Beware The Deep Dark Forest by Sue Whiting

“You must beware the deep, dark forest,”
Rosie told Tinky.
“Never, ever go in there.”

Rosie has never gone into the deep, dark forest, but when her puppy Tinky runs off into the forest she has to find him. 

“But the deep, dark forest is thick with danger,” warned Rosie’s Grandma. “Carnivorous plants they say.”
And venomous snakes,” said Rosie’s dad. “So I’ve heard.”

Would you go into the deep, dark forest?

Rosie can’t leave Tinky lost and alone in the dangerous forest and goes on a quest to rescue him. She needs to have courage as the forest becomes deeper, darker and muddier. Along the way, Rosie has to bravely sneak past a big, bristly brute, find a way to cross a place that is dizzily, dangerously, dreadfully deep and face a menacing, monstrous, muddy creature to save Tinky.

Sometimes like Rosie we don’t know how brave and clever we can be.

Sue Whiting has written a story that is like a fairytale. It is lots of fun to read aloud with its repetition and descriptive words, especially when Rosie stands up to the muddy creature at the end! Can you find ways Sue has used words to make her writing scary, exciting and fun? 

Annie White‘s earthy water colour illustrations take you into the forest with Rosie and often as the reader you can see things in the forest that Rosie can’t see. Can you see any carnivorous plants and venomous snakes or spot the shadow of the menacing, monstrous muddy creature? What has been printed on the purple endpapers, can you explain why?

If you like scary stories that are fun and going on quests where you can be a hero, then Beware The Deep Dark Forest is just the book for you!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes by Sue Whiting

Why I Love Summer by Michael Wagner

There are four seasons in a year, and they’re all AWESOME, but only one gets to be summer.

We are getting closer to summer here in Australia and along with Mitch, lots of people LOVE summer. In summer the sun shines, the sky is blue, days are longer and for a while everyone in the family is on holidays at the same time.

Summer is time to put on your t-shirt, cap and sunscreen and spend hours outside playing with friends, riding your bike, epic backyard cricket games, water fights, doing bombs in the pool and going nuts in the sun. There’s also Mitch’s favourite time of the day, Ice-cream O’Clock and family barbecues when you can stay up later than school nights because there are hardly any rules in summer. Mitch and his family along with many other families in summer go camping at the beach where everyone is happy and there’s so much to do…and Mitch can be with his family all the time.

Michael Wagner (author of Why I Love Footyreminds of what we love about summer in such a fun way. What are some of your favourite things to do in summer? Ask your mum and dad or even your grandparents what they liked to do in their summer holidays when they were kids. What was their favourite ice cream? 

Tom Jellet‘s illustrations are a celebration of our Australian summer and capture in colourful detail the ways our summer is unique. Take a close look at the ice creams on the endpapers, what dad’s cooking on the barbie, the fun summer activities, and I’m sure walking down that sandy path and catching a glimpse of the beach will be familiar to many of you.

You can also download a fabulous Why I Love Summer Activity Pack and have fun inventing an icy-pole, writing a holiday postcard or spotting things in the beach picture like a one-legged seagull and even Santa Claus!

Thank you Michael and Tom for such a fun book to remind us of why we love summer and wish it could last forever…

Happy reading!

The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro

The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro is a gentle story of a whale whose enchanting song brings happiness and hope, magic and wonder to the ocean and its inhabitants, but whale is lonely and nothing can fill his empty heart.

 Anna’s whimsical water colour illustrations will take you swimming into the depths of the ocean through seagrass taller than a forest, past seabeds, through fathoms and over dreaming turtles and forgotten treasure and it will warm your heart when whale’s wish is finally heard from far away.

Anna has used water colour, ink and pencil to create her illustrations. Open the book to see the full page front cover and have fun finding the many colourful sea creatures and plants throughout the story. This beautiful story is like a poem so read it aloud and let the rhythm of the words carry you along just like the ocean carried whale’s song…

Do you have a favourite illustration or sentence?

Watch this video if you’re interested in learning more about why whales sing.

Happy reading!

Pig the Grub by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug is back!  Eww…don’t get too close!

Pig isn’t just the world’s greediest Pug, he’s the dirtiest too. He spends his days rolling in mud, playing with unspeakable muck and leaking smells that make neat and clean Trevor’s eyes water. Personal hygiene is not a priority for Pig the Pug. 

So BATHTIME was called!
‘You stinky old mutt!

You need a good clean
from your ears to your butt!’

The last thing Pig the Pug wants is a bath! Trevor waits patiently in his shower cap as Pig ducks and weaves and doubles back trying to avoid the dreaded soapy water. Pig has a plan…

They watched as Pig gloated.
They watched as Pig crowed.

Definitely not an idea for you to try at home!!


Can you see Pig’s plan?
What do you think will happen?

Happy reading! 

