Virtual Teacher


Reading gives you Super POWERS


CBCBookoftheYearAwards 2021%20

Live reads from this years CBC Shortlisted books:


Shaun Tan

Illustrator Shaun Tan - Rules of Summer’ Interview about his book.

Virginia Wolf

Virginia Wolf by creative duo Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault.
I loved this book.

Virginia wakes up in a Wolfish mood, she is having a really bad day. Her sister Virginia, tries everything she can to cheer her up.

Vanessa invents Bloomsberry in paint on the walls of the house. This amazing imaginary utopia, sees Virginia slowly transformed from Wolf to sister again.

The illustrations and typography are amazing. The enlarged text must be read loudly. The small diminutive text demands to be read submissively.

The video offers a fabulous opportunity to compare a book with a video.

The Interview with Kyo Maclear explaining the origins of the story, is based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell.

I read this book to students K-6,it could be read K-12 and adults are also delighted with it. Each age brings different understandings and interpretations.

There is much to discuss in the book. I focused on the concept of Bloomsberry - an imaginary utopia.

The discussion, writing and illustration that followed were amazing. The students then wrote about their own “Bloomsberry”, enlarging some of the type and then illustrating their Bloomsberry


The Coat

The Coat by Julie Hunt, Ron Brooks,
won the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013

A fabulous book with magical illustrations, I read this K-6, the themes run from literal to metaphorical, it appeals to all ages from 5 year olds to adults. My 5 year olds loved the idea of flying and dressing up and thought it was SPLENDID.

Year 6 engaged with metaphorical theme.

"It’s the way you look at the world that makes it change. Your attitude changes your hopes change and most of all, your life changes."

This story tells me to never give up and you should remember this too."

The Coat stood in a paddock at the end of a row of strawberries. It was buttoned up tight and stuffed full of straw and it was angry. 'What a waste of me!' it yelled. Then along came a man. 'I could do with a coat like that,' the man said. Together, swooping and swinging, they travelled to the Cafe Delitzia, and had the night of their lives.

'Miraculous and life affirming and totally mysterious.'Kathy Kozlowski, Readings Carlton

The imagery is reminiscent of early 20th century Paris, it is reminiscent of the artwork of Chagall. the book is magical and the illustrations change and become more colourful as the tale becomes more colourful. What would happen if you found a magic coat? Are realising your dreams just a matter of changing clothes? Is the the coat or the confidence the coat brings that makes the difference?
Check out the video.

The CoatThe Coat inside

How to Be an Explorer of the World

Guerrilla artist and illustrator Keri Smith’s How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum
is a wonderful compendium of 59 ideas for how to get creative by with everyday objects and your surroundings.

Explore your world as both artists and scientists do, by observing, collecting, documenting, analyzing, and comparing.

This is a hugely creative way to tackle the new Syllabus Documents. It is a creative lesson plan for the entire year.

Take a look at the topics covered below, a truly amazing must have books for inspirational teaching

Published in 2008 - I just discovered it this year.

It offers something for all ages.


You are Stardust

You Are Stardust- writer Elin Kelsey and artist Soyeon Kim

An extraordinary picture-book that that is boldly optimistic and introduces the idea that all nature is connected.

“Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born."

Based on current science, this exquisite picture book provides a great jumping off point for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas.

”I wrote this book as a celebration — one to honor the extraordinary ways in which all of us simply are nature. Every example in this book is backed by current science. Every day, for instance, you breathe in more than a million pollen grains."

Watch the Video

This book is perfect for creative activities! Try piecing together different materials to make your own collage/diorama! I'm dying to make one of those little flying capsules on the cover.

Star DustStar Dust 2

Esther's Rainbow

Esther spies a rainbow peeking out from under her chair.....

Here begins a delightful story about finding colours everywhere. Colours that she can taste, hear, feel see and smell. The descriptions of the colours are luscious.

I used a light prism as we read the book so that listeners could view the colours as we read the story. It was fabulous to discuss the colours of the rainbow and the science behind the frequencies of the light using this book as inspiration.

But most exciting were the descriptions the listeners wrote about their favourite colours inspired by this book, they wrote much more visceral descriptions.


Esther's Rainbow

The Dark

I must admit to being a huge fan of Lemony Snicket
- David Handler.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket
A heart warming allegory on overcoming fear.

Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn't come into Lazslo's room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark.

The gouache-and-digital illustrations make the most of the references to light and dark, the palette is confined to muted brownish tones that contrast with the inky black. They are fabulous and scream to be used as an art lesson inspiration.

The text is simple and effective. The use of personification in this simple context is a great way to introduce this concept.

Take a look at the Video - 5.34m

The Darkthe Dark Inside

The Pros & Cons of Being a Frog

RUNNER UP for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013
The Pros and Cons of Being a Frog by Sue deGennaro

I loved the cover of this book, I couldn't wait to read it.

Sue deGennaro brilliantly combines modern yet whimsical illustrations that are just so engaging.

