What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? by Anh Do & Laura Wood (ill)

What do they do with all the poo
from all the animals at the zoo?
the hippos, the tigers, the kangaroos –
What do they do with all that poo?

Comedian Anh Do has been making Australians laugh for years, and since turning to chidlren’s books he’s gained a whole new generation of readers. What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? will entertain even younger readers than his junior novels.

This rhyming story, which comes with accompanying music on a CD (sung by Simon Mellor) is catchy, funny and, of course, slightly gross, which is exactly why youngsters will love it. The illustrations, by Laura Wood, are also filled with humour, with the looks on the faces of humans and animals particularly engaging.

Great for reading with or without the accompanying music, this will be a favourite both at home and in classrooms.

What Do they Do With all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo?, by Anh Do & Laura Wood
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760276324

Lily the Elf: The Wishing Seed & The Elf Flute, by Anna Brandford, illustrated by Lisa Coutts

The Wishing Seed (Lily the Elf)
Lily hugs the seed tightly. Then she whispers into the fluff.
Lovely dandelion seed
(not a pest and not a weed),
grant my wish
with super-speed,
a princess crown
is what I need!

Lily’s dress up crown is broken and tattered. She dreams of having a sparkly, unbroken princess crown. So, when a dandelion wish seed floats by, she knows what to do. She makes the wish and waits impatiently for it to come true. But nothing happens. Her wise dad and granny tell her that sometimes fixing things is better than wishing things, but Lily isn’t convinced – until both adults help her to fix her crown into something very special.

The Elf Flute (Lily the Elf)
First, she holds the flute sideways. Next, she wiggles her fingers over the holes. Then she blows over the big hole at the top.
She waits for lovely music to fill the room. But there is only a whiffling sound.

When Lily is given a brand new elf flute, she decides she will play it at the Grand Elf Concert, rather than recite the poem she has written. But learning to play the flute is harder than she thought. Will she master it in time for the concert?

The Wishing Seed and The Elf Flute are two new titles in the delightful Lily the Elf series. Each self-contained chapter book features Lily and her family – her father and her granny. Lily tackles problems which are a charming blend of elfish and human problems – wanting or wishing for something, mastering a new skill, appreciating individual talents and so on.

Black and white illustrations on most spreads, simple sentence structures and large font make these titles suitable for emergent readers, but accessibility has not compromised the story quality.

A lovely pair.

The Wishing Seed (ISBN 9781925081060)
The Elf Flute (ISBN 9781925081077)
both by Anna Brandford & Lisa Coutts (ill)
Walker Books, 2015

Blue Whale Blues, by Peter Carnavas

I’ve got the Blue Whale Blues,
I’ve got the Blue Whale,
BLUE WHALE BLUES.

Whale is singing the blues. He’s sad because he doesn’t know which was the bike he found goes. Luckily his good friend Penguin is there to help him turn it up the right way. But with that problem fixed, Whale finds another, and another. Finally comes the biggest problem of all, when the friends set out to ride thier ‘bike’ and discover that it isn’t a bike at all, but an abandoned shopping trolley.

Blue Whale Blues is a humorous story about friendship and imagination which will have youngsters laughing out loud – and probably telling Whale and Penguin of their mistake long before they realise it for themsleves, with a little help from their friend Turtle. The repeated refrain will encourage them to join in singing the Blue Whale Blues, and the illustrations, using watercolour, collage and digital techniques, will delight.

Lots of fun for preschoolers but adults will smile too.

Blue Whale Blues, by Peter Caranavas
New Frontier, 2015
ISBN 978192505941

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, by Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why…

This hardcover picture book offering brings to life the lyrics of the popular song Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Featuring animal characters – a lion, a rabbit, a giraffe, a bear an a monkey – as they prepare for Christmas, and spread the news that Santa is coming by train, plane, by drum and more – this celebratory offering is accompanied by a CD recording sung by Human Nature.

Youngsters will enjoy seeing a song they are likely to be familiar with brought to life and to interpret the subplots of the illustrations as the characters exchange gifts, play tricks, argue and celebrate.

Good Christmas fun.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, by Haven Gillespie & J. Fred Coots, illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743626405

The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland

The Very Noisy BearIn the Jingle Jangle Jungle,
there was music in the air…
And it landed in the ears
of a very sleepy Bear.

When Bear is woken by his friends playing music, they suggest he joins in. But when he tries to play the drums, he bashes too hard and knocks them over, when he tries to play the guitar, his claws get tangled in the strings, and when he tries the trumpet, he makes a loud screech that scares the monkeys. Luckily his friends are persistent -and when he’s offered the microphone, Bear soon has everybody dancing when he roars in perfect harmony.

The Very Noisy Bear has all the fun of its predecssors, including The Very Cranky Bear, with humorous rhyming text, gorgeous animal-filled illustrations (rendered in acryclic paint), and a gentle, humorous story.

Lot sto like!

The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN 9781743627853

Available from good bookstores and online.

Pieces of Sky, by Trinity Doyle

Pieces of SkyGripping the straps of my backpack, I stare up into the sky, willing the world to stop. I wipe my nose on my sleeve and walk until I’m out of sight of the centre. My legs won’t stop shaking. I sit in the gutter, then stand back up and pace in a circle, raking my hands through my hair…
My hands shake and I tuck them into my armpits. I swallow tears. It’s still happening.
I need to swim. I need something to be the same. No home, no Cam, no pool.
No me.

