Tag Archives: Kindness

We Are Wolves – Katrina Nannestad

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Harper Collins Australia

October 2020

  • ISBN: 9780733340888
  • ISBN 10: 0733340881
  • Imprint: ABC Books – AU
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

One book about children surviving in the conflict of war that has always remained with me was Journey into War by Margaret Donaldson. It was one I used often with upper primary children and it offered so much scope for discussion and reflection. I have long lamented that I don’t have a copy of my own as it is out-of-print. Now at last I have a truly worthy alternative.

The Wolf family must leave their home and everything they know as the Russian army swarms into East Prussia. Carrying as much as they can Mother, Liesel, Otto, baby Mia and their grandparents join a long procession of refugees in an arduous trek in search of safety. But such escapes are rarely easy and when the children find themselves completely alone and lost, they must do whatever they can to survive and for Liesel, protecting her little brother and sister is her primary concern. Surviving in the depths of winter is a nigh-impossible task for any children but to do so with the last violence of a war raging around is another entirely.

So the Wolf children become indeed wolves. Living like wild creatures, often without shelter, stealing food and clothes, raiding where ever they are able just to stay alive. They are not the only child casualties of the terrible war that has ravaged their country and, at times, they join forces with other wildlings. When they are caught up by Russians things look very grim for them but fortunately one of the soldiers becomes their friend and helps them along their way.

Eventually the children find themselves in Lithuania where they are taken in by a kindly elderly couple and finally have some respite and safety. They grieve desperately for their family – parents and grandparents – but are at least able to feel secure and cared for. Even in the darkest times miracles can happen and the outcome for the Wolf children proves that hope, warmth and kindness can exist in the worst of circumstances.

Young readers will be mesmerized by the gripping adventure and the challenges faced by the children and will be uplifted by their grit and resilience. Katrina Nannestad has wrought a novel that will hold its place for many years.

Highly recommended for your collection and if your teachers are searching for a fresh and engaging class read this would make a perfect suggestion.

Seeds – Carme Lenniscates

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Candlewick Press

March 2020

Imprint: Candlewick  Studio

ISBN 9781536208443

Another timely book – certainly for us – as we’ve been re-invigorating and re-planting our veggie patch after a long hot summer. Magical seeds are popping up in the propagator on our front verandah waiting until they are sturdy enough to be planted out in the bed.

But this book is not just about the wonder of seeds in the literal sense. It also speaks to our little people about figurative seeds – the seeds of anger which can quickly flare up into nasty weeds but also the seeds of kindness  and those of smiles which we should all be sowing liberally. (Lord knows we could use a lot of that in some sectors of society at present!)

This is a beautiful book which moves from scientific explanation of seeds undergoing their transformations to a philosophical metaphors for human emotions and behaviour seamlessly.  Definitely one worth adding to your classroom program on either basis as there will much rich discussion ensuing.

Most children love gardening and growing things – even the too-cool teen is still keen to garden (in fact she’s just helped spread two large bags of horse manure over the veggie patch!). The wonder of watching plants erupt from tiny capsules is one that never loses its joy.

Why not combine your reading and philosophy with some science-based work (gotta love cross-curricular topics!)?

Highly recommended for little people from ELC upwards.

Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror – Natasha Farrant/Lydia Corry

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y648 (3)

Harper Collins

November 2019

ISBN: 9781788541152

ISBN 10: 1788541154

Imprint: Head Of Zeus – Zehpyr – GB

List Price: 29.99 AUD

Whether you are looking for alternative princesses or fairy tales or just looking for a beautiful book for the Mighty Girls in your readership this stunning gift book ticks all the boxes.

When an enchantress prepares for a new princess’ naming day saying she promises to ensure that the new little girl will become an ‘excellent’ princess, she needs to determine what in fact that means.

According to some it’s clean fingernails, manners, being pretty and kind to animals but the enchantress feels it’s so much more than just that. Her magic mirror is really not that much help but she knows a way to solve that problem and shrinks the large mirror to a pocket-sized compact and so its adventures begin.

Picked up by the first princess and travelling through time, place and misadventure over centuries the mirror becomes an important talisman for a eight different girls, each with their own strengths and energetic personalities who demonstrate courage, intelligence, compassion and love with big hearts and a burning desire to live life to its very best whatever that may be.

