Squirm’s book reviews

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Imagination Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Imagine a Day by Sarah L Thomson and Rob Gonsalves

imagine-a-day

Imagine a day . . . . . . When you can dive
down through branches
or swim up
to the sun

This beautiful book matches simple, poem like text with some of the most amazing art work I’ve seen in a picture book. The art work – the real star of this book – takes the reader into a magical world where things aren’t exactly as they seem. Instead bridges are actually made of people, standing tall on top of each other; blue balloons can turn grey skies blue, and children can build cities out of alphabet blocks.

The illusions in the painting almost creep up on you, and you can spend ages looking at them and trying to work out just how the artist has created them. It would be an amazing book to use with art activities, especially if you took time to look at other art illusions like these. Squirm was too little to really understand the illusions, but he loved the colourful art, and the poem-like quality of the text lulled and calmed him as he went off to sleep.

(You can find Rob Gonsalves’ Official Facebook page – with lots of art – here)

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

 

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are

 

When Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind or another, his mother called him a wild thing and sent him to bed without eating. But then Max finds himself in his little boat, sailing across the seas to where the Wild Things are.

I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this book before! It’s an absolute classic and there’s a very good reason why. The art work, while relatively simple (especially compared to Gonsalves’ work!) is wonderfully evocative, and the sparse text allows plenty of room for imagination, while allowing older children to read along. And of course, there’s the wonderful ending, when Max comes home to a hot supper – that moment which reminds the parents reading it, just what it was like to be a child.

There’s a few books I think every child should experience, and this is definitely one of them. If you haven’t got a copy yet, head out and get yourself one!

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Tap the Tree Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Tap The Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Tap the Magic Tree - Squirm's Book Reviews - Adventures of a Subversive Reader

There’s magic in this bare brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page to see.

This magical book invites the reader to get involved, to tap and swish their way through the pages, as a tree moves from bare to full of leaves, flowers and fruit and back to bare again. It’s not a long, or a complicated story, but rather an interaction, a way of connecting movement to the (usually) rather still act of reading.

I’m going to address up front my one annoyance with the book. Right there in the front was a rather limited age recommendation – 4-8 years old. I disagree with this. I think a book which is so beautiful and which manages to be so clever and simple at the same time, appeals to a much wider range of people. The large and uncomplicated illustrations are as eye catching to a baby or toddler as they are to an adult. Similarly, it’s easy to be enchanted by the book’s commands to shake and tap and blow, no matter how old you are. Squirm (at 15 months) was utterly engaged with it, while Mr Pilot and I were both interested in what would happen next. Age recommendations are fine as a guideline, but I’m sure there’s many people who would feel limited by them and would pass over a wonderful book like this because their children didn’t meet the right age.

I’d be very sad if people did pass over this one, because it was a very lovely read. It gently moved us from one stage of the tree to the next, relying on visual literacy as well as the short commands. Squirm was too young (and in the bath, so too wet) to do the taping and brushing himself, but he loved watching me do it (especially the counting to ten and blowing the kiss) and I’m sure if we read it together a few times, he’d soon join in. I think this book would work beautifully with groups of children too – it would be fantastic for learning about trees and seasons, and I can just imagine groups of children with their hands in the air getting involved with the book.

We’re definitely going to buy this one for ourselves (we were reading a library copy) and I’d definitely recommed getting a copy for yourself. (Also, I think it’s time to campaign for this to be a board book! It would be 100% perfect for that)

 

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Popping the Bubble Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Mozzie and Midgie by Doug MacLeod and Sandy Okalyi

Squirm's Book Reviews: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Mozzie and Midgie are a pair of sibling Spoonbills who live on a tropical Queensland island. Everything in their world is happy until they come across a boastful parrot who teases them for being too plain. From then on, Mozzie is determined to find something which will make them beautiful – even if it means wearing crabs on their heads! Will Mozzie find the perfect decoration? Will Midgie be convinced that they look beautiful?

