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.

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The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

First there wasn’t a hat.

Then….there was.

The Pink Hat written by Andrew Joyner is a simple story with an amazing message. The issues raised in this story are huge and it has done in the simplest of ways – which I love to see in a picture book.

Andrew Joyner came up with the idea of The Pink Hat after the Women’s March took place on the 21st January, 2017. This march was taken up all around the world and it gave the world a message – women’s rights are human rights too.

We loved reading this story, following the hat and seeing all the different people that cam e by the hat, wore the hat or played with it. Each illustration, done in black and white – with pink of course really added to the importance of the hat and the people it made touch with.

As soon as I finished this story I was flooded with questions about why the little girl was marching and why women and girls do not have the same rights – still – as men and boys.  If my young children didn’t see this state of human affairs as fair – why does it still happen?

We need to raise the big issues with our young children so that they can tackle these problems and make changes for the better.

Women’s rights is a huge issue and still so many women around the world do not have the rights they should.

Thank you Andrew Joyner for creating this marvellous picture book. It will be one that I will share again and again – and I know all children will love it and understand the message being sent.

Some fun activities with your students and child

 – View a youtube video of the march and look at the different signs that were made. What do they all mean? Create your own sign that you would use in this protest march.

– Learn to knit your own hat. Crafts like this are being lost because of our love affair with fast fashion. Aim to make something from locally sourced wool.

– List the verbs used to describe how the hat moved. What other action words can be attributed to a hat?

– Investigate where in the world women’s rights are being abused. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Investigate if women’s rights are being abused in your country, City or local town. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Explore other protest marches that have been held on a global scale. Could you create a book like the pink hat to teacher younger people about this issue?

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. 

BUY HERE

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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The second sky by Patrick Guest and Jonathon Bentley

Great things happen when we reach for the sky


Gilbert is a newly hatched penguin and we meet him as he cracks open his egg and looks up towards the sky. He sees flying storm petrels, shearwaters and wandering albatrosses.

He wants to fly too.

Not knowing his own limitations Gilbert sets off on a mission to fly into the sky with the sea birds. He wants to reach the stars, bath in the moonlight and glide through the clouds.

He moves his little wings but they don’t flap as gracefully, he climbs a mountain to soar down below and he grew his feathers as fast as he could but they just weren’t working!

Gilbert shows persistence throughout his failures and never shows that he wants to give up.

And that’s when Gilbert discovers the amazing underwater world that so many of us forget about. He sees the stars, he sees mountain tops and he sees forests. And down deep, down under the water – he finds that he can fly.

Gilbert the penguin is a strong, persistent, creative and determined character – traits that we need to encourage in our children. We need to show them that they can do anything and when they can’t, perhaps they need to look at the world in a different way.

The illustrations by Jonathon Bentley reflect the cold of  Antartica and the stillness of the wintry sky. The story and illustrations portray a very calming atmosphere despite the actions of little Gilbert.

We meet different sea birds and see the varying landscape of sea and sky – a beautiful adventure for any reader to embark upon.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – List the different traits Gilbert has and compare them to yourself. How do you show strength and determination like Gilbert?

– List the different verbs used to describe Gilbert;s movements and then the verbs used to describe how the birds moved.

– Look at the various shades of blue throughout the story – how many can you find and do they have different names?

– What is under the water apart from animals? Examine plants and the geography of oceans. There are mountains, valleys, volcanoes and forests!

– Find out more about penguins and where they live.

– Explore the life cycle of a penguin

– Are any penguins endangered and why?

– Find out more about the various sea birds that live in Antartica. Are they migratory birds or do they live here all year long?

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

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

Or like my page – educateempower on facebook. 

One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml

Feeling a little sleepy but ready to learn about some beautiful Australian animals?


Put on those snuggly pyjamas and have a read of this delightful counting book – One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml.

One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml is a intricately illustrated counting book where one wombat just wants to sleep!

As the wombat tries to snuggle down he is disturbed by furtive frogmouths, playful penguins and bubbly budgerigahs until he sneezes – which you’ll have to read for yourself to find out what happens to all of his noisy guests!

Not only will your child be exposed to counting both forwards and backwards between one and ten but they will also learn a little bit about each cheeky animal throughout the story and then on the back page of the book.

Renee Treml is a very talented artist and each animal has been drawn with expert detail and care – so much so that your child will easily recognise these birds if they are seen in the wild.

SO what can you do at home?

  • Learn more about these cheeky birds who you might hear in the morning if you live near nature reserves.
  • Create your own counting book with ten of your own favourite animals from your country.
  • Renee has used alliteration throughout the story. Explore the words she has used and then think of how you could describe some different Australian animals and birds.
  • Visit Renee’s website and learn about how she creates her images. Perhaps you could try this with young children by scratching onto wet paint to create a picture using lines.
  • Plot on a map where these animals live in Australia. Are any of them close to you? Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Where do wombats live? Explore where wombats usually sleep so they can avoid noisy feathered friends!

 

 

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!