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Lego Animal Atlas

Lego Animal Atlas

Lego Animal Atlas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lego Animal Atlas

Rona Skene

DK, 2018

78pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241316573

No matter which part of the planet you live in, there will be fascinating and unique creatures to see and learn about.  From the blue-ringed octopus of Australia to guanaco of South America to the addax of Africa each continent and each habitat within that continent is populated with wildlife, familiar and not-so. In this new book from master children’s publishers DK< young readers are not only introduced  to these creatures but are also provided with the Lego blocks to start constructing some of them.

Beginning with building instructions for a mini giraffe, panda, penguin and kangaroo for which the blocks are provided, suggestions are then made for making body parts like noses, eyes, teeth and beaks using the reader’s own collection of bricks. And if the reader doesn’t have them, they are encouraged to use their imaginations to substitute what they do have.   There are tips on how and what to build with the emphasis on the fun of building rather than a perfect product. 

Readers are then introduced to the world’s major habitats and continents and the unique species of each.  As well as the clear photos and tips and tricks that will inspire building there is also a ‘model map’ with  a colour-coded key designating the different bricks used for each habitat.  So as well as making the unique creatures of Australasia, for instance, these can also be placed on a map base to show where they are found. 

Of course it wouldn’t be DK without lots of tidbits of interesting information about the creatures backed up with a comprehensive glossary and index which support the child’s information literacy development.  Learning is definitely fun! Because there are no step by step instructions for making the creatures apart from those for the giraffe, panda, penguin and kangaroo, just the clear photos and some suggestions for the trickier bits, challenging children to create their own instructions for a particular model using step-by-step photos using those initial instructions as an example would provide an authentic learning experience that would definitely stretch their skills, demonstrate their knowledge and be fun!

This would be a wonderful addition to those with makerspaces but because of the small parts provided it is only suitable for those over 6. 

Square

Square

Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Square

Mac Barnett

Jon Klassen

Walker Books, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406378658

Each day, Square goes deep into his secret cave and takes a block from the pile below the ground, pushes it up all the stairs and out of the cave and stacks it on the other squares he has already made into a pile on the top of the hill.  Circle, whom Square thinks is perfect, admires his work so much and uses words like “sculptor” and “genius” and demands that Square makes a sculpture of her. 

But it is very difficult to make a square into a perfect circle and while he tries very hard, all he ends up with is rubble.  As the rain tumbles down and day turns to night, he continues to chip away until he finally falls asleep.  Despairing that he will have let his friend Circle down,. Square dreads her visit but then…

We first met Square in the initial book in this series, Triangle, and once again Barnett and Klassen have crafted an intriguing tale with few words and evocative monochromatic pictures. Being able to convey emotions, expressions and  exchanges through the use of basic shapes and eyeballs is a gift and the reader is encouraged to look closely at the illustrations to absorb all that is going on in the interactions between Square and Circle, and the internal battle Square ends up having.

And, as with Triangle,   the story takes the reader beyond the maths concepts of shape recognition and into the realm of philosophy.  What is perfection?  Is it achievable? It is OK for things to be less than perfect if we have given it our best shot?  Those children in our classes who are afraid to to start something in case it is not perfect on the first attempt or giving up in tears, frustration and even anger might draw comfort from Square’s persistence and perseverance and also understand that “perfect” has a different meaning for everyone. There could also be discussions about whether Circle’s expectations were reasonable – just because we are good at one thing, does that make us good at another?

Lots to ponder as we await the third in the trilogy, no doubt focusing on the perfect Circle.

 

 

Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Builds a Nest

Martin Jenkins

Richard Jones

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781406355130

It’s time for Bird to build a nest, but before she can begin she needs to find some food to give her the energy for the hard work ahead.  But the first worm she finds is very large and juicy, and no matter how hard she pulls, she is not strong enough to pull it from the ground because it is pulling back.  When she finally does get something in her tummy, she sets off to look for twigs – but some are too heavy or too long and she can’t carry them.  

