Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

Black Cockatoo is a story that presents interpersonal family relationships and issues in a quite upfront but gentle manner.

Mia is the protagonist and she is struggling with the changes her brother is going through as a rebellious, defiant teenager. He is going through his own teenage angst struggle of fitting in with his group of friends versus respecting his own family, his own culture and traditional values as portrayed in the relationship with his grandfather.

Mia, at thirteen, (although she seemed much younger to me) takes on a position of observation to analyse her family’s turmoil.

This vignette is evocatively written, however, the portrayal of Mia’s brother’s issues is done through quite a few acts of animal cruelty. As an animal activist, I must say that I found this confronting. I have a belief that it is hard to unsee or unvisualise something you may never have imagined before. Through social media I have seen cruelty that I would never imagined possible and unfortunately those visuals remain in my memory. I worry that the depictions of cruelty in this book could either affect those reading it and/or put ideas into their heads.

There is, however, a beautiful scen at the end of the book between Mia and the dirran black cockatoo she has been caring for, where she must make a choice whether to keep the wild bird caged or to set it free into a world where it will not survive.

There are many issues crammed into this short story but poignant story.  Many interesting points could be contemplated and discussed during and/or after reading it. The book incorporates Jaru Aboriginal language and Aboriginal English terms – with a helpful glossary at the back.

Overall, an evocative, interesting story that presents a lot of food for thought.

ISBN: 978-1-925360-70-7

PB: $11.99

 

 

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The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes

The premise of this book is sibling death and how we remember and continue to celebrate the lives of those we lose. The child who has passed in this story is ‘Johnny.’

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The story is told in a gentle and touching way and would give lovely ideas to any family going through similar grief, for example, wearing something that belonged to the person who died, to keep playing their favourite games and still having a birthday celebration to remember them.

Making up ‘cloud stories’ is an important part of this book – each illustration has a cloud-like setting to place Johnny’s presence into the story.  The story could have been enriched, I feel,  by including a distinct reflection of one of the stories the brother had made up before he passed, or something more significant in the illustrated cloud pictures – maybe a symbol to show he is watching over the family and is still forever present. An example of this could be a wombat in the clouds, just like the t-shirt that Jonny used to wear and that his sister now wears to hold him dear.

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Overall, a lovely explanation of loss and grief and the celebration of life – told gently. And an inspiring springboard to use when death touches our lives, for creating personalised rituals to keep those that leave us present and remembered.

ISBN: PB – 9781925675382 – $14.99       HB – 9781925675399 – $24.99

Big Sky Publishing

 

 

 

Billie by Nicole Godwin and Demelsa Haughton

The author’s intent is very clear in this book – to show the beauty of the natural world in which all animals should live happily and peacefully, compared to the hardships that they actually face every day because of humans.

‘Billie’ presents readers with many scenarios that underwater sea creatures face. The protagonist is Billie, a bottlenose dolphin, who just wants to spend her days playing joyfully in the surf, but instead, sets about helping animals affected by human intervention. She does things like free animals from nets and releasing them from fishing lines.

There is something new to discuss on each page, even after multiple readings – Demelsa Haughton’s illustrations are part of the reason for this. Although the illustrations are bold and clear, they are layered with extra visual information. The colour palette used is beautifully calming and maintains a sense of peace that everything is under control. (Even if as adults we know the truth is problematic)

Nicole Godwin is both an author and an animal activist. She is on a mission to save the animals that suffer on our planet and she is doing this by writing stories that start the conversation with children. Her books introduce children to facts and encourages them, as not only readers, but as people, to think differently about all creatures in the hope of a better more conscious future.

Her mission statement reads:

                        ‘We create children’s books that give a voice

                          to those who yelp, roar, moo, oink and trumpet.’

There is a double-page spread at the back of the book that gives readers facts about dolphins and the hardships faced by creatures living in the ocean – a lot of food for thought.

Congratulations to Nicole and Demelsa. This is their second book together. Their first book ‘Ella’ can be found here:

https://telltalestome.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/ella-by-nicole-godwin-and-demelsa-haughton/

ISBN: 978-0-9945314-1-4                                                                                                                       HB: $24.99                                                                                                                                                             PUBLISHER:  Tusk Books https://tuskbooks.com

 

 

Jacaranda Magic By Dannika Patterson and Megan Forward

The flowers falling down from the Jacaranda tree sparks the imagination of five bored friends with nothing to do in this newly released picture book.

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The story, written in rhyming verse, weaves its way through a multitude of scenarios that the children imagine as they play on and around the Jacaranda tree which is in full bloom.

Childhood freedom and fun is presented, reminding readers of all ages of the simple joys of life that can be created just by using your imagination.

Award winning illustrator, Megan Forward, has portrayed the story in watercolours that give off a daydreamy feel – inviting readers into the imaginary worlds that the children make up and explore.

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This is a great book to read to children to remind them that we have the best time when life is simple, creative, spontaneous and playful – especially when we share those times interacting with family and friends – and often the best times are in the outdoors.        Also a great book to have on hand if you hear the ‘bored’ word.

Another great picture book from Ford Street Publishing.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781925804003  $24.95             Paperback ISBN: 9781925804010  $16.95

 

 

Monster Party by The Children of Rawa with Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

This book is a sweet and fun collaboration of an initiation project led by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin. Together they travelled to one of the remotest communities in Western Australia – Punmu and worked with the children at the Rawa Community School to write stories and produce art.  This is the collaborative culmination of the time spent there with the children.

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Jane Godwin (L) and Alison Lester (R)

The story is about monsters, of course! It isn’t scary though – it’s actually a fun story and the monsters are very cute. The text is written in rhyming verse and a real playfulness is projected. The illustrations of cut out monsters are beautifully done and reflect a child-like innocence. The monsters are bold and colourful. There is a sense of cheekiness reflected in the monster’s faces. The font is large and clear, and some of the monster sounds are also cut out of the children’s artwork – this is appealing and has a strong visual impact.

This is an adorable read together book that will surely be read over and over again.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this project – it has turned out really well.

A special shout out to the children from Rawa – you are amazing! – Well Done!

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Reece Give Me Some Peace! by Sonia Bestulic and Nancy Bevington

This is a fun story that explores a day at home with Mum preparing all meals whilst Reece makes a lot of noise using a variety of instruments.

                    Toast

There is predictable, repetitive text, that would make this an enjoyable read along / read together text.

Suitable for a 0 – 6 year old audience who would enjoy the sounds of the individual instrument noises, as well – for example:

Ding dong ding

                      Ding dong daloom

                                                 Tootle di

                                                             Tootle dum

                                                                           Cling clang clash,

                                                                                                         Cling clang cloom!

It is also a great introduction to instrument types, from drums to violin.

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The illustrations are plain and simple, and the characterisation of expressions are well done, particularly the cat who I think expresses Mum’s true, inner feelings.

Cat

This book is currently ‘On Tour’ – You can follow along at http://www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour

 

 

I Remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

Memory is elusive for everyone but becomes even more so with age.

A stand out feature of this story about one elderly woman’s memories of childhood is that the author has bundled collective memories of holidays together, instead of chronologically telling a memory of a single camping trip – and isn’t that just how memories are for all of us – scattered rememberings all linked together by emotions and feelings.

Another stand out feature is how senses trigger our memories – sights and sounds, smell and tastes and feel, tactile or inexplicable.

The colours are warm and enveloping – just like the memories.

The special effect of using both crayon and paint gives a kind of faded postcard feel to the books theme.

A lovely story that will no doubt be important to children in a nation tipping the scales towards an ageing population.