Monday, 15 February 2016

Our Stripy Baby

Written by Gillian Shields and illustrated by Paula Metcalf
Macmillan children’s books, 2006. ISBN 1405022108.

Our stripy baby, written for young children, is essentially a story about embracing differences.

Get ready for a splash of colour and an imaginative tale about a family of made-up creatures with spots - the Moon family. There’s daddy Moon, mummy Moon, Zara Moon and soon to be born, baby Moon. Young readers are taken on a journey with this endearing family and Zara can’t wait for the arrival of the new baby. She tells friend Molly, “our baby will be just like your brother Max”.

“One, two, three, four”, there are now four family members but there is something wrong. Zara faces strong feelings of disappointment, sadness and even anger. Zara wants to know why baby Zack has stripes not spots. She wants to take him back.

Mummy Moon is reassuring, “He’s our baby”, and Daddy Moon affirms, “He’s got a lovely smile”. Zara is sad and cuddles Mummy Moon. Why is her brother different? At the park Zara thinks people might stare and so she doesn’t even want to play. Attempts to change Zack by wrapping him in a long spotty scarf lead to frustration. Mummy Moon and Daddy Moon explain he is beautiful. They don’t want to change Zack. He is just different.

“One, two, three, four”, there are now four happy people in the Moon family. The story finishes with reassurance and a new beginning. Zara discovers more about Zack and finds a way to show she’s sorry. She draws something that looks like Zack’s beautiful stripes - a rainbow.

I recently read Our stripy baby to a group of young children at story time, they clearly enjoyed the warm illustrations and comforting family theme. This picture book features an engaging mix of single and two page illustrations filled with colour, humour and gentle expression. Children found it fun to count with repetition “one, two, three, four” and look for the Moon family. Among the group were two children who didn’t have long to wait for a new baby in their families and so the child care teacher had much to chat about with the children afterwards.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Parenting children with health issues and special needs: essentials for raising happy, healthier kids

Condensed version. 2009.
By Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Lisa C. Greene

Just in case you have read too many parenting books and your interest factor has plummeted, this little book might spark your imagination and hand over some useful parenting tools.

What makes the difference here? Children with health issues or special needs are the focus and parenting tools described, go with what is already working in families. The authors talk about “consultant parents” and before you wonder if this is just an idea floating around, this approach comes from many years of hands-on experience and research.

The book encourages parents who find it challenging to know how to motivate their children to take medication or make positive health choices, such as when to fit in physical therapy. The “consultant parent” is not a “helicopter parent” or a “drill sergeant”. Read about ways to inspire children to make healthy choices and look after themselves. This approach focuses on family, building healthy relationships with “love” as the underpinning ingredient.

About the authors: Foster Cline is a well-known North American psychiatrist, physician, author and international speaker. Lisa Greene is a mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a parent educator. She is raising her children with Love and logic parenting tools.

Families of children with cancer were given the book through the American Childhood Cancer Organization, Inland Northwest. This book is the condensed version of award-winning Parenting children with health issues, link to the web page for families. Resources, include video, audio and articles from the Blog. Topics span from parenting children of different ages, including teens, transition, school life, couples relationships and community. Special feature articles may capture an interest, Caring and compassion: the do’s and don’ts for giving and receiving support during hard times.
AWCH Library has a copy available for loan for people within Australia, please email your interest.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian (

October 2015

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Jessica's box

Written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas.

New Frontier publishing. Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition, re-released 2013.

Paperback, ISBN 9781921928581

A book that takes you on a journey, ending with a child who smiles as she finds out about herself

This charming story book is all about Jessica and the friendships she hopes to make as she starts school and will spark the imagination of preschool and kindergarten children. Author and illustrator, Peter Carnavas, has captured some of the fearful feelings young children have when they begin in a new situation and as they find ways to adjust.

Jessica comes up with an idea, she takes a large brown box to school and over a few days we see what happens as children react to what is inside the box. Jessica thinks of different special things to put inside. At first it doesn’t turn out as Jessica would like leading to sadness and disappointment. Dejected Jessica plonks the box on her head only to find she has started a game of hide and seek with a new friend.

Written in a warm tone, Jessica’s family encourage her as she thinks of ideas and a cute little dog and bird accompany her. The supportive family are delighted when Jessica finds a new friend. Jessica is bright, creative and energetic and readers are taken to an imaginative childhood place.

Peter Carnavas' illustrations really compliment the story. The bright water colours followed by sepia blues and greys, show both the energy and expression of being a child and the disappointment and sadness that can follow when friendships don’t form.

Altogether this is a book that takes you on a journey, ending with a child who smiles as she finds out about herself, learning she is the best thing to come out of the brown box.
An award winning Australian book and this edition was commissioned for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. The text is identical to the earlier editions, however the illustrations here show Jessica in a wheel chair, and so this will be useful for primary schools and kindergartens focusing on social inclusion.  A media release for the book describes why it is a good fit for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s school disability awareness program Just Like You!

This mini edition is small enough for children to hold whilst in school reading groups and there is a larger special hardcopy.

Jessica’s box is available for loan from the AWCH Library. 

