Snap review: His name was Walter by Emily Rodda

I’ve just finished reading this new book – His name was Walter by Emily Rodda. 💫 📖

Mystery and magic surround this book along with a haunted house, friendship and of course a book- that is so much more important than any of the children in this story ever realised when they started reading the first page.

Loved this book – one that could not be put down.

Children will love this as they will not only be guessing about what might happen next, they will also fall in love with all of the characters (and perhaps dislike a few quite a lot!)

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Wide Big World by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Isobel Knowles

Difference is everywhere, just look and see. This whole – wide-big -world is wondrous unique.

 

The sing song nature of this picture book along with the big bright illustrations tantalises all of the senses and brings about great discussions about the diversity of the world.

We look at the differences between people and the differences in nature, we see differences in the weather and differences in how we see the world.

Wide Big world highlights the differences in all of us – but shows that these differences make the world a wonderful place to live in.

As we travel through the story we see that it is a wonderfully wide big world that we live in and we need to see the joy in everything that makes it wonderful.

Children will see that it doesn’t matter what we look like or where we live-they will see that kindness and happiness rule above all and the appreciation that every day is a gift.

Wide big world is a wonderful celebration of the world we live in and a great book to start many discussions about how we can all be better people in the community we live in.

Wisp by Zana Fraillon

One day, a Wisp flew in on the evening wind. Dust rose up in swarms around it, feet trampled it into the dirt, nobody noticed it.

Nobody, except Idris.

Zana Fraillon , author of the Bone Sparrow and The ones that disappeared –  has again touched upon such an important topic that needs more action – the people who have to live in refugee camps for long periods of time.

So many people flee their home countries every day in our world and most of these people end up in Refugee camps because they have left  everything they own behind them.

However, The story of wisp focuses on hope- hope that one day there will be more to life than just wire fences, tents and desolation.

A small boy by the name of Idris sits alone one day only to notice a small wisp floating around the camp, resting on those it passes by.

With each touch, the Wisp brings magic. With each touch, the wisp brings memories.

Memories get passed around on the wisp as adults and older children remember the wonderful things that had happened to them – before they became refugees and  lived in the camp.

But when Idris, the main character of the story holds the wisp close, nothing happens, as all he knows is life in the camp.

But Idris sees past this and  realises that the wisp for him can be a promise – a promise of life beyond the fence, a life full of excitement, adventure and love.

Wisp allows the reader to see that there is hope and with continued pressure on the government to help there people, someday they will all be able to make wonderful memories again.

So what else can you do? 

Join my facebook group where we talk about ways we can inform children and the wider community about the big issues facing us today:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sociallyconsciouschildren/about/

Teacher notes: https://www.hachette.com.au/content/resources/9780734418043-teachers-resources.pdf

Visit: http://refugeecampauburn.com.au and book a time to visit what a refugee camp looks like.

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Act: Join groups that send books and packages to children in dentention: https://befriendachildindetention.wordpress.com

Even something as small as a letter can bring hope to a child in detention. 

Ask:

  • How can we give children in detention hope?
  • Explore other books about refugees – do these all give hope?
  • Draw your own wisp and draw what would be inside of it if you had to live in a refugee camp.

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.  

Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

A girl stands before a wire, anxious about walking across the tightrope that is so far above the ground.

The wind whips her cheeks and the thunder clouds growl – but she knows she needs to walk it.

Courage, confidence and self belief are strong themes throughout this picture book – but they all come with something else – support from those around you.

We can all have confidence, courage and belief in ourselves but none of this will continue to reign if others around us do not support us.

The young girl in this story is experiencing something that many young children will go through at any time of their life – anxiety, self doubt and loss of confidence. The wire represents the hard times, times when we have to try something new or events that make us uncomfortable. But, with the support of those we love, out toes can curl around the wire a little bit tighter, we can stand a little bit taller and we can walk a little bit more confidently.

