In this post, I share some information about Michael Rosen. I hope you are already aware of Michael Rosen because he is an amazing poet, author, educator and so much more.
If you know nothing else about him, you probably know his award-winning picture book Going on a Bear Hunt with its wonderful illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. This article in the Guardian that tells how he came to write it and Helen to illustrate it is quite fascinating.
Here’s a video of Michael telling Going on a Bear Hunt and some others of his stories.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sandhya Parappukkaran, author of The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name which is illustrated by Michelle Pereira and is a Bright Light 2021 publication by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing.
About Sandhya Parappukkaran
Sandhya Parappukkaran left her job as a Food Technologist so she could put her feet up and read. Then she rediscovered her passion for children’s books. She writes stories with themes of ‘embracing your cultural identity’ inspired by her South Indian heritage. Sandhya resides in Brisbane with her husband, three children and a backyard brimming with mango trees, curry leaves and green chillies.
About The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name
No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.
When Zimdalamashkermishkada starts a new school, he knows he’s got to do something about his long name.
When no amount of shrinking, folding or crumpling works, he simply settles for Zim — but deep down, it doesn’t feel right.
It’s not until a new friend sees him for who he is that Zimdalamashkermishkada finds the confidence to step boldly into his name.
What I like about The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name
This is a beautiful book about culture and identity, about accepting ourselves and respecting others. As the blurb says, ‘No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.’ Our names are an essential part of who we are.
In Australia, people often take liberties with the names of others, lengthening some, shortening others or creating a nickname from their parts, often without asking permission. Over the years, many from migrant families have Anglicised their names to make it easier for the English-speaking population to pronounce.
In both a profound and subtle way, through her story, Sandhya Parappukkaran shows us the importance of respect for others and their culture by something as simple, but significant, as learning to pronounce their names correctly.
Even Zimdalamashkermishkada had difficulty pronouncing his name. When his new friend Elly shortened it to Zim, he asked his mother if he could do the same. She explained, ‘We named you after the coconut trees that stretch high and hold up the sky while sheltering all underneath’, and she asked him to ‘Give people a chance to say it right.’
So, he does. As Elly teaches Zimdalamashkermishkada to skateboard, he teaches her to pronounce his name.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Deborah Frenkel and her beautiful new picture book Naturopolis with illustrations by Ingrid Bartkowiak and published by Storytorch Press.
About the author Deborah Frenkel
Deb is a human (Homo sapiens). She lives in Melbourne with her young family and a number of ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) who occasionally drop by. When she’s not writing for kids, she’s usually copywriting for TV commercials, billboards, and the labels
of shampoo bottles. Kids, thankfully, are usually more appreciative. This is her first picture book, and her second (with Affirm Press) is due out in 2023.
An artist and illustrator based in Brisbane, Australia, Ingrid works in watercolour and oils. Her practice revolves around her fascination with nature and its intricacies. Ingrid completed her Bachelor of Fine Art in 2019 at the Queensland College of Art. Engaging with native flora and fauna, her illustrations are whimsical and encourage an appreciation for nature. They often feature both realistic illustrative elements, merged with abstraction and blocks of vibrant colour. There is a focus on detailing and pattern, with one of Ingrid’s earlier interests being in the visual tropes of the arts and crafts movement. A highly talented artist, this is her first children’s book.
Among the steel and stone canyons of the city, nature flourishes in tiny, tenacious ways. Follow the ant (Iridomyrmex purpureus) to discover the scraps of wilderness hiding in plain sight in this lyrical celebration of urban flora and fauna.
Naturopolis is a wonderful acknowledgement of the unseen, and the world that awaits the viewer, eager to connect with nature. You don’t have to go far to find what is waiting for us beneath our feet.
Naturopolis is creative non-fiction that celebrates nature that can be found in our cities. The lyrical text invites children to look closely and stunning hand-painted illustrations show them where to look. Each observation is accompanied by an information tag that provides the reader with fun facts about the fauna or flora discovered. It is a perfect balance of fiction and non-fiction, enough to excite the imagination while at the same time, fostering an interest in exploring and finding out more.