Squirm's Book Reviews: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

This is a lovely picture book about finding out who you really are and not listening to the nay-sayers around you. Mozzie’s schemes keep coming, and poor old Midgie gets dragged along from one scheme to another. The repeating nature of the book is really enjoyable and opens the book up to reader participation – you’re left wondering what Mozzie will come up with while knowing how Midgie is likely to respond. The illustrations are simply done, but often hilarious (I love the two spoonbills wearing flying fish scales as masks) and they introduce a lot of different animals. This was a really enjoyable read which I’m eager to read again.

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar

Squirm's Book Reviews: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Mabel never thought blowing bubbles at the table could cause so much trouble. She never imagined that one of those bubbles would capture up her baby brother and take him bobbling and joggling through the town. She never considered that it would lead to an adventure involving all her neighbours, half the town, and a gaggle of choir boys. And how on earth will they get her brother down?

This was a rollicking poem of a story, which (luckily) rolled fairly easily off the tongue as you race through the adventures. There was some absolutely splendid use of words in the story, and I was really left admiring the beautiful writing, even after reading it several times. The story also lends itself beautifully to using different voices, always something which I really enjoy. The illustrations are relatively simple, but there are a few nice little things to look at and point out. This was a really, really enjoyable read which has kept Squirm captivated and wanting me to read again

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Diary of a Wombat

I’ve decided to spend a little time taking an in depth look at some of the books we read with Squirm. You can find more Squirm Book Reviews Here

Diary of a Wombat: Ideas and Activities: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Diary of a Wombat 

By Jackie French. Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

This is one of my all time favourite books, a book which I first read when I was on my teaching prac. (Word to the wise, read this one to yourself before reading it aloud. I laughed so much I had trouble getting through the book). It tells the story of Mothball the Wombat who happens to live in close proximity to a family. Mothball interacts with the family as she goes about her day, finding ways to get exactly what she wants.

One of the things I really love about Diary of a Wombat is the way it is written in a loose diary style. The sentences are short and succinct, making it perfect for a relatively new reader. It also allows plenty of time for pausing for laughter. Bruce Whatley’s illustrations match this perfectly, giving us little snippets of the action, surrounded by lots of white space. Often too, the joke is in the pictures, and the reader can only ‘get it’ when they read the pictures and the text – a vital skill required as readers move into reading diagrams and graphs and other mediums which mix picture and word.

For such a relatively simple book, there’s an awful lot of ways you can use Diary of a Wombat – it’s one of those books which can influence activities at a lot of ages.

Exploring Diary of a Wombat with Littlies

As well as the reading through the book several times and talking about the pictures with your littlies, there’s a few things you can do to explore the book further. One thing you can do is to look at some pictures and watch some videos of wombats

You could also read another Australian classic picture book – Wombat Stew (by Marcia Kay Vaughn) which has a fabulous rhyming part to it.

Marcia K Vaughan - Wombat Stew

If you’re really lucky, you might live close enough to a zoo or a wildlife park where you can see wombats – Mr Pilot and I got to see them at Australia Zoo – including a mum with a baby 🙂

Slightly bigger littlies might enjoy playing in some soft dirt, like Mothball. They could even create their own wombat burrows. Of course, when they were finished, they’d need some carrots to eat.

Exploring Diary of a Wombat with Pre-School and Lower Primary Children

As well as enjoying the book itself, there’s a tonne of great ways you can use the book for children in lower primary and that little bit younger. It’s an excellent launching pad for learning more about wombats, which might then lead into learning more about other Australian animals. This information could be collected and could even be turned into a little reference book for your child to turn back to again and again.

Jackie French has a great account of the inspiration for the book and how she approached it here. The ‘real’ Mothball was actually a rescued animal, which would be a very interesting thing to learn about. You could find information about animal rescuers in your local area, and you might even be able to organise a visit. One of my greatest memories was having a ‘ranger’ bring a Ringtailed Possum in to show my (inner-city) school after he had rescued it nearby. He was cuddling it in his jacket and it was amazing seeing those little eyes poking out!

