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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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Whale in the Bath: Teaching Notes

whale-in-the-bath
Whale in the Bath
Kylie Westaway
Illustrated by Tom Jellett

Read the Review.

Whale in the Bath: Question Time!  

Before Reading:
Ask some silly questions, like ”Would you ever find an elephant in your toilet?”, ”Would you find a polar bear in your fridge?”.  Encourage children to think of their own examples and write them down.
Look at the cover. Did you think a whale could fit in a bath? Do you think this might be a true story or make believe? What do you think the boy might say to the whale? What would you say to the whale?  
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During Reading:
Ask, Do you know what krill is? Do you believe Bruno? Do you think he really had a bear under the bed and a walrus in the backyard? Do you think the whale has nice manners? Can you wash like a whale? (Do the actions).  

After Reading:
Do you think Ally sees the whale or is she making it up? Why do you think Bruno’s family didn’t believe him? Why do you think Bruno didn’t want to have a bath? What would you do if someone didn’t listen when you asked them to do something? Have you ever tried to avoid something you didn’t want to do? What happened?  

Writing.
– Using the ideas listed prior to reading, write a new title about a large animal in a small item. For example, ”Hippo in a Teacup”. Illustrate to create a front cover.
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– Using the above front cover, write a new story about yourself trying to use the item that the animal is sitting in. What was it doing in there? Why doesn’t it want to get out? What would you say? What do your family say?
– W is for whale. Make a list of words that begin with ‘Ww’. Encourage children to copy or trace some of these words. Accompany each word with a picture to represent it.
– Make a paper model of one of the ‘w’ words. Eg. paper whale (see Art / Craft), walrus, window, etc.
– Write an alliteration sentence with ‘w’ words. Eg. Wally Whale wondered why the water wasn’t warm. Illustrate.  

Reading.
– Read other books about whales.
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– Find and write a list of verbs associated with the word ”splash”, in a whale template.
Alternatively write adjectives to describe the whale, or nouns listing the items he used in the bath.  
skinny-outline-whale-md

Mathematics.
– Measurement: Length. How big is a Blue Whale?
Objectives: Children understand the size of a Blue Whale. Practice predicting and measuring skills.
Materials: roll of string (100 feet or 30.5 metres), Blue Whale picture, pencils, large butcher paper, corridor or outdoor area, paper plates.
1. Research and write measurements of the Blue Whale on the picture.
2. On large butcher paper, draw the head of the whale, as life size as possible. Do the same with the tail.
3. Have children draw eyes, mouth, scales onto the head and tail.
4. Mount the head at one end of the corridor, then stick (or tie) the end of the string to the head.
5. Unravel the string (30.5m) and attach with the tail.
6. Children predict how many paper plates (and/or other materials) it would take to fill the entire length of the whale. Write estimates, measure and record.
7. Discussion: Who’s prediction/s was closest? Refer back to book. Compare and contrast – Would it be possible for this whale to fit in a bath? A car? A house? What else might be as big as a Blue Whale?
(Activity adapted from www.teachervision.com/science/lesson-plan/2548.html)  

– Find a range of online whale maths games and videos at the following site:
https://www.learninggamesforkids.com/animal-games-whales.html  

Science.
– Research facts about the Blue Whale (use size measurements in Maths activity above). Present as a booklet, poster or visual technology presentation.
Some information can be found at: www.animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/blue-whale/
Learn all you wanted to know about blue whales with pictures, videos, photos, facts, and news from National Geographic.  
blue-whale-pictures_3

Art / Craft.
– Look at the illustrations by Tom Jellett. Draw cartoon style pictures and paint with cool, earthy tones.
– Download these awesome drawing and colouring activities by Tom Jellett, found at:
http://kyliewestaway.com.au/fun-stuff/colouring.     
IMG_7117 IMG_7118
– Make your own Paper Plate Whale.
How cute is this one from Krokotak! We made our own using one paper plate, textas and some gold paper! Simple and adorable!
Instructions here: http://krokotak.com/2014/07/a-paper-plate-whale/ .    
025c3b584f452b91ea47eda710be3cc9 IMG_7114-1
– And this Blue Whale Paper Toy:
http://krokotak.com/2013/03/blue-whale-paper-toy/
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– Crayon Relief Whale.
Materials: crayons, watercolour paint, water, paintbrush, paper, googly eyes and glue (optional).
Directions: 1. Draw a large whale with crayon and colour in as desired.
2. Dab water in to the watercolour paint to form a runny mixture, and paint over the entire sheet of paper.
3. Notice the crayon wax resisting the water. Allow to dry.
4. Glue on a googly eye/s (optional).    
293x208xcrayonresistwhaleshark-mainpic.jpg.pagespeed.ic.SywDeQHFda
– Crayon Fun in the Bath!
Have a whale of a time and be creative in the bath with some bath crayons. You can easily make your own.
See instructions here: http://m.wikihow.com/Make-Soap-Crayons  
760px-Make-Soap-Crayons-Step-6

General.
– Find a range of whale activities, including literacy, mathematics and crafts, on Kylie Westaway’s Pinterest page:
http://www.pinterest.com/kyliewestaway/whale-in-the-bath  
b1e26c3392f1e5b7c26a48d4832769da

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