The Kookaburra Chorus

Apologies for the latest absence. I’ve been posting on Facebook but the three tiny people, the chronic sleep deprivation, and the busy-ness of work during the university semester leave very little time for much else. However, I have been working on some writing for children, which is really what I want to be doing in the long term. It’s always energising to do what you love. So *deep breath* here’s what I’ve been writing…

The Kookaburra Chorus

The Kookaburra Chorus

Those of us who live here now,
And all who’ve come before us,
Trusted one thing for our news:
The Kookaburra Chorus.

When Nelly Numbat won the first
Bush parliament election,
The kookaburras crowed that it was
On their pre-selection.

When Peter Possum built a school
For all the little ones,
The kookaburras claimed that it was
They who’d raised the funds.

The kookaburras spread good news
And filled the bush with cheer.
But also told us who was bad,
And who we had to fear.

Mrs Dingo’s youngest lad
Went out alone one day.
Looking round to find a friend
With some new game to play.

He came upon a scary snake
In Mumma Emu’s Nest.
He howled out loud to frighten off
That mean, unwanted guest.

That snake he hissed and growled and spat
And slid off to the South.
But not without an emu egg
Clutched firm within his mouth.

The kookaburras swooped in,
Having heard the noise;
They always made good stories,
Did Mrs Dingo’s Boys.

Mumma Emu ran back fast
And screamed and shrieked in fear.
“That dingo stole my egg” she cried,
And others drew in near.

“It wasn’t me!” The dingo yelped,
“A snake has got that egg!
Please come and help me rescue it.”
He tried to plead and beg.

A great kerfuffle followed then
And in the vast confusion,
The flighty flock of news-birds
Jumped to the wrong conclusion.

He wanted so to save the chick,
And tried hard to speak up,
But screeching kookaburras
Drown out a lonely pup.

He was growing mad and desperate,
Until he spied his mate.
Charlie Cockatoo could fly
And would investigate.

The cockatoo spied the snake
And squawked to the galah.
In turn she used her loudest voice
To help the news spread far.

A lyre bird heard it next
And told it to her fella,
Who told it to a lorikeet
Whose name was Arabella.

Now Arabella lorikeet
Was only very small.
She didn’t think her tiny tweet
Could make much sound at all.

But even little voices
Can spread the truth around.
The special ring of honesty
Can amplify their sound.

So Arabella shouted:
“You’ve all got the wrong guy!”
Til other birds took up the call
Across the bushland sky.

And finally they heard it –
Mumma Emu and the rest –
They hunted down the snake
And took the egg back to the nest.

Now when we want to hear the news
We have a hundred choices.
With lots of different points of view
From lots of different voices.

And sometimes it’s confusing
To know the right from wrong.
But we see a bigger picture.
We hear a brighter song.

If we have to ask more questions
Then that’s just what we do.
Because things work so much better
When we find out what is true.

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Thanking You

The other night Pickles was going to be singing his little heart out at his first Christmas Carols night. So we went along with Pords and The Third, as well as my ever-present support crew (my parents).

At one point, I was selling candles to help fundraise for the school, my husband was cooking the barbecue, and my parents were with the kids. My mum called me over and said that we would be forgiven for not helping out this time around, with three very small people in tow and sleep deprivation to boot. She said she and dad had spent years and years on Parents and Friends Committees and it was a thankless task (or, rather, a million thankless tasks).

I’ve been turning that over in my head ever since. It’s devastating to me that my parents don’t know how much it meant to me to have them so involved in my school and the events that made up my childhood.

The sense of community and belonging inspired by their tireless generosity were hugely formative in my upbringing. I want my husband and I to participate, despite the fact that we don’t really have the time or energy, because of how wonderful it was for me to see my own parents involved. No one really has the time or energy, but someone’s got to do it after all.

It strikes me that there must be a multitude of little things like this in different families. Maybe a parent doesn’t think their child appreciates the long hours they work to provide for them, or the effort they put into choosing and preparing healthy food every day, or the time they spend sewing sequins onto ballet costumes, or the fatigue to the arm muscle involved in pushing a swing at the park ten thousand times. But beyond a thank you, all of these little things add up to making the child the person they are, and that they will become. The child is the embodiment of the gratitude.

But sometimes it’s nice to hear a thank you. So, Mum and Dad, if you’re reading this, thank you for everything. You are adored.

STAR LIGHT

 

Thanking You
Barefoot at the beach.
Hours at the park.
Singing in the car.
Reading after dark.

The lens is rosy,
Scene is sweet.
Childhood’s viewpoint;
Hard to beat.

