Up to Something

Up to Something

Up to Something

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up to Something

Katrina McKelvey

Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books, 2019

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

9781925335705

A sign on the door of the hardware store catches Billy’s eye – it’s for a great billycart race.! It doesn’t matter that Billy doesn’t have a billycart because he has heard his Dad banging, drilling and sawing in his shed so many times that he is excited about what they could build together.

He is even more excited when his Dad agrees and they begin work together.  But excitement turns to disappointment when his dad appoints him as his “special helper” fetching and carrying the tools and materials, rather than using them. And even though he gets promoted to “assistant” because it sounds more important, the duties don’t change and Billy is soon bored with menial tasks like sweeping his dad gets him to do.  He had dreams of them working side by side building something magnificent together. But as he sweeps he has an idea and while Dad is busy measuring and sawing, Billy is doing the same…

Billy’s story is that of so many youngsters – wanting to get in and be like their dads but being assigned to the sidelines – that it will resonate with young readers who are more interested in making and doing than watching. Lonergan’s gentle illustrations that are so rich in detail echo the relationship between Billy and his dad offering a story that could be a lesson for dads about not underestimating the talents and skills of their offspring.

From a STEM perspective there is plenty of scope to explore creating plans for billycarts, but if readers look carefully at the elements of Billy’s cart they might be encouraged to look at everyday objects differently.  What else could a laundry basket or an old pair of roller skates become? Lots of scope for creative thinking embedded in a story that is just a joy to read in itself.

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats and Robbers

Russell Ayto

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408876503

While inside the house everything appeared to be as it should, outside three robbers were spying on it and making a list of things they would take once they were inside. They had dismissed the paintings, the vases, the sculptures and the sweets and their primary goal was the safe! So in they crept intent on their mission.

But they did not know they were being watched by two cats. Two cats who had their own reasons why the safe was sacred and would not be taken, and who put into place a plan to protect it.

This is a delightfully funny story that will have young readers in stitches as the slapstick comedy plays out and they want to discover who wins! The twist in the end is perfect…

Written with repetitive phrases and clever use of bold font, it is made for reading aloud with the reader using the cues to build up the tension and suspense. This is not a book that can be read in a monotone with no passion or engagement. Lots of fun and lots of scope for ideas to foil the robbers and their plans.

Wilam

Wilam

Wilam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilam – A Birrarung Story

Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly

Lisa Kennedy

Black Dog Books, 2019

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

9781925381764

As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen. Wilam – home.

In this stunning new picture book, Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly joins award-winning picture book duo Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth; from its pre-history to the present day. Using many of the words of the Woiwurrung language for places and things, the reader is taken on a journey that not only embraces this much-maligned river but also draws the reader into the journey as they use Lisa Kennedy’s beautiful artworks to interpret the text. This makes for a remarkable sensory experience as you are engrossed in the beauty and diversity of the river.

2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this.  Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. 

A must-have.

 

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

Megan Gullis & Matthew Oldham

Stephanie Fizer Coleman

Usborne, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781474936620

As our youngest students mature, they have more and more questions about the world around them as they endeavour to understand their place in it. As their world widens and they meet more and more people from more and more places, they begin to realise that this planet is bigger than their home town and the questions start to come. 

In this new release from one of the masters of non fiction for young readers, the child is taken on a journey around the planet discovering its amazing places and features. Starting with its place in the solar system, they visit continents, isolated islands, steamy jungles, fiery volcanoes , dusty deserts, coral reefs and a host of other phenomena that shape not just the planet but the lives of those who live there. 

