Books and reading are two of my favourite things. Or should they be combined into just one favourite thing? If so, it’s a mammoth favourite thing.
I have loved books and reading for as long as I can remember and turning others on to a love of books and reading gives me great joy. Finding that joy is one of the reasons I interview authors and illustrators and review their books. I hope my interviews and reviews have encouraged you to read some of the beautiful books I’ve brought to you this year.
Just in case you may have forgotten some of them and are thinking of last minute gifts for those young children in your lives, look no further. Books make great presents for persons of any age, and any of these books will give long-lasting pleasure.
I this post, I remind you of the books I’ve reviewed and authors and illustrators I’ve interviewed throughout the year. It’s been a bumper year. Just follow the link to find out more about a book you are interested in.
School friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming, and Tyler all have one thing in common — they can’t go to school. The world changed very quickly and now they have to stay home to keep themselves and their families and friends safe. They discover that even apart, they can find new and fun ways to be together.
Worry Monster loves ‘helping’ Archie worry, especially on the night before he starts at a new school. Archie feels so anxious that his head hurts, his tummy flutters and his heart pounds. He soon realizes that the only way to feel better is to make Worry Monster go away. He does his belly breaths and challenges his inner fears by facing facts, and Worry Monster is forced to leave Archie alone! Go Away, Worry Monster! gives children useful strategies to cope with their anxieties and stress, showing them how to make their own Worry Monsters leave, even in highly stressful times.
Jamie loves his great grandmother Bubbie and, when she comes for a visit they go for a walk around the neighbourhood. On the way, they meet some friends and strangers. In her references to or about the people, Bubbie often uses an inappropriate pronoun. Jamie gently explains why the pronoun is inappropriate and what she could use instead.
Kayla’s mum is a busy working mum. She wakes Kayla before she leaves for work in the mornings and asks her about her plans for the day. She tells Kayla that plans give you hope and hope gives you dreams. Often, Kayla doesn’t see her mother again as she gets home after Kayla has gone to bed.
But one day, Dad tells Kayla she can stay up late because her mum has some exciting news. When her mum tells Kayla that she has received a promotion that she worked hard to earn, she also gives Kayla a tiara and tells her that it is to always remind her that she is special, regardless of what others might do, say or think. Kayla went to sleep believing the world to be a magical place and knowing that, with a plan, she could make her dreams come true.
You can be a writer is written for children and speaks directly to them, explaining that people from all walks of life are writers and that they can be writers too. It explains where ideas for stories come from — anywhere — and how to ask questions to develop those ideas and make their stories grow. It explains story elements like plot, characters and setting and suggests planning as a useful tool in developing a story. The importance of editing is also included as is the reminder that reading is one of the best ways of becoming a better writer.
The Wind and The Mouse is a story about change — accepting and adapting to it.
When the spring wind blows around the fields, waking the plants and animals and teasing them into new growth, mouse sleeps on, comfortable and warm in her soft bed. Mouse doesn’t want to things to change. She wants things to stay as they are.
But Wind is determined to show Mouse that beautiful things can come with change. Will Mouse be brave enough to embrace the changes over which she has no control? What will entice her out of bed and into the wonders of spring?
Like a turtle, Salih carries his home on his back. He must cross a raging sea in search of a safe home. Salih paints his happiest memories and sends them as messages in bottles. Will someone find them and understand? Will Salih find a new home?
When there are so many displaced people in our world, our communities and our classrooms, this book provides us all with an opportunity to feel with and for another, to feel compassion, empathy and understanding. It is sometimes too easy to view refugees as ‘other’. Salih ensures we identify what connects us when he shares his memories, so similar to ours, and wishes he could forget the bad times. He shows us the importance of the simple things that bring us all joy. This picture book empowers readers of all ages to understand life from another’s point of view.
This book was selected for this year’s simultaneous story time. It is fiction but also includes some interesting facts about space.
