Archive | August 2017

Crazy About Cats

Crazy About Cats

Crazy About Cats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy About Cats

Owen Davey

Flying Eye Books, 2017

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781911171164

Sometimes it comes as a surprise to little people that cats are more than just the pretty kitty in a basket or the regular moggy that curls up and sleeps in the sun. Rather, there are about 38 different species which roam a range of habitats from the rainforest to the desert.

This book, full of information and illustrations, introduces the young readers to the wider world of cats with lots of facts and explanations including a double page spread which shows them drawn to scale in relation to each other and to  a human.  Each double page spread covers a different aspect of these creatures, including one that focuses on their future as more and more are lost particularly because of habitat destruction.  Both the vocabulary and the layout make the information easy for a young reader to understand and are sure to inspire the “Did you know…” comments that little ones love to surprise adults with. 

A great addition to the 599.75 section of your library.

 

NoMax!

NoMax!

NoMax!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NoMax!

Shannon Horsfall

Angus & Robertson, 2017

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

9781460753927

He is such a clever puppy.  He knows his name already.  He hears it from dad so often-when he frees the morning paper from its wrap; brings Dad’s slippers; helps dig the weeds from the garden…  And of course walks where you visit the neighbours and the butcher are proof that he is well-loved. NOMAX ! NOMAX! NOMAX!

So why, then, is the name on his bowl so different?

This is an hilarious story that will resonate with anyone who has welcomed a puppy into their home.  With its rhyming text exemplifying the pace and the action, it follows a typical day in the life of a new puppy learning a family’s ways – with the words telling one story (from Max’s perspective) and the pictures telling another.  Miss 6 adored it and there were some precious moments when we heard “No Max!” being shouted from the bedroom as she read it to her almost-independent self and laughed out loud when she realised the joke halfway through. You know a book has hit the mark when that happens.

There are teaching notes available that focus on the dichotomy between pictures and text opening the way for a discussion about the concept of perspective, but this will quickly become a favourite with the early childhood sector because it is just so much fun.  

 

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

Whatcha Building?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha Building?

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

ABC Books, 2017

32pp, hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780733334153

Every day on his way home from school Little Davey Durak watches the old milk bar on the corner being demolished, another victim of the ever-encroaching city inexorably guzzling all in its path. And every day Bruce the Builder would say hello to Davey as he carefully pulled the building apart and put the pieces in the skip, their final resting place.  

One afternoon, Davey asks Bruce for some wood -something he begins to do each day.  Sometimes it is a long piece and sometimes, short or chunky or thin.  But no matter how often Bruce asks what Davey is building, Davey doesn’t tell.  Bruce has heaps of ideas about what it could be but Davey keeps his secret.  Until the day Bruce helps him heave the old milkbar sign home…

Set against a backdrop of a city built like no other, one that could only be constructed in the mind of Stephen Michael King, Daddo has created a story that has many layers to it.  Young readers will have fun trying to predict what it is that Davey is building while others will relate to their neighbourhood slowly but surely changing as “progress” comes to town.  Others might like to investigate how the collage effect of the main characters superimposed on the landscape adds to the image of the layering of the landscape and how, in reality, everything is an imposition on the original.  And there might also be discussions about why King has chosen to depict the modern city using everyday objects in new ways while thinking about how they themselves might recycle or upcycle instead of throwing out. 

So many conversation starters – Is progress always good?  How do Bruce and Davey represent the past and the present? How has the children’s community changed over time? Has this been for the best?  Perhaps that could even inspire a local history project with interviews with long-term residents and a photographic journey or perhaps the children could create a record of their community as it is now so that future generations can do a compare and contrast. 

Teachers’ notes are available but all of that is wasted if it is not built on a solid, engaging, entertaining story – and this is certainly that.

A Bag and a Bird

A Bag and a Bird

A Bag and a Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bag and a Bird

Pamela Allen

Viking, 2017

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

9780143783909

John and his mother decided to have a picnic in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens.  The long walk from Kirribilli across the Harbour Bridge to the Gardens was all part of the adventure and there was something special about seeing everyone else rushing while they were relaxing.  

