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The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian Children’s, 2019

136pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780734418852

Start with one blue whale and finish with 100 fairy flies and in between meet and learn about 98 other amazing creatures in this incredible counting book originally created “to inspire children to learn more about the natural world” and to have them “enjoy, question, investigate and wonder.” 

Each featured creature (little ones can practise their counting skills to make sure the illustrator has drawn the right number) is accompanied by a collection of single-sentence facts. Some of the creatures like the zebras and lions will be familiar but who has heard of a gerenuk or a capybara?

In 2017 Cossins’ book A-Z of Endangered Animals was an Honour Book in the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards and this new book has just as much attention to detail and accuracy as it does appeal for the reader. As well as fascinate, it will inspire the budding zoologist and broaden the child’s knowledge of the diversity of this planet’s inhabitants and the critical role they play in its survival.  

Tad

Tad

Tad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tad

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008212797

Tad was the smallest tadpole in the pond – so small she had to wiggle her tail twice as fast as her brothers and sisters to keep up – but that didn’t deter her from being brave.  Even though the others warned her about Big Blub, a great, big, nasty fish who was as old as the mud he lived in at the bottom of the pond, she wasn’t afraid  because she not only refused to believe in him but also made sure she kept to the shallow, sunny parts of the pond or hid carefully so he couldn’t find her – just in case he was real. But as the days went on, Tad’s sisters and brothers seem to be dwindling in numbers until at last she was the only one left.  And here comes Big Blub.  He is REAL.  What will she do?

Benji Davies has created a beautiful story that not only introduces young readers to the life cycle of frogs – a common topic in early biology curricula – but also to the concept of growing and changing and being brave enough to take the next step, generally.  With its stunning illustrations, it is full of opportunities and ideas to talk about, consolidating that special bond between reader and child and the stories they share.

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Juliet M Sampson

Karen Erasmus

Ford Street, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804218

Mrs Marino’s beautiful garden fascinates Grace and while she likes the veggie patch and the fish pond, it is the flowerbeds she loves best. And her favourite job is feeding the parrots their seeds, so when she comments that Polly likes a particular sort of seed and wonders what it is, Mrs Marino helps her investigate.  Firstly, she teaches Grace how to plant the seed properly and then helps her tend it till it grows.  But what sort of seed has she planted and what is the unique magic the particular species has?

Growing things always fascinates young people and this is a delightful story that will encourage them to try planting some seeds for themselves. The success of school kitchen gardens where students plant, nourish, harvest and eat the produce has been well-documented so any stories like this one that inspire them to go outside and get their hands dirty has got to be good.  There are teachers’ notes to assist both teacher and parent but the wonder of watching something grow is reward in itself.  The science side of things is obvious, but then there is always this to start a whole new exploration…

 

One Tree

One Tree

One Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Tree

Christopher Cheng

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143786733

Long, long ago Grandfather lived high on a hill in a one-room house with nine other people, a dog and a goldfish. He loved his mountain home. “Better than an Emperor’s palace “, he would say, and when he went to the village market he could always see his home perched beside the tallest tree on the mountain.  At night, Grandfather would tell stories and everyone gathered around to hear them because his stories were the best.

But time passes and Grandfather is old and now he lives in his grandson’s apartment in the city, a busy, noisy, crowded city that has swallowed up the fields, killed the trees and silenced the birds. No longer does he tell stories – he just stares at the fading painting of his mountain and a visit to the markets is one of haste rather than leisure, of fie de lah rather than conversation, where all the buildings look the same and there is no way they can spot their apartment. 

But one day the little boy sees a little plant with two pale leaves growing through a crack in the path, and knowing that it will soon be crushed by the hundreds of rushing feet, he rescues it and despite his grandfather’s pessimism about its future, the little boy nourishes it and it flourishes – and slowly something amazing begins to happen…

If you pick up a book by Christopher Cheng , you know you are going to get an outstanding story, one that will have a profound effect on you. In my opinion, One Tree is as impressive as his iconic One Child  (now 21 years old) with its powerful message about the power of one and the change that can happen because just one child believes. 

