Tag Archives: Ford St Publishing

Jacqueline: a soldier’s daugher – Pierre-Jacques Ober/Jules Ober

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Ford St Publishing

October 2021

ISBN: 9781925804911

RRP: $34.99

In a completely remarkable new format comes this exquisite narrative from a remarkable couple of creators who have turned the art of miniatures into something that will enchant, intrigue and inspire young readers.

Jacqueline is an only child and has always dreamed of having a sister. Little does she know she will find one in the most unexpected and, arguably, difficult circumstances ever. When the Second World War breaks out, Jacqueline’s life is turned topsy-turvy. Her father goes away to the front, she and her mother are sent away to the country. France had become a dangerous and troubled country for its people. The times are dark but there are moments of light. When Papa comes home with a puppy for Jacqueline, she is overjoyed but it is not long after that the Germans invade and poor little Chiffon is shot. Papa is imprisoned and Maman and Jacqueline bravely ride to the town where he is locked up and plan an escape. After making it to the French Free Zone, Papa announces that he is going to join the French African Army, so the whole family travel to Algiers where life is strange and confusing, and for Jacqueline quite lonely as she does not fit in. Then the Allied troops arrive and Jacqueline realises that the long war is finally coming to an end. Two years later Jacqueline is back in a bombed, and defeated Germany and her family move into a requisitioned house along with its German owners. Jacqueline and Hildegard, the daughter of the family, are very antagonistic at first but over time the two girls discover they actually have much in common and their life-long friendship is forged. 75 years later their friendship still holds true.

This is a remarkable story made all the more striking because of the highly creative format in which it is told – modelled miniatures, photography and artistic – it is both highly poignant and evocative. It is exactly the type of picture book that demands to be shared with audiences of all ages and there is no doubt in my mind that as a springboard into studies of history this is a front runner of real distinction.

I would strongly recommend adding it to any collection either primary or secondary and will certainly be drawing attention to it with both my students and my Humanities staff.

Back to School – or not, as the case may be…

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So I’ve had these ones for a while but thought they would be more usefully timed for the start of the school year so was going to post them next week as Queensland schools were due to resume on 24th January. That was the case right up to a few hours ago when the growing explosion of Covid cases – mostly Omicron – propelled the state government to announce a delay in the start of the new school year. What this will look like in reality could still change but at present our kids will, for the most part, start a week later than anticipated and hopefully the peak of this latest wave will have been reached. However, when the kids start, perhaps one or more of these will be perfect for your smaller kiddos.

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten – Peta Baxter & Connie Hemmens. Illustrated by Marjory Gardner.

Ford St Publishing

March 2021

ISBN: 9781925804683

RRP: $16.95

‘Tis a bit exciting to share this one as it is two lovely Queensland peeps who have collaborated to ensure that all the little people who starting off their educational journey, whether Kinder, Child Care or Prep, are happy, confident and looking forward to their new adventure.

Frankie is a real kindergarten dog from North Queensland where both Peta and Connie teach. It’s a super kindy as there are lots of pets including mice, fish and chickens. But Frankie, who lives with Peta, George the cat and Wilson the dachshund is the star attraction. All the children love him and love their busy time at kindy whether it’s doing yoga, gardening, playtime, singing or reading time. Everything is better with Frankie along. George is meant to stay at home but when he sneaks into a box and joins in the fun, the readers will love finding him in each illustration.

It is a lovely, happy narrative with some extra giggles thrown in and it will give small children a terrific insight into what to expect when they walk through the door of their first kindy. Peta and Connie have simply related the sorts of activities children might do and Marjory Gardner’s lively and colourful illustrations just hit the right spot.

Highly recommended for little ones from around 3 years upwards.

Let’s Get Ready for School – Jane Porter/Carolina Rabei

Walker Books

August 2021

ISBN: 9781529502343
Imprint: Walker

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

This is English but that in no way detracts from it’s usefulness for our little Oz kiddos as it covers in simple but reassuring language what to expect and how to get ready to start school.

From being able to dress oneself to toileting, sharing, eating and drinking, playing and getting along with others – everything needful for our smallest students is here and all their questions are answered.

Six different children are preparing for their big adventure, each of them different as will be the other kids at school. In itself, this provides the perfect opportunity to ensure that kiddos are able to accept and embrace differences. Why do I have to go to school? How will I get there? Who will I meet? Will each day be the same? All children have questions and this is a super way to help them with the answers.

Whether you read this one before the child starts school or in the first week, it will provide wonderful reassurance with its effective format, information and relatable illustrations.

Highly recommended for little ones moving into Prep.

Making Friends: a book about first friendships – Amanda McCardie/Colleen Larmour

Walker Books

August 2021

ISBN: 9781406394542
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

Naturally, along with all the excitement of starting school, comes the added excitement of making new friends. Sometimes though this is either not as easy as it seems or is even very much a matter for anxiety and insecurity for some children.

