Great Books for Kids, Part 1

Hi, everyone! The holiday season is just around the corner and today I’m sharing 3 reviews of fantastic children’s books that would make great gifts for the younger readers in your life.

Thank you to Scholastic for the review copies.

Give Me Some Space! by Philip Bunting (2020)

Una is a young girl enamoured with space – so much so she can’t wait to travel among the stars. But in spite of all her plans, once she’s in space, she begins to understand what makes Earth a truly remarkable place.

Philip Bunting’s storytelling style is an absolute delight. This story will appeal to young, budding astronomers who look to the stars and dream of amazing things. The artwork is gorgeous, and invites the reader to look even closer as they turn each page. It truly highlights the things that make Earth what it is, and shows us all that we can have big dreams and still have awe and respect for what we currently have, too.

Give Me Some Space! will be the 2021 National Simultaneous Storytime book – a huge reading event that takes place across Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday, 19th May.

Shoes From Grandpa: 30th Anniversary Edition by Mem Fox (1989/2020)

Grandpa decides to buy Jessie a new pair of shoes – and the rest of the family decide that they should buy her new clothes, too. The only trouble is that nobody buys Jessie what she’d really like.

If you’re an Aussie, there’s a good chance you’ve read at least one Mem Fox book in your lifetime – or, if you’re like me, you read everything she writes. She is probably the best-known, most-beloved of our children’s picture book writers and for good reason. Shoes from Grandpa is the story of well-meaning family members buying new items for Jessie because she keeps growing – only no-one quite knows exactly what Jessie wants. (Sound familiar?) She ends up with scarves and hats and mittens, and she tries very hard to be polite about the fact that she ends up covered in clothing she doesn’t actually need.

Told in Mem Fox’s recognisably lyrical style, with repeating phrases and rhyming patterns, it’s both a joy to read and read aloud. It’s a book I’ve read to every class I’ve ever taught, and have fond memories of reading as a child (I even have my original copy from childhood!). You can’t go wrong with a Mem Fox book!

The Paper Bag Princess: 40th Anniversary Edition by Robert Munsch (1980/2020)

Princess Elizabeth is set to marry Prince Ronald… until a dragon burns up her castle and carries the prince off. Dressed only in a paper bag, Princess Elizabeth bests the dragon, saves the prince and proves to everyone that princesses can be the heroes of their own stories.

This is another story I read to every class – it’s a book that boys and girls alike need to hear. The Princess is no damsel, she doesn’t need saving – she does the saving instead – and she does it through smart, calculated thinking. Princess Elizabeth is the modern hero for children everywhere, who defies expectations and knows herself.

(And nothing can beat the ending where she leaves the judgemental Prince Ronald behind!)

I’m so excited to have my own copy of this book now – so I can stop stealing and hiding the work copy! – and continue to read and unpack this story with my students in the future. It’s a must-have for ALL bookshelves!

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