Children’s Book Week 2016 – resources, teachers’ notes and activities for kids

Each year I collate a list of resources for a selection of books which have made the CBCA short list. It is by far one of most time consuming posts I write, but I love doing it as it exposes me to books I may not have discovered otherwise.

The resources while often aimed at teachers are fantastic for parents too – they explain themes, writing styles and provide example questions you can discuss with the kids as you read the books.

This is only a selection of the books short listed for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s awards – you can see the full list of noteables here.

If you are reading via email, it is worth clicking through to read on the blog here as there are many video trailers for the books in this post which will not always work in email.

Book of the Year: Older Readers

Freedom Ride

ISBN – 9781925126365

Robbie knows bad things happen in Walgaree. But it’s nothing to do with him. That’s just the way the Aborigines have always been treated. In the summer of 1965 racial tensions in the town are at boiling point, and something headed Walgaree’s way will blow things apart. It’s time for Robbie to take a stand. Nothing will ever be the same.  {source}

RESOURCES – Walker Books have developed a comprehensive set of teacher notes which can be downloaded here and covers”

  • Classroom ideas for the Australian Curriculum
  • Links to resources to discuss before reading
  • Discussion question and activities by chapter as you are reading
  • Ideas for after reading looking at character, setting, social context
  • Exploration of the themes in Freedom Ride

Buy the book here –  Freedom Ride, Sue Lawson

A Single Stone

ISBN – 781925081701

Middle grade fiction with dystopian elements. Challenging and thought-provoking; affecting and beautifully crafted.

Every girl dreams of being part of the line – the chosen seven who tunnel deep into the mountain to find the harvest. No work is more important. Jena is the leader of the line – strong, respected, reliable. And – as all girls must be – she is small; her years of training have seen to that. It is not always easy but it is the way of the things. And so a girl must wrap her limbs, lie still, deny herself a second bowl of stew. Or a first. But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question everything she has ever known? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything? {source}

RESOURCES – The author shares how she came up with the story here which gives great insight into how what we read can stay with us for our entire lives.

Walker Books have also created comprehensive teacher notes which can be downloaded here and include:

  • Book outline
  • Author information
  • Two pages of discussion questions and activities

Buy the book here –  A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay


PUBLISHER – Macmillan Australia
ISBN – 9781743533123

For Vân Uoc Phan, fantasies fell into two categories: nourishing, or pointless. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, for example? Pointless. It always left her feeling sick, as though she’d eaten too much sugar.

Vân Uoc doesn’t believe in fairies, zombies, vampires, Father Christmas – or magic wishes. She believes in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes.

But when she attracts the attention of Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight.

Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.

Wishes were not a thing.
They were not.
Wishes were a thing.
Wishes that came true were sometimes a thing.
Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing!

Were they? {source}

RESOURCES – Macmillan Australia have teaching notes aligned with the Australian
Curriculum that include:

  • Themes
  • Plot & Structure
  • Characters
  • Style and Use of Language
  • Setting
  • Writing Exercises
  • Quotes for Discussion After Reading the Novel
  • Further Reading Ideas for Class Discussion
  • Further Ideas Using Technology

Buy the book here –  Cloudwish, Fiona Wood

Book of the Year: Younger Readers


AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Gleitzman, Morris
PUBLISHERViking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
ISBN – 9780670078875

I hoped the Nazis would be defeated.

And they were.

I hoped the war would be over.

And it was.

I hoped we would be safe.

But we aren’t.

Soon continues the incredibly moving story of Felix, a Jewish boy still struggling to survive in the wake of the liberation of Poland after the end of World War Two.  {source}

RESOURCES – You can read a sample of the book here or listen to an audio sample read by Gleitzman himself here. You can also download teacher’s notes which have themes and topics for discussion including

  • Aftermath of war
  • Survival
  • Right vs wrong
  • Parental influence
  • Family
  • Grief
  • Treatment of Jews
  • History
  • Beauty
  • Fear
  • Appearances
  • Corruption
  • Sacrifice
  • Hope vs. hopelessness

Buy the book here –  Soon, Morris Gleitzman

Shadows of the Master

PUBLISHEROmnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
ISBN – 9781742990620

Britta has always wanted to be a trader like her father, sailing the nine seas and bringing precious cargo home to Del harbour. Her dreams seemed safe until her father’s quest to find the fabled Staff of Tier ended in blood and horror. Now his shamed family is in hiding, and his ship, the Star of Deltora, belongs to the powerful Rosalyn fleet. But Britta’s ambition burns as fiercely as ever.

