Poppy and the Blooms by Fiona Woodcock.

Sometimes it’s the little people that make the biggest difference in our world.

In this colourful picture book we meet Poppy and her friends – Dandy, Bluebell and Buttercup.

They love playing outside but one day they realise that there is a park nearby that has lost it’s love, lost its colour and lost it’s joy.

And even though they are small and the park is big, they know that with a lot of teamwork and determination they can make a huge difference to the world they live in.

The pages are bursting with colour and the feeling of life, love and friendship all throughout the story. The story is filled with determination and one which will encourage any young listener to believe that they can make a difference.

Do you have a little changemaker?

Do you encourage your little changemaker to make a difference in the world they live in?

Children are willing to care for the world they live in and with a little bit of help in the right direction they will make a difference.

Take the time to make some positive changes in your world and do it alongside the smaller people in your life so that they grow up knowing that they can act and make a difference.

  • Let them pack their own lunchbox – plastic free!
  • Learn about where electricity comes from so they can turn off the lights.
  • Read the labels of soap bottles and wonder if we really should be putting it down the drain.
  • Look at the food you buy and where it comes from, what it is packaged in and the additives. Think about alternatives together.
  • Go to a local park and pick up rubbish, plant a tree or scatter some seeds.
  • Write to local politicians – show children that they have a voice too.  
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Brave and strong, All day long. By Elizabeth Cummings

 

Today I’m taking part in the Just write for Kids Books on Tour and I’m happy to introduce Elizabeth Cummings and her latest picture book from her Verityville series, Brave and Strong All Day Long, as a part of her Books On Tour promotion.

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Summer is coming and it’s time to hit the beach don’t you think?

Many people love going to the beach to relax and it’s even better when the weather is warm enough to swim.

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Thankfully, in Australia, many of our beaches are patrolled by lifegaurds who are there to watch over us as we swim underneath the waves, ride the waves or try to run away from them!

Brave and strong all day long by Elizabeth Cummings is a short and simple picture book with a big message – the importance of lifeguards.

Lifeguards need to be confident, strong and brave all day long, they need to be able to help those in need, teach people how to swim safely in the surf and most importantly ensure that everyone returns back to their towels at the end of their swim!

This book, brought to life with Johanna Roberts’ vibrant and informative illustrations, tells us the story about Fiona, a young girl who became a lifeguard. She loves surfing and has enough confidence to be able to help those in need. Not only can Fiona help swimmers caught in rips she can also help fishermen and surfers!

Young children will enjoy reading this story and learning about what lifeguards do. The images reflect what a lifeguards uniform looks like so readers will know who to look out for if they need help at the beach.  There is also a great drawing of a rip – a great way to start a conversation about this ever present danger in the water and perhaps the chance for further research so your children know what one of these looks like.

Brave and strong, all day long has been self published along with many other wonderful creations by Elizabeth and Johanna. Raising awareness of the important role lifeguards play in society is something we all need to do so we do not take these wonderful volunteers for granted.

Check out her website and consider some of her other great titles as well! https://elizabethmarycummings.com/book-store/

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“For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.” Thanks so much. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need.

So what else can you do after you have read this book?

  • ENGAGE: Visit the beach and watch what the lifeguards do – perhaps even talk to one and see what they have been up to!
  • INVESTIGATE: Why the flags are placed up and how they help us.
  • INVESTIGATE: Learn more about rips here: https://beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/ripcurrents
  • ASK: Why do lifeguards wear long sleeve tops and hats. Investigate sun safety and why we need to cover up.
  • THINK: What sort of sun cream do you use? Why are there so many types out there and are they all the same?
  • RESEARCH: Where and when did surfing originate? Why do lifeguards use boards to rescue people?

 

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Five of my favourite picture books I read in 2017.

Five of the best

Children's books tag

Warning! I’ve been tagged. It can be contagious.

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Norah Colvin tagged me and asked me to join in. I don’t normally do this but I’m making an exception. How could I not – it’s about children’s books.

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I’m required to nominate my top five children’s books, then nominate another five people to join in!

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Rules:

  1. Thank whoever’s nominated you and share their blog link.
  2. Let us know your top 5 children’s books
  3. Nominate 5 people to do the same
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

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I’m not sure I can decide on my Top 5 – but here are 5 wonderful picture books that speak to me and children about how we can make this world a better place.

  1. Feather by Phil Cummings
  2. The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton
  3. Out of the Blue by Alison Jay
  4. Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo
  5. The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Oh dear — Can I also mention Second Sky by Patrick Guest and Desert Lake by  Pamela Freeman and Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes???

