The box cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King

Do you remember when you had more fun playing with a box than the toy that can inside it?

Have you ever watched young children play with an abandoned box for days on end?

The Box Cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King is a delightful picture book that shows young readers the fun they can have with boxes!

We meet two best friends – Liam and Kai who are experts in making different types of box cars and racing them around the local park. It isn’t until one day that they notice someone watching them that they realise how special friends and imagination are.

Soon enough – with a bit of problem solving – their duo becomes a trio and even more box filled fun takes place!

Simple yet brightly lit illustrations by Cara King fill each page and clearly show the emotions of the children as they play. They give a sense of freedom with imagination and nature at the heart of every page.

The story delves into the wonders of imaginative play and friendship and the problems that arise when we need to consider the needs of every one around us.

The Box Cars will open up the opportunity to get children outside with their imaginations instead of inside in front of a screen. It will encourage discussions about friendships and help children to see wonder in the simple things!

So what else can you do with this book?

Literacy

Grammar – Look at the different types of verbs used to describe how the characters do different things throughout the story. Replace these verbs with different or more plain verbs and see how the story changes.

Visual literacy – Every page is a whole page illustration except for one double page spread when Eve is not in a box car. Why is this the only page that does this?

STEM

Design and Make – Build something of your own out of a box that could serve a purpose in the school playground. Create plans before it is made and outline the clear purpose.

History

Toys in the past – explore how children made toys of their own in the past. What materials did they use and how did they make them?

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Yours troolie, Alice Toolie by Kate and Jol Temple

We’ve had a lot of laughs whilst reading ‘Yours troolie, Alice Toolie ’ by @katejoltemple

You don’t need to have met either character before to enjoy the conversation between two classmates who have been made to write letters to each other because of a huge fight they had.

Letter writing between two enemies could not get any better!

The format of this story is fun – the font, the doodles on each letter entry and the honesty of how kids really see the world.

Letter writing may even make a comeback….you never know.

A great book to read and an even better book to use in the classroom to instigate some fun letter writing!

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What can you do with this book?

  • Write some letters between classmates or friends. You can use the post and integrate learning about the Australian postal system or just post the letters in a made up box in the classroom.
  • Investigate the best way to capture and store a ghost. Compare this to the method Alice and Jimmy used. Which way is better?
  • Learn about where and why emoji’s were invented. Create some that you think may be needed in the future.
  • What is eco glitter? Create a list of all the things you love using that are not so eco-friendly. Are their alternative products out there that will not harm the environment?
  • Do you think another letter writing book could come out of this one? Write down some future ideas for Alice and Jimmy if there was to be a second book (it may not be letter writing – could it be something else?)

We are together by Britta Teckentrup

We’re off to climb mountains, all the way to the top…Our friends keep us going – they won’t let us stop. 

We are together by Britta Tenckentrup is a celebration of love and friendship.  Through colourful illustrations and fun peek a boo holes, children of all ages will see the power of friends as the story travels along.

This book is a wonderful story to share with children as it highlights many things about self love and love of others.

It starts with the importance of our own self – our special gifts, dreams and hopes but it then shows that with one other and perhaps more than one other – we can achieve so much more.

Friends help us to see the bright side of life, they help us believe more in our selves and follow those dreams.

Young children will love the new person that appears on every page and the people shaped holes that are made with each page turn.

If ever we’re lonely, we’ll just say out loud: Let’s all stand together, one big happy crowd! 

We are together by Britta Tenckentrup is a book to share with all young children, one to pour over the illustrations together and discuss about how we feel about ourselves and the people who surround us.

Self belief and positive peer groups are such an influential catalysts in the development of our young children. Talking openly with children about their gifts and how working with others who respect us is important – and through We are together by Britta Tenckentrup, this discussion can be brought up so much easier.

So what else can you do with this book?

Personal Development 

Link this book with any Personal Development units of work in the classroom – talk about the gifts each child has. Discuss the important people in their lives who support them and make them feel respected and listened to.

Explore the people we are friends with – how their strengths and their weaknesses help us to become better people.

Visual Art

Look at the technique Britta has used to introduce new characters on each page.

Literacy

Explore the use of rhyme throughout the story and create a new stanza that could be added somewhere in the book to add more information about the importance of self belief and friendship.

