Living In Space

Living In Space

Living In Space









Living In Space

Lucy Bowman & Abigail Wheatley

Rafael Mayani

Usborne, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99


With the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon approaching on July 20; the loss of the Mars Rover  after 15 years; and the Chinese landing a probe on the dark side of the moon space happenings are taking a prominent place in news bulletins this year and young minds start to think about what life in space might be like – something that is a distinct possibility for them.

Living In Space is from the Usborne Beginners series, a collection that is ideal for young readers to explore topics of interest as they are written in accessible language with lots of photographs and illustrations and supported by all the key cues and clues to support their independence in information literacy such as a contents page, index and glossary.  In it, they can learn about what it is like to work, eat and sleep in space with enough information to satisfy their initial curiosity and this, in turn, is supported by links to specifically chosen websites that will tell them more.  And if they want to learn about other aspects of space, they can search the Usborne Quicklinks site for “space” and find books and links to whatever they are curious about.

Up-to-date, easy-to-access and an in-demand topic make this a valuable addition to a collection that will get a lot of focus this year. 


Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth










Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

Kate Gardner

Heidi Smith   

HarperCollins US, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Spiders are creepy.
Porcupines are scary.
Bats are ugly.

Or are they . . .

This captivating book invites you to look beyond your first impressions at these awe-inspiring animals in the wild. On each page is an exquisite pencil illustration of a common creature that usually inspires an emotion in the viewer accompanied by a one word description that fits that emotion.  But when you turn the page, there is an equally exquisite but different picture of the same creature, this time with a few lines about its uniqueness that shows a completely different side to it. 

For example, sharks, particularly the great white, can shivers up the spines of those who like to swim in the ocean yet without them at the top of the food chain, the entire marine ecosystem would collapse.  Similarly, bats eat many insects – up to 8000 mosquitoes in a night – thus controlling the populations.

Something a little different to encourage us to look beyond the first impression and the reputation…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…


The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be










The Boy: His Stories and How They Came to Be

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2018

168pp., hbk., RRP $A45.00


In 2004, Oliver Jeffers set out to do a painting of someone trying to do something impossible – a boy catching a star with a butterfly net – and that idea evolved not only into the  book How to Catch a Star but into a series of four stories including Lost and Found, The Way Back Home and Up and Down. 

Now collected into one collection, this book also offers a unique look behind the scenes at the development of each book. As well as a letter from Jeffers himself explaining how the series grew (and may still do so, although that is unlikely), it contains more than 100 distinctive sketches, notes and ideas that he has chosen from his archives that show  the thoughts, events and incidents that shaped the stories.

Apart from its inherent beauty, this book has much to offer about how stories grow in the minds of their creators, giving it an appeal and a use far beyond the target audience of the original stories themselves.  

Geronimo; the penguin who thought he could fly












Geronimo: the penguin who thought he could fly

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins Children’s, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


At the “bottomest bottom” of the world, amidst a huge colony of emperor penguins, little Geronimo is born and right from the get-go, all he wanted to do was fly! Despite his dad telling him that penguins don’t fly, Geronimo persisted in following his dream and whether it was using the icy slopes as a runway, the elephant seal’s tummy as a trampoline, or the spout from the blue whale’s blowhole as a launching pad, he was determined that he would overcome his not-made-for-flying-despite-its-wings body.  Despite the failures, Geronimo still dreamed of flying – a dream apparently shared by all penguins in their early lives.  But after a particularly devastating misadventure while trying to hitch a ride on an albatross, Geronimo has to admit that the dream was indeed, over and a single tear rolled down his face.

His father was so moved by that that he called a meeting of the whole colony and…

The theme of penguins dreaming to fly is not a new one in children’s stories but when it is in the hands of master storyteller David Walliams and the creative genius of Tony Ross the result is an hilarious adventure that will be a firm favourite with younger readers.  They will empathise with Geronimo as he tries everything to make his dream come true, and perhaps be inspired by his determination, perseverance and resilience. At the other end of the scale, older readers could identify their dreams and perhaps start investigating what it is that they need to do to make them come true while parents sharing this with their children will also want to be like Geronimo’s father, prepared to try anything and everything to help their child’s dream come true, supporting them, protecting them and helping them deal with the failures and disappointments that will inevitably befall them. 

An utterly charming book that celebrates dreams and making them happen.