 

I think I might have to post again about some junior fiction and Young adult fiction too…

There have been so many wonderful books in 2017 but the above have really stood out.

 

Now to nominate another 5 people —–

Romi Sharp from Just write for kids

Bookie Boo boxes – BookieBoo

De from Booksandbabycinos

Beth from EarthandStarskids

Shaye Wardrop

 

Maybe you don’t write about children’s books but would like to share your favourites anyway. Please consider this invitation inclusion. If you would like to join in, please do.

Alternatively, if you are one of the people I nominate, and you’d rather not join in, or have already been nominated, it’s okay to decline.

 

Chooks in Dinner suits by Diane Jackson Hill

This time, the townsfolk don’t laugh.

‘Let’s give that plan of yours a try,’ they say to Swampy.

All else has failed. 

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Chooks in Dinner Suits: A Tale of Big Dogs and Little Penguins
Chooks in Dinner Suits: A Tale of Big Dogs and Little Penguins

Chooks in Dinner suits, A tale of big dogs and little penguins in based on a true story. Set in Warrnambool on the south coast of Australia in 2005 this story tells us about the demise of the breed of penguins called ‘little penguins’.


Slowly over time due to habitat destruction, being eaten by foxes and dogs or eggs being stepped on, there were only 4 penguins left in 2005. A local farmer made the suggestion to the community to use Maremma guardian dogs to protect these animals from further destruction. The community were skeptical and took time to be convinced but with no other options they trusted in his idea – and thankfully they did!

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These dogs – the Maremma – have been used in other operations across Australia to protect endangered species from feral pests. There is currently a project underway with Bandicoots being protected by Maremma in Victoria. 

Chooks in dinner suits is a really lovely story based on a real life event. There are not too many words or descriptions to bore the younger reader, and the facts are told in story. There  is enough action throughout the story for children and pictures to entice them to read it again.

Craig Smith’s illustrations are fun and bring a bit more light to the sadness of this story. His use of soft colours sheds light on the coastal feel of the town and the natural beauty of the hatching ground.

Chooks in dinner suits is a great story to read to show how real life stories can be brought to life for younger readers. Picture books are a wonderful way to engage young readers in the events that are happening in the world around them.

It is definitely worth your while engaging your child in some real images from this story. Check out these links:

So what else can you do?

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Empowering young children

Just last night, after dinner and bath time – the time we usually spend reading, was spent creating posters.


Why?

We had just read about the Corroboree frog and wanted to know about other animals that were endangered.

Why?

Because through enlightening picture books my children are developing a global awareness. They are beginning to understand the important role they play in making a difference in the world they live in.  I didn’t suggest it, I just nurtured this need to create and create they did.

We decided to explore all different types of endangered animals and my daughter then created a poster she could take to school – so she could let her friends know about these creatures.

My children care about the world they live in and they want others to care to, so by simple things like making a poster about endangered animals , showing others we can live without excessive amounts of plastic and working out how we can care for those less fortunate than us are all important foundations to be laying down in our children.

take a look at what we have done and think about how you as a parent or a teacher can find half an hour in your day to nurture the children in your care so they can become more aware of how they can make a difference in our world.

Read, talk, do – the corroboree frog 

 

Recently we read the story: The little Corroborree Frog  

And it has inspired some action in my children. There was no pushing of we have to do this, we have to learn that or we have to save the world. There were simple discussions after we read the story and little discussions around the house when we used water or decided to make our own snacks instead of buying them.

So what happened?

We made a link

My son and I visited the zoo and were lucky enough to see a Corroborree frog.

We made another link

When we returned home my son and daughter watched a couple of short videos on the computer so we could see how they move in the wild and in captivity.

We learnt something and wanted to share it.

There is no point just keeping all the great facts to yourselves so we made posters that we can stick up at home and take to school for news.

See – simple!

If you have time at home, perhaps half an hour you too can educate and empower your children to make a difference in their world. If we don’t start to take action now many animals and people will not be living a great life in the future.

 

 

 

Millie-Mae and the Lemon Tree by Natalie Marshall

Need to inspire and educate your child into how we can make our own food and rely less on the big brands and supermarkets?


Millie-Mae and the Lemon tree by Natalie Marshall is a beautifully illustrated touch and learn book that teaches children how they can make their own lemonade out of three simple ingredients!

Mille-Mae is a series of books published by Five Mile Press and each are about a small girl who explores the world around her through seasons, play and the natural world.

As we read Mille-Mae and the Lemon tree we too were inspired to make our own lemonade for our home party! Books can inspire great change and through this we were able to avoid buying juice and soft drinks – therefore avoiding plastic waste.

