Tag Archives: Picture books

Meet author Diana Harley and her springtime picture books

Meet author Diana Harley and her springtime picture books – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Diana Harley as we discuss her three beautiful picture books that are perfect for sharing at springtime, or any time.

Here at readilearn, we have quite a fascination with minibeasts, especially butterflies, and have quite a variety of teaching resources that focus on them. Naturally, we are attracted to other resources which encourage children’s interest in minibeasts and the environment.

Diana Harley, Australian picture book author

About Diana

Diana Harley is a writer, author, poet and playwright living and working in the Bega Valley of NSW. Diana has written a number of fiction and non-fiction books for children, has had two adult poetry anthologies published and has won numerous awards for her poems and short stories. Many of her poems and stories have been included in various anthologies.  She has done a few blogs and two of her short plays have been produced and performed in regional NSW. She has run writing workshops for both adults and children and enjoys getting writers writing! She is a chocoholic, loves wedgetail eagles and reading is her favourite hobby.

About the books

Continue reading: Meet author Diana Harley and her springtime picture books – readilearn

Getting creative with Karen Hendricks and her book Go Away Foxy Foxy

Getting Creative with Karen Hendriks and her book Go Away, Foxy Foxy – #readilearn

In this special Books on Wednesday post, I am delighted to introduce you to Karen Hendricks and her lovely new picture book Go Away Foxy Foxy.

 In this post, written by Karen, she explains how creativity is explored in the picture book and suggests conversations you can have with children to encourage their creativity. The post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About Go Away, Foxy Foxy

© Karen Hendriks

Go Away, Foxy Foxy is a delightful story of three little bunnies who decide to sleep out in a tree house one night. Outside in the dark, Foxy Foxy prowls. He’d like nothing better than to make a feast of those little bunnies. The bunnies show different levels of fear and bravery and use their intelligence, without having to resort to using the Mummy bell, to scare the fox away.

Children will easily identify with the different emotions displayed and will be encouraged to discuss different ways they may respond to the situation and solve the problem.

About Karen Hendriks

Continue reading: Getting Creative with Karen Hendriks and her book Go Away, Foxy Foxy – readilearn

how to prepare your child for school

How to help your child prepare for knight school — Ashling Kwok – Readilearn

I recently introduced you to author Ashling Kwok in an interview about her delightful picture book Lola and Grandpa with its gorgeous illustrations by Yvonne Low.

Today, Ashling is back with us. This time she has written about her just-released picture book The Battle which deals with school anxiety and would be an excellent choice for both teachers and parents to read to their children as they begin or return to school. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

Over to you, Ashling.

How to help your child prepare for knight school

Continue reading: How to help your child prepare for knight school — Ashling Kwok – Readilearn

Join Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime

Join Whitney and Britney, the Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime 2020 – #readilearn

In less than a week, we will be celebrating the 20th National Simulateous Storytime. Are you ready?

National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual event held in Library and Information Week, the last week of May, in Australia and New Zealand. The event is organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) with the aim of promoting the value of reading and literacy.

Each year an Australian picture book is chosen to be read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the nations on either side of the Tasman Sea. Selected books explore age-appropriate themes and address key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.

This year the book is Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas, written and illustrated by Lucinda Gifford.

This book is fun and exciting and will appeal to the adults reading it as much as to the little ones listening to it. While the children may not yet be aware of the original Whitney and Britney divas, their parents and teachers will be.

12 Dancing Princesses

Arthur Rackham / Public domain

When I first began reading the book, I was reminded of the Grimm’s fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. However, the ending is different and modernised and perhaps more enjoyable for the readers as well as the characters.

Whitney and Britney are gorgeous chooks who live with the elegant Dora von Dooze. While she appreciates their eggs, she’d also enjoy their company. Alas, they sleep throughout the day, which makes Dora a little curious.

Dora determines to discover what they get up to each night while she is asleep; and discover she does. But how does she react and what happens when she finds out?  You will have to read the book to find out what surprises await Dora as well as Whitney and Britney.