Follow me for a journey to reduce our food waste

Food waste is one of the major elements that is effecting climate change/global warming and it is something that we are not doing a lot about.

Wasting food is something that we all do every single day but it is something that we can all do something about every single day.

Whilst supermarkets and restaurants are major players in the food waste statistics, it is the average household that wastes the most.

Think of the wilting herbs and spinach leaves.

The half drunk bottle of milk or yoghurt.

The leftovers that you forgot about

And the fruit and vegetable scraps that end up in your landfill.

My family and I are on a journey inspired by a few different people but spurred on by Sarah Wilson’s latest book: Simplicious Flow
I Quit Sugar: Simplicious Flow

So wish me luck and join me as we boil our bones, slip  our banana peels into cake and make meals from things we once thought useless!

Something for Fleur by Catherine Pelosi and Caitlin Murray

Have you ever waited and waited for your birthday?

Have you been left to wonder and guess what gifts you might receive from your friends?

Something for Fleur by Catherine Pelosi and Caitlin Murray is a sweet story about Fleur the flamingo and a special plan her best friend has for her birthday.

We had a wonderful time reading this story. The illustrations are full of life and the story is so sweet.

Younger readers revelled in thinking about the clues offered in each letter Fleur the Flamingo received. They loved looking through the illustrations to see what the different characters were up to each day.

This book is a great way to introduce the use of adjectives and the skill of writing a letter to someone.

This is what we got up to in the classroom:

We wrote letters to someone we thought needed cheering up or someone we had never met – a child in detention or a child in hospital. It was really lovely to see what students wrote in these letters.

I also invited students to choose to write clues – which was aimed at the more competent learners as writing clues can be quite difficult.

What have you done with this story?

Song Bird: Rainforest Rescue

Teach, Restore, Encourage, Establish, Support

These wise words come not only from our superhero – Songbird, but her friends and teachers who learn that looking after the world – especially rainforests, is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the future is much brighter.

ktyrrell-songbird-rainforest-cover-ebook-catalogue

SongBird: Rainforest rescue is the third book in the Song Bird series, written by Karen Tyrell (with guest posts by Steve Tyrell in chapters 2 and 10).

Song bird has had some great adventures so far and even though we thought that Destructo was gone, we discover in the early chapters that he is back, and ready to destroy a rainforest.

This time Songbird and her friends are on a camp in the Gondwana Rainforest and it is a race against time if they are to save this world heritage listed rainforest from Destructo.

With magic interwoven within the rainforest and it’s amazing Beech trees, Song Bird travels back in time to ancient Australia where dinosaurs roamed and mythical snakes slither.  They are chased by Bunyips and Yowie’s and haunted by Destructo’s evil plans. They travel through different eras helping animals and meeting indigenous Australians – who teach them about the importance of nature and living in harmony with the natural world.

Friendship, belief in oneself and a love for the natural world are all strong themes throughout this story – some of the best themes for young children to read about.

Friendship helps us to do things we might otherwise never do.

Believing in ourselves is what keeps us going, is what helps us to rise up when life challenges us and spurs us on to do what we think is right.

Song Bird is a great role model to look up to, and even though she has superpowers, the strength to take on those who are doing wrong is something that we all can do – especially with like minded support around us.

We loved reading the third installment of Song Bird and loved learning more about the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia – perhaps inspiring a visit to a few more of them in the next holiday!

Barry Watson & Karen Tyrrell

So what else can you do?

Explore:

Find out where the Gondwana rainforests of Australia are.

Are there any threats to these rainforests?

What is the meaning of friendship?

What was Australia like during the era of the dinosaurs? What was Australia like when the Indigenous people were free to live on the land before the British colonists came?

Think:

What do the words Teach, Restore, Encourage, Establish, Support mean to you? How can you do all of these things in your life and your community?

Act:

What is something you can save or change in your community? Can you stop the use of balloons? straws? plastic waste at school? Remember, you have the qualities of Song Bird and her friends – you can do it!

Music:

Find out more about the different songs Song Bird sings throughout the novel – what do you think of all of these and do they have anything in common?

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.  

Jane Doe and The Cradle of all Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan

Wow – Every time I picked up this book I knew that my heart would be racing, I’d be skipping words and I’d be turning the page before I had even finished reading it.

It’s just one of those books that you shouldn’t read before bed if you need to relax!

