Literature for discussion of the Concepts listed in the Primary Years Programme 

This is a list of literature which we hope will provide books which can be used to generate thought-provoking discussion about these concepts. We hope that all the books will be enjoyable to read and will help students and teachers to think about these concepts. We are sure the list will be of value not just to teachers of the PYP but also to any teachers interested in a wide range of good literature for discussion. We have given an indication of reading levels for each of the titles. It is worthwhile noting that many of the picture books listed can also be used in worthwhile discussions with older students. 

These concepts are:

Form: What is it like?
Function: How does it work?
Causation: Why is it like it is?
Change: How is it changing?
Connection: How is it connected to other things?
Perspective: What are the points of view?
Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
Reflection: How do we know?

Form: What is it like?

My Map Book by Sara Fanelli hb 9780060264550 $32.00
In this book Sara Fanelli shows us a uniquely childlike perspective of her world drawn through maps. There are maps of her bedroom, of her family and of her neighbourhood. The map of her day shows the day divided chronologically into portions from morning till night but also includes a map showing how the school bus goes to school. She is able to fit so much of her life and what she does into her maps. There are maps of colours, and of her heart showing the things she loves most and of her face. I am sure this book will enthuse children to also draw unique maps of their lives. (5 – 9 years) KS

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles & Rod Clement (illus) pb 9780207170515 $14.99
Edward is the most expressive emu imaginable as he shows his boredom at being an emu and tries to imitate the other animals in the zoo. (3 – 6 years) KS

Function: How does it work?

Mr Archimedes' Bath by Pamela Allen pb 9780207172854 $14.99
Mr Archimedes is having a bath with various animals, as they get into the bath water splashes over the side. Pamela Allen has great fun in getting children to think about what is happening. (5 years up) KS

The Pear in the Pear Tree by Pamela Allen pb 9780140564976 $14.99
Lots of action and fun as two children want to get the pear on the pear tree but how? It’s too high. Pamela Allen uses their attempts to illustrate a number of science concepts such as gravity and water displacement, beautifully integrated into this very simple story. (4 – 6 years) KS

Who sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen pb 9780140509403 $14.99
This is one of Pamela Allen’s picture books which deals with science concepts. The boat sinks further each time that donkey, then cow, pig and sheep get into the boat. The boat manages to stay afloat but finally sinks when tiny little mouse gets into the boat. The question is who sank the boat? It is wonderful to have a picture book demonstrating a science concept with such exuberance. (4 – 6 years) KS

It’s a Book by Lane Smith hb 9781596436060 $23.00
In this delightfully playful, slightly subversive story, a book-loving monkey patiently shares the simple, unplugged pleasures of reading with a tech-savvy jackass. At first the jackass just doesn’t understand, wanting to know how do you scroll down?, where’s your mouse?, can it text?, does it need a password?. But once he settles down with the book in a comfy chair, he becomes engrossed, the hours fly by and the monkey can’t get his book back! (4-7 year olds) MC

The Firefighters by Sue Whiting & Donna Rawlins (illus) hb 9781921150296 $29.95 pb 9781921529498 $16.95 big book 9781921529702 $44.95
The children at kindergarten pretend to be real firefighters getting into their truck and racing along to get to the fire and squirt it with their hoses. Later the real fire engine arrives and two firefighters arrive to show them their truck and tell the children stories about fires. Bright illustrations and the lively text will make this book very popular with preschoolers. (3 – 6 years) KS


Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman hb 9780060274719 $32.00 pb 9780064472074 $16.00
Written like a collection of short vignettes, this book begins with a young girl from Vietnam planting a line of beans in the vacant lot near the apartment where her family lives in Cleveland, Ohio. The lot was full of trash and the snow had only just melted after the long, cold winter. She planted the beans in memory of her father who died when she was just a baby. He had been a farmer and so she would be too. This simple act gradually sparks a succession of plantings by different people of different ethnic backgrounds and with different reasons for planting. Even more - it is the spark which makes people clear away the garbage and begin what becomes a community garden in which plants are grown, harvested, exchanged and people begin to talk to each other and help each other. Each character is described through just one short chapter but many of them also appear in the stories of others so that we learn more about them and over the year, a sense of community grows. Simply written, absorbing and inspiring. (9 – 12 years) KS

The Mobile Phone Detective by James Moloney pb 9780143304838 $12.95
This is fun! It is mystery in which mobile phone technology is the key – not that this would normally be of much interest to me but somehow James Moloney makes this mystery adventure tale very entertaining. Renton is 13 years old and is travelling with his father in France when his father is kidnapped. Renton doesn’t speak French but he manages to send incriminating photos to the French Police showing what has happened, where he is going and where his father is being held. Mobile phones can truly do amazing things in the hands of smart kids! One of the popular Aussie Chomps. (8 – 12 years) KS

Causation: Why is it like it is?

Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough pb 9780007302628 $14.99
A wonderful story describing how duck’s truck gets stuck in the mud and how his three friends help get the truck out of the muck. A very funny book with delightful rhyme and repetition.
(3 – 6 years) KS

The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky & Andrew Joyner (illus) pb 9780143505136 $14.99
When the rabbits hear a terrible plop and flee in fright, all the other animals join the mad rush away. Big Brown Bear is curious and wants to know more and so the smallest and slowest rabbit has to go back to see what made “the terrible plop” and he is the one who realizes that there was no need to be frightened! The rhyme, rhythm and repletion ensure that the story would be a delight to read aloud. The illustrations are lively, humorous and engaging. (4 – 7 years) KS

Cat by Mike Dumbleton & Craig Smith (illus) pb 9781876288839 $14.99
There is so much life and vitality in this book. The text is minimal while the illustrations vividly depict a series of vignettes in the life of cat and what happens as he encounters a dog, a sprinkler, a mouse, a bird, a bike, milk and a mat. At the end of each amusing encounter is repeated the heartfelt expression “Thank goodness for that!” (3 – 7 years) KS

Isabella’s Garden by Glenda Millard & Rebecca Cool (illus) hb 9781921150333 $29.95 pb 9781921720598 $16.95 Big Book 9781922244796 $44.95
Using a repeated refrain similar to the well-known verse “The Cow with the Crumbled Horn” Glenda Millard describes how the seeds in Isabella’s garden come to life from the dark soil, and with the help of the rain and the sun and how then the whole garden comes to life with flowers and birds and insects. Bright naïve illustrations give the story charm and vitality. (5 – 9 years) KS

Sharon Keep Your hair On by Gillian Rubinstein & David Mackintosh (illus) pb 9780091831608 $14.95
This rap poem is such fun to read aloud. It is a virtuoso rhyming performance about an extended family which grows as other relatives come and stay and then shrinks as they all leave. Luckily Jase is very a handy with a saw and can just build on another floor or take it away as is needed.
(6 – 11 years) KS

My Place by Nadia Wheatley & Donna Rawlins (illus) pb 9781921150654 $19.95
This edition published in 2008 has a timeline of important events up to 2008.
By moving backwards in decades from 1989, this sophisticated picture book shows how a particular neighbourhood in Sydney has changed from an urban street to the first white settlement and before to the time when the Aboriginal people lived there. The story is told through the eyes of the various children who lived in the area. An innovative book which inspires students to work on similar projects wherever they are in the world. (8 years up) KS


Sing to the Dawn by Minfong Ho pb 9789812610010 $12.95
Set in a marginal rice growing area of Thailand this short novel would be an excellent introduction to a discussion of the effect of climate and geography on village life in parts of Asia. Some of the frustrations, difficulties and injustices of village life are revealed in this story of Dawan, a 12 year old girl who strives to continue her education at a city high school in Thailand in spite of competition from her brother and opposition from her father. (10 years up) KS

Change: How is it changing?

The Potato People by Pamela Allen pb 9780143500865 $14.99
Jack and his grandma make two potato people out of potatoes. Jack is very surprised when he comes back much later and sees what happens to them over time after they have been buried in the compost heap. There are more science concepts in this simple picture book which is great fun to read aloud.  (4 – 6 years) KS

Window by Jeannie Baker pb 9780744594867 $16.95 big book 9780744594874 $44.95
A study of a changing view through the window of a house as more and more houses encroach on the countryside seen from the window. It is a textless picture book.

Belonging hb 9780744592276 $29.95 pb 9781406305487 $16.95 Big Book 9781406309416 $44.95 follows the same format as Window but it looks at an inner city suburb bleak in its drabness, ugly signs, graffiti and dilapidated houses and how over time the street is gradually transformed into a green inviting place where people can meet and enjoy their environment. It is also a textless picture book.
(6 – 10 years) KS

Guess the Baby by Simon French & Donna Rawlins (illus) pb 9780733306143 $14.99
A delightful picture book about a class of young children who each bring a photo of themselves as a baby to school. Lots of animated discussion results especially about the baby they don’t recognise until they realise that it must be their teacher Mr Judd. (4 – 6 years) KS