Frogboy and Camille are friends. Frogboy likes to dress-up, while Camille likes numbers. They are different but that’s why they like each other. Camille speaks in numbers and Frogboy likes to dress up.

Then things go terribly wrong and Frog boy composes a careful list of Pros and Cons before meeting with Camille to apologise.

Each time I read this book I discovered something new. The mirroring of the 2 friends on the front cover, leading to interesting drama activities and the effects this has on relationships. Their stances throughout are gentle. Leading to a discussion of body language and the effect it has on resolving problems. Friendship and how it involves consideration and understanding. Does dressing up change you? And I did love the last image - Camille is wearing the frog feet to show acceptance of her friend's interest in dressing up.
The Video Interview with Sue on generating ideas is great to watch and inspiring for young writers and illustrators.

The Video of The Pros and Cons of Being

Pros and Cons of Being a Frogprosandcons3

It's a Miroocool!

Shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013 "It's a Miroocool" by Christine Harris and Ann James

I loved this little story. I first read it when I had just seen "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. A lovely light, gentle and whimsical film with a great deal of optimism encapsulated by the quote

"Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end."

Audrey is worried that the tooth fairy will never find her out ‘back of beyond’ when she loses her first tooth. Audrey leaves clues for the Fairy that are all destroyed. But in the end it all works out.

Visually, this is just a delicious treat; the Australian outback is captured wonderfully, Audrey positively dances about the pages, with James’ lovely, scrappy drawings perfectly capturing the earthy tones of the outback.

This book is a great introduction to the intrepid Audrey series including the award winning Audrey of of the Outback.

It's a Miroocool!

With Nan

HONOUR BOOK for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013. 

With Nan, from Tania Cox & Karen Blair
is a glorious picture book that celebrates finding joy in the simple things.

Nan and Simon go for a walk, mindful of Nan's opening words of wisdom,

'There are some things that aren't always what they seem.'

A leaf that flies…
A rock that hops…
These are some of the wonderful things that Simon sees on his walk with Nan.

A simple story about camouflage is brought to life with the beautiful illustrations.

But it is about more than just a story about camouflage. It is about creating memories and also remembering. It is about family relationships. It is also about imagination.

To me the images on the right can be interpreted as Simon's imaginings. What do you think? "A rock that hopped" is a camouflaged frog , but Simon imagines everyone hopping.

With NanWith Nan inside


The DEWEY Decimal Classification System - DDC

world odometers

How many people are there in the world?

World population has reached 7,888,659,036 billion on August 25th 2021. World population live counter with data sheets, graphs, and details of population growths since year 1.

Also take a look at all the other counters at WorldOdometers see the world energy use, the amazing speed of the counter for the number of cigarettes smoked today and the sale of illicit drugs.

How Stuff Works

This amazing website seems to cover everything, and it has been around for years. The site is huge and it has kept uptodate with everything. It still looks fresh and wonderful. There's not much you won't find here, so include this in any topic search you do.

Take a look at The Stuff to Blow your Kids Mind Video Series. The auto section has always been great and now includes video on car maintenance, future cars, auto basics, and details of how engines work. Take some time and explore or just type in your questions and be amazed.

gutenberg project

Project Gutenberg to the rescue
Project Gutenberg offers over 42,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. They are digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers.

No fee or registration is required. As every parent, teacher and student knows, books that are required reading are not always available, or if they are, students may misplace their copy before they finish the assignment. You can search by title and author or browse their collection of classic works, many of which are available in audio editions as well.

world odometers Includes Thesaurus, Word Dynamo, Searchable Quotes, Crosswords and much more, also have a FREE iphone app.

Merriam Webster Dictionary Great online Dictionary check out the games and quizzes. Includes Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
FREE iphone app.

How Stuff Works

The State Library of Victoria has a number YouTube videos about how authors and illustrators work.

Sue DeGennaro shows how she develops her artwork, including keeping a book of ideas. Sue also discusses how authors and illustrators work together.
Alison Lester on techniques
Ann James on illustrating emotion


Wikipedia - The free open source encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Also under th Wiki banner is a dictionary in a multitude of languages - Wiktionary, pen content textbooks Wikibooks Open Learning Community Wikiversity, a collection of Quotes
Wikiquote, Wikimedia Commons hich is a free database of media files anyone can use. An amazing site. And a FREE app Wiki Mobile


Lord of the Librarians - Parody on returning books to the Library - Look at: Purpose Audience Context, Point of View, Camera and Editing.

google earth

Google Earth Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean.
Show My Street
This is amazing – just type in your street address and watch the magic.


Confusing Library - Two Ronnies - Why is it funny? What makes you laugh? How do library systems really work? How do you look up a book in the library? (Watch the ending for younger viewers you may wish to stop the video at 2.38m, before the ending)

© Cathy Brown 1998 - 2023 © All images & Videos Cathy Brown Located in Sydney NSW Australia all rights reserved.
No unauthorised reproduction without written permission. Website design by Cathy L. Brown

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