Jane Doe and The Cradle of all Worlds is a cross between some of my favourite stories: Narnia, Indiana Jones, Nevermoor and Pan’s labyrinth.

It’s fast paced and action packed but the characters are so enchanting that it is not only the adventure you will want to read about, you’ll also want to get to know these character’s so much better.

The protagonist – Jane Doe is a young teenager who hates the town she lives in as the people have blamed her for anything bad that has happened for as long as she can remember.

Jane’s luck changes (well she might not see it that way!) when the largest earthquake to hit the town starts and her father, who has been bed bound and speechless since she was little opens the door to the mysterious manor and leaves without saying a word.

The manor is filled with rooms that change, rooms filled with traps and rooms that may haunt you forever. But all Jane knows is that she needs to save her father and bring him home – the only problem is that the doorway to home has been sealed and it is only through the help of an interesting character name Hickory and a mysterious girl that she may someday find her father and make it out of the manor – alive (and sane)

Jane is a character that all young readers will love, she speaks their language, thinks what they would be thinking but also shows courage and determination is the most difficult times. She will give those readers who aren’t into the bigger and longer fiction stories a reason to keep turning the pages with her sarcastic remarks and interesting thought bubbles.

Jane Doe and the Cradle of all worlds is only the first book in this series and it is one that readers will be waiting for!

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The Cradle of All Worlds: The Jane Doe Chronicles

GO ON AN ADVENTURE – ECO STYLE!

 

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng

Have you ever made something  from scratch?

And then been able to give that object to someone else?

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng is a wonderful story about friendship, sharing, kindness and the beauty of being able to make things yourself.

Ash is a shy little bird and she doesn’t have many friends until she starts to use her wonderful gift – her ability to create clothing and objects from a beautiful piece of red material.

Ash creates many things including a shirt, arm chair cover, a dress and a scarf! She spreads her ability and love all over the neighbourhood and brings joy to so many through the simple act of kindness.

Ash could have kept the red material all to herself and made so many wonderful things from it but she chose to share and make other animals lives happier.

Ash dresses her friends is a wonderful story about how we can be kind to others, how we can share our gifts to make others happy and how we can make things on our own.

Many of us resort to the shops to buy things for friends – perhaps this book will inspire you to make something of your own next time a friend needs a present, a pick me up or just a reminder of how important they are in your life.

The illustrations really highlight the friendships being developed, the happiness each gift brings and the vibrancy of the material Ash uses in each creation.

I loved the red material Ash used and hopefully one day I might just find something made out of it!

So what else can you do at home?

SELF ESTEEM

  • Explore the gifts your child has. Talk to them about what they can do to make others happy and to show them how special they both are.
  • Look at how Ash felt shy and sad and explore times your child has felt like this.
  • How do friends make us feel good?

SUSTAINABILITY

  •  Ash made things herself out of one piece of material. Where do your clothes come from and who made them? Can you make the effort to buy more clothes from locally and ethically made sources?
  • Explore the Fashion revolution to see how you can be more aware of how your clothes were made, what they are made of and where they go once you have finished with them.

ART

  • Explore the techniques used by Fu (contrast between red and black/grey) and how this impacted the story. Create your own artwork using two contrasting colours.
  • Create your own print like the red material.

COMMUNITY

  • How can you play a bigger role in your community? Explore different groups or community days and how you can be a part of them so you know more people around you.

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Ash Dresses Her Friends

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Finn’s Feather by Rachel Noble and illustrated by Zoey Abbott

Finn discovers an amazing white feather right on his doorstep. Could it be from his brother Hamish who is now an angel? 

After the tragic accident of her young son Rachel Noble wrote to help cope with her loss and through this she felt inspired to write a picture book that would help others, especially children who are going through this process of dealing with grief. Finn’s feather is a beautiful and sad yet empowering picture book.

Every body deals with traumatic events differently and this book is one which will inspire hope into both adults and children who have had to deal with death and grief.

Young children deal with death very differently to how adults do and this book looks at grief through the eyes of the older brother who finds a feather on his doorstep and believes it has been sent by his brother Hamish who is now an angel.

Young Finn doesn’t dwell on the sadness of the feather but rather the joy this beautiful white feather can bring. He takes it to school and alongside a friend they climb trees, make a castle, play hide and seek and of course tickle each other.

