One of the most exciting parts of working in publishing is seeing a book grow from an idea into a physical object on the shelves of a bookshop. Watching a book idea develop into a manuscript, acquire illustrations and a cover, and finally become a tangible object will never cease to be thrilling to me. And, sometimes, you witness this evolution for books and series that you just know teachers, librarians and children will adore. This month I am privileged to introduce to you just a few books that fall into this category – and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter using the form at the bottom of the page to discover more of what’s new this month.
Be Careful, Xiao Xin! is a bilingual picture book from award-winning author Alice Pung, and illustrator Sher Rill Ng. This beautiful book examines many of the challenges faced by the children of migrants, particularly those whose families migrated after experiencing violence and trauma. Xiao Xin is so used to being told to be careful (xiao xin) by his Chinese-speaking family, that he now thinks it’s his name. However, he knows that deep down he is not Xiao Xin, but really the Red Fire Warrior, who is capable of great things and doesn’t need other people to watch over him. Told in both Chinese and English and accompanied by stunning illustrations which depict Xiao Xin’s growing confidence and his family’s very real fears, this book deserves a place in every classroom and library. Classroom resources are coming soon.
Matt Stanton is famous for his ability to create books that kids find hilariously entertaining, and when reading the opening chapters of Bored: Frog’s Mystery Twin, I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face! (I would put money on your students – and you too – enjoying the same fate if you read it to them.) While Stanton’s Bored series entertains and delights children, it also does an amazing job of exploring the moral conundrums that children face and must figure out on their own – with a little help from their friends. In this book, Frog, who we first met in Bored: Milo Finds $105, is working out how to both be himself and fit in when he’s the new kid at school. One of the brilliant things about the Bored series is that while we go along for the ride as characters learn important things about themselves and how the world works, it never feels didactic or moralistic; it’s just a great read!
On a light-hearted note, the Crayons are back with The Crayons Trick or Treat. In this episode, it’s Halloween, and while the Crayons are suitably attired in costumes, they can’t quite get the hang of trick or treat! One after the other they knock at the door, but things don’t quite go according to plan. Orange’s attempt could best be described as a hold-up, while Green confuses his holidays, and White gets a little carried away with his costume. This is enormous fun and is sure to inspire some original Halloween costumes.
Book of the Month – Life Admin Hacks
What many people don’t know is that my guilty reading pleasure is self-help books. Not just any self-help books, however; I’m quite specific in my needs. What I’m after is a book that magically helps me to get through all the business of ‘adulting’ with absolutely no effort on my part! Obviously, no such book exists, but Life Admin Hacks, which is inspired by the Life Admin Life Hacks podcast, is the closest thing I’ve ever come across.
There are many reasons why this book and podcast are more helpful than the average life hack guide, but it begins with the authors. Mia Northrop and Dinah Rowe-Roberts live and work in the real world. By this I mean they have jobs and friends and children, and while they absolutely advocate for paying for help as needed, they run their households themselves, not with the assistance of a small army of staff. Another reason is that their advice is not prescriptive; both the podcast and book are designed for you to use as a whole system, or you can dip into the aspects you really need help with, like superannuation, price comparisons or meal planning. And within the systems they’ve devised, Northrop and Rowe-Roberts give guidelines rather than strict rules.
One of the things I love the most about Life Admin Hacks is that it acknowledges that we all know this stuff needs to be done, but we hate doing it! And the authors explore ways to both automate a lot of it and make it as friction-free as possible. I admit that I’ve had the book sitting on my desk for months now, but it was listening to the podcast which really inspired me to read it. Having all the authors’ useful advice in one spot is incredibly helpful, and there are templates to help you get started!