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
October 2015

Monday, 24 August 2015

Reducing unwarranted radiation exposure to children and young people from CT scans

In Australia, many computed tomography (CT) scans are performed on children and young people each year. CT is a valuable diagnostic tool, especially in emergency situations. However, CTs use higher doses of radiation than other types of medical imaging tests, and their use in childhood or adolescence has been linked to a slight increase in developing cancer later in life.1

Children and young people may also undergo a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan as part of their oral health care. CBCT scans can provide dentists, orthodontists and surgeons with important information to help them with decisions regarding oral health care. While typical radiation doses in cone beam CT are much lower than those used in medical CT, use of radiation in oral health care should also be kept as low as possible.

Information for parents
If your child has had a CT or a CBCT scan, or may need one in the future, do not be alarmed. Talk to your child’s doctor or dentist about the benefits and risks of the test. You may want to ask:
  • how the test will improve your child’s health care
  • whether there are alternative imaging options, and
  • if a CT scan is necessary, how the radiation dose will be kept as low as possible for your child.
Always let the doctor or dentist know about any other scans your child has had and take any previous scans with you to appointments.
If your child is referred for a CT or CBCT scan, it is important for you to remember that a scan which is warranted, will almost always result in more benefit than harm to most patients.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has partnered with the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare and NPS MedicineWise to develop a brochure that answers questions that you may have if your child needs a CT scan.  A companion poster has also been developed by these organisations for display in doctors’ practices, medical imaging services and early child health services.

In partnership with the Australian Dental Association and other dental organisations, a brochure for parents and carers and a companion poster on CBCT have also been produced.

Support for health professionals
To support doctors requesting CT scans, the Commission has also partnered with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency to update a fact sheet providing information on CT scans for children, including the typical radiation doses for various scans.  

To support all people involved in the CT patient journey, the Commission has partnered with Healthdirect Australia to establish a web page dedicated to hosting these and other resources on CT scanning for children and young people. Visit for access to the fact sheet, brochures, posters and videos and interactive tablet games to assist parents and carers to prepare a young child for a CT.

For more information about CT scans for children and young people, visit


 1 Mathews JD et al. Cancer risk in 680,000 people exposed to computed tomography scans in childhood or adolescence:  data linkage study of 11 million Australians. BMJ.2013;346:2360

Dimity Herden
Senior Project Officer
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Monday, 3 August 2015

The three little “P’s” - Playgroup and Peppa Pig

Children were excited when Peppa Pig Goes to Hospital was the story of the day at one Sydney play group. There were about 15 children, mainly two year olds and pre-schoolers, who sat on the story time mat. During playtime they couldn't wait to put bandages on their dolls or teddies and one boy carefully bandaged his dinosaur’s tail. Craft was a lot of fun with Humpty Dumpty, both before and after the accident, some children preferred the ambulance craft. It was a bustling morning but there was time for children to select a book from our display and have a quiet read. A few did this.  There were over twenty books to browse or borrow and several parents commented about the range of books available.

Before the story, children were told, ‘When we go to see a doctor or nurse we can take a special toy or book and we will have our mum or dad or person who cares with us’. Peppa pig’s hospital room had a bright rainbow and after the story I commented, ‘We can always play and draw pictures when visiting the doctors or in hospital’.

The playgroup was well equipped with hospital play kits including stethoscopes, bandages and toy thermometers. If any toy was short of a bandage, a box of bandaids was within reach. One little girl showed me green dots all over her baby’s head. She and her mother had carefully placed bandaids over the middle of the baby’s head covering the ‘dots’. This was clearly a topic the kids related to.
I was the first of several visitors for term three with the theme, 'people who care for us'. The playgroup leader introduced the topic talking about doctors and nurses and the children sang several action songs about being sick, including ‘humpty dumpty’.

When the doll, teddy and dinosaur play began a brochure was handed out, ‘Hospital preparation for pre-schoolers – time well spent’. In amongst the fun I was hoping to convey to the children that when we are sick or hurt, it is not because of something we have done. Also if we are sick, doctors and nurses are there to help us get better and Mums, dads or the person caring for us will be there to give us a hug.

Whilst the children played, parents were reminded that fear of the unknown is an issue for young children and that pre-schoolers need reassurance. When we think of going to hospital, we think about the role of health professionals and may not stop to think about the role of parents. My take home message for parents was that their role is really important too. Parents and carers help their children cope with fear by being calm. Playgroup parents laughed at this point, recognising this is something easier said than done. I showed them two books Help! My child is in hospital and Everybody stay calm.

Before my voice faded into the general hubbub, my final point was that it is important to be informed and not to be afraid to ask if something is not clear. Parents can ask the hospital what resources are available to help prepare. The AWCH website and Dr Angela MacKenzie have many helpful links for parents and carers who want to prepare their children in different medical situations. A special mention was given of the wonderful free app designed for and with young children, “Okee in medical imaging”.

A chat with staff at a local pre-school followed. It was not long after I had arrived when a teacher pointed out the hospital corner, put together because of a child's recent hospital stay. The staff borrowed books to read to their classes and enquired about books for children with special health needs or those who have sick parents.
 One of the most poignant reasons for preparing children for hospital came from a playgroup mum. She shared an experience as a three year old child. She recalled how her parents said she was going on holidays. It was devastating to find this was misheard and that instead, her parents had said she was going to hospital. This became a traumatic experience and hard to get over. I finished the morning with a greater certainty that preparation is time well spent*.

Perhaps the three little ‘ps’ stand for – preparation, playgroup and Peppa pig.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
July 2015

*Dr Angela MacKenzie encourages parents to do their “homework” and be prepared.