Well it was a bit of a mammoth effort and one I haven’t undertaken for a few years but a new PB review posted each day of the month – whew!! Thanks for anyone who played along with me :-). Hope you discovered some treasures for your collections!! and of course, thanks to the publishers who are kind enough to let me read voraciously for them :-).
Now SO many others to catch up on – about 18 piled up from biographies to MG novels – lucky holidays are imminent!!
Another stunning addition to the Welcome to Our Country series from this fabulous team of creators. This is, undoubtedly, one of the most highly acclaimed resources for inclusive teaching of cross-cultural perspectives in the classroom and I have yet to see or hear anyone say otherwise.
Both Adam and David drew on their own childhood experiences of being taken on country to connect with land and family as their inspiration, and augmented this with specific research. The authenticity of both text and illustrations attest to the success of this.
When their Mum takes Lucy and David back on country there is so much for them to see and learn: meeting family, camping out under the amazing sky of stars that one only experiences outback, learning about welcome to country, the significance of fires, ancestors, stories, rock paintings and more.
The fabulous endpapers detail the language words used with their English equivalent and there’s a link and QR code at the end of the book to discover resources, a reading of the book and glossary – making it a perfect learning experience whether in the classroom, library or at home.
I know there are many who have been eagerly anticipating this next (#3) in the series and we know there are still two more to come – how exciting is that!? Don’t delay if you have not yet added these – they are an absolute MUST for your collection and highly recommended for little jarjums from Kindy to around Year 3.
This is definitely something different and a series to be watched. These two creators have drawn their narrative from all quarters: speculative fiction in its broadest sense – fantasy, sci fi, larger than life events, incorporating adventure, humour, and drawing on First Australians culture, history and spiritual beliefs.
Wylah has many fine qualities. She is helping to teach the children of her tribe, she not only loves but tends the mega-fauna creatures of her world, she is kind, determined and brave but she knows well she is no warrior yet, not like her beautiful Grandmother.
When her entire family and people are captured by a frightening dragon army, Wylah must gather her courage, and use all her wits and skills to rescue them. As she undertakes this perilous quest, her culture and her people underlie the help she is given as she takes on the role of Guardian.
There is no doubt that it will take some getting used to. Realistically, none of us are used to reading stories where anyone keeps mega-fauna as pets! But I love that this bold new series is taking Aboriginal culture and story-telling to a new audience with new ideas, whilst incorporating traditional beliefs.
I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment. Highly recommended for readers from around Year 5 upwards.
But, as can happen, life throws a curveball. Sam is offered a tantalising and life-changing work opportunity in the UK and Cate’s mum is determined they will all go. Cate is resistant to the whole idea, not least because she knows she will leave her dad with no one, not to mention abandoning Elise in her hour of dire need. And then, in one of their fun-filled adventures, Cate and her dad are involved in a major car crash which almost kills him and leaves her with some serious injuries. Understandably, Cate’s mum is even more determined that Cate will go to the UK. But this is one feisty and clever girl who resents being used as a pawn, so with her father’s assent, a court case begins to establish where Cate will live. But what seems like an almost 50/50 chance falls apart at the last minute and things just go from bad to worse. Without saying any more, or throwing in spoilers, Cate’s life changes for the better in some ways and then for the worse in others. Readers will laugh with her (and Elise) and they will cry in her moments of utter despair.
It is a truly magical story which will capture hearts and minds. I love that Barry has completely nailed authentic voices for both these teen girls (and in a way which will not date). With strong themes of family, domestic conflict, friendships, divorce, grief and self-belief, mature and discerning readers from around 11/12 years old will thoroughly enjoy this one. I absolutely loved it and I think it would make a superb title for a book club for your lower secondary readers.
Highly recommended for Year 6 upwards – there is some low level swearing, so if your school is particular about that, exercise caution. Grab teaching notes here.
I think we have all been eagerly anticipating the next title in this Welcome to Our Country series, the joyful introduction to First Nations history for younger readers, especially given the triumph of the first title Somebody’s Land. For me, this new addition surpasses that first, with not only another superb text which perfectly expresses the meaning and importance of Ceremony for our Aboriginal people but with David’s illustrations which just completely win me over. Frankly, they always do but the utter expressiveness and joyous delight in the faces of the book’s characters is just sensational! The gorgeous artwork also depicts traditional landscapes and the native wildlife which would have surrounded those living on Country and little readers will love spotting and naming these.
