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I’m Ready for Christmas

I'm Ready for Christmas

I’m Ready for Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Christmas

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2019

board book., 14pp., RRP $A 12.99

9781760891619

Getting ready for Christmas is an exciting time for little ones. And it is no different for Miss Wombat’s family. There is much to do such as baking a big, round pudding from Great-great-great- Grandma’s recipe and decorating the tree. 

Very young readers will love seeing the things that their families do reflected in this very Australian interpretation of the Christmas experience, all helping to build anticipation for the great day. 

This is a new series of board books for our youngest readers shining a light on familiar events in their lives, aimed to bridge the gap between single-word concept books and the longer narrative of picture books.  Little ones can compare what the characters do to their own lives learning valuable concepts about stories and how they entertain as they do, a vital part of early literacy development. While their story might parallel Miss Wombat’s, why isn’t there any snow and the other trappings of the northern hemisphere Christmas that are so prevalent in what they see in print and on film?  Critical thinking can start as early as you like!

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

Fauna: Australia's Most Curious Creatures

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

Tania McCartney

NLA Publishing, 2019 

56pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279545

Eyes, legs,  tails and tongues peek out at you from the cover of this new book from Tania McCartney, beckoning you to open it and discover who they belong to. The intrigue is repeated on the endpages, enticing the reader to search for the whole that matches the snippet as they are introduced to a variety of Australia’s unique indigenous creatures. Given that Australia is home to more animal species than any other developed country, and 87% of the mammals, 45% of the birdlife, 93% of the reptiles and 94% of the amphibians are only found on this landmass, it would be impossible to highlight every single indigenous creature so McCartney has made a judicious selection of familiar and not-so so that there is a well-rounded introduction to tempt the reader to discover more.

From those that are already extinct through to those of least concern, each creature is identified with its conservation status as well as a range of interesting, easily-accessible facts and illustrations, several of which show McCartney’s quirky humour. With an animal family tree that helps show how the puzzle pieces fit together, two indices and a comprehensive glossary this is something more than just “a tourist’s guide to…” offering budding naturalists who are independent readers something that is written for their level and also has enough information to satisfy and spark their curiosity  including breeding and feeding habits, physical characteristics, habitat and other unique features that will leave them wanting to discover more, while trying to match those vignettes to their owners. 

Usually books about this topic can be dry and cold, but the combination of text and illustration that is so uniquely McCartney make this warm and engaging and one to treasure. She has called is “a labour of love” and that shines through.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s

My Folks Grew Up in the '80s

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Folks Grew Up in the ’80s

Beck & Robin Feiner

ABC Books, 2019

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

9780733339417

To those of us of a certain vintage, the 80s don’t seem all that long ago but to today’s generation they really are the olden days – the days of their parents’ childhood when technology was just starting to emerge and become part of everyone’s everyday life, rather than that of industry or business.  In this light-hearted lookback, today’s kids are introduced to telephones that never left the house; movies that had to be hired from and returned to a store; music that was carried on the shoulder and clothes and hairstyles that will hopefully never return. 

In the colours and style of the era, students like Miss 8 and Miss 13 can look at life when their parents were the same age, and wonder at how they coped in times before the Age of Instant Gratification. But even though it could be a little tongue-in-cheek, it could also be the kickstart to investigating the development of the things that are taken for granted today as well as the impact of technology on lives and lifestyles. And to be honest, if this were Miss 8 and Miss 13, they wouldn’t have to go far to discover working examples of most of the things mentioned in the book! Just because their grandfather is a Luddite….

 

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

Jackie French & Virginia Hooker

Mark Wilson

HarperCollins, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781460750025

Just over 25 years ago, then-Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered a speech in which he told Australians “our destiny [is] as a nation in Asia and the Pacific” much to the horror of those who saw us as irrevocably tied to Britain and causing shockwaves which reverberated across all facets of the nation. Now, in November 2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to being part of RCEP, the world’s largest trade deal centering on the key Asian nations. Yet, in this new book written by Australia’s leading writer of historical fiction for young people and social historian Emeritus Professor Virginia Hooker, our ties to Asia go back 200 000 000 years when we are part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland and homo sapiens walk out of Africa, travel around and through the lands now known as Asia and eventually establishing the first known indigenous populations in Lake Mungo, NSW 40 000 years ago. Our connections to our neighbours are so much more and so much older than speeches of political leaders seeking new economic directions.

And it is those connections which set this beautifully illustrated book apart, making it unique in the cacophony of books about the history of the region. Accompanying the timeline of major events that have shaped the geographical, political and economic landscapes, French introduces the social perspective through superbly evocative poems telling the stories of two children of each era making this a personal story that shows the thread of connectivity of the people down through the ages.

From the rock art of Timor-Leste …”We carved a face upon the rock to say, “I’m here. I’m me.”‘ to the modern day “Kita semma, all of us, we stride towards tomorrow” the common bonds of seeking identity, dignity, recognition and connection are woven into something unique, beautiful and personal.  It is not a litany of transient, petty power-seeking but a story of the determination and resilience of humans culminating in a collection of ways that the reader can continue the journey forwards. 

IMO, with its emphasis on our connectivity despite our diversity, this book should be at the core of your resources for the Asia and Australia cross-curriculum priority for all ages and stages. either as an introduction or a springboard. It seems to capture all the essential elements of understanding that that CCP embodies.

