get ready for a fun and noisy chain reaction of calamities!

When visiting the zoo, whatever you do, DON’T WAKE THE PANDA!

PANŸDAŸMOŸNIA (noun informal) - Complete and utter chaos, often following the disturbance of a blissfully sleeping panda.

When I was in my early 20’s I was privileged to teach English in China, an amazing experience filled with people, culture and experiences. And I got to visit the Beijing Zoo.

I had no real interest in the zoo itself, but I’d always wanted to see a panda. So in 42-degree heat and what felt like 110% humidity I made my way across Beijing. And … it was rather disappointing. The panda WAS cute, but it did nothing except sleep in a barely visible corner (probably due to the heat, now that I think about it).

As underwhelming as that visit was to me, it seems that it was a good thing that we DIDN’T wake that panda!

Pandamonia is a fun (and noisy) book about the chain reaction of calamities that are set off at the zoo when you wake the Panda:

‘So you’re here at the zoo on this glorious day.
You’re sure to have fun – it’s a great place to play.
Come through. Look around. Relax and explore.
Inside you will find there are creatures galore.
You’ll have a magnificent time at the zoo…
… just don’t wake the panda whatever you do.’

Turns out, if you wake the panda, the hippos get grumpy, the termites get tickly and the echidnas get prickly. This in turn sets of a whole lot of giggling, swaying, jiggling, chit-chatting, quacking and yacking (just to name a few).

This is a fast paced rhyming book with just the right amount of ridiculous + a whole lot of fun. It can open up a whole bunch of conversation starters that are great for speculation and complex reasoning:

Questions—could a panda really cause a riot?
Concepts—chain reactions, do our actions effect others?
Conversations—what COULD happen vs. what is LIKELY to happen

It’s also a fun speculation-game starter—what would happen if you scared a snake?—it can get a bit out of hand but great for a laugh. The kids love it and so do I.

 
 

PANDAMONIA
by Chris Owen illustrated by Chris Nixon – Fremantle Press, 2016
ages 3 to 8 years

 

move over fractured fairy tales, fantasy can be good for us all!

move over fractured fairy tales, fantasy can be good for us all!

I’m always a little embarrassed when someone asks me what I like to read. My favourite genre (although I will basically read and enjoy anything) is fantasy, with a particular love of fairy tale re-telling.

I know in general it’s a popular genre, but I like to think of myself as a practical sort of person, and I almost feel like it’s a weakness, that little part of myself that won’t grow up (ok there is probably more than just one small part that hasn’t grown up : )).

Recently, I came across this excellent article that gives insight into the reasons we are so drawn to fairy tales and how they are especially important for children.

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it's springtime in Tasmania: we're exploring and loving our colourful world

it's springtime in Tasmania: we're exploring and loving our colourful world

ages 1 to 8 years
Spring is in full bloom in Tasmania, it’s the most divine season. Lush green from all the rain, vibrant splashes of colour from the blossoms and spring blooms (daffodils everywhere!) and all that bright sunshine! There’s a whole mass of colours you forget exist in the long cold winter.  

All the Colours I See is the perfect book to compliment our spring colour fever. It’s a beautiful die-cut colours primer that explores the different hues in the world around us.

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after our marathon break—books about running to inspire, educate and entertain

after our marathon break—books about running to inspire, educate and entertain

Well that turned into a marathon break - the best laid plans and all that! (If you're reading this post in isolation, we took what turned into a way-too-long break from WTBA to get a few other things in order.) 

Speaking of marathons :), I’ve been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s witty and conversational in tone, fascinating and eye opening. Quite inspiring.

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stories for the adventure that is school (or any other big life-changing adventure)

Savannah is off to pre-school this year, and William and Ivy start Kindy. In honour of these major life moments, here's a small collection of books that are lovely to read in the first week or two of school. I hope you find something that feels right for your new (or returning) school kid.

I’m going to read Off to School Baby Duck to all three of our new school kids via Marco Polo this week too. It’s a cute story of a baby duck who is scared to go to school but, predictably, has a good day. It was a favourite for their fathers long ago—mostly out of print now, but full of nostalgia for our family.

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a beautiful story of friendship, love, hope, joy and newfound strength—perfect reading for a new year

a beautiful story of friendship, love, hope, joy and newfound strength—perfect reading for a new year

ages 0 to 8 years
Summer is in full swing in Tasmania and everywhere we look trees are laden with fruit. We're closely watching our plum and nectarine trees, eagerly awaiting the first ripe fruit, and I think this is what drew us to Together Always when we saw it in the library. That and the wonderfulness of friendship for the start of a new year.

The opening line is:


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sending wishes for a joyous Christmas and a New Year filled with love and peace

It's that wonderful time of year again and, as we write the last post for the season, we thought you might like this quote, found on Twitter via @HappySonship:

WTBA_SupportingGraph_QuotMarks_Sparkel_02.gif

Christmas is about believing what a woman said about her sex life.

Christmas is about a family finding safety as refugees.

Christmas is about a child in need receiving support from the wealthy.

Christmas is about God identifying himself with the marginalized not the powerful.

Amen to that.

Thank you so very much for reading along with us throughout 2017, your support and presence is appreciated more than you can probably tell. We'll be back on 15 January but please still feel free to make contact with us at any time. And to browse the site, of course.

We hope you have a lovely break and that you're able to refresh and renew your spirits; may you have good health, joy and peace in abundance—and always a loved one to read to.

See you next year!

Joan, Kim, Samantha, Jesse, Louisa xxxxx

our really great (new-ish) Christmas Eve tradition—choosing, giving and opening books!

our really great (new-ish) Christmas Eve tradition—choosing, giving and opening books!

Our family is still young and we don’t have a lot of traditions yet, but one that we borrowed from Kim when Alec and I were newly married is giving and opening books on Christmas Eve.

Kim and I get the job (joy really) of choosing the books for our families, and we hide them away till the night. But those choices are sometimes pretty difficult! Here's what I've bought for this year—I think I did well:

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classic literature isn't just for grownups

classic literature isn't just for grownups

ages 0 to 3 years
One-year-old Angus’s favourite book at the moment is A Christmas Carol from the BabyLit series. 

If you’re not familiar with BabyLit, they're board book primers (covering things like animals, counting, sounds, flowers and much, much more) that are a sweet introduction to classic literature. The words are simple and each page connects an object to a story via engaging artwork. For example, in A Christmas Carol:

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'cause Christmas is different (and the same) everywhere

'cause Christmas is different (and the same) everywhere

ages 3 to grownup
I’ve been a John Williamson fan since childhood and a few months ago we were lucky enough to go to one of his concerts as a family. Amazing. There's really nothing quite like a live performance.

During intermission, I came across Christmas in Australia. I had no idea John Williamson had written a children’s book and just had to buy it—my only regret was that the kids were so exhausted by the end of the show we couldn't wait in the line to get it

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