The feather is a beautiful metaphor for the loss of his brother and shows that when we have lost someone we always hope that they are nearby somehow.

But although Finn feels joy with his feather he also wishes his brother was still with him.

As the day wears on the feather becomes dirty and stuck up in a tree but with some help he is able to get it back down and after this his  friends tell him to “Hold it tight”  – such a beautiful line to come from friends who are observing someone who is dealing with grief.

We can hold onto our memories of loss or trauma but we also need to see the joy in life.

The note written by Finn on the final page leaves a heart-wrenching yet positive feeling and shows the importance of talking about how we feel, supporting each other and allowing ourselves to feel how we do about events like these.

Finn’s feather did make me cry but it also made me realise how important it is to talk and connect through those hard times, let ourselves cry, let ourselves be sad but also to let ourselves continue to see joy in life.

Finn’s feather is a story to share with anyone who has or has not lost someone in their life. It is a celebration of life and a celebration of memories. It reminds us that just because someone isn’t here on Earth with us anymore, it doesn’t mean your relationship with them is over.

If you have a child who is dealing with grief I highly recommend buying or borrowing this book. 

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 Finn's Feather

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? by Tania Cox and Jedda Robaard.

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? 

Do you leave it? Pull it? Or ask some friends to help you investigate? 

All this is explored through a simple and fun text written by Tania Cox and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

With a repeated refrain : What’s at the end of this piece of rope? , a small girl enlists the help of many friends to help her to work out where this tightly held rope is anchored to.

Working together is a key concept in this story and with engaging and fun illustrations, young children will see how important and fun team work can be.

The young reader will love chanting the refrain and also wondering which animal friend will help next. You can ask questions to your young reader as you skip along through the pages helping them to develop their inquiry based thinking.

Enjoy reading this book aloud or encourage your early reader to read to you. Not only is this book a great early reader it is also a great book to spend time perusing through the images of the animals who fill up this book with warmth.

Buy Now – click here: What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What else can you do with this book?

  • Question – what else can be at the end of a piece of rope?
  • Question – should we always pull ropes by ourselves?
  • Question -Why do we need other people to help us sometimes?
  • Which animals are in this story, write down their names and the countries that they come from.
  • Look at the sounds they make as they pull the rope. Can you think of some other sounds that you might make when something is heavy?
  • Why are there not many words in this picture book? Explore the importance of pictures.
  • Please and thank you are used quite a bit in this story – why are these words important?

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. 

Without warning Ruby’s mother is killed in outback Australia. Her mother, a herpetologist  leaves a gaping hole in Ruby and because of this sudden loss, she doesn’t know how to cope.

Ruby’s father and grandmother are also struggling to deal with this loss and we see this in the first chapter when they race to get away from Australia and on a boat into India without warning – to manage an abandoned hotel at the foot of the Himalayas.

At first Ruby hates living in this remote location but as time goes on she makes a friend, learns about the mountains and sees how much help she can be to the local wildlife.

But despite this new found love of the mountains she soon discovers a dark secret that it hides – poachers. These poachers are on the hunt for endangered leopards and will do anything to hide what they are up to.

You will fall in love with the mountains of India and be in awe of the determination and strength that Ruby displays despite the loss she has just experienced.

Children will relate to Ruby and Praveen and their ability to see beyond what adults see when it comes to making a difference in the world.

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth is an excellent read, set out in small chapters and adorned with leopard print, young readers will find this book a page turner yet a mananagable one.

When the mountains roared is a great book for a class novel study as it links in India and Australia, animal conservation and natural disasters.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Find out where Ruby moves to from reading the description in the novel. Work out how long it would take to get there by boat and bus.

– Does this book have any similarities to Jess Butterworth’s other book ‘Running on the roof of the world”?

– Where in the world are animals poached and why does this happen? Explore what poaching means and measures in place to stop this from happening.

– Explore the differences in children’s lives around the world. Compare Ruby’s life in Australia to Praveen’s life in India as a goat herder.

– What are superstitions and why do they exist? Do you have any superstitions? How can superstitions be helpful and harmful?

– How many leopards (different types) are left in the world? Is poaching the only reason they are endangered?

Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush. A school day smile by Zanni Louise.

Tiggy has a big imagination. She sometimes has BIG feelings too. But everything is A-Okay, because Tiggy has a very special secret….

