Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

Renée Treml

Allen & Unwin, 2020

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760525262

Sherlock Bones, a talkative tawny frogmouth skeleton, and his companion Watts, a mute, stuffed Indian ringneck parrot are joined by Grace, a sassy raccoon in the second in this series, with a new mystery to solve in their natural history museum home.  Drawing on his years as an exhibit in the museum, this time Bones is exploring a new exhibition focusing on the life between reef and shore. It includes a mangrove forest and shallow coral reef habitat. When Sherlock overhears a that a swamp monster has been sighted, he gathers his team to investigate. At first Sherlock Bones suspects Nivlac, a quirky octopus with a talent for camouflage–and tank pranks. But then, loud bellowing leads Bones and the team to the mangroves, where they find a horrifying long-haired green beast…

This graphic novel is quite different to the books for preschoolers that we generally associate with Renée Treml although her eye for detail is still evident as she includes an amazing amount of detail and information in the backgrounds of the illustrations. Nevertheless, with its humour and using the technique of Bones telling the story as a conversation with the reader, it is an engaging story for the newly independent reader in a format that offers much more than just a tale told well.  Treml’s skill as an illustrator is teamed with her environmental science degree to produce something quite different.

Rain Before Rainbows

Rain Before Rainbows

Rain Before Rainbows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Before Rainbows

Smriti Halls

David Litchfield

Walker Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406382358

Rain before rainbows. Clouds before sun. Night before daybreak. A new day’s begun…

With pictures as stunning as its title and as gentle as its message, this is a beautiful book that encourages children to hang in there, that whatever they are facing right now will pass and there will be a brighter time coming. The text is quite simple on the surface as the girl and her friendly fox climb mountains, face dragons and endure dark days as they strive towards their dreams.  Along the way they discover that there are friends to help, alternative paths to follow and ropes to hold on to as they seek the treasure of a new day.  While younger readers can follow along seeing the journey in a literal way,  it is the metaphorical message that will resonate with the older reader who is able to operate at a more abstract level.

This is a story about trust, resilience, optimism and hope that will empower young readers to have the courage to keep moving forward, to follow their dreams, to see obstacles as opportunities and to be willing to be open to new things and be proactive.  That, for all the storm might be noisy and scary, there is nevertheless beauty in it and  the calm on the other side is savoured even more deeply because of the contrast.

These themes of courage, resilience and hope are featuring in many recent books for our young readers but given the calamity that has been 2020, it could be argued that the more we have access to the better, because at least one of them has to resonate and reach out to a child in need.  And if it does, then the work of the author, illustrator and the adult who placed it in their world, is done. 

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours

Kaliah Tsakalidis

Ross Morgan

Little Book Press, 2020

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

9780648591573

“There is a child named Molly Moores who has a house, just like yours with walls and windows and a timber floor. And a path that leads to a creaky door. 

But there’s a difference that you should note Around Molly’s house is a very deep moat…”

So begins an hilarious read for the little people in your life that just delights in the rhyme, rhythm and repetition of our language.  Using the familiar concept and contents of a fairly ordinary suburban house that young readers will recognise, each page has a twist to it that relies on the rhyme of the previous page. Little ears are encouraged to tune into that rhyme and try to predict just how Molly’s house might be different this time. While they may well come up with something that rhymes it is unlikely that it will be as wacky as the ideas that the author has imagined, ideas that are fun and madcap and which lead to all sorts of speculation.  Who has plants that grow rainbow trout?

Ross Morgan has interpreted the text into pictures that are as imaginative as the text, and the ending is just unexpected! But so much fun!

Children to learn to speak their native language by listening to the sounds and nuances of the language that is spoken around them, long before they are able to speak it themselves and to be able to share a story that revels in the fun of the spoken word and the visual impact is a surefire way of capturing their attention and having them share in its magic. Focusing on the rhyme to carry the story forward helps them develop their audial acuity, such a vital part of early reading behaviour.

This is a story to lift the spirits and just share in the joys of reading to our little ones.

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.