Zoom out now / Through time and space
Another home / Another place

And there you were
And here are we.
The same but different
Family.

Exhausted parents struggle,
That other life a dream,
But happy children play around –
They run and dance and scream

And nothing here is possible
Since everything is new.
But all I want is what I had;
I want to be like you

So on we press
Though times get tough
For we have learned
That love’s enough.

You think it’s thankless.
That’s not true.
I’ll spend forever
Thanking you.

 

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Unconditional love

Growing up together
Growing up together

This is a post for posterity. I know there will be times in their lives when they will fight and drive each other mad. But right now Pickles and Pords are the very greatest of friends.

From the moment Pords wakes up in the morning she waits for him. As soon as she hears movement from his room, her whole being lights up. Now that she is mobile, she follows him around constantly.

In turn, Pickles is as doting a big brother as you will ever find. He comforts her when she is crying, brings her toys, tells her stories, and sings her songs.

They also find one another hilarious. Already they share a secret sibling sense of humour. They constantly have each other in fits of laughter and no one else can quite understand why.

For me, unconditional love looks like Pords’ face when she hears Pickles coming. I wrote a poem to try and capture that moment so if they ever go through sibling rough patches, I can read to them of a time when they were very best of friends.

Siblings

A sound.
It could be anything but
You recognise it.
Friendly, happy,
Crashy sound.
You turn your head
Expectantly.

And there he is.

Your world.
He is everything that
You want to be.
Kind and funny,
Getting taller.
You love him so.
Your brother.

 

http://www.reflectionsfromme.com
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Bookends to My Day

A sleepy morning kiss,
A tiny-armed embrace.
No amount of coffee,
Could beat that little face.

And thus the day begins
With all its ups and downs.
The work, the rest, the play.
The laughter and the frowns.

But when the bold moon rises
To herald in the night.
A happy bedtime ritual
Makes everything just right.

Cuddles in the morning,
A big hug before bed.
A smattering of kisses,
Atop a tiny head.

Nothing else around,
Could make me feel this way.
Those perfect little moments;
Bookends to my day.

Prose for Thought

Mummascribbles

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Ode to a Library

Palace of books,
Oh how you shine.
You lend me your treasures
And, briefly, they’re mine.

Without getting up,
Or leaving my place,
I can travel the world,
Through time and through space.

I am old in the morning
And then very young.
I wake in the Winter
But then Spring has sprung.

I sail on the ocean,
A pirate at sea.
I’m snug in my bed
And yet wild and free.

I’m lost in a jungle,
A tiger is near.
But safe in my armchair
I’ve nothing to fear.

I’m a famous magician,
A queen on a throne.
I’m surrounded by people,
Right here on my own.

With every new story,
Every page that I turn,
I discover new wonders,
I grow and I learn.

No matter the cover,
No matter its looks,
There’ll always be beauty
In a palace of books.

 

Prose for Thought

A Bit Of Everything

 

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Top 7 Books in Rhyme

Hey Diddle Dum

For the third week of Booktober, I have a compiled a list of our Top 7 books in rhyme, or poetry books. This was always going to be the hardest one for me to narrow down. I love poetry and I think rhyming picture books are just the greatest.

I agonised over what would make the final cut. It’s amazing how many great poems there are to read to kids. Early childhood is probably the time in most people’s lives when they are exposed to the most poetry. From songs and nursery rhymes, to the multitude of amazing books in rhyme. There are definitely some masterpieces that have been unfairly missed from this too short list.

But, in the end, I’m pretty happy with this list because it represents the books that are most special to us.

1. The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Jan Brett

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Anyone who regularly reads this blog (hi mum!) could probably have guessed this one was going to make the list. The Owl and the Pussycat was my favourite poem as a child and is my favourite to read (or sing) to my children. Pickles already knows it pretty much by heart.

The lyrical quality of Edward Lear’s writing is hypnotic. You can get lost in his words. And what wonderful words they are. Some of them are completely made up but they all fit together perfectly.

The story itself is great too. A sweet tale of love between an owl and a pussycat.

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The board book version that we have is illustrated by Jan Brett. The illustrations are really magical. You see the owl and the pussycat adrift on their boat on top of the water. You also see all of the sea life under the water.

Pickles can’t get enough of the pictures. He particularly likes the fact that the owl and the pussycat have a fish in a bowl on their boat who escapes right at the end to join her love in the ocean. He loves to find her on each page.

The pictures tell their own separate but related story, which is always a wonderful thing in picture books as it opens up ongoing exploration and discussion of the book.

2. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

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To be honest, this whole list could have been all Julia Donaldson books. Her books are all wonderful. But, oh, Room on the Room! Could this be the perfect picture book?

The book tells the story of a witch and her cat. They are quite content, just the two of them, riding around on their broom. One stormy day, the wind blows off the witch’s hat and so begins a series of events that sees the pair meet some new friends and face one terrifying foe.

I love this story because the witch is always happy to make room for new friends. Sometimes if I see Pickles determinedly heading outside on an adventure into the backyard, I will ask him: “Is there room on the broom for a mummy like me.” Invariably he will look delighted and shout “Yes!” And so off we’ll go together.

This was the first story he knew well enough to be able to talk about in detail. It is a great one for testing memory because I can ask him who found the witch’s hat, or wand, or bow. I am always surprised at how well he can remember.

Donaldson’s rhymes are always terrific. This is so much fun to read aloud. Scheffler’s pictures, too, are delightful. He is really able to bring the characters to life.

Just as with another one of Donaldson and Scheffler’s classics, The Gruffalo, this book also has an animated version which to date is the only “movie” that Pickles has watched all the way through. He may not have seen many but he’s seen this one dozens of times. It’s fabulous.

3. Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

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I have had the rhyme from this book stuck in my head since primary school. I kid you not.

That is a lot of years; one severe case of ear worm.

I’ll be just be cooking a meal when suddenly I’ll have the urge to say: “Cinderella on the stairs I spy the three bears.” Or Pords will be crying and I’ll be thinking: “Baby Bunting fast asleep I spy Bo-Peep.” Or I’ll be asked the key question at a really important job interview and all I’ll be able to think is: “Wicked witch over the wood I spy Robin Hood.”

I really don’t know why this has stuck in my head the way it has for so many years, except for the fact that it’s so simple yet effective, and I read it over and over as a child. Now, as I read it over and over to my own children and I don’t even have to look at the words. I know the whole thing by heart.

The words aren’t even the best part of this book though. There is a built in game of I Spy in the pictures. So kids need to try and find the character to be spied in each picture. For older children this is a snap, but for toddlers, especially those who haven’t read it fifty times already, it can be challenging and fun.

The use of well known nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters makes it even more amusing for children. Pickles is going through a bit of a three bears craze a the moment so he especially likes the pages that feature them. These inclusions prompt further discussions about other books and stories that we’ve shared and make the book even more interactive and engaging.

This book has stood the test of time and it’s easy to see why. A definite must for sharing with toddlers.

4.  The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland

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Without fail, the ending of this book makes me smile every single time.

Four animal friends want to take shelter from a rainy day inside a snug cave. Unfortunately, a very cranky bear has already had the same idea. Three of the friends believe they have the solution by giving the bear the attributes of themselves of which they are most proud. They all think of the fourth friend, the sheep, as rather plain. However, in the end it is the sheep that has the answer when she makes a pillow for the bear from her wool.

“Well, thank you very much,” said Bear and soon he fell asleep. Maybe he was dreaming of a plain, but thoughtful sheep.

See, I’m smiling again. Well, let’s face it, if you can see me that’s a wee bit creepy. Hopefully you can’t in fact see me. Trust me, there’s a smile.

The book is a sheer pleasure. The pictures are vibrant and appealing. The clever use of rhyme makes it easy and enjoyable to read. It’s fun to do voices for all the different animals. There is everything to like about this book. Even better is that the cranky bear also features in other books. He’s itchy, hungry, noisy, and brave. He’s always a favourite in our house.

5. I Wish That I Had Duck Feet by Theo LeSieg

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My mum, who spent a long career working with young children, reported this as a favourite with pre-schoolers. She said that in one particular child care centre that she worked at, as soon as the children saw her they would run over and demand it be read. Part of that, no doubt, was that she has an exceptionally marvellous voice for reading children’s books aloud. The other part is the magic of Seuss (writing here as Theo LeSieg). It seems that even as he becomes dated he is timeless.

One of the magical things about Seuss books is their ability to get stuck in your head, much as a song might. When my toddler is being fussy about eating I often find myself thinking (and sometimes saying!) “Hay, just hay two times a day is all [you’ll] get to eat!” Such is the fabulous cadence of Seuss.

Particularly loveable about this book is that it follows the imaginings of a young child. The ideas might be silly, but the child is nothing but earnest. Earnest nonsense is nothing if not delightful. You can talk to your own children about what it might be like to have duck feet, or a long nose, or tail, or deer horns, or a whale spout on their head. Your children might imagine other additions that would be fun to have.

