Where in the Wild

Where in the Wild

Where in the Wild









Where in the Wild

Poppy Bishop

Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Inspired by Theodore Roosevelt saying, “The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will”, this book takes the young reader on a journey through the world’s key habitats and introduces them to some of the creatures that live within them. 

From rivers to jungles, the savannah, the desert, woodlands and the frozen extremes, familiar and not-so creatures make an appearance in colourful artwork and rhyming text. Using a double-page spread for each, the two-verse rhyme begins with an introduction to the habitat and then an inhabitant “speaks” to the reader about itself.  The rest of the pages are filled with a collage of flora and fauna, each with  a clever cutout featuring a creature that  lives in the featured habitat but which can adapt to the succeeding one to entice the reader to keep turning, reading and learning. Some of these cutouts have text which encourages closer observation of the illustrations, making the reader engage more through this interactivity.  The final message about habitat destruction and the need to protect what is left is very clear and ties in well with the initial quote. 

Often, books from the northern hemisphere tend to feature the creatures with which children from that part of the world are familiar but this one spans the globe, although, thankfully, the polar region is confined to the Arctic so there is not the confusion of polar bears and penguins on the same page.  

As well as being a comprehensive introduction to the world’s habitats so young readers can learn that there is more to this planet than their immediate surroundings, its strong conservation message can also lead to inquiries about the inhabitants of their local area and their protection and promotion; the impact of humans through the destruction of habitat, particularly deforestation;  the life cycles, needs and adaptation of creatures as their habitats change (such as described in Moth); and even individual responsibility and actions that could be taken to preserve what we have left. 

With the drought in eastern Australia drawing our attention to the land beyond the city environs, this is a great opportunity to have a look at the broader world and how it copes or doesn’t, and this would be an excellent introductory text. 

Puffin the Architect

Puffin the Architect

Puffin the Architect











Puffin the Architect

Kimberly Andrews

Puffin, 2018

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


Puffin the architect has designed some stunning homes for some fastidious clients, having to take into account their particular needs.  For instance, Platypus the baker’s riverbank home needed “lots of clever cupboards full of flour, salt and yeast” while Giraffe the gardener needed “a rolling outdoor tub on wheels for soaking aching necks”.

But her new clients are the most discerning and needy of all, for they are her own children and all they want is a puffin cottage. Can she deliver?

This is an intriguing, engaging and very clever book on as many levels as there are in Puffin’s designs. 

Firstly, all the illustrations of the different homes are presented as cross-sections, a technique which not only allows a peek inside to show all the details but which also appeals enormously to young readers who feel as though they are inside the house and can search for all the things in the text.  The text itself is also very clever as it builds through the story.  Each successive client wants what the previous clients have had – clever cupboards; furniture that folds away; a tunnel system; a pulley-operated rack; a skylight;, a rolling, outdoor paddling pool…  but also something extra specific to their needs. And so the text builds over each spread with each device then being customised to fit the client’s particular demands. And if that is not enough, it is all in rhyme making for an absorbing read that holds the reader’s attention.  What more could the pufflings actually want that their mother hasn’t already included in other designs?

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

With so much interest in designing and making and appraising the results as we encourage our students to be creative and think laterally, this is a book that could be used in so many ways within the curriculum.  Children could be encouraged to choose another creature and consider their needs so they could then design a home for them; they could investigate the purpose and construction of cross-sections and how to draw and label them; or they could explore other books where the text is cumulative.

Different, distinctive and  a valuable addition to your collection.

Splat the Fake Fact

Splat the Fake Fact!

Splat the Fake Fact









Splat the Fake Fact

Adam Frost

Gemma Correll

Bloomsbury, 2018

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


When it comes to free reading choices, young boys, particularly, tend to go for the non fiction titles about sharks, dinosaurs, motor vehicles and the Guinness Book of Records. They are fascinated by the world of the weird and wonderful that they can pore over and learn so much from in discussions with their friends as they examine the pictures even if they can’t read the text yet. They are laying their foundations of the basic concepts of information literacy but their interest is driven by the illustration rather than a need for specific information.