 

Skydragon: Skydragon 1

Skydragon 1

Skydragon 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skydragon 1

Anh Do

James Hart

Allen & Unwin, 2020

232pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781760876364

When a mysterious glowing purple ball ignites their home while they are innocently making pizzas for tea, only Amber and her brother Reggie emerge from the inferno alive but both are badly injured, Reggie in a coma. Weeks later, watching from her neighbour’s fence Amber sees what remains of her home demolished in a very hush-hush operation.

Five years later, with Reggie still in a coma and Amber reminded daily of the events because of the scar on her face, she is  the butt of nasty comments and bullying from her peers who refuse to see the girl beyond the scar. The only constant is her fascination with dragons and her only joy, the beauty of the insect world. But something very strange happens when she trips and falls while on an insect-watching excursion with her class and is surrounded by a swarm of deadly hornets…

Afterwards, Amber knows she has been given an incredible power, but was it a freak accident, or was there something she was supposed to do with it?  Controlling her new ability might be the hardest thing Amber has ever done. Especially when she is running for her life.  Who is her mysterious enemy? What connection does he have to Amber’s past? And, most importantly, does Amber have what it takes to truly become . . . Skydragon?

This is a brand new series from the prolific and talented Anh Do, aimed at those who are straddling that invisible divide between needing the support of short chapters and illustrations and reading complex novels.   There is the familiar background of school but also the twist of the legacy of that glowing purple ball that opens up all sorts of possibilities for adventure. At the top end of the readership for this blog, but one for the more independent 8 year-olds to aspire to. 

 

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. 

Pea and Nut Go for Gold!

Pea and Nut Go for Gold!

Pea and Nut Go for Gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pea and Nut Go for Gold!

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9780733340680

Pea the panda and Nut the flamingo are best friends but they are also great rivals.  Anything Pea can do, the boastful Nut can do better!!  After the fun that was their version of The Great Australian Bake-Off,  the contest is on again…

This time, while Pea wants to sleep in the sun, Nut is keen to jump in the pool and because they can’t help themselves it quickly becomes a competition to rival any Olympic 100 metres final. except this race has no rules and what follows is the funniest romp little ones will enjoy in a long time – perhaps since the bake-off.

Matt Stanton has proven over and over that if a book has his name on it, it is going to be an engaging story that is full of laughter and love and this is no exception. His philosophy is “books inspire the imagination, imagination births creativity and creativity changes the world” and no matter the age group, he is bringing this to reality and these two lovable characters are proof.  It’s as though he said to himself, “Who are the two most unlikely friends I could pair up?” and the beautiful, elegant flamingo and the slow lumbering panda could not be more diverse, and having determined that, he has asked, “What are the craziest adventures these two could have?” 

As well as being sheer entertainment for our younger readers, this could also start a discussion about why we have rules, particularly appropriate at this time when we are being asked to follow so many.

In the meantime, it will be soon be time for our local pool to open for the summer and I am going to take careful note of those with whom I am sharing the water.  If there is a panda or a flamingo in sight, I will just sit back and enjoy the hijinks. The laughter will be as much exercise as a couple of laps. 

 

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.

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Linda Chapman

HarperCollins, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 9780008340070

First published in 1911, The Secret Garden is the story of Mary, a  sickly, neglected, unloved and unwanted 10-year-old girl whose care has been mostly left to the servants who care for her English family in colonial India. After her parents die in a cholera epidemic, she is sent back to England into the care of her unknown uncle Archibald Craven  at his isolated mansion Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. 

At first, Mary is rude and obnoxious, disliking everything about her new circumstances but eventually she warms to Martha Sowerby who tells her about her aunt, the late Lilias Craven and how she would spend hours in a private walled garden growing roses. After his wife died in an accident in the garden,  Mr Craven locked the garden and buried the key.

Mary becomes interested in finding the secret garden herself and once she discovers the key, her life begins to change…

This version is based on the screenplay of  2020 movie which has finally been released and which many students will have seen.  Telling the core of the original story it evokes a magical world that encourages self-discovery and change and perhaps an interest in reading the original.  A stunning way to introduce a new generation to a classic.