I didn't purchase all of the Eve Pownall shortlisted books because many weren't easily accessible to children under eight years. So it was hard to go past Jeremy which my students loved. I had read this to them long before it made any shortlist and when I was making up my Clayton's shortlist for the CBC Sydney event in April I told the audience that Jeremy was the most borrowed 2013 Australian picture book in my library so something in this book certainly connects to its audience and my clientele.
Once it made the shortlist we read it again. The children all had kookaburra stories to share. They live in homes with trees and verandahs. This lead to possum stories too. And then we looked at who was telling the story and whether or not it was true. We used Greg Reid's Kookaburras book from Macmillan's Australian animals series to see if the time framework for Jeremy's growth was compatible with the lifecycle of a baby kookaburra. We read the kookaburra facts on the endpapers as well. The students decided it most definitely could be true. They especially liked that they found out that female kookaburras can have two or three chicks at a time so the chicks that he flies off with could well be siblings.
Next we read Possums in the Roof , a very old book by Julie Morris which is also a story based on real events and looked at the connections between it and Jeremy. Here mother possum has twin babies who get caught under the tiles in a roof cavity. The boy who lives in the house discovers their existence and tries to save them with his father. The students listed many similarities or connections starting with the first person narration and the fact that this book says that it is true. These books were perfect for teaching connections and focussing students in on text-to-self and text-to-text connections.
These two stories started requests for other true stories about animals so I went looking and was pleasantly surprised to find we actually have quite a few. See the titles on this pinterest page.