Zanni Louise has created the beautifully told story of Tiggy. A young girl who is starting her first ever day at school – and of course like most children is worried about making new friends, learning new things and being brave in an unfamiliar place.

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A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

A School Day Smile (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush  – A school day smile, is part of a new series for younger readers. Parents can read this story out loud or encourage new readers to have a go themselves. This is a wonderful story for beginning readers and one which can foster a love of reading.

Accompanied with delightful black and white illustrations by Gillian Flint, (with magical colour splashed in at the right moments) The reader meets Tiggy and her friends as they learn how to cope in a difficult situation – the first day of school!

Tiggy has her magic paintbrush with her all the time, and it can always help her out whenever she needs it. But sometimes having a magic paintbrush stops Tiggy from being herself  and Tiggy needs to be brave enough to realise when it is time for her to rely on the goodness inside herself rather than the paintbrush.

Tiggy shows the characteristics many new Kindergarten children will show when they are in a new situation but she also shows resilience and self belief.

Children will love this idea of a magic paintbrush and it will possibly give them that little boost in the back of their mind when they feel nervous, worried or sad.

Tiggy and the magic paintbrush is a new favourite at our house and we can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Check out my interview with Zanni Louise coming soon to this blog.!

What else can you do with this book?

Here are some questions you can ask children after they have read the book –

  • Why are the illustrations in black and white (except for the paintbrush)?
  • Have you ever felt like Tiggy?
  • How did you behave when you were in a new situation?
  • Do you have a magic paintbrush to help you when you are nervous, worried or sad?
  • If you had a magic paintbrush, how would it help you?
  • Could the magic paintbrush cause trouble?
  • How might Tiggy feel if she loses it?
  • Do you think Tiggy always needs her paintbrush? Think about what she realise when she looked in the mirror.

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas

Know someone starting school this year? Or starting a new school?

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas might be one to share with them before they start on their way.

This story was written in 2008, has won many awards and has had many teacher notes and activities written about it, so I won’t add to it all but I really just wanted to highlight how great this story is for young children.

This book shows the young reader how important it is to be true to ourselves and that true friends will see who we really are and will love us for who we are – not what we have.

We can teach our youngsters about popularity and how it is fleeting (despite the messages the media throw at us). Peter Carnavas shows children through this store the importance of  knowing who we are and how by knowing, we will find those who will support us through good and bad times.

We have loved reading Jessica’s box and it is one we will continue to visit in times to celebrate friendship or times when we need to re assess the difficult journey friendship can take.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Play a major role in your child’s education so you are aware of how they are feeling. Talk to them about school, read with them after school and be involved when you can.

– Talk about things you are good at and ask your child what they think they are good at. Tell each other what you are both good at. Do this as often as you can.

– For older readers – find times in the media when people have become popular because of one thing but then faded because that thing was gone or no longer popular?

– How is social media like Jessica’s box? How can we become popular on Facebook or instagram? Does this popularity really count?

How will you play a role in order to help your child thrive?

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

If you had one wish what would it be?

Esme Silver lost her mother 7 years ago and has just witnessed her father remarry a women she doesn’t like at all. She is not only upset at her father for remarrying but also upset that he wants to move on when she can’t. Her mother went missing 7 years ago for no apparent reason and it is this unknowing that draws Esme to a small cottage she has been told to avoid for the last 7 years after her father and his new wife depart on their honeymoon.

Not only does Esme discover more about her mother, she also discovered another world – and this world has many more links to her mother than she would like to think.

When Esme steps into this other world, she makes many true and good friends in the city of Esperance who help her to find out what has happened to her mother. She shows determination, clever thinking and a strong will as she journeys through a city which constantly surprises her with it’s twists and turns around every corner.

Esme’s wish is a marvellous story and a definite page turner. It is full of magic and wonder,imagination and marvel, creativity and friendship. Not only does Esme travel Esperance to find her mother, she travels through it to also save the city from certain destruction.

Esme’s wish by Elizabeth Foster is a book for readers aged 11 and up and perhaps one that may have a sequel….who knows? Perhaps I will have to ask Elizabeth Foster herself…..

So what else can you do with this book?

– Draw a map of Esperance and surrounding islands after you have read the book

– Make a list of the different gifts people can have. How do people have gifts in our world? Are they as revered as they are in this story? Are all gifts equal in this world and our own?

