How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet

How to Save the Whole Stinkin' Planet

How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet









How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet

Lee Constable

James Hart

Puffin, 2019

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


It is clear from recent global actions by young students that the environmental state of the planet is one of their greatest concerns and with World Environment Day  being the recent focus of many school activities, this is a timely publication that demonstrates that even our youngest students have the power to do something and make a difference. 

Its focus is on waste disposal and its mission is “to save the whole stinkin’ planet by getting [readers] skilled up and clues in on all things waste” and for them to spread this message widely and so the book guides them through each stage of how to do this as they become Waste Warriors complete with name, ID and a Garbology Lab Book. Filled with a mix of facts, statistics and strategies, the text speaks directly to the reader encouraging and supporting them with practical ways they can deal with waste in their lives so they can make a difference on a personal scale. Having the reader understand what happens to the things they dispose of and that landfill is for storing waste not treating it with the real possibility that one day it will be full, is powerful knowledge that motivates them to doing better. Starting with focused personal questions about  the last thing they threw away and what happened to it, it builds up to getting the community involved and knowledgeable.

Many schools have a Green Team who try to ensure that the school’s environment is the best it can be, and this is the ideal handbook for them to follow to tackle one of a school’s biggest problems – the production of waste. While many recycle paper and even have compost bins, it is having the knowledge and understanding of why this is done and what happens if it isn’t that becomes empowering and greater results are likely.

A school library should have many copies of this book in its collection and in the hands of a dedicated team who can guide the school and broader community’s journey towards a better, cleaner future. While climate change and air pollution are big picture concepts for which immediate change is hard to see, waste management is something we can all tackle and see the results of our efforts. Perhaps the cost imposed by council of removing the waste from the school could be investigated and as this drops, the savings could go towards something the school needs such as playground equipment; or for those who choose not to use plastic bottle recycling rewards for themselves, the school could have a collection point with the money going towards that overall goal.

When students strike to bring attention to the state of the planet, there are many loud voices saying they should be in school “learning something” (as though they haven’t learned about the environment and democracy to be doing what they are doing) so by adopting a pro-active, aggressive waste management program they could not only demonstrate what they have learned but also teach others!


The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words










The Dictionary of Difficult Words

Jane Solomon

Louise Lockhart

Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2019

112pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00


From the time a little one first says a recognisable word like “mum” or “dad”, a great fuss is made as new words are added, two-word phrases become sentences and so on until new words added to the vocabulary are so frequent that the novelty wears off.  Memories are made when words like ‘spaghetti” and “hospital” are mispronounced or the loss of the front teeth make talking tricky. We make a fuss when big words like “tyrannosaurus” are learned and understood but generally after that initial flush oral language is taken for granted as successes in reading and writing take over.

But whether we speak or write, listen or read, the fundamental unit of communication is the word and in this collection of over 400 words, lexicographer (a person who writes dictionaries) Jane Solomon brings together a range of words that are long, short, common, not-so, fun-to-say, tongue-trickers, have beautiful meanings or weird ones so those with a fascination language can add to their own lexicon. Some of the words like “sesquipedalian” are very old and not in common use; others like slugabed are more recent and one is amazed they are more than just an in-family term.

But whatever its age or origin, each word has a guide to its pronunciation and an easy-to-read meaning so that even the most reluctant reader can understand what is meant by Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Many words are illustrated with some words getting special treatment with a full-page spread, and unlike other dictionaries which try to cover every word, the careful selection of these means that the layout is clear and open and very easy to read. It’s chatty style, such as the notes about how to read it, engage the reader and it’s perfect for those who are newly independent readers or well-practised.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lots of teachers and teacher librarians love to challenge children with Word-of-the-Day tasks and this would be the perfect source for those words while encouraging students to use more conventional dictionaries to discover the meanings.  But as a stand-alone book in itself it is fabulous because of the serendipitous nature of opening a page and learning a host of new words just because. Even wordsmiths will have fun with this, especially the aspiring sesquipedalians!



Mr Walker (series)

Mr Walker (series)

Mr Walker (series)







Mr Walker Gets the Inside Scoop


Mr Walker and the Dessert Delight


Mr Walker Braves the Night


Mr Walker and the Perfect Mess


Jess Black

Sara Acton

Puffin Books, 2019

96pp., hbk. RRP $A14.99

We first met Mr Walker, the lovable labrador who is the ambassador for Guide Dogs Australia at the Park Hyatt hotel in Melbourne in The Tales of Mr Walkera CBCA Notable Book for 2019. And now he is back in four separate stories this time, continuing his adventures as he meets and greets the guests and managing to get himself into mischief at the same time.

