My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books

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My Little Story Corner’s Favourites From 2014

I didn’t think I’d make a ‘best-of’ list this year, simply because there were just too many fantastic picture books to choose from. So, to make it easier on myself I enlisted the help of my recently-turned five year old daughter. What better critique can you get than an inquisitive preschooler (soon to be school girl)?

To give you an idea of how ‘experienced’ we are in the picture book department, my latest library record shows that we’ve borrowed a total of 257 children’s books in the year of 2014. Then there are the ones we’ve bought (which sadly doesn’t even come close to the borrowed figure, but let’s face it, noone can afford that!), plus the several books received from my wonderful literary magazine employers with whom I write reviews for. That’s ALOT of books!

So, of all the books we’ve managed to lay our hands and eyes upon, these are Miss 5’s top 12 picture books of 2014 (in titled alphabetical order)

Bza6SorCYAAMLHqDigby’s Moon Mission by Renee Price, illustrated by Anil Tortop (Tadaa Books, Dec 2014).

A popular book in our house, Digby’s Moon Mission is a humorous story of teamwork and diversity; of a curious boy who sets out to solve the mystery of the banana-thin moon. Exploring concepts such as rhyming words, the days of the week, and phases of the moon, the final surprise at the end was the point that had us enjoying this adventure to the moon again and again.


go-to-sleep-jessie-Go To Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare, Nov 2014).

We’re huge fans of the Gleeson and Blackwood combination (as discovered after reading the gorgeous and emotive Banjo and Ruby Red, which also features in Go To Sleep, Jessie!). And the fact that Miss 5 also has a little sister made this book a real treasure in our household. Several anguishing attempts to settle baby Jessie to sleep seems like nothing will work. But in a heartwarming ending the girl narrator finds a way to give Jessie the comfort and love that she needed. Too sweet!


hurry-up-alfieHurry Up, Alfie by Anna Walker (Scholastic, Sep 2014).

From another of our favourites, Anna Walker, author / illustrator of the loveable Peggy, this is a story we could both relate to. A young crocodile finds it difficult to focus on getting ready to go out when there are so many other distractions, and his agitated parent who is constantly reminding Alfie to get a wriggle on! A very cute and funny tale with whimsical, beautiful artwork by Anna Walker.


mix-it-up-Mix it Up! by Herve Tullet (Chronicle Books, Sep 2014).

Not an Australian book but worth a mention. Miss 5 just loves the interactivity of this one, as we engage with the paints to splash, mix and transform from primary to secondary colours, and using light and shadow to create new shades. Fun, engaging and a clever way to learn about colours and colour mixing.


oliverOliver and George by Peter Carnavas (New Frontier Publishing, Sep 2014).

Ok, so we love ALL of Peter Carnavas’ books! Hugely popular in our house were The Boy on the Page and The Important Things. Oliver and George is an adorably funny book about patience (or lack thereof) and friendship. Oliver is ready to play, but his bear friend George is busy reading. Oliver gets up to all sorts of antics to capture George’s attention, only to be faced with a surprising reaction each time. But will they ever be ready to play? We love how Peter promotes a love of books, and his illustrations are as always dramatic, expressive and sweet.


22735715Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic, July 2014).

Another one from the talented Aaron Blabey, with his sick sense of humour, author of the award-winning The Dreadful Fluff (which Miss 5 loved), and The Brothers Quibble. Pig the Pug is a totally hilarious story of an absolutely greedy and selfish Pug, more than unwilling to share his toys and food with his flatmate, Trevor the sausage dog. A book full of tantrums, name calling and bad tempers, Pig ends up getting his just desserts for his inexcusable behaviour, which turns out to be sweet for only one; Trevor. With matching expressive and comical illustrations, Pig the Pug is a must read!


9781921504631Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes, illustrated by Stephen Michael King (Working Title Press, Jul 2014).

A humorous and curious tale of three characters; a Pig with a parcel, a Hare with a hat and a Cat with a cake, setting off on a mysterious adventure in the pale moonlight. What a BIG surprise we got when we discovered where they were tip-toe creeping to on that scary night! Lots of fun with a hint of bite! Perfect for Halloween!


2014-12-31-10-40-36--970769686The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (The Dial Press, Sep 2014).

Published overseas, this book seemed to become an overnight sensation, and certainly was for us. Brilliantly able to capture the attention of young ones around the world, and it contains absolutely no pictures! A hilarious book full of silly words and proposterous phrases, making the reader sound like a ridiculous singing monkey with a blueberry pizza head. Be prepared for many reads, over and over, and over.


thegreatgardenmystery9780857984166The Great Garden Mystery by Renée Treml (Random House Australia, Sep 2014).

