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Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children's Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Maps

Steve Evans

Collins/Times, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780008320324

In all my years of teaching (nearly half a century!) either as a classroom-based teacher or a teacher librarian, it has never ceased to amaze me how little ones are fascinated by maps and atlases and they pore over them for hours, dreaming dreams and making plans for the future.  I remember as a youngster spending endless hours with an atlas mapping out a route around the world that would take me to every capital city, and surprisingly (not) that atlas is now among my treasured possessions inherited from my wanderlust mum, (along with an amazing dictionary that got just as much attention!)

So there is no doubt that this new atlas for young children will have the same sort of fascination for your young readers. 

Designed to take children on a journey of discovery around the countries of the world, it begins with intriguing endpapers of the world’s wildlife and then plots a contents journey around the continents that is perfect for its target audience.  Funky, colourful illustrations  depict a range of themes of the iconic features of countries, building up a hankering to see these in real life when they are older.  Minimal text provides basic information and there are the usual non fiction features like an index to help them navigate their way through the book as well as around the world.

Guaranteed to provide hours of engagement and entertainment! 

Wolfy

Wolfy

Wolfy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wolfy

Grégoire Solotareff

Gecko Press, 2019

36pp., pbk. RRP $A16.99

9781776571574

Once upon a time there was a rabbit who had never seen a wolf, and a young wolf who had never seen a rabbit.The pair meet and become good friends. Tom the rabbit teaches the wolf to play marbles, read, count and fish. Wolfy teaches Tom to run very, very fast.

But eventually their friendship is tested by the classic game Who’s-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolf? Can the little rabbit and the young wolf remain best friends in all the world?

With its striking artwork, this is a story about how opposites can be friends despite their differences – not a new theme in children’s literature – but the twist is in the resolution.  When Wolfy frightens Tom so badly during their game that Tom scurries to his burrow vowing never to come out again, Wolfy doesn’t get it -until he does.  It’s the young child’s version of “walk a mile in my shoes” that sets this book about friendship apart and which has lessons to teach those who find it hard to empathise with the results of their actions.  Plenty of scope for discussion and reflection. 

Now What? A Math Tale

Now What? A Math Tale

Now What? A Math Tale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now What? A Math Tale

Robie H. Harris

Chris Chatterton

Candlewick Press. 2019

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

9780763678289

Dog has found a pile of wooden blocks scattered on the floor, and he decides to make a bed with them for himself and his teddy.  But the first block – “1,2,3,4 corners; 1,2,3,4 straight lines; 2 are long. 2 are short. This is a rectangle” – is too short and too skinny for him so he starts to investigate the other blocks to see how he can combine them to meet his needs. 

A companion to Crash! Boom! A Maths Talethis is a charming story that explores shapes and dimensions in a way that will inspire young readers to do the same.  Maths is not a stand-alone subject all about abstract signs and symbols, operations and knowing BODMAS. Rather it is about problems, processes and products that permeate our everyday world, just like Dog discovers when he tries to make himself a bed and Elephant, a tower. 

Combine either or both of these books with a box of blocks (perhaps scrounged from your local hardware store) and you have the perfect gift for a young person that combines reading, maths and learning all in one. 

Hey Baby!

Hey Baby!

Hey Baby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Baby!

Stephanie Warren Drimmer

National Geographic Kids, 2019

192pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781426329319

“In every corner of the Earth-from the Arctic to Australia, from ocean depths to mountain tops, from dry deserts to lush rain forests – tiny tots are learning to find their way in a big beautiful world.” 

But these are not human babies – they are animals of all shapes and sizes and each has its own life story, some more complex and demanding more attention than a human baby. Using the most stunning photos, this is a collection of pictures, poems, stories, folktales and information from Nature’s nursery that will introduce young readers to the diverse creatures of this planet. Grouped according to habitat such as mountains and plains, forest and streams, oceans and seas, each creature has a short fact box giving the name of the young, its home and its food as well as other information, and each section also has a Tot Lot which is a group of eight creatures with not quite so much detail but adding to the wonder of the variety of fauna that shares this planet with us.  Many have a story or even a classic poem to accompany them, such as The Legend of the Pink Dolphin or The Duck and the Kangaroo by Edward Lear to further engage the young reader as this is a book to be shared or read by an independent reader.

An investment in a child’s learning. 

 

 

Playing with Collage

Playing with Collage

Playing with Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing with Collage

Jeannie Baker

Walker Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406378665

On the surface, this looks like a how-to guide to creating illustrations using collage, a technique defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “A piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric on to a backing”.  Created by Jeannie Baker whose collage masterpieces have fascinated readers in all her works including Where the Forest Meets the Sea and Window, the reader is led through various sections that explore and explain such things as the tools to be used, the materials that lend themselves to being used and even a page that challenges the reader to identify a variety of those materials.

