Tag Archives: Nicky Johnston

MoonFish  [Poems to make you & Think] – Harry Laing. Various Illustrators

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moon-fish

Ford St Publishing

May 2019

9781925804256

RRP: $16.95

Sharing poetry with kiddos is one of my favourite things to do – and even the ones who kind of screw their noses up at first really get into it with the right selection. This will definitely be one of those and I know that many teachers will want to get their hands on it to add some pep to their poetry units.

Harry Laing has compiled a fabulous collection that is fun-filled with catchy rhythm and rhymes, chants, raps, word play, shape poems and more. The illustrators are a stellar cast of our best and brightest in the business, eighteen in all, making this a feast for the eye as well as the ear.

Whether it’s a yummy food poem about cheese or pizza or a city of chocolate or an introduction to some insect life like ants or termites or even a flea this has something to appeal to all children.

There will be many opportunities for kids to get up and use their hands or feet to clap to the beat and no doubt will quickly decide on their personal favourites.

If you are looking to give your poetry collection some updating or purely for the joy of it, this will make a valuable addition and is highly recommended for children from around 7 years upwards.

 

Shortlisted 2019 – Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year

Animal Crackers

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Now that the pile of review novels is finally getting to a stage that could be described as semi-tamed, it’s time to get stuck into plethora picture books. So here are some animal-focused ones to get into – because we all know that our little readers just love a great animal story and we love them because so often they send such positive messages.

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Flat Cat – Hiawyn Oram/Gwen Millard

Walker Books Australia

January 2019

ISBN: 9781406371543
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

“If you love something, set it free” – that was my first thought on reading this book. My second thought was the memory of buying my beloved Burmese cat, Possum, many years ago. I was determined that he would be an ‘inside’ cat but after two weeks of completely shredded flyscreens, I realised that was not in his nature and so he became an inside/outside cat and was my best friend for the eight years of his life.

Sophie loves Jimi-My-Jim and gives him everything you might think a cat could desire – toys, special food, sparkly collars, beds and even clothes. The one thing that Jimi-My-Jim is missing is freedom. He is never allowed outside and gradually he becomes ‘Flat Cat’ because he so morose at seeing the outside world only through a window. When one day by accident, Flat Cat manages to get hold of the front door keys, he is off and away and discovers a world full of other cats, life, excitement, joy and another very special cat – Blanche.  While at first the consequences prove to be difficult for both Flat Cat and Sophie, they are overcome and Flat Cat is able to pursue his new life – with the joy of the freedom plus the joy of being Sophie’s special friend.

This offers a serious point of discussion about when, if ever, it’s acceptable to reject the rules in place and certainly gives ‘helicopter’ parents an opportunity to examine their practices.

I certainly recommend it for young readers from around six years upwards – but would suggest that it could also be a valuable addition to parent information nights!

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Good Rosie! – Kate de Camillo. Pictures by Harry Bliss

Walker Books Australia

October 2018

ISBN: 9781406383577
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

 

I really meant to get to this one sooner rather than later because I truly adore Kate di Camillo’s work. This is such a departure from her novels but is truly enchanting and endearing.

We all need friends and Rosie is no exception. She has a good life with her human, George, but is lonely without doggy companions. Sometimes it seems that she and George don’t have much in common, for example, an intense interest in squirrels. When George takes Rosie to the dog park for the first time, she is somewhat overwhelmed. She has never seen so many dogs before and she feels confronted and scared. She is even more so when Maurice, a very large St Bernard approaches shaking his toy bunny with such vigour it’s a wonder the toy’s extremities still exist. But then the tiny Fifi with her sparkly collar doesn’t seem a kindred spirit either.

It takes an unfortunate incident between Maurice and Fifi to help Rosie realise that sometimes friends come in different shapes and sizes and that we don’t all ‘click’ at first sight.

Formatted in a graphic novel style, this is a lovely reminder about unlikely friendships but moreover about overcoming prejudices and feeling anxious.

A fabulous book for sharing with young readers to kick-start conversations about acceptance and building relationships.

 

Saying Goodbye to Barkley – Devon Sillett/Nicky Johnston

barkley

EK Books

978-1-925335-96-5

$24.99

Losing our furbabies is difficult. For children who have grown up with a special pet it is arguably even moreso. Super Olivia and her trusty sidekick, Barkley, have always been a team. As Olivia carries out her amazing super-hero deeds, Barkley is always right by her giving his all. When Barkley is no longer there, Olivia feels her zest for super-sleuthing and action-heroism has also gone. But after her grieving she realises that Barkley would not want her to give up her passion in life, nor forget his extraordinary assistance. Olivia knows what she must do as a true super-hero for whom rescues are a daily event. She must rescue a new sidekick.

Spud is white, fluffy and adorable – and absolutely useless at fighting crime and uncovering dastardly plots but Olivia loves her anyway.

This is not a story about replacing one pet for another but a beautiful way of describing that eventually we can heal from our losses and find joy in other ways, events and companions.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.

 

 

At the End of Holyrood Lane – Dimity Powell/Nicky Johnson

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holyrood

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781925335767

ISBN 10: 1925335763

Imprint: Exisle Kids Publishing – NZ

On Sale: 20/08/2018

List Price: 24.99 AUD

 

Just before Miss Small (who really is no longer small!) came to live with me, she was absolutely petrified of storms. She would watch the sky anxiously and literally quiver with fear. While I guessed that this was symptomatic of something else, I hasten to point out it was not domestic violence and as time went by and her emotional anxiety eased, the storm ‘thing’ disappeared.

However, as one who has lived with DV and escaped, it is not only diminishing and frightening for the adult involved but has a very real impact on the children exposed to it, whether or not they are the recipients or not.

So this book with its subtle analogy was quite resonant for me for both those reasons.

This new picture book from Dimity Powell, beautifully illustrated by Nicky Johnston, provides a safe metaphor for children in just such a situation and enables caring adults to explore strategies by which these victims can begin to feel secure.

Flick lives with the fear of storms. Normally her life is filled with ‘sunshine and butterflies’ but the storms regularly appear and Flick, in her intense terror, has no escape except to hide. At last Flick seeks help to weather the storm and finds that this is the way to become free from the tyranny of the recurring fury.

Poetically written with much onomatopoeia and beautiful language it is a book worthy of sharing even if not in a ‘pointed’ way but just to explore children’s fears in general.

We are so blessed to have such quality writers for children in this country who are unafraid to tackle difficult subjects.

This book is endorsed by ActforKids, Paradise Kids, Think Equal and will be launched on 23rd September in Brisbane.

I highly recommend it for your young readers from  Prep upwards and would suggest that you also bring it to the attention of your school guidance officers/psychologists.

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