Archives

Words Between Us

Words Between Us

Words Between Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words Between Us

Angela Pham Krans

Dung Ho

HarperCollins US, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780063224544

Felix and Grandma have always lived oceans apart—until the day Grandma arrives in the city from Vietnam. Felix is so excited to meet Grandma and spend time with her. But it’s tricky when he speaks no Vietnamese and she speaks no English. They get by with both showing each other special things like Felix’s pet iguana Pete and Grandma showing him how to care for the garden but one day, when Felix and Grandma are visiting a big festival,  Grandma gets lost and doesn’t know how to ask for help.  It is then that Felix decides to teach her English, and by working together and teaching each other, they bond closely as they learn to share words as well, culminating in their shared love of pizza.

With end papers that have flashcard translations of common words, (and Grandma’s recipe for pizza), this is another story like I Hear a Buho and Giovanni  that allows us to share and celebrate the languages spoken by our students as they take the opportunity to teach us the common words for the things that unite us regardless of our heritage.  Having bilingual books in our collections and actively promoting them is a way that we can build bridges and open doorways for those who are not native English speakers by showing them that we value what they can bring to the teaching and learning experience.  

For many newcomers to this country not speaking the common language can be a very isolating experience, compounding the difficulties of what must have already been a difficult decision, but if we can reach out to families through stories – perhaps even inviting them into the library to share the stories of their childhood in their own language to encourage those of the same background to hear them and learn about them – we show the parents, particularly the mothers, that we care and that their child will not be lost.  And, in return, we all gain so much!!!

Kevin the Sheep

Kevin the Sheep

Kevin the Sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin the Sheep

Jacqueline Harvey

Kate Isobel Scott

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761048951

Shaun, Shauna, Sheryl and Shane are sheep – and are as predictable in their sheepish behaviour as the alliteration of their names.  Along with the rest of the flock, they are happy doing the same things over and over day after day in their fields of green grass and clover.

But Kevin is different.  To start with, he’s allergic to grass and would much prefer a bowl of soup (sprinkled with chives) and instead of subjecting himself to the regular shearing, he prefers to keep his locks long, and have painted purple hooves!  And if that’s not enough, he’s into drama and dance, is learning to knit (from a Ewe-Tube video), and is mastering kung fu, among other things. Sadly for Kevin, the other sheep don’t approve and ostracise him, make him feel like an outcast and he gets sadder and sadder.  Until one night…

There are many stories for young readers about being yourself, embracing the things that make you unique and standing up to those who would prefer you to be one of the flock, but few that I have read have been as LOL funny as this one, and as appealing.  Living as I do in sheep country, sheep behaviour is a common sight and both the author and the illustrator have captured that brilliantly. A paddock of sheep is a paddock of sheep is a paddock of sheep… So to have a Kevin to rock the flock is a masterpiece, particularly as his differences span all sorts of attributes from physical appearance to food allergies to sporting prowess to hobby choices… No matter how a little one in your realm stands out from the crowd, they will be able to relate to Kevin and draw strength from his determination to accept his differences (even though it takes some sleepless nights to understand that he has the inner strength to do so) so that they, too, can revel in who they are, what they look like and what they can do. 

Teachers’ notes include some pages to colour that could become the centrepiece of the reader’s own story or they might even like to use Kate Scott’s illustrations as a model to draw Kevin doing what they like to do most, then making up their own story to go with that. 

Definitely one for both the home and school library.

 

I Hear a Búho

I Hear a Búho

I Hear a Búho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Hear a Búho

Raquel Mackay

Armando Fonseca

Scribble Kids, 2024

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

9781761380495

As night falls, a  mother and daughter snuggle together in a hammock on their porch, and listen to the sounds of the night. The young girl makes animal calls and her mother responds, identifying the creatures in Spanish while the striking illustrations identify them for those who don’t speak that language. Then to their surprise a real búho appears and flies across the night sky.

When she was little, Ms Almost-18 and I drove regularly between Canberra and Cooma and on the way she would delight in teaching me the Spanish words that she learned from watching Dora the Explorer and took even more delight in the words she knew and which I didn’t (and I had to guess from her clues).  Children are fascinated by other languages and so this new book, the first bilingual text from this publisher, not only gives young Spanish-speaking readers the buzz of seeing their language celebrated in a book but also offers non-Spanish speakers some new words to add to their vocabularies so they, too, can baffle their elders.

I recently gave another bilingual book to a friend teaching a couple of Italian-speaking children and she told me that the doors it opened and the bridges it built between school and home were remarkable as the whole family got involved in sharing it, so we should never underestimate the power of acknowledging the languages spoken by our children and demonstrating to parents that we do this.  The animals that are featured in this seemingly simple rhyming story are a dog, cat, frog and owl, so how inclusive would it be if we invited all students to teach us what their words for these creatures are, and then extend that to teaching us their words for other creatures that we see around us in the local environment, or for the sounds we hear as night falls.  The sights and  sounds of the city are very different to the sights and  sounds of the country.

