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Annie and the Waves

Annie and the Waves

Annie and the Waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie and the Waves

Louise Lambeth

Carissa Harris

Louise Lambeth, 2018

44pp., pbk., RRP $A15.00

9780648435709

Holidays are coming and Annie and her family are heading to the beach for a week.  It’s their first time and Annie is very glad that some surf lifesavers have come to her school to teach her about the nature of waves and how to stay safe in them.  But when she is confronted with the actual thing she is very daunted and it takes time and a chat with a surf lifesaver to pluck up the courage to take the first step. But sometimes a little bit of confidence can be overestimated and Annie finds herself having to put what she has learned to the test.  

Over the Australian summer of 2017-2018, 249 people drowned in our waters, and while the majority of these were young men taking risks and drinking alcohol, nevertheless it could be argued that the lessons learned in schools about surf safety prevented many more, particularly among children.  So, with warm weather here already and summer holidays being planned, this is a timely book to share with students to reinforce those messages. Uncluttered by rhyme and rhythm and extravagant illustrations, the plot is simple and the message unfettered – you can be safe in the ocean and here’s how. It’s not about being cocky but being confident because you respect the danger and know how to minimise it.

Although Annie’s experiences drive the story, the key theme is taking care, being able to recognise “safe” waves, knowing the role of lifesavers, swimming between the flags and never swimming alone.  And while teachers and parents can talk about these for ever, it is the impact of a story, perhaps coupled with a visit from some surf lifesavers that is likely to stick and perhaps keep our children safer. Written by a surf lifesaver who has seen what can happen firsthand, the rules for beach safety are clearly written at the front (perhaps inspiring a poster activity to illustrate them) and reiterated with a quiz at the end, and there is also a link to BeachSafe , a website and app that provides information about the conditions about every Australian beach, including rips. 

Endorsed by Surf Lifesaving Australia, this is a critical addition to your health and safety program and resources. As well as the small book format, it is also available as a big book and an education bundle. There is also an audio book being produced so those who find it difficult to access print for whatever reason, do not miss out on this vital message.  And although, on the surface, it appears to be for early childhood, we have many students who have arrived in Australia older than that who need to hear this message now and share it with their parents because while the beach can be our greatest drawcard it can also be our greatest tragedy for those not familiar with it.  Let’s do all we can to ensure our students and their families are safe in the surf this summer. 

 

Available to order from Storybook Cushions

Available to order from Storybook Cushions

Clancy the Quokka

Clancy the Quokka

Clancy the Quokka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clancy the Quokka

Lili Wilkinson

Alison Mutton

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760634711

Here’s Clancy the quokka. So friendly and charming.
His innocent face is entirely disarming…

But Clancy has a fancy for all things sweet and his favourite pastime is raiding the picnics of island visitors, something he plots and schemes to do at every opportunity.  So when he hears the noises of a child’s birthday party and sees the enormous feast that is on offer, including a huge birthday cake he determines that it will be his.  And so he sets out on his mission.  Nothing distracts him until he reaches his goal except the lit candles and then he gets cranky…

This is a funny story about how a determined creature can set their mind to something and be so set on achieving it they don’t even see the consequences of their behaviour, so great is their drive.  Is it OK to be so single-minded and focused that the impact on other people’s lives can be disregarded? Could there have been a middle road that would be a win-win for Clancy and the party-goers?

Written in rhyme that bounces along, with colourful illustrations that depict the perfect, traditional birthday party that all children would love, it’s hard to determine whether Clancy is a goodie or a baddy. which in turn sets up a discussion about characterisation.  Are characters/people one-dimensional or are we more complex than that?  A class vote and chart of the justification for the decision would prove interesting. When Clancy vows to change his ways, is that as easy as it sounds or is temptation a hard taskmaster? There might even be a conversation about how Clancy developed a love of sweet things could lead to awareness about human intervention in feeding wild animals and the consequences that can have. Is it ever OK?

Little ones will enjoy the rhythm and the rhyme, the plot and the ending but it’s also an opportunity to get them thinking about the importance of creating characters that they will invest in and care about enough to read to the end. And if there is a bigger picture for the reader to think about introduced, even better.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Australian Friends

Eric Carle

Picture Puffin, 2019

12pp., board book., RRP $A16.99

9780241401583

Australia has some unique wildlife in a variety of habitats and Carle takes our very youngest readers on a journey through these with his iconic illustrations to discover some of them.  Using a lift-the-flap format, littlies will delight in discovering who lives where, identifying familiar creatures and meeting new ones. But where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar?  