And so the story continues until her nest is built with successes and failures as she goes – and each one explained in simple language to teach young readers the very basics of the physics of forces. Physics is a hard topic to understand because so much of it is invisible and requires the sort of abstract thinking that little ones are not able to do readily, so starting with a context such as this and using simple language is a brilliant idea.  The story is followed by an experiment using ping pong balls and modelling clay but no explanation is given to clarify the results.  

While the illustrations mirror the text to provide a greater understanding, they are in a muted, retro palette that may not catch the eye or interest of young readers.  Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing as part of the early childhood STEM curriculum simply because it makes the tricky concepts of force and pushing and pulling so explicit.  However, it might be worth having some props on hand so the children can try things for themselves as they learn that size and weight do matter. 

This is a companion to Fox in the Night which examines the phenomenon of light.  Putting physics into the everyday world of the young reader through stories about common events is a wonderful way to pique and satisfy their curiosity, encourage them to explore further and ask more questions and seek their answers. 

While not directly related to this book, there are several video clips available that will help explain the concepts as well as TLF resources  R10729 and L7879 available via Scootle

Bobo & Co

Bobo & Co

Bobo & Co

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites

9781408880500

Shapes
9781408880517

Nicola Killen

Bloomsbury, 2018

10pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

In the latest in the Bobo series,  Bobo the panda and his friends, Snap the crocodile, Riff the giraffe and the rest of the gang continue to introduce preschoolers to common concepts in this enjoyable and engaging  lift-the-flap first concepts series.

This time, in Opposites Bobo the Panda and his friends are playing and as they do so they explore common antonyms like in and out, fast and slow; while in Shapes it’s Bobo’s birthday and all his presents have distinctive but familiar shapes.

While most board books focusing on these concepts for the very young usually feature pages that are disconnected, the continuity of a story throughout makes these appealing and helps little ones realise that books are more than just pictures with labels.  The lift-the-flap format makes them interactive as well as encouraging the child to predict what might come next.

Little Fish (series)

Little Fish

Little Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Little Fish?

9781406374186

Count with Little Fish

 9781406374193

Lucy Cousins

Walker Books, 2018

22pp., board book, RRP $A11.99

Little Fish is the new creation from the creator of Maisy and in these two new releases very young readers will love to lift the flaps to discover where he is hiding and then to count to 18 as he introduces all his fishy friends.  

With bright bold pictures full of colour, pattern and detail that encourage exploration, little ones will enjoy following his adventures and practise their early reading behaviour as they will soon be telling themselves the stories independently with these just-right-for-little-hands books, sturdy enough to endure toddler trials. 

Cousins has proven through her many publications for littlies that she knows just what attracts them and this new series is no exception.

Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hickory Dickory Dash

Tony Wilson

Laura Wood

Scholastic Press, 2018

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

9781743811160

Mother Mouse  – the one in the rhyme, the one that climbed the clock at one, then ran back down – is frantic with worry and in a desperate hurry to find her two bold sons.  They had been playing outside in the moonlight when the cat pounced quite unannounced and they scarpered for safety.  Now  Mother Mouse is searching the house for them with the cat hot on her tail.

Where can they be?  They are not in the playroom or the kitchen; not the pantry or the garage or even the backyard.  Every room in the house is visited in this desperate dash,  as wherever she searches the cat is there, ready to pounce but being bamboozled each time  either by mouse savvy, swiftness or circumstance.  

Finally, exhausted and sobbing after two hours of searching, Mother Mouse sits on the verandah almost without hope – and then she has an idea…

Even if this hadn’t been selected for the 2018 National Simultaneous Storytime  it would have been an automatic hit with a wide range of readers.  As with his first book, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon Wilson has drawn on a familiar nursery rhyme and given it new life with his own twist and message of perseverance and the lengths a parent goes to for the love of their children. Clever rhymes move the story along at a dashing pace and with the cat in hot pursuit, the reader wonders if this will have a happy ending.  As well as the suspense there is also humour – the cat’s fate in the nursery will produce a LOL moment- as each time Mother Mouse narrowly escapes a horrible fate.  Laura Woods’ illustrations  use so many different perspectives  that we can feel Mother Mouse’s fear as well as using light and shade cleverly to bring the house at midnight alive and  put critical elements in focus. 