Monsters by Anna Fienberg and illustrated by Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelsen

If you worry about monsters in your bedroom then Tildy and Hendrik have a plan for you…

Tildy knows there are monsters in her bedroom. They are hiding under her bed, reading her books and playing with her games. They’re big and bold and bossy and sail into her bedroom on the moonlight. Only Tildy can see the monsters. She sleeps with one eye open and the monsters are making her miserable. Hendrik, a new boy arrives at school and also knows about monsters. He becomes Tilda’s friend and has a plan to help Tildy deal with with her monsters.

Monsters isn’t a scary book. It is a warm and playful and encourages us to be brave. Part of the story is set in Kim Gamble’s childhood garden, where as a child he would lie for hours on his back looking up at the clouds, seeing ships, dragons and monsters. Kim Gamble and Stephen Axelson have let their imaginations run wild to create an array of monsters that cheekily play and hide on the pages of the book.

How many different types of monsters you can find? Draw the monsters that hide in your bedroom or use your imagination to create and draw your own scary, funny, fierce or friendly monsters. 

Kim Gamble is one of my favourite illustrators with his whimsical water colour illustrations. You will know Anna Fienberg and Kim Gamble from the much loved Tashi series they created together. In this video, Kim uses chalk pastel to create a scene for Tashi and the Golem. It’s magical!

A Final Note:

Sadly Kim Gamble passed away in 2016 before he finished the illustrations for Monsters. In a beautiful example of friendship, his childhood friend and illustrator Stephen Axelsen finished the illustrations for Anna and Kim’s book.

Thank you for giving us one last book to read and treasure Anna, Kim and Stephen.

Happy reading!

Teacher Notes

 

Oma’s Buttons by Tania Ingram

“A memory is something warm, something from long ago, something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh, and something as precious as gold”. (Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge)

Ruthie loves to visit her Oma and spend time baking, playing and singing together. One day while playing hide and seek, Ruthie finds a pretty tin under Oma’s bed filled with her ‘memory buttons’. Ruthie learns each button is a reminder of a special person in Oma’s life and listens closely as Oma tells the story about each one. The red button is from her mother’s apron because she loved to bake, the blue button is from the suit her Opa wore when he proposed to Oma and she even has a green button for Ruthie from her first dress.  When Ruthie spies a beautiful button that came from Oma’s coat she asks if she can keep it to remind her of Oma. Ruthie carries her button with her everywhere until one day the button slips through a hole in her pocket…

Tania Ingram’s mother-in-law was born in a displaced persons camp in Kematen after her family had to flee to safety during World War Two. As a refugee, she held on to her precious memories and family traditions by keeping buttons, lace and pieces of material in a small tin. A few years ago as Tania listened to her mother-in-law sharing the memory behind each precious item in her tin with her granddaughter, the seed was planted for Tania’s heartfelt story Oma’s Buttons

Looking at the detailed colour pencil illustrations by Jennifer Harrison that beautifully capture the special relationship between Ruthie and her Oma, reminded me of baking with my Nan when I was little and how she patiently let me measure, stir (make a mess) and always lick the spoon at the end! Wearing my Nan’s apron when I cook always brings back wonderful warm memories of baking cornflake biscuits and slices together. 

Do you call your grandmother Grandma, Nana, Nan, Nonna, Oma, Yaya or something different? What do you like to do with your grandma?

This is a picture of the real Oma and her granddaughter (on the left) and the models used for the book (on the right).

Oma’s Buttons reminds us that families are made up of stories that link us together and are part of who we are and it’s important to share them so they’re not forgotten. Next time you see your grandparents, ask them to share some of their memories and stories with you and go on a trip down ‘Memory Lane’ together…

Teacher Notes and visit Tania’s website for creative ideas for buttons

Happy reading! 

Digger by Mike Dumbleton

‘A Digger for a digger, she said, hugging her brother. “I’ll keep him safe,” James promised, as he tucked the kangaroo into his top pocket.”

This story set in World War 1, was inspired by a photo Mike Dumbleton saw of French children tending the graves of Australian soldiers who died on the Western Front in the heroic battle for Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. With its poignant watercolour illustrations by Robin Coucher, it is a gentle book that tells a powerful story.

When Annie’s big brother James goes to war, she stitches the name Digger on her much loved toy kangaroo to give him as a farewell present. James keeps Digger safely in the top pocket of his uniform. As the story unfolds, Digger becomes unstitched, torn and tattered during the fighting. When James is injured, he is cared for by a French family whose daughter Colette kindly mends Digger for him. Not long after, Digger is returned to Colette who sadly mends Digger again with love and care, even making him a little slouch hat, before he is returned safely to Annie in Australia. Digger brings comfort to Annie with the knowledge that on the other side of the world, Colette cared about her brother James, just as she had cared about Digger.

A beautiful tribute and reminder of the special connection that Australia shares with the French town of Villers-Bretonneux.

I’m giving one of my ‘tissue alerts’ for this story that will touch your heart.

Happy reading!

Teaching Notes