“Una dreams of a life in Space. Life on Earth is just so so-so. But how will she get there? And will she complete her mission to discover life in Space? And did she remember to feed Neil the goldfish?”
Charlotte loves playing in the backyard with her little brother, but fuzzy flying things make Benji nervous so he always runs inside. One day, when Benji almost squishes a bee he finds in the kitchen, Charlotte teaches him all about how magical and important bees are. Together with their dad, they build a hotel for the little bee to live in, and then enjoy watching lots of bees move in. They decide to make more hotels for other people and spread the word about caring for bees.
This is the fifth in the Song Bird junior fiction series. Rosie and her friends travel to outback Queensland to help Rosie’s Aunt Matty and Uncle Banjo on their drought-affected property. When they arrive, they discover that things are even more dire than they initially thought. Super Bird’s arch enemy the evil Destructo is involved, of course, and is determined to outwit Super Bird and her friends. The battle for the Outback is on.
As with other books in the series, Rosie must use her superpowers to battle the obstacles. With the assistance of her scientist friend Amy, with expertise in gadgetry and other technology, and the quick-thinking of their friend Ben, they investigate the problem and devise a plan to resolve it.
I listed a selection of picture books to help children learn about and care for the environment. Refer to the post for more information about each of the titles.
Sadly, the world lost one of its heroes of children’s literature in May. Eric Carle passed away in the month before his 92nd birthday. While we mourn his loss, we celebrate his legacy, a great collection of wonderful picture books. Refer to the post for more information.
Kalea and her friend Hiapo live near the ocean. They love to play in the waves and enjoy the nature around them. One day they notice something shiny on the horizon. Curious, the friends head out on an adventure to find out what is floating in their ocean only to discover an island of plastic. Fish and sea life are suffering from this pollution so the young eco warriors need to act fast to save the day.
Rollo is a dog who loves to go to work with his owner, Jim. Jim is a builder, and when he is working, Rollo loves to explore all the different homes Jim and his team of builders work at.
One day, the builders are moving lots of big, heavy windows to a safe area. Rollo begins to explore this new part of the garden, and sniffs around.
While Rollo is exploring, he gets a very wet surprise!
Mess and disorder upset Oswald. Even the complexity of his own name is enough to set Oswald’s legs jiggling and his palms itching with anxiety. To combat his unease, Oswald obsessively counts his take-everywhere pocket pals – his crayons. It is a compulsion he finds comforting but also extremely exhausting.
Oswald’s obsessive preoccupations distract him from everything and everyone else around him, until one day Oswald is encouraged to use his penchant for perfection and eye for detail in a class project. With the help of his crayons, Oswald’s classmates create something spectacular, which helps Oswald realise just how valuable he is in spite of his anxieties.
Oswald Messweather is not a picture book that focuses intently on the educational perspectives of children with OCD but rather more on the emotional aspects associated with this debilitating condition.
Loutka is a brilliant puppet maker. All of his creations work perfectly, just as he expects them to. Except for Claudette. She is a rickety misfit who longs for freedom and adventure. What can be done with such a puppet? Loutka doesn’t know.
So Claudette stays on the shelf. Until one incredible day…
Claudette takes the reader on a courageous and magical adventure beyond the clouds, discovering the power of beauty, possibility and self-worth along the way.
The little wooden boat has been left behind in the sand dunes. Odd things pass it by, tumbling and floating into the ocean – a chip packet, a takeaway cup and a plastic bag. The little wooden boat wonders and worries … Is it a forgotten thing? Is it just rubbish now? Will it ever find a home again? This delightful tale will inspire readers to take the small steps needed to care for their world – no matter how young they are!
The book was inspired by a journey taken by Hendriks’s own family after the Second World War. It is a slice of history of which many are unaware.
