Just the Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington illustrated by Claire Robertson
ISBN 9780733331640 ABC Books, 2016 RRP $14.99 Teachers Notes Available
Families come in all sorts of shapes and Anna, Chiara, Henry , Izzy and Jack lovingly introduce the reader to theirs. Anna’s family includes her grandfather who does wonderful things with her after school; Chiara has two dads while Henry lives in one house with his mum and his brother and his dad lives in another house. Izzy is loved by her foster family and there’s only Jack and his mum in his family.
But despite the different configurations there are several things that are all the same – each family does the same sorts of things and enjoys them, each family is full of love and hugs and each family is perfect just the way it is.
With its pastel colours and gentle illustrations, this book is an affirmation of all the different types of families that our children live in and encounter through their friendships and that as long as there is plenty of love and hugs and fun, each family is just the right shape for it. The call for greater diversity of the characters in the stories our children enjoy, both in print and onscreen, is starting to be heard and so it is not only delightful but also important that books like this feature predominantly in our library collections – both school and home. Children have the right and the need to be able to see themselves and their situations reflected in the stories they enjoy so their lives are just as normal as others and marginalisation (and bullying) is minimised.
Using the children’s thumbnail sketches of their families in this book as a role model would be a wonderful way to explore the different shapes of families in the classroom and demonstrate that the common thread of love is the most important of all.
The Crayons’ Book of Numbers by Drew Daywalt illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
ISBN 9780008212865 HarperCollins 2016 RRP 16.99
In 2013 Daywalt and Jeffers introduced us to a most unlikely set of heroes, or at least a set that they probably didn’t realise would become so popular they would become a series. But that is what has happened to Duncan’s seemingly innocuous packet of crayons. From the day they refused to be stereotyped any longer in The Day the Crayons Quit to their second adventure when they came home even crankier than ever in The Day the Crayons Came Home their stories and individuality have delighted young readers. Now they are the stars of a number of board books for the very youngest readers beginning with getting them to count them as they find them. Typically though, each crayon does not come quietly – there’s a comment from each one of them as they are discovered.
This is a lovely book for a parent-child exploration helping the littlest one learn numbers and colours at the same time and just delight in the joy of these clever, quirky characters. Why can’t dinosaurs be pink? Why are red and blue so tired and worn out? What else could green do apart from colour in crocodiles? Lots to chat about and speculate on.
reviewed by Barbara Branxton
The Cranky Ballerina ISBN 9780062351241
by Elise Gravel
32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
Ada does not look forward to weekends, particularly Saturdays, because Saturday is ballet day and she HATES ballet. Her leotard is too tight and her tutu too itchy and as for the moves she is forced to do and practise and practise …as she says, “Arabesques are GROTESQUE.” As for pirouettes – well! Even with her little monster sidekick who tries to offer support and encouragement, she just doesn’t like it. For Ada, it is definitely NOT a case of “practice makes perfect”.
But one Saturday morning when she is trying to please Miss Pointy she pirouettes right out the door and into a whole new world, one where she fits perfectly.
Across the world, Saturday mornings see young girls and boys going off to do things like ballet and music and sport and so on because their parents think they should, or they should enjoy them or the parents are reliving their dreams, but how many are like Ada and have no aptitude or passion for the activity? Many were the freezing mornings I cycled many miles to piano lessons thinking of excuses for not having practised until my long-suffering teacher told my mum she was wasting her money. Based on the creator’s one disastrous attempt at ballet when she was four, this story will resonate with those whose abilities, talents and interests lie beyond those that they are expected to do.
The illustrations are very expressive – even the youngest non-reader can tell that this is a story about an unhappy child who seems to have a permanent scowl and for all their apparent simplicity, the feelings of Miss Pointy and the other girls are very obvious. With a predominantly gentle colour scheme, lime greens and bright reds punctuate Ada’s discomfort along with speech bubbles and onomatopoeia giving it a fast pace that will encourage young readers to read it for themselves independently without much trouble. The final page is perfect.
Reviewed by Barbara Branxton
HarperCollins New Big Book Collection
For the giggling masses who love Herve Tullet’s modern classic PRESS HERE and BJ Novak’s #1 NYT bestseller THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES comes this brilliant Australian book that will frustrate … and delight!
ISBN: 9780733334351 RRP 19.99 Teachers Notes
ISBN 9780733334832 RRP 19.99 Teachers Notes soon