Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Children’s Book Review, How to Build the Perfect Cubby House

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

How to Build the Perfect Cubby House is a children’s picture book, written and illustrated by Heath McKenzie, and published by Scholastic Press (2019.) RRP: $Au 17.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Ollie is building THE PERFECT CUBBY HOUSE! Everyone has some great ideas, and pretty soon, the whole family is involved!

A fun and funny story about the importance of family and togetherness—and always having a plan!

Kids LOVE to make cubbies. With good reason - they are achievable with everyday materials, are fun to build, and can be transformed into almost anything with a healthy dollop of imagination. So I know most children will be able to make a connection to their own lives as soon as they see this book’s title and cover.

And inside? Well, there is so much wacky humour of course, but even better - there are fourteen rules that not only help build the perfect cubby but also make a wise plan for a creative life! Kids will adore this book. The illustrations are side-splitters, celebrating the chaos of a happy helpful family. There are lots of intricate details, authentic child-like perspectives and a joie-de-vivre that can’t help but brighten anyone’s day.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Looking Back to April, May, June 2018

by Susan Stephenson,

A regular feature on The Book Chook is where I look at popular articles from previous months and years. Today my focus will be on posts from, you guessed it, April, May and June of 2018. Don't forget you can use the right sidebar to find more useful resources.

Click Creating, Learning, Reviews, Reading, Writing and Celebrating to explore those themes, or try the Blog Archive to browse by months. The Free PDFs button takes you to my other website where you can download any of the free educational PDFs I’ve created.

I hope you find something useful here, and if you do, thanks for sharing it with others who can benefit too.

Let’s Celebrate Screen-Free Week: Screen-Free Week is in April, but this list of activities is perfect for when your kids use the “b” word (bored)!

Incorporate technology into something children love - creating picture puzzles for other kids to do.

Recently published picture books from 2018 that just might entrance a youngster you know!

Help Kids Detect Fake News has tips for teachers and parents, plus a free PDF poster called be a Fake News Detector.

Want to go even further back into the past? Jump in my time machine and check out April, May, June of 2017.

Have kids create a digital rebus story.

Need some great children’s picture books about Australia? Here are some little beauties!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Children’s Book Review, When Billy Was a Dog

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

When Billy Was a Dog is a children’s picture book, written by Kirsty Murray, illustrated by Karen Blair and published by Allen and Unwin (2019.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB.

From the publisher:

'Can I please, please, please have a dog?' asked Billy.
'Would you walk it every day and wash it if it got dirty?'
'I would, I promise!' said Billy.

Billy wants a dog. He really really really wants one.
Billy's parents aren't so sure. So one morning, Billy takes matters into his own paws.

A gloriously funny, warm and true story from the creators of Puddle Hunters.

Kids will resonate with this tale of a young man who is desperate for a dog of his own. I really liked Billy’s attitude. Whereas many kids would pout and whine for what they wanted, Billy BECOMES the dog he wants. He sniffs things, he barks, he even lifts his leg near a fence until Dad puts a stop to that idea quick smart. In fact, Billy throws his heart and soul into being a dog.

But then, when Fluff the dog next-door begins to have her pups, Billy stops being a dog and worries about her instead. Will Billy ever get the puppy he wants?

Blair's illustrations are just perfect for the story, and will certainly help children not only understand what is going on, but rejoice in it. Read this book aloud if you dare - I envisage 30 Kinder kids all channelling their inner canines!

Heart-warming and positive, with several laugh-aloud moments, When Billy Was a Dog is a wonderful choice for libraries and homes everywhere - especially those that appreciate dogs and those who love (to pretend to be) them.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Let’s Celebrate Grandparent’s Day

by Susan Stephenson,

Grandparents are great, aren’t they? Lots of countries have a special day to celebrate that. In the USA it’s September 19, 2019 and in Australia it’s 27 October 2019. But of course any day can be set aside to remind us all how special grandparents are, and how very fortunate WE are to have them in our lives.

Whichever day you choose to call Grandparent’s Day, here are some ideas to help you celebrate. And below you will find a list I’ve begun to create featuring books about grandparents.


* All family members love to see what kids do in school. Why not invite them to your classroom as special guests for a session one day. My experience suggests making it a defined amount of time that maybe adjoins a lunchtime or morning tea.

* Prior to this session, kids could create portraits of their grandparents and display them!

* Invite some grandparents to come and talk to the kids about life when they were young, and how things were different and the same.

* Create a class or library display of things that may have been used by grandparents or great-grandparents.

* Visit a museum where children can see clothing, transport, cooking items etc from earlier times.

* Are there grandparents who would help out by sharing a favourite book or magic trick, or with a class cooking or gardening session?

* Have kids talk about, write about and draw their grandparents or someone older than their parents who is important in their lives.

* Older kids could make a presentation about a grandparent. Will it be a multimedia presentation? Questions to get kids started might be: What do we know about Grandpa/Grandma? What is his/her favourite thing to do, or place to visit? What are his/her hobbies? What does he/she like to say or do to make us laugh? What is special about my grandparent?

* Challenge children to make a gift for a grandparent. Will they make a card? A poem? A comic? Perhaps they could decorate a pot or make a peg basket.

* If you have iPads, check out the Grandma and Grandpa apps by Fairlady Media. You can find my reviews for these apps and others on my Pinterest page.


Below you’ll find a list of some books I would recommend to help you celebrate Grandparent’s Day with kids, or just to celebrate our good fortune in having them part of our lives.

Check out other celebrations here at The Book Chook by browsing under the Celebrations button in the right sidebar.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Children’s Book Review, Cocoon

by Susan Stephenson,

Cocoon is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Aura Parker, and published by Scholastic Australia (2019.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Dawn and her best friends have a plan! They are going to eat as many leaves as they can, weave cocoons and turn into moths so they can FLY!

Easy peasy, right? But what happens when days go by and Dawn still doesn’t have her wings? What if she doesn’t grow them at all? Will Dawn ever get to chase the lights with her friends?

A beautiful story about patience and achieving your dreams.

Aura Parker won my heart with Twig, which was one of my top children’s picture books in 2016. So I was thrilled to see Cocoon arrive Chez Chook. Ten seconds later, after drinking in the cover and the absolutely delightful endpapers, I plunged into a tale about Dawn, a caterpillar. And immediately I have a new contender for Top Picture Books of 2019!

Parker triumphs as both author and illustrator. Young readers will find themselves immersed in the life of an insect larva, and incidentally learning about metamorphosis without realising. I particularly admired the way Parker helped us see Dawn’s world through her eyes, helped us imagine her life.

There are also so many fascinating visual details for kids to appreciate. I loved the varied perspectives, such as an aerial view of eager little caterpillar faces surrounding the paper diagram of “the plan” - eat lots of leaves, weave a cocoon, become a moth and FLY! And the cut-away views of the inside of the cocoon are delightful. Kids will adore the blue prints of Dawn’s imagined dream cocoon, the sheer variety of illustration formats, and the wonderful seek and find activities in the end-papers. This is definitely a picture book to pore over, and read again and again.

I recommend this truly beautiful picture book to libraries and homes everywhere. It will make an excellent resource for junior grades in science, and appeal particularly to kids 4 - 7. I think it will also be useful to adults looking for a read-aloud about perseverance and following your dreams.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.
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