Clancy and Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood (illus)
hb 9781921541193 $14.95
Clancy has to leave his old comfortable and familiar home and shifts to a new house which feels very big and strange. His feelings of strangeness are beautifully evoked by Freya Blackwood’s illustrations. However when Millie from next door comes over to play in the leftover cardboard boxes, he is quickly happy and at ease again. After all, it is family and friends that make a home. (4 – 7 years) KS

Two Summers by John Heffernan & Freya Blackwood (illus) pb 9781865045979 $15.99
The difference between two summers on an Australian farm is graphically illustrated but subtly told by a young boy pondering the difference between the last year when Rick came to stay on the farm and they had such fun and this year when the farm is stricken by drought. (6 – 10 years) KS

Celia and Nonna by Victoria Land & Kayleen West (illus) hb 9781925000603 $24.95
Celia loves sleeping over at her Nonna’s house. They do such special things together. Then Nonna starts to forget things and eventually has to move to a home so she can be taken care of. Celia can’t sleep over anymore. So every week she draws a picture, creating memories of the old house, the garden and the things they used to do together, and soon the walls of Nonna’s room are filled with happy memories. This is a positive portrayal of how one little girl copes with the changes that can be so confusing for young children as their grandparents age. (5-7 year olds) MC

A Year on Our Farm by Penny Matthews & Andrew McLean (illus) pb 9781862914926 $15.99
This picture book is a vibrant account of a year on an Australian farm. The text is simple but the illustrations add complex detail as we see the children helping their parents in the many farm activities. The book is a celebration of the seasons on an Australian farm in the country, not in the harsh outback but a softer Australian countryside. (5 – 8 years) KS

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, collages by Susan L Roth hb 9780803730588 $31.00
This picture book is written in the words of the children of the village of Korphe in Pakistan where Greg Mortenson was first nursed back to health and where he promised to return and build a school. The simply written but beautiful text describes how the children feel about their new school and how it was built. At the end of the book there are several pages with photos and more information describing the village and how the school was built and the changes that the school has brought to the village and to the children.  (5 – 10 years) KS

The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers hb 9781596437296 $32
This is a delightfully expressive textless picture book. The Boy is already a well-known character from two earlier picture books. Escaping from some bullies, he finds himself in an Art Gallery and as he wanders past one of Vermeer’s famous paintings a little dog suddenly jumps out of the painting. They explore together and then hop into another of Vermeer’s paintings and find themselves in the streets of Delft in the time of Vermeer. More adventures follow. There is so much to observe and so much action which is very easily followed in spite of the fact that there are no words. Gregory Rogers has created some remarkable characters and a wonderful world through his vibrant and expressive illustrations. (6 – 10 years) KS

Connection: How is it connected to other things?

All in a Day by Mitsumaso Anno and 8 illustrators from round the world pb 9780698117723 $13
A remarkable book showing cultural differences and similarities of children in eight different parts of the world throughout one 24 hour day. It shows the differences but it especially shows how all their lives are connected since wherever they are, there is just one sun and one moon shining down on all the earth.  (6 – 11 years) KS

Mirror by Jeannie Baker hb 9781406309140 $39.95
This is a wonderfully innovative and surprising new book from an extraordinary collage artist. Inspired by a trip to Morocco, Jeannie Baker has told two stories in the one book. The stories look like two separate books and are designed to be read at the same time, one from the left and the other from the right. Page by page we experience a day in the life of two boys and their families; one in inner Sydney and the other in a remote village in Morocco. The landscapes are very different and also their clothes and their houses but in the way the families care for each other and for their communities they are essentially the same. The two families are a mirror image of each other and there is a further link provided by the carpet sold by the family in Morocco and bought by the family in Australia. The collage work is extraordinary and the images convey so much without the need for words. (8 – 15 years) KS

Collecting Colour by Kylie Dunstan pb 9780734411181 $14.99
This is a wonderfully vibrant book. Rose lives in the Top End in the Northern Territory. One day she goes with her best friend Olive and Olive’s mother Karrang and Olive’s aunty to collect pandanus leaves and stringy bark and colour for dyeing to make beautiful coloured baskets, mats and bags from the leaves in the traditional way of the Indigenous peoples. It’s a day when the girls learn so much about the intricacies of collecting the right pandanus leaves and how to find the pink berries and the yellow roots for the colour. It is a complicated and skilled process but there is so much sharing and warmth as they do their collecting and this continues as they sit for days under the banyan tree making their colourful baskets and weavings. The illustrations are strongly influenced by Aboriginal art but they are also strikingly original especially in the design of the colourful pages and the use of collage. The text is simple but also very informative. (6 – 13 years) KS

