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
While two children are holidaying with their Nana, they stumble across a piggybank that their Pop had kept tucked away for a rainy day. Inside they find a shimmering green banknote that sparkles with magic and immediately flies out the door. The children quickly follow, eventually finding themselves in front of a huge department store named WIZARD & CO. Inside, the chief goblin informs them that a one hundred pound Hocus Pocus note is a lot of money, and tells them to 'Expect the unexpected - this is magic after all!' He guides them through the eight levels or floors, each one a riot of colour, curiosities and surprises. Level one has rainbow makers and flying toasters, level two is where books come alive, level 3 has wonderful food (watch out for the blackbird pies!) and level four is where the teddy bears are having their tea. On level five they find train sets with tiny people, and up on level six is where games are played including snakes and ladders - with real snakes! Levels seven and eight are full of intriguing gardens and giant sized lollies. As they reach the check out ready to pay for the wondrous things they've chosen, the note takes off again to the very top floor, where a wise old wizard gives them a choice - keep all they have chosen, or buy a new wheelchair for their Nana Claire, whose wheels have fallen of her old wheelchair. A mixture of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium, this book is full of stunning illustrations that invite the reader to look again and again to see what they can find. Even on the very last page there's a secret code to decipher! Kindness, being mindful of the choices we make, and putting others needs before your own, are the themes embedded within this lyrical rhyming story and, as the wizard so eloquently says, 'A simple act of giving is the most magical of all.' A delight for younger readers and a must have for all library collections.
Kindness, empathy, disabilities, toys, wizards, book characters, money, inventions, board games, gardening, plants and coding could all be linked as teaching ideas for the classroom from this beautiful picture book.
Find out more about Mitchell Toy here.
Published 2021 by Five Mile Press.
ISBN 9781922514486 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 7