Squirm’s Book Reviews: A Discovery Issue

Each week we review some of the books we’ve read together with Squirm

You Wish Jellyfish by Sue Whiting and Lee Krutop

Jellyfish is sick and tired of moving. All the time moving, without any say in where he goes and never quite knowing where he might end up. But then he meets someone who can’t move very much at all, and he’s forced to rethink his lot in life.

I really, really enjoyed this book. There’s the basic message of the deal you’re served in life maybe not being as bad as you think it is (would make a nice connection with Baby Brain and Robomum from last week.) But there’s much more than that. I loved that Jellyfish’s mum and dad both told him not to miss out on the Journey. It made me think that sometimes we’re so focused on what we don’t have that we miss the things we do have (oh, philosophy in a children’s picture book). I also loved the bright illustrations that were very Australian and the gentle, but quite funny tone through the book.

There’s a lot you could connect with this book – it warms the heart of the teacher inside me. If you’re able to see fish in an aquarium, this book would be a perfect companion. You could spend some time looking at pictures of sea life, and learning about how some of them move around – or don’t move. You could extend that to look at how other animals move too. You could move like a jellyfish, which would make a pretty awesome dance activity.

There’s also word play in this book. You wish jellyfish is one of those rhyming phrases that reminds me of ‘far out, brussel sprout’ and ‘yeah right, vegemite’. I bet you could make up a whole bunch of them – it would make a great book activity. You could also collect a whole bunch of movement words.

Finally, there’s the journey idea. You could talk about journeys, map journeys, create journeys, draw journeys, video or photograph journeys . . . you could even sing about journeys – like ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’.

Baby Bear’s Books by Jane Yolk

This book is a love story to reading. Throughout the book Baby Bear asks to be read to and talks about all the best times for reading – the beginning of the day, snack time, nap time, dinner time, bed time . . . The book is written in rhyme, and the words roll off your tongue as you read it aloud. The book is illustrated with soft, painted illustrations, with little bits and pieces going on to talk about as you read.

Of course, this book is perfect when you’re talking about books. You could use it whenever you sit down with a reading session, and definitely use it to talk more about books with children. It’s the kind of book I would have liked to use with reader’s workshop – it’d be great for talking about when and where children like to read. With younger children, you could draw pictures of the best places to read. You could also try reading in different places – there’s something a little bit magical about reading in playgrounds, on the front lawn, or reading underneath a table!

My Baby Love by Meredith Costain and Beatriz Martin Vidal

This was such a lovely, sweet book. It runs through the day of mothers and babies, from holding to sleeping. It’s a simple rhyme, followed by counting to three, then repeated. But the illustrations are truly magnificent. Each rhyme uses only one main colour, then there’s white used in the people and the surroundings which really makes the pages stand out. And there’s such beautiful detail in the pages. My favourite is the final rhyme, with a picture of the baby asleep in a cradle made of the mothers long, plaited hair.

This is a baby’s book, though and through. It’s one of those books which makes you want to snuggle close to your baby, and at each ‘three’, I found myself giving Squirm a big hug. He loved it too, making sweet, lovely noises the whole way through it. You could make up some good actions to go with it. With older children, you could talk about some of the things babies do (great for an older brother or sister) and look at the details in the illustrations compared to other books. You could also have a go at creating your own rhymes for older children.

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