From the opening lines of ‘School’s done. Ride, roll, run!’ to the final ‘Ride, roll, run. Friends and fun!’, this simple but action-packed rhyming story, takes the reader on a joyful afternoon of possibilities after school has finished for the day. Skateboarding, bike riding, playing basketball and sidewalk games are just a few of the many fun activities these friends get up to. Although not specified in the text, the illustrations highlight the diversity and inclusion of those three words ‘ride, roll, run’ and showcase activities all children love to participate in, no matter their background or ability.
Ride Roll Run is Valerie Bolling’s third picture book, written in her distinctive style of sparse, engaging, rhyming text, and readers will connect from the very first page. The playful nature of the story, and clever use of slant rhyme, encourages readers to listen closely, and perhaps even pre-empt the words associated with the actions described in the story. Sabrena Khadija’s bold, uncomplicated and colourful illustrations are the perfect complement to the text. Her use of simple shapes and lines add an exuberant strength to each of the characters, enticing the reader to join in the fun.
Ride Roll Run is a celebration of community, friendship and neighbourhoods, and is a wonderful addition to any library collection.
Supporting teaching themes could include friendship, community, sports, neighbourhoods, children with disabilities and rhyme.
Find out more about Valerie Bolling
Find out more about Sabrena Khadija
Published by Abrams Books Appleseed Imprint
Release date October 4, 2022.
ISBN: 9781419756290 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 – 5.
When a parcel arrives at the Kelly house, no-one knows who sent it or where it actually came from. The card attached simply says ‘Good luck to you all.’ Inside the plain brown wrapping they find a jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful African sunrise. The family sets about putting the pieces together. Dad even sets his watch to Late Autumn to allow everyone time to get all the pieces in their right places. As they work their way through the cycle of the seasons and Autumn returns once more, the colourful dawn of the puzzle emerges and the jigsaw is almost complete. But then Dad discovers that – oh no – the piece for the hippo’s swim shorts is missing! They search everywhere, even under their dog Lucy, but it’s nowhere to be found. Then mum realises that it must have accidentally been put out with the rubbish! ‘We’ll find it,’ Dad says, and they drive to the recycling centre where they are presented with an enormous pile of rubbish. They start searching and, although they don’t find the missing puzzle piece, they do find other pieces of people’s lives like letters from faraway places, bus tickets, wedding confetti, photos, old socks and lots of shopping lists. Without realising it Dad has actually trodden on the missing piece and it’s stuck to the bottom of his boot. As he walks through the house it slips off and onto the carpet where Kitty, the youngest Kelly member, finds it. ‘Must have been there the whole time,’ she says. With Autumn nearly over, Kitty places the final piece and her sister straightens it. The jigsaw is finished. With enough stamps to cover its travels, Katie and Kitty post it back to ‘Sumwear’, with their own message attached.
From my very first encounter of this brilliant Australian author/illustrator with Greetings From Sandy Beach, through Queenie The Bantam, A Bus Called Heaven, How The Sun Got To Coco’s House and all the others in between, Bob Graham’s latest picture book is yet another superb example of masterful storytelling. With his signature style of softly outlined, colourful illustrations, and underlying themes of family and community, JIGSAW: A PUZZLE IN THE POST is in an uplifting tale of hope, togetherness, and perseverance, and of always being found no matter how lost you think you might be.
Supporting teaching themes could include family, recycling, perseverance, community, connections, jigsaws, puzzles, hope, stamps, seasons, waste, letter writing.
Find out more about Bob Graham.
Published by Walker Books
ISBN: 9781529503319 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 3 - 7
Chris McKimmie has a knack of being able to capture the essence of a story with language and images that are simple yet also have an underlying complexity that goes beyond what is on the page. His latest picture book is no exception. In The New Dog we meet Kiddo. Kiddo is very happy with the two snuggly futon beds, the water and food bowls, the king size bed he shares with his humans and the box full of stuff that Teddy has left behind. From this very first page Chris McKimmie reveals another layer to the story and gives us a subtle insight into the reason Kiddo has become part of this family. Kiddo loves to chew, dig, play, bark and eat anything left lying around or within reach on the kitchen bench! He’s also afraid of storms, hates baths and loves lying in the warm patches of sunshine in his yard. All the things you would expect from a loveable canine. Chris’s illustrations are a joy with bright colours and a slightly imperfect perspective that children love and see reflected in their own artwork. There is also a little help from his family for some of the drawings which adds to the feeling of warmth and inclusion in the images. There are clever plays on text direction and font changes which add to the fun and involvement for the reader. This warm and engaging story is a must have for anyone who has ever lost a canine friend and then experienced the delight of welcoming a new, playful, mischievous and instantly loveable family companion.
Chris McKimmie is an award-winning writer, illustrator and artist whose book I NEED A Parrot, won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2020. His stories are always quirky, eye catching and totally relatable for younger readers. The New Dog, aimed at readers aged 4 +, could almost be seen as a sequel to Me, Teddy, the story of the family’s beloved black Labrador, and would make a wonderful addition to any collection of animal stories.
