From bees to beetle to butterflies, our world is full of busy little creatures and ten of them are collected here in a book which not only introduces them but also helps the very young reader explore movement, colours, patterns, sizes and numbers. Perhaps they might also become a detective as they create a chart of the creatures so they can tick off each as it is discovered and maybe even add new ones not featured in the book! There could also be discussions about why people are dependent on these minibeasts and how we need to protect them rather than squash them, squirt them and otherwise kill them, as well as learning which are friendly and which are not-so!
“Well, hello. And welcome to this Planet. We call it Earth.
Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you’ve only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let’s explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you’ll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else… Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.”
Written for his baby son, Jeffers tries to offer an explanation of this planet and how it works so that young Harland (and any other little children) will be able to negotiate it successfully. Even though this planet is a complex place, Jeffers manages to extract its essential elements – there are basically two parts, the land and the sea – and using direct narrative, his iconic illustrations and simple labels he explores the concepts of the planet and the people and animals who inhabit it. Huge ideas reduced to simple but carefully chosen words that convey both explanation and advice.
“People come in many shapes, sizes and colours. We may all look different, act differently and sound different … but don’t be fooled, we are all people.”
Throughout there is the underlying message of choosing kind and gentle to the land, its people and all its inhabitants, underpinned by a quote from J. M. Barrie as part of the dedication page..
With so much emphasis on the environment in our school curricula these days, this is the perfect book to create a child’s awareness of their surroundings beyond their immediate self. But there are so many avenues that could be explored by posing questions such as “Is there more land that sea?” or “If most of the land is at the top of the planet, why doesn’t the planet roll?” that could lead to investigations by all ages.
Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth was the #1 New York Times Bestseller and voted #1 TIME Best Book of the Year for 2017. It’s easy to see why. A must-have in your collection and one to be recommended to teachers as the staple that underpins all their lessons this year.
If there is one section of the library that is just as popular as 567.9, it is 597.3. And if there is one piece of music that still sends shivers up the spine of many it is this…
As the Australian summer and holiday season approaches, these creatures will be in the news as people venture into their territory and the debate about their continued existence will rage again.
So this safari with Professor John Bigelow Finnegan (aka Big Finn), a ’round-the-globe expedition to study these mighty and mysterious creatures” visiting shark haunts and hideouts to study the habits and habitats of a variety of species will be a welcome addition to the collection. Using photos, diagrams, headings, accessible text and a clever variety of other devices this will appeal to all those who are fascinated by these creatures and who want to know more. As well as the usual facts and figures, it dispels myths, looks at current research and even introduces some of the stories, movies and television programs that feature sharks, painting a whole-well-rounded picture that demonstrates that these creatures not only have a right to their existence but play a critical part in the planet’s ecology.
Done with the usual DK thoroughness and understanding of what young readers want and how they want it, this is perfect for both the experienced and novice shark-trackers.
Under the shadow of the great harbour bridge a little southern right whale is born. For weeks it stays and plays with its mother getting stronger for the long journey south to the Antarctic waters, delighting the people of Sydney who hadn’t seen a pair like this for many years. But one day a ferry’s motor startles Fluke and he dives deep to the bottom of the water where it is dark and murky and he can no longer hear his mother calling.
The people of Sydney begin an anxious search for him knowing that without her protection he will be easy prey for a shark…
Based on actual events, this is a charming story illustrated in a palette as soft and gentle as both the text and the events themselves. Like the humpbacks that are so prevalent down the Humpback Highway at the moment, southern right whales – so-called because early whalers believed them to be the ‘right’ whale to catch because they were large, slow-moving, rich in oil and blubber and floated when they were killed – were hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th century and so the appearance of mum and bub in the harbour brought both joy and hope. The endpapers provide a thumbnail sketch of these wonderful creatures, adding an extra dimension to the book.
Now that whale-hunting has taken on a whole new meaning and with seeing a whale in the wild on many bucket lists making it a sustainable tourist industry for many little coastal towns, learning about them through stories like Fluke can only bring a greater awareness and help to guarantee their revival and survival. The whalers were an important part of our coastal history and settlement, making them an important part of the history curriculum but unlike a generation ago, their activities can now be scrutinised through several lenses as students discuss and debate the “rightness” of their endeavours. The use of books like Fluke would bring another perspective to a webquest.