Night Noises by Mem Fox & Terry Denton (illus) pb 9780143501480 $14.99
Lily Laceby is an old lady and is sitting at home alone dreaming of happy times long ago when she was a child. She is awoken by strange noises outside which turn out to be her large extended family come to wish her happy birthday. Lily might be ninety years old but inside she feels just as old as her four and a half year granddaughter. (5 – 9 years) KS

Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw hb 9780805089462 $26.00
Two little boys, Elliot and Kailash, are pen-pals who live in very different worlds. Through their exchange of drawings and simple letters, they discover that they both live with their families, catch the bus to school and love climbing trees; there’s too much traffic in both their cities – in one the streets are full of taxis, buses and cars, while the other has few cars, but you will find elephants, oxen, chickens, bicycles, carts and people carrying all manner of things on their heads. Same, same but different! The cultural differences in their everyday lives in America and India can be discovered in the details of the boys’ drawings. (4-7 year olds) MC

The Last Dragon by Susan Miho Nunes & Chris K Soentpiet (illus) pb 9780395845172 $13.00
A young boy staying with his aunt in Chinatown discovers an old bedraggled dragon in a shop. He is determined to bring the dragon back to life and with the skills and help of the people in Chinatown they succeed in restoring the old dragon to its former glory. The young Chinese boy is delighted to make so many friends in Chinatown. (5 – 8 years) KS


To the Boy in Berlin by Elizabeth Honey & Heike Brandt pb 9781741750041 $15.95
This is the story of an intriguing email correspondence between Henni who lives in Melbourne, Australia and Leo Schmidt in Berlin. The emails fly backwards and forwards providing much amusement as well as glimpses of the difference and similarities between their lives and also some of the history linking the two countries. (10 – 14 years) KS

Perspective: What are the points of view?

The Name Jar byYangsook Choi pb 9780440417996 $13.00
A story about a young Korean girl who thinks she will choose an American name when she comes to live in America in order to fit in better. However in the end she decides that her name, Unhei meaning Grace, reflects herself and her culture. A lesson in cultural understanding in the classroom and acceptance of difference. (6 – 9 years) KS

The Black Book of Colours by Menena Cottin & Rosana Faria (illus) hb 9781406322187 $24.95
This is such a beautiful and innovative book. Our eyes tell us about colour. But what if you are blind? Is it possible to have a concept of colour? This book shows us how through simple language and beautiful textured art, out of the blackness a rainbow of colours can be visualised. Braille letters accompany the illustrations on every page and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help in deciphering the text with their fingers, and sharing an experience usually known by blind readers alone. (4 – 11 years) LS

How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R Friedman & Allen Say (illus) pb 9780395442357 $14.00
A charming and amusing story of a young girl recounting how her parents, one as a young Japanese schoolgirl and the other a young US sailor, were very apprehensive about learning how to eat with the utensils of each other’s culture (chopsticks or knife, fork and spoon). (5 – 9 years) KS

What’s Your Story? by Rose Giannone & Bern Emmerichs (illus) hb 9780980671155 $27.95
‘History is a collection of stories’ explains this delightfully quirky picture book. It is an excellent introduction to this concept of history as being many different stories. The backdrop to the story is the early settlement of Australia and a number of different stories could have been followed however the author chooses to follow the story of Leonard, a young orphan boy who comes out to Australia with his mother’s cousin and his wife. The drawings show many different individual people who came out on the ship with Leonard. Detailed tiny drawings showing the inside decks of the ship show and name many of the various convicts, men and women, as well as the free settlers, the crew and the soldiers. Again very detailed drawings show the busy scenes of early settlement with tiny figures doing a vast array of different activities as they try to settle into this new colony. The effect is very unusual and comes from the fact that the artwork has been hand-painted onto large ceramic tiles. However the story is really about Leonard and how he meets a young Aboriginal girl called Milba. Leonard is amazed at the strange creatures such as the kangaroo and other scaly and feathered creatures that Milba shows him and she likewise can hardly believe it when she sees a man on a horse. Is it just one creature? They become friends and Leonard is sad when Milba later moves away with her tribe. Leonard stayed in Australia and became a teacher and Milba grew up to be a wise and important elder in her tribe. They both still remembered the other. This book provides an excellent introduction to discussion of the settlement of Sydney and its many possible stories and viewpoints.  (8 – 14 years) KS

Crusher is Coming by Bob Graham pb 9780734410702 $16.99
When Crusher, the tough kid from school comes round after school, Peter is amazed that all Crusher wants to do is play with Peter’s little sister Claire. A delightful story about stereotypes, expectations and difference. (4 – 9 years) KS