And true to form, Bruce Whatley who says he would “get bored if I stuck to one or two [illustration styles}” has illustrated this book in a completely new style, one that complements the text perfectly. “For One Tree I wanted to do something new yet it had to have a traditional feel. I have fond memories of doing Linocuts in college, carving into soft ochre layers, taking away the space between the lines. Then rolling ink onto it and printing the result. Such a great medium. Not having the time or space and being mobile for most of the time I decided to create the technique using Photoshop on my portable Wacom Cintiq tablet and my Mac. I constructed 3 layers in Photoshop, an off white base layer, a dark ochre middle layer, (these colours echoed the lino and were purely for nostalgic reasons) and a top transparent layer where I copied my pencil roughs. I then used the eraser tool with a stylus pen on the ochre layer to ‘gouge’ out the space between the lines. What was left I converted to a black textured line and added the colours on the layer beneath.” Books Illustrated

Like all quality picture books, this is one that spreads itself across all age groups, inspires the reader to act on what they have read and is a pleasure to read, review and recommend. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Sea Bear: a journey for survival 

Sea Bear

Sea Bear: a journey for survival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Bear: a journey for survival 

Lindsay Moore

Greenwillow Books, 2019

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

9780062791283

Imagine you are a polar bear.

Your coat is thick. Your teeth are sharp.

Your front paws are paddles, your back paws are rudders, and you can swim for miles.

Your home has always been the sea and the ice.

A sea bear, far north in the Arctic, hunts and naps and raises her young. She moves with the ice, swimming, running, stalking seals, resting. She follows the rhythm of the sea and the seasons.

But what happens when those rhythms change? What happens when there is no ice?

Told from the perspective of a female bear, the reader is taken on a journey of the Arctic seasons starting in spring when the ice is thick and the baby seals numerous, through to summer when the water warms and the ice melts, making it too thin to stand on and the seals more wary and quicker. Smelling land on the offshore breeze, the bear starts to swim to shore for food but it is a long arduous and perilous journey filled with lots of other creatures of the cold seas.  But above all, polar bears are patient and so she continues knowing that the world will turn, the time will pass and winter will come again. Courage, determination, resilience – even in the animal kingdom.

As well as the evocative text, it is the illustrations which make this book a stand-out.   Using a palette of a myriad of blues, the reader is treated to all the moods and times of this wonderland -starry night skies, ocean depths and shallows, the aurora borealis, the breaking ice pack and isolate seashore. While it could be a story of any sea bear, using the first person builds a connection with the reader so we are invested in her survival as well as that of all her kind. Her companions of the deep become less threatening as they pass by each other as Moore’s illustrations reflect her Master of Science in Medical and Scientific Illustration.

A page of information about sea ice and polar bears and another introducing the creatures she passes on her journey to shore add to the value of this book which shines a light on the plight of Arctic (and Antarctic) creatures as global warming continues and the amount of sea ice declines each year

A valuable addition to your environment and sustainability collection.

 

Queen Celine

Queen Celine

Queen Celine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Celine

Matt Shanks

Walker Books, 2019

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

 9781760650346

Celine Beaufort was an ordinary girl. She did ordinary things, on ordinary days, in ordinary ways. But every now and then, Celine was a Queen, Of a kingdom by the sea.” And while it was difficult to pick just one, Celine had found the perfect rock pool with stunning clear water, a host of creatures but all seemingly threatened by a flock of hungry seagulls.  So to preserve the perfection, Celine scared the birds away and then proceeded to keep her pool pristine and perfect by building a wall that kept the inhabitants in and the intruders, including the tides, out.  But the results were not as she intended… Does she see the error of her actions and fix them, or is she blind to all but her own aspirations?

This beautifully illustrated book has a strong environmental message about maintaining the balance so that things can survive and thrive as dependent on change as they are on stability, as on each other as they are on new blood.  But given the political events in the world at the moment, it could also be used with older students as an allegory for exclusivity and inclusivity as well as what leadership really means.  Another excellent example of showing that picture books just aren’t for beginning readers!