On a still moonlit night, a mother turtle lays her eggs in a hole in the sand of a Queensland beach and returns to the ocean with all the other mothers who have done the same thing. When it comes to raising offspring, their job is done.
Eight weeks later the eggs hatch and right from the get-go, life is hazardous. Just getting to the water from the nest is treacherous with a lot of dangers to dodge – hungry herons, seagulls and crabs lie in wait – and life in the water is also testing. Who is friend and who is foe? Luckily, Shelly the seahorse is a friend and introduces Tilly to some of the other creatures that inhabit this unique, spectacular watery world. While there are still those who are enemies, Tilly’s greatest threat comes from something that is water-borne but not water-bred…
You just know that children’s books from NLA Publishing are going to be brilliant, packed with stunning real-life illustrations and information that is pitched at the young reader and backed up with added extras after the story ends. Tilly’s Reef Adventure is no exception. Using a seamless lift-the-flap format, young readers are introduced to the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef so they can experience its beauty and colour and start to build an affinity with it through the personification of its inhabitants. Thus, when Tilly’s life is threatened because of thoughtless human actions, there is an emotional connection so that they might think before they do a similar thing. Actions have consequences and sometimes they are devastating.
A stunning addition to a growing collection of beautiful books that offer so much more than a good story.
Crow saw it first. The strange white creature, carried upon the dark waves towards the shore…
When a polar bear arrives unexpectedly in the woods, a creature unlike anything the other animals had seen, they fear and avoid him, suspecting him to be dangerous particularly when it began to collect leaves. They nicknamed him Leaf and desperately wanted him to leave because no one should live in fear. Then one day Leaf burst through the forest covered in leaves and leapt off the hill with a giant roar. Perhaps inspired by the crow’s feathers that helped it fly to freedom he has turned the leaves into wings, but sadly they lifted him but briefly and he tumbled into the lake.
A meeting of the other creatures was held and attitudes started to soften, but like many such meetings, the only outcome was an agreement to disagree and nothing was done. But when Leaf tried to fly again a few days later, this time landing in the ocean realisation dawned and things begin to change…
There is a quote on the dedication page of this book…
“Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught in life.” -Friedrich Schiller
And so it is with this book which is one of those that resonates more and more with each reading. Accompanied by the most stunning, memorable artwork which is rich in colour, pattern and details, on the surface it is a tale about a polar bear who wants to go home. But what is the message behind the polar bear arriving on a shard of iceberg in the first place? Climate change? Refugee? And what can we learn about and from the forest creatures’ automatic fear and distrust of this unfamiliar, different animal in their midst? Or is the whole a metaphor for a child or adult with a terminal illness who wants to die but who must endure the intervention of science and medicine before finding release? The dedication suggests this…
While the polar bear is the subject, the story is told very much from an objective observer’s eye, a narrator that states the facts and actions without emotion,even though there is so much emotion embedded in the illustrations. An intriguing book that makes the reader ponder.
Mother Nature has provided many of our commonly seen creatures with the most amazing camouflage so that when they are in their natural habitat they are very hard to see. In this stunning book by Gordon Winch, author of Samantha Seagull’s Sandals which has delighted so many children in my care over the years, readers are encouraged to spot familiar and not-so-familiar creatures hidden in plain sight in Pat Shirvington’s beautiful lifelike illustrations which really connect to the natural world.
Apart from little ones loving these sorts of hide and seek books, it also encourages them to look with new eyes at their local landscape and wonder what might be living there. Perhaps before they go stomping through the bush or the sand dunes they will stop and tread more carefully appreciating it more as a home for creatures, camouflaged though they may be.
Then using the text format as a model, they could investigate a different creature and then create their own page to add to the book – a new way of presenting information for the ubiquitous report about Australian animals that is in every early childhood curriculum.
It starts like a gentle lullaby, perhaps a story you would share with your very youngest children to help them slip into sleep at the end of a long happy day. But turn the page and a different story emerges from this remarkable collaboration between author and illustrator that grew as a special project at the Manning Regional Art Gallery in NSW.