Themes are resilience, community and appreciation of nature.
During the month of July, we are urged to go plastic-free, or at least reduce our use of single-use plastics, by the Plastic Free July Foundation with its vision of ridding the world of plastic waste. The website has many suggestions for reducing the plastic you use and waste. There are success stories and many resources to use to keep yourself motivated and encourage others to become involved.
This video gives a brief introduction to Plastic Free July.
In addition to this larger movement, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a young boy with his own inspiring story about what he is doing to reduce plastic waste, including working to have plastic toothbrushes banned. His name is Ned Heaton, and you can hear him talk about his project in this video.
More about Ned
Ned Heaton is a kid on a mission to reduce ocean plastics. At the age of 11 he started his own
bamboo toothbrush business, The Turtle Tribe, which he won awards for, including
Changemaker of the Year in the Be the Change Awards, and Young Entrepreneur Award in
the Youth Business Magazine. Featured on radio and television in Australia and around the
world, Ned is the youngest CEO ever mentioned in CEO Magazine.
Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Imagine Our Special Place written by Kelly Louise Jarris and illustrated by Sandunika Dissanayake. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About author Kelly Louise Jarris
As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. The story has been described, “Their imagination takes them out of their reality into other happy places”.
Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.
Sophie is unwell and has to go to the hospital a lot. This enchanting story is about two sisters that go on a magical journey. It touches on celebrating life and all its precious moments. Imagine being able to bounce off white fluffy clouds, meet the Queen of all the Rainbows and sip tea from a golden cup made from the sun! Sophie has a beautiful imagination.
What I like about Imagine Our Special Place
Many children have siblings who are ill and have to spend time in hospital. Many children are themselves ill and have to spend time in hospital. Illness and hospitals can be cold, scary places. Imagine Our Special Place with its bright, colourful and hope-filled pages lifts us out of the cold reality into the world of imagination where anything is possible.
Next Monday 6 June is Queensland Day, and, since I am a Queenslander, I thought I’d share a little about my home state, including Queensland authors and illustrators I have interviewed over the years.
12 Facts about Queensland
Queensland is in north-eastern Australia. It is the second-largest state by area (after Western Australia) and the third-largest in population (after New South Wales and Victoria).
2. Queensland is bordered by New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia. The Pacific Ocean is along its eastern coastline.
3. The most northern part of Australia, Cape York, is in Queensland. Though I am told it is very beautiful and is a popular camping and four-wheel drive destination, I’ve never been there. (I’m not a camper or a four-wheel driver.)
4. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef, is located along Queensland’s coastline.
5. The world’s three largest sand islands, Fraser, Bribie and Stradbroke, are also located on Queensland’s coast.
6. The capital of Queensland, Brisbane (where I live), is located in the south-east corner of the state.
7. Queensland Day celebrates the day in 1859 that Queensland separated from New South Wales to become an independent colony.
8. Queensland’s state fauna emblem is the koala. The koala is a marsupial (mammal with a pouch) that is native only to Australia and lives mainly along the east and south coasts.
9. Queensland’s state floral emblem is the Cooktown Orchid. It is native to northern Queensland and was named after a town there.
10. Queensland’s state bird emblem is the brolga, a tall bird which is noted for its graceful mating dance.
11. Queensland’s state gem is the sapphire, and the aquatic symbol is the anemone fish from the Great Barrier Reef.
12. Anyone in Australia who follows sport, probably doesn’t need to be told that our state colour is maroon.
Today, Friday 27 May is the first day of National Reconciliation Week which runs until 3 June. The theme this year is ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’
As expressed on the Reconciliation Australia website, the theme ‘is a challenge to all Australians— individuals, families, communities, organisations and government—to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians.’
It ‘is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.’