Nevertheless, when they finally arrived they were hungry and John pulled his sandwiches out of a plastic bag.  Surrounded by curious, hungry ibises John is more interested in the way they snaffle his last sandwich when a teasing wind blows his bag onto the ground not realising that he is setting off a chain of events that is unlikely to end well…

Master storyteller Pamela Allen’s message in this story could not be clearer.  Clean Up Australia   estimate that about 1 trillion bags are used and discarded world-wide every year and in Australia alone over 10 million new bags are being used every day. These either end up in landfill or in the waterways, taking 400-1000 years to break down depending on their exposure to light. The story of the ibis is just one story of hundreds that must happen every day to our fauna, without such a good ending.

With plastic bags banned in some jurisdictions and about to be in others, nevertheless even those which replace them can be just as toxic to our wildlife so this is the perfect book to develop awareness and to begin investigations into their use, their disposal and the litter issues that we seem to be drowning in ourselves.  While many schools have student-led litter patrols which focus on the immediate environment, A Bag and a Bird highlights what can happen further afield, particularly bringing the message home with her choice of setting and illustrations of sights very familiar to even those who don’t live in Sydney.

Not just a cracking story, this book has the potential to change attitudes and actions – can we ask for more from 32 pages? A book for all ages. 

 

The Royal Academy of Sport for Girls (series)

The Royal Academy of Sport for Girls

The Royal Academy of Sport for Girls

 

 

 

 

 

The Royal Academy of Sport for Girls (series)

Laura Sieveking

Random House Australia, 2017

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925324624

The Royal Academy of Sport for Girls is the dream school for girls aspiring to be elite athletes in almost any sport.  With a range of high-spec training facilities, top coaches and a curriculum that embraces all the regular things but still allows time for training without ridiculous pre-dawn or after-dark hours, only the most promising are able to pass the rigorous entrance tests and go on to take advantage of what’s on offer.

This is a new series that will appeal to independent readers who are sports-minded and who are looking for stories about girls who excel at what they do. While each title so far focuses on a sport that  is normally for individuals, each is encased in a team atmosphere so the message about teamwork is still strong.  There is a strong central character who is devoted to her sport but who also faces particular challenges in order to be more than just a champion competitor.  In High Flyers Abby doubts her ability; in Leap of Faith Chloe starts two months after the other girls;  in Running Free Josie academic work is suffering; and in In Too Deep Delphie discovers a secret about a rival team member who is also her friend. 

Each book stands alone – it is the setting that is the common theme rather than the characters – but the whole series will be welcomed by those who enjoy reading about girls like themselves and putting themselves in the character’s shoes as they confront the choices that have to be made.

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

The Boy and the Spy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy and the Spy

Felice Arena

Puffin, 2017

176pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143309284

Little did Antonio know that when he stuck an irreverent sketch of Hitler and Mussolini on the windscreen of a German jeep that that his life would change forever. Chased by a German soldier, leaping from the treacherous il Diavolo, and rescuing a wounded American spy is not in the script of life for a rota, an abandoned child who is despised and ridiculed by his Sicilian village even though he has been adopted and taken in by and cares for Mamma Nina. 

But that one act by an innocent 12-year-old sets off a chain of events that keeps the reader enthralled as Antonio lurches from one situation to another seeing the reality of war and understanding the true meaning of family. Set in his homeland, Felice Arena has always wanted to create a story there but it took a long time for Antonio’s voice to echo in his head and demand that his story be told. It is a story worth the wait,

Any story that encourages boys, particularly, to read is to be commended but it is wonderful to see what could be termed a true, rollicking, boy’s own adventure being published. Moving apace with credible characters, both good and evil, Antonio gets into such situations that you wonder how he will get out of them but are willing him onward to success even though he is technically helping the enemy.  That said, it will also appeal to girls because without Simonetta’s help Antonio would have stumbled at the first hurdle and Arena himself says that there could be another story in the escape of Simonetta and her mother.  That’s one I will be looking out for!

This one is for the slightly older independent readers who are looking for a bit of meat and tension in their stories, who like something that compels them to keep reading and appreciate story-crafting at a high level. 

100 Things to Know About Food

100 Things to Know About Food

100 Things to Know About Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Things to Know About Food

Various Authors

Usborne, 2017

128pp, hbk, RRP $A19.99

9781409598619

This is a fascinating journey through the world of food that will not only appeal to budding young chefs but to anyone who likes to eat.  

