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Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Heart, Take Action

Beci Orpin

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734419866

As the devastating bushfires continue and the calls for climate change action get louder, this is a timely book that offers a range of suggestions of things that individuals can do to make a positive impact.  Just as climate change is not an overnight phenomenon, so too its solution is long term but this series of slogans presented as simple posters can offer a start.  Backing up the posters are two pages that offer suggestions for how each can be achieved by even our youngest readers, so that each can feel they can make a contribution and be part of the global community while acting locally.  As well, each poster could be the springboard for individuals or partners to dig deeper and investigate how the action will help and how it can be achieved within the school or the local community.  

So often our students are presented with the problems of the world but no guidance about how they might be solved.  The final message in this book is to “Have Hope” and given it is solution-driven, that becomes possible. 

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Place for an Octopus

Claire Zorn

UQP, 2019

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

978070226260 

At that special time when the ocean pauses its ceaseless movement, a little one goes for a walk to explore the mysterious water worlds in the cracks and crannies in the rocks that have been left behind by the retreating tide. Rockpools reveal all sorts of secrets and there, hiding behind the seaweed is an octopus!

Long. curly arms/legs, suction caps and a blobby head, perhaps a little afraid and definitely looking lonely,hungry, wet and cold. Imagine the fun it could have if the little took it home, fed it, bathed, it, made it comfy and snug, an interesting friend that could play games or even ride the roller-coaster…  Or could it?

With its intriguing front cover and stunning illustrations, the author’s first foray into illustration, indeed picture books, this is a story that will resonate with every child, indeed adult, who has wandered among the rockpools and been mesmerised by the life within them, and determined to take a creature home with them.  How many show-and-share sessions have we seen starfish and shells and other creatures carefully preserved in buckets of sea water, but so far away from their home they can never see it again? The message that the rockpool is the perfect place for the octopus, and all the other rockpool creatures, is very strong, despite the adventures we humans might think it would like.  Thus, this is a timely story to share and discuss as summer holidays loom and visits to the beach and rockpools are anticipated. No matter the temptation we need to take only photographs, leave only footprints whether that is the rockpool or the desert.  

Zorn says, “I wanted to engage with the child’s love of the absurd by placing the octopus in all sorts of silly scenarios…[but] I also sought to create an exercise in empathy where the child is able to identify the octopus’s feelings about the situation it finds itself in.”  She succeeded.

Teachers’ notes are available.

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. 

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

Pip Finds a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pip Finds a Home

Elena Topouzoglou

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594744

When Pip is discovered wandering around the Arctic by a young explorer, she tells him that penguins live at the South Pole and gathers him up and takes him there on their ship. When he eventually meets up with some penguins, they are very friendly but they discover he is not one of them.  They are Adelie penguins. Perhaps he is a Macaroni penguin because he jumps like them but doesn’t have feathers on his head. Or maybe an Emperor, although he is too short.  Or a Gentoo but his beak is black and white, not orange… Just what sort of penguin is he?

This is a charming story that introduces young readers to the variety of penguins that inhabit the Antarctic as well as showing that there can be friendship and fun amongst us, even if we are a little different.  None of the penguin species shunned Pip because he wasn’t quite like them – he is accepted immediately for who he is, a nice change from some darker stories I have read and reviewed recently.

When Pip’s species is revealed, it is a surprise and there is more information about him and his kind on the final page, as well as brief notes about the species who befriend him. Older readers might like to speculate about why we do not see Pip and his relatives today. Very topical.

Illustrated in a manner and palette that is as soft and gentle as the narrative, this could be the introduction to a study pf endangered and extinct species, starting even the youngest readers thinking about how gentle they can be on the environment.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

 

Teachers notes  are available.

 

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.

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.

Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Monsters

Sharon J. Yaxley

Forty South Publishing, 2019

46pp., hbk., $25.00

9780648168881

A walk along the beach is often characterised by the sound of the waves, the fresh air and the sheer exuberance of being able to move with such freedom as we pass rocks, seaweed and other detritus washed up by the tides. Being king of the castle, drawing pictures in the sand with sticks, feeling the texture of the sand and shells under our feet and the delight of beating the waves as they try to soak our clothes are just a few joys of this most pleasurable experience.

But what if we slowed down and took the time to look at what is there, to examine the shapes and colours and textures of the landscape? Where might our imaginations take us? Into a world of monsters or somewhere different?

Environmental activist David Suzuki says

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.