Beautifully illustrated with simple explanations that will not only answer their questions but also inspire them to find out more, it is like a mini-encyclopedia of the planet but on a young reader’s scale that can be read alone by independent readers or shared by an adult.  As usual, Usborne have complemented the text with a page of Quicklinks to take young explorers on even more journeys.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Star Wars: Meet the Heroes and Villains (series)

Star Wars: Heroes & Villains

Star Wars: Heroes & Villains

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: Meet the Heroes and Villains (series)

Chewbacca

Ruth Amos

9780241387795

Darth Vader

Ruth Amos

9780241392089

DK, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99

May the 4th and what more appropriate date to review the new Star Wars series from DK as we celebrate 42 years of this enduring series, and even moreso because of the recent death  of Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca. Even more fitting, the first of four in this series which introduces young readers to the key characters of the franchise, features Chewbacca and they can learn of his journey from Han’s smuggling sidekick, to loyal Rebel fighter and co-pilot to Rey in the Millennium Falcon.  They can discover the languages he speaks, why he makes howling noises, which planet he comes from and what makes him lose his temper.

Similarly, they can meet one of the most famous villains of film, Darth Vader and discover who he is; how he becomes a Sith; and why he wears a mask. They can learn fun facts about Sith Lord Darth Vader – including his amazing battles with rebels and Jedi heroes Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker! and follow his journey from Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the Force alongside Darth Sidious. Discover what Force tricks Vader uses, who he works for, which lightsaber he uses, and what planet his secret base is on.

Featuring a simple Q&A format using child friendly language this series, which also includes the lovable R2D2  and the sinister Stormtroopers   includes movie stills from the original trilogy, prequels and the latest sequels, allowing young readers to explore the amazing world of far, far away and a time long, long ago which continues to capture and fascinate their parents and grandparents!

This series can introduce them to the people and places and have them well-prepared for the upcoming release of the ninth and final episode of the film franchise, Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker in December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Three Musketeers

Russell Punter

Matteo Pincelli

Usborne, 2019 

104pp., pbk, RRP $A19.99

9781474938112

In 1844 Alexandre Dumas gave the world his story of Les Trois Mousquetaires and now 175 years on it is again being made available to young readers in graphic novel format so they, too, can share the adventures of  young  d’Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Although d’Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, “the three inseparables,” as these are called – and gets involved in their adventures. Set in the France of 1626 when there was fierce rivalry between the republicans and the monarchists, and bound by the famous cry of “All for one and one for all” 

Graphic novels have proven to be an invaluable way of introducing young readers to the classic stories of old and this is no exception, and with the current thirst for high action, high adventure with superheroes, this is the perfect way to lead children’s reading on to something just as exciting while opening up a new world of literature.  To help with understanding the context because it is set in the real world but a different time, there are pages at the back that set the scene and Usborne have their usual Quicklinks page to help the reader explore even further. 

A must for independent readers seeking to expand their horizons, as well as an addition to a unit comparing superheroes past, present and future!!

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Gavin Aung Than

Puffin, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9780143795865

“Superheroes have it easy. They don’t have to clean their secret headquarters, wash the alien bloodstains out of their costumes or be responsible for taking Super Mutt out for a walk. No, they leave all that for their sidekicks like me, while they get all the credit! “

But Junior Justice (aka JJ) is tired of all that – “Being a superhero sidekick isn’t as fun as you think. You do all the work, beat the bad guys and save the planet, only for your grown-up partner to get all the credit.”  So he and his sidekick pals, Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo, have decided to form their own super team. But before they can start saving the world they’ll have to prove to the adult heroes that they’re more than just sidekicks. And once the evil Dr Enok discovers his favourite pet Goo has left him to join a super team, the world might need saving sooner rather than later!

This is the first in a new series that will appeal to those who like lots of action and adventures in their stories and a graphic novel format making it an easy read for the newly independent reader. Given the popularity of superhero movies and the anticipation for Avengers: Endgame  with young and not-so-young projecting themselves into the roles of world saviours, this is a series that has the protagonists at a similar age to the reader so they will be able to take on their favourite role as they immerse themselves in it. 

The second, Ocean’s Revenge will be published in September so there isn’t too long a wait in between, with an activity pack to complete while they wait.