As with many well-written picture books that appear at first glance to be for the very young, in the hands of an imaginative teacher they can become powerful teaching tools for all ages, and this one has great potential too.  

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Shane Hegarty

Ben Mantle

Hodder Children’s, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781444966350 

HELP! Dexter’s lost his Boo-Woo.

It’s a scary sounding beast! It has fiery eyes and floppy ears, and twenty pointy teeth!

Soon the whole town is on the hunt for the Boo-Woo… police officers, firefighters and so many more join in the search, each getting more and more concerned as Dexter describes the Boo-Woo.  They are very relieved when they find it,  but have they?

At first glance, this is a story written in fast-paced rhyme for very young children about finding something precious that has been lost and the emotions that that engenders, but it has the potential to be so much more because as the locals join the search, Dexter adds more and more information building up the picture of what his Boo-Woo looks like.  So much like The Dudgeon is Coming, young students can build group or individual pictures adding features as they are revealed, particularly if the first reading of the story is read aloud without showing the illustrator’s interpretation of the words (wrap the cover in brown paper) so the listeners really have to engage with the text as each new detail is revealed.  

It not only provides an excellent opportunity to focus on description and descriptors which will enrich their own writing, but also on perception because each drawing will be different and none will be the same as that of Ben Mantle.  You can talk about how our experiences shape our mind’s eye, and perhaps even introduce the classic poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe. Extend the experience by having them draw the king in The King’s Breakfast by A. A. Milne, Dahl’s BFG as he walks down the street blowing dreams through the windows, or even Gandalf’s first meeting with Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Each has a description that lends itself to be interpreted in a graphic and because each of us interprets what we see and hear differently can lead to discussions about perception, what is truth and how it is shaped by our beliefs, values and even our role in an incident.   

But to be able to hang such a series of lessons on a story, you first need an engaging story that appeals to its audience on the surface, and Dexter and his Boo-Woo is certainly that, with the ending lending itself to even more possibilities!  

Tree

Tree

Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree

Claire Saxby

Jess Racklyeft

A & U Children, 2024

28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781761069505

On a misty mountain morning, just like the one outside my window this morning, the tree stands tall in the forest, high above those that surround it , “older than those who find it, younger than the land it grows from.”

From its roots that gather food and the tiny, feathery threads that connect it to other trees to the tips of it top leaves that reach for the sun and give dappled shade from it, the tree brims with life – both its own and those who seek shelter and food from it.

Known as “the forest giant” as they can soar to a height of more than 100 metres, and sometimes living up to 300 years old, this is the story of a mountain ashEucalyptus regnans – native to the forests of Tasmania and Victoria, born from a seed the size of a pinhead but uniquely designed to be able to push its way through the ash of a bushfire and begin its rapid growth that helps regenerate the scorched land below. 

Just like Iceberg this is another incredible offering from this team of author and illustrator, one that brings to life the life of something so ordinary yet extraordinary  in words and pictures (including an amazing three-page spread) in a way that should be used as a role model for students tasked with research-and-report writing.  Compare “In the layered litter, a a scaly thrush flicks. A lyrebird scritch-scratches. Slaters curl, beetles burrow and centipedes scurry.” to  something like “At the bottom of the tree lots of birds and animals live among the dropped leaves and twigs.” It is the lyricism of Saxby’s language that shines through in all her books and in this case, Racklyeft’s watercolour illustrations put the reader right in with those little inhabitants.

But whether the tree is a magnificent mountain ash, or a humble backyard specimen, this is one that will spark awareness of the value that any tree adds to both the landscape and life itself, and thus needs protection rather than destruction. 

 

The Crayons Love Our Planet

The Crayons Love Our Planet

The Crayons Love Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crayons Love Our Planet

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2024

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

9780008560898

Our planet is a colourful place…white ice caps, green trees, blue oceans and skies, brown soil . . . and more! And each crayon is delighted to share their part in keeping it colourful, especially Beige who pops up constantly to highlight his contribution,  like a little toddler desperate not to be overlooked.

This is a funny addition to this series for young readers, as they are encouraged to look at the world around them and its colours and begin to develop an appreciation for their environment and their responsibility towards it. It opens up opportunities for some elementary data collection as natural elements and objects are classified according to colour as well as art appreciation as they discover the myriads of tints, tones and shades of the hues of the colour wheel represented in Nature.

As well as being lovable characters in themselves, the Crayons always have adventures and experiences that can lead to greater learning, and this one is just as promising as all the others. in the series. 

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Little Dung Beetle

Rhiân Williams

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2024

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

9781742036656

Australia is rich with fascinating beetles that all have a job to do. Using counting rhymes, young readers are introduced to some of these unique species and identifying the roles that each type of beetle plays in the environment including the dung beetle, the once-iconic Christmas beetle and some with the most remarkable colouring.  

With stunning endpapers, and accurate anatomical illustrations throughout, this offers an insight into the prevalence of beetles in the landscape and the critical role they perform in keeping it healthy and vibrant.  Teachers notes  offer further resources and links to investigate further, including the world of entomology, while also guiding young readers through the process of distinguishing a non fiction title from a fictional one, and how to use the cues and clues to prepare themselves for getting the most from it.

