Tag Archives: Diversity

Plume [#2]: Global Nibbler – Tania McCartney

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May 2022

Hardie Grant, Hardie Grant Explore, RRP $26.99

ISBN: 9781741177671

My friends are all very aware of my penchant for penguins. Surely, they are one of the cutest creatures in the world? Although, if you have ever participated in the penguin spotting research via live stream, you will appreciate that the little darlings are very hard to distinguish one from another…but now there’s Plume.  And there can be absolutely no doubt at all that Plume is most charming and delightful penguin ever to waddle the pages of a book.

Tania McCartney has a genius for creating picture books that not only engage young readers with their narrative and exquisite illustrations but which also teach, whether about geography or history, people, or places. To my mind she has an absolute gift for her unique style of ‘travelogue’ books and children of my acquaintance return to these over and over, and with Plume she takes this virtual travelling experience to a whole new fun and entertaining level.

Plume made his first appearance as a global traveller in the first book World Explorer and readers fell in love with this quirky little citizen of Antarctica, who is just a bit different to all the other penguins with his love of very non-PC (Penguin Culture) activities such as sky-diving, knitting and cooking. It is Plume’s great interest in cooking that sparks his newest adventure.

The little gourmet with the distinctive yellow feather has tried in vain to interest his fellow penguins in trying out new taste sensations as he savours his latest online purchases gathered from around the globe. Seemingly, his mates are far too set in their plain fishy ways so Plume conceives of an idea to tempt them.

Enlisting the assistance of the lovely Ava, from Albatross Express, after her super suggestion that he should host cooking lessons, Plume takes off for a round-the-world gastronomic experience that is bound to set your tastebuds tingling. From Japan to Italy, Iran to Mexico, Morocco to Sweden, Plume and Ava sample and savour tastes and treats. Some of these your little readers will know such as tacos or kebabs but others will be new words and dishes to roll around their tongues: torshi, kanelbulle, fika, meskouta or flautas are just a few.

As always, Tania’s illustrations are simply divine, and her characters completely charming, especially their facial expressions. Throughout her fun with wordplay, onomatopoeia and descriptive language will provide much rich and fruitful discussion. And – oh my goodness! – the gorgeous endpapers, frontispiece and the scrumptious textured cover elevate this to a work of real art.

I cannot wait to share this with some hungry little readers and would love to follow it up with a virtual trip around the world, concluding with a feast – of course!

This will easily be incorporated into a teaching program focused on geography or cultural awareness but makes for such a superb personal reading time share as well. I would highly recommend anyone to add Plume to their collection for readers as young as Prep right up to later primary, and I am definitely looking forward to Plume’s next adventure.

Bon appetit!

Stay tuned for Plume: Festival Seeker, out 5 October 2022 in Australia/New Zealand.

Eyes that Speak to the Stars – Joanna Ho/Dung Ho

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Harper Collins Australia

March 2022

  • ISBN: 9780063057753
  • ISBN 10: 0063057751
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

Last year, in my old library, we fell in love with Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and so did our kiddos, many of whom could make connections with the cultural heritage of the characters. This beautiful companion book will be equally well-received I believe.

When a young boy is made to notice his eyes as being different in shape to those of his friends, he feels sad and an outsider. The love and wisdom of his father and grandfather, and the recognition that his eyes are like theirs, as are his little brother’s, lift his spirits to the skies – just as his eyes tilt to the skies. The endless possibilities of light and destiny revealed by the night skies with their constellations and comets are all his, as his eyes speak to the stars.

Once again it is not just the lyrical text with its resonant message of inclusivity and the beauty of cultural heritage, but the superb illustrations that make this such a stunner of a book. The iconic visual references to the family’s heritage: dragons, pagodas, rice paddies, night markets, lanterns and more are a virtual feast for the eyes.

With Harmony Day just around the corner, this will make a fabulous focus for your celebrations in the library or classroom, particularly when paired with its companion. And so much rich discussion and activities, particularly art, could ensue!!

Check out the teaching guide here as well.

HIghly recommended for your readers from Prep upwards.

The Curiosities – Zana Frallion/Phil Lesnie

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Hachette

SEP 29, 2021 | 9780734417848 | RRP $26.99

Imprint: Lothian Books

I think I am right in saying that this is the first picture book I have reviewed inspired by a child with Tourette’s Syndrome and while that is not explicit in either text or illustrations, the underlying theme of recognising, accepting and celebrating differences is tremendously important.

This is a sophisticated book in all senses so my inclination is that it is more suitable for sharing with older children, with whom one would be able to fully explore and unpack the subtleties both written and visual. Indeed, the teachers’ resources file is full of splendid suggestions for doing this providing a very handy guideline for either library or classroom.

The narrative blends the idea of divergent neurological behaviour with Filipino mythology, creating the ‘curiosities’ based on figures from this folklore. The illustrations have a very ethereal/other worldly feel to them, easily conveying the sense of the ‘invisibility’ of some disabilities (something with which I am well acquainted. They are very beautifully rendered (I think this might be my first encounter with Phil’s work and I will definitely be looking out for more).

Miri wakes one morning to discover things around him are now somehow different. It seems the Curiosities have chosen him and lead him to all kinds of discoveries and marvels although sometimes the make him feel very along. From one connection with an Elder, others unravelled and soon, Miri does not feel quite so isolated – and at times, the Curiosities leave him altogether for a while.

