School's out for the summer and eleven year old Alberta Bracken (or Birdy for short) is looking forward to sun, surf and hanging with her friends at the beach. But something's not right. Her best friend Sylvie is 'ghosting' her and not returning any calls or texts, her mum and dad are acting weird and her little sister, Clementine, is even more annoying than usual. Then she gets pushed off her bike by Seth Cromby and brakes her arm and has to have it in plaster for six weeks! There go her summer holiday plans. Things get even worse when her mum (bestselling author of Tammy Bracken's Guide To Modern Manners) and dad separate because he has been having a 'thing' with someone in town. Now she knows why everyone has been acting strange. How will she get through the holidays with no friends, a broken arm and a family that is falling apart? Enter Mikki Watanabe. He's from Birdy's school but they don't really know each other - yet. Mikki has just returned from Japan and invites Birdy to hang out at his place. He's is a budding film maker and really loves trees. He tells Birdy about 'forest bathing' and how trees communicate with each other, and the more Mikki tells her, the more curious Birdy becomes. They begin making YouTube nature shorts about a pine grove they discover hidden deep in the local forest, only to be shocked to learn it will be cut down soon! They HAVE to save these beautiful, ancient trees, but how?
This new story from Marion Roberts focuses on friendship, forests, and family. Her main characters introduce us to the science science of tree communication and their interconnectedness, and the importance of trees to our planet and our own wellbeing. She tackles the difficult issues of separation and kleptomania in a language that is easily accessible and relatable for tween readers, and at the heart of the story is the underlying theme of forgiveness. For young activists the story also provides concrete ideas on how to become involved in and promote a cause they are passionate about, without being didactic or out of reach for that age group. A quirky, warm hearted novel that will strike the right chord with its readers.
Themes for the classroom include families, friendship, social media, activism, forest bathing, the environment, risk taking, resilience, bullying and forgiveness. Access teacher notes here
Find out more about Marion Roberts
Published 2022 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760526795 (PB)
Recommended for ages 9 to 13
How do you grow your heart? With gratitude. Jack, Lila, Mina, Li Wei and Rosie are back again and this time each reveal how they learn to focus on what they have rather than what they don't have, to say thank you and to be grateful. Each child takes us on their own journey of discovery to find out what gratitude means to them, and how it inspires them to try and make the world a better place. We learn about the many ways we can show our gratitude and not only help other peoples hearts grow and become filled with joy and happiness, but our own as well. One of my favourite lines from this gentle and thought provoking story is 'Gratitude is like opening a door, and seeing the world in a new way.' What a simple but beautiful message, and such a wonderful way of encouraging our youngest humans to look after the world, and to connect with and understand each other. Each page is full of bright and intuitive images that perfectly capture the meaning of the text. The smiles on the faces of the children as they experience the joy of being grateful are truly heart warming.
Back matter includes 'big people' talking about what they are grateful for, discussion questions for children, notes for parents and carers, and tips for nurturing gratitude in children. This is the latest in series of books about values by this superb author/illustrator duo entitled 'Human Kind: A Little Good in a Big World' and would make a wonderful addition to any library collection.
Wellbeing, mindfulness, being thankful, values, diversity, kindness and cultural understanding are all topics that can be linked as teaching ideas for the classroom from this delightful picture book.
Find out more about Zanni Louise here.
Find out more about Missy Turner here.
Find out more about the Human Kind series here.
Published in 2021 by Five Mile Press
ISBN 9781922514455 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 8