– What is a pearl made out of? Why are they precious? Can you find any stories throughout history related to pearls?

– As you read list the metaphors and similes and other types of figurative language. This book is rich in this type of language and a great way to study how you can add more to your writing.

There are so many more wonderful activities to do with this book – it’s a great book to share or read as a group!

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Have you ever felt like no one really understands you?

Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you just set off and found someone who did? 


Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise is a wonderful tale about friendship, being yourself and acceptance.

I really love this book. I have read it to classes during library time and to my own children many many times.

There is so much to gather from this story, as mentioned above, but overall it is just a really lovely story.

Archie is a bear (but he is really a boy) who goes wondering out into the forest with his homemade honey sandwiches. He meets a friendly boy (who is really a bear) and together they nibble on honey sandwiches and teach each other different things.

As the night grows dark they try to keep each other warm but end up returning to Archie’s house where they sleep warmly by the fire under a warm quilt.

The friendship between the bear and the boy is enviable, they take care of each other, are gentle to each other despite both knowing that they are clearly not what they say they are and they love hanging out together.

Friendship, acceptance and kindness are traits that we want to encourage in our children and this book really shows this in a subtle way.

We need to learn to accept people for who they are, accept people for what they believe in and accept them into our lives even if they are different.

David Mackintosh’s illustrations are bold and simple. They show enough of the story but don’t overload the page. The use of watercolors in the background help the reader to focus more on the main characters and the actions they are taking.

Not only does this book have a calming effect as we watch the friendship blossom, it also shows us how simple life and friendship can be.

Archie and the Bear is a beautiful read, definitely one for your bookshelf!

That’s not a daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

Does your child know how flowers grow?

Do they know that all flowers were once seeds?

That’s not a daffodil is a beautiful story about a young boy’s relationship with his next door neighbour. The neighbour, Mr Yilmaz, shows the boy a daffodil – but to the boys surprise it is only a bulb (which Tom – the young boy –  thinks is an onion)


Not understanding the time it takes for a seed to grow into a flower or the things you need to do to nurture the seed so it grows, young Tom is always bewildered when Mr Yilmaz refers to the pot of dirt with the bulb inside, as a daffodil.

As we see the bulb slowly grow, we also read creative similes, metaphors and figurative language that cleverley describe the daffodil in each state of growth.

The relationship between Tom and Mr Yilmaz also blossoms as the daffodil grows, just showing how simple acts of kindness can lead us to learning about someone we may not have always chosen to know.

That’s not a daffodil by Elizabth Honey was a CBCA shortlisted book in 2012 and is definately one for the home bookshelf. It not only teaches children about plant growth but also the importance of patience, kindness and the ability to see beyond the simple picture.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Grow some seeds. Find some pots and plant seeds and watch them grow. If you can, keep a seed diary so your child can monitor when the seed is watered and how long it will take to grow into a plant.
  • Learn about the life cycle of a plant or an animal, discover how long other things take to grow and what they need for survival.
  • Imagine a world without regular rain or temperatures that are too cold – what might happen to plants that rely on rain and warmth?
  • Enjoy some green space and digging – it is a wonderful activity for the soul.

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss.

Bunny loves reading books and listening to stories being read by the librarian during summer.

But when the weather cools down storytime moves inside and bunny can no longer hear the stories she loves as she thinks that animals are not welcome in the library .

Bunny can’t live without her books so she comes up with a plan to sneak into the library and borrow some books by herself!

Bunny entices her friends and they all end up in the library every night until the librarian discovers them…what will she do?

You’ll have to read it to find out!

Gwendolyn by Juliette MacIver

img_2515Gwendolyn by Juliette MacIver and Illustrated Terri Rose Baynton ( ABC books.) is a playful story about  a penguin who lives in the jungle very happily. She loves the weather, the colour and the friends and she is always very optimistic until she realises that she really wants to be a penguin in the Antarctic.

Despite her jungle friends trying to change her mind, she is very determined to see her old ‘real’ home and eventually arrives in Antarctica.

Gwendolyn is excited by living back in Antarctica and meeting many different family members but soon realises the jungle is the place for her and that she can be different  – and it’s ok.

This book highlights the importance of optimism and friendship. It also looks at the fact that anywhere can be out home – as long as we are happy and loved.

