Pat Cronin Foundation Story Books

Be Wise education for primary schools

The New Playground - Pat Cronin Foundation Story Book 1
Story Book 1

The New Playground

The Four Square Challenge - Pat Cronin Foundation Story Book 2
Story Book 2

The Four Square Challenge

Footy Fever - Pat Cronin Foundation Story Book 3
Story Book 3

Footy Fever


Be Wise Story Book Lesson Plans

Classroom resources to help kids develop social skills that foster safety and respect.

Thoughtfully designed teacher-led classroom learning and activities that are age-appropriate, featuring activity sheets, printables, and role-play scenarios.

Be Wise Story Book Lesson Plans for Primary Schools

Supporting the next generation

Our story books form a critical part of our Be Wise Education program by introducing children to our important messages of Be Wise, think carefully and act kindly. It is very important that from the earliest possible age, children are taught and learn to understand that physical aggression is never okay.

Story Books Bundle


Buy your story books today

The Pat Cronin Foundation story books are available from our online shop for $20 each, or just $50 for all three in the Story Books Bundle. Schools can contact us for an extra 20% discount code.

Extend the learning with tailored activities

Author Maureen Hyland is a primary school teacher with a wealth of experience in educating young children. In fact, Maureen even taught Pat many years ago. As well as capturing the important lessons in these stories, Maureen has prepared a series of activities to complement each book and help children engage with the important messages they deliver. View the individual book pages in the Shop to see the activities.

Pat Cronin Foundation Story Books Launch

Author’s note

A boy with little spikes of blonde hair, eyes that sparkled with curiosity and the cheekiest of smiles—that’s the image of Pat that warms me; that breaks me; that inspires me. Pat was 5 years old when he started attending the school I taught at. I first met him in the playground, dressed in his blue and yellow uniform; this happy, caring, fun-filled little boy seemed ready to take every day of life in his stride—and he did.

While these stories are fictional, I have drawn on my knowledge of Pat, his personality and his life, and included some features that reflect the young man being honoured in these books. Throughout the series of books, I have used the name Patch for the main character as this was one of Pat’s nicknames. Another of Pat’s nicknames, bestowed upon him by his football coach, was Skipper. The owl in the story, a creation of Pat’s, has been honoured with the same nickname. The colours of the school and football uniforms were worn by Pat. Every word in these books is dedicated primarily to Pat, but also to his parents Matt and Robyn, his sister Emma and brother Lucas who have vowed to ensure Pat will always be remembered. Inspired by a beautiful image every day—what a privilege this has been for me.

— Maureen Hyland

Message from the Cronin Family

A huge thanks goes out to all involved in bringing these books to life including our author Maureen Hyland, the illustrator Bruce Rankin, the passionate team of volunteers from Pearson Publishing including Casey McGrath, Anne Donald, Michelle Thomas, Lauren Smith, Alicia Dudley, Kerry Nagle, Rebecca Harris, Sophie Sirninger-Rankin, Benjamin Harris and Jennifer Johnston.

Thanks also to Keenan Archer and his team at Minuteman Press Abbotsford for the printing of the books.

Finally, let’s always remember the reason for why the Pat Cronin Foundation exists and that is for Pat.

Be Wise.

Together we can end the Coward Punch.

— Matt, Robyn, Emma and Lucas

Story books reviews

As a teacher librarian in a primary setting, I am always looking for books that assist students in understanding their behaviour and making better choices when confronted with a situation that prompts an upsetting emotional response. This set of books have hit the mark. They read aloud really well. They are age appropriate, relatable and will connect the reader. All students will relate to the text. The scenarios cleverly invite you to be in the shoes of the main characters and experience a challenging situation. They highlight the importance of open communication, working through a problem by processing the action, making amends to the person affected and accepting the consequences. There is a sense of being calm when sorting out the issue. No one is getting angry. Being frustrated led to an unpleasant reaction but when worked through, the characters involved, show the other side of being able to safely and calmly move forward.