Splat the Fake Fact takes this interest up a notch, encouraging the reader to actually think about what they are being told, discover the correct answer through some research and then do something about it.  On every page there are incredible, hilarious, unlikely facts that are completely true… and one fact that isn’t!  The reader is invited to find the imposter fact and reveal it before it goes out into the world – and then take some action like scribbling on them, lasering them, drawing silly hats or crossing them out.While that might not be the recommended action for a community library book, nevertheless the combination of humour and cartoon presentation will engage young readers into understanding that not everything they read is true; that there is real “fake news” and the need to verify what they see and hear through some basic research.

While this would make an ideal read for that young person moving on to independent reading and research, it could also have a place in information literacy levels with each page being a jump start for an aspect of the information literacy process.  Starting with “What do we already know?” and “What more do we need to know?” and “Where could we find that information?” students can be led on that journey of lifelong learning, developing those core concepts in a way that connects to the interests of the age group.  

While many teachers like to use websites like Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus to have students to learn to test what they are reading and evaluate the validity of it, Splat the Fake Fact is a  few steps before this with its accessible language, funky illustrations, and graphic layout.  Each fake fact is identified, often in another crazy puzzle that requires more learning to decipher, but more complete explanations are given at the end of the book.  

Some students might even like to use the puzzles as models to create their own fake facts, setting up a weekly challenge for library users to investigate, learning to use the library’s resources as they do.

What looks like a book that might be used as a child’s Christmas stocking stuffer, might just be the best investment you make in your library collection this year!!!


When I’m Older

When I'm Older

When I’m Older









When I’m Older

Isa & Neil Flory

Somak Chaudhary

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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


Speculating about what a little one might become when they are older is a perennial topic, but if you are a lump of blue clay then the possibilities are endless.

I can be a head, I can be a bed, I can be a crocodile playing dead!.

From the creator of The Short Giraffeand using rhyme and rhythm which will capture the ear of the very young listener, this is a clever story that can spark conversations as, in so many ways, very young children are just like the lump of clay waiting to be moulded by nurture and nature.  The use of clay as the starting point is very clever as not only is it flexible, pliable and malleable into shapes depending on whose hands are on it, it can also be returned to its original form, to its core of who/what it is and in this case, being happy with that.

Clay also makes the illustrations so credible as this strange lump changes so readily and have a Gumby-like character (for those of us old enough to remember him.)


It also offers little ones the opportunity to get some hands-on experience and mould their own clay/plasticene/playdough into their dreams for the future, perhaps even making a rhyming sequence like one from the book as an introduction to playing with the sounds of our language. (ACELA1438, ACELA1439, ACELT1785, ACELT1579 & ACELT1580) 

Who would have thought such a seemingly simple book would have me quoting Australian Curriculum outcomes?????  But it shows that this is more than just for preschoolers – imagine its power for those learning English as a new language or even producing a stop-go animation of a group or class book!  

Picture books are for everyone!

What’s That There?

What's That There?

What’s That There?









What’s That There?

Ros Moriarty


Allen & Unwin, 2017 

24pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Australia is more than a landscape of endless red plains and grey-green gum trees, and in this vividly illustrated book younger readers are encouraged to look more closely at the landscape around them.

Using a predictable text pattern of both question and answer and repetition, the reader is invited to examine the bird’s-eye view of the landscape and engage with the illustrations to identify what it is the bird sees.

What’s that there?

“That’s the rushing river’s curly bend,” cries the sea eagle perched on a swaying, knotted branch. “There, look!”

And in stunning pictures, based on traditional Aboriginal designs and created by Balarinji established by the author and her husband, the astute young reader can indeed pick out the river winding through and the sea eagle from its on-high perch.  Or the hawk soaring over the “cliff face sharp with sun-scorched stones glinting”. Or “the dry, cracked billabong sleeping”  that the stick-bug clinging to the peeling tree bark sees.