Continue reading: Join Whitney and Britney, the Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime 2020 – readilearn

interview with Ashling Kwok about her picture book Lola and Grandpa

Let’s meet Lola and Grandpa in an interview with author Ashling Kwok – #readilearn

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Ashling Kwok, author of the delightful new picture book Grandpa and Lola, illustrated by Yvonne Low. This interview with Ashling is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About Ashling Kwok

 After graduating from University, Ashling went on to become a journalist and magazine editor, before setting up her own freelance writing company. Over the years, Ashling’s work has appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines, and she is a regular contributor to a variety of online publications. When she is not dreaming up new ideas or working on her latest book, Ashling can be found scouring local bookstores, marvelling at all the wonderful books being created by talented children’s authors.

About Yvonne Low

Yvonne is an illustrator, writer and award-winning artist.  She enjoys playing with words and colours and is particularly inspired by nature.  Her work is whimsical, often has a dash of humour and always tries to tell a story.  She works mainly in pencil and watercolour, but also dabbles in acrylic, pen and ink, pastel, digital media and Chinese brush painting.

About Lola and Grandpa

Lola and Grandpa is the story of a young girl and the tender, loving relationship she shares with her grandpa. When Lola’s grandpa passes away, she struggles to cope. However, as time passes Lola starts to remember all of the special times they shared. She can see her grandpa reflected in all of the things around her and realises that even though he is no longer physically with her, they will always remain connected.

What I like about this book

I knew I would love Lola and Grandpa as soon as I saw the bright cover filled with the sunshine from the ‘o’ in Lola’s name. The words and images dance across the pages, reflecting the joy felt by Lola and Grandpa as they spend their Sundays together. We can’t help but feel the warmth of their love and wish, as Lola does, that these times would last forever. The wisdom that Grandpa shares with Lola — “Time slips away, my angel, but love and memories last forever’ — is as reassuring for us as it is for Lola.

Continue reading: Let’s meet Lola and Grandpa in an interview with author Ashling Kwok – readilearn

On an Aussie Easter Egg Hunt with Little Bilby and Yvonne Mes

On an Aussie Easter Egg Hunt with Little Bilby and author Yvonne Mes – #readilearn

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Yvonne Mes and her delightful new picture book Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt.

About Yvonne Mes

Yvonne Mes is a children’s author and illustrator from Brisbane. Her latest picture book is Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt. Other picture books by Yvonne are Oliver’s Grumbles (Yellow Brick Books) and Meet Sidney Nolan (Penguin Random House).

Yvonne coordinates Brisbane based writers’ group, Write Links, reviews children’s book for KBR (Kids’ Book Review) and runs No Nonsense Critiques. She buys more books than she can read, comes up with more ideas than she can write or illustrate and has more children than she can manage. But she does try very hard, and best of all, she is NEVER bored.

About Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt

Near bush and scrub and oceanfront, they tiptoe on their Easter hunt . . .

A group of baby bilbies are on an Easter egg hunt. They find all kinds of eggs – a kookaburra’s egg, a turtle’s egg, a cassowary’s egg – before the little bilbies finally find what they’ve been looking for: Easter eggs to share with all their friends.

This colourfully illustrated picture book showcases the diversity of Australia’s egg-laying animals. Each spread reveals an egg in its natural environment and asks the question ‘Whose egg could this be?’. After turning the page, the egg is matched with the animal it belongs to.

Why I like this book

Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt, gorgeously illustrated by Jody Pratt, is a fun story that is sure to delight young children as they go on an Easter egg hunt with Little Bilby, finding eggs that belong to others before they find the eggs that they can share.

If they are not already drawn in by the sparkles on the front cover, children will love the rhythm and rhyme and join in with the repetitive text as they seek and find eggs belonging to Aussie egg-laying animals, kookaburra, turtle and cassowary.

Continue reading: On an Aussie Easter Egg Hunt with Little Bilby and author Yvonne Mes – readilearn

February - special days and events to celebrate in the classroom

Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — February – #readilearn

It is during the final weeks of January and the first weeks of February that most teachers and children in the Southern Hemisphere begin their school year. Parents breathe a sigh of relief as the long holidays come to an end and teachers and children look forward to the year ahead with mixed feelings ranging from the excitement of a new adventure to anxiety or even dread. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Children’s Mental Health Week falls in the first week of February.

Children’s Mental Health Week

Children’s Mental Health Week runs from 3 – 9 February this year. The purpose of the week is to encourage children to look after their bodies and their minds. A positive classroom environment that is both welcoming and supportive helps to ensure children stay happy with healthy mental attitudes. It supports the development of self-esteem, self-confidence and the development of social skills, including getting along with others.

