Gumbaynggirr artist Melissa Greenwoodhas created another beautiful and stylish picture book to add to your collection of First Nations titles. This is a dreamy and gentle bedtime love story between mother and child, country and culture. With a text that is interspersed with words from her own traditional language, and her own contemporary styled artwork this will become a staple for many bedside readings for little ones.
I love that Melissa’s artwork echoes traditional stylistic components but her fusion with more contemporary colours and placement of features makes it a real stand-out. This one with its frequent use of pastels completely encapsulates that soothing rhythm we look for to send a little one off to sleep, and the passage of time from day to night is echoed in the change of colours and tones.
At the end of the book the entire text is written in both her own language and English. I think the only thing that would have made this more perfect would have been a CD so that we who might struggle with some pronunciation could listen to its beauty in the language of the creator.
Highly recommended for your little readers – or as a stunning gift for a newborn jarjum in your mob.
Why not take time to check out Miimi and Jiinda for artwork and lifestyle items from Melissa and her Miimi (mother)?
Hardback MAY 31, 2023 | 9780734421517 | RRP $19.99
This is another fabulous footy book from Carl Merrison and the exuberance of the narrative leaps off the page like a specky.
In his own backyard, in the Kimberley, Jy is playing footy, because kicking the ball is fun! When he accidentally kicks the ball over the fence, his neighbour, Kitara, joins in and goes for the catch – but oops! over the next fence goes the ball. Kicking the ball IS fun, but playing with friends is better.
And so the story goes on, with another friend with a different skill joining in along the way, until there is one big happy mob having a game on the local oval. Readers will enjoy the game of footy but they will also take note of the setting from the rich red soil to the lush backyards and orchards, this is a virtual visit to a region that I’ve not yet seen in a picture book, and one which would provide much interest.
Take your kiddos on a Google maps tour of the Kimberley and research what the region is like, and where in Australia it is located. Children will be fascinated by the remote wilderness and likely find it hard to believe that people do live there, let alone kids playing football!
Carl’s writing is joyful and the glorious colours of the illustrations make this a knock-out. The footy-mad kids are depicted with bold colours and outlines,set against backdrops of muted pastel skies and mountain ranges. And the endpapers are just gorgeous!
Both author and illustrator are First Nations creators and this book is part of a new sporty series developed by SLQ’s black-and-write!, a program aimed at fostering First Nations creators and editors. You won’t want to miss this and neither will your young footy fans.
A new Ross Welford novel is always a treat, and this is no exception. His time-travelling escapades are always full of adventure, tension and humour, and at the same time, they are thought-provoking. This one ticks all those boxes again.
In 2425 the Earth is barely recognisable. It has, for the most part, reverted to wild nature after a cataclysmic meteor event in the 21st century. This did not create widespread destruction, being relatively small in size, but did bring it with it a mystery virus which rendered most of the global population infertile. With less and less children being born, and therefore, a smaller population overall, highly urbanised life as we would know it gradually disappeared.
Ocean lives in the future in a small fishing village, near what is now Newcastle-on-Tyne and when Monsieur Lumière, his nephew, Duke, and Pierre the monkey arrive with a fantastical travelling show revealing artefacts of the ‘Wonder Age’, she is completely entranced, but also sceptical of their plan to secure a ‘Time Tablet’ buried in 2023.
In 2023 Thomas is annoyed that his Australian cousin, Kylie, has arrived to live with his family, as she is going to attend a fancy school for super-brilliant kids. He certainly doesn’t plan on her whacky invention of a Time Tablet being able to do anything, let alone allow people to communicate with the future.
What is set in motion is a kind of exchange, with Kylie and Thomas finding themselves in 2425, while Ocean and Pierre are stranded in the 2023 they’ve left behind. Naturally, there is also a villain involved here. Duke’s vicious step-father is after the Time Tablet as it contains the last viable silicon chip in existence.
It’s a roller coaster adventure from start to finish with so much going on to love. The quirky language and vocabulary that has evolved in the future setting, the stereotypical TV hosts of the present, Ocean’s suspicious and sceptical Nanny Moo, and Monsieur Lumière’s charming excitability for a start.