We definately couldn’t deny our admiration of Renée Treml’s art, quickly becoming fans of her previous books, One Very Tired Wombat and Colour for Curlews. In The Great Garden Mystery, a most intriguing case that has the animals in the patch in disarray. Who’s been eating all the beetroot in the night? As the animal detectives study every clue, each one asserts their innocence, until it is the roo that seems most suspicious. But will this mystery ever be solved? Who’s the one with the square-shaped poo? A fun rhyming story that will bring out the detective in all of us!


tim-and-edTim and Ed by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Penguin Australia, Oct 2014).

Tim and Ed are identical twin koalas. They look the same and do everything together. Until one day when they spend the night apart. Written in exuberant rhyme, with equally lively pictures, Tim and Ed is a fun story about learning independence and uniqueness, particularly when you are a twin.


vanilla-ice-creamVanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham (Candlewick Press, Aug 2014).

Following the breathtaking perspective that captured a moment in time in Silver Buttons (favourite from 2013), comes another magnificent story by legendary Bob Graham. A tale of cause and effect; how a little swallow bird from India gets carried away across the ocean on a shipping container, reaching its’ destination that is Melbourne, Australia. There, the bird unintentionally sets in motion a series of events that lead to a baby’s first, delectable taste of vanilla ice cream. Stunningly captured moments. Delicious!


whale-in-the-bathWhale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Allen & Unwin, Oct 2014).

A comical tale, with equally comical illustrations, of a splashing whale in Bruno’s bathtub. We laughed when the massive whale continues to tell Bruno to come back later, and poor Bruno gets accused of lying and avoiding his bath. We loved the ending when finally Bruno has his wash (with the help of the whale), and when someone else faces the same problem.


Well, the child has spoken. These are her top 12 picks of picture books published in 2014. If I had done my own list there would be at least another 10 or so… just have a look around my website and you’ll find some more amazing books by great authors. Looking forward to discovering more talent in 2015!

Happy reading!

– Romi Sharp 🙂

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Tim and Ed: Teaching Notes

Tim and Ed
Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner

My Little Book Review: 

Having two kids under five is busy enough; constantly picking up after them, the daily hustle and bustle, and the shouts, shrieks and laughter that goes with sibling shenanigans. But what about young, lively, always busy, curious twins? Now that would be a handful!  

Dubosarsky and Joyner make a great award-winning team, already bringing us The Terrible Plop and Too Many Elephants in This House, which was chosen as the 2014 National Simultaneous Storytime picture book. And another terrific team they have introduced more recently, are the adorable Tim and Ed.  

Tim and Ed, identical twin koalas, are pretty much the same. With their matching eyes, mouth, feet, and head, and their arms, legs, knees, nose, ears and toes that are the same. The only thing differentiating them are their initials on their tee shirts. In their colourful, safe world with their Dad, they share a definite cheekiness, curiosity about their twin existence, and an unequivocal bond.  

‘I want to be the same as him!’, Ed reveals, as no contrast will be accepted, even if caused by a dirty, wet pond. Absolutely exhausting their poor old Dad, this duo’s energy just doesn’t seem to tire. With a noisy racket and a toy-ladened house, Dad and Auntie Pim join forces to organise a well-deserved break for the single father.  
However, their sense of security is suddenly shattered when the twins discover that they will be spending the night apart. In the beginning they hardly notice each other’s absence, enjoying their time crashing toy trains and racing bikes around the yard, and dining on spectacular meals.  

In the quiet calm of the night they notice the missing presence of each other’s company. But upon reuniting the following day, with the reassurance of their Dad, the koalas realise a little bit of independence can be fun. And although they may look the same, they each have their unique qualities, which makes them special individuals.  
Tim and Ed is a gorgeous picture book that perfectly matches Ursula Dubosarsky’s rollicking, rhyming storyline with Andrew Joyner’s lively, expressive illustrations. Dubosarsky’s real life conversations between father and sons, and activities written with descriptive text, are paired with Joyner’s accurate facial expressions and charmingly drawn details, including a typical Aussie backyard and messy family living room.  

Children aged three and up will adore the moments shared with their siblings and parents after reading Tim and Ed. With action-filled behaviours that they can relate to, delightful and engaging illustrations, and learning about being individual and independent, especially when you are a twin, it will be easy to get attached to this picture book.

Also find this review on the Boomerang Books Blog:

Tim and Ed
Available for purchase from Boomerang Books ($22.49 + $6.95 shipping per order)

My Little Question Time!  

Before Reading:
Show two toys / objects that look exactly the same. Ask, what is different? What is the same? When two things are the same we say they are identical. Ask, What is a twin? Are all twins identical? Do you have a brother or sister? Do you like to do the same things?
Look at the cover. What do you notice about these two koalas? What is the same and what is different?  
twin toys

During Reading:
Explain twin babies can either come from one egg (identical), or two eggs (non-identical). What animals are hatched from eggs?                                                                                                                  
Why does Ed want to be wet and dirty? Why do you think Dad wasn’t feeling good? Do you think they will have a good time apart? Who is Ed looking at in the glass?  