Lucy’s life used to be almost perfect. Living in a small coastal town with her much loved brother, Cam, and her parents, she had good friends and a passion for swimming which had taken to her state championship level. Now, though, all that has changed. Cam has died, and Cam can’t go back in the water. In spite of not swimming, she feels like she’s drowning almost as surely as Cam did. Her friends are still swimming, and now she’s on the outside, starting back for a new school year with no idea how she’s going to get through.

At school there’s a new boy, Evan, and her ex-best friend, Steffi, and Lucy finds herself drawn into their circle as she tries to figure out what went wrong with Cam, and what is going wrong with herself and her parents, too.

Pieces of Sky is a tale of love and loss, but it also a story of friendship and survival, offering hope without saccharine. There is an element of mystery, as Lucy tries to figure out who is sending messages to Cam’s phone, as well as romance and drama.

There is a lot to like about this debut novel.

Pieces of Sky, by Trinity Doyle
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781760112486

Cherry Bomb, by Jenny Valentish

An hour before the biggest gig of our career, we sent a roadie on stage and instructed him to stretch a silver line of gaffer tape down the centre of it.
Rose and I watched from the wings.
‘That’s my side,’ she said pointing to the left, which was always her side. ‘Do not come over that line.’
Less than forty-five minutes after that I tried to strangle her in the people mover. Then I strapped on my guitar and walked out into the lights.

Nina Dall is one half of teen band The Dolls. The other half is her cousin Nina. They’ve grown up idolising their Aunt Alannah, and now they are determined to emulate her successes. But along the way, it seems they are also bent on copying a lot of her less stellar moments too – with alcohol, drugs, sex and family feuds all making big bumps on the road to success.

Cherry Bomb offers an uncomfortable, yet intriguing glimpse at the workings of the music industry, with extracts from Alannah’s autobiography at the start of each chapter highlighting similarities and differences with the past. Nina Dall is not a terribly endearing character, but she is honest and witty, and her insecurities, issues and childhood history of abuse draws the reader in as she lurches from crisis to crisis.

Likely to most appeal to older teens and under thirties, as well as anyone with an interest in the music industry.

 

Cherry Bomb, by Jenny Valentish
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781760110819

Available from good bookstores and online.

Hokey Pokey by Ed Allen ill Sarah Hardy

Okey dokey, let’s do the wombat hokey pokey!

Put your right paw in, put your right paw out,

Put your right paw in and shake it all about.

Do the hokey pokey and turn around,

That’s what it’s all about!

Okey dokey, let’s do the wombat hokey pokey!

Put your right paw in, put your right paw out,

Put your right paw in and shake it all about.

Do the hokey pokey and turn around,

That’s what it’s all about!

Hokey Pokey Aussie Edition features Australian animals doing the hokey pokey in their own distinctive style. The wombat puts a paw in and out, the kookaburra a wing, the platypus a fin. Illustrations are cumulative and each opening includes the featured animals, those that preceded, and also the animal that will feature on the following opening. Text curves across the pages, with lead words in larger, different colour fonts. Hokey Pokey  is accompanied by a CD with music from Colin Buchanan, and includes an instrumental version in addition to the song.

Many children, and most of their families will be familiar with the Hokey-Pokey song and actions. This new Aussie version offers an opportunity to look at the similarities and differences of the native fauna. Readers can play the CD and read along. Pre- and early-school classrooms will be hopping and spinning as they join in the celebrations. The instrumental track on the CD also offers the chance for teachers/parents/family to improvise with their own words. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

 

Hokey Pokey,  Ed Allen ill Sarah Hardy Scholastic 2014 ISBN: 9781742836454

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Baby Beats, by Karen Blair

Let’s play music,
make a beat.
Clap your hands
and stamp your feet.

Beautiful babies scamper through the pages of this delightful offering, making music with their hands, feet and voices as well as with musical instruments. They are surprised when they realise their cat can join in, too. They spend the day sharing their music before sleeping soundly and happily.

Baby Beats is a joyful celebration of music, friendship and babies. The toddler characters sing and play together, revelling in the music and each other’s company. The mix of ethnic appearance and gender is a really pleasing aspect of the illustrations, and the simple, rhyming text, makes this a lovely read aloud title for young children.

A companion title to Baby Animal Farm, Baby Beats is gorgeous.

 

Baby Beats, by Karen Blair
Walker Books, 2014
ISBN 9781922179074

Available from good bookstores or online.

My Band by Elizabeth Lea & Chantal Stewart

I’m off to play in the band.

See if you can guess which instrument I’m going to play …

It starts with the letter Tt

I’m playing the triangle.

I play the triangle by hitting it

with a small metal rod.

Triangles belong to the percussion family.

I’m off to play in the band.

See if you can guess which instrument I’m going to play …

It starts with the letter Tt

I’m playing the triangle.

I play the triangle by hitting it

with a small metal rod.

Triangles belong to the percussion family.

Here’s a musical instrument primer, written and illustrated for young children. Each spread has a flap and a question. The same character, a young girl, is featured asking the question throughout, as if she’s trying all the instruments on for size. As well as the first letter, there’s a small image showing part of the instrument. When the flap is opened, the instrument is revealed in full and there is an explanation of how to play it. There’s also information about which family the instrument belongs to. When the reader reaches the final flap opening, the band is revealed: a collection of young children. There is a blank space for a photo of the reader, so they can be the leader of the band. Final pages feature projects and history based on some of the featured instruments. This is a sturdy paperback, built to withstand multiple readings. Youngest children will enjoy the open-the-flap, while budding musicians will enjoy learning more about music. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

My Band

My Band, Elizabeth Lea ill Chantal Stewart National Library Australia Publishing 2013 ISBN: 9780642277701

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores or online.