Here at readilearn, we can help you establish a supportive classroom environment and provide you with teaching resources that focus on developing social-emotional skills. While these are appropriate for any time of the year, a special focus during mental health week provides opportunities for reading books and engaging children in activities that are conducive to positive attitudes.

Of special note this year is that many children in Australia may begin the school year distressed by what they have personally experienced or may have seen or heard about the bushfires that have caused so much damage to our country.

While I am unable to give specialised support for dealing with trauma, this article in the Conversation has suggestions to help teachers support students, and includes links to other information. It is pleasing to see that extra funds have been made available to assist teachers and students who have been affected by the fires. If you have been affected and I can support you with a free subscription to readilearn, just let me know.

Resources for a supportive classroom environment

You can find suggestions for establishing a supportive classroom in these previous posts:

Continue reading: Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — February – readilearn

January - special days and celebrations for the classroom

January — Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations – #readilearn

Throughout the year there are many special days and events that are worthy of celebration in the classroom. They may draw attention to issues affecting our world and its inhabitants or celebrate achievements and contributions to the arts or our collective knowledge.

On the last Friday of each month, I will provide you with a list of days and events worthy of celebration in the following month. This is the list for January. The list is not exhaustive and is simply some ideas to spark your imagination.

International Year of Plant Health

As 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health, January is the ideal time to start thinking about how you can use the theme Protecting Plants, Protecting Life to foster learning throughout the year. It fits perfectly into Science Biology units that focus on living things, habitats and the environment; or perhaps you might consider using it as an overarching theme in your classroom for the year.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,  the year “is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.”

Some ideas:

    • Establish a vegetable or native garden
    • Adopt an area of bushland
    • Decorate your classroom with a plant theme
    • Have potted plants in your classroom
    • Schedule time in your program for exploring outdoors
    • Conduct experiments about the needs and features of living things — plants
    • Read books about plants
    • Discuss the importance of plants to our lives
    • View and discuss this promotional video

Continue reading: January — Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations – readilearn

author Dimity Powell discusses her picture book Pippa

Fly away with Pippa and her author Dimity Powell – reblogged from readilearn

Have you ever wished you could fly? Or perhaps wished for a chance to explore but were held back by rules and restrictions?

I always thought it would be marvellous to be a bird, soaring above the earth, looking down upon its beauty. Oh, the freedom it would bring. Looking out at the world from a plane’s window is, for me, the nearest thing. But for Dimity Powell’s latest endearing character Pippa, flight is a reality.

About Pippa

You see, Pippa is a pigeon, and, like all pigeons, Pippa was born to fly. She wants nothing more than to spread her wings and go exploring. However, her parents aren’t sure she’s ready and fill her head with fears and days with restrictions to keep her close at home. It works for a while. But, one day when her parents are otherwise occupied, Pippa discovers she can fly, and that’s where her adventures, explorations and discoveries begin.

Pippa is a delightful new picture book that is bound to win hearts and spread joy. Award-winning author Dimity Powell describes her book thus:

Pippa is a light-hearted adventure tale about striking out alone, following your dreams and desires and experiencing what it’s like when you get there. It is a tale that acknowledges the sometimes-suffocating affection parents have for their offspring, which can temper and frustrate a child’s sense of freedom and adventure, and suggests that it’s okay to take risks from time to time. Although the adventure may be perilous, it is still worth experiencing for you never know what glorious discoveries lie ahead.

Pippa is small, determined, stubborn, and wilful, just like many other six-year-olds. And, like many youngsters who’ve wanted more than they can handle, when she finally does return to her flock, she realises that when it comes to true security and contentment, it’s family that matter most.”

About Dimity Powell

I previously introduced Dimity to you in her popular guest post Libraries: A wonderous universe to explore and in an interview about her  picture book At the End of Holyrood Lane for which she was recently awarded the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Crystal Kite Members’ Choice 2019 Award, Australia and New Zealand region.

Dimity likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books including The Fix-It Man (2017), At The End of Holyrood Lane (2018) and Pippa (2019) with more to follow in 2020 and beyond.

She is a seasoned presenter both in Australia and overseas, an accredited Write Like An Author facilitator and a Books in Homes Role Model Volunteer in Australia.

