A Little Bit Busy

Term One is always busy (to be fair, all terms are busy, however there’s something particular about Term One), but imminent NAPLAN testing have added an extra layer of complexity to the term. I hope you have found a way to navigate through all that’s being asked of you. At least there’s books! And podcasts – if you’re finding concentrating on a book a bit much, I have a recommendation below.

Many of you will be familiar with Stacy Gregg’s work from her wonderful middle-grade fiction that examines the relationships between humans and horses. In her first picture book, In or Out: A Tale of Cat Versus Dog!, Gregg also uses animals to tell her story, but this time it’s a very patient dog and a very fickle cat! At first dog is happy to help cat with their indecisiveness about whether they want to be inside or outside, but after a while dog is sick of it! But cat is just being cat, and dog is sorry they made cat sad… maybe dog and cat can go out together! The vibrant illustrations and simple text would make this a great read-aloud for small children, and also prompt a discussion about how our actions and feelings can affect others.

Usborne makes wonderful books to introduce children to complex concepts, and Step Inside Science: Your Bodyy is an excellent example of this. Exploring the human body in all its wonder, from the digestive system to hearing and the skeleton to the lungs, children in the first years of school are shown how things work and why they’re important. There is also age-appropriate advice about what they can do to help their bodies grow strong. Usborne have created some fantastic resources to help you use this book in the classroom, including teachers’ notes, and on their website you can find links to videos and activities related to the content of the book.

In the fourth instalment of The Travelling Bookshop series, Mim and the Disastrous Dog Show, we travel with the Cohens and their magical caravan to the Cotswolds in rural England. The residents of Puddling Mulberry are looking for help in getting their dogs ready for the Dog Show that is about to take place, and so they make their way to the surprisingly large caravan bookshop for help. As with previous stories, not everyone leaves with the book they thought they were after, but, the magic of the bookshop (and Zeddy Cohen) means they do leave with the book they need. This is such a delightful addition to The Travelling Bookshop series, and once again Katrina Nannestad manages to delight with whimsy and humour, all while we learn some important lessons – this time about making the most of circumstances and approaching them with positivity and humour – without even knowing it. This series really is so much fun for both adults and children! (Really, I can not recommend it enough as a way to cheer up even the worst day; it’s my go-to.)

Listen of the Month – Against the Rules Podcast*

Episode 1, Season 1 of Against the Rules* opens with the host, Michael Lewis, introducing us to his tweenage son. He’s usually a mild-mannered, reasonable kid, but on the basketball court he becomes someone else: a pretty unpleasant person with an explosive temper, particularly if the referee makes a call he deems unfair.

In this way Lewis introduces us to a problem that started in elite parts of society – professional sport, federal government, fine art valuers, judges – which has filtered all the way down to children: the distrust of those who make the rules for society. While this podcast focuses on the US, much of what Lewis explores is applicable to most of the English-speaking world (although there are some US-specific examples – particularly college loans – that made me incredibly grateful to live in Australia!).

Why have we begun to trust authority figures less? Are we right to do so? What are the ramifications of this lack of trust? There are no easy answers to any of the questions, although many people would like to offer both simple answers and simple remedies. Over the course of the three series Lewis uses individual people and specific situations to explore how rules are made, how they’re enforced, and the impact they have on people, both when they’re obeyed and when they’re ignored.

Season 1 looks at Referees, Season 2 at Coaches and Season 3 at Experts. While each season has its own focus, together they look at the rules and assumptions that underpin the way our world works, which until recently few of us have thought to question. There are some interesting philosophical questions posed here, as well as some fascinating people and stories.


*Please note that these links will take you to sites not managed by HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

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