The first hint that this is not a traditional lullaby comes when you turn the page and you are confronted by the image of a baby being passed into a tiny boat despite the stormy sea, safe into the arms of a young boy, while high on the rugged, isolated cliff barbed wire tangles it way down, clearly designed to prevent such departures. Yet despite this ominous scenery, the words evoke a feeling of trust, safety and comfort…
I am the small green pea
You are the tender pod
This message of security and belief that there will be protection threads throughout the rest of the story in its gentle, lyrical text and despite the pictures portraying a somewhat different, more threatening story, the inclusion of the red bird constantly with them and appearing somewhat like the dove from Noah’s Ark towards the end of the journey is reassuring.
The symbolism is strong – a polar bear found floating on a fridge is taken on board and returned to its family with the help of the whales, the boat expanding to accommodate all shows that this is a story about the planet, not just its people – and all the while the little peapod boat sails on towards it destination regardless of the sea’s moods, just as love carries us all through life. While the final stanza – I am the castaway, you are the journeys end. welcome me – might suggestthe story is over, the final pages and the endpapers show that this is a bigger story than that of the family in that little boat.
While the family in the boat give a focus to those who find literally launching themselves into and onto the great unknown a better prospect than staying where they are, this is about that uniquely human emotion of hope – the family believe they will reach a better destination and they will be welcomed with warmth and compassion and even in their midst of their own struggle they find the wherewithal to help others, just as they hope they would be helped.
There are teachers’ notes available that take this so much deeper than any review can, but don’t be surprised to see this amongst the CBCA Book of the Year winners in 2018.
Young children are warned from an early age to “never smile at a crocodile” but what if the crocodile smiles at you?
Cric the Crocodile has spent a week with his family in the Daintree region of Far North Queensland but he is puzzled because all the crocodiles he met smiled all the time. So his dad Crisis explains why.
The bull Crocodile was a sneaky beast
It was looking around for a scrumptious feast
With big yellow eyes it searched around
Looking for food from the watery ground.
And as those big yellow eyes alighted on a possible meal, it smiled with anticipation. But the creatures – cassowaries, brolgas, cormorants, barramundi and a host of other beautiful creatures indigenous to the area- were smarter that Crocodile and took themselves out of harm’s way very quickly. Until an unwary Pelican came by…
Like its predecessors the story is told in rhyme as young readers are introduced to a range of Australia’s unique but less familiar creatures. Beautiful drawings by Pickawoowoo illustrator, Laila Savolainen bring the text to life with their accuracy and spectacular colour palettes as well as inspiring interest in the flora and fauna of a part of Australia that would be unfamiliar to many. It also introduces the concept of the food chain – after all, the crocodile does have to eat – and perhaps an investigation into the mechanisms that Mother Nature provides so that creatures do not become easy prey.
A worthy addition to the library’s collection of books for younger readers that introduce them to the amazing wonders of this country.
The little girl looks out from her city window and sees a cloud and part of a rainbow. At first, it seems like it is the only colour in this grey, drab city landscape and she thinks longingly of the rainbows she used to see in the country on the family farm – rainbows that spanned the whole sky and lit it up, not just a small arc peeping from a cloud because the sky is full of buildings.
But gradually she begins to see spots of colour in her new surroundings – not the full-blooded red of the tractor of the farm but the red postbox in the street; not the orange of the sunset and the twine around the hay bales, but a curl of orange peel on the pavement; not the blue of her sheepdog Billy’s eyes but the paint of a neighbour’s fence… And there is one colour that both landscapes have in common.
This story is a marriage of text and illustration, each interdependent as they should be in quality picture books. At first the little girl sees only the rainbow, even though there are other spots of colour around her, as she thinks nostalgically of the colours of the country but as she starts to see more of her environment, so too the colours in the pictures increase although the city remains grey and the country bathed in light. And as her thoughts slowly attune to the city environment she begins to see more objects, different from the farm but perhaps with something to offer as she peers over the blue fence and sees a treehouse with a rope ladder and maybe a friend.
Perhaps, after all, there is but one rainbow – it just sees different things. An interesting contrast between city and country living that poses the question about why the family may have moved; about nostalgia as we tend to yearn for the things we remember when we are out of our comforts zone and hope as we learn to adjust and adapt to new places, new things and new experiences.