After Reading:
How did Tim and Ed feel to be apart for the night? What do Tim and Ed mean when they say, ‘There’s nobody like him or me!’? Just because they look the same does it mean they are the same person? Do they always need to do the same things? Can one twin like to do something while the other twin likes something else more?  

My Little Learning Time!  

– Read other books by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner
The Terrible Plop
Too Many Elephants in this House

– Identifying odd one out: Which picture doesn’t belong?  
Australia Odd one out

– Identifying differences between font letters. Eg. a, g vary in style. Look in magazines, newspaper, books, and so on. Cut out / copy and paste onto a chart.  

– Create a Thinking Venn Diagram, showing similarities and differences between Tim and Ed. Alternatively, choose your own topic to compare.
tim and ed venn pic
– Letter Focus: On a chart, write the letter Tt. Look through the book, Tim and Ed, to find things that begin with that letter. T is for Tim, tomato, tree, train, toys, tee shirt, etc.
Make another chart with Ee for Ed, egg, engine, eyes, ears, etc. Make a paper construction of one of the words on your chart/s.  
– Write a story about yourself being doubled, or tripled, etc, and all the fun shenanigans you all get up to!

Art / Craft.
– Koala Mask.
Materials: Paper plate or cereal box, black paper or texta for nose, mouth and around eyes, coloured tissue paper, cotton wool balls, paddle pop stick, craft glue, scissors, sticky tape.
1. Cut out the shape of the koala head with ears.
2. Mark where eyes will be. Cut out the two circles.
3. Using cut up tissue paper, glue pieces all over face.
4. Glue cotton wool balls on ears.
5. Cut out a black nose and glue in place.
6. Draw black around the eyes and a little mouth.
7. Sticky tape a paddle pop stick to the back.   
koala mask koala mask mirror
Alternatively, you can use a template, found here:  
koala mask activity village

– Twin Koala Footprints.
Materials: Grey, white and pink paint, black pen, paper, paintbrush.
1. Place one foot at a time in the grey paint, and place next to each other on the paper.
2. Dab grey paint for ears, arms and feet. Add a white circle in the heel and tummy areas, and two white dots for eyes.
3. Dab pink paint in the ears and cheeks.
4. Draw a face with a black pen.
koala footprints  

– Seashell Koalas.
Materials: Different sized flat clam seashells, craft glue, black pen or small beads.
1. Arrange shells, large for tummy, medium for head, small for ears, feet and nose.
2. Glue back of head to the top of the back of the tummy. Glue small feet on bottom, ears and darker nose shell on head.
3. Draw black dots for eyes, or glue on small black beads.
4. Why not make twin seashell koalas, and a seashell gum tree, too!   
koala shells  

– Recycled Can Koala.
Materials: Different sized recycled cans and lids, craft glue, tape.
1. Arrange cans and lids, larger for tummy, medium for head, lids for ears, hands, nose.
2. Glue and tape all together to form a koala shape.     
recycled can koala

– Newspaper Collage Koala.
Materials: newspaper, white paper, grey paper, black paper, coloured backing paper, goggle eyes, black pen, glue.
1. Rip bits of newspaper into small pieces. Draw circles for head and tummy onto white paper. Glue newspaper pieces onto white paper as paper collage inside drawn circles. Cut off extra bits outside circles.
2. Cut grey paper into shapes for arms, legs and ears. Glue in place.
3. Glue black nose and goggle eyes into place.  
4. Glue whole koala onto coloured backing paper.  

– Koala Face Origami.     
koalaface koala origami

– Symmetry: noun The quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis. Symmetry is when one shape becomes exactly like another if you flip, slide or turn it. 
Complete the koala’s face around the line of symmetry.   Download Koala Symmetry here.
koala symmetry pic

– Patterns. Tessellations – draw and cut out a shape, and use it as a template to create your own tessellating pattern.

– Spot the Difference: Identify similarities and differences between a set of given pictures.  

-Count the koalas colouring page

– Counting / Addition: Doubles.
Learn your doubles facts.
doubles facts
Play doubles games with dice, dominoes or blocks.   
dice doubles domino doubles
Complete the ladybugs by doubling the spots. Use counters, or laminate and use whiteboard markers.
ladybug doubles
Make a doubles flip book, with the doubles equation on the front, and the answer / picture under the flap.
doubles flip book

– Koala Study. Research appearance, breeding, food, habitat, behaviour, and so on. Create a poster or slideshow presentation.  
Koala Baby07RAM
– Mirror Mirror on the Wall.
Have you ever wondered why you can see your face in a mirror? In this fun activity, work with a partner to guess where you will see each other’s reflections in the mirrors. Record the angles in which the light has reflected off the mirror.,-mirror-on-the-wall-angles-of-reflection/  

– Mirror Drawing Challenge.
For some lateral reflection action, try this fun experiment by drawing a picture on paper, then placing it besides a mirror to attempt to draw the ‘mirror’s image’!    

Photography and lessons by Romi Sharp 2014
All sourced resources have been credited.
These are for personal or classroom use and not permitted for commercial use.