As well as being a celebration of the country and its creatures, the poetic text and the stunning illustrations introduce landscapes that may be familiar but but are unseen as we race through life, not pausing to see things through artistic or linguistic eyes, Not only does it encourage us to slow down and think about what we are seeing, it also offers a different perspective.  What do the tops of the grey-green bush look like to the magpies, currawongs and crimson rosellas that are always flying over and around my house? What do they make of the dun coloured, drought-affected grasses that stretch between the trees? 

Understanding and using the bird’s-eye view perspective where things are seen from above, often an unfamiliar angle for our little ones, is a difficult concept to grasp and yet it is an essential skill of mapping and “unplugged coding” so this book is an intriguing way of introducing them to that concept, perhaps even challenging them to try their hand at interpreting their own surroundings from such a perspective. 

 For those who want to explore a different aspect, there is a translation of the English into the Yanyuwa language (spoken in families in Borroloola , NT) at the end which not only allows the young readers of those families to see and read stories in their own language as part of the author’s Indi Kindi initiative but also demonstrates that not everyone speaks English as their first language offering the opportunity to explore the languages spoken by classmates and families and celebrate the value of that first language.  

For a seemingly simple, 24 page book there is so much packed into this, it is a must-have in your collection.

More artwork created by Balarinji

More artwork created by Balarinji

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids










Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

John Miller

Chris Fornell Scott

Quarry Books, 2018

144pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99


Apparently, 74 million people play Minecraft each month, one of those is Miss 12 who is now hooked on coding, and many of whom are in schools where the game is being used in many scenarios as part of the everyday learning experience.  For some time, the teacher librarian networks I belong to have been peppered with queries about how it can best be used and so a book that specifically focuses on its use in the science, technology, maths and engineering strands will be of great value to teachers whose students are clamouring for these sorts of experiences but whose personal knowledge and skills of the game are not as developed as those of those they teach.

Beginning with a thorough explanation of what Minecraft is, how it works, how it can be used and played and purchased so that parents and teachers understand its value both in school and beyond – the book’s focus is ‘to connect the Minecraft player(s) in their life with STEM learning…to help bridge the gap between game-play and engaging STEM concepts” –  it moves on to six themed quests, each of which presents four labs, which, in turn, have two parts – an out-of-game activity that requires hands-on exploration and an in-game building and crafting activity.

Quest 1: Pistons, Rails, and Redstone
Quest 2: Construction Zone
Quest 3: The Sky is Not Your Limit
Quest 4: Rocks, Minerals, and Gems
Quest 5: Cycles in Science
Quest 6: Engineering Challenge

In terms of the quality of content, Miss 12 would probably be a better reviewer than I, but in her absence, this review by a Minecraft expert suggests that it is “outstanding” and gives a comprehensive tour of the contents and layout.  The credentials of the authors also convince me of its authority. However, as a non-Minecraft person who wears a teacher’s hat, it would seem to me to be the perfect tool to not only capture an audience who prefer gaming to reading but also to use its user-friendliness to explore things not necessarily intellectually or physically in the teacher’s toolbox.  Added to that is this article which shows that onscreen adventures are leading children to discover their origins in print.  

I’m beginning to see what all the conversations have been about and why there is such excitement about this game that demands so much more of the student than pressing buttons or manipulating levers.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…


We Wear Pants

We Wear Pants

We Wear Pants










We Wear Pants

Katie Abey

Bloomsbury, 2018

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


When animals wear clothing you get some hilarious results and when you combine the visuals with speech bubble comments, the result is a crazy, funny book about the different types of clothes we wear and the importance of getting dressed. There are 35 main characters that appear on every spread so children will learn to find their favourites, as well as looking out for hilarious guest animal appearances all wearing a variety of clothing items.

