How Do You Say Hello? is the latest in the series by Australian duo Ashleigh Barton and Martina Heiduczek, exploring the richness of human language and culture in picture books. It follows on from earlier titles including What Do You Call Your Grandma?, How Do You Say I Love You? and What Do You Do To Celebrate?
This one explores a diversity of greetings from languages such as Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Gamilaraay, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Swahili, among others.
As always, the illustrations by Martina Heiduczek add a great deal to the story, showing families and friends enjoying time together.
I love this series and I’m sure there will be more to add to the collection.
How Do You Say Hello? is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in June 2023.
A Very Dinosaur Birthday is by US writer Adam Wallace with illustrations by Christopher Nielsen. It’s a fun romp through a birthday party which is gate-crashed by a bunch of dinosaurs, resulting in hilarity and a great deal of mess – perfect for youngsters who dream about dinosaurs. My grandson would have loved this book a few years ago. The illustrations are bold and bright and the rhyming text moves at a smart pace, echoing the rumbunctious antics of the dinosaurs.
A Very Dinosaur Birthday is published by Tommy Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins, also in June 2023.
My thanks to the publishers for review copies.
Australian author Katrina Nannestad is back with another in her series for middle-grade readers, about children in WWII Europe. This one is about Polish youngsters stolen by the Nazis to further their hideous Lebensborn program, during which children and babies who looked ‘Aryan’ were taken to be Germanised and adopted into German families.
All of the stories are about empathy: understanding that there are always many ‘sides’ in warfare, and that children and non-combatants are always the victims, regardless of which side they come from.
In Waiting for the Storks, Zofia is eight years old when she is kidnapped and taken away to become a ‘good German girl.’ The story accurately and sympathetically captures the ways in which brainwashing techniques such as punishment and reward, isolation and repetition are used to achieve the desired outcome – in this case, a complete obliteration of Zofia’s memories of her loving Polish family and home, and adoption of her new German identity.
There are small acts of resistance. A lovely scene is in the camp as the children are forced to learn German, where they use the meaningless phrases they are being taught in a way that expresses their defiance:
The nurse nods, satisfied. She walks away, but we keep speaking in German, because nurses have stethoscope ears and pinchy fingers and slappy hands and bad tempers.Waiting for the Storks p76
‘Hello’, says Kat, ‘I am a boy.’
‘Hello, says Jadwiga, rubbing her bald head. ‘I am a potato.’
‘Goodbye,’ says Maria. ‘I must go to the bathroom.’
We’re giggling now, sniggering into our soup. Even little Ewa. It’s brilliant, because we’re obeying the rules with our words, but not in our hearts.
A family game (‘Make a choice!) is used effectively as a motif throughout the story. So, where the choices with her parents were fun and light-hearted (Cream on your salami or gravy on your poppyseed cake? Make a choice!) they now become a survival strategy (Polish or German? Make a choice! and Orphan or beloved daughter? Make a choice!)
The descriptions of the ‘Germanisation’ process are quite realistic and troubling. This is a book for mature younger readers who can deal with themes of sadness, loss, cruelty. The rewards are many, though, including a deeper understanding of the best and worst in humans. There is light and hope at the end which I believe is important for readers of this age group.
Waiting for the Storks is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in November 2022.
My thanks to the publishers for a copy to review.
How Do You Say I Love You? is a new picture book in a gorgeous series by author Ashleigh Barton and illustrator Martina Heiduczek, celebrating languages and cultures from around the world. Previous titles are What Do You Call Your Grandpa?, What Do You Call Your Grandma?, and What Do You Do To Celebrate? (links are to my reviews.)
As well as the focus on the beauty of human expression, something all the books have in common is celebrating connection: through family, friends, community.
Each double page spread shows a child saying ‘I love you’ in their language to someone special in their life. We see children from places as diverse as Peru, Iran, Canada, Tonga, West and Central Africa, Egypt, and more, with grandparents, pets, parents, friends. Languages include Auslan (the Sign Language used in Australia) along with Farsi, French, Arabic, Korean, Filipino, Mandarin, Spanish and Italian.