When the mirror returns finally to the old enchantress both have learned something valuable and lasting and the new princess will undoubtedly benefit from their wisdom.

This is truly a beautiful book both to read and behold – the colourful illustrations lend a real insight into each different princess and the absolutely glorious binding will make it a treasure for any recipient.

Mirror, mirror on the wall… what makes a princess excellent?’ The enchantress’s mirror travels through time, from east to west, to find the answer. Reflected in it are princesses who refuse to be pretty, polite or obedient. These are girls determined to do the rescuing themselves. The Arabian princess of the desert protects her people from the king with the black and gold banner; Latin American Princess, Tica, takes a crocodile for a pet; a Scottish princess explores the high seas; African Princess, Abayome, puts empathy and kindness above being royal; and in a tower-block, Princess saves her precious community garden from the hands of greedy urban developers. {Publisiher}

Highly recommended for readers from 8 years upwards.

White Bird: a Wonder Story – R. J. Palacio

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9780241397244

Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9780241397244

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $39.99

Millions of readers have fallen in love with Wonder and its subsequent books and will most likely think of Julian as Auggie’s tormentor but in this first foray into graphic novels Palacio presents a completely different side to the erstwhile bully. Those who have also read Auggie & Me will have had a brief introduction to Julian’s French grandmother but it is of no consequence if readers have not as this narrative is completely self-contained.

Julian has a humanities project to do and he decides that his much-loved grandmother will be the interviewee for his assignment. He knows a little of her story but now she tells it fully via their Facetime conversation.

Sara relates her own personal history as a young Jewish girl evading capture by the Nazis and her fugitive existence being cared for indomitable French friends and also reveals a great deal about life for others during this most terrible and frightening of times. It is powerful and moving and tragic but ultimately heart-warming and an affirmation of the goodness of many people – those who are willing to risk all in order to do the right thing especially.  The courage and kindness of those who helped young Sara to survive is echoed in the accounts of many Holocaust survivors and Palacio herself has personal connections to these through her husband’s family.

 

While entirely fictional it does of course draw on much factual information which is thoroughly explained at the end of the book along with other entries, links and references for readers to explore at leisure.

The survivors of the Holocaust are adamant, and rightly so, that the immensity of the wholesale slaughter of not only Jews but the other minorities targeted by the Nazi regime should never be forgotten – or repeated.

Sharing stories such as this along with non-fiction accounts with our young people is vital and in my experience the outrage of the injustice and inhumanity of these develops a solid and strong sense of empathy and understanding in students. It goes without saying that in our own parlous times this is something which we must strive to engender in all.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. I am not, as some know, a great aficionado of graphic novels but found this a compelling (one session) read and one that will help children to understand the enormity of this heinous episode in human history in a manner that is calm and honest.

Listen to a grab here.

The Underhills: a Tooth Fairy Story – Bob Graham

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1561435496219

Walker Books Australia

October 1st 2019

ISBN: 9781406387612
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Always exciting to see a new Bob Graham story and this one which is a charming companion book to April Underhill, Tooth Fairy will similarly delight young readers of that much-loved title.

Mum and Dad need to be away working so the younger Underhills are having a sleepover with their grandparents and everyone knows what that means! Lots of fun and treats and special love abound.

When a rush job comes through to collect a tooth from a little girl newly arrived from Ghana, it falls to April, Esme and Grandma to sort it at the airport. As well as the tooth fairies there are also angels and cupids on duty – to welcome the happy arrivals and to soothe those who are sad and scared. Clearly we need some angels and cupids in our political ranks!

April and Esme proves themselves to be equal to the challenge of finding little Akuba in the bustling terminal and successfully complete their mission, much to the pride and relief of Grandma and the rest of the family.

As always Bob’s gentle but significant story with its layers of meanings and his inimitable illustrations are a tour-de-force and this will be a joy to many readers from around 4 years upwards.  Naturally, a read-aloud could easily develop into a simple discussion about kindness and the way in which newcomers might be embraced into our society.