 

A Quiet Girl

A Quiet Girl

A Quiet Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quiet Girl

Peter Carnavas

UQP, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9780702260025

Mary is one of those children who treads lightly on this planet, preferring to look and listen and learn its wonders and secrets rather than be an in-your-face master of it. But when she tries to share her discoveries her voice is too quiet for most people to hear, and even though she tries to speak up she is still not heard.  And so she withdraws more and more into herself, becoming more and more invisible to the world, even her parents.  And then one day one of her little bird friends comes to the window and suddenly her mother discovers that she has no idea where Mary is.  She begins to look, shouting and calling and soon the whole neighbourhood is looking for Mary. Will they be able to find her?  What must they do if they want to discover where she is?

Peter Carnavas is a master at crafting stories out of very ordinary situations, turning the gentle and everyday around so the pack a powerful punch. A Quiet Girl is no exception and he reminds us of those more introverted souls we know, who really do have much to say and share but just are not heard over the raucous, busy, noisy world that seems to be today’s norm.  (No wonder there are so many successful television programs about escaping to the country!)  Rather than be constantly on the chase for the “next big thing”, to be over the fence on the greener grass, or being the Joneses that other strive to keep up with, perhaps there is more calm, peace and pleasure in living life at a gentler pace; being the meandering stream rather than the rushing river.

Mary can teach us all lessons about listening, looking, thinking and appreciating and how it is often as important to be an observant bystander as much as an active participant.  And she can also teach us lessons about embracing and encouraging those who are not as bold as we are, but rather than urging them to join our noisy world we should visit theirs. She can also teach us about being true to ourselves and who we are, believing in our strengths and talents and being resilient enough to withstand the criticism and demands of those more outgoing, and understanding that being loud doesn’t mean being more confident. 

There could even be a broader message here as Australia heads towards a federal election – who are the quiet voices with concerns and considerations who are being drowned out by the big voices and the big bucks? Will those quiet voices still be there when the noise dies down?

The teachers’ notes offer some questions and activities that may help you explore this book and its concepts with your students, particularly as we strive to help them become more mindful. 

 

 

Squish Rabbit’s Pet

Squish Rabbit’s Pet

Squish Rabbit’s Pet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squish Rabbit’s Pet

Katherine Battersby

UQP, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A21.95

9780702260469

Squish Rabbit would dearly love a pet, in particular a puppy. His best friend Twitch sewed him a soft puppy but it wasn’t the same as a real one. One day, while out for a walk, Squish came across an egg and decided he would take it home and care for it until a puppy hatched out of it.  And so he nurtured that egg, doing all the right things until Twitch told him that puppies don’t hatch from eggs. But Squish was undeterred and vowed to love whatever came from it – but what would that be?

A delightful story about friendship, hope and making wishes comes true for our very youngest readers.

Mermaid Holidays- The Talent Show

Mermaid Holidays- The Talent Show

Mermaid Holidays- The Talent Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mermaid Holidays- The Talent Show

Delphine Davis

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2019

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

9780143796510

Sophia, Willow, Chloe and Olivia have been best friends since they were merbies. Even though they don’t go to school together, whenever they come home to Turtleville for the holidays, they are inseparable. And these school holidays, their home town Turtleville is holding its first ever talent show, and of course the mermaids have to enter.  But Sophie insists that their act has to be led by her singing, even though none of the others can sing and dislike doing so. Chloe prefers to rap, Willow plays the shell trumpet and Olivia loves to dance.  But when even Sophia’s compromise act still focuses on her singing, there is a danger of their entry being all about Sophia…

This is the first in a four-book series, each episode featuring on a different mermaid and their cast of ocean family and friends and each with underlying themes of friendship, teamwork, individuality and compassion.  Written in short, easy-to-read chapters and with lots of illustrations, it will appeal to young female readers who are transitioning to novels from their instructional readers. The second in the series, The Magic Pearl will be released in July, the third, The Bake-Off in September and the fourth before Christmas, so readers don’t have to wait too long in between one story and the next. 

Mermaids, along with unicorns, are very much part of the lifestyle of young girls these days, so this is a series with characters that will appeal immediately and encourage our emerging readers to keep reading.