Dimity believes picture books are soul food, to be consumed at least 10 times a week. If these aren’t available, she’ll settle for ice-cream. She lives just around the corner from Bat Man on the Gold Coast although she still prefers hanging out in libraries than with superheroes.

Dimity’s inspiration for writing about Pippa

Continue reading: Fly away with Pippa and her author Dimity Powell – readilearn

Death - It's just a stage we're going to flash fiction

Death — It’s just a stage we’re going to

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo is over for another year and the weekly flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Day of the Dead

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the Day of the Dead. It can be the Mexican holiday, a modern adaptation of it, a similar remembrance, or something entirely new. Go where the prompt leads!

I would have to say that, here in Australia, we have been rather insulated from the Halloween phenomena until recent years and it was only very recently that I became aware of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos, which celebrates the dead, remembering them and celebrating with them as if they were alive. What a wonderful way of keeping the memory of loved ones who have passed, alive.

We are not very good about discussing death in our culture, especially with children. Rather than accepted as a normal stage of life, it is kept secret as if to be feared. Yes, none of us want to go before we’re ready, but there isn’t one of us, as far as I know, who has found the secret of living (in this Earthly lifetime) forever.

The Tiny Star

The-Tiny-Star by Mem Fox

Last week I had the absolute joy of attending the launch of a lovely new picture book The Tiny Star, written by Mem Fox and beautifully illustrated by Freya Blackwood. The book is a joyous celebration of life’s journey from the beginning when ‘a tiny star fell to earth and turned into a baby’ until its return to the night sky where it would be ‘loving them from afar and watching over them … forever.’ The book provides a beautiful opportunity for discussing, even with very young children, the passage of time and the passing of loved ones in a way that is sensitive, respectful and meaningful. It is a book, just like each ‘star’, to be treasured. You can hear Mem read the book by following the link in the book’s title above and listen to her discussing the book with illustrator Freya Blackwood in this video.

The Fix-It Man

The Fix-It Man by Dimity Powell

Another lovely picture book that deals well with the topic of death for young children is The Fix-It Man, written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston. The book deals, sensitively and honestly, with a child’s grief at the loss of a parent. The child discovers that her father, who is usually able to fix any broken thing, is unable to fix her sick mother. Together the child and father find a way to support and strengthen each other through their grief and come to terms with their loss.

The Forever Kid

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

The Forever Kid, written by Elizabeth Cummings and illustrated by Cheri Hughes, is another lovely picture book that sensitively tackles the topic of death, this time with the loss of a sibling. Each day, on the ‘forever’ child’s birthday, the family keeps his memory alive by celebrating with his favourite activity—lying on their backs on the grass telling cloud stories. Families who have experienced the loss of a child may be moved to find their own ways of remembering and celebrating the life that was. (I interviewed Elizabeth about The Forever Kid for readilearn here.)

Flash fiction challenge

So, back to Charli’s challenge to write about the Day of the Dead. While Halloween and the Day of the Dead have similarities (perhaps more to the uninitiated than to those in the know), they are not the same thing. However, my story is probably more like Halloween than the Day of the Dead. Oh well, that’s where the prompt took me, maybe because of the discussion about Halloween not being an Australian tradition that arises at this time every year, and perhaps because, in the 80s (anyone else remember that far back?) we teachers were instructed to not do anything involving Halloween or witches in our classrooms. That has now been revoked and many teachers work a little fun into their program with Halloween-themed activities. (As I suggested on readilearn recently.)

Anyway, here goes.

Full Bags, Dying Heart

From his room, Johnny watched the parade of monsters and ghouls wending from door to door. They laughed and giggled, whooped and cheered, clutching bags bulging with candy.

“Get inside,” she’d admonished.

“Why?”

“It’s the devil’s work. Dressing up like dead people. It’s not our way.”

She’d dragged him inside, shut the door and turned off the lights.

“We don’t want those nasty children knocking on our door.”

“But, Mum. It’s Graham and Gerard and even sweet Sue …”

“Enough! Get to your room!”

He watched, puzzled—How could it be devil’s work? They were his friends having fun.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading.

Note: I would have liked to write a sequel to this where Johnny sneaks out and joins his friends, but I ran out of time. Maybe another time.

I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.