Millie-Mae and the Lemon Tree has a touch and feel aspect as well as lovely shiny pieces which add to the magic of learning to this story.

Mille-Mae and the Lemon Tree is a lovely sweet story and we will be keeping an eye out for more Millie-Mae books!

So what can you do?

 – Make your own lemonade! We used the following recipe 

– Explore other food you can make from scratch and through buying food in bulk so to avoid single use plastic.

– Explore Mille-Mae and and find out why she wanted to make lemonade and how she shared it. What could you do? There is often a lemonade stand in our street once or twice a year!

– Empower yourself and your child to rely on the supermarket less and less. There are many things we can do. It does take a little bit of extra time but in the long run it is worth it.

And sometimes you forget

Every day I try to be the most environmentally friendly person I can be and every day I hope that I am inspiring my children to also be friendly to the world they live in. 

But sometime life and convenience gets in the way.

Today, on the way home from a weekend away my husband wanted a coffee for the long drive ahead-and the keep cup was buried somewhere underneath our luggage. 

He could have done without but sometimes after sleepless nights with young children a coffee is a necessity! 

So rather than feeling Eco-guilty and beating myself up about it,  I can choose to recycle the lid and reuse the non-recyclable coffee cup. 

So here are some cups full of soil and seed! We know these cups are going to last a while so they can easily live in the garden and withstand heat, cold and water. 

Teach your children to care about the word they live in but don’t let them fear the world. Educate them so they are empowered to make the right decisions and if they have to take the option which isn’t ideal, teach them what they can do. 

We don’t want to burden our children with fear. We want to give them knowledge and tools to live an informed life. 

And remember -books are a great way to help with this education! Check out my list of books that link to sustainability. 

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Let’s Escape by Mike Dumbleton and Kim Gamble

 

Tucked up in bed but ready to escape – that’s how we all should feel as we sink underneath our bed sheets and start to read a book.


Let’s escape by Mike Dumbleton is an adventure story that takes place within different storybook lands and times.

The young boy creeps through a forest, rides a wild horse and shotos past giants – all in his pyjamas!

Kim Gamble’s illustrations bring the words to life and add so much more to the story.

Let’s escape allows the readers to imagine about all the possible places they could travel in their dreams – and encourages more reading and more books as so many un conquered worlds lie within.

Let’s escape should encourage parents to read more with their child and imagination is the key to everything! Without imagination and dreams we lack so much in our lives. We loved reading this book and everytime we have read it again we have discovered more within the pages.

A bag and a bird by Pamela Allen

The plastic bag went too. John could see it caught on a bird high in the sky, flying and flapping behind like a scarf in the wind.

A warm sunny day, a long walk outside in the fresh air and a myriad of discoveries – a beautiful way to start the weekend but there is a lot more than just a walk from Kirribilli to the Royal botanic Gardens in store!

A mother and her son decide to make the most of a sunny day by packing lunch and taking off on a stroll by the harbour. They pack lunch in a plastic bag – possibly not realising the ramifications this item has on the environment in so many different ways. `

Exploring Sydney by foot is a wonderful way to see the different aspects of the city away from the cars and the busy-ness; and this book shows the reader how easy and how lovely the harbour and botanic gardens area is.

A bag and a bird by Pamela Allen not only explores the fun you can have on foot but also the importance of looking after everything that is on this planet – even those pesky birds that scramble after any crumb you might drop on the ground. (I’m sure you or someone you know has had a biscuit snatched right out of their hands by a hungry winged creature!)

As humans we have created so much damage so we can live comfortably, not considering how every little thing we do makes a huge impact on other people, animals and plants.

A bag and a bird is a lovely book to start a conversation about plastic bags and how important community spirit is to making a difference in the way we live. It is amazing how the actions of one person can change the minds of so many.

So what can you do at home?

  • Take your own bags to the supermarket and say no to using plastic. Every plastic bag will last for hundreds of years and will make a huge impact in the environment.
  • Take a walk around your local area – get outside and enjoy the sights! Draw a map of where you walked.
  • Learn about the different birds that inhabit your area. Why do they live here? Are they native or introduced?
  • Find out about different community groups that help others and are making commitments to the sustainable development goal

And – Keep reading. Keep enjoying those quiet and close moments when you can escape into another world and ponder about the world you live in too.

 Check out these great books from Biome!

Plastic Free July

 July is Plastic Free July and throughout this month we all need to try and make an effort to make our lives full of less plastic!

Why do we need to start using less plastic?

Plastic has been an amazing invention and has so many wonderful uses but the problem today is that we are overusing it in places where we don’t need to.

Do we really need plastic bags for our fruit and vegetables at the supermarket?

At the checkout?