Between 1945 and 1946, three million Sudeten Germans were expelled from the Sudeten Mountains to Germany, Austria and the Soviet Zone. It was the largest forced refugee movement of a single population in the 20th century. I always felt the deep sadness inside my Oma about the loss of her family home. This pulled at me to write about losing home. When researching for Home I discovered that my Mum, Oma and great Oma and Opa were Sudeten Germans. My Mum was a baby when they were forced to leave their mountain village called Wunschendorf, in Czech. It is now known as Srbska. My great Opa was in still in a concentration camp for opposing Hitler. So it was my Mum as a baby, Oma and Great Oma and they walked from their village to East Germany. This story is so important to me because the plight of the Sudeten Germans is not really known and their story is my story, too.
Refer to the post to find out more about each of these winners:
The Power of Positive Pranking
The Giant and the Sea
A super-cute, icky adventure brimming with curiosity and fun.
Scarlett Von Scruff is a little girl who loves to collect weird stuff. Now she’s discovered something fluffy, soft and a little bit smelly in Dad’s belly button and she wants to find more.
No belly is safe as Scarlett goes on a fun-filled fluff gathering adventure.
So, kick off your shoes and lay on the couch, let’s have a look in your tummy pouch.
Refer to the post for details about the new titles.
Grandma is at it again! Moonie and I just want to enjoy our class trip to the Aquarium Recue Centre, but Grandma has other plans.
When dust makes her sneeze and turn into different Mesozoic Era marine reptiles it’s up to us to track her down, stop her funny business, and make sure we still have time to finish our field trip reports.
Len Waters may have been born behind the gates of an Aboriginal reserve, but his big imagination and even bigger dreams took him soaring well beyond the reach of those who tried to confine him. Kamilaroi man Len Waters dreamed of taking to the skies. It was an unlikely dream at the time, but during WWII he beat the odds to become Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.
Rules and restrictions controlled much of Len’s early life. Born in the 1920s, Len had a basic education and life was lacking in luxury. But Len had a sharp mind. He had a boundless work ethic. Len also had big dreams and a family who supported them. Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly takes readers on Len Waters’ soaring journey from making his home-made model aeroplanes at his kitchen table, to flying RAAF fighter jets in the south west Pacific in World War II.
Len was a history maker, a young man who didn’t let society’s prejudice, his culture or skin colour stand in his way. But when WWII was over, Len sadly discovered that his service and courage did not result in equality. Len once said that, out of his RAAF uniform, he simply ‘returned to being a black fellow’. Today, decades later, Len’s determination and achievements are recognised and honoured across Australia.
Once Upon a Whoops! is a collection of over 40 fractured fairy tales and ridiculous rhymes written and illustrated by Australian authors and illustrators and published by Share Your Story in 2021. Refer to the post for teaching suggestions.
Grandmas Are Greater Than Great is a humorous, animated, and informative look at the lasting power of ancestors. Explore families, generations, and kid power in this heartfelt collaboration between James Solheim and bestselling illustrator Derek Desierto.
Everyone has two grandmas, and every grandma has her own two grandmas. This cycle continues back through time and history.
Traveling from generation to generation, this dynamic picture book offers young readers a bird’s-eye view of how daily life has changed over time. But despite all the differences, one thing has remained the same: a grandma’s love.
It’s there every day if you look for it. The glint of gold. It’s in the white blossom of our plum tree against a blue sky. Or the sparkles Jack Frost leaves on the drive to school…..A heart-warming story to inspire awareness, gratitude and positive thinking.
A Spotted Quoll within the snow
had feet as cold as ice.
“So, what will help to keep them warm?”
he pondered once or twice.
Quoll has a GREAT idea leading to the most amazing series of events.
That’s more than half the posts for this year devoted to children’s books; more than a third of which were written in conjunction with Books on Tour, also dedicated to promoting children’s books. I am very grateful to Books on Tour for including me in their promotions and to authors and illustrators who are happy for me to review their books or interview them. Reading and sharing children’s books always brings me joy. I hope it brings you and the younger people in your life joy too.
Books make a great gift at any time of the year and a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.
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