You and Me, Murrawee by Kerri Hashmi & Felicity Marshall (illus) pb 9780140564990 $14.99
A beautifully illustrated picture book which shows a young white girl camping on the banks of the River Murray with her family and through her eyes the life of a young Aboriginal girl Murrawee two hundred of years earlier, before the white settlers came. (5 – 9 years) KS

Clancy the Courageous Cow by Lachie Hume pb 9781862915671 $15.99
Written by Lachie when he was just 11 years, the book has a charming sense of humour in both text and illustrations. Clancy was different from the other Belted Galloway cows and so the other cows were mean to him because of this. He courageously takes on bigger cows in the annual Cow Wrestling competition. A very funny book which can be used to discuss discrimination and difference. (4 – 7 years) KS

Masai and I by Virginia Kroll & Nancy Carpenter (illus) pb 9780689804540 $14.00
A young girl from the city imagines how different her life would be if she were a Masai living on the East African plains. On each double page spread of this picture book, the illustration blends and links the two ways of life. For example, the sheet the girl spreads to make her bed merges on the opposite page into the cowhide spread on the bare earth of the Masai dwelling. An extra dimension to the story is given to the story because the girl and her family are black and she is exploring her feelings of kinship with the Masai. (6 - 10 years) KS

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf & Robert Lawson (illus) hb 9780670674244 $32.00 pb 9780140502343 $14.00
The wonderful classic story of Ferdinand who was a huge, very impressive bull but who loved to sit quietly under his favourite cork tree and smell the flowers. He was taken to the bull fights in Madrid but to the extreme frustration of the matador who wanted to “show off with his cape and sword” all Ferdinand did was to sit in the middle of the bull ring and smell the flowers in the lovely ladies’ hair. There are so many different perspectives here in this delightful story. (4 – 9 years) KS

Clive Eats Alligators 9780733621093, Rosie Sips Spiders 9780733621079, Celeste Sails to Spain 9780733621062, When Frank was Four 9780733621086 by Alison Lester pb $16.99 each.
These simple picture books show the individuality and strong likes and dislikes of seven children. Good to use as a catalyst for discussion of what students like and dislike. (5 – 8 years) KS

Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo also by Alison Lester pb 9780733621055 $16.99 has a similar format and describes six new Aboriginal friends who Ernie meets when he goes to live in the north of Australia. These new friends also have very different attitudes to what they like and dislike. This is a wonderfully simple but vibrant introduction to Aboriginal life and to the tropical seasons in the north of Australia.
(5 – 8 years) KS

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintoch hb 9781419700361 $34.00 pb 9780007361427 $18.00
Marshall Armstrong is different. His differences are illustrated rather than described in words by the boy who sits next to him at school and who is clearly perplexed by the fact that Marshall Armstrong is such a nerd. When everyone at school is invited to Marshall’s birthday, there is great reluctance and expectation that they will have a terrible time but to everyone’s surprise the house is filled with amazing things to do and to explore and games to play. This is an amusing story giving a different perspective of how kids can be different and also can be great fun. It shows how our expectations can be very wrong. (6 – 10 years) KS

Tokyo Friends - Tokyo no Tomodachi by Betty Reynolds hb 9784805310755 $27.00
Katie is an American girl and she has two Japanese friends. This book shows us the differences in the ways the friends eat, take a bath, read and the way they greet each other. This is an excellent introduction to Japanese language and culture and also some of the differences between Japanese and western customs. The text is written in English, but the objects in the lively illustrations are written in English and also in Japanese phonetically and also in the Japanese script. (6 - 12 years) KS

A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton hb 9781444916720 $30.00
Part one of this story begins with a lovely quote from Mark Twain. “There are two sides to every story and then there is the truth.” In the first part of this story a little girl describes how she saw a strange little beast in the forest and so she carefully wrapped him up and took him home and cared for him but he didn’t seem to appreciate all her care and he ran away. However in the second part of the story, told by the little beast, he describes how he was ambushed, tied up, kept in a small house where he couldn’t hang upside down the way he liked. Children will be delighted at the different perspectives shown and at the engaging and very amusing illustrations. (5 – 8 years) KS

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say hb 9780544050501 $24.99 pb 9780547076805 $12.99
Allen Say’s grandfather made the journey from Japan to the United States when he was a young man and this story beautifully describes through text and illustrations the love that he and his grandson feel for both countries. As he writes ” The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.” (8 years up) KS

The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson & Kazumi Wilds (illus) hb 9781885008336 $32.00
Nanami has two grandmothers: Baachan who lives in Japan with Nanami’s family and Gram from Maine in the US. When Gram comes to visit her granddaughter in Japan, Nanami is the translator between the two grandmothers who cannot understand each other and whose countries were at war with other when they were children. However they discover they have much in common since they both live near the sea and have a love of sea life and things to do with the sea. They go gathering wakame, a type of seaweed which is dried and then eaten in a variety of recipes. (6 – 10 years) KS

