'Breathe deeply and take your time. The making of a bird is not a thing to be hurried.' '. . . feel your slowly beating heart fill with a kind of sadness, a kind of happiness. For this is when you will know that you have really made a bird.' These are my favourite lines form this beautifully delicate and evocative story. Yes there is a bird that is made, but it is so much more than just a bird. From the delicate bones gathered by the child, to figuring out how to put them together, and then the thoughtful imagining of what is needed for the bird to truly fly, are ideas expertly brought to life in Meg's soulful, meditative text. There is a sense of wonder at every page turn as we follow the journey of the child and the bird in its making. I love Matt's blueprint that forms part of the front cover illustration as this creates the simple deception that there is a blueprint to follow, when in fact there really isn't. His palette of soft, paler hues and tones throughout the majority of the story adds to the ethereal nature of the text. The exquisite, brighter colours of the feathers are a marvellous contrast and help focus the readers' attention on the possibilities of what the bird might do and become.
How To Make A Bird is a story of self belief, individuality, resilience, belonging and limitless imagination, and is a picture book for all ages - not just younger readers. There are so many layers to both the text and the illustrations that you will discover something new every time you read this stunning 2021 CBCA Picture Book Award winner.
Use this story in both primary and secondary classrooms for poetry studies, storytelling, art studies and for maker space ideas. Themes to be explored could include resilience, belonging, imagination, self-awareness, compassion and inventiveness.
Find out more about Meg McKinlay.
Find out more about Matt Ottley.
Published 2020 by Walker Books Australia.
ISBN 9781925381894 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 6 - 12
I would also recommend this book for middle and high school students.
Can you ride a bicycle? Do you remember how exhilarating it felt pumping the pedals and taking off down the street? In this new book by the 2021 Crystal Kite winner Valerie Bolling, we follow a young girl as she attempts to ride her bicycle for the very first time. With help and encouragement from her Dad, she is off and riding until. . . uh-oh, look out! There's a slip, a wobble and a fall. That hurt! After a healing hug from Dad, the young girl has to decide whether to get back on the bike and try again - or not. Knowing that Dad is right there beside her helps make the decision easy, and soon she is back up and soaring! With sparse, rhyming text, every word counts in this heartfelt and empowering story. Coretta Scott King honoree Kaylani Jaunita's illustrations are vibrant and fun, and highlight perfectly the angst and exuberance of trying something for the first time. Together We Ride is a wonderful celebration of family, courage, trust, and that amazing feeling of freedom when you spread your wings and fly for the first time!
Use this in the classroom to explore themes of trust, family, resilience, risk taking and transport.
Find out more about Valerie Bolling
Find out more about Kaylani Juanita
Click here for the author interview on Blog Bites
Release date April 26, 2022. Published by Chronicle Books
Recommended for ages 3 - 5
This new rhyming tale from award winning author Graeme Base has something for everyone - vampires, robots, computers, bravery, adventure and a fearless heroine. The story opens with the death of a robot whose battery has been drained in the dead of the night by the evil vampire laptop Voltoid. The robotic townsfolk are consumed with fear and panic as all have heard of the dreaded Curse of Voltoid! PC Web calls for a volunteer to confront Voltoid and erase all files from his hard drive. The only one courageous enough to take on the challenge is Gertie Gif, a lowly cleaning droid. Gertie sets off with determination and resolve up the Hill of Dread towards Voltoid's Gothic style castle. Along the way she manages to delete the terrifying ware-wolf's system and befriends a baby software-wolf. Once in the castle, Gertie finds Voltoid in sleep mode and can see he's in dire need of a system clean and software update. She's almost finished when she realises she has forgotten her software bag! The young software-wolf leaps forward declaring 'I've got the latest updates!' He sinks his teeth into Voltoid's core, and loads him up with V-DOS 10.4. As the vampire's screen changes from sickly green to desktop blue, he reverts back to his normal friendly self. Over time, Gertie and the young software-wolf's success is written into the history of the town, eventually becoming a meme with a total data stream!