In Mr Walker and the Dessert Delight, there’s a special anniversary celebration happening at the hotel and everyone is excited – especially Mr Walker! A famous chef is flown in for the event, and although she is all smiles and sweet delights, Chef Remy is none too pleased about sharing his kitchen. Mr Walker smells trouble . . . big trouble indeed, while it’s all systems go as the staff prepare for the arrival of an important reviewer in Mr Walker Gets the Inside Scoop.

Jess Black creates two more wonderful stories out of his antics in the other two books which are due in August and all are accompanied by the delightful artworks of Sara Acton who captures him perfectly, together making a fabulous series of stories that will capture the hearts and minds of newly independent readers, especially those who love stories about dogs. 

While the stories themselves are developed from actual events, the author has put the familiar disclaimer about the names, characters and so forth not bearing any relation to anyone real so this could be an opportunity to discuss with readers why authors should do this and the need for them to respect other’s privacy if they are writing or telling stories.  It’s OK to write this but not that… 

Destined to be an in-demand series in your library… 




Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal











Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2019

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


“Rowley’s best friend Greg Heffley has been chronicling his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals . . . and counting. But it’s finally time for readers to hear directly from Rowley in a journal of his own. In Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, Rowley writes about his experiences and agrees to play the role of biographer for Greg along the way. (After all, one day Greg will be rich and famous, and everyone will want to know his life’s story.) But Rowley is a poor choice for the job, and his “biography” of Greg is a hilarious mess.”

There would be few primary school readers (and even those a little older) who do not know the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , one of the pivotal series to get boys reading that I’ve encountered throughout my teaching career. So this new addition to the collection, in which Greg’s life is viewed through the lens of his best friend, is a welcome new chapter with a twist.

But as well as just being a fun read, one that so many can relate to, it’s also a chance to explore the concept of perspective.  Do others see us as we see ourselves? It reminds me of an advertisement on television where a fellow is called to a meeting and is giving himself negative self-talk  – this one…

But the reality is significantly different. So this book could be an opening into examining how others perceive us and perhaps tapping into someone’s mental health by having friends write about their friends. A skilled teacher who knows the students really well might have them write about themselves first and if necessary have conversations with the school counsellor.  Food for thought that might get someone who is struggling to open up.

But for those who just adore Greg and Rowley and their adventures, they can find out more about their creation here.



Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril










Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Candice Lemon-Scott

New Frontier, 2019 

102pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Best friends Ebony and Jay are the Eco Rangers,. They love helping others and looking after the environment  rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife through their local conservation centre. So  when they rescue a frightened-looking pelican covered in fuel, they know something terrible has happened. Why is the sea full of petrol? And where does it come from? As they start investigating, they end up getting into big trouble. 

The recent election campaign and student protests show that the environment and its future is the key issue in the minds of our young people, and the concern extends to even our youngest students who are well aware of concepts such as climate change, pollution, and recycling. So this new series, with its sequel Microbat Mayhem due on June 1st, will appeal to newly independent readers who have an interest in the world around them and a focus on how they can help make it better.

Drawing on her own interest in wildlife and participating in two koala rescues, the author has created a series that is real, contemporary and allows young readers to imagine themselves in the roles of the Eco Rangers and perhaps even inspire them to take action.

The Encyclopedia of Animals

The Encyclopedia of Animals

The Encyclopedia of Animals










The Encyclopedia of Animals

Tim Harris

Chartwell Crestine, 2019

304pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Discover the lifestyles, habitats, and behaviours of the animal kingdom in this new Encyclopedia of Animals written for independent readers who want to find out more.

Each page of this comprehensive guide is packed with amazingly detailed scientific artworks, full-colour photographs and text, captions and key fact boxes highlighting features of the animal’s anatomy, diet, and genus of familiar and not-so creatures of this planet.  Map icons illustrate the animal’s distribution around the world

Rather than being alphabetical order like a traditional encyclopedia, this one is divided by class and family with each section clarifying the distinguishing traits of the animals, so to find a particular species the young reader has to use the contents and the index pages and each section has a coloured tab for easy reference, all  contributing to their understanding about how non fiction texts are arranged and navigated easily.  

This is more than a beginner’s guide to the animal kingdom but the layout and language make it very accessible to young readers who are discovering the importance and permanence of print resources.














Harry Laing

Ford Street, 2019 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Decades of research have shown that children respond to the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of their native language as the first steps in learning to talk and later to read. The words can be utter nonsense or hold little meaning as the poems of Spike Milligan and traditional nursery rhymes have proven by their endurance because it is the cadence and expression that captures the ear.  