With its rich colours, interactivity and familiar theme, this is the perfect gift for the young reader just learning about the fun and excitement of books. 

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Leigh Hobbs

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760296964

The infamous Mr Chicken has been to Paris,  London and  Rome, and now the adventurous chicken has come to Australia. In response to invitations from Yackandandah, to Koolanooka, Wuk Wuk to Wonglepong,  he has hopped on the plane, hooked up with a helpful travel agent and is on his way to see the sights.  His list of places is very long and using all sorts of transport, they travel hither and thither, here and there, back and forth, seeing all there is to see until they climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Mr Chicken discovers he is afraid of heights…

Apart from being another great story in this series that helps little ones understand that the world is bigger than their immediate environs, this book screams out to be the start of an exploration of this great country for young readers.  Which of the places he visited have you been to? What can you tell us about them? Are the place names real?  Where are they?  How did Mr Chicken get there? If we wanted to visit, when would be the best time to go? If we sent him an invitation to come here, what would we show him that was unique?  The possibilities are endless and not only increase their understanding of the diversity of this continent but help develop information literacy skills in a purposeful, engaging context.  

A must for any collection.

 

 

Australian Sea Life

Australian Sea Life

Australian Sea Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Sea Life

Matt Chun

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2019

36pp, hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760504694

Even though Australia is surrounded by ocean, not everyone has the chance to visit it regularly and even fewer have had the opportunity to explore it as a scuba diver and really see the diversity of life under the waves.  (Believe me, it is a fascinating world and even more diverse at night.) So in this companion to the 2019 CBCA  shortlisted Australian BirdsMatt Chun has taken his talents beneath the surface to give us a peek at what is in the waters that enclose us.  

From the Great White Shark to the Dugong to the Weedy Sea Dragon, readers can explore and discover pictorial and textual descriptions of familiar and not-so creatures that are part of our natural seascape. The attention to detail is again superb, and while most children won’t recognise as many of the species as they might have in Australian Birds, this is the perfect time, with summer and beach holidays around the corner, to pique their curiosity raise their awareness and inspire thoughts of conservation.  

If Australian Birds inspired your class to be involved in this year’s Aussie Bird Count later this month, then perhaps there could be an in-school project to identify the marine creatures the students discover over summer. 

If we are to protect our planet and its inhabitants, knowing about them first so they are valued is essential and this is the perfect starter.

Is It Halloween Yet?

Is It Halloween Yet?

Is It Halloween Yet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Halloween Yet?

Susannah Chambers

Tamsin Ainslie

Allen & Unwin, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760297404

Emily is a big fan of Halloween and begins early to pester her family about the preparations for it.  But they are very busy with their everyday lives and don’t really have time to get involved, so Emily has to do much of the preparation herself, including making the jack-o-lantern from a watermelon because Halloween is not pumpkin season in Australia.  Will she be able to get her family involved eventually?

Told entirely in dialogue with Emily’s speech in red and that of the other family members in black, with touches of humour and a need to read the pictures as much as the words, this is a story for young children who are noticing the preparations happening in stores for this not-so-traditional celebration in Australia but who are fascinated by it, its trappings and the concept of trick-or-treat.  While it is growing in popularity here, there are still many who mutter about it being an American thing but in fact, it is much older than that, dating back to  pagan times and the festival of Samhain which marked the end of the harvest season  then gradually morphing into All Hallows Eve as the night before the Christian festival of All Saints Day as Christianity spread throughout Britain.. Each of the symbols in the story that Emily refers to. and those associated with this time of year has an interesting story behind it and its association with the festival, so this is a chance to help our young readers pose questions about them and then try to discover the answers.  While some schools do not like students delving into the paranormal, nevertheless they do feature heavily in historical periods and religions so information is vital. It is  also a great opportunity to indulge in all the crafts that are associated with this topic as students seek different ways to display their new knowledge, and instructions for folding an origami bat are offered on the last page.

So much more than candy and fancy dress!

Little Puggle’s Song

Little Puggle's Song

Little Puggle’s Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Puggle’s Song

Vikki Conley

Hélène Magisson

New Frontier, 2019

32pp,m hbk.  RRP $A24.99

9781925594690

All Little Puggle, the baby echidna, wanted to do was to be able to sing like the birds in his native bushland.  Each bird had its own sound – Little Blue’s was whispery like the wind; Fantail peeped like a bush mouse; Fancy Crest’s voice had a crack like lightning and when Brown Feather laughed the bush stood still – but Little Puggle made no sound at all.