The dates are chosen to commemorate two events:
On 27 May 1967, more than 90% of Australians voted ‘Yes’ in a referendum to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be recognised in the Census.
On 3 June 1992, the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision which recognised the incorrectness of the term ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no one). This decision led to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and paved the way for recognition of Native Title.
The day before Reconciliation Week, 26 May, is National Sorry Day which remembers and honours the Stolen Generations.
The website lists actions we can all take to make a change toward reconciliation.
The basis of many of these actions is education. It begins with us, teaching our children to honour and respect the cultures of our First Nations, to learn the truth of our history, and to implement actions for change.
I rarely mention politics in my posts, but with our recent change in government, I was very proud to be an Australian when the incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged our First Nations peoples in both the introduction and content of his victory speech. These are the words with which he opened his speech:
“I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. And on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the heart in full.”
And these are the words which he used further in:
“And together we can embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“We can answer its patient, gracious call for a voice enshrined in our constitution. Because all of us ought to be proud that amongst our great multicultural society we count the oldest living continuous culture in the world.”
In further recognition, in his first press conference as Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese hung the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags alongside the Australian flag in the media room at Parliament House. These statements give me hope for the recognition that our First Nations deserve and is long overdue.
Dreise is the author of many wonderful picture books. I first came upon his delightful stories in books such as Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie which introduce children to the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Common Wealth is different. It is a book that challenges us to acknowledge our true history and to ‘break down the barriers of division … by discussing without ammunition, a willingness to listen … to a true common wealth vision.’
The book may not be as suitable for sharing with our younger children, but it makes valuable reading for us anyway as it can empower us in our knowledge and discussions. The half-title page informs us that this book is ‘A Slam Poetry Persuasive — A picture book for older readers. Contains some confronting imagery.’
Dreise opens the book with the words, ‘All that I’m wishing, is that you take a moment to listen …You see, I’m on a mission, to spread unity — not division.’ He takes us on a journey through our national anthem and our history, pointing out the parts that are incorrect and what we need to do to make them more inclusive and true. His illustrations pull no punches and the text added to the illustrations add to the depth of the story and its message. There is much to contemplate and discuss. It may be challenging but it is also empowering and I, for one, can’t help myself wishing for change along with Gregg.
Finding Our Heart by Thomas Mayor, illustrated by Blak Douglas
Published by Hardie Grant 2020
Thomas Mayor was involved in the writing of the Uluru Statement of the Heart. His book for adults titled Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement Towards Voice, Treaty and Truth talks about the writing of the statement and reports discussions with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whom Mayor met with as he took the Statement on a journey around Australia. It is a very valuable read for adults.
Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Joy’s Journey, written by Jacinta Farragher, illustrated by Manka Kasha and published by Little Steps Publishing. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About author Jacinta Farragher
While living in Thailand, Jacinta Farragher found that snippets of quirky verse popped into her brain every time she had a massage. Naturally, she wanted to explore this further and started having massages twice a week. Now she’s a children’s picture book author! Jacinta is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Creative Kids Tales, and the Australian Society of Authors. She dedicates her time to writing and having massages. Jacinta’s passion is writing fun picture books with messages that uplift and empower. She plans to spend the next few decades writing books that will inspire children and adults alike for generations to come. Jacinta’s debut picture book, Joy’s Journey, is an adventurous quest story about realising the joy is in the journey. This will soon be followed by a second book, Joy’s Way – a fun story about doing things your own way.
About Joy’s Journey
She travels over land and sea, to see what she can see. She becomes a bold adventurer, to be what she can be… Join Joy as she travels through four seasons, meets friends, and ultimately discovers that the joy is in the journey, and the most precious thing you can find is yourself!
What I like about Joy’s Journey
Joy’s Journey is a delightful tale from start to finish. For me with my own red-haired family, a redheaded freckle-faced protagonist has extra appeal, 😉 but of course there’s far more in the book to delight than that.
