Tag Archives: Toys

Frankie Stein – Kylie Covark/Shane McG

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Ford St Publishing

September 2022

ISBN: 9781922696120

RRP: $16.95

It has been fantastic in recent years to see the growth in girls becoming more interested in science disciplines. I know I have loved running my Geek Girls groups and hosting events from Tech Girls and the like. And it is equally pleasing to see more and more schools including state primary schools having dedicated STEM specialist lessons. While we may not (many of us) have a whole heap of time in classroom programs to divert to spontaneous topics of interest, this is a book that will easily springboard into these areas.

I road-tested this one this week with a fairly rambunctious Year 2 class I was with (they were out of sorts after a couple of disruptive days and one not-so-effective relief teacher the day before me) but they were all, even to the ‘liveliest’ really engaged with this and it was a very effective read-aloud to settle them after a break. We didn’t have much time to spare in the program the teacher had provided but I stole some to have them ‘monster-fy’ one of their own toys and draw the result. FrankenToys (example) is a really fun activity I have run in library lunchtimes and both littles and bigs enjoy it and all you need is some old toys and some constructions material like hot glue guns.

Frankie is a truly dedicated young scientist, always researching, hypothesising and testing, with her much-loved partner, Bear, always on watch from the shelf. But Frankie really wishes that she and Bear could really talk to each other and that he could become more than just a silent partner. After much experimentation, she comes up with a formula that she’s sure will work – and it does! – only not quite in the way she anticipated. Suddenly, instead of cute, fuzzy Bear she has a great, green, angry monster Bear, intent on eating everything and wrecking a lot as he goes along. Time to come up with another potion – and fast!! It’s certainly a nice twist on friendship and also, arguably, being satisfied with our friends, just as they are. It is also an apt lesson in perseverance and resilience – two qualities high on every school’s values list.

With its rhythmic rhymes and the vibrant illustrations, this will be a definite hit from Prep upwards to around Year 3.

Why not make a point of sharing it with your STEM teacher/coordinator as well as your kiddos?

Highly recommended for 4 years upwards (and don’t forget to stock up on the glue guns, screwdrivers and pliers!)

Two for Littlies – lift-the-flap board books

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Where’s George’s Dinosaur? a lift-the-flap book

Penguin Australia

  • January 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241543542
  • Imprint: Ladybird
  • Format: Board Book
  • RRP: $14.99

We all know two sure things – little ones love lift-the-flap books – and the thirst for Peppa Pig and family never diminishes!

George’s dinosaur is missing – where can it be? – so Mummy and Peppa help him look for the missing toy. Of they go, back-tracking their day… could Mr Dinosaur have been left at the zoo? There’s a tip of a tail that looks just like his – but no. Maybe when they went on the train?? Could he be at the castle?? They have had a busy day so they really need to look everywhere.

Your smalls will love the giggly surprises of lifting the flaps to see who is hiding and giggle even more when Mr Dinosaur is finally found.

With its foiled cover and the always bright colours of the Peppa Pig illustrations, this is a guaranteed hit and would make a lovely gift too.

Eric Carle’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes: a lift-the-flap book

Penguin Australia

  • January 2022
  • ISBN: 9780593224311
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Board Book
  • RRP: $19.99

Many years ago when I first started teaching Year 1 (the first year at school) we always kicked off with nursery rhymes as our topic/theme because it was something with which most little kids had some familiarity so could be engaged. Then it seemed that over the years the numbers of kids knowing nursery rhymes dropped markedly. So for me, books like this are a godsend really because the combination of Eric Carle, lift-the-flap and the rhymes makes for a win for little ones who benefit so very much from the rhythm and rhyme of traditional nursery offerings.

...revisit five classic nursery rhymes: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Hickory Dickory Dock,” “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.”

I’m very much in love with this (as I am with anything Eric Carle – what a loss to us all *sad face*)……….and again, this would make a very beautiful and much-loved gift for a new baby or little person in your circle.