When she suddenly gets the chance to win back her future she knows she has to take it—whatever the cost. She has no idea that shadows from a distant, haunted isle are watching her every move. {source}

You can also watch the video trailer for the book here:

RESOURCES – Scholastic have comprehensive teaching notes you can find here and include:

  • Introduction to the book
  • About the Author
  • Writing Style
  • Discussion ideas for before reading the book
  • Questions to discuss chapter by chapter as reading the book
  • Creative activities based on the book

Buy the book here –  Star of Deltora #1: Shadows of the Master, Emily Rodda

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars

PUBLISHERText Publishing
ISBN – 9781925240085

Molly has a strange life. Her mama collects herbs at dawn and makes potions, her father and brothers have gone away, and her house feels like a gypsy caravan.

Molly doesn’t want to know anything about herbs and potions. She wishes she could be more like her best friend, Ellen, who has a normal family and a normal house. But she is also secretly interested in Pim, who is inquisitive and odd and a little bit frightening.

When Molly’s mama makes a potion that has a wild and shocking effect, Molly and Pim look for a way to make things right, and Molly discovers the magic and value of her own unusual life.

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars is a delightful story about friendship and acceptance and learning to see the wonder in the world. {source}

You can also hear the author discuss the story and its illustrations in this short video:

RESOURCESText Publishing have created teaching notes that are designed to explore the novel in line with the Australian
Curriculum. It includes:

  • Synopsis of the book
  • About the Author and background from the author
  • Discussion ideas for before reading the book
  • Questions to discuss as reading the book
  • Creative activities based on the text to do after reading based on themes

Buy the book here – Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars, Martine Murray

Book of the Year: Early Childhood

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas

PUBLISHERScholastic Press, Scholastic Australia
ISBN – 9781743624777
AUTHOR WEBSITEaaron blabey books

‘Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?’
‘What’s wrong with you. Brian? You’re a piranha.’

Brian loves bananas. Trouble is, Brian’s a piranha. And his friends aren’t happy about his fondness for fruit… {source}

In this video an Australian teacher reads Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas:

Buy the book herePiranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, Aaron Blabey

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon

AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR – Tony Wilson,  Laura Wood (Illust)
PUBLISHER – Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia
ISBN – 9781743623534

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon is a story about perseverance. I love seeing people practice a skill, especially a difficult skill, and do it so many times that eventually it becomes easy. I see it in my older two kids, Polly, 8, and Harry, 5, with things like cartwheels, kicking a footy or learning to read.

But I dedicated The Cow Jumped Over the Moon to my three year old, Jack. Jack has cerebral palsy, a condition that causes muscle spasticity in all four of his limbs. He also has cortical vision impairment, which means he only sees a couple of metres. Everything that Jack tries to do requires perseverance.  {source}

Take the time to watch this beautiful reading by the author Tony Wilson to his son Jack:

RESOURCES – You can download the PDF of the teacher’s notes here.

Buy the book hereThe Cow Tripped Over the Moon, Tony Wilson (Illust: Laura Wood)

Mr Huff

PUBLISHERPenguin Random House
ISBN – 9780670078042

Bill is having a bad day.

Mr Huff is following him around and making everything seem difficult.

Bill tries to get rid of him, but Mr Huff just gets bigger and bigger!

Then they both stop, and a surprising thing happens . . . {source}

You can view a trailer of the book here:

RESOURCES – You can download the PDF of the teacher’s notes here. They cover:

  • Synopsis of the book
  • Information about the author
  • Questions to ask on each page of the book
  • Questions and activities for after reading the book

Buy the book hereMr Huff, Anna Walker

Picture Book of the Year

Ride, Ricardo, Ride!

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Shane Devries (Text: Phil Cummings)
PUBLISHER – Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia
ISBN – 9781742990736

Ricardo loves riding his bike. He loves to ride it through the village he lives in. He loves to ride it through the countryside surrounding his home. He loves the way his father cheers him on, calling Ride, Ricardo, ride!. But one day everything in his world changes, and he and his father dismantle and hide his bike, for it is not safe for a boy to ride a bike when an invading army controls the streets. For Ricardo, the war is long, and heartbreaking, and he wonders if he will ever ride his bike again. . {source}

You can see Phil Cummings read the book in this video:

RESOURCES – You can download the PDF of the teacher’s notes here. They cover:

  • English activities
  • Creative activities
  • Activities focused on history and technology

Buy the book hereRide, Ricardo, Ride! Written by Phil Cummings. Illustrated by Shane Devries

Suri’s Wall

ILLUSTRATOR/AUTHOR – Matt Ottley (Text: Lucy Estela)
PUBLISHER – Penguin Random House
ISBN – 9780670077755

Eva squeezed Suri’s hand. ‘What’s there? What can you see?’
‘What can I see?’ Suri looked out over the wall. ‘Oh, it’s beautiful, let me tell you all about it.’