There is a lot of food for thought here about the positives and negatives of modern life, and the opportunity to speculate on ‘what if’ would give rise to some really rich discussions., e.g. would a plastic bottle of water still be viable after 400 years?
You may wonder at my timing for this review but if I tell you that among this cast of memorable characters, Kylie – full name: Kylene Toora Woollagong is a First Nations girl, it should be clearer. Thomas’ Aboriginal ‘mega-brain’cousin is a stand-out character, and I love that. Well played, Ross!
There are some wonderful themes to explore here around family relationships, urban life versus slow living, and perceptions of people and places. Thomas’ and Kylie’s initial discord is certainly smoothed over by the time they have survived the future with wild boars and even wilder step-fathers, not to mention a very unpleasant librarian while Ocean and Nanny Moo find themselves with a new family, which includes one very lucky monkey.
Your kiddos who have enjoyed Ross’ previous books will be eager to get their hands on this and if your readers have not yet discovered this talented storyteller, this would make a great serial read for them. Highly recommended for kiddos from around 10 upwards.
This is a stunning new picture book for your younger readers that will take them around Australia to visit various mobs on Country and find out a little more about each. Authors, Jacinta and Taylor, are the co-founders of Birrang Cultural Connections, based in Victoria [check out the fabulous photos on their FB page!]. Their aim is to provide cross-cultural learning experiences to children in the Albury/Wodonga district. In this book they can take that learning experience further afield, introducing kiddos to their First Nations peers from one end of the country to the other.
With each double spread readers are introduced to another proud Aboriginal kidand find out a little about customs or practices in their own Country. Through the simple but effective and expressive text, children will ‘meet’ a kid from a particular mob, and learn about their own personal connection to country and customs. Each of these is illustrated beautifully with Seantelle’s sensitive and exquisitely rendered interpretations of each child and their own experiences, with reference to traditional art techniques.
I absolutely love this book! It’s such a fabulous way to show all kids the differences and variety from one mob to another, and your readers will truly enjoy getting to know each one. And while each page is lovely in its own right – our favourite is, of course, the Wiradjuri page with little Arlo and his Pop :-), and the story of the nation totem, the gugaa.
This is a must for your shelves so if you haven’t already, get it on order now.
Highly recommended for readers from 3 year olds in kindy upwards to mid-primary. And there are some terrific and comprehensive teaching notes to accompany it.
Here’s some resources for both Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week – or for any time you plan to teach cross-culturally. Stay posted for some review of new First Nations related titles over the next week.
For many tweens the transition from child to teen is a tumultuous time, and Evie Hart is one such who is struggling to feel secure and grounded as so much impacts on her life.
Her much-loved stepfather, Lee, is moving out and it’s not just the awful jolt of her parents’ separation, but the fact that Lee is relocating all the way to Dubbo, hundreds of kilometres and many hours away that is a major traumatic event for young Evie. Then there are the constant niggles and passive-aggressive bullying from her classmate, Nicole, in particular the gibes about Evie’s mum. While her class is learning about astronomy, with Evie’s favourite teacher Miss Clark, Nicole takes to ridiculing astrology, which is how Evie’s mum earns her living.
But Miss Clark’s engaging teaching about the wonders of the universe, and the endless possibilities provide Evie with much needed solace and relief for her anxieties as she ponders the bigger picture in both life and space. Just pondering the vastness of the cosmos gives Evie latitude to consider the boundaries and hopes of her own sphere, and the pluses of the trajectory her life is on.
There are some marvellous characterisations in this novel, with primary and secondary characters created with authenticity and appeal, in particular, Evie’s garrulous friend, Farrah, and neighbour, Nance O’Neil, whose pink-iced buns are a weekly salve to the family’s ups and downs.
Evie’s journey from her fretful worries to a more confident person, finding some security in her own identity, is a pilgrimage that most young people take, as they grow into the adults they will become.