This is a great book to read to children who may experience self doubt. Trying new things can be a scary thought but with encouragement and self belief, we can do anything!

Gwendolyn!

Thirst By Lizzie Wilcock

Thirst by Lizzie Wilcock was on the shortlist in the Wilderness Society’s  Environment award for children’s literature.

thirstI loved reading this book from start to finish. Perhaps I am a little biased as I do love the Australian outback and the flippant nature of it. I love the sense of freedom and would love to learn more about bush foods and bush survival. The two main characters in this story had their troubles but were so strong in their ability to survive under dire circumstances.

This is a great book for older readers and I think all students will love it. Thirst  follows two young children on a journey through the Australian desert. The imagery in the story is amazing and you can really feel that you are a part of the outback.

Kuranda and Solomon come across many difficulties both physical and mental as they search for freedom and somewhere to call home. There are lots of layers in this story but they’re not complex to unravel. I loved that it showed the kids’ deepening love for the outback environment while never trivialising the harshness of it. It might even inspire your family to take a trip into the desert to learn about the wonders that abound in it.

Follow up activities

  •  Grab a map of Australia and work out where Kuranda and Solomon may have been.
  • Explore the six seasons of Kakadu. 
  • What is bush food – could you survive in the desert for days or weeks?
  • Explore foster care – discuss the pros and cons of the system that is currently in place. Look at the emotional effects foster care can have on children – both positive and negative.
  • Plan a family camping trip. Work out what you would need to take for at least 3 days of camping where there are little amenities.

 

 

The importance of nature play. 

There is a lot of new research coming out on the importance of play and the importance of play outside.

As a teacher I have always observed children learning best when they are in a relaxed and informal environment. In saying this, there is always a place for teaching and mentoring but there is also a place for exploration, making mistakes and collaboration.


I love being outside – it just makes me happier. I love being in natural areas where there is less human activity and more time to sit back and admire what is around us. So when I became a librarian I couldn’t think of a better way to get children outside than through books!

Research shows that playing outside increases happiness, problem solving and motivation. When children play outside they use more imagination as there are less boundaries, they can problem solve and they can learn about the world they live in through their 5 senses.


Now, you often think of books as an inside activity – which they can be (and often are) and this is fine BUT what if we can take ideas from these books and use them to inspire some outdoor play?

Here are some books which might inspire you to take a trip outside!

 

Go on an adventure

We are going on a bear hunt

This is a classic book that we all know and love. It is so much fun to read and sing to and is a favourite of ours.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Go on your own bear hunt! Find some swishy grass, splashy water and sloshy mud – lots of fun!
  • Can you go on a native Australian animal hunt? Which animals live in your area?
  • Pack a bag and go on a short hike. Think of the different things you need to cope with storms, rain, wind and sunshine!

Worm explorers

The worm who knew karate by Terry Denton and Jill Lever

The worm who knew karate By Jill Lever and Terry Denton is a hilarious book about a worm who decides to become a braver and stronger worm through the art of karate! Which made me think….how can we help our children to build their confidence? And what do those worms in my worm farm really get up to? Maybe it’s a secret dojo I have never been aware of….

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • go and dig up some dirt – find some earth worms!
  • Go and buy a worm farm or explore your local community garden worm farm.
  • Feed the worms – what do they like best?

Create a garden

The curious Garden by Peter Brown

One boy’s quest for a greener world, one garden at a time.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a book based on fact. The Highline is an abandoned railway line that people began to take back over and return it back to nature and open spaces for people to enjoy.

It is a poignant book as many cities, suburbs and towns are starting to explore how they can become greener, literally.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Keep a seed diary – plant a seed and watch it grow! (use quick growing seeds like herbs, beans or sunflowers)
  • Look at a local park or your own backyard and redesign it so there is more growing and more green.
  • Make an inventory of the nature in your area. Discuss biodiversity of plants and animals.

Explore insects

Mechanics by Lance Baldachin

Mechanica: A beginner’s field guide by Lance Baldachin is a picture book for those who love the earth but wonder what is to become of it if we keep treating it the way we do.

It is circa 2250 and the earth is devoid of any natural life due to human destruction and consumption. However, mechanical creatures have been made to replace what was lost – though these are not always as kind as they look!