Welcome, children! Nangga! Nangga! Yakarti! Tonight will be our Ceremony.
This is about family, tradition, Country and culture and for non-Aboriginal children provides a deceptively simple and vivid insight into the history of the world’s oldest continuous culture. I particularly love those words from Adam’s language group, the Adnyamthanha, featured throughout, with the bonus of a visual glossary via the glorious endpapers (yes, that’s me – always obsessed with endpapers!). Additionally, a QR code allows readers to listen to the story and hear the words for themselves – what an absolutely fabulous idea!
Once again, a rhythmic rhyming text will have your little ones chanting along with you at every reading and, no doubt, they will be up on their feet ready to ‘shake a leg’ themselves. In my opinion, these are simply a must for your collection – home, library or classroom – as we are all ready to move our great country closer towards a true conciliation between all our people. This year with the upcoming CBCA Book Week theme along with a terrifically powerful NAIDOC theme, is the prime time to be curating your collection of First Nations kid lit. I not only highly recommend them for your readers from early childhood upwards but strongly urge you to rush out and add them to your catalogue.
Idan Ben-Barak first came to my attention with Do Not Lick This Book, and, like so many others, I found it uproariously funny as well as a brilliant informational text for young readers. Certainly, the kiddos with whom I shared it voted it their favourite of that year.
What impresses me so immensely is that someone as technically knowledgeable and eminent in his chosen qualification/professional field can translate that into information so readily accessible to young children, who cannot help but learn through the medium of a picture book.
In this book, children are given an insight, in terms to which they can relate easily, to the beginnings of life on Earth, from a jumble of elements to one little bubble to highly evolved organisms. The text is accompanied by Philip Bunting’s -almost electric- vivid and quirky illustrations, with the repetition of circular shapes so perfectly echoing the concept of molecules.
This is an absolute joy, and I would love nothing better than to share it with some little humans and see where the ensuing discussions might take us.
Highly recommended for your readers from Prep upwards – and, of course, particularly appropriate in your science studies.
Yes, that tag line – Freaky Friday meets Pretty Little Liars – really hits the mark. This is one helluva time-travel that not just the life-swap but the cities/continents/decades swap as well! And what a ride it is, especially when there’s a serial killer thrown into the mix.
Holly Fitzgerald, of Melbourne, has just finished celebrating her 40th birthday lunch with friends when she wakes up on a footpath – make that, sidewalk – in LA in the body of a 16-year-old girl named Trinity. Literally, what the……? Holly stumbles her way through meeting a neighbour (cute boy – Australian, coincidentally), going to her ‘home’ and then adjusting to a ‘family’ whilst feverishly trying to piece together what on earth has happened to her, and how – and most of all, where then is Trinity?
The one resonant fact shared between her actual life and this strange 1980s faux life in LA is an orange Brother typewriter – second-hand and vintage in Melbourne but shiny and new here in Los Angeles. Of course, the odd synchronicity of a Holly Hobbie doll, identical to one she was given as a newborn, being on Trinity’s bed does strike her as a little strange as well.
When Brother Orange, the typewriter, starts delivering furious messages from Trinity, trapped in what she scornfully refers to as Holly’s boring, middle-aged existence and demanding the situation be fixed, Holly needs to work through a lot of unanswered questions about her past, her life and the connections between herself and Trinity’s family. – and at the same time, save both their lives from the Mariposa Murderer.
This is, by turns, hilarious and clever, fascinating and frightening, but above all a real page-turner as the reader demands to know what on earth is going on and why. There is a smattering of swearing which may bother you for your younger secondary readers but mature readers from 13 or 14 upwards who enjoy a thrilling narrative will relish this one as it explores the eternal questions of ‘what if’ in a very original and engaging manner. Oh, and absolutely stunning cover art!
Highly recommended for Year 8 upwards – it will be on my list for my next ChocLit meeting for sure!
