My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books


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The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) is an organisation that fosters the engagement of literature in young Australians. Each year, the CBCA presents awards to exceptional books that make an immense contribution to children’s literature. In 2015 the CBCA will be celebrating its 70th year of promoting high quality Australian literature for children and young people (see www.cbca.org.au for more information).    

This year an outstanding list of books have been chosen as notables and shortlists for this prestigious award. Let’s have a look at the shortlisted books in the Early Childhood category.

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Snail and Turtle are Friends, Stephen Michael King (author / illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2014.

Snail and Turtle like to do lots of things together. They like to walk and run and read (as you can imagine, very slowly and quietly). Whilst they are good friends, Snail and Turtle recognise their differences in their habitats, diets and favourite activities. But they find common ground in their creative painting pursuits, ‘even though Snail likes swirls and Turtle likes shapes and blobs.’
A very sweet story of friendship and celebrating differences, with equally gorgeous bold, colourful and textured illustrations by author / illustrator Stephen Michael King.  

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9781921504631Scary Night, Lesley Gibbes (author), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Working Title Press, 2014.

Ready to be horrified? It’s time to hide! Let out a scream, it’s Scary Night! Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King bring us a spooktacular tale of three brave friends that set upon a journey in the dead of night. Join them for a mysterious adventure!  

Hare with a hat, Cat with a cake, Pig with a parcel. Any guesses as to where they are tip-toeing to under the pale moonlight?   With Pig in front, the animal friends wander far over dark, rolling hills, traipse through the whispering woods and even dare to cross a snapping crocodile-infested creek. Shivering and squeezing each other tight, they continue on their way.
But where did they end up? Read the book and you will get a BIG surprise!
Scary Night is beautifully written in poetic prose. I especially love how Lesley Gibbes draws the reader in with her interactive, humorous question and answer play and repetitive phrases. She has also provided plenty of opportunity for teachable moments, including phonic awareness, prepositional language and rhyming words.   Engagement with the audience is further emphasised with Stephen Michael King’s gorgeous, Suess-like, expressive illustrations. The cool, moody colours are strong but not overpowering, with his use of accents in the bright full moon and the characters large, white terrified eyes. Just perfect to create the thrill of the night-time scene.  
Scary Night, a rhyming story of courage, determination and friendship, contains all the goodness of fun, adventure, suspense, and just a little bit of bite to keep its young readers entertained many times over. This read-aloud book is a real treat!

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22735715 Pig the Pug , Aaron Blabey (author, illus.), Scholastic, 2014.

You can’t go past this eye-bulging, squashed nose little pug that graces the front cover of Aaron’s Blabey’s Pig the Pug. From the onset, we learn just how greedy and selfish this dog is, as he has already claimed the book as his own on the ‘This book belongs to…’ label. True to classic tantrum behaviour, Pig blatantly refuses to share anything with friendly sausage dog, Trevor. A kind gesture by Trevor sees Pig the Pug completely ”flip his wig”. Pig doesn’t learn his lesson gently. Should we laugh at his misfortune? Ashamedly, yes. 
With a distinguishable reference to the phrase, ‘When pigs can fly’, Pig the Pug cannot and receives his just deserts, which only turns out to be sweet for one… Trevor! With no choice in the matter, Pig is forced to play with his canine friend. And although not totally deserved, we can’t help but feel some compassion towards Pig, but we still sneak in a final little giggle nevertheless.  
Pig the Pug is delightfully told in fun, exuberant rhyme, with vivid, amusing illustrations.  A wildly funny read and a clear lesson in learning to share, suitable for all ages.

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noni-the-pony-goes-to-the-beachNoni the Pony Goes to the Beach, Alison Lester (author / illustrator) , Allen & Unwin, 2014.

Following the original Noni the Pony the loveable pony is back and ready to set off to the beach with her companions; Coco the cat and Dave the dog. As far as cats go, Coco prefers to be nonchalant and stay dry. But like any typical energetic dog, Dave bounds off through the waves to find a whale, only to become stranded in the middle of the ocean. In her true heroic, caring manner, Noni is there to fish him out and return to the safety of the shore.
With Alison Lester’s characteristically gorgeous, endearing illustrations, and gentle, rhythmic wording, Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is a fun, positive tale of friendship and all things magical about visiting the beach.  

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go-to-sleep-jessie--1Go To Sleep, Jessie!, Libby Gleeson (author), Freya Blackwood (illus.), Little Hare Books, 2014.