Teachers’ notes are available. and don’t be surprised to see it in all the awards’ lists in 2020.

Bluey (series)

Bluey (series)

Bluey (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey (series)

The Beach

9781760894054

Fruit Bat

9781760894047

Time to Play

9781760894030

Puffin, 2019

24pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC. 

Young readers are now expecting their heroes to be in multimedia format, giving them a more holistic experience, so adding print to the collection so familiar and favourite characters are seamlessly interwoven is a critical part of their literacy development.

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa's Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2019

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

9780241405024

When Peppa wins a colouring competition, nobody can believe the prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Peppa and her family head to Australia to explore the wonders of the reef with Kylie Kangaroo and marine biologist Mummy Kangaroo. There are so many incredible creatures to find in their underwater adventure.

With its usual mix of entertainment and education, this is another brilliantly coloured addition to the Peppa Pig series that is so appealing to our youngest readers. Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of Kmart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading. 

To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own pace, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey.

Creators and publishers have also realised this and the quality of the stories has increased exponentially so it’s worth capitalising on the appeal and giving our little ones a headstart.  Being a successful reader is as much about having a positive attitude as it is about the skills involved. 

The Australia Survival Guide

The Australia Survival Guide

The Australia Survival Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Australia Survival Guide

George Ivanoff

Puffin, 2019

176pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143796572

With its tagline of Australia is trying to KILL you – this book will save your life! this might not be the book at the top of the Tourism Commission’s list of gifts for overseas visitors but for anyone venturing into the outdoors, even if that’s a backyard here, this is a worthy tome to have.  Although “tome” depicts something heavy and dull and this is certainly not that.

Divided into four main sections, and each of those having subsections such as Slithery Death, Wibbly-Wobbly Jelly Death, Leafy Death, and The Four Elements of Death it sounds like one for the horror aficionados but in fact, it is the story of a young lad, depicted throughout as an avatar, being taken on a holiday around Australia and how information and preparation are the keys to surviving real-life threats that are even scarier than those on his video games. 

With the traditional warning palette of yellow and black, fact files,fun facts, sticky notes and other eye-catching visual devices,  the reader is introduced to some of the dangers that lie in wait as we go about our everyday lives, on holiday or not, whether these are on the land, in the sea or in the environment generally.  But the first person narrative lifts this above the common survival guide so that while there is all the information about identification, avoidance and first aid that is needed, it becomes a readable dip-and-delve book that also carries a warning about how humans can change the environment for better or worse and, at the same time, recognising its uniqueness and the need for us to look after it – even if it is trying to kill us. 

With summer on the horizon and many of our students heading into new environments for the first time, this is a book that is not only valuable personally but also as a springboard into a study that might equip them with the basic knowledge they need to stay safe.  With its practical nature, appealing layout and focus on things that fascinate, it could be the perfect foundation for Term 4 investigations.

Trouble in the Surf

Trouble in the Surf

Trouble in the Surf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trouble in the Surf

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Briony Stewart

National Library of Australia, 2019

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

9780642279460

Summer. 1907. Two boys take the tram to Bondi Beach and change history.

Charlie Smith and his cousin Rupert Swallow beg Charlie’s mother to allow them to go to the beach and with her warning of “no shenanigans” ringing in their ears, but quickly forgotten, they set off.  It’s a glorious day and the boys are soon in the water with Charlie floating way out past the breakers watching the seagulls and vowing that one day he will fly like them. But when it comes to heading back into shore, they realise how far out they are and they are in trouble.  And this is 1907 with no such thing as red and yellow flags and highly trained and well-equipped lifesavers on the beach…

The rescue that then took place, performed by bystanders on the beach, became the catalyst for awareness and change – seven weeks later on 21 February 1907 the Bondi lifesaving club was formed, the foundation of the Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales officially promulgated in October that year and the nucleus of what we now know as Surf Lifesaving Australia. It was the work of the surf bathers on the beach and Nurse Sadie Sweeney that demonstrated that there needed to be and could be a way to help those who got into difficulty in the surf and after the formation of the Bondi club, clubs were also formed at other Sydney beaches, eventually becoming the familiar and vital service we have today.  

But to add a twist to the story, Charlie was Charles Kingsford Smith who realised his dream of being able to fly like those seagulls, and changed to path of aviation in both Australia and the world.

With summer coming and record temperatures already meaning our beaches are the place to be for so many, this is a timely publication with its story of how those red and yellow flags came to be and its strong message of surf safety, particularly of being able to recognise a rip and what to do if one is caught in it.  (Sadly, there has already been one drowning this season because of not knowing this,) We don’t learn who Charlie is until the very end, so we are able to focus on the boys’ predicament and the actions of those who saved them – the story is clearly about the event rather than the characters – and the fact that he went on to be famous is almost incidental. 

The author, Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder  must have her own desk at the NLA  in Canberra because she has built up an impressive body of work using their resources to tell our history in a way that is interesting, accessible and engaging for our younger students.  Briony Stewart’s illustrations takes us back to the fashions and culture on 1907 prompting discussions about the “neck-to-knees” as well as why the majority of those in them are male. And as usually with NLA publications, there is further information at the back for readers to learn more and follow up. And while Rupert Swallow’s story is largely unknown, there is always that of Charlie’s to explore…

Available to order from Storybook Cushions

Available to order from Storybook Cushions

 

 

 

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.