First Day by Margaret Wild & Kim Gamble (illus) pb 9781864481105 $14.95
A delightful picture book which captures the varied emotions of a group of six very different children on their first day at school. The book follows the actions and thoughts of the children throughout their whole first day at school. And just to give another perspective the Mum of one of the children is also going back to school. (6 – 10 years) KS

Big Bad Bun by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (illus) pb 9781842709450 $17.95
I love the irreverent humour of this marvellous team. Big bad Bun has written a letter to his parents describing how he has run away from home to join the terrible Hell Bunnies. He describes their dangerous exploits and the way he now always goes to bed late and never washes his whiskers … but at the end of the letter there is a P.S. saying that none of this was true, that he was at grandma’s house and that he just wanted to remind his rabbit parents that there were worse things in life than his terrible school report! Tony Ross’s Illustrations are a delight as is Fluff’s report, signed by his teacher Miss Burrows.
(5 – 9 years) KS


Krakatoa Lighthouse by Allan Baillie pb 9780143303596 $17.95
This book describes the catastrophic event back in 1883 when the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia exploded in an enormous volcanic eruption. This story is told from the point of view of Kerta, a young boy from Java whose father works for the Dutch lighthouse keeper at one of the lighthouses on the mainland just opposite the island of Krakatoa. However the point of view of a young Dutch boy whose father is the chief lighthouse keeper is also described. It is a fascinating account of the events and also of the differences in attitudes between the Dutch colonialists and the Javanese people.
(11 – 15 years) KS

Christophe’s Story by Nicki Cornwell pb 9781847802507 $16.00
Christophe is an eight year old boy from Rwanda who flees the fighting in his country to come to England as a refugee with his family. His problems in settling in are described but the book is also about different ways of telling stories. Christophe doesn’t want to read stories in books because his grandfather had always told him stories aloud, and had said that if stories are written down then their spirit is lost. However Christopher tells aloud to his class the story of how he came to England and of the violence in Rwanda but decides he is happy for it to be written down word for word so that many children can hear his story. (7 – 10 years) KS

Sarindi and the Lucky Bird by Janine Fraser & Kim Gamble (illus) pb 9780207199141 $12.95
A simply told story about young Sarindi who lives in Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia. His father is a becak driver (a type of bicycle taxi) and his mother makes batik They live in just one room but Sarindi knows he is lucky. A vivid and warm portrait of a family who are struggling to make a living and perhaps from a western perspective have very little. When their luck changes Sarindia’s mother knows that it is because of their own efforts but Sarindi and his father think it is because of their good luck. 

Sarindi and the Lucky Buddha by Janine Fraser & Elise Hurst (illus) pb 9780732287757 $12.99
In this sequel, Sarindi’s mother is very sick and Sarindi and his father try all sorts of things to make her better but nothing seems to work. So Sarindi visits every different sacred place he knows and prays there for his mother’s health. When she does get better they wonder if it is the medicine or the different prayers or perhaps, as the western doctor suggests, it is the love of a small boy for his mother and his determination to help her get better. (7 – 10 years) KS

Sarindi’s Dragon Kite by Janine Fraser pb 9780732287764 $12.99
This is the third in the series about Sarindi and his family who live in Jogjakarta in Indonesia. Sarindi is looking forward to flying his wonderful new kite when their house is rocked by an earthquake. Sarindi and his family are lucky and are only slightly injured. However when they go to the nearby village where their relatives live, they discover to their horror that only little Agi, Sarindi’s cousin, is still alive. This is a moving and very believable story about the devastation cuased by an earthquake but it also describes how families and communities help each other in times of need.  (8 – 11 years) KS

The Goat Who Sailed the World by Jackie French pb 9780207200779 $14.99
This book has two narrators, a young twelve year old boy called Isaac Manley and a much travelled and superior Goat. This narrative device gives us two very different perspectives on Cooks’ amazing voyage around the world from 1768 to 1771, when Australia was discovered and the ship was almost wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef. A very entertaining and informative book. (8 – 14 years) KS