But to me, its power lies in its introduction. Ms Baker shares how even examining paint that has dried and weathered fascinated her, and how its cracks and layers told her so much about the story of the object it was adhered to.  Each was another story in its history and made her curious and she would carefully collect a piece to add to other pieces that would help tell a similar story. She finds the materials for her work everywhere, both natural and manmade, and she has become more and more observant of the things that make up this world and how they can be used together to create something new and equally wondrous.  And as she says, the purpose of the book is to inspire the reader to be and do the same – to look more closely, to discover “secrets and gems”, to think about them beyond their original purpose or state, and to create more and different magic with them.

As young children move through the natural stages of creating pictures, they get to one where their creation must be lifelike and when it doesn’t meet their expectations, that’s where their artistic abilities stall.  They are so dissatisfied with their efforts they tell themselves they can’t draw and the negative self-talk takes over.  But, as Ms Baker points out, “When you work in abstract, you don’t have to worry about how things ‘should’ be done -it allows for you to be far more creative and free. There are no right or wrong answers: nothing is ‘bad, just trust your instincts and PLAY!”

By offering the reader ideas for starting their own collage and sharing samples of her work by putting the individual found pieces into a pleasing arrangement, this book should kickstart those who have stalled off in a new direction, encouraging them to pay closer attention to the shapes, colours and textures of the world around them, as well as sending them back to Baker’s earlier works  to examine them in closer detail.

In the breakneck speed that our children seem to lead their lives, anything that gives them cause to pause, stop, look and wonder, perhaps even create, has to be a positive influence. There is tremendous scope to use this as the centrepiece of a group activity in the library, with children invited to bring in suitable materials and arrange them in interesting ways – rather like the group jigsaw but much more creative because there is no “right way.” Get started with the Teachers Resource Kit and worksheets.

She also talks to the ABC about her long career, her love of collage and her passion for the environment here.

 

Detention

Detention

Detention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Tristan Bancks

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791799

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one. 

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. 

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block. 

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?

Whatever decisions are made will change their lives forever.

With the rise and spread of nationalist, right-wing conservative governments around the globe, xenophobia is alive and well in communities and countries around the world. In Australia it is always a hot topic particularly around election time and especially since former prime minister John Howard declared, “It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people, taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” in an election speech just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.

Having just had another federal election with the rhetoric of asylum seekers, detention centres and people’s rights claiming a lot of media space and votes, this new book from Tristan Bancks is very timely. In it, through the students in the Reading Superstars class and their teacher Miss Aston, he asks the questions that need to be considered about the plight of refugees, particularly as much of what the children say is the echo of their parents’ perspectives. Bancks says he has tried to tell the story as “a human one, rather than a political one” and he has achieved this as the reader becomes very invested in the plights of Simi and Dan and constantly wonders what would they do if they were either of those characters.

In my opinion, the greatest power of this book is in the hands of a class teacher reading it aloud and discussing the issues as Miss Aston does while she and her charges are in lockdown. That way, a range of points of view can be explored and explained, taking the story to a whole new level, rather than being an individual read that throws up questions but for which the reader doesn’t seek answers. And that teacher should be prepared to answer the inevitable, “What would you do if you were Miss Aston?”

Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get. Superb.

 

 

Pippa

Pippa

Pippa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa

Dimity Powell

Andrew Plant

Ford St, 2019

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

9781925804270

Pippa the pigeon thinks she is ready to fly the skies by herself and have adventures. Rather than being hesitant to go out of her comfort zone, Pippa wants to experience the world for herself.  But her parents have other ideas. They are worried she is too young and do all sorts of things to keep her  at home and safe . But one day while they are out foraging for food, she flaps her wings and soars.  Over the town, the river and the paddocks she sails, going further and further from home.  But then fatigue and hunger set in and she discovers that while this big wide world is beautiful there are perils in it! Will she make it home safely?

A tender tale about parents wanting to keep their children safe, this is a story that cuts through the middle of parental protection and childish curiosity.  Our children need to be allow to fly; they need to face and conquer the obstacles they encounter if they are to be resourceful and resilient, but they also need to know there is a soft place to fall when it all gets too much.  

Dimity Powell has created a story that reflects both the parents’ perspective and that of Pippa – offering much to talk about as readers think about what they would like to do, whether they are ready and what they might learn as they try. It’s about striking a balance between independence and the security of home and Andrew Plant’s illustrations are perfect. Who wouldn’t be terrified seeing the face of the falcon coming towards you or those malevolent red eyes glowing in the dark?

As our young readers go through a number of stages where their desire for independence becomes overwhelming, this is a book that spans many age groups and there are excellent teaching notes which support this sort of use.  Perfect for teaching about being prepared, being resilient and being able to overcome obstacles without panicking. 