This review can also be found online in BuzzWordsMagazine
Supporting teaching themes could include animals, dogs, loss of a pet, families, grief and stylized artwork.
Find out more about Chris McKimmie
Published by Ford Street Publishing
ISBN 9781922696038 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 4 +
'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.
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
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.
‘Tell me a story Babushka,’ asks Karina
‘Maybe one of those stories about a princess and monsters, Baba’.
The story opens with young girl asking for a story from her Babushka (grandmother). Babushka begins the tale of a young girl happily tending her flowers and cabbage patch until the day she finds herself and her family caught up in Holodomor, the ‘terror famine’. Mass starvation and confiscation of food and property across the country is happening at the hands of the monsters - Baba’s term for the soldiers. Many families, including that of the young girl, are sent to camps in Siberia. Upon arrival, the children and adults are separated, with neither knowing what will happen or if they will ever see each other again.
Whilst in the camp, the girl finds a matryoshka (a small set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other) under her mattress. She wonders how they came to be there when there are not even any pillows for the children to sleep on, and certainly no toys. She carefully removes one doll after another until, inside the fifth matryoshka, she finds a message of rescue.
As she and some of the other children make their escape with the help of an unknown woman across a frozen forest to a waiting freight train, the girl wraps her scarf around her head, picks up the length of her oversized skirt, and boards the train not knowing where the journey will take her.
As the story concludes, we find out that Babushka was the young girl, and that she eventually found her way to safety and freedom in another land, where she is recounting the story to her granddaughter, Karina.
The Holodomor was the result of Stalin’s decision to collectivize farms and agriculture in the Soviet Union in 1929. Farms, villages, and whole towns in Ukraine were placed on blacklists and prevented from receiving food causing widespread suffering from 1932-1933.
Carola tells the story through simple, gentle and honest text. The strong bond between grandmother and granddaughter is evident from the opening page, emphasizing the importance of generational connections in keeping history alive. Melo’s illustrations are childlike yet evocative, especially the likeness of Babushka to the matryoshka dolls, and the black silhouettes of the soldiers against a blood red background - a stark representation of the cruelty endured by the Ukrainian people.
Stories of war and oppression are never easy to tell, especially to younger children. Tell Me A Story Babushka does so with heart and sensitivity.
I have not read or heard of many books that tell the story of the Holodomor, so this would make a wonderful addition to any library looking to add more stories from the Ukraine and diversify their collections.
Published in 2019 by Carola Schmidt.
Available from Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats
Recommended for ages 5 - 7
'There is a polar bear in the snow. Where is he going?'
In this new story from Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris, we follow a polar bear as he wakes from his hibernation to explore the snowy landscape that is his home. Through simple yet emotive narration that evokes suspense with each page turn, we learn about this majestic animal's icy surroundings, and meet the others that co exist with him. There is a strong underlying theme of the environmental impact made by humans that runs throughout the story, which is clearly evident when bear meets man and roars 'NO!', scaring him away. As we reach the end of the story we are left to ponder and imagine where the polar bear will go next.
Shawn Harris's illustrations and collages are truly stunning. They capture perfectly the white vastness of the land and the intense, beautiful pristine blues of the ocean of the cold north. The contrast in the smallness of man's footsteps as he runs from the polar bear, and the much larger ones of the polar bear itself on the last few pages, are a subtle reminder of the power and fragility of mother nature.
You can find out more about Mac Barnett from his website.
Shawn Harris's extraordinary artwork can be found here.
Published in 2020 by Candlewick Press
Recommended for ages 3 - 7
Lali finds a feather while she's playing in the field. She thinks the feather might be lost so she sets out to find it's home. Along the way she meets la ot of different birds and asks them all the same question, 'Is this feather yours?' Each bird replies 'Na, Lali, Na!', saying the feather is either too little, or not perky or fancy or warm enough, So Lali decides to keep the feather and show the cheeky birds all the wonderful things the feather can do. All of a sudden big old wind comes along and lifts the feather high in the air and it floats away. This makes Lali very sad and, although all of the other birds offer her their fancy feathers, Lali just wants her plain, pokey little feather. When it eventually floats back to the ground, everyone wants to play with this most wonderful feather! The book ends with Lali finding another, equally intriguing object that promises even more adventures.
This is a wonderful story about a young Indian girl with a big imagination, who sees the value and potential in the small things around her. The vibrant illustrations are a perfect match for the text which is interspersed with Indian slang, and helps showcase the diversity inherent in the story. Lali's colourful clothes, her long brown braid and her bindi, are a beautiful depiction of a carefree young Indian girl. This is a must have book to help diversify your library collection for younger readers.
You can find out more about Farhana Zia's books here and about Stephanie Fizer Coleman's beautiful illustrations here.
Published in 2020 by Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.
Recommended for ages 4 - 8