Captions encourage them to search for various items, particularly the eccentric monkey who just does not conform. The diversity of activities involving spotting, choosing, counting and decision-making ensures the child engages with the illustrations, such a critical part of early reading behaviour.

One that will become a favourite as there is something new to discover with each visit.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…


How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering











How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

DK Children’s, 2018

320pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00


As soon as our little ones begin their formal education in preschool (or its equivalent) they start to engage with STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – as they participate in all sorts of activities that have one of these critical areas as their foundation.  And, as is normal with inquisitive minds, questions beget answers which just pose more questions so in this one volume, DK have tried to address the key areas of early science and not only provide some answers but also offer things to try that will open up new worlds.

Beginning with an introductory section which looks at how science works and how to work scientifically by making an observation, forming an hypotheses, carrying out an experiment, collecting data, analysing the results and then repeating the experiment to test the validity of the results it then takes readers through the main facets of science -life, matter, energy, forces, and Earth & Space. Using the typical DK layout of small pieces of information, clarity of language in the explanation and  hundreds of easily-understood diagrams which serve as models for how students can showcase their own work,, this becomes a ready reference book for budding young scientists that will support learning, answer questions and inspire more.  

As usual, there is an informative glossary for those needing a quick explanation and a comprehensive index so desired topics are found easily. 

Perfect for both the home and school libraries. 

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let's Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z









Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Rhonda Gowler Greene

Daniel Kirk

Bloomsbury, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Need to get from here to there?

We can take you – anywhere!

On land or track, in air or sea,

we’re transportation – A to Z.

A cast of quirky animals takes readers for a fun ride on all sorts of vehicles – some familiar, some not-so – in this rollicking rhyme about things that go.  Rather than the typical alphabet book of matching letters and pictures, this one has a rhyme full of information about each vehicle that is presented by the vehicle itself.  Each vehicle is ‘driven’ by a creature whose name starts with the same letter as the transport – the koala and kangaroo are in charge of the kayak – so young readers will have fun, and perhaps be challenged by, naming the drivers (and passengers) while also finding other items beginning with the same letter in the illustrations.  The endpapers are a treat offering the entire alphabet on a large truck so little ones can test their knowledge while the last page is a surprise!

They can begin early classification activities by sorting the vehicles into land, sea or air or even by the way they are propelled. perhaps suggesting others that are not featured in the book.  Or they might start with the creatures they know and make suggestions about the mode of transport they would be in charge of.

Despite its slightly American bias (which most young readers just accept anyway), this is an enjoyable read that will have early readers returning to again and again as not only is there something new to find each time which encourages attention to the detail in the pictures, but it allows them to read it for themselves without an adult present – a critical aspect of early reading behaviour that instils confidence and an expectation of success. 

A book that offers so much more than it first appears – if you have early readers or those learning English as another language, it would be a worthwhile investment.

There’s a Dragon in Your Book

There's a Dragon In Your Book

There’s a Dragon In Your Book











There’s a Dragon In Your Book

Tom Fletcher

Greg Abbott

Puffin, 2018 

32pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99



There’s an egg in your book!

It looks ready to hatch.

Whatever you do, don’t turn the page…

With such an intriguing introduction of course you are going to page – I can’t believe you did that! – and suddenly there is a dragon in your book.  A baby dragon who, when her nose is tickled at the author’s invitation, sneezes and sets fire to the book!  Oh no!  How are we going to get the fire out?

This is the most charming, fun, interactive book for little people that I’ve seen for a while.  The conversation between the author and the reader immediately invites the child to interact, use their imagination and just delight in this story that celebrates everything that is fun and enjoyable about books and reading, reinforcing their understanding that reading is something pleasurable to do.  

The saying on one of my Storybook Cushions is “Dragons breathe fire and magic into stories” and this one certainly does – but in the nicest way with child-friendly illustrations that depict a happy baby dragon that will not frighten little listeners before bed. 

Interactive, imaginative and fun – what more do little people need in a story?