Lights Out, Leonard

Lights Out, Leonard

Lights Out, Leonard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights Out, Leonard

Josh Pyke

Chris Nixon

Picture Puffin, 2019

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

9780143793489

Leonard is not afraid of the dark.  It’s the five-nosed, seven-tailed, eleven-handed, scaly-waily monster (and its cousins)that are hiding in the corner of his bedroom that make him reluctant to have the lights out at night. No matter whether it’s mum, dad or both of them together he begs them to leave the lights on – and so they do. For several nights the lights stay on all night in Leonard’s room, lighting up the dark and scaring the monsters until one day he finds a strange book on his bed. It’s called How to frighten Monsters and is full of tips and tricks to scare them away. And it has a BIG poster to hang on his door. But does it do the trick?

This is a funny story about a very common subject, one that parents with children who demand the lights be left on will appreciate for its strategies for dealing with the fears.  Pyke’s descriptions of the monsters lurking in Leonard’s room demand to be drawn in all their glory – perhaps another tip for getting rid of them – because they have deliberately not been shown in full so that there is nothing too confronting to scare the reader. But there is enough to suggest the fear they instill in Leonard. 

Even though this story has a theme that has been covered before, the resolution is original and effective and by giving Josh the power to vanquish his demons himself. success is guaranteed. It will also generate discussion about what makes it dark and why it can be scary, as well as the opportunity to share other ideas for defeating those monsters. Perhaps each child could create their own page for a class manual! Teaching notes are available here and there is also an activity pack.

One Careless Night

One Careless Night

One Careless Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Careless Night

Christina Booth

Black Dog Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9781925381856

“Where the mist swallows mountains and winds whisper through ancient trees, myths and legends are born. There are forests here where no one has trod and creatures run free in endless rain and deep, dark bush.”

And among those creatures is a mother thylacine who is trying to show her young pup how to survive.  But while she and her offspring might be at the top of the natural food chain, there is one that is even mightier. One that has guns and traps and the motivation of a government bounty. One that outsmarts both mother and young and takes them to a different forest – not one of trees and the scents of fern and pine and thick, dark sanctuary but to one made of concrete and steel exposed to the harsh daylight and hot summer sun. The mother fades away and only the pup is left, until she, too, no longer is. The last of her kind that is known. But perhaps in that secret place where the mist still swallows the mountains and the winds whisper though the ancient trees, there is a sound…

From her bush studio in her Tasmanian home, Christina Booth produces the most amazing work, particularly the stories that she writes and illustrates herself. From the charming Purinina, A Devil’s Tale  which tells the story of a young Tasmanian Devil growing up to the beautiful Welcome Home with its focus on whales long gone from Tasmanian shores, to this evocative, haunting tale of the last thylacine she puts young and not-so-young readers in touch with the stories of some of Australia’s most amazing creatures which have suffered so significantly at the hand of humans and in the name of progress and prosperity.

With its dark palette that echoes the darkness of the deep bush of undiscovered Tasmania to the stark whiteness echoing the harsh conditions of Hobart Zoo, the reader is taken on a visual and verbal journey that is so intertwined it is like poetry. But despite the fate of the main character and that of the thylacine as a species being known, nevertheless there is a story of hope for now we think and do differently, and perhaps somewhere in the depths of that untrodden bush there is the possibility…

This is a must-have addition to support any curriculum study that has sustainability and the plight of our planet’s creatures as its focus. 

Disney Pixar Character Encyclopedia New Edition

Disney Pixar Character Encyclopedia New Edition

Disney Pixar Character Encyclopedia New Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Pixar Character Encyclopedia New Edition

DK, 2019

208pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241392454

In 1995 movie-goers were introduced to a new world of computer-generated animation with the first in the Toy Story series.  With the fourth in the series about to be released on June 21.2019, the Disney Pixar enterprise will have introduced 21 films of this genre with a host of characters, many of whom have become family favourites and household names.

Each of these is included in this new encyclopedia from DK, listed in order of the release of their movie (with sequels, including Toy Story 4 grouped with the original to make it easier) making a comprehensive guide that demonstrates that even imaginary characters have specific personalities. Each entry includes a large photo of the character and information about their role in their movie, their relationships with the other characters and other fascinating facts. Each movie has its own colour-coded section and there is a comprehensive index to enable young readers to find their favourites quickly.

While it will have particular appeal to those who are fans of the movies, it could also serve as a model for investigating the role and purpose of characters in books and developing character studies that focus on the essential information, using a context that is so familiar to so many.  Using just one set of characters, students could identify the critical elements and map relationships and then transfer this knowledge to a print situation.  Budding writers could also use it as a tool for developing their own characters, particularly if they watch the movie and listen to how the actors bring the characters alive with just their voices so this also becomes part of those they are building! 

Another example of the quality of DK publications and their usefulness in the curriculum.