The symbolism of the backdrop of the endless universe,and the complexities it holds is no coincidence to the big questions of life. The interspersing of fantastic facts is a delightful bonus, including, I am happy to say, the information on First Nations’ astronomy and its importance to our Indigenous Australians.
Sameerah’s Matilda Prize winning first novel, Half my Luck, proved her ability as a YA author and this second novel for MG has demonstrated a versatility that is exciting and fresh. Readers from around ten years upwards will enjoy this thought-provoking and warm-hearted narrative and I am pleased to recommend it to you for your middle/upper primary readers.
Yes, this is a sample of Bloomsbury readers and these have been written and aimed directly at the UK curriculum market, but don’t let that put you off. This series has been crafted by some top authors and the books written in a way that is both engaging and supportive of emerging independent readers. That being said, this is also a fun and warming story about siblings that young readers will thoroughly enjoy, and to which many will also relate.
Rida and Madiya are sisters in a blended family, who share a room, and are as different as chalk to cheese. Rida is quiet and reserved and looking forward to starting high school the following year. Madiya is a madcap 6 year old, boisterous and loud, and often quite outrageous with her ideas and actions. The two argue about everything and it seems their differences will continue to fuel their squabbles. When the local library is in danger of being closed down, Rida is determined to help save it and, reluctantly, accepts some unexpected help in her quest from Madiya. But it seems that this is only going to result in more conflict, until they finally work out a way to set aside their rivalries.
As well as the lively narrative, readers will enjoy the connections made to real life scenarios including family and diversity. I would suggest if you are looking for some new simple chapter books, this series would go a long way to filling a gap and encouraging our kiddos to think beyond their own sphere of knowledge.
Recommended for readers from around five upwards who are moving into this reading space.
What to do when your home is destroyed? There is nothing, except to take what belongings you can,and try to find a new place to live. The woodland creatures are forced to flee when their homes and woods are flattened for new urban housing. They try to find refuge in the city but it is all so very different and unpleasant. Then they discover the underbelly of the metropolis – a smelly, dirty, awful place indeed. But what choices do they have?
Mouse is the one who rallies their spirits, and encourages them to clean, scrub, repair and build to make this their new home, and one of which to be proud. And so, they create Sewertown and all is well. Until, that is, they are discovered by the city dwellers who do not make them welcome at all.
Fortunately, there is a voice of compassion. One small girl with kindness and generosity in her heart implores the city folk to open their hearts and minds. So side-by-side ‘the furries and thesmoothskins have chosen to unite‘ and both now have two beautiful and happy environments to enjoy. This is a beautiful modern day fable which will inspire educators and families alike to choose kindness and encourage empathy.
Even those of us who have relatively little often have more than many others. It is up to all of us to show humanity and fellow feeling, wherever and whenever we can. The world could really use some kindness right now, and we must help our children to see that their future will depend on their actions.
Some very comprehensive teaching notes will be useful to those who wish to incorporate this into their classroom or library teaching. Tull’s text and illustrations are perfect with subtle references and tiny details to explore for the keenly observant (a visual reference to ‘Nighthawks’ and a Pride flag among these).
Highly recommended for littles from around 4 years upwards, who will easily grasp many of the big concepts contained within.
Soooooooo, take a little Jurassic Park, a pinch of Big Foot, a handful of Little Shop of Horrors, a smidgin of mad scientists, a scoop of Bass Strait Triangle [like the Bermuda one, but closer] and an actual drop bear, and stir vigorously with some George Ivanoff – and voila! the perfect, albeit a little crazy, adventure with which to tempt your reluctant readers especially.
Bernie’s mum has ruffled some academic feathers with her speculations on cryptids, so is exceedingly relieved to be offered a great new job opportunity as a paleontologist, although the secrecy surrounding specific details and location is a little unnerving. Bernie is worried about the lack of information, but realistically, he’s pretty peeved that he can’t accompany his mother and has to stay behind with his aunt. Unless of course…………yep, he stows away and when his mum lands on Monster Island, Bernie is literally only a few steps behind her. When he’s sprung by older, and much sassier, teen, Ivy, he thinks perhaps the jig is up. But Ivy is unusually placed to be both conciliatory and bossy, given her father is the director and wealthy owner of the whole research facility and more.