I absolutely love Graeme's play on tech terminology and there are lots of humorous character names (PC Web, MacSpam, Gertie Gif) and lines like 'I'm told the thing to do is drive a sharpened vector through his undead CPU', 'A cleaning out is what you need - now open up those ports.' And teachers will totally relate to the line 'No wonder I feel better - you've deleted Comic Sans!' This has to be one of the most overused fonts in education! Graeme's black and white illustrations are a delight and there is something new to discover every time the reader revisits a page. The aerial image of Gertie as she and the young software-wolf enter Voltoids' lair would be a wonderful study in perspective for young artists. A masterful interweaving of old and new that is a must have for school library and home collections.
Use this story in classrooms for poetry studies, storytelling, myths and legends, art studies (perspective, use of black and white for impact, how to bring character to inanimate objects) and of course as a comparison study to the story of Dracula! Themes to be explored could include bravery, adventure and friendship.
Find out more about Graeme Base
Published 2021 by HarperCollinsPublishers Australia
ISBN 9781460754696 (HB)
Recommended by the publisher for ages 5 + but I would suggest 8 + due to style and complexity of language.
The Curiosities centers around a young boy named Miro, who begins to see the world in a way that is different to others. When the Curiosities first appear they seem to blend in, but gradually they show Miro the 'oddments and snippets', 'wonders and possibles' in the places where no-one else looks. Sometimes the curiosities would show Miro how to tickle songs from the earth, whisper up waves and dance with him deep into the night. The pull of the curiosities gradually became stronger and stronger and soon others in his village begin to notice them too. They became so loud that people began to stare, and no matter what he did, Miro could not tame them. They were almost unbearable, and he felt as though he was vanishing deep inside the earth. Then he heard the whisper of a village elder who helped Miro brush away the darkness of the curiosities. They were still there, but he found the more he connected with people, the easier it was to control them. And he noticed that many others had their own the curiosities too which helped him feel not so alone.
There are many who deal with neurodiversities and disabilities, and this book is a wonderful celebration of who we are and how we see ourselves, and encourages us to not to worry too much how others choose to see us. Zana Fraillon is one of my favourite YA authors and she has managed the cross over to picture books flawlessly. Her text is poignant and uplifting, but also challenging, asking us to know ourselves first before we look at how we perceive others. Phil's whimsical and playful images draw us into Miro's world to see what life looks like through his eyes. His clever depictions of the curiosities as recognisable but wisp-like creatures, make us aware but not afraid of them, and inspires us to embrace the curiosities in all of us.
Diversity, autism, neurodiversity, acceptance, empathy, perspective, community, culture and mental health are all topics that can be introduced and discussed when using this beautiful and highly recommended book in the classroom.
Find out more about Zana Fraillon
Find out more about Phil Lesnie
Published in 2021 by Hachette Australia
ISBN 9780734417848 (HB)
Recommended for ages 4 - 8
Isabel and her family couldn't afford a lot of things like heating, going to the cinema, scooters or brand new clothes, but she always noticed the beautiful things around her, like the ice patterns on her window and the snow flakes falling outside. And really she had everything they needed - her books and her family. But when their wasn't enough money to pay rent or bills, they had to move to the other side of the city and for the first time Isabel couldn't find anything beautiful. It seemed people on this side of the city didn't even know she was there. She felt herself becoming more and more invisible as people drove or walked straight past her. Eventually, Isabel faded away altogether. That's when she started to notice the other invisible people around her and decided to help. Soon others joined in and '. . . the more people came together . . . the more they could all be seen.'
This is an important story. It is one that needs to be read to children all over the world. It is a story of belonging, of hope and community, and truly seeing what and who is around you.
There are few picture books that tackle the issue of poverty as well as this one. Tom Percival has written a book that draws from personal experience, and is poignant and beautifully simple, yet conveys such a powerful message of making a difference in the lives of others by just acknowledging they exist.
Kindness, community, poverty, family, relationships and empathy are all topics that can be explored as teaching ideas through this warm, wonderful, and highly recommended picture book.
Find out more about Tom Percival
Published in 2021 by Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN 9781471191305 (PB)
Recommended for ages 4 - 8