Girl on a Wire is a simple yet inspiring story.

Accompanied by the painted illustrations of Elise Hurst, with colours that represent the girls thoughts, we can not only read how the girl is feeling, we can also see how she is feeling.

Girl on a Wire is a an excellent story to start conversations about self confidence and the power of believing in yourself . It is also a story to encourage the awareness that we can allow those who you trust to help support you too – we don’t need to do it all alone.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Explore with your child people who they trust to help them when they need support.

– Explore times we they have asked for support – did it help?

– Explore times when they didn’t ask for support – what happened, could you still do this big task? Could support have helped you?

ACTIVITY: Draw a wire between two buildings and at one end write something that you really want to be able to do. Along the wire write down the people who need to be there to support you and the things you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

– What do you think the feathers represent? What is a symbol for you to help you get through the tough times?

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Hugs from someone you love or someone who cares for you are just one of those things that can make your day seem so much brighter.

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And that’s why we loved reading The Littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost.

You’ll sail through this book and meet different parents who just love their little ones and the snuggly hugs that they give.

The rhyming and repetition will entrance young readers as will the brightly coloured illustrations.

We loved discussing how the different animals did hug each other with their different sized limbs and bodies. We also wondered how they lived and the different body covering they each had.

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs is a fun book for young readers and a great way to explore the role of parent and child in the animal kingdom!

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Explore how these different animals live.
  • Explore how long babies in each animal group stay with their parents.
  • Look at rhyme and the different words that rhyme with hugs.
  • The end pages are lots of fun to look at – explore the differences between the front and the back.

BUY FROM FISHPOND

 The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs

AND CHECK OUT BIOME’S GREAT PRODUCTS THAT WILL HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON THESE LITTLE THINGS!

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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. 

Buy now from Fishpond

 Finn's Feather

Hey Warrior: A book for kids about anxiety by Karen Young

Anxiety explained: Kids empowered

 

Do you have a child who feels anxious? Do you have a child who worries or perhaps cries over what seems to be nothing? Or perhaps a child that might lack a bit of self confidence?

Then this book is one for your book shelf!


Hey Warrior: A book for kids about anxiety by Karen Young, is a marvellous read aloud story for parent and child. It clearly explains to children what anxiety is and how it can happen to anyone at any time.

The clever way Karen Young has done this is by explaining the part of the brain that causes our body to think it might be in danger – the Amygdala – as a fierce warrior who is there to protect you but needs a name so that you can help it to calm down when there is no real danger at all.

I have read this book only a handful of times to my daughter and straight away it made a difference to how she deals with worrying situations. Her amygdala has a name now and she can tell it to calm down which helps her. This simple act of naming is another tool to add to her toolkit for her future and equip her with skills to deal with anxiety.

Karen Young clearly explains to the young reader what is happening to their body when they feel worried and gives out simple tips that young children can easily remember when in difficult situations.

This book is amazing and is one to read again and again just to remind your little one that emotions do not need to overtake us and that we have the power and strength in our brains to make ourselves even more incredible than we already are.

I hope you can share this book and make a difference to at least one child.

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the possibility of us going on an adventure in a bottle.

June Perkin’s poems are short yet effervescent. They are perfect for reading out loud and some of these poems can also be read as a group. Helen Magisson’s delicate pastel illustrations compliment each poem and add more mystery to those poems which make you sit and wonder; what if?

Not only are these poems full of imaginative places they also bring up issues of endangered animals, loss of habitat and the importance of respecting the land. The beauty of these poems that talk about cane toad invasion and loss of natural habitat is that the message can be quickly understood – something that is really important when trying to educate young children.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a wonderful anthology and one to share with your young children.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Read the poems out loud – which poems can you read together? Which poems have different characters?
  • Find the poems that have rhyme – do you prefer poems with or without rhyme?
  • Which animals are mentioned in the story are endangered? Find out where these animals live and why they are endangered.
  • What are cane toad poles? Why are cane toads pests?
  • Rain is mentioned in a few poems – explore how rain can help and hinder the people and animals of the land.
  • Choose a favourite poem and create a short story from this poem. You could explore the idea of writing a story from a bottle or perhaps finding your own fairy tooth.

