Inside the CBCA Shortlist
Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey (Allen & Unwin) is set in the Australian bush and is aimed at toddlers and children in pre-school and junior primary. It is told in simple rhyming text and its major themes are helping others and Australian native animals.
Noni the Pony lives near the beach but goes out for the day “to roam in the hills behind Waratah Bay” with her ever-present friends Coco (cat) and Dave (dog). They find a sad baby wallaby, Joey, who lost his way when chasing a gum-leaf. They ask a koala, wombat, shy platypus, emu and echidna if they have seen the wallaby mob. When Joey and his family reunite, the ladies next door (cows) from the other books “hop and bop by the light of the moon”.
Alison Lester’s website is http://alisonlester.com
Using the book with children:
Australian Native Animals Habitat, characteristics and behaviours of the native animals are shown as part of the story e.g. the platypus in the creek is shy and swims away. Children point out these characteristics. View images of some of these animals and write a word or sentence about them. Resources could include the books A is for Australian Animals by Frane Lessac and A-Z of Australian Animals by Jennifer Cossins or websites such as https://www.kids-world-travel-guide.com/animals-in-australia.html
Wallabies In the story the animals are searching for the wallabies. Children find out more about wallabies using resources such as the book Wonderful Wallabies by Steve Parish and http://www.kidcyber.com.au/wallabies. Show and talk about how wallabies are different from kangaroos.
Animals and Bushland Each student cuts out an animal shown in the book, such as a pony, dog or cat from sources such as Alison Lester’s free pictures to colour http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0311/9869/files/noni_characters.pdf?1321 or native animals from magazines. They glue these onto a bush setting bush with trees and a creek. Include Australian native animals such as a koala, wombat, platypus, emu, echidna and a sleeping possum, goanna and quoll.
The class thinks of adjectives to describe each animal. Each student writes a sentence about his or her animal, with the teacher’s assistance if necessary, such as ‘Noni is a friendly pony.’ or ‘The koala is tired’. Attach these sentences to the pictures. Depending on their competency, students can also talk and write more about what the animals are doing.
Rhyming Words After reading the book, re-read and list the rhyming pairs. For example, ‘sea/free’, ‘trail/tail’, ‘alone/home’. Find other words that rhyme with them. Colour the ‘rimes’ in each word (such as ‘-ail’) brown like the joey. Notice where the ‘rime’ is spelt the same and differently. These could be recorded in a ‘Same’ and ‘Different’ table.
Expressing and developing ideas
Visual Literacy 1. Colour A limited colour palette is used in the illustrations. Students identify the main colours. How do the colours change at the end of the day? 2. Lines What types of lines are used for most of the illustrations? [curved, flowing]. Students find examples of these. 3. Symmetry Some pages are composed symmetrically. Find examples. 4. Camera Angles Students imagine someone is holding a camera to take photos of the scenes. Most of the pictures would be shot from around eye-level. Find a picture that is shot from above, from a high view [koala in the tree]. Why does this work so well?
Expressing and developing ideas
Read The other Noni books follow a similar format e.g. Noni the Pony, Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach. Find similarities. Also read My Farm and Magic Beach by Alison Lester and her other 2019 shortlisted book Tricky’s Bad Day.