As a teacher librarian I tried to read as many of the books as I can that I purchase for my library. Obviously I don't get through them all, ('too many books, not enough time' is my catch cry!) but I do read all the picture books that come in. I think you'll guess by that confession, they are my favourite format. But there was one that had been ordered before I came to this library which I only just discovered today and it is Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon.
I am also a writer and write (among other things) about inclusion, acceptance and tolerance. THIS is the book that I wish I had written! From the gentle, poignant text, to the simple but evocative illustrations, this book encapsulates the very essence of acceptance. If you don't have this already in your libraries or at home, you really should get a copy.
Two eggs hatch side by side. One is Croc. One is Bird. They do everything together until, one day, when they are grown, the river carries them away from the home they have made together. They find a lake full of crocodiles and birds and, after taking another look at each other, decide they should join the group with the animals that look like them. But some of the habits they've learned when they were together, don't quite fit with the rest of their kind. Eventually, after not being able to sleep in their new homes, they seek each other out and realise it doesn't matter about what they look like or how they behave. What matters most is how much they have missed each other and feel happiest when they are together.
Follow Alexis Deacon on Instagram.
Published in 2012 by Hutchison
Recommended for ages 2 - 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
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.
Oscar is a skeleton and very self conscious about the way he looks. His one wish is to have a friend but, when he falls and loses a tooth, he thinks this makes him even uglier and no-one will want to befriend him. Who would like someone with a broken smile? But then Oscar meets a young girl who has also lost a tooth. She explains to him that if she plants the tooth in the earth, a friend will come. Oscar shows her his smile and asks if he can borrow her tooth. The girl agrees but on the condition that Oscar helps her find the friend she longs for. Together they journey through each other's worlds sharing their special places and secret thoughts. At the end of the day Oscar gives the tooth back as he realizes he doesn't need to be perfect and that a true friend will like you just the way you are. The story is supported by wonderful illustrations with both worlds beautifully drawn and, even though Oscar lives in a cemetery, the colours and images in his world are not frightening at all but rather highlight the similarities to the world the young girl lives in.
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Published in 2019 by Lantana Publishing
Recommended for ages 5 - 8
In this book by Peter Carnavas, we meet Mary, a quiet girl living in a noisy family. Mary thinks quiet thoughts, steps quiet steps and whispers quiet words. She is so quiet that no-one in her family hears her. She decides to be even quieter still, and eventually it is like she has disappeared completely. When her family stops being noisy for a moment and discovers they cannot find her, they begin calling her name and searching the neighbourhood. Finally, when they stop calling and stand still and listen, they hear Mary's tiny, quiet voice singing to the birds under the tree at the end of their street, where she had been all along. The family realised it wasn't until they were quiet that they could really hear her. The simple, elegant text is supported by Carnavas's illustrations in soft, gentle colours and the use of black and white to highlight Mary as she fades is beautiful.
This book is a celebration of those who are quieter than the rest of us, and who like to take their time and stop, wonder and listen to what is all around them.
Published in 2019 by University of Queensland Press
Recommended for ages 4 - 7