For my library event of last week, I was required, of course, to complete the paperwork to tick all the boxes and of the 50 children attending, ten had dietary requirements – with nine of those being medical conditions not just a choice. Of those nine, four had anaphylaxis alerts and so we needed to have EpiPens at the ready. Those of us in schools have long realised that the growing numbers of children with food or other allergies, many of them severe, are reaching unprecedented figures.
So, this lively and highly amusing picture book, which very cleverly and subtly reinforces the message that food allergy/intolerance is a real issue for many children, and that reading food labels carefully is important for everyone.
The narrator explains through rhyme that friends Ted, Ned and Fred normally play with Fred’s dog, Jed, but sadly Jed has a very bad case of fleas, and for some reason, the flea power treatment has not worked. So instead of Jed, they watch Zed, the fish. Now Zed has already had a narrow escape after being fed bread at one point, so everyone knows not to make that same mistake but what happens when you don’t read packaging carefully? Oh oh – well it is quite a calamitous chain of events but very fortunately all turns out and once again Zed escapes unscathed, and Jed is finally freed of fleas.
Your little ones will absolutely love the rhyming thread throughout and this is a story that begs to be read aloud – with, I have no doubt, many requests for repeat performances. Amelia McInerney has taken the situation of her own child as inspiration for this extremely important book which will promote healthy discussion about food allergies and intolerances but also, I would hope, lead to a general understanding of food choices for some – all of which leads children to a more considered acceptance of differences.
Naturally, it would work particularly well within a unit of work focused on nutrition or health but as a stand-alone, particularly if your class or group is welcoming a child with food allergies, it is also highly valuable.
I recommend this highly for little ones from Prep upwards – and even your tiniest humans in childcare/kindergarten settings will benefit from its message that for some children, certain food/s can be dangerous.
Described as both a story and a history this is, to my mind, a richly empowering epic poem which resonates with such heartfelt emotion that it cannot fail to move the reader with its carefully chosen words and imagery. The superb illustrations by Rita Sinclair lend both vibrancy and animation to the text and there are many pages at which the reader will gasp at the beauty of them.
As cathedrals echo time,
and footprints’ rhythm steps the rhyme,
prescriptions so sublime.
Boori has given us all a true treasure with this remarkable and deeply personal offering to the nation and it is one which very rightly deserves to be shared with readers over and over again. Many schools will be celebrating NAIDOC after the holidays and this would be the ideal choice for a shared reading at any assembly or within classrooms and libraries to prompt thoughtful discussion and unpack the meaning of NAIDOC’s 2021 theme.
Green shoots so small,
to trees so tall.
It’s in the song…
…if we listen, we all belong.
What greater gift can we give our children – those ‘green shoots so small’ – than to help them grow in understanding, respect and true equality? I urge you to get hold of this book as soon as you can and start the ripples by sharing it with your own children and classes, even your littler kiddos will be able to grasp the meaning if you help them navigate the beautiful text. Contact email@example.com for more information
Highly recommended for all readers – young and old. #Healcountry
Of course, we have known for years that animals can understand us and some have even been able to communicate with us in simple ways – think Koko and signing. It would be truly presumptuous for humans to imagine that we are the only species capable of communication, however ‘speaking’ words has been somewhat more problematic, and for many, implausible.
When newly qualified speech therapist, Christina Hunger, and her partner, Jake, adopted their puppy, Stella, this highly skilled and intuitive young woman quickly noticed that the puppy displayed many similarities to the toddlers with whom she works, in what appeared to be attempts to communicate. Christina is a big advocate of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices to help her child clients become vocal and posited to friends and family that such a device might enable her puppy to ‘speak’ as well.
Stella’s journey from inquisitive and intelligent puppy with a load of personality is punctuated with one breakthrough after another as Christina introduces a purpose-devised method for Stella to know, understand, and contextualise not just single words but phrases. In addition to this being a memoir of the pair’s incredible narrative and an expansion of Christina’s sharing via her blog Hunger for Words, this volume provides a ‘how to’ guide for other dog owners who might want to explore their own pet’s potential for interactive speech.
This is a memoir filled with joy and love as well as its revolutionary and innovative premise and will have enormous appeal to every pooch owner who has ever talked to their fur-child with as much respect and affection as they would to their human family.
Highly recommended for all dog-lovers but also those who are interested in the whole process of acquisition of language.