 

The lost teddy

Last night was our first night without a dear member of our family.


The cuddly, ever present, ever listening, soft blue furred bear named Bollo.

This bear was delivered with a bunch of flowers when my son was born – and I can’t even remember who sent them. But from about one year of age, our son fell in love with him.

His soft fur.

His light blue colouring.

His gentle eyes.

His cuddly body.

Bollo is an adventurous bear and he has been everywhere with us. He has been left behind twice – once at a park (luckily my parent’s were driving through and found him) and then last night.

When we left him at the park our son cried most of the way home – but luckily he was found, photographed, washed and then returned the following day.

But last night was a lot more traumatic, being older he really noticed the missing warmth. Our son cried himself to sleep – we offered cuddles but he said we didn’t have the lovely soft blue fur of Bollo. He woke up three times in the night crying, only soothing words, cuddles and music helped settle him – not the usual snuggle from Bollo.

Teddy bears, blankets and loved toys are so important to little children. They are a loving creature that is alive. The teddy experiences their hopes, joys, fears and adventures. The teddy bear soothes them when they are scared or upset. The teddy bear dances in front of a camera and does those crazy things that the child might not have the confidence to do.

We love Bollo just as much as we love our daughter’s loved teddy called Marty. Marty now sits on the shelf and occasionally comes up to play but I think he might be in need to being hidden away for the future.

Does your child have a Teddy Bear?

How do you think this bear helps your child?

Bollo was found the next day – at daycare and a feast was in order.

This bear just loves Honey toast, snow peas, capsicum and chocolate cake.

Drawn onward by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer

A creative palindromic picture book has arrived in the form of Drawn Onward by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer.


Within this story the reader explore the glass half empty attitude: ‘People who think they are important and precious are wrong” to the glass half full attitude of “Important and precious people who think they are just a tiny speck tossed this way and that can’t hope to do anything at all“.

As the reader engages with each page they see how hopelessness which causes self destruction, darkness and loss can be turned into hopefulness, light and energy. These images have been delicately drawn by Andrew Frazer to give extra meaning to the short sayings written by Meg McKinley

Drawn onward is a powerful picture book written for older readers and a great book to explore slowly with discussion and reflection. The book can be read in it’s entirety but then should be looked back upon so links can be made between how the character recovers from the dark heavy feelings of life.

Many young children are effected by bullying and low self esteem so reading books like this can help the discussion of these issues become easier. As parents and teachers we need to support our children so that they do not feel weighed down by life. The sooner we can raise awareness in our children that there is always hope, they better.

Meg McKinley has cleverly played on words to create this story of hopelessness and hope and it is one that should be shared in all classrooms. Not only does it focus on self concepts it also looks at how if we just play around with words things can sound so much better – and this all relates to how we talk to ourselves.

Drawn onward by Meg McKinley and Andrew Frazer is a great collaboration between author and artist and one that helps us to learn how a simple shift of focus can change our whole perspective.

So what can you do at home or in the classroom?

Literacy

  • Explore Palindromes in words and Phrases – write these down and then draw these to show how simple swaps make a huge difference.
  • Explore synonyms and antonyms for words such as hope, love, light, truth, good, important and precious.

Mental Health

  • Explore times when you have felt like the dark character – how did you remove the heavy rock and reach towards the light? Allow students to explore this individually through picture or word.
  • Explore meditation with children and how helpful just three minutes a day to help ourselves get into the right mindset.

Teacher Notes

Check out these great teacher notes by Fremantle Press

Being a bee by Jinny Johnson and Lucy Davey

Discover the secret life of bees from queens to the waggle dance, hives and honey. 