 

The Green Giant

The Green Giant

The Green Giant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Green Giant

Katie Cottle

Pavilion, 2019

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

 9781843654001

Every summer, Bea left her home in the city to stay with her grandad in the country. Iris, her dog, always went along with her. Bea is adventurous and she has explored everywhere in Grandad’s garden apart from one place – the small and rusty old greenhouse. So one day she decides to take a look inside. On the outside the greenhouse may be small, but inside it is huge – packed with plants, and a little creepy. Bea has a distinct impression that someone, or something, is watching her. Then a shadow falls, and standing over her is… … a giant. A giant made entirely of plants and greenery. Bea is scared, but the giant reassures her and explains that he has escaped from the grey city. Bea and the giant become friends, but can they do anything to make the grey old city, and the world, a greener place?

With huge concrete and glass buildings dominating today’s cityscapes rather than the trees of yesteryear,  the constant urbanisation of our planet is putting it at risk and so this is a timely tale that helps our young readers focus on their immediate environment and how they might be able to “think global, act local.” Even though they, themselves, might live in one of those ginormous apartment blocks with little green to be seen, perhaps there is scope for a school garden or perhaps even a garden on their home balcony. Wherever there is space for a pot, and access to light and water, there is space for a plant.

This is an ideal book to introduce the concept of our dependence on plants, their needs and life cycles and those of the creatures that are not only sustained by them but, in turn, sustain them too.  With another summer of devastating fire and flood almost passed, now is the time to think about what the land needs most to recover.

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

9780642279347

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.

Dippy’s Big Day Out

Dippy's Big Day Out

Dippy’s Big Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dippy’s Big Day Out

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9781460754061

All Dippy wants to do is fill his tummy and find a soft place to sleep.  But it seems that that is a bit tricky when you are a diprotodon, a kind of giant wombat the size of a rhinoceros!   No matter what he does or where he lies down, it seems Dippy is doomed to be hungry and wide awake.  Beds that are nests, snacks that attack, it’s a bit bewildering until…

Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have developed an idea from Ben Smith Whatley and teamed up once again to introduce young readers to the world of megafauna, huge creatures that evolved from the dinosaurs and roamed Australia up until about 50 000 years ago. Not surprisingly, given her well-known love of wombats, Jackie has focused this story on their ancestors, the diprotodon, but even though this initially appears to be a story for the very young, it opens up so many areas to explore that it could be for any age.

Combining minimal text with illustrations that contain so much action, this is a great introduction to the genre of ‘faction” where a fictional story is based on so much fact that the lines are blurred and it becomes an information text as much as a imaginary one, meeting many of the Australian Curriculum outcomes in the process. Whatley has painted a very different Australia to that which we are used to, which has to spark questions about climate change and what happened to these ginormous creatures. And are there lessons we can learn because we no longer have diprotodons in our landscape? Is its descendant, the wombat, likely to follow in its footsteps? Put May 11 aside to celebrate Hairy Nosed Wombat Day as a focus for endangered and extinct species!

Given the fascination that young children have for dinosaurs, it is surprising that there are so few stories, or even resources, about these other prehistoric beasts and so, this is a must-have in any collection.

Excellent teachers’ notes (written by me) exploring the riches of this book are available both on the publishers’ website  and their Teachers Hub , demonstrating that what might be considered a book for preschoolers actually has a much wider application, making it a model of its genre..

 

 

There are Fish Everywhere

There are Fish Everywhere

There are Fish Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are Fish Everywhere

Britta Teckentrup

Big Picture Press, 2018

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

9781787410763

As summer draws on, it is likely that many of our young readers will have either been fishing or will have eaten fish or perhaps seen them “in the flesh” over the past few months. While those who have caught them in rivers, lakes or the sea may be able to identify the species of their catch, with over 33,600 described species in the world, fish are the most diverse creatures  than any other group of vertebrates found in aquatic environments all over the world. 

“Big or small, spiny or flat, spiky or blobby, bright or exactly the same colour as the sand”, fish have inhabited the planet for about 420 million years, and in this richly illustrated, informative book from Britta Teckentrup, young readers can investigate all things fishy from the biological characteristics of fish to their evolution to what lives where. Focused on providing initial answers to a variety of questions it is a broad-ranging text that will  satisfy the reader’s curiosity and perhaps inspire them to investigate further. With information in manageable chunks and accessible language it is an ideal starter text for the independent reader, and with invitations to search for things, including the rarely seen but most common fish on the planet, the bristlemouth, they are encouraged to read and look carefully.  Ideal for those with an interest in these amazing creatures.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….