Do we really need all that pre packaged food when we can make our own?

Does everything really need to be wrapped in plastic before we take it home? Especially when home isn’t that far away? 

The simple answer is no and although it may seem hard to make these changes, you can – slow and steady if that is what it takes.

But how? Try this module out – Only $2.99  – an inspiring start to getting rid of the plastic in your pantry! 


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You can also just start with some simple swaps.

Not sure how to empower or educate yourself or your child? The following books are excellent reads to help encourage the use of less plastic——- check them out:

Ada’s Violin – True story picture book – Paraguay’s recycled orchestra. Discussion: Why is there so much in landfill and how can we reduce this?

Out of the Blue by Alison Jay – Wordless picture book. Story of looking after the ocean. Why is there rubbish in the ocean? What can you change in your life so you make less of an impact on sea creatures? (what do you flush down the drain that is harmful?)

10 little rubber ducks – Based on the true story of a shipping container which broke in open sea and unloaded thousands of rubber ducks. Where might they be now? How is this an environmental disaster?

My Green Day – Simple tips on how you can have a greener day.

The Seagull – A seagull is tangled up in fishing wire and a young boy rescues him. Why is there discarded fishing wire on the beach and other rubbish entangled in it? How can we use less single use plastic?

The Lorax by Dr Seuss –  

This book looks at how greed can cause us to waste materials and cause damage to the earth. By thinking about what our plastic does after we use it we can start to see why we should use less.

Compost Stew by Mary McKenna

By using materials that can be composted – not thrown into landfill we are creating a better place and creating better soil for future food and plants!

The tomorrow book by Jackie French

With imagination, creative thinking, problem solving and open minds, tomorrow can be a wonderful day where we harness the sun’s energy, we repair things instead of throwing them away, we each have our own veggie patch and wind power is just another form of easy to use energy. This book looks at how children can make a difference in the world they live in – not just rely on the adults!!

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

Have you ever thought about reusing something instead of throwing it away? This is a wonderful story to get your creative side into gear.

 

Let me know how you go – can you maintain your plastic free ways? 

Reluctant readers

Do you have a reluctant reader at home?

Here are some tips that might help your child:

  • Visit the library together, whether it be the local public library or of an afternoon at school. By visiting the library together you can find out your  child’s interests and then find suitable books. Remember these don’t have to be novels or fiction, it could be non-fiction too – any reading is great!
  • Become storytellers – tell stories over dinner, in the car or before bedtime. By learning the art of storytelling you can start to engage more in other people’s stories on paper.
  • Read manuals, technology focussed novels and websites – some readers want more hands on reading material.
  • Read a book that has become a movie – your child will feel comfortable with the story line therefore find reading it easier.
  • Try Graphic novels! These are books written in comic strip form with thought and speech bubbles throughout. They engage the reader in a different way and allow them to see more of what is happening. There are many graphic novels for both older and younger readers.
  • Play board games, read a map, write letters to family and ask them to send a letter in return – all of these activities will encourage reading in a non-book environment.
  • Talk to your librarian! Librarian’s know the best types of books in their collection and can take the time to take your child through the different books on offer.

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Our Island by the children of Gununa

Our Island explores the beauty of Mornington Island through children’s pictures and gives you a true sense of the peacfulness and abundance of nature. ⠀


The children of Gununa alongside Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey have created this picturesque story that shows outsiders the beauty of Mornington Island and the link the Indigenous people have with the natural world around them.

Sunrise, Sunset and the hot summer sun are all depicted through the eyes of children alongside the poetic nature of the words. Simple crayon and food dye techniques are used to create a natural feeling of the island and its people.

Our Island helps readers to become more aware of the rich indigenous culture that Australia has and the beauty of places untouched by development. By sharing this story with someone you are making their world a bigger and brighter place.

Indigenous Links

  • Who are the children of Gununa?
  • Learn some Lardil words
  • Can you find out the same words for the tribe who did or still does inhabit/ed where you live?
  • How do indigenous people live with nature – how does this help the environment?

Literacy

Before: Predict what this book might be about:

  • Where is Mornington Island?
  • Who are the children of Gununa?
  • Who is Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey?

After:

  • What do you think life would be like for the people who live here? Compare your ideas from the start of the book.
  • What do you think people do on this island?
  • Are there people on this island? Why is it not mentioned in the story?
  • How do these people feel about the natural world?

Your Task

  • With a partner, describe where you live
  • Create a book just like this to show your town, your city, your island, your bushland, your ocean etc.
  • Do you think you would need to mention people?  Can you leave people our of your space like this story does?
  • Compare and contract the children of Gununa to your life. Think about the differences and how you would both feel living in each others community.