The Adventures of Catvinkle – Elliot Perlman

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catvinkle

Penguin Random House

9780143786368

October 1, 2018

Puffin

RRP $19.99

 

Well regarded author of adult books Elliot Perlman has ably proven that he can turn his hand just as easily to writing for children with this first book for younger readers. It is delightfully whimsical and carries a literary flavour of its Amsterdam setting within its text with an enviable ease (very reminiscent of Annie M. G. Schmidt’s beautiful classics).

 

Catvinkle is a much pampered only pet of a charming barber in Amsterdam. She is exceedingly beautiful and certainly talented in some ways but also very definitely selfish and rather casual with the truth. When her owner Mr Sabatini brings home a rather forlorn and neglected Dalmation named Ula, Catvinkle is extremely unimpressed to say the least. An intruder into her cosy parlour and water bowl and a dog to boot is the last thing with which she wants to contend. It will completely ruin her social standing in Kittens Anonymous for one thing!

 

Ula’s sweet nature and compliant personality win Catvinkle over slowly (of course her delicious musky smell which acts intoxicatingly on the cat helps) but it also endears her to others as she breaks down barriers between not only cats and dogs but dogs and dogs!

 

The subtle themes of anti-racism, anti-bullying, acceptance, tolerance, friendship and loyalty are delivered in a wonderfully funny story where cats who baby-shoe dance, fly with tail propellers and llamas who play backgammon are quite the norm.

 

Readers from around eight years upwards will delight in this magical story of animals whose lives seem to mirror those of humans.

 

 

 

Maya & Cat – Caroline Magerl

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maya

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781921977282
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
Throughout our college and certainly in my library at present we are having a great focus on kindness and empathy. With my little people I am using a range of picture books which offer this theme that also feature animals as this meshes with their classroom unit.

Author/illustrator Caroline Magerl’s new picture book, launched this week, is a perfect fit for this very unit with its themes of resilience and friendship along with the very essence of kindness.

Maya follows her empathic instincts to coax Cat down from on high and thereafter tries to find her rightful home. When she does so, her sadness at leaving Cat with her own family is assuaged by an unexpected surprise, one which fills her with absolute delight.

This text features some absolutely scrumptious figurative language which would be inspirational for encouraging children to attempt their own evocative writing.

“On a roof, wet as a seal, grey as a puddle, Cat was rumbling a rumbly purr.” 

The stunning artwork perfectly captures the mood of the text and the endpapers are just sensational! (My kidlets all know about my predilection for gorgeous endpapers!)

If you are searching for more wonderful books that will assist with growing empathy in children, this will make a super addition to your collection.

I highly recommend it to you for readers from around Prep upwards.

Kookoo Kookaburra – Gregg Driese

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Magabala Books

RRP $24.95

  • Published:May 2015
  • Pages:32
  • ISBN:9781921248900

Kindness is like a boomerang – if you throw it often, it comes back often

How timely that this beautiful new picture book from this talented Sunshine Coast author/illustrator should come my way just now when my family and I have been shown so much kindness from so many people.

Described as a morality tale, the theme of Gregg’s new book is simply kindness and the power it has to change our lives.

Long ago Kookoo Kookaburra lived happily in the bush and had many friends, who loved his amusing stories and and his gift of making them feel happy. But when Kookoo’s stories start focusing on teasing other animals and being unkind, the animals turn away from him no longer finding his tales funny.  Wise old Uncle Googaguga gave him some good advice likening kindness to a boomerang and suggesting that he be mindful of how he spoke of others. Kookoo resisted the Elder’s words until he came to realise that he was so lonely without the companionship of the other bush creatures.  Kookoo returned to telling stories that amused the other animals without making fun of them and once again his laughter rang out across the bush – and still does today.

Written in a way which reaches out to the very youngest of readers, this will be a worthy book for sharing with children from Prep up and a wonderful way of promoting the concept of kindness to others in our daily lives.

I was impressed with Gregg’s artwork in his first book Silly Birds (reviewed on Just So Stories last year) and am even more impressed with the vibrant illustrations in this new picture book. From the gorgeous endpapers to the beautiful full page paintings to the delightful accents on the facing text pages, this is a sumptuous visual feast throughout.

I love this book and highly recommend it for your own library shelves.

HHkindness