This is definitely a multi-layered text and if in a library collection, there will be children, no doubt, who will pick it up and read it at face value, but I believe it’s greater value is in sharing with students and leading them to a greater understanding of diversity, and ways in which they might connect with others.

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 4 upwards and certainly for classroom enrichment experiences.

The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp – Paul Russell/Nicky Johnston

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Exisle Publishing

Imprint: EK Books

ISBN: 9781925820881 

RRP: $24.99

Without doubt we (as educators) have all met a Bowen Bartholomew Crisp at some point and many of us will remember our first encounter with a neuro-diverse child before we were even fully aware of such diversity. And we also know, that these children are among our most memorable for their completely unique outlook on life and the sparky quirkiness they often display. And then there are those of us who have the daily joy of living with a child who is diverse, making our lives rich and full. 🙂

As a little boy and throughout his life, Bowen has had so much on his mind, and so very much he can share but sadly, does not always get the opportunity, as others are usually too impatient or short-sighted to value his different way of thinking. Thankfully his mum knows exactly what he needs to share his thoughts and know how much they are valued. It is not until he is grown up that Bowen’s special talent for thinking in a different way is able to burst forth resulting in amazing creativity. And as we well know, it is often just this way in real life. Thank goodness for diverse thinkers!

This is a beautifully realised picture book where text and illustrations mesh together perfectly to bring a sensitive portrayal of neuro-diverse children to younger readers. Clearly in a classroom setting we want our children to understand and embrace these differences but just as obviously this is so important for our own children in a home setting.

We can always depend on EK Books to bring us the books that celebrate differences and provide insight for young readers on a wide range of topics and as usualy, I highly recommend this delightful book to you for readers from around 5 years upwards.

What Zola did on Monday – Melina Marchetta. Illustrated by Deb Hudson

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Penguin Australia

June 2020

ISBN: 9781760895150

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

This is certainly a departure from Looking for Alibrandi and Melina’s other novels for YA but what an absolute joy it is! From start to finish it ticks every box I love!

Zola lives with her mum and Nonna Rosa in a little house in the suburbs, with her cousin and bestie, Alessandro, living directly behind. Before the two lost their Nonno Nino, he cut a gate into the back fence so they could spend as much time together as possible – whenever Alessandro is not at his dad’s place.

Everyone in the neighbourhood loves their beautiful front garden filled with flowers and Nonna Rosa loves the backyard with its vegetable garden even more. But although Zola loves flowers she certainly does not like gardening!

At school her Year 2 class are temporarily housed across the road from the school, which is being renovated, within the grounds of the much-neglected community garden. Zola’s teacher Ms Divis is keen on gardens, community and sustainability – the perfect combination to inspire her little charges to take on the project of rejuvenating the community garden as well as investigating their neighbourhood’s local history.

Zola does have a knack for finding herself in sticky situations like leaving the back-fence gate open so that Alessandro’s naughty dog causes destruction in the backyard and even worse, ruining the newly planted special seeds Nonna Rosa had saved, given to her by Nonno Nino. But luckily she is also a smart little cookie who can come up with a solution to her various little problems.

This is about so much more than the very important theme of growing our own food (itself so timely at present) and being attuned with nature, it’s about re-connecting with community and sharing care, compassion and concern. There is a rich diversity in families with single parents, same-sex parents, multi-generational families and different cultures.

Thankfully it’s the first in a series – one for each day of the week – so there is more joy to come. Perfect for newly independent readers or for class or home read-alouds, I highly recommend this for little humans from around 6 years upwards.

Nullaboo Hullabaloo – Fleur Ferris

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nullaboo

Penguin

9780143787143

May 7, 2019

Puffin

 

RRP: $14.99

 

We could all use some more fairy dust in our lives. Whether it’s because of the gloom and doom of daily news reports or if (like me packing up house) because of some personal issues. I maintain that a liberal sprinkling of fairy sparkle would be very beneficial for anyone.

Fleur Ferris has demonstrated so superbly her ability to write gripping YA fiction and has now turned her hand to fiction for younger readers with the same ease and expertise.

In a little country community young Gemma isn’t having a terrific time. First there’s the worry of her family being evicted from the farm they all love. Second, the all-too-perfect Nina got butterflies for her special science project topic while Gemma bombed out with March flies – really? March Flies?

But when Gemma captures not a fly nor even a feather in her bug catcher but a real live honest-to-goodness fairy, things in Nullaboo start to go completely crazy! Janomi the fairy isn’t meant to reveal herself to humans but she’s desperate for help after her grandfather, leader of their colony, was captured by the dreadful silver spiders. There’s more than a captured fairy leader at stake though when a secret government agency gets wind of the find and lead by an absolute nutter poses a real threat of extermination to the last fairy colony on Earth.

It’s up to Gemma, her family and the solidarity of their little community to save the day – and the fairies!

This seemingly effortless and straightforward narrative has much scope for discussion with current global topics such as environmental damage, conservation, tolerance, acceptance and embracing differences all able to correlate to the unfolding of events.  And aside from that it’s a jolly fun read!

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a great fairy story – and hopes for fairies in their garden!

fleur