Cicada by Shaun Tan

Another brilliant book by Shaun Tan – Cicada is a book with subtext for both older children and adults but with illustrations that young children will enjoy too.

Cicada is a story about a cicada who works in a dreary office building, performing the same task day in, day out with no recognition or appreciation of the effort he puts in.

Cicada is treated poorly, ignored by colleagues and constantly calls out ‘Tok, Tok, Tok”, which could represent the noise of a keyboard, the clicking of a clock, the noise cicadas make or perhaps even the monotone thoughts of the office workers. Whatever you take it to mean, it shows the bland existence of humans and this cicada.

But all this changes on Cicada’s last day of work, where instead of having a farewell party or a thank you handshake he simply packs up his desk and ascends the stairs.

The stairs to say farewell to this greyscale existence.

The stairs to something much more wonderful, so much so that the cicada wonders why the humans haven’t worked it out yet.

I won’t spoil it here – you’ll have to read it yourself!

So what else can you do with this book at home and at school?

Younger readers.

Younger readers may not see the subtext of this book but other issues can be explored such as:

– Explore the life cycle of a cicada and the time the spent underground compared to the time above.

– Think about what you would do if you had to live in a world without colour, creativity or fun. How would you feel?

– What does ‘Tok, Tok, Tok” mean to you? What sound would you make if you worked in a world like this?

Why do the humans think he is worse than them? Why do they ignore him or make him go to the toilet out of the building (this can be linked to some women’s prejudice issues of the past).

Why do you think the cicada never left his job?

– What is the importance of getting out into the world around us and exploring more than just making money?

– Why do we need nature? Why do we need to explore?

– Is money really that important? (Big idea – take time to discuss this)

And here are some more in depth ideas if you wish to study this book for older readers:

Notes from Hachette, click here.  

Join my facebook group – growing globally and socially conscious children to swap ideas to help young children tackle the big issues!

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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?

Hark it’s me, Ruby Lee! by Lisa Shanahan and Binny.

Ruby Lee is a little girl with a very BIG imagination

Ruby Lee is a young girl who loves school and loves helping but never seems to get chosen for the jobs she really wants to do. Until one day, when the chosen helpers are away, Ruby Lee and her friend George Papadopoulos finally gets the opportunity to take a message to the office.

However, Ruby Lee’s amazing imagination takes them a little off the track and no where near the office where the measure needs to be! Where they end up will surprise you and the colourful illustrations by Binny will allow you to extend your imagination even more!

Back in the classroom, Ruby Lee, despite her best efforts to deliver the message, is disappointed….. until a pigeon flies into the classroom, and that is when she really discovers what she can do best.

Lisa Shanahan integrates the ideas of creativity, friendship and finding your gifts into this story – showing the young reader that it is really important to be aware of your gifts and not focus on what others do best, but what you do best.

A great read for those starting or continuing pre-school or primary school as it really highlights the importance of friends and the importance of believing in what you can do best.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Look at the end papers – why are there small birds used?

– What do you think George Papadopoulos’ background is?

– Where did Ruby Lee and George travel do on their message adventure? Create your own story about somewhere you might go in-between your classroom and the office.

– What are your gifts? Write down 5 things you are really good at and proud of. If you have trouble ask a friend.

Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes

What have you decided to do today after breakfast?

Build a rocketship?

Explore outer space?

That’s just what our adventurous character – Scout – has decided to do!

Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes is a fun and imaginative picture book that takes us on a journey with young Scout who is described as an inventor, explorer and a dreamer.

Scout has built a rocket ship and today is the day they are going to zoom off and explore the solar system.

Scout and the trusty rocket ship – Beattie – visit the planets and their personalities. Each planet is represented by a different animal and I found as I read this book out loud to young children that it really helped them to connect with these space beings which are so far away and can at times be difficult to understand.

Each planet smiles at Scout and Beattie, welcoming them to their zone and showing off just how big, small or coloured they are.

We even get to visit Pluto – who is so small and far away (and not a real planet by scientific standards) but very very helpful!

Sha’an’s illustrations are delicate and colourful. Each planet is really brought to life through the idea of an animal and the adventure Scout embarks on does not seem daunting when there are friendly creatures and a caring rocket ship along the way.

Zoom is a simple story but told so well. Children are engaged right from the start with the simplicity of always starting a day with a good breakfast. I also loved that the main character Scout was not outlined as being a boy or a girl so that both boys and girls can identify with being a scientist, adventurer and thinker!

What can you do with this book?

 –  Imagine what animals you think the different planets are like. Draw what they look like and how they act, using information about the planets to support the ideas.

– Design what you think earth would look like if you were in outer space.

– Start a diary with the words – But we all need our breakfast…..

-This picture book is full of adjectives – find as many as you can. Can any of these adjectives be replaced with a new adjective?

-CRASH, GATHUNK and FIZZ are all onomatopoeia words, can you think of some more that you might hear in outer space?

 

Danny Blue’s Really Excellent Dream by Max Landrak

How would you feel if you lived in a world where everything was the same?

Would you accept? Would you rebel?

Perhaps take a read of this story and see where both those paths might take you.


Danny Blue lives in a world where everything is blue –  bowls, spoons, chair and table. And at first Danny is pretty happy about this blue world. It is all he knows, he is happy and so is everyone else it seems.

That is until one day Danny has a Really Excellent Dream (R.E.D.) which he just can’t shake.

Danny takes it upon himself to follow his dream despite many people around him telling him otherwise . He uses the ideas from his dream and through perseverance he discovers what else is out there. Danny Blue shows determination and by following his dream he begins to make a difference in his blue world.

Danny Blue is a strong character who shows self doubt at first but then displays the ability to see that his idea can work and that it will benefit those around him.  He also shows that even when those around you don’t support you, you need to give things a go – because you just never know!

Max Landrax has cleverly illustrated this picture book. Children love the pictures and in this story the illustrations add more depth to Danny and his different activities. Danny is portrayed beautifully as a tiny boy living in an adult world but with a big dream – and each illustration entices the reader to love Danny and his project even more.

Danny Blue’s R.E.D., shows how society can really take hold of the individual and how the individual can just go on accepting what the status quo is.

Children will feel empowered after reading this story as Danny Blue is a young boy and despite being told his ideas were not possible by the adults in his world, he was still able to make a change.

As parents we have a lot of influence on the young people in our lives and we need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to think for themselves.

How can you add more to this book?

 – Before you turn the last page ask children to predict what Danny Blue’s next dream will be about.

– What do you think Yellow would stand for?

– Research some famous inventors who have changed history despite being told they couldn’t make a difference.

– Research some famous people in history or perhaps even today who have done something that others thought they couldn’t. Look at people who have made changes that have helped society to become a better place.

– Design a world where everything is the same. Work out what would have to change in your world if you were to be similar to everyone else.

– Discuss – If we all lived in a world where we all agreed would we need elections? Would this be a good or bad thing for us all?

– Have you ever had a really excellent dream? Discuss dreams and try to keep a journal for a week to see what you dream about.