Diary of a Wombat can also be used when looking at days of the week and events. Mothball’s story is spread over 8 days, and we are told what day it is at the beginning of her ‘diary entry’. Her days are then organised into Morning, Afternoon, Evening etc. You could practice putting the days of the week into the right orders and look at all the different ways you could explain different times of the day (morning could also include dawn, breakfast time, early in the day, beginning of the day, first light . . .)

Of course, there’s also the Diary element of the book. You could use it to write your own ‘Diary’ story – the Diary of your own child or a Diary for a fictional character (Cinderella or Peter Pan would be funny). Again, you could make some great sequencing activities from this – looking at different activities and the orders you might do them in.

Another great activity could be planting carrots (or other vegetables). I (vaguely) remember putting carrot tops onto wet cotton wool to try to grow them! Yates had a guide to growing them from seed here.

Have you read Diary of a Wombat? What did you like about it? Have you got any activity ideas?

Squirm’s Book Reviews: The Not Quite Right Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Ivy Loves to Give

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 36)

Ivy is a young girl who loves to give things. Only the things she likes to give don’t always work. And sometimes they leave people without the things they need! Luckily Ivy likes to give things back to the people they belong to.

This is a sweet little tale about taking and giving. The whole book is told in just four sentences – two longer, two shorter – and through the illustrations which tell the real story. There’s a whole family around Ivy (including a baby who might be breastfeeding in one picture!) and there’s a real feeling of warmth and love in this book. Some of that comes through the various animals in the illustrations – including a goat and a snail – which give a slightly scrappy feel.

This would be a great book for an activity on sorting and matching. It could also be one to use with children who are learning about putting things back in the right place. You could use the book to draw pictures of the people and the items and match them up, or collect a group of items from different rooms in your house and get your child to sort them back into the right room.

 

The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: The Terrible Plop

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 37)

I LOVED this book. It’s the story of the terribly plop which happens in the middle of the forest and terrifies everyone. Except the big brown bear who is sure that he’s brave enough to face the Terrible Plop.

This is a rhyming book which is one of the best read alouds I’ve read in a while. The rhythm of the words works perfectly, and while this looks easy, I’ve been reading several other rhyming books which reminded me that this is something which takes considerable skill. The cause of the terrible plop is hidden in the illustrations, requiring the eagle eyed to be paying attention to find it.

This would be a brilliant book to introduce onomatopoeia. You could create a list or directory of the different ‘sound words’ which you know. You could also use instruments or other noise makers and make your own ‘sound words’. You and your child could even make up a rhyme or song completely of ‘sound words’. You could also use this book to talk about blowing things out of proportion – it would be a good story to match with Chicken Little and a good book for talking about unfounded fears.

Squirm’s Book Reviews: The Beautiful Nature Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Hunwick’s Egg by Mem Fox

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Hunwick's Egg

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 26)

Hunwick the bilby lives in the desert. One day he finds a beautiful egg and he promises to look after it. Except the egg never changes, not even when Hunwick confesses the fact that he really loves the egg.

This is a simple, but very sweet story which was one of the Courier/Sunday Mail books. Surprisingly, I hadn’t come across it before, but I really loved the rich story, the way that different animals were used

, not to mention the stunning illustrations which seemed to slide, crawl and hop off the page – even in a reduced size book. The message of the book is beautiful – even if something isn’t what you originally thought it was, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful and precious in its own right.

You could definitely use this book to spend some time looking at central Australia, and other parts of our country which are less populated. There are some amazing animals in those areas which lots of people don’t know about. You could also spend some time looking at different gem stones which can be found in Australia and other parts of the world.

 

When Elephants Lived in the Sea by Jane Godwin

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: When Elephants Lived in the Sea

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 33)

This is  book about elephants of long ago, elephants who swam in the ocean like whales and dugongs. But as the world got older and changed, the elephants moved towards the place where the water met the land. How will they change with the world?

This is a visually beautiful book, which simply, and with beautiful expressive language, tells the story of how elephants evolved from water bound animals to the animals we are more used to today. It was a dream to read aloud, filled with plump similes and rich descriptive language  – in fact, if I was teaching descriptive language this would have to be a model text. The art work is as lush as the words, moving from the dark blues of the water to the rich oranges and reds of the land.