Where Happiness Lives

Where Happiness Lives

Where Happiness Lives










Where Happiness Lives

Barry Timms

Greg Abbott

Little Tiger, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


In the beginning Grey Mouse is very happy and satisfied with his sweet little house which has enough room for each mouse to have fun, plenty of windows to let in the sun where he is safe and never alone. But one day while he is out walking he spots a much larger house that is hard to ignore, the home of White Mouse who invites him up to the balcony to view an even more impressive house high on a hill.  Together they set out to visit it, so focused on reaching their destination they are oblivious to all the sights, sounds and smells that surround them on their journey. 

 When they get there, it is indeed a house like no other, and they are welcomed in by Brown Mouse who delights in showing them round her magnificent mansion,  Grey Mouse and White Mouse feel more and more inadequate and its features are revealed until they come to a room that has a large telescope and they peek through it…

Told in rhyme and illustrated with clever cutouts and flaps to be lifted, this is a charming story for young readers who will learn a lesson about bigger not always being better, and the difference between wants and needs, as well as being encourage to reflect on what makes them happy.  It is things?  Or something else? Is the grass always greener?

Both the story and the presentation have a very traditional feel about them, making it perfect for young readers who relish the places books can take them. And with the aid of boxes, rolls and other everyday items they can have much fun creating their ideal home!


How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)










How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

Lauren Child

HarperCollins Children’s, 2018

208pp., hbk., RRP $A 19.99


“These stories are about the days when the Bobton-Trents had it cushy, very cushy indeed.”

The Bobton-Trent seniors certainly know how to make the most of their extravagant wealth – socialising, doing things, buying things and generally being more than a little bit … irresponsible…

Luckily for them, their son Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent is an exceptionally intelligent, talented and sensible child.

Unluckily for Hubert, this tends to mean that a lot of his spare time is spent steering his rather unruly set of grown-ups out of trouble. So oblivious are they, they don’t realise that their lavish lifestyle means that their money has run out. even when the Bobton-Trents and their guests sit at a bare dinner table, waiting for an hour and 22 minutes for the maid to serve them, unaware that the staff has left.  They are also unaware of their only child’s immense talents –  he phones his parents at the age of one, reads at two and-when he tumbles into the pool at age three-discovers that he is “”a natural swimmer – and when their financial situation becomes clear to him, he tries ways to raise money through schemes like hosting board game sessions and opening the mansion up for tours, but all his schemes fail because his parents just spend the proceeds. It even becomes his decision to sell the mansion and downsize to an apartment!

Lauren Child brings her unique combination of story-telling, illustration and humour to this new series of books for the newly-independent reader.  Even though the message about money not necessarily being the happiness-bringer it is reputed to be may be lost on the target audience, nevertheless young readers will delight in the outrageous lifestyle and Hubert’s constant vigilance and tactics to keep the family afloat. Those who are a little older might like to think about how income is derived and disbursed and the sorts of decisions that must be made. 

With the second episode Alien Beings due later this year, this is a series that will become very popular as the word spreads among your students. 

The Good Egg

The Good Egg

The Good Egg









The Good Egg

Jory John

Pete Oswald

Harper, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


The Good Egg is verrrrrry good. It does all sorts of things like rescuing cats, carrying groceries, watering plants, changing tyres, even painting houses.  If there is anything or anyone needing help, it’s there to assist.  Back in the store where it lived with another 11 eggs – Meg, Peg, Greg, Clegg, Shel, Shelly, Sheldon, Shelby, Egbert, Frank and the other Frank – altogether in a house with a recycled roof, things weren’t particularly harmonious because The Good Egg found the behaviour of the others confronting.  They ignored bedtime, only ate sugary cereal, dried for no reason, threw tantrums, broke things… and when The Good Egg tried to be the peace maker and fix their behaviour no one listened. It became so hard and frustrating that its head felt scrambled and there were cracks in his shell, so The Good Egg left.

As time went by, it began to focus on the things it needed rather than what it thought everyone else needed and in time it began to heal…

This is a sensitive story that explores finding a balance between personal and social responsibility so that the egg, or any person really, can live at peace with itself.  It’s about helping the perfectionist lower their expectations of themselves so they are not always struggling and feeling failure, and, at the same time, accept that those around them will always have faults and to be comfortable with those.  Self-perception is such a driver of mental health and self-imposed standards of excellence are impossible to live up to and so the spiral towards depression begins, even in our youngest students.  

A companion to The Bad Seed, John and Oswald have combined sober text with humorous illustrations to present an engaging story that has a strong message of accepting oneself and others for who we are, not who we think we should be. 

Great addition to the mindfulness collection.


Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Lift-the-Flap Engineering










Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Rose Hall

Lee Cosgrove

Usborne, 2018

16pp., hbk, RRP $A19.99


“Engineering is not just about engines.  Engineering means designing, testing and making all kinds of useful things .  To do this, engineers use mathematics, science, and -above all- their imaginations.”