Samurai Kids 1: White Crane by Sandy Fussell pb 9781921150203 $15.95
I am surprised that this series works so well. The kids in the series are training to be samurai but one has only one arm, one only one leg, one is blind, one is very big and strong but refuses to fight and a girl has white hair and 6 fingers and toes and so we get to know their different points of view. Their sensei or teacher is old but very wise in the way of Zen and Zen sayings provide much of the humour of the book. The characters come to life and the story is exciting, lively and often very funny. We learn a lot about the way of Zen and Chi, Jin and Yu or Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage. Other titles in the series are: Book 2: Owl Ninja pb 9781921150371, Book 3: Shaolin Tiger 9781921150906 and Book 4: Monkey Fist 9781921150913 Book 5 Fire Lizard pb 9781921529467 Book 6 Golden Bat pb 9781921529474 Book 7 Red Fox pb 9781922077509 & Book 8 Black Tengu pb 9781922077622 $15.95 each (9 – 13 years) KS

Toad Rage by Morris Gleitzman pb 9780141306551 $16.95
Gleitzman is back to his best. This is a very funny story about Limpy the cane toad who is determined to change humans’ opinions of cane toads so he sets off on a dangerous and hilarious adventure. Gleitzman makes us see and even sympathise with the point of view of the hated cane toad.
(8 - 14 years) KS

Star of the Circus by Nette Hilton pb 9780702236006 $16.95
Poor Bonnie Belinda Bennett just wants to come first in something. However Bonnie has a very special gift; she has taught the animals on the farm to do the most amazing tricks and when the circus comes to town then her farm animals are called upon to show all their skills. An engaging story about a child who thinks she is ordinary but who really is quite extraordinary. (6 – 10 years) KS

Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein pb 9780140316728 $17.99
This is a warm and funny story about two girls who take an instant dislike to each other and why. Ashley seems to be immaculate perfection and therefore hated by Erica Yurken who can’t help but be messy. But when they get to know more about each other they reassess their feelings.
(8 – 12 years) KS

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo pb 9781405221740 $14.95
When Michael is washed up on an island he struggles to survive on his own. He is about to give up when food appears. He is not alone. This is a wonderful story of survival and of the secrets of Kensuke who lives on the island. Michael and Kensuke have very different attitudes to their stay on the island and to being rescued. (9 – 15 years) KS

Just One Wish by Sally Rippin pb 9780143304463 $12.95
When Little Pumpkin arrives in Australia from Shanghai, everything is so difficult. She has very little English and she has to share a room with her hateful cousin Betty. However she gradually discovers there are many kind people who help and even decides to her surprise she doesn’t need to use the one magic wish her grandmother gave to her. At the end she even comes to understand why her cousin has been hateful because from her cousin’s perspective, Little Pumpkin is such an intrusion and a threat. One of the Aussie Chomps. (7 - 10 years) KS

Nips X1 by Ruth Starke pb 9780734401137 $15.99
This is the very amusing story of Lan, who loves cricket and his determination in getting together a cricket team of kids of many different ethnic backgrounds. It portrays many different perspectives and it is very interesting in its cross cultural interactions between kids and adults. (9 – 13 years) KS

Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke pb 9781862917637 $17.99
When Andy and his father make a trip to Vietnam to visit relatives, it is for Andy’s father his first trip back since he escaped from the country in a rusty fishing boat when he was just 15 years old. For Andy who is 11 years old and was born in Australia, it is his first visit to Hanoi and the first time he has met any of his many relatives in Vietnam. The book is written mainly from Andy’s point of view and at first much seems very strange to him. However Andy gradually comes to understand more of his father’s perspective and also that of the various members of his Vietnamese relatives.
(9 – 12 years) KS

The Lottie Project by Jacqueline Wilson pb 9780440868538 $17.99
Charlie is doing a project on the Victorians and is sure that it will be deadly dull. However when she starts writing the diary of Lottie, a girl about her own age who works as a nursery maid for a family in Victorian times, Lottie and the family come to life for Charlie. The book is written in alternate chapters. We learn about Charlie and her life with her mum and her friends and this alternates with the chapters that Charlie writes for her project about Lottie and her very difficult life. Charlie and Lottie are both called Charlotte and there are many fascinating parallels. The book is extremely revealing about our own times and about life for young girls working as servants in the Victorian period and the contrast between the working class and their employers. A very helpful book to use as an introduction to the Victorian period or as a way of thinking about history. (10 – 14 years) KS

Responsibility: What is our responsibility?