A moving tale of the power of the human spirit brought alive by Lucy Estela and award-winning illustrator Matt Ottley. {source}

You can see a short excerpt of the book here:

This video is made by Storybox Library who have a number of other shortlisted books on video in their library which are worth checking out.

RESOURCES – Allen and Unwin have put together a fabulous set of teacher’s notes you can download here and which include:

  • Info about the author and illustrator
  • Questions to ask page by page
  • Discussion questions for after reading
  • A poem to further investigate themes of the book further

Buy the book hereSuri’s Wall, Matt Ottley (Text: Lucy Estela)

My Dead Bunny

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – James Foley (Text: Sigi Cohen)
PUBLISHERWalker Books Australia
ISBN – 9781922179593
DESCRIPTION – Note that while this is a picture book it is aimed at children 8+.

“My dead bunny’s name is Brad; his odour is extremely bad. He visits me when I’m in bed, but Bradley wasn’t always dead …” A hilarious rhyming tale about a zombie bunny who comes back to visit his owner.{source}

You can see a trailer for the book here:

RESOURCES – The illustrator’s website has many activities you can print and download here like:

  • Videos on how he drew the illustrations for the book
  • Word Searches
  • Colouring sheets

You can also find teacher’s notes here which inlcudes discussion questions and activities on:

  • Colour
  • Medium
  • Point of View
  • Setting
  • Character design
  • Cover design

Buy the book hereMy Dead Bunny, James Foley (Text: Sigi Cohen)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR – Rohan Cleave (Illust: Coral Tulloch)
ISBN – 9781743312926

Phasmid is the amazing true story of the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, or Stick Insect. Believed to be extinct for nearly 80 years, the phasmids were rediscovered on Balls Pyramid, a volcanic outcrop 23 kilometres off the coast of Lord Howe Island, Australia. News of their unbelievable survival made headlines around the world and prompted an extraordinary conservation effort to save this remarkable invertebrate. {source}

You can see a trailer for the book here:

RESOURCES – CSIRO Publishing have created thorough teachers’ notes which can be found here. They include:

  • Questions and activities on habitat
  • Questions and activities on life cycles
  • Questions and activities on endangered species
  • Questions and activities on conservation
  • Australian Curriculum Content Descriptions for Science
  • Additional resources

Buy the book herePhasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, Rohan Cleave (Illust: Coral Tulloch)

We are the Rebels: the Women and Men who made Eureka

AUTHOR – Clare Wright
PUBLISHERText Publishing
ISBN – 9781922182784

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka is the most talked-about work of Australian history in recent years. Now here is Clare Wright’s groundbreaking, award-winning study of the women who made the rebellion in an abridged edition for teenage readers.

Front and centre are the vibrant, adventurous personalities who were players in the rebellion: Sarah Hanmer, Ellen Young, Clara Seekamp, Anastasia Hayes and Catherine Bentley, among others.

But just as important were the thousands of women who lived, worked and traded on the goldfields—women who have been all but invisible until now. Discovering them changes everything.{source}

RESOURCES – Text Publishing have created four pages of teachers’ notes which can be downloaded here and they are designed to explore the book in line with the Australian Curriculum (History). They include:

  • Synopsis
  • Activities arranged in ascending order of complexity. The earlier activities may be more
    suited to the year 5 classroom, and the later to the year 9 classroom.
  • Activities cover historical skills like:
    • Chronology, Terms and Concepts
    • Historical questions and research
    • Analysis and use of sources
    • Perspectives and interpretations

Buy the book hereWe are the Rebels: the Women and Men who made Eureka, Clare Wright

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made

PUBLISHERABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers Australia
ISBN – 9780733333880
DESCRIPTION – This book is aimed at primary school aged kids.

It’s one of the most amazing stories ever told – and it’s true! Funny, frank and embarrassment-free, THE AMAZING TRUE STORY OF HOW BABIES ARE MADE gives a fresh take on the incredible tale of where we all come from. {source}

You can listen to an interview with the author here:

Buy the book hereThe Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made, Fiona Katauskas

More resources

If you are after more ideas and activities for the kids with books, you can also check out the previous year’s posts here:

The Book Chook also has a comprehensive series of posts on activities for CBCA shortlisted books which you can find here – Children’s Book Week 2016.

What is your favourite book from the CBCA short list this year?

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