The beautiful illustrations invite close examination and convey the message of commonality and diversity which all these books so skillfully portray.
How Do You Say I Love You? is a perfect read-aloud book, a beautiful way for youngsters to be introduced to the wonderful world of languages.
It is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in August 2022.
My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.
Each one of these delightful picture books invites readers to think about what we all share, as well as to enjoy the colourful and creative differences that make humans so interesting.
In What Do You Do To Celebrate? we explore some of the many ways in which families around the world mark special times of the year together: Christmas, New Year, Lunar New Year, Hanukkah, just to mention a few. We see family celebrations in Israel, New Zealand, the Phillipines, South Africa, China, and many other parts of the globe, coming together to enjoy special foods, lantern festivals, big family gatherings, festive music and parades.
Each double page spread is devoted to one type of celebration, explained in simple and lovely rhyme by Ashleigh Barton and Martina Heiduczek’s vibrant, mixed media illustrations.
The final page invites children to think about their own family traditions:
So many traditions to mark the year.
What about you – what brings you cheer?
Presents, dancing or is it cake?
What do you do to celebrate?
This beautiful book is an ode to families, love, and celebratory traditions. It is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in October 2021.
My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.
The companion to What Do You Call Your Grandpa? is a celebration in words and pictures of the special relationship between kids and their grandmothers.
Featuring the words for ‘grandma’ in languages such as Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Warlpiri, Greek, Icelandic and Maori, among others, the simple four-line texts on each double page spread invites readers to try out the various words, while enjoying the warm relationships depicted.
The illustrations present grandmothers of all kinds: fun-loving, musical, glamorous, artistic, excellent cooks and nature lovers.
This is a beautiful follow up to the first grandparent book, and highly recommended for children and grandmas to enjoy together.
What Do You Call Your Grandma? is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in March 2021.
My thanks to the publishers for a copy to review.
I adore picture books. I loved to read them aloud to my son and continue to do so with my grandkids. There is a special magic that happens when the text and pictures work together; sometimes quirky, sometimes joyful, occasionally wistful. Always beautiful. And we are so fortunate to have in Australia such talented authors and illustrators of children’s books.
Margaret Wild was a favourite read-aloud for me, with books such as Mr Nick’s Knitting and Going Home. So I was pleased to see a new offering from her, with illustrations by Judith Rossell. Pink! is all about a young dinosaur who loves being pink – until she realises that she is always the first to be found in games of hide-and-seek with the other little dinosaurs. Then she longs to be brown or green, so she can hide in the forest like her friends.
Mum suggests: ‘Perhaps try being brave and smart about this…Try being happy with who you are.’ One afternoon Pink discovers that being a little bit brave – and a little bit different – can be a big advantage.
Margaret Wild’s simple text allows plenty of space – visually and metaphorically – for Judith Rossell’s gorgeous illustrations, full of the lush greens of the forest, soft blues and greys of the sky, pops of yellow, and of course, pink.
Pink! is a delightful story with a positive message that will appeal to youngsters as a read-aloud or to very early readers – especially those who love dinosaurs (and which pre-school or kindy kids don’t?)
What do you call your grandpa? by Ashleigh Barton is an affectionate love letter celebrating grandfathers and the special relationship between grandpa and child that can be found the world over. It also introduces youngsters to different cultures and languages and the various ways that children enjoy time with their grandads.
Each double page spread features a child, their grandfather and a special thing they love to do together. The four lines gently rhyme and this assists in the pronunciation of each name for ‘grandpa’, as that is always the final word and rhymes with the last word of the line before it.
We see children and grandpas playing hide-and-seek, star gazing, splashing in rain puddles, racing boats on a stream and enjoying a bedtime story together, among other fun activities.
The illustrations by Martina Heiduczek are soft blends of colours, with plenty of movement and things to spot and name on each page. On the last page, is an opportunity to learn the language and culture in which the different names for ‘grandpa’ are found.
What do you call your grandpa? and Pink! are delightful celebrations of diversity, special relationships, and the things that bring us together.
They will be published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in July 2020.
Thanks to the publisher for copies of these titles to read and review.