Of course, this is a brilliant book for looking at elephants, especially with an extensive page of information at the end of the book. It’s also a great way to introduce the concept of evolution, and easily leads to conversations about how other animals may have evolved over years. You could also spend a bit of time examining how different animals live in the water, and what adaptations they have to allow them to live in such different conditions. There’s also the descriptive language that would allow a lot of examples for good English lessons.

Squirm’s Book Reviews: The Frances Watts Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Frances Watts worked as an editor for ten years before starting to write picture books. She has several award winning picture books, plus a couple of series and a trilogy which I’ve just tracked down to read. Recently Squirm and I read several of her books and we want to share them here

Kisses for Daddy

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Kisses for Daddy

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 20)

Baby Bear is grumbly and very fond of the word ‘no’! Daddy wants to get him to bed, but Baby Bear doesn’t want to give him a kiss. Not a bear kiss or a giraffe kiss. Not even a crocodile kiss.

This is such a sweet bedtime book, the kind of book you’d probably read over and over again at bedtime. Although the story is relatively simple, going through the bedtime routine while looking at different animals and the way they might kiss goodnight, an added quality is added through the amazing illustrations by David Legge. One of the real strengths of Frances Watt’s books is the lovely descriptive language and it is evident throughout this book, with ‘cuddly, clingy kisses’ and ‘snappy, watery kisses’.

This is a book to spend time looking at, to find the hidden ‘clues’ in the pictures. You could also spend some time looking at the different animals that are in the book and the different ways you could draw them, or use them in art. It would also be a lot of fun to look at the relationship that different animals have between parents and babies. The tiles in the bedroom have lots of options for fun maths activities – you can create your own to rotate and flip and join together.

 

Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books by Frances Watts

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Parsely Rabbit

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 29)

There’s been a bit of a boom in books about books in recent years. This one is quite straight forward, looking at the different parts of books, but with a healthy dose of humour throughout. You start learning from the moment you open the book and are informed that you are looking at the endpapers. It talks about the role of the reader and how some books have flaps to extend the book – and once you learn about flaps, you start finding them through the rest of the book.

I really like this sort of book, which manages to ‘teach’ while keeping the tongue firmly in the cheek. There’s a lot more to books that people first realise, and this book does a great job of introducing these elements in a simple, easy to understand fashion.

This would be a great book to read before a visit to a library, or if you want to have a go at making books of your own. You could create some pretty professional looking books with your children by including some of the elements you find in actual books. You could also use the information in the front of books to set up your own library at home. An interesting thing would be to look at e-books and compare and contrast them, and talk about other ways you can enjoy books.

 

A Rat in a Stripy Sock by Frances Watts

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: A Rat in a Stripy Sock

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 28)

The rain poured down like misery, washing the city in grey . . .

Any book that begins with a fabulous sentence like that immediately gets my heart. This is the story of a grey rat who finds a stripy sock – a beautiful, bright, multi-coloured stripy sock which could take the grey rat anywhere. A grey rat could have the best house or eat in the best restaurants with a stripy sock. He could play beautiful music or follow his dreams. He could be happy.

This was a gorgeous, stunning, uplifting – but understated book. It shows you how just one bright and colourful thing can make everything look better, can take you out of your everyday existence and let you fly. The illustrations by David Francis only add to this, showing the contrast between the grey and miserable and the colourful and beautiful.

This is the perfect book for crafting for. You could practice drawing with greys (lead pencils or grey crayons/felt pens) and drawing the same thing with colours and look at how different they look. If you’ve got older children they might be interested in learning how to crochet and could make their own stripy sock (or a stripy scarf, if they’re a little younger) Younger children might like to decorate an old grey sock and make it into something beautiful of their own. I’d really love to try using an old grey sock (man’s size) to try and make a grey rat toy, which of course would mean that I’d want to create some of the other elements of the book 🙂 This would also be the perfect book for talking about dreams and how you can hold onto bright things on grey days. It would be a brilliant book to pair with Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree.