A little girl cannot sleep while her baby sister occupies the same bedroom…and screams. No amount of comfort and pats from Mum settle baby Jessie. No amount of sweet stories and lullabies from Dad settle Jessie. The girl is frustrated beyond words, but when Jessie is taken out and all is quiet, she still can’t sleep, and finally comes to realise the perfect solution… A little bit of sisterly love and affection goes a long way.
A really gentle and endearing story that delicately explores the struggles of sleep-time routines. I love Libby Gleeson‘s descriptions of the baby’s behaviour, paired with the raw emotions of the older sister. I also love Freya Blackwood‘s whimsical and dynamic images that show these feelings with vignettes and contrasting tones of orange and blue.
Go To Sleep, Jessie! will melt your heart. It is perfect as a bedtime story at the end of the day, and especially for children who understand the joys and angst of having a younger sibling.  

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9781742974620A House of Her Own, Jenny Hughes (author), Jonathan Bentley (illus.), Little Hare Books, 2014.  

Audrey proclaims to her dad, ”Your house is getting too small for me”. So, a most obliging father takes his little girl outside in search of a more suitable place to live. A house high up in the tree is perfect! After all, Audrey is bigger than she was yesterday.
Handyman dad gets to work on a beautiful circular staircase, a hanging bathtub for snorkelling, a spot for sipping tea, a comfy blue bed, chairs for guests and a stove – all at Audrey’s request. The tree house is magnificent! But what happens when Audrey realises that she might get cold and she’s run out of food? Once again, dad has just the right solution!

Jenny Hughes has created this wonderful dialogue between Audrey and her dad; an independent, knows-what-she-wants little girl and her accommodating father. The images by Jonathan Bentley are breathtaking as we watch via differing perspectives of this amazing renovation coming together up in the sky. The vibrant watercolours and textures add a gorgeous touch of energy that so brilliantly captures the dynamics of each scene.
‘A House of Her Own’ is an enchanting story of love and dedication, with a sense of big adventure but also affirming one’s sense of security, that is sure to get preschoolers reaching up to their bookshelves for another read, again and again.

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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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Pig the Pug: Teaching Notes

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Pig the Pug Aaron Blabey  

”Pig was a Pug and I’m sorry to say, he was greedy and selfish in most every way.”  

I’m a sucker for a good dog story, particularly a hilarious one like Pig the Pug by award-winning author / illustrator, Aaron Blabey. With a front cover that creates a lasting impression; a bulgy eyed, flat nosed pug that is so ugly that it’s really quite adorable, you just can’t resist!  

In true toddler tantrum-style behaviour, Pig the Pug blatantly refuses to share his food and toys with friendly sausage dog, Trevor. And it is the mere suggestion that really sets Pig off.
”Well, Pig flipped his wig.”  
The crazed expression on his face, and the name calling, with toys being tossed in the air… this behaviour would never be condoned, but, I’m sorry to say, it’s so ashamedly funny.  

So Pig gathers all his belongings with a huff and a puff, and stands tall on the top of his tower like a spoilt brat, until… he endures an utter misfortune. With a distinguishable reference to the phrase, ‘When pigs can fly’, Pig the Pug cannot and receives his just deserts, which only turns out to be sweet for one… Trevor! With no choice in the matter, Pig is forced to play with his canine friend. And although not totally deserved, we can’t help but feel some compassion towards Pig, but we still sneak in a final little giggle nevertheless.  

Pig the Pug is delightfully told in fun, exuberant rhyme, with vivid, amusing illustrations. Aaron Blabey has brilliantly depicted cleverness, humour, a touch of darkness, and a clear lesson in learning to share. A wildly funny read for all ages.  

Title: Pig the Pug
Author/Illustrator: Aaron Blabey
Publisher: Scholastic, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 July 2014 
Format: Hard cover 
ISBN: 9781743624777 
For ages: 3 – 10 
Type: Picture Book  

Also see the review for Creative Kids Tales here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1056057748  

Pig the Pug
Available for purchase from Boomerang Books ($13.59 + $6.95 shipping per order)

My Little Question Time!  

Before Reading:
Why do you think this dog’s name is Pig? What does it mean to be greedy and selfish?
Role play / puppet play a situation where one character does not want to share. How might the other character feel?  