Our Daft Dog Danny by Pamela Allen pb 9780143503446 $14.99
The two children love their trips to the beach with Uncle Peter but these are wrecked when Danny their dog gets overexcited and spoils everything. However the two children work out a way to entertain Danny and keep him under control so that they all have a great time again. (4 – 8 years) KS

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech & Harry Bliss (illus) hb 9780060277369 $32.00 pb 9780060007287 $13.00
An amusing story about a school where the principal is so enthusiastic about his school and the way the students love to learn that he decides to have lessons on Saturday and Sunday too. It is Tilly who summons up the courage to tell the Principal that children must do other things as well. They have their own responsibilities to play with little brothers and exercise dogs and have fun with the friends and family. This strong message is very amusingly presented through a witty text and amusing illustrations. (5 – 9 years) KS

School for Princes: Stories from the Panchatantra by Jamela Gavin & Bee Wiley (illus) hb 9781845079901 $32.95
These are five ancient fables about five unruly badly behaved princes who are turned into responsible and caring future kings through the storytelling wisdom of their old teacher Sarma. Jamila Gavin also wrote five original stories about the Princes and the Fables and these are interspersed throughout the collection. These stories give us a much greater understanding of the fables and their significance to the Princes and they also give us information about the period of the Panchatantra. Charming illustrations add to the appeal of this lovely hardback book. (9 – 14 years) KS

Let’s get a PUP! by Bob Graham pb 9781406308518 $16.95
A wonderful evocation of a family - the type of warm slightly zany family that Bob Graham creates so well. When Kate breathlessly decides she wants a pup they end up getting Dave, a wonderfully bouncy excitable puppy but they also decide that they can’t leave Rosy, an old grey dog behind at the dog shelter. (4 – 8 years) KS

The Little One: The Story of a Red-tailed Monkey by Kaitie Afrika Litchfield pb 9781742030906 $16.99
When Kaitie was only four years old she lived in Uganda with her mother who was a scientist and was working at a sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees. When a baby orphaned Red-tailed monkey was brought to the sanctuary, Katie became the tiny monkey’s mum. She describes how she looked after him and how they and the dog and the cat all played together. The simply written text is written in the first person by Kaitie herself and is very engaging. There is an additional page of information on Red-tailed monkeys and how their habitat is being threatened. This is an appealing story with excellent photos that young children will really enjoy. (5 – 8 years) KS


Flour Babies by Anne Fine pb 9780140361476 $16.99
A very entertaining novel which a class is given a lesson in responsibility when they have to care for their “flour babies” which are really six pound bags of flour, as if they were real babies. (9 – 13 years) KS

Moon Station by Rachel Flynn & Judy Watson (illus) pb 9780143304524 $12.95
Williams has to do a project on designing a moon station. Some enterprising kids outsource their projects to their parents since this is the modern way or “best practice.” Williams has a suspicion that this might be cheating. A very amusing story about the hazards of doing projects and it could also be used to discuss the responsibilities involved. One of the popular Aussie Bites. (7 – 9 years) KS

Hitler’s Daughter by Jackie French pb 9780207198014 $15.99
When Anna makes up a compelling story about Hitler’s daughter, Mark finds the story disturbing and questions if children can be blamed or held responsible in any way if their parents do something evil. This is a most thought provoking novel. (9 – 14 years) KS

The Flytrap by Meme McDonald pb 9781865086088 $14.95
Nancy said she would bring a venus fly trap to school because she knew it would please her teacher but now she is very worried because she doesn’t actually have one. Each day she becomes more worried as she puts off telling her teacher the truth. Through the stories of her mother and Aboriginal stepfather, she gains the courage to tell the teacher the truth and to share a special story with her class. (7 – 10 years) KS

Reflection: How do we know?

Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey pb 9780143504108 $16.99
I found the strong cartoon style illustrations a little confronting at first but any reservations quickly fell away on reading this lively, engaging and exuberant story. Sunday Chutney is always starting new schools because her family shifts frequently to different places round the world. This has many advantages which Sunday lists, but she can’t help hating her first days at a new school even though she has developed her own idiosyncratic ways of coping with this. I think that kids would love to give their own thoughts about Chutney’s life and her quirky views on life. (7 – 10 years) KS

The Two-Hearted Numbat by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina pb 9781921888007 $16.95
A numbat is a small native creature which is now unfortunately now fairly rare. Numbat had two hearts; one that was like a feather, soft and kind-hearted and the other like a stone, strong and tough making Numbat feel very strong and brave. However Numbat was concerned that he didn’t know which heart was his true self. He seeks help from an Elder Numbat who tells him that both hearts are his true self; he is both kind-hearted and strong and brave. The illustrations are brilliantly coloured and strikingly beautiful. This is an original story told in a traditional way. (5 – 8 years) KS

This is Our House by Michael Rosen & Bob Graham (illus) pb 9780763628161 $14.00
George has decided that he is the only one who can play in the big cardboard house but the other children are determined that everyone shall play in it. George thinks about it and decides that maybe the cubby is for everyone. This is a charming and humorous picture book about sharing and cooperation.
(4 - 8 years) KS