Author/photographer of this new book for young readers, Sharon Yaxley has used this quote to describe the concept of this remarkable book for young readers, to encourage them to look more closely at the things in their world and let those things talk to their imaginations.  Tails, tusks, dark eyes, sharp noses and jaws with jagged teeth are all there in the seaweed, driftwood, rocks, sand… and when the tide crashes in and the wind does its work, they change into something different.  Looking closely, thinking about the object’s story and the story it could inspire all help to slow the child down in this breakneck world, to be curious and spark their wonder.

Even if your students live nowhere near a beach, this can still be the inspiration to take them outside and let them immerse themselves in what is there and imagine… Let’s take the opportunity to connect our kids to the real world so they want to protect it too. Extensive teaching notes aligned to many strands of the Australian Curriculum are available. 

 

 

Song of the River

Song of the River

Song of the River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the River

Joy Cowley

Kimberly Andrews

Gecko Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781776572533

High in the mountains where he lives, Cam tells his grandfather that he wishes he could see the sea and his grandfather promises to take him there “one day.”

But as winter turns to spring and the snows begin to melt, Cam watches a trickle of water running through the pine trees, water that splashed and sang in the voice of the snow, 
Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.” And unable to resist its song, Cam follows it and begins a journey that broadens his horizons in so many ways.

The beautiful, lyrical words of one of New Zealand’s premier authors for children, Joy Cowley and the stunning, detailed, muted illustrations of Kimberly Andrews which echo both the high country of New Zealand and the Canada of her childhood come together in what is indeed a song of the river.  With a text that builds much like the river itself, rises to a crescendo and then returns to its original melody like a piece of music, this is indeed an aptly named story both in content and style. It lends itself to all sorts of mapping activities, more than just the physical journey of the trickle to the sea. Even exploring why the author named it “Song of the River” rather than “Story of the River” will open up the beauty of the language and the build-up of the journey.

With a landscape very different from those of the illustrations, and much of the country in one of the worst drought’s ever, this is an ideal book to begin an investigation of Australia’s rivers and compare their origins and uses to those of the river in the story.  A search of the NDLRN using Scootle will bring up a number of units of work focusing on the Murray-Darling Basin such as A Sense of Place (TLF ID R11374) (written by me for Year 3-4 but which could be adapted for both age and situation) that could be the perfect companions to maximise the impact of this book.

 

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Ways to Make the World Better

Lisa M. Gerry

National Geographic Kids. 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781426329975  

From something as manageable as forgiving someone or leaving a complimentary note in their locker to more complex ideas such as taking a First Aid class or letting your trash be someone else’s treasures, this is a small book full of big ideas about how to make the world a better place both physically and emotionally. 

With philosophy such as being the kind of friend you’d like to have and being inclusive, it covers personal issues that can help the individual be more calm, more mindful and more responsive to their world while also taking actions that can help shape the world into what they want it to be.   Ideas are presented as simple concepts with engaging graphics and photographs, and many are followed by detailed supporting information, including advice from Nat Geo explorers, interviews with experts and weird but true facts. readers can get a sense of their own power to make a difference and an understanding of what actions contribute to positive outcomes and how they can change things by themselves.

While journalling and personal challenges are becoming a popular way to have students focus on the positives and support their mental health, sometimes knowing where to start can be overwhelming so this could be used to guide that journey by having students set themselves the 100 tasks over the school year, and help them structure their progress that way as they work their way through them. They might also have spaces for another 20 ways they discover that are not mentioned in the book and these could be added to a class wall chart to inspire others to look more widely. 

While these sorts of books always inspire when you first pick them up, without accountability life can go back to routine quickly so offering ways to keep the ideas in focus and support the reader over time will not only help them, but also the adult offering that support. We can all make our world better. 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Gordon Winch

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594560

In 2017, Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington presented our youngest readers with an introduction to some of this country’s native fauna and flora in the hauntingly beautiful Can You Find Me?Now they have teamed up again to delve closely into what might be living in the garden with this new counting book that is as stunning as the first.

Beginning with some of the larger creatures such as the blue-tongued lizard and kookaburras, young readers are enticed to look more and more closely at the illustrations to discover just what might be hiding amongst the trees, bushes, flowers and leaves, culminating in a challenge to find all of them in the final spread. As well as the introduction to iconic creatures and enabling the reader to practise their counting skills, like the first book, it  encourages them to look more closely at their environment and see it with new eyes, to appreciate it more and perhaps even preserve it more carefully.

A counting book that does so much more than help little ones count.