During Reading:
Why do you think Pig wants all the toys to himself? What does ‘Pig flipped his wig’ mean? What do you think will happen to Pig on top of the pile?  

After Reading:
Why do you think Trevor wanted to play with Pig when he wasn’t being nice? Why was Pig the Pug forced to share with Trevor? What happened to him? Do you think he learned his lesson? Will he share with Trevor when he’s better?
Make a list of Pig’s characteristics. Are any of these ones that you would like to have?
Make a list of Trevor’s characteristics. Would you like to be like him? How?  

My Little Learning Time!  

Writing.
– Write about a time when you didn’t want to share something. What was the other person’s response? What were the consequences of not sharing? What did you learn from that experience?
– Write a story with a strong moral. For example, write a story around learning the lesson that greediness ends in unfortunate circumstances.
– Research different kinds of dogs and write a list of characteristics about them. Illustrate.
– Brainstorm different kinds of phrases / idioms. For example, When Pigs Can Fly, or Cat Got Your Tongue. Draw a picture to match the phrase. Collaborate with others to make a book of funny phrases.      
peppa-pig-angel catgottongue1
Peppa Pig / www.sketchedout.wordpress.com

– Beginners – Finish the sentence: ‘I like to share my…..’, ‘My favourite toy is…..’, ‘I don’t like it when….’
– Letter Study: Pp. P is for Pig, Pug, play, puppy, pile, etc. Brainstorm or walk around the room searching for things that begin with Pp. Write on a sheet of paper.
Make a paper construction of one of the words on the chart. Eg. Paper bag puppy.  

Reading.
– Read other books by Aaron Blabey. What similarities are there with his writing style? Do his books always have a moral?  
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Arts / Crafts.
– Choose your favourite part of the book and paint a picture of it, using a mixture of watercolour paints and pencils.
– Bobble Head Pug.
Materials: Egg carton, scissors, pen, brown pencil, glue, white and coloured paper, needle and cotton, straw (cut in half).
Directions:
1. Cut out three egg cups from the carton.
2. Cut out the paper shapes in proportion; small circles for eyes, paws, feet and tail, two ears and a mouth. Draw nose and mouth on mouth piece, eyeballs on eyes.
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3. With needle and cotton, make a knot at the end and pierce through middle of one egg cup.
4. Glue and fit another egg cup inside the threaded one (this forms the body).
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5. Make a knot about 3-4cm up the cotton, and pierce needle through the third egg cup.
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6. Cut the cotton to the desired length, and tie onto half a straw.
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7. Decorate your pug with the paper shapes.
8. Make your pug wobble and jiggle!  
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– Paper Bag Puppy   
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– Toilet Roll Dogs  
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http://www.myrecipemagic.us/paper-roll-puppy-craft-2/
– Felt Dogs  
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– Concertina Sausage Dog  
concertina dog
– Footprint Puppy  
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Mathematics.
– Measurement: Height.
Materials: Metre ruler, 30cm ruler, tape measure, blocks (plastic, wooden), various sized boxes, books, pencils, etc.
Have several work stations with different materials to build and measure the height of a tower.
Eg. Station 1 – Build a tower with boxes, estimate and measure the height with a tape measure. Record.
Station 2 – Build a tower with small blocks, estimate and measure with pencils. Record.
Then children can compare and discuss measurements using terms like greater than, less than, longer, and shorter.

– Measurement: Weight.
Materials: balancing scales, various containers, blocks, counters, coins, matchsticks, other small objects.
Have several work stations with different materials to weigh different objects on the balancing scales.
Eg. Station 1 – Estimate and measure the weight of five blocks and the weight of five counters. Record.
Station 2 – Estimate and measure the weight of a container full of coins and a container full of matchsticks. Record.
Then children can compare and discuss measurements using terms like greater than, less than, heavier, and lighter.  

Science / Technology.
– Flying Machines. Help Pig the Pug to fly!
Design and construct a machine that can be propelled through the air.
– Straw Rocket. http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/easy-paper-rockets/
IMG_5938 IMG_5936 IMG_5937
– Balloon Rocket. http://www.education.com/science-fair/article/volume-air-far-balloon-rocket-travels/
balloon-rocket-diagram
– Catapult. http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/28871/catapult-for-kids-to-make
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– Hoop Air Glider.  http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/straw_hoop_plane.php    
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Lessons and photography by Romi Sharp 2014.
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal and classroom use only, not permitted for commercial use.  
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