As educators what we continually strive for is to develop empathy and kindness in our charges to help them grow into well-rounded and compassionate adults. And we all know it starts right from the first day these kiddos start to mix in groups.

This is not a story book, it really is a primer for establishing the guidelines of what makes a good or healthy friendship. To this end, at some points, I found it a little too didactic which tended to put me off, but I’m an adult so I don’t think that counts *grin*. For children, I think this will provide a great springboard in a classroom or kinder setting to explore the parameters of friendship and building relationships.

Recommended for your children from around 5 years upwards.

Rapperbee: poems to give you a buzz – Harry Laing. Illustrations by Anne Ryan.

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Ford St Publishing

October 2021

ISBN: 9781925804775

RRP: $14.99

Harry’s poems are a delight for both young and old. If you and your kiddos enjoyed his previous books, including MoonFish, this one will equally entertain you. Particularly for rollicking read-alouds or, for performances, (think 2022 assembly pieces!) this collection of funny and quirky verses will become part of your standard repertoire.

Rhymes, raps, songs, cheese poems, animal poems, shape-poems...combined with Anne Ryans’s highly creative illustrations will ensure this is not just a book for the classroom and teaching, I can guarantee your kiddos will want to claim this for their own reading pleasure.

Given I still have my childhood copy of Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse for Kids, much dilapidated and clearly well-loved, you will understand why I think this is just a gem of a book. My suggestion is that you grab a copy for your collection, either personal or professional and, may I also suggest that if you are a relief teacher this would be a super addition to your ‘bag of tricks’ for those one-off days in unknown classrooms.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

Girls Change the Game – Gabrielle Gloury/Michael Hyde

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Ford St Publishing

April 2020

ISBN: 9781925804492

RRP: $14.99

Although the women’s version of Aussie Rules has been around since the early 20th century with regular competitions and state leagues being established over the years it wasn’t until 2017 that women’s AFL first became professionalised at a national level. Now with more 2 million viewers/followers, the game has been growing in leaps and bounds attracting much attention both nationally and worldwide.

Ok, I admit it. I grew up in Sydney, right in the middle of Dragons territory back in our club’s glory days. My friends and I played regular games of footy before school and at break times (I still have a scar on my knee from a tackle gone wrong one dewy morning!). So really, I didn’t even know AFL existed until I was an adult. Truthfully, I still don’t completely ‘get it’, however, I can very much appreciate the athleticism and skill of the women who play it. Certainly, it is very exciting to see now the focus on these sporting stars and the dedicated following they have garnered.

What better way then to encourage young girls to take up the game than a fun book with a twist! Kids love ‘choose your own ending’ books, that’s a given. Throw into that mix the excitement of a new club taking up their first serious challenge against a very competitive team and you’ve got a winner in all senses. The narrative has a quick pace and is an accessible read for even those students who are not strong readers and even those who are not die-hard footy fans will find the format appealing. With eight different possible endings, it’s a book to which kids can return over and over.

I give this book a high recommendation for kids from around Year 4 upwards, whether fans of the game or not, indeed whether they are fans of sport or not! A good fun read which they will find hugely enjoyable all round.

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward – Jackie Kerin/Tull Suwannakit

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March 2021

Ford St Publishing

RRP: $16.99

ISBN: 9781925804706

When a true life story can be brought to life in an engaging picture book it’s a real bonus and this particular book has so many applications for rich discussion and learning experiences; science, HASS, innovation, and invention. Hands up all those who have had a terrarium in their home – or made them with children….yep, me too. And yet, I had never heard of the man who conceived of this amazing way of growing plants. Nathaniel Ward was fascinated with growing plants, particularly unusual ones and was determined to both see and grow the exotic plants that voyagers in the 19th century were seeing and attempting to bring back to England. The long sea journeys, weather and vermin made is almost impossible for healthy specimens to arrive intact and through a chance discovery, Ward saw that plants can grow in a sealed glass container successfully for indefinite periods of time.

Dr Ward’s curiosity and innovation enabled the transport of many of the plants – both decorative and useful – to other shores and while, with hindsight, we have come to understand that some of those introduced to Australia have been a disaster for our native habitats, there is also no doubt that the production of fruit and other crops has been an important part of our agricultural landscape and economy.

Most intriguing of all is the concept of simple wondering and experimentation that lead to something now so commonplace that we accept its presence without question, and it is this, in my opinion, that your young readers will connect with the most. Reading this even to your upper primary children will provoke so many learning opportunities and I highly recommend it for your kiddos from around six years upwards.

Good Night, Ivy Bright – Ben Long/Andrew Plant

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Ford St Publishing

April 2021

RRP: $16.99

ISBN: 9781925804720

This is a glorious book with both a joyful rollicking rhyming text from author, Ben Long, and (as always) sublime illustrations from Andrew Plant. On the surface it is a splendid introduction to both colours and colour mixing but it goes much deeper than that. To be honest, I can’t say it better than Ben himself:

What I didn’t realise while I was writing this story was the importance of the moose.
Everyone needs a moose. We all have times when we’re challenged – when we are tired,
troubled, or in tears. And it’s at those times when we need someone to sit down next to us
and be there for us, just like the moose in this story. For some people, the moose might be
their mum. For others it might be their dad, sister, brother, friend, or all of the above.
Similarly, sometimes we need to be the moose for someone else. It’s a good reminder to ask
for help when you need it, and to offer help when it’s needed.

