Monday, June 26, 2023

Here comes the Hajj; Japan’s alpaca cuddles; Young Archie winners announced; and the world’s ugliest dog.



The Hajj: explained:

The Hajj: VIDEO:

Young Archie winners:

Squiz Kids Q+A with National Portrait Gallery’s Sandra Bruce:

World’s Ugliest Dog Competition:


Squiz Kids Book Club:



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Today marks the start of a really important week in the Muslim calendar, where millions of people of the Islamic faith gather in a place called Mecca to perform what’s known as the Hajj – one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings.

The Hajj is what’s known as a pilgrimage: a practice that takes place in most religions of the world. In this case, the pilgrimage involves travelling to Mecca, a city in the country of Saudi Arabia of deep historical significance to Muslims.

Once there, they will perform a series of rituals at holy sites in and around the city – to walk in the footsteps of Islamic prophets like Muhammed and Abraham, and to ask forgivenes for their sins.  

You’ll see pictures on the TV news this week of many thousands of people walking in a circle around the Kaaba – a big stone square building covered in black silk.

Performing the Hajj – which is to say, travelling to Mecca to visit the Kaaba, and pray at Mt Arafat – is one of the five pillars of Islam – meaning it’s one of the five things that every able-bodied, financially-capable Muslim is required to do. The other four being faith, prayer, fasting and giving.

This year’s Hajj is especially important as the past three years it had to be scaled back enormously because of COVID. 

I’ve stuck a link in today’s episode notes to a step-by-step guide to the Hajj. 

And if you know someone who might be going to Mecca, or has just returned, be sure to wish them Hajj Mubarak – or Happy Hajj! 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops .. and today we’ve landed in Tokyo – the madcap capital of Japan – where alpacas are being taken for a walk on leads in the city’s streets for locals to cuddle.

Ah yes – only in Japan.

Alpacas are those super cute, llama like animals – originally from South America. They have big brown eyes and soft furry coats. Basically perfect for Japanese people who love anything ‘kawaii’ – meaning really, really cute. 

And so the owners of these two alpacas take them for a walk through the streets of downtown Tokyo each day and for seven bucks, anyone can come up and give them a cuddle.

Fun fact: alpacas, like their llama cousins, are renowned for spitting at people if they feel threatened .. but apparently these two are well-trained and don’t spit. Which is a relief. 




There’s a popular saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It means that what one person finds attractive, another might not. Which goes some way to explaining the outpouring of love for the finalists and winner of this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog competition.

Held every year in the United States, the competition brings together some of the least conventionally attractive pooches ever to lick a human. 

And this year’s winner, Scooter, is no exception. 

A hairless Chinese Crested dog, Scooter was born with back legs that don’t work, some seriously googly eyes, barely a hair on his body – except for a mangy mop on his head, and one of those pink doggy tongues that hangs permanently outside his mouth.

Luckily his owner loves him to death … as do the owners of the other finalists in this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog Competition ..

I’ve stuck a link in your episode notes to the winners through the years. Gotta say while Mr Happy Face from last year was a doozy, my favourite has to be 2015’s Quasi Modo. He’s a pup only a mother could love. 

Enjoy …




And it’s time to put on our painter’s smock and get a little arty with the announcement this week of the winners of the Young Archies.

The Young Archies is a portrait painting prize for kids aged 5 to 18 … a showcase of some of the best young artistic talent in all of the land – and this year’s crop of winners shows just how clever young Aussie artists are.

There’s 8yo Phoebe’s self-portrait of herself with a crown of  braids, 9yo Toby Lopata’s beautiful portrait of his grandpa, 15 yo Jasmine’s painting of her best friend, Navaeh and 17 year old Lily’s haunting portrait of her Aunty Erika. 

Each one captures the personality of its subject .. and I’ve stuck a link to the winners gallery in today’s episode notes so you can see for yourself.

And while you’re at it .. check out the special Squiz Kids Q+A we did recently with the National Portrait Gallery’s Sandra Bruce – in which she talks about what makes a great work of art, and previews a cool portrait painting competition for kids. I’ve stuck the link for that in today’s episode notes too. 



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What sort of unusual animals are people cuddling on the streets of Tokyo?
  2. What’s the name of the Muslim pilgrimage that starts today in Saudi Arabia?
  3. What’s the name of this year’s winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog competition?





It’s June 26 – birthday today for pop singer Ariana Grande … and of course the start of The Hajj. 


And a reminder that while all of you lucky Queenslanders and Victorians are on school holidays, Squiz Kids in other states have one more week of school left … and we’ll be right by your side, podcasting through until the end of this week. Don’t forget too, as we move into school holiday mode, we’ll have a series of Bumper School Holiday Kids vs Adult quizzes – … keep an eye out in your favourite podcasting app for those.”


Today is also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … 

Audrey from Campbelltown, Jake from Albany Hills, Aimee from Guyra, Adeline from Greenbank, Ruby from Eleebana, Lucinda from Fly Creek, Cedric from Gulgong, Lewis from Camp Hill and Richard and Hareem from Carlingford.


Belated shout outs go to…Javier travelling around Australia, Austin and Lucy from Elgin, Charlie from Wallabadah, Matthew from Bellbird, Stefan from Hunters Hill, Lana from West Pennant Hills, Piper from Frankston and Koby from Victoria.


Classroom Shoutouts today go to … class F2 and Mr Salvaire at Hammond Park Primary School, class 5V and Miss Viuya at Bella Vista Public School, class 4B and Mr Murphy at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School in Ruse, class 5/6P and Mrs Puma at Plumpton Public School and lastly Room 20 and Ms Lowe at Fulham North Primary School in Henley Beach. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Alpacas
  2. The Hajj
  3. Scooter