Toy Mountain – Stef Gemmill and Katharine Hall

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Exisle Publishing

 9781925820966

EK Books

RRP: $24.99

With Christmas literally around the corner this is a timely reminder about promoting sustainability, moderating our consumerism and caring for both our belongings and our earth.

Sam has much-loved toys with which to play and share with baby Max, some of them being handed down from his grandma but there are times he wishes he could have some new toys as well.

When the Tiny Toys factory is looking for a toy tester Sam is first to put his hand up and is delighted when the first box of shiny new plastic toys arrives. It really is like a dream come true and Sam welcomes the packages arriving daily. But it doesn’t take long at all before the packages and the new toys are piling up so fast that Sam doesn’t even have time to play with them properly. The toys are taking over his house, and spilling out of the windows and his old favourites are being buried in the heap of glittering glitzy gimmicky gadgets. Not only is Sam and his family in danger of being buried by the new toys just like the old hand-me-downs, but these new toys don’t even last! They just break or or stop working almost immediately. So now, its not even a mountain of toys but a mountain of plastic waste!

This is one great book to share with kids to illustrate and underline some very vital truths. Shiny and new is not always better. Today’s gifts are often tomorrow’s garbage. Quality is always quality, not matter how old. We live in a disposable culture but the tide is turning and many are returning to a more sustainable lifestyle. Children are fast becoming our most environmentally aware citizens and, after all, they are the ones who are going to lead the world in a very short time. It is paramount then that we as educators help to guide them to make meaningful choices and take an interest in the world around us.

The bright illustrations are a perfect foil for the text, which though simple, is eloquent and simple enough for children to discern the import of the message. It would make a super springboard for discussion into this topic whether around times like Christmas or just in a classroom setting.

Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards – and no doubt, perfect for sharing in this lead up to Christmas.

Ollie’s Odyssey – William Joyce

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Simon & Schuster Australia

  • Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  • 304 pages
  • ISBN 9781442473553
  • April 2016
  • RRP $27.99

 

This is a Hans Christian Andersen-style tale of magic and wonder that echoes of the same tenderness as works such as The Velveteen Rabbit.

When Billy is just a baby he has a problem with his heart which makes his parents fearful and anxious until they know the outcome. To assuage her fretting, Billy’s mother creates a special toy for him. Made of soft textured fabrics and containing the ‘bell’ heart from her own favourite childhood toy, Nina the dancing doll, Ollie becomes Billy’s best friend and most treasured companion. In short, he is Billy’s favourite and as Billy grows up, strong and happy, Ollie shares in every single A-venture.

Running parallel to the story of Billy and Ollie, we discover a dark world of hidden menace with a history stretching back to a carnival where Nina the dancing doll once entranced Billy’s mother. In those days a very popular sideshow attraction was the Bonk-a-Zozo, one of those games where patrons try to win a toy by hitting a target.  In its heyday, toys came and went regularly but there was always a happy communal feeling to the booth with Zozo the clown, the target, reigning benevolently over all.  Then the dancing doll arrived but was hung so discreetly that few customers noticed her. However Zozo had eyes only for her – and she responded with her own eyes – as no words ever passed between them. As time goes by the carnival becomes less and less popular and on a day that changed the course of events forever, a little girl came with her father and won the prized doll. Taking her away, she claimed her as her favourite toy and Zozo’s clown heart hardens and his thoughts turn dark.

Zozo makes it his mission to recruit the Creeps whose only mission is to steal the favourite toys of all children – including Billy.  When Billy is made to attend a BORING wedding with his parents, he secretly takes Ollie with him but disaster strikes and Ollie is toynapped.

The ensuing rescue mission is filled with drama but as it must, love and bravery triumphs. ‘Never has a journey of ten blocks been so epic.’

The story is beautiful and the artwork enchanting. A beautiful hardcover with glorious glossy pages, this is a testament to books being a work of art in themselves.

Browse inside the pages here.

This is a book to treasure. As a sustained read-aloud it will engage its audience from the very beginning and I predict lead to much discussion about the demonstrated values and philosophy.

Highly recommended for children from around 8 to 12.

toys