Just imagine using this with your class and investigating all the artistic possibilities but at the same time inviting discussion around when we might need a ‘moose’ in our lives. It would take very little encouragement to generate the most valuable of conversations and giving small humans the reassurances they need, as well as putting into their minds the possibility that they might, in turn, be someone’s ‘moose’.

I just love this and can easily envisage it in either your library session or a classroom setting – especially since there are brilliant teaching notes provided!

Highly recommended for little readers from around five years upwards.

Salih – Inda Ahmad Zahri. Anne Ryan

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Ford St Publishing

March 2021

ISBN: 9781925804645

RRP: $16.99

The global issue of the plight of refugees, and in particular, child refugees is the focus of this sensitively written and beautifully illustrated book. Even your youngest readers will be able to comprehend the circumstance of those who must flee their homes, with only what they can carry – like turtles carrying their homes on their backs – and the ensuing discussions which will arise will help your little people develop empathy and an appreciation of diversity.

The first person narrative is almost poetic as it describes the flight from danger, the happy memories and the terrible ones and the therapeutic release through art is a beautiful way to tie a healing process to the visual metaphors used in Anne Ryan’s illustrations.

This is an emotional journey as well as a political and cultural one and is an important addition for any classroom unit of work or library collection. It is certainly a theme which has resonance in today’s global circumstance and one that deserves to fully examined in just such a sympathetic and compassionate way.

Recommended with my fullest endorsement for your readers from around five years upwards.

The Thing that goes Ping! – Mark Carthew. Illustrated by Shane McG

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Ford St Publishing

February 2021

ISBN: 9781925804669

RRP: $16.95

If you are looking for a really great rhyming book for your littlies that will also engage them in a guessing game, this is going to be a real hit!!

In the faraway town of Figgy-tra-ling, you may hear the faint ring of a thing that goes ping!

What could be the mysterious thing that goes ping? Well, take your kiddos on a super quest of discovery with a bunch of wacky animals until the mystery is revealed. I’m sure the children will be super excited when they find out!

Mark Carthew’s lively text is superbly accompanied by Shane McGowan’s quirky illustrations and I would certainly be capitalising on both to create some shared illustrated writing, as I’m sure the kids would have loads of ideas of their own. And to top off all this fun, Ford St has a wonderful stash of activities as a bonus including song lyrics, card games and teaching notes.

I’m giving this a high recommendation for your small peeps from around Prep upwards and think you will all greatly enjoy a sustained mileage from the reading.

Float or Sink? – Kylie Covark. Illustrated by Andrew Plant

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Ford St Publishing

February 2021

ISBN: 9781925804621 [paperback]

RRP: $16.95

This rhyming story is as cute as the bugs who star in it! When a stick falls into the creek the reader is invited to guess whether it will float or sink and when first a ladybird lands on it, followed by an assortment of other tiny critters (all of them with very grand titles), the guessing game continues.

As we have come to expect from Andrew Plant, the illustrations are bold and beautiful and Covark’s simple but rhythmic text begs for chorus reading as each bug lands precariously on the stick as it bobs along the water. But what will happen when a greedy duck sees the curious company? Children will love the predictions and their enthusiasm will easily lead into some science around floating and sinking – time for some fun experiments! It could also segue into an exciting game of Pooh Sticks – if you happen to have a handy creek and bridge!

I love this for its simple but catchy text and the overall design which is so much fun but also for the fact that it has such real application into some valuable learning experiences.

Highly recommended for little readers from Prep upwards.

Gold! – Jackie Kerin & Annie White

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Ford St Publishing

September 2020

  • ISBN10 1925804534
  • ISBN13 9781925804539
  • RRP: $24.99

What a brilliant combination! A lively rhythmic text, absolutely stunning illustrations paired with historical information about the Victorian gold-rush all of which will stimulate readers’ interest and imagination. For those with the ubiquitous Gold in Australia unit of work this is a magnificent springboard into your investigations and will pique your students’ interest in the topic.

Author Jackie Kerin has a background in acting and storytelling and truly this is evident in the text which crackles with enthusiastic and animated expression. The blend of prose and verse style and plenty of figurative language will add to the learning to be gained from this book with true enjoyment to be had along the way.

Annie White‘s illustrations have long gained accolades and I suggest you visit her webpage for some fascinating insights into her work. Her work for this particular vividly echoes the wonderful text and readers will delight in the detail to be found within.

The book concludes with some useful fact boxes which will easily segue into further inquiry and all in all this is a splendid addition to any collection.

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 4 upwards.