Andrew Keese

Web designer, web developer and online marketing consultant. Co-owner of Silver Vine, a web design agency located in Melbourne and specialising in Squarespace.

the growth of a baby from conception to birth carefully explained; perfect for soon-to-be older siblings

He will be around the size of a watermelon, roughly 51 centimetres long from head to toe.
— Month 9
 
 

9 MONTHS
by Courtney Adamo and Esther van de Paal, illustrated by Lizzy Stewart – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2017
ages 2 to 10 years / picture books + nonfiction, s.t.e.m. 

There’s quite a collection of pregnancy/new baby books on my shelves (favourites: this one  and this one) and I’m forever on the lookout for others with a fresh and interesting approach.

This one, 9 Months, is great:

Each month of a pregnancy—from conception to birth—is given a two-page spread that clearly sets out the stages of a baby’s growth.

Eyes and ears have appeared on the face, and the baby can swallow, yawn, and even hiccup!
— Month 3

There’s the time tested means of explaining the size of the fetus: the size of a blueberry at 2 months, an avocado at 4 months—as well as a “How is Mummy feeling?” section on each page. It’s good stuff, because we all know that how Mummy is feeling—or how she's likely to feel—is of paramount importance to older siblings (and their Dads)!

We follow the same Mummy, Dad, and older sibling through the book.

While it's not central to the story, it's good to see that they’re a mixed race family—and there's a charming collection of families of all types at the end.

The information is thoughtfully selected, and there’s a section with a little more depth that would suit older children. It’s not a sex ed book though—there’s no information on the mechanics of sex —making it ideal for young children who are often endlessly fascinated with a growing baby but really not up to caring about how it all got started.

The baby is always referred to “as a ‘he’ throughout the book, but you can of course choose to change him to a ‘she’!” Otherwise there’s careful gender equity: “The doctor or midwife regularly checks the health of the mother … He or she has a special machine …”

A reading hint:

Obviously if you’re expecting a new baby—or will be soon—this is a great book. But it's also really good for learning about pregnancy and growth at any time.

You could take just one section from each month, such as ‘Did you know?’ or “How is Mummy feeling?’ and read it in sequence. That way you’ll get a broad overview and if there is interest you could go back in a more detailed way.

I’m a sucker for a pregnancy or birth book any time, but I do love this one. The information is to-the-point and clear with just enough detail to satisfy curious minds or provide a jumping off point for a more detailed exploration.

And the soft charm of the pictures showing a family growing and adjusting to a new stage of life are full of love and hope and cheer.

Amazon  -  Book Depository


Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

a terrific, fresh take on the harsh, fascinating world of Australia's convict era

a terrific, fresh take on the harsh, fascinating world of Australia's convict era

Whenever I take a trip to Sydney I try to visit a few historical sites—and the romance and horrors of it all mean that I then find myself hunting for solid early Australian historical fiction. Which is how I came to be reading The Monsarrat Series.

Monsarrat is a white-collar convict—he’s bright, literate and has had an earlier arrogance beaten out of him during his convict years. When book 1, The Soldier’s Curse, begins, he’s part way through his second term.

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a moving and eye-opening look at myriad lives—for older readers

a moving and eye-opening look at myriad lives—for older readers

ages 14 and up
The thing about kaleidoscopes is that they need to have two or more points of reflection. Without those points we see only a messy collection of colours and shapes. But, with those points, we see an extraordinary array of beautiful images that meld into each other to produce something inspiring. This book is a kaleidoscope of sorts.

Living on Hope Street is populated with multiple characters whose lives are difficult, heart wrenching and desperate in many different ways. But, as the novel unfolds, it presents that second point of reflection—and the messy collection of characters and circumstances come together to show lives of great beauty and complexity

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a book to scaffold language about emotions—for difficult times and for the good times that follow

a book to scaffold language about emotions—for difficult times and for the good times that follow

ages 2 to 8 years
It can happen that, in the midst of crisis, children need explicit words to help them give structure to fears and thoughts and hopes. The Whirlpool is a book for those times. I’ve seen the power of read-it-before-you-need-it books many times and, with that solid foundation, a book that gives words to feelings can be the next piece in the puzzle that is emotional resilience.

In The Whirlpool, we see ourselves in the everyday life of a sweet polar bear who is full of confidence 

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welcome to the world of microbes—encouragement for hand washing and teeth brushing!

welcome to the world of microbes—encouragement for hand washing and teeth brushing!

ages 2 to 8 years
Kids seem to swing dramatically one way or the other when it comes to germs. There’s the group who, having heard about germs, bacteria, microbes and the like, immediately begin to wash their hands. And never seem to stop! And then there are the kids who seem to make it their life’s mission to collect as many of the little suckers as they can—and pop them in their mouths! Mine mostly fell into the last group.

For kids like mine, Do not lick this book is brilliantly funny and informative. 

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a favourite book for encouraging peaceful responses to life's (many) minor problems

a favourite book for encouraging peaceful responses to life's (many) minor problems

The Giver is one of our family’s favourite books—it’s thought provoking and gripping and leaves you with a whole new way of looking at the world.

But it can also be a handy parenting tool. For instance, I found this on our family blog from 8 years ago, and thought I might share it with you:

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famous people reading: Malia Obama

famous people reading: Malia Obama

Back when Presidents and their children read books, Malia Obama was photographed clutching Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata.

I haven’t read it yet but it’s the story of four sisters, their beauty obsessed mother, and the way their lives all change after an awful accident. (I've read one of Kadohata’s other books — Kira-Kira — which I really liked. It’s a great book for early teens about life for Japanese Americans in the 1950’s.)

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some terrific hints for moments when anger threatens to take over—from a mouse!

some terrific hints for moments when anger threatens to take over—from a mouse!

ages 2—8 years
Learning to express anger appropriately is a lifelong process (or at least that’s how it feels for me) and Ivy has been experiencing a lot of the stomp, slam and scream kind lately. I can feel it coming over her in waves—and the fear in her eyes as it picks her up and sweeps her away in a flood of feelings she can’t get under control breaks my heart. (It’s really not easy being 3!)

A book that has been exceptionally helpful for us is Mouse Was Mad

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how to defeat an evil sorcerer, kiss a frog, and save the world—but first, the right lip gloss!

how to defeat an evil sorcerer, kiss a frog, and save the world—but first, the right lip gloss!

ages 12+
I love a great adventure story told with skill and wit, the kind that you can pick up, sit back, and enjoy. Frogkisser! by Garth Nix is just that. Here's how it goes:

All Princess Anya wants is to sit in the library and work on becoming a sorcerer (of the good variety).

But with an evil sorcerer step-father who wants to be king at any cost and a flighty older sister whose true love has been turned into a frog, something has to be done. It’s time for a Quest!

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