Presented with lots of colourful illustrations with hundreds of simply expressed facts that are readily accessible to newly independent readers, it begins with an explanation of why we need to eat, the sorts of basic elements we need to have like fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins and then takes us on a journey of the most diverse and interesting topics.  Who knew that hating brussels sprouts could be in your DNA; that you should never bake meringues on a rainy day; or that the national fruit of Jamaica contains a deadly poison?  Readers can find out about why farmers rent bees, the last meal served on the Titanic, even about the Frenchman who ate an entire plane between 1978 and 1980.

This is the sort of book that attracts young boys in particular, as they sit around a library table each sharing the same book and each sharing the most outrageous pieces of information they can find.  Despite the knowledge that they gain about the topic, the sheer enjoyment of the activity, and the affirmation that reading is not only useful but fun are enough to ensure that this book deserves a place in the collection.

As is usual with Usborne non fiction, information literacy skills are supported by a glossary and an index  as well as pre-selected weblinks  which take the learning even further. 

Another one for the information-hungry, daughter-of-a-chef Miss 6.  She is going to be surprising her daddy with her new knowledge!!!

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Same Sky

Britta Teckentrup

Caterpillar Books, 2017

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

 9781848575868 

“We live under the same sky, in lands near and far… We live under the same sky, wherever we are.”

The dedication to this gentle, lullaby-like book is “For a united world”.  Using the softest palette, the creatures of habitats around the world,

rhyming  couplets and clever cutouts, Teckentrup emphasises this message of inclusivity perfectly. 

With so much angst and anxiety that is focusing on difference, we are reminded that despite the diversity of how we look, where we live and what we do, nevertheless we all share this planet and have so many things in common especially our dreams. 

Hopeful, reaffirming and the ideal discussion starter for children to focus on how they are the same and how they can live together in harmony. 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Drew Daywalt

Adam Rex

HarperCollins, 2017

48pp., hbk, RRP $A24.99

9780008252397

In the ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of the Backgarden lives the warrior Rock.  He believes he is the greatest because no one can give him a worthy challenge that will prove his superiority.  While his battle with the clothes peg and the apricot entertain the backyard dwellers, he feels unsatisfied so he leaves the garden in search of a worthy foe.

Meanwhile in the Empire of Mum’s Study, Paper is feeling the same way. No one can outwit him and so he, too, leaves to look for a worthy opponent.  At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, Scissors has beaten both Sticky Tape and Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets  so she also goes on a quest to find something better.

And in the great cavern of Two-Car Garage, the three meet for the first time…

Children (and adults) everywhere play the traditional game of Rock Paper Scissors to help them make decisions and reach compromises and now the mastermind behind The Day the Crayons Quit has brought us their true story. Told in narrative and speech bubbles which make the most of bold fonts and imaginative layout, and accompanied by fantastic pictures that bring the most mundane objects to life and emphasise the action, this is a story that will be enjoyed again and again.  Children will love the boldness and loudness that oozes from the pages and you can just see them swaggering around like the characters as they take on their favourite. 

“Dramatic”, “raucous”, “bombastic”, “energetic”, “outrageous” – all have been used to describe this story. Apart from encapsulating it perfectly, what fun students can have suggesting their own adjectives for it and investigating what those ones mean. Further teachers’ notes are available.

A superhero origin story of a slightly different type! 

I’m going to eat this ant

I'm going to eat this ant

I’m going to eat this ant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to eat this ant

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408869901

 

Anteater is hungry and as usual, his very l-o-n-g twisting, twirling tongue is searching for ants.  But Anteater is tired of wriggling, tickling, stinging, fighting, biting ants so he picks on one in particular and starts to dream of the ways he might devour it. Perhaps served in a sandwich or sucked up in a straw; sundried or salted, smothered in sauce or sliced like salami… But the ant has other ideas and sorts Anteater out, well and truly…

A funny, engaging story that explores all the ways an ant could be eaten – who knew there were so many terms starting with “s”? Great for getting the tongue around and the ending will delight those who like the little guy to win.  An entertaining story in itself, it would also be perfect for those who explicitly teach phonics focusing on a letter-of-the-week or those who are introducing students to alliteration. If you have to do that stuff, it may as well be fun! Students could also have fun investigating the various methods we use to cook things, why we cook things and the changes that occur when heat is added.