It is a perfect book for reading aloud and for sharing over and over again.

6. Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach by Alison Lester

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My husband and I once spent a great weekend away with dear friends of ours at Waratah Bay, which happens to be the home of Noni the Pony. So we feel a special connection with her.

This book shows the pure joy of a day spent at the beach with friends. In fact, often after reading it Pickles will say: “Go beach now” and that’s exactly how I feel too. The happiness of the characters leaps off the page through the bouncing rhyme and the gorgeous pictures, and just makes me want to go beach now.

Because we love to spend time at the beach, this book is a really good one for us in terms of incorporating connections to things that we have done. As I often stress, reading the actual text in the book is only part of reading with your children. Talking about the story, the characters, and the pictures is also key in terms of helping with your child’s language and other social development. Choosing books that things that your child loves can be useful in promoting this contextual discussion.

There are many things to love about this book. I love the special friendship between the pony, the cat, and the dog. I also love that the cows are referred to as “the ladies next door.” The whole thing is really adorable. Perfect for sharing.

7. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot and Axel Scheffler

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This is a collection of poems rather than one story like the others on this list, but it is one of our favourites. Before Cats The Musical there were the T.S. Eliot poems in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. It has such wonderful characters: Skimbleshanks, Macavity, Mr Mistoffelees, and all the others.

This is a great book to have if you want to introduce your children to poetry at a young age. You can pick it up and just read one of the poems at a time, or as many as you like. I used to read them all the time to my babies as newborns.

Each of the poems tells a fantastic story. Some funny, some poignant, all a joy to read. They are especially great if you love cats or have cats as pets.

I think at its heart, this book is also about the magic of things. Children love elves and fairies and so on, but they also love to consider the lives of animals. It is not such a leap for them to imagine that the cat that spends all day asleep on the floor might at night have some wildly adventurous life.

Our copy of the book is illustrated by Axel Scheffler, who has already appeared in this list for his work on Room on the Broom. His quirky and amusing pictures are a perfect pairing for these poems.

So there’s my list. What others would you add?

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A Partly Eaten Pear

A partly eaten pear,
Lies wasting on the floor.
I wonder what distracted you
And stopped you eating more

Did you suddenly remember
Your ball out in the sun?
Eating fruit’s delicious,
But football’s much more fun.

Was your sister crying?
Did you want to check on her?
We could always come and join you
While you eat if you’d prefer.

Perhaps you heard me coming
And thought I’d catch you out.
But eating healthy food
Is what mummy’s all about!

If you’re ever hungry
You know the bowl’s in reach.
You can always eat an apple,
A banana, or a peach.

You can even eat a lemon,
Since I know you like the taste.
The problem’s not the eating,
The problem is the waste.

Many things don’t faze me,
But some I just can’t bear.
Like the sight of yet another
Partly eaten pear.

Prose for Thought
http://www.reflectionsfromme.com



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Worst. Parents. Ever.

You asked for one and I said: “Fine,”
“One but then no more.”
But then you smiled so sweetly
And said you’d rather four.

I said “No. You don’t need more,
That one will more than do.
Try these carrot sticks instead,
Or a strawberry or two.”

You shook your head and stomped your feet
And said I was the worst.
Your little face went bright red,
You looked like you would burst.

But I was standing firm this time,
Mummy can be tough.
I let you have that one,
And that one was quite enough.

So you tried a different trick
And called out for your dad.
Maybe he would give in
If your eyes looked extra sad

But sorry pal, Daddy’s not
As soft as he might seem.
He and Mummy made a vow
To do this as a team.

So now the both of us
Are vapid, mean and shallow.
All because I let you have
One fluffy white marshmallow.

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Toddler dinnertime: Resolution in Rhyme

I really don’t love cooking,
But I really do love you.
For you I would do anything,
Even learn to cook a stew.

In my head I keep a list
Of foods that you prefer.
I know you like to help,
So I always let you stir.

I cook for health and taste,
Put a rainbow on your plate.
I time it oh so carefully,
Not too early, not too late.

Finally the moment comes
To call you to your chair.
We start the meal with such high hopes
But soon there comes despair.

It makes your mama sad
To see salmon on the floor;
Mashed potato on the walls,
Peas rolling out the door.

I know that before bedtime
You just want to have more fun.
But you haven’t even had one bite,
When I hear you shout “All done!”

So I’ve decided in the future,
I’m going to save my time.
You can have a sandwich.
Mummy’s having wine.

Prose for Thought
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