This book was in my school library but not in my own, and I am thrilled to finally have a copy for my home library. There are so many layers to this beautiful story, and much that can be taught and expanded upon for use in the classroom. A young child becomes separated from family in the aftermath of a huge storm. She calls out for them, but no answer comes back. She runs to the beach hoping they might be there, but instead finds a baby seal who is also alone and frightened. She sees an abandoned boat and pushes the two of them out to sea, desperate to get away in case the storm comes back. They journey together for many days and nights, through cruel and kind weather, providing warmth and comfort for each other. One day, another seal appears, and mother and baby are reunited, and guide the young girl towards land. At first, she is lonely without the baby seal, until she is reunited with her family and feels safe again at last. Robert's heartwarming, poignant text is brought to life by Anna's stunning illustrations. The power and destruction of the storm, the changing moods and vastness of the sea, and the joy of both reunions are captured perfectly in the palette of ocean colours and facial expressions evident on each page. Friendship and hope, refugees, immigrants, marine animals, global warming, geography (islands nations) and extreme weather could all be linked as teaching ideas from this gorgeous book. A must have for any school or home library.
Find out more about Robert Vescio here.
Find out more about Anna Pignataro here.
Published 2021 by New Frontier Publishing Pty Ltd
ISBN 9781922326294 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 6.
These are two of the most beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated books about anti-bullying that have been published. They are not new - Dandelion was published in 2013 and Daisy Chain in 2015 - and you cannot buy them from a bookstore but need to order them through the company that the writer and illustrator are involved with which is Sydney company Protein One - but the effort is definitely worth it.
Bullying in whatever form - physical, emotional, cyber - is not okay. People experiencing bullying often feel they are alone, shouldn't/can't tell anyone and basically have no way of fighting back. There are many organisations out there now providing support but literature is also important. Both of these books with their simple text and soft illustrative palettes, are a gentle way of opening up a conversation about bullying for young and old alike. The emphasis on using creative ways to combat bullying and the focus on certain flowers as the child's support and strength is very clever. Although it seems like a flower that is easily blown away, the meaning of dandelion is 'lion's tooth' indicating an inner bravery. Similarly, daisies may seem weak, but together in a chain, they become strong and unbreakable. Thank you Galvin Scott Davis and Anthony Ishinjerro for these important and stunning picture books.
Dandelion Published in 2013 by Random House Australia
ISBN 9780857981035 (eBook)
Daisy Chain Self published in 2015
ISBN 978-0987417121 (Paperback)
Recommended for ages 4 - 7
As promised here are some of my favourite Australian fiction books with diverse characters. There are more, but I've selected these as they are the ones that have really made me think, reflect and respect. I've just ordered The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling for my library and can't wait for my students to read it. Both of Zana Fraillon's books on this list have sparked some pretty intense conversations with students and it's so interesting and wonderful to hear young people talking about global issues like refugees, social justice and diversity - not just in books but in other areas as well. These are excellent supplements to school library collections.
I LOVE our Aussie picture book authors and illustrators. If you're looking to supplement your collection at home or an international school library wanting to diversify both your author base and your collection, try some of the ones below. It is by no means an exhaustive list (there are SO many more!) but it is a great start. My favourites are those by Freya Blackwood, Matt Ottley, Bronwyn Bancroft and Glenda Millard. More wonderful diverse Australian books coming soon.