Thus, poems are important in children’s early literacy development and so a new book with a range of poems  that capture both the ear and the imagination is a delightful addition to this genre.  from the mysterious yumbie to the elusive moonfish to the pet flea who eats 100 meals a day (“it’s my blood but that’s okay) to the angry old lady of 93 who is on Facebook and learning karate, Laing spans the spectrum of the topics in his imagination, providing a rhythmic experience that has broad appeal and reinforces why our language should be predominantly spoken aloud. 

Featuring eye-catching and fresh art by some of Australia’s best known illustrators including Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs, Judy Watson, Marjory Gardner, Mitch Vane and Anna Pignataro, there is something in here for everyone, young and not-so-young that will create or renew the fascination with language and how we can manipulate it. 

If your students are tired of the sterilised, contrived texts that they are supposed to engage them and engender a love of reading, share these poems with them and watch the joy return. 

The Race to Space

The Race to Space

The Race to Space










The Race to Space

Clive Gifford

Paul Daviz

Words & Pictures, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


It is hard to believe that it is only a little over a century since the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight, achieving  a distance of 37 metres at an altitude of just three metres with the flight lasting just 12 seconds at the amazing speed of nearly 11km per hour, and now we take flight for granted with humans spending months in space in the International Space Station, vehicles landing on Mars and probes travelling to the deepest corners of the solar system.

Even though the earliest rockets were invented by China over 600 years ago, it wasn’t till the mid-20th century when the USSR launched Sputnik, the first manmade device to orbit the Earth, in 1957 and the US, the other world power to have emerged from World War II, were concerned that this would lead to the USSR having military control of space, that the race for the exploration of space really got going.

As the 50th anniversary of man first’s landing on the moon approaches, this new book traces the history of the space race from the launch of Sputnik to the moon landing with its early focus on the tensions between the US and the USSR, and concluding with the “handshake across space” in the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 marking a new collaboration rather than competition.  Illustrated in full colour and spattered with quotes from significant participants of the times, this is a book for independent readers who want to know the stories behind the milestones and understand why it became a “race” with that word’s connotation of winners and losers. 

Another opportunity to revitalise your collection about this period of history that is really so recent that many staff and parents will remember it vividly. 

Space Race The Journey to the Moon and Beyond

Space Race The Journey to the Moon and Beyond

Space Race The Journey to the Moon and Beyond










Space Race The Journey to the Moon and Beyond

Sarah Cruddas

DK, 2019 

192pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


For such a long time, people looked out into the blue sky of day and the black sky of night and wondered – what is out there? But to discover the answers was just a dream until the early 17th century when Galileo refined the work of Hans Lippershey and became the first to develop and use a telescope for astronomical purposes.  

While science fiction writers imagined and wrote about space travel, the real space race as modern generations know it began in October 1957 when the Russians launched a beach-ball sized object which they called Sputnik (“travelling companion”) and it became the first manmade device to orbit the earth. This astonished those in the US who believed they would be the first to be in space because they thought they were clearly much further ahead in both scientific research and military firepower, but now there was a clear threat that the USSR could achieve military dominance in space. And so the space race began with an impact that reached as far down as the elementary school curriculum and a new focus on the sciences.

Now the two countries work in relative harmony on the International Space Station and a host of other countries and companies are opening up space as a commercial and tourist destination. 

This new publication traces the origins and development of the space race  taking young, independent readers on a journey through the breakthroughs and the disasters, giving them an insight into the amazing changes that have taken place just during the lifetime of their grandparents, changes that have contributed to changes in their own lives as the technologies involved become commonplace in their world. Using diagrams, photographs and easily-accessible text major milestones and their implications are explored giving explanations and perceptions into why what has happened ‘out there” has relevance and importance for “down here”.

With the 50th anniversary of man’s first walking on the moon looming in July, there are many new publications about space and its race becoming available and this is the perfect opportunity to revitalise your collection with new, up-to-date resources. This is the perfect addition to that collection.    

WWE SmackDown 20 Years and Counting

WWE SmackDown 20 Years and Counting

WWE SmackDown 20 Years and Counting










WWE SmackDown 20 Years and Counting

DK. 2019

200pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


In April 1999, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) launched Smackdown on television and it became an instant success, and 20 years on, not only is it still being screened but many of the participants are now household names.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, this is a collection of the most notable highlights of the series, both in the ring and behind-the-scenes, accompanied by spectacular full-colour photographs from WWE’s own archive.

Whatever one’s personal views might be on the show in particular and wrestling in general, this is one of those books that young boys will pore over, sharing their discoveries and thoughts together and building their literacy skills in that communal way that seems to be a critical part of their development. For that reason alone it should be in your collection, but being a definitive history of this popular show, it will also be sought after by the fans of both the show and the sport.