Engineers work in teams to solve puzzles, whether the puzzle is big or small.  They follow a series of steps including 

  • asking questions to ensure they understand the problem
  • imagining possible solutions  by letting their brains go wild 
  • making detailed designs of their ideas
  • making models to test their ideas
  • having  the final version built and checking it carefully.

Not so long ago primary students had “art and craft” lessons in which they usually followed a set of instructions to create a cookie-cutter model of something their teacher had decided would be appropriate for the current theme or unit of work.  Then, in the 80s with the launch of the National Profiles, technology became a recognised key learning area and the strand of “design, make and appraise” gave students more freedom to imagine solutions to set problems and actually trial their thoughts,  In those days, engineering was still viewed as a subject for university level.  But with the advance of computers and computing and inventions like the internet came a realisation that university was too late to start that sort of thinking and now we have a real focus on “STEM subjects” – science, maths, engineering and technology – and with it, a growing understanding of how integrated all the disciplines are.  They are no and can not be stand-alone slots in a timetable. And now, with the rise of “makerspaces”, even our youngest children are involved in engineering on a daily basis.

While this is a “lift-the-flap” book it is a sophisticated one like others in the Usborne collection, providing explanations and answers in an interactive format that engages the reader and offers easy-to understand text within a myriad of diagrams.  Things typically associated with engineering like aircraft, rockets and robots are explored but so are more everyday things like bicycles,    solar panels and sounds.

Highly recommended for your STEM collection. 


Little People, Big Dreams (series)

Little People, Big Dreams

Little People, Big Dreams









Little People, Big Dreams (series)

Muhammad Ali


Stephen Hawking


Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

New to the Little People, Big Dreams series, young readers can delve into the lives of these two men who, in their own unique ways, made such a contribution to the world of sport and science respectively. Presented in a picture book format and focusing on the childhood events that shaped their future decisions and success, the series is an excellent introduction to the biography genre.

As a child, young Cassius Clay had his bike stolen. He wanted to fight whoever stole his bike, but a police officer told him to control his anger, and learn how to box. After training hard in the gym, Cassius developed a strong hook and a stronger work ethic. His smart thinking and talking, inside and outside the ring, earned him the greatest title in boxing: Heavyweight Champion of the World while Stephen used to look up at the stars and wonder what else was out there. After gaining his education at Oxford University, Stephen went on to make a groundbreaking discovery to do with black holes: Hawking radiation. Although his health was declining due to MS, Stephen was more determined than ever to study and share his findings with the world. With his trademark voice and wit, Stephen brought science to everyone and became loved around the world.

Rather than a dry book of facts and figures, this series is intended to show our young students that even the most famous people came from ordinary beginnings, often similar to their own, and that it was a dream and the perseverance, determination and resilience to chase it that made the difference.  Perhaps they, too, have such a dream and with such inspiration could one day find themselves being in a series such as tis.



Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist










Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Peter Macinnis

NLA Publishing, 2019

248pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99


Anyone who knows Peter Macinnis, either personally or through his writing, knows that he is passionate about connecting young children with science and this latest contribution to the education of our students sits perfectly alongside his Australian Backyard Explorer and Australian Backyard Naturalist

In it, Macinnis takes the reader on a journey from explaining what earth science is and the earliest beginnings of the planet to the current debate about climate change, stopping along the way to investigate and explain all sorts of things which affect the development, health and performance of the planet like how rain is formed, the various types of rocks that lie beneath our feet, the impact of the currents on life and a zillion other things like why humidity is a critical factor in bushfire season, all tailored to helping young scientists understand what is happening in their own backyard.  It’s not “out there”, it’s right in front of them.  

Using his incessantly curious mind, he ferrets out all sorts of unknown facts and curiosities and then writes about them in a way that makes them so easily readable by his young target audience while giving them all the information they need yet not overloading them with too much detail. He leaves the door open for further investigation from more specialised sources.  The book is richly illustrated with photos, many of his own, diagrams and charts and there are projects to undertake, sections that delve more deeply into a topic, and ‘ologists’ to investigate and inspire.  

But for all the facts and figures and photos, there shines through a deep and abiding respect for this planet and an acute awareness that we must do more to protect it, and it is through young people having the knowledge and understanding about how it works that is likely to make the most difference.  Even though it has a global perspective, readers are inspired to “think global, act local” and examine what it is they can do to make their part of the world a better place for all, such as making a frog pond and keeping a seasonal diary.

If you add one non fiction book to your collection  this year, then this should be it – and if you don’t have the previous two then track them down through the NLA Bookshop.

Teachers’ notes are now available.