Showing posts with label self-confidence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-confidence. Show all posts

Saturday, 29 September 2018

All the Ways to Be Smart

All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925713435 

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘Every hour of every day, we’re smart in our own special way’ reads the penultimate page of this rhyming picture book for readers aged 4 to 7 years. The aim of the book is to show the reader ‘how smart you are the whole day through’ which is certainly good for young egos.

Presented in mostly greens, oranges, blues and browns, the book shows children interacting with a host of beings, some other children and some monsters and some people like pirates, witches and clowns.

Numerous children, such as a red-haired boy, a brown girl, a boy wearing glasses and numerous others are shown being smart in numerous ways. These include being talented in arts and crafts: ‘Smart at drawing things with claws/facts about the dinosaurs’, and in treating other people humanely: ‘Smart is kindness when there’s crying’.

Basically, the book is a list of ways in which children can be smart, presented in rhyming couplets. It would read well aloud and allow small children to feel that they are accomplished as they recognise the skills which they already possess.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Twig by Aura Parker (Scholastic Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978-1-76015-706-7

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Heidi is the new girl at Bug School but no-one, not even her teacher Miss Orb, notices her. She is shy and hangs about the edges, blending in with her surroundings. Heidi wishes someone would play with her and become her friend but it is not until Scarlett mistakes her for a twig for her project, that everyone finally sees her. And Miss Orb comes up with the perfect way for everyone to help Heidi feel welcomed and for her to not disappear into the background again.

Twig is a lovely story about gaining confidence in new surroundings, but it is also about being welcoming and accepting of others. Being a stick insect, Heidi does not stand out in the same way as the more sparkly, shiny or brightly coloured bugs and insects, but everyone has their own unique skills to share with a group.

The words used and their layout encourage fun reading out loud. The text is spare, but beautiful and full of movement and bustle.
The classroom was a flurry of counting and colour.

The illustrations, watercolour, pencils and pen, are beautifully enchanting and full of fun detail. They help tell the story, adding much left unsaid in the text. I can see children spending hours poring over the pictures, picking out different insects and activities. Some pages are less busy, especially the ones illustrating Heidi feeling left out, which emphasises the emotion of loneliness. The pages are full of soft colour, colours of nature – beetles, flowers and autumn leaves. Nothing in this story, words or pictures, is jarringly bright. It all flows harmoniously.

I think young children at the beginning of their school journey will identify with either Heidi, shy and trying to fit in, or the other bugs which perhaps need to slow down a little to see who around them may need a little extra help. Twig is a picture book which will appeal to children starting school, to insect and bug lovers and to those who love to ‘find’ items among the illustrations. There is a list of bugs to be found within the detailed end papers.

Twig was included in the recently announced Notables list for the 2017 CBCA Awards – Children’s Book Council of Australia

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade

The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys (Scribe Publications)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 9781025106206
Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Alfie gets ‘that feeling’ the day before he is to take part in an Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade. It’s not clear what ‘that feeling’ is – anxiety or lack of self-confidence – but Alfie’s experienced it previously when faced with participating in running races or a game at a party. Both times he’s escaped having to participate. With his parents’ encouragement he tries to overcome the feeling but he’s not convinced he can cope.

At night his sleep is disturbed by a sea-life nightmare and in the morning he tells his mother he can’t possibly go to the parade. Instead, Mum takes Alfie to an aquarium. There the small boy sees a clownfish which emerges from a coral forest. This small creature gives him the confidence to decide that in future he too will face the world.

The message of hope and how a problem is resolved is so understated in this picture book that it might not be obvious to a youngster unless he or she has a parent who can explain that even the smallest creature can stand out from a crowd.

The cover of the book and the interior illustrations seem old-fashioned with a limited palette of greys, blues, brown and fluorescent orange. Children will most likely find humour in a child dressing as a starfish to go to parade, an octopus wearing a small hat and a boy carrying the ocean (and a giant whale). The targeted readership is children aged 3 to 7 years.