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Time For Sleep Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Goodnight, Mice! by Frances Watts

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Goodnight, Mice!

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 21)

Mitzi is weary and Billy is sleepy. Clementine’s teary and Oliver’s weepy.

The four little mice are tired and worn out, and it’s time to start their bed time rituals. We watch them as they kiss Grandpa goodnight, and then as they are suddenly wide awake, scampering up the stairs. We see bath time and teeth time and getting into pajamas time, before the mice hear their bedtime story and drift off to sleep.

This is the second Frances Watts book we have read (we were given Kisses for Daddy as a baptism present for Squirm) and another one which deals with bedtime. The four mice are very cute, but also very like children – wanting to do things on their own, begging for another story and generally causing a little bit of chaos. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the story and forget that you’re reading about mice, until you get to the end and you’re once again reminded that this is a cute, fairy style house in the woods. It would be (and has been for us) a wonderful bedtime story, just the right amount of magic and realism.

This would be a great book to read if you’re talking with your children about a bed time routine. You could do role play with dolls or stuffed animals, or take photos of the steps you do at bedtime and make your own book. There’s also some gorgeous descriptive language in this book and it would be great to make a list of that language and try to use the words in different ways, particularly some of the alliteration.

 

Let’s Go Visiting by Sue Williams

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Let's Go Visiting

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 22)

Let’s go visiting. What do you say?

This is a very simple repeating, counting book, each time starting with a simple command and question – let’s go visiting. What do you say. From there we are introduced to the animals on the farm, as the small child (could easily be a boy or girl) collects different colours around the farm, before falling asleep in the hay.

The words and concept are quite simple in this book – the repeating phrases, the counting and the different colours and animals build through the book. There’s a lovely rhythm to the repeating, it definitely keeps the listener engaged each time it’s repeated. I love Julie Vivas’ illustrations and the way that there’s almost a whole other story being told by them – you see the child engage with the animals and generally tire themselves out – although this story isn’t in the words, without the pictures, the ending wouldn’t make sense – it’s the perfect example of words and illustrations working together!

This book would be great for talking about animals, numbers or colours! If you’re working on simple addition, adding up strings of numbers, you could use this book. You could draw pictures of the animals for colouring in, could count them and order them. You could make patterns with the cut outs. You could learn about farms and the different animals which are on them. It would be particularly fun to learn about different types of farms – fish farms, emu farms, food farms – and to create your own stories.

 

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Grandmother Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Dancing with Grandma by Rosemary Mastnak

dancingwithgrandma

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 17)

This is a gorgeous book about a young girl (Anya) who is staying at her grandmother’s place when she has an idea. She gets all dressed up, then has a wonderful, enthusiastic dance with her grandmother. So enthusiastic, that even the dog and the cat join in. There aren’t a huge amount of words in this book, instead the story is really carried by the beautiful, vibrant illustrations. What we do get in the words, though, is some fabulous use of verbs (whisk and whirl, twist and twirl) and almost the feeling of an off page dance teacher calling out the actions for the dancers to follow. I’m a sucker for dance books, and this one did a great job of it, invoking a number of dance homages throughout. I also love that the grandmother is portrayed as an active person.

This book would be the perfect introduction to a dance session. You could read it and then try to copy the dancing that Anya and her grandmother do. Or you could use the words to create your own dances. When you get exhausted and fall to the ground (like Anya and her grandmother) you could use You Tube to watch dancing – maybe even find some of the dances that are here in the book (look at highland and Irish dancing, to start with, as well as The Nutcracker and contemporary dance.) You could also use this book to talk about things that Grandmothers and grandchildren do together.

 

Button Boy by Rebecca Young and Sue deGennaro

buttonboy

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 16)

Banjo loves collecting buttons. He looks for them and finds them everywhere, even when the other kids are all busy playing with each other. Grandma Woolly helps him out with his button collection by sewing the buttons onto his favourite jumper. However, each day as Banjo heads out, he finds people looking for buttons that they’ve lost – and he’s able to find them on his jumper. What will happen when all the buttons are gone?