Have you ever wondered about how your flowers grow so brightly or perhaps how tomatoes grow so rapidly or even how weeds seem to appear all over your garden without the slightest hint of a breeze?


Well, wonder no more – Being a bee by Jinny Johnson and Lucy Davey explains the many facets of a bee through simple explanation and colourful illustrations.

In this lively book  children will love learning about bees. They will be introduced to the delightful queen bee and then shown how the babies are fed and grown in the hive alongside where honey is kept for safekeeping.

We learn how and why bees to a waggle dance and how important it is for them to work together as a team.

The section on beekeeping was eye opening and helped us to really appreciate the tub of honey we have sitting in our cupboard.

The flat design illustrations abound with green and yellow and flashes of colourful flowers – which without bees would be no more.

Being a bee is a great way to introduce your young reader to the importance of bees and the valuable role they play in our society.  There is a lot of news in the media at the moment about the need to bring bees back.

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

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  •  Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

Literacy

  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.

https://www.hachette.com.au/jinny-johnson/being-a-bee

 

The family hour By Tai Snaith

The Family Hour by Tai Snaith. Published by Thames and Hudson

How does your family breakfast time look?

How do you keep your family cool those hot summery days?

Can you imagine living with your family underground?

 

Perhaps you have pondered on these questions…perhaps you have wondered what the animal families might do in their family time too?

The family hour by Tai Snaith explores how different Australian animals spend time together – frog dads sing, seadragon dads carry their babies in their pouch, echidna mothers feed their babies pink milk and Tasmanian devil families love to be noisy!

As we read through this book we had a laugh at some of the  family antics, a hint of jealousy at some and a feeling of wonder with others. The animal world is so intricate and it is wonderful to read books like this one to make these facts much more fun for children.

Tai’s illustrations bring warmth to each family’s activity and just shows that any type of family – no matter which type – are all important to the happiness of each other.

So what can you do?

Learn more about Australian animals, choose one that you do not know much about and find out how they live in Australia.

Learn more about the different types of human families there are and why they are all so different – yet amongst that difference still so important.

Draw an animal family doing something that animals don’t normally do (or perhaps do whilst we aren’t looking….)

 

 

 

So how can you use this book at home?

 

Another wonderful aspect of this story are the extra facts at the back of the book which also include if this animal is endangered – a great place to start a discussion on how we can help them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon by Timothy Knapman 

Soon by Timothy Knapman and Patrick Benson is a beautiful story that highlights the importance of parenting and how we can build our children’s trust and confidence if we lead by example, care for them and show them what confidence is. ⠀


Raju the elephant and his mummy go on an adventure through rivers, forests and mountains but Raju always wants to know when he is going home. ⠀

“When can we go home again?” 

“Soon”

It is only when he returns home that he can reflect and see how important that journey was and how much fun he had. His mother not only looked after him when there were dangers but also showed him the world around him so that he may want to be a part of it himself. ⠀

Soon warms your heart with the mother’s love for her son and her want to show him the world. ⠀

The story is easy to read and easy to listen to. Your child can follow the repetitive nature of the questioning by Raju and the approach the mother takes with each difficulty they come across.

How does this link to parenting? 

We can’t wrap our children in paper bags so

  • allow them to see the world
  • protect them from dangers but let them know what is out there so they become caring global citizens.
  • read to your children so they become aware of global issues in a nicer way as opposed to finding out on the news.
  • inspire them
  • lead by example. Do what you want the world to be. Use less plastic, respect animals and love the outdoors. We need more people in this world who care about the future for everyone – not just the now.

Sustainability and conservation 

  • Elephants need our protecting due to deforestation and hunting. Check where your products come from to ensure they do not support this!
  • Elephants have been used by humans for many different activities. Create a timeline to show the relationship -both negative and positive – between humans and elephants.
  • Do conservation groups really help elephants? Investigate different conservation groups and how they use their money.

BUY NOW

Soon