But while its format might suggest an early childhood audience, there is also scope for older readers to springboard their own investigations – why was the dung beetle introduced to Australia and were all introduced species as successful? Why do some have such remarkable colouring?  Why have all the Christmas beetles disappeared to the extent there is now a national count?  

Even if the reader is a little young to appreciate all the information, much of it embedded in the illustrations, they will enjoy practising their counting skills as they try to find all the beetles as well as the number of holes nibbled in the title number.  The pictures also include other creatures so there is also the opportunity to investigate the concepts of “more” and “less” and other early maths basics. 

With its focus topic which will encourage little ones to look at their environment with fresh eyes as well as its format, this is one that offers so much more than first meets the eye.  Give it with the gift of a magnifying glass and see the joy and wonder explode. 

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

Charlotte Barkla

Walker Books, 2024

192pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760657949

Ever since her Great Aunt Mildred picked the vacant block on the new housing development as a child in 1863 because she loved its giant Moreton Bay fig tree, it has belonged to Dorothy’s family and now they have moved from the country to the city to live in the house and run the store that Mildred’s mother established.

But city life  is very different to the rural one Dorothy has known. Ruby Road is bustling – full of families and children, horse-drawn carts and even a mysterious dog – and there are many other changes such as having to go to school and crossing swords with Miss Armstrong who insists on perfect printing of letters and needlework , despite Dorothy’s love of writing stories which she does in her secret writing room. Meeting a young Asian boy who also likes to write stories, Dorothy not only finds an outlet and audience for her imagination, but is also exposed to prejudice and racism, particularly towards the Chinese who were blamed for “taking all the gold” from the gold rush and inspired the White Australia Policy, as the colonies united to become one country. Inspired by a declaration by her Aunt Esme that she wouldn’t marry and be the possession of a man, Dorothy dreams of being a famous actress and independent and writes a play that she persuades the neighbourhood children to perform. But then a conversation between her mother and Esme about women having the right to vote and have a say in their lives, inspires a change of focus… and hopefully, a change in thinking for many.

Somewhat akin to the concept of Nadia Wheatley’s classic, My Place, this is the first in a series tracing the stories of the occupants of 11 Ruby Road in Brisbane, introducing young independent readers to the lives of those who lived in the times, as well as the genre of historical fiction.  It opens up many avenues of Australia’s history to explore – federation, racism, the status of women- all of which give today’s children an insight into how things were and an opportunity to investigate how and why they have changed.

A series worth following and offering to those investigating or interested in this country’s history in a way that makes it meaningful and accessible.

Hatch and Match

Hatch and Match

Hatch and Match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatch and Match

Ruth Paul

Walker Books, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760656980

Early morning on the farm, and as the rooster crows to start the new day, an assortment of the most brightly coloured, highly patterned chickens jump down from the tree they have roosted in overnight and begin to search for their eggs.  And as they search the farmyard with all its hazards, the reader is invited to help them search by matching colours and patterns so that each hen finds its eggs.  

But when all are reconciled, that’s not the end of the story – there is a delightful twist as the eggs hatch into chicks that will make the reader think about things a little more deeply.

This has to be one of the most engaging books for our youngest readers that I’ve read for a while.  Not only do they interact with the text and illustrations, developing their visual acuity as they match patterns and colours (a precursor to distinguishing more  subtle changes like letter shapes), but the ending offers food for thought that will have a lasting impact on how they view the world.  If it weren’t for this being by a Kiwi author (go us) making it ineligible, it is one I would expect to see in the CBCA awards lists in the future.

Dinosaur Roar! (series)

Dinosaur Roar!

Dinosaur Roar!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Roar! (series)

Peter Curtis

Jeanne Willis

Orchard Books, 2024

16pp., board book, RRP $A16.99

Imagine a series of books about dinosaurs created especially for our youngest readers, in board book format just perfect for their little hands to hold by themselves.

Inspired by the classic picture book Dinosaur Roar! by Paul Stickland and Henrietta Stickland, this colourful collection of children’s books features dinosaurs with personalities even bigger than they are! Each book in the series introduces a different title character and uses his or her personality to teach children about dinosaurs and convey a simple moral lesson. The 26 dinosaur characters frequently pop up in other characters’ books in the collection, which together make up The World of Dinosaur Roar!

With wonderful, rhyming text written by series creator, Peter Curtis, and award-winning author, Jeanne Willis, these laugh-out-loud stories are sure to be a hit with young dinosaur fans! Each book includes a spread of simple dinosaur facts and a pronunciation guide, and is produced in association with the Natural History Museum in London. 

There are few children who don’t go through a “dinosaur phase” and so, not only does this series engage, entertain and educate them, but it also starts developing those early reading behaviours particularly those about print works being valuable for finding things out, and being something they can easily return to time and again. The website offers lots of activities and there is a YouTube channel with even more things to do.

An ideal series for the young readers in your life.