When Brown feather gathered the birds together to begin a bush choir, even Little Grey and Long Tail were allowed to join, but all silent Little Puggle could do was watch from the sidelines.  But when disaster strikes the choir’s special performance for the birth of the emu babies, Little Puggle finds his voice in a very different way!

This is the most charming story, superbly illustrated, that introduces our youngest readers to the creatures that are unique to the Australian bush and to the concept that we, ourselves, are unique, each with their own way of contributing. An opportunity  to take the children outside and have them listen to the birdsong and notice that each species has a different sound, one that is individual to them but each of which contributes to the chorus, and then to have a discussion about each child’s special talents and how they help make the class or their family, a whole.

 

All Aboard! True Train Tales

All Aboard! True Train Tales

All Aboard! True Train Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Aboard! True Train Tales

Pauline Deeves

NLA Publishing, 2019

120pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279392

“I come from a railway family. My dad drives trains, my grandpa was an engine driver and so was his father …” 

Jack is 8 and he lives in the country in an old white house near the railway station, surrounded by wheat paddocks where the river that snakes through the town sometimes floods and cuts the town in half.  He loves nothing better  than visiting his Grandpa who had a full-sized red train carriage devoted to all his train memorabilia which is his passion, and together they are working to save the railway museum particularly on Open Day when visitors come to ride on the steam train and view the exhibits. 

The story of saving the museum is woven amongst Grandpa’s tales of happenings on Australia’s railways in the 19th and 20th centuries, all of them true, and interspersed with pages of information full of statistics, fun facts, quizzes and historic images from the NLA’s collection. Superbly designed, meticulously researched and well written by an experienced teacher and teacher librarian, this is a book for lovers of trains, independent readers who prefer non fiction but made more cohesive with Jack’s story so that even non-train aficionados can appreciate the history of episodes like the 1887 Hawkesbury crash, the Wirth’s Circus train and the plots and plans of bushrangers like the Kelly Gang and Frank Thomas.

Recently I have spent some time driving through central NSW and crossing railway lines that led to nowhere but overgrown grass, past tiny stations now abandoned, signs advertising railway museums and special steam train trips and avoiding the super-sized trucks that have taken over what were the veins that kept the freight in this country moving. It made me wonder about the stories of the past of both the towns and their trains, and so this is the perfect book to hook me into learning more. Perhaps I will join the hundreds of others who book a trip on the next steam train out of here. Others might like to investigate the role of the railway in the development of their town. Don’t forget as well as the resources available via the NLA, there is also a plethora from the National Digital Learning Resources Network.

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and the Ocean

Lian Tanner

Jonathan Bentley

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760633691

Ella lived in the red-dirt country
where the earth was as dry as old bones
and it hadn’t rained 
for years
and years
and years.

One night, Ella dreamt of the ocean… and the image mesmerises her and she wants to know more. So she asks her dad,  her mum and Ben the farmhand, and while each has a distant memory to share it is viewed through the lens of the cracked red earth, the dust of the dry, dry, plains and the hungry hungry cows.  Her Gran hasn’t seen the ocean but dreamt about it once – ‘it picked me up and carried me from one side of sleep to the other and I have never forgotten it’- and so she sets about making Ella’s dream come true.

This is an uplifting story that will resonate with so many children from the front cover of the red-roofed house surrounded by vast dry, red, rain-starved land and gaunt gum trees to the family melancholy of hard work and no relief to the power of just a small break in routine to restore faith and hope.  You do not have to venture too far from the city to see the impact that this interminable drought is having on the land, and just as it sucks the life out of the land, so it has the people. Like Ella’s family, that impact is not as visible but is in their body language, their words and their perspective and while we city folk might pay some attention to their plight it is not long before we go back to our own lives, having put a few dollars in a tin or bought a more expensive bottle of milk.  Stories like Ella’s  and images like Bentley’s bring the reality home and depending where you live, will either help the children understand that they are not alone in this plight or perhaps inspire them to do something that might be ‘the trip to the ocean’ that turns a family around for a little while longer.  Or perhaps look a little closer to home. maybe the local nursing home, and think about what they can do to disrupt the routine of same-same boredom to put a light into someone’s life.

So often any unit of work about weather and its causes focuses on the scientific rather than the human, and Ella’s Ocean works to redress this, as readers are almost compelled to think about the what-if. and the what-can-I-do.  Another one of those great picture books that can work across all age groups.

That’s Not My Koala

That's Not My Koala

That’s Not My Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Koala

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781474945561

For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. 

That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…