The story begins with Joy setting off to find a paradise where lives a teacher ‘strong and kind and wise’ and where, she’s heard, all her wishes will come true. She travels across the seas to different lands, exploring every terrain including a desert island, a cave, mountains and valleys. She meets many new friends and even finds a chest full of treasure.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Jennifer Horn, author and illustrator of a delightfully nostalgic but contemporary fairytale The Precious Plum.
About Author-Illustrator Jennifer Horn
Jennifer Horn is a Brisbane-based freelance illustrator and budding children’s writer. Her debut picture book “The Precious Plum” was released in October 2021 amongst some very musical live book launches. She illustrated the cover of Anthology Angels’ children’s fundraising anthology, Once Upon a Whoops!: Fractured Fairytales and Ridiculous Rhymes (2021). Her short stories have appeared in each of Anthology Angels’ annual publications since 2018: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (2018), Spooktacular Stories (2019) and Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming (2020). Her first Young Adult short story, Faulty Connection, was published in Rhiza Edge’s dystopian and sci-fi anthology, Crossed Spaces earlier this year. She was awarded a Highly Commended for her submission of middle grade illustrations at the 2020 CYA Conference.
With a background in Architecture, Jen draws on her love of stories and adventure to create whimsical illustrations in a Quentin-Blake-inspired squiggle style. She enjoys reading books over local community station Reading Radio, and playing keys, including the piano accordion. She has also been part of Art Department teams on several Brisbane-based films, including Romance on the Menu on Netflix and The Umbrella on Amazon Prime.
About The Precious Plum
When a baker of magical goods for her village attempts to help her good friend the Gentleman, she finds an important ingredient goes missing in the process.
A tale for all who have unwittingly left a piece of themselves behind, The Precious Plum is a whimsical fairytale about finding that sometimes the things we are looking for are right where we left them.
What I like about The Precious Plum
The Precious Plum is a beautiful fable about love and kindness that will appeal to adults as well as to children, or to children as well as to adults.
I have read this book a number of times, and each time, I have been left with a sense of peace and contentment. It makes me want to pause and breathe in all of nature’s beauty, all the joys of the world. It is like a brief interlude stopping to smell the roses but through the words of a book.
Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Get Ready, Mama! written by Sharon Giltrow, illustrated by Arielle Li and published by EK Books. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About author Sharon Giltrow
Sharon Giltrow is an Authorcator, an Author Educator, based in Western Australia. She writes humorous picture books and middle grade speculative fiction. Her humorous debut picture book Bedtime Daddy, released in May 2020, is a companion book to this new release Get Ready, Mama!
Sharon has worked with children for all of her career, formerly as a teacher of children who are hearing impaired and Deaf-Blind, and now as an Early Childhood Educator and Teacher Education Support working with Young Children with Developmental Language Disorder.
Sharon is an enthusiastic and inspirational speaker with a passion for developing children’s oral, visual, and written literacy. She has experience presenting to children from zero- to ten-year-olds. Through Sharon’s author talks students, inspired by a real-life author, will discover the joy of literacy and unlock their hidden creativity.
Find out more about Sharon Giltrow on her website.
About Get Ready, Mama!
Even the most reluctant risers will find the fun in the morning routine with this lively role-reversal story about a mama who just doesn’t want to get ready!
Getting ready in the morning is a mission for many families with young children, but this inventive, tongue-in-cheek story provides a fun way of speeding things along. Full of heart and humour, Get Ready, Mama! is for anyone who has heard enough of “5 more minutes”.
What I like about Get Ready, Mama!
Get Ready, Mama! is a fun role-reversal picture book in which an enthusiastic child attempts to motive a reluctant mother to get up and going in the morning. What a hilariously non-threatening way to discuss those very same avoidance tactics used by many children, and even more, a fun way for parents to play-act reluctance in order to motivate their own children to take responsibility for getting up and getting ready in the mornings.
Any parent who has ever had to coax a child to get ready in the morning, and I think that’s probably most of us, will identify with Mum’s