I highly recommend this series to primary school teachers, librarians and parents. They are a valuable tool to use and will significantly alter the approaches we can take to manage a situation from a student, teacher and parent perspective. Most appealing is that the main character involved in each scenario would go home having completed full circle. They are not ‘in trouble’. They are calmly led through a process of speaking, evaluating and accepting the situation. Most importantly, growing as a person from it to become informed, stronger and resilient. The poster in each story is a wonderful thread that blends into the page but is brought to the forefront when needed. The balance of text and illustrations are combined perfectly.

In addition, these books, when read by parents, can also be a teaching tool for how to handle a situation. There are no raised voices. There is reasoning and understanding. The character who made an error of judgement is not brandished as naughty or bad, they are able to move on and not hold onto to a situation longer than needed.

Congratulations to the Pat Cronin Foundation and author Maureen Hyland and Illustrator Bruce Rankin for this wonderful literary initiative.

Trish Trchala
Teacher - Library.
Xavier College Burke Hall Early Years

When I first received the books about Patch written on behalf of the PAT CRONIN foundation, the first thing that grabbed me were the quirky and funny illustrations. I knew that the students would love them. The next thing that attracted me were the photos of Pat Cronin on the back cover along with the sad story of what had happened to Pat. Then I read the Author’s Note and I knew that these books had been written from the heart by someone who knew Pat well. That left just one question – would the books be any good? And you know what? They are good!

This series of books is engaging, contemporary and written in a way that’s inclusive. The stories are on point with the situations that arise in schools and the strategies used to resolve them. Students will enjoy reading these tales about Patch and his friends. Teachers will enjoy reading these books to their students and discussing how sometimes it can be easy to be impulsive and make poor choices but when we do, others can get hurt.

These books deal with all this and ultimately teach Skipper’s important lesson. A great resource for all primary schools who want their students to be wise, think carefully and act kindly.

Pauline Turnbull
Classroom Teacher
St. Joseph the Worker Primary School, Reservoir North

Understanding, managing conflict and developing positive relationship skills is such a huge learning curve for children. It is so important to provide opportunities to have open discussions about these genuine issues in the classroom from an early age. The Four Square Challenge book offers terrific opportunities for students to have these rich discussions and reflect on their own experiences with conflict.

This book is a useful tool to allow students to build their social-emotional understanding with relatable scenarios. I love the support notes for teachers, parents, and carers! The guidance for leading discussion and follow-up activities is extremely useful as they integrate Literacy, Speaking and Listening, and Wellbeing. A lot of effort and consideration into how to appropriately target this age group has gone into making this book. I can’t wait to use this resource in my classroom!

Kya Gelb
Classroom Teacher
Grade 3/4

The Pat Cronin Foundation, along with Maureen Hyland and Bruce Rankin, have produced a wonderful, child friendly and easy to read series for primary school children. The books are based on games and sports that almost all children participate in through their childhood years, either at school or on weekends. All of the books teach, remind and encourage children to think like Skipper the Owl: Be Wise. Think Carefully. Act Kindly.

The Four Square Challenge and The New Playground introduce the message that it doesn’t matter how you are feeling, you need to ensure that you constantly be wise, think carefully and act kindly like Skipper the Owl. Footy Fever, demonstrates that this message not only needs to be taught in schools, but to the wider community. All of the books show what happens when one of the characters forgets, however each of the stories ends with reminding the audience of Skipper the Owl’s message.

Not only are the books a great resource on their own, the inclusion of the ‘Support Notes’ at the end of each book allows for whole group, small group and independent activities. These notes provide teachers/parents/carers with questions and activities to help with making connections between the scenarios in the books and their own lives, build on prior knowledge, and encourage the children to think more deeply.

Emily Hammond
Classroom Teacher – Preps
Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School, Eltham
(Pat’s Primary School)

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