Monster Island is like an anachronism of both prehistoric times and speculative fiction with its wildly divergent and bizarre flora and fauna: dinosaurs with opposable thumbs, sentient fungi, and what appears to be a ferocious drop bear for starters. There are certainly huge problems when Ivy’s father discovers the presence of Bernie and his daughter’s extra-curricular activities on the island but these pale into insignificance when the security of the island and its wildlife is threatened by an unknown military-style operation, intent on poaching the unique animals.
While the adults try to rally some meaningful defenses, Ivy and Bernie take on the poachers and the rat in the pack of the research scientists, armed only with cattle prods and a friendly dinosaur known as Lea-Lea.
This is seriously wacky but seriously fun, and the fast-paced adventure will have great appeal. It’s not taking a stand as such but certainly readers will gain satisfaction from knowing that just being an adult does not consitute being always right, always smarter or always stronger, and they will love the possibilities of the crazy creatures. I foresee much potential with some imaginative artwork!
I love that George has included notes that provide information about some of the factual aspects of the narrative e.g. Bass Straight Triangle and cryptozoology (which in my experience is a field of great intrigue for kiddos).
Highly recommended for readers, especially those hard-to-please ones from around 8 years upwards.
When this arrived, I was, as you would expect, tremendously excited – given my love of Jackie’s books, both for kids and adults. I had great plans to relish reading it over the Easter break but then the whole pesky moving house thing intervened. Last Saturday it was three weeks since the actual upload and we were starting to feel settled in our new little cottage and my treat to myself was the hair salon. And no visit to the salon is without a book in hand so it was the perfect opportunity to start this one. I read 1/3 of it while I was there – and couldn’t put it down. Then, lost myself in its glorious narrative each night until Thursday, despite two days of relief teaching making me feel even tireder than usual.
Once again Jackie has given us both history and romance, drama and mystery, all set in a familiar yet new setting. Agnes Glock, daughter of a well-regarded Sydney doctor, is a poor medical student in Edinburgh defying conventions of the early 20th century on what is suitable for females, when her upper-class friend implores her to marry Puddin’s shell-shocked brother, to protect both him and their (amazingly wealthy!) inheritance. At first aghast at the very thought, but persuaded by extraordinary circumstances, Agnes – who was raised to care for others – takes on the marriage to Douglas with absolute righteous standards.
In Douglas’ family home in the Blue Mountains, Agnes gathers together the broken misfits from the Great War, employing some, providing shelter for others, and establishing medical care. These are the survivors that nobody wants to acknowledge. They may have given more than their fair share for King and Country but the ordinary townsfolk regard them as freaks and madmen.
Four years later her husband, in name only, has barely started to recover from his ordeals, when Agnes chances upon a child who is also in dire need of help, physically, medically and emotionally. Complications arise when Agnes’ former fiance, who was presumed dead, is very much alive and now practising medicine himself back in Sydney is unintentionally enlisted in the child’s recovery. As Agnes treads a path towards fulfilment of her own dreams and ambitions, and restores both her husband and the ‘dingo girl’ to full health and life, dark secrets surround them and evil intentions threaten not only their happiness but their very lives.
This is a narrative full of drama and tension which will captivate the reader, who becomes utterly invested in the fate of these characters. I love that Jackie has not only skilfully woven diverse characters into her cast, but has not shied away from the ugliness of which some humans arecapable or perpetuate, particularly underlining the frequent hypocrisy and chasm between public persona and private actions. I sense that the pious church elder who is rotten to the core in the worst possible way is no accident of writing but could easily reflect the abuses of many so-called Christians and churches.
This really is a gripping read and even as I galloped through, desperately wanting to know ‘what happens next’, it is one of those books which leave one feeling bereft at its conclusion.
Thank you, Jackie, for another absolutely sensational read. It goes without saying that I give it my highest recommendation and if you have mature senior students, it will be entirely suitable for those as well. However, be aware that some circumstances described could be very confronting for some readers, and a trigger warning/caution should be given.