I love the way the book gives us a repeating selection of words telling us Banjo’s route on the way to school, especially the gorgeous use of verbs. (This really is a verb-y couple of books!) The language in the book is fabulous, with a number of rare words used particularly well. I also love Grandma Woolly saying ‘Unbutton my eyes’ – a nice example of figurative speech and punning at the same time!

Sue deGennaro’s illustrations deserve special mention. She really has become a favourite illustrator of mine, and I think I’m going to have to spend some time tracking down all her different books! Once again, her illustrations are delightful here, and I love the way that she gives little hints and clues to other parts of the story. She also brings so much more to the story on top of the words – like all good picture books should! Her illustrations would make reading the book again a real joy – and sharped eyed readers should be able to enjoy the book even more.

You would have a perfect starter book for talking about collections here – it would be fascinating to ask different people some of the things they collect – especially if you’re able to find some particularly avid collectors and see some of their collections. (I’m a collector – I collect books and I used to collect Barbie Dolls. My mother collects bears and dolls. My grandmother collects dolls, bears and other toys . . . I had no hope, did I?) A trip to the museum would also go perfectly with this book, especially if you can see some of their social history collection, where you get to look at some of those everyday objects which are so important to people at the time. (I worked in the Social History section of the Queensland Museum for my week of Work Experience. I worked with everything from guns to toys to farm equipment – an amazing week!) There’s also room for some great conversations about friendship and how to make friends and how to help other people.

Squirm’s Book Reviews: Cat and Dog Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Come Down, Cat! by Sonya Hartnett

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Come Down Cat

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 12)

Written and Illustrated by the same pair who created The Boy and the Toy, this is a very different, yet still very beautiful book. It’s a fairly simple tale about a cat who refuses to come down from the roof, despite the creepy crawlies that she might see there through the night. However, when the rain comes, Nicholas will be called on to assist the cat to safety.

I am very much falling in love with the illustrations of Lucia Masciullo which seem to carry a whimsical feel with them, no matter what style she’s used. This book is more fairy tale than steam punk in style, but uses similar use of perspective to create suspense and excitement as was used in The Boy and the Toy. I particularly loved that so few of the lines are straight, that there’s bends and twists and curves in this magical world. The language is gorgeous as well – with a wide breadth of words including ‘peered’, ‘dismayed’ and ‘wafting’ 🙂 (This is why picture books are so important – those words are very unlikely to appear elsewhere!) There’s also alliteration and personification and just the right mix of real and unrealistic.

This would be the perfect book for looking at fears and how different things scare different people. You could also use it to talk about who might be able to help if you were scared of something. Alternately, you could also use this book to talk about bravery, and the brave things that your child has done. I could also see the gorgeous illustrations of the house and the ladder inspiring drawings of other houses and ladders and even 3D models of them!

 

Maximilian Jones by Elise Hurst

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Maximilian Jones

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 14)

This was a bit of a surprise of a book. By the front cover I was expecting the basic book of a boy and his dog and how much he loved the dog. But suddenly I was thrown into a world of weird coincidences, mass hysteria and the amazing league of the postal service. One day Max finds a friendly dog, whose name is also Max. Suddenly the whole town embraces the name Max, causing the poor postie a lot of confusion and frustration until he calls in back up.

There’s a wonderful, weird twisty feel to the story and the illustrations in this book. The illustrations are absolutely essential to the story, and a great way to encourage more visual literacy by looking for the character and story details contained within them. The words interact with the illustrations, moving up and around and moving your eye across the page. I also adore the fact the mayor is female! That’s definitely not something you find in every children’s book. There’s a real rhythm in the words in this book, a lilting up and down feel which makes it very easy to read aloud.

I would love to use this book with a whole lot of activities about the postal service. You could set up your own little post box at home, look at different post workers around the world, work out how a letter gets from one place to another and the different ways that post can be delivered. Australia post has some information here. You could also look at names and what people or place names mean. There’s a whole lot of town related activities you could play with as well, from creating a town map to designing and acting out a town fair to learning more about what people in the community do.