell him the poem “about the virus” again and Roberts obliges.

And so begins a reflection of what the world was like before 2020 when Greed was King and the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar was paramount regardless of the pollution it caused, the damage done to the environment and the consequences to the planet’s health. People’s relationships and connections were lost as we raced lemming-like to some elusive, invisible but seemingly better future.

But then came coronavirus and with it, orders to stay at home and inside.  And because of human nature, we reverted to the simpler pleasures of earlier times rebuilding a more sustainable lifestyle that was not dependent on external gratification and validation.  And that, in turn, had an effect on our cities and countries as the landscape was allowed to breathe again, if not heal. There was a realisation that there was a different, even better way to live and perhaps this experience and its rewards would be embraced even after the virus was managed. “We all preferred the world we found, to the one we’d left behind.”

Roberts finishes by telling his brother to “lie down and dream of tomorrow, and all the things you can do.  And who knows, if you dream hard enough, maybe some of them will come true.”

Roberts first shared this as a video clip and it has been viewed over 60 million times, suggesting that it has a universal message that humanity really wants to hear at this time but it’s production as a picture book with the extraordinary illustrations by Japanese artist Nomoco not only bring the words to life but make it accessible to so many more.  Because the spoken word is so fleeting it’s meaning is not always grasped within the moment, but having a print version that can be read and re-read enables the full intent of the words to be appreciated, valued and perhaps acted upon.

 

While younger readers will recognise some of the events in the story and will be able to talk about what they did when they couldn’t go outside, the full beauty of the words, the pictures and the message is one that more mature readers will appreciate more.  This is reflected in the activities in the teaching ideas which I wrote as I found myself going back and forth many times and finding more each time (and am continuing to do so as I write the review!)

This is a unique book – it is factual yet both a reflection and a dream at the same time and one that will become a point of reference for whenever in the future we look back on this year and consider the time the world was changed in a such a profound way that it would never be the same again.