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Find some insects and sketch them. Look at how they move their arms and legs. Try to recreate an insect out of natural material.
  • Create an insect house for your local insects. Many insects are lacking in city gardens as there are not enough small holes for them to live in.
  • Look for signs of life cycles of insects  – these can be hard to find but it will make your child look in the small places that we often overlook.

Explore new places

Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild

The Bogtrotter is a delightful creature that lives in the bog – a gloomy, marshy, mushy bog! Bogtotter, written by Margaret Wild is a book that focuses on belonging, trying new things, playing outdoors, loneliness and discovery.

The illustrations by Judith Rossell are marvellous, really bringing to life the Bogtrotter and his feelings.

The reader steps through into the life of the Bogtrotter, watching him start off doing the same thing every day, not knowing how to make a change. It is through talking to other animals around him and picking a flower that he sees that there is more to his bog.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Go to a new park, a new national park or any outdoor space.
  • Walk a path you walk everyday but do it slowly and try to notice the small things as you go along. Talk to people, say hello and notice what is happening.
  • Take something outside that you normally do inside – does it make a difference?

 

Imagination

Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn

I loved reading Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn and illustrated by Gaye Chapman to my children, the pictures really transport you to an imaginative world full of crazy creatures, whispy clouds and natural beauty. We loved looking at each page and imagining what Georgie was thinking about, what she was playing and how the others could play to.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Take some ribbons, balls, string and scraps and see what you can do with them outside rather than a specific toy.
  • Create new names for the local insects, trees and flowers in your garden or local park – imagination!
  • Go somewhere or find something that you think is incredibilia!

Being Green

Leaf by Stephen Michael King

Leaf shows the love of nature that children can have when given the chance. It also shows the adult world and how everything needs to be neat, tidy and regimented. A sad story on adults behalf!

In this magical story a little boy  grows his own seedling in his hair and loves it, cares for it and shares many adventures with it. He spends every waking minute finding the best way to care for his seedling.

Unfortunately it’s time for a haircut and the adult world tries to take his small tree away from him. However, his determination and resilience shines through and he continues to care for the tree as he grows older.

This is a beautifully drawn book which not only intrigues the reader but really hits the spot on how we need to take a step back and let the natural world become a part of our daily lives.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Perform a puppet show outside with leaves as the characters – draw on them and create a story!
  • What can you grow out of different substances? Explore how seeds grow and what they need to grow.
  • How heavy are different trees. Use problem solving to try and work this out.

 

I hope this has inspired you to read some books and play outside! I have many more ideas each week on my blog so please sign up to flickingonthebook.wordpress.com

 

 

Incredibilia

You may ask: why is this linked to environmental books?

I decided to link it because it is about a young girl who has a beautiful imagination. She is creative, she dreams and she plays.

We need more creative people who can dream big and believe that their dreams can be acted upon to make a difference in the world. The world needs our help in so many ways and by linking creative thinking to our daily lives we can encourage everyone to think outside the box and look for ways we can make a change.

I hope this blog full of books and reading tips can help someone to make a difference! (as inspired by my weekly email from Alice Nicholls: The Whole Daily.

incredibilia

I loved reading Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn and illustrated by Gaye Chapman to my children, the pictures really transport you to an imaginative world full of crazy creatures, whispy clouds and natural beauty. We loved looking at each page and imagining what Georgie was thinking about, what she was playing and how the others could play to. Another great blog I follow has explored some simple ideas about play in her own backyard and the amazing possibilities a tree can offer!

You too can read this book to yourself, to your class or to your own children.

Questions to ask

  •  What is Georgie thinking?
  • Why won’t the other children play with her?
  • Draw what you love to think about.
  • Draw an imaginative world where happiness, love and peace reign. (or write a story for those who prefer to write)
  • Max and Harriet didn’t think Georgie’s imagination games were worthwhile. How can we make sure we include everyone in our play?
  • Why do we need imagination?
  • Research some successful people who have dreamt big when others didn’t believe them. Here are some starter websites: failedatfirst  Bigdreamers successandfailure

This links in closely with the Kids Matter units of work in that it raises children social and emotional intelligence.

This book looks at:

Self Awareness: be proud of your passions. Be proud of your dreams. Don’t let others opinions hamper you.

Social Awareness: We can include others by merging our ways of learning together. Sometimes great things can come out of collaboration.

Relationship skills: Learning how to play together, how to include others and how we can play fairly.