Suggestions for using the story as part of NSS 2018 are available but as May 23 draws closer there are bound to be more and more available as it lends itself to many facets of the curriculum, including maths.  But even without formal curriculum-related activities, this is just a rollicking read that is likely to become raucous as the children are drawn into to its almost vaudeville-like humour.  Watch out, Mother Mouse!

 

Fox in the Night

Fox in the Night

Fox in the Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox in the Night

Martin Jenkins

Richard Smythe    

Walker Books, 2017

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

9781406355154

Fox is hungry so she emerges from her dark den to look for food only to find it is still daylight outside. (It’s dark in Fox’s den because the daylight doesn’t reach inside.) When she does finally emerge, it is night and she is even hungrier and so she ventures into the nearby town in search of dinner.  There she is helped by all sorts of light sources to find what she needs – and to escape!

Science surrounds us – it is not limited to people in white coats in sterile laboratories that television news crews choose to use to report breakthroughs and in this story very young readers will not only enjoy Fox’s adventure but also learn about light, why it is important and where it comes from as there are simple explanations that match the storyline on each page. It also includes an index, bibliography and extra questions and experiments to get young readers thinking about the science behind the story and for them to explore further – a perfect parent-child activity to do together. It suggests  that the child compares the length of their shadow over a couple of hours and this is a great activity to do with a class if you get them to trace each other’s shadow in chalk in the morning, noon and afternoon.  Teaches them so much about the sun’s path as well as measurement.

This is the first in a new series from Walker and I look forward to many more.  

Taller and Shorter

That's Not My Taller and Shorter

That’s Not My Taller and Shorter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taller and Shorter

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2017

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 9781474928922

One of the trickiest maths concepts for the very young to grasp is that of conservation – that a group of three is three no matter how it is arranged or a 10cm stick is still a 10cm stick even if it’s moved or turned.  It’s a part of the maturation process but once understood then it is a natural progression to compare things and learn words like taller, shorter, smaller, larger, longer and so on.  Little books like this one are an essential part of the process of both the understanding and the development of the vocabulary.

Beginning with a little mouse floating in a life ring on the pond, it compares the height of a number of different creatures each taller than its predecessor.  With cutouts to peer through and a progression that emphasises the left-to-right nature of text, it introduces the very young to a wide variety of creatures in bright unfussy pictures culminating in a fun fold-out that introduces the tallest of all.

Little ones will have fun predicting what might be next in the chain as they share their knowledge of the world around them and comparing themselves to those things around them. Try to access What is Big? in Sounds of Numbers   by Bill Martin Jr for lots more fun and teach them words like ginormous and humongous and all those other superlatives that littlies like to use!  Make maths fun!

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Creatures

Matt Sewell

Pavilion, 2017

96pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781843653509

If there is one section of the library that can never have too many items, it is 567.9 – the home of the dinosaurs.  There seems to be an eternal fascination with these long-ago creatures that has been the door into reading for so many children, particularly young boys who like to get the biggest and thickest books and pore over them with their mates.

So this new addition by Matt Sewell that introduces favourites and familiars and also some first-read-abouts will be welcome as it is targeted at those who want to know something but not so much that it is overwhelming. Who knew there were so many – but then they were on the planet for 170 million years! Each creature has a one or two page spread dominated by the illustration, an illustration that is somewhat different from the norm as they have been inspired by new ideas from palaeontologists that the creatures were not only colourful but some may have had feathers rather than the traditional scales and hide.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Each entry includes the length and weight which can always lead to some interesting maths activities and well as the time period (delve into history and create a chart) and their diet with ‘proper’ descriptors like ‘carnivorous’ to extend the vocabulary.  There are other basic facts written in a conversational tone that makes the language accessible to those early readers. Given that not every dinosaur is included, perhaps they could produce an extra page exploring and explaining their favourite dinosaur as an initial information literacy exercise.

Produced in conjunction with the Natural History Museum in the UK. this is a worthwhile addition to that critical section of the collection.

Soon

Soon

Soon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon

Jessica Love

Echo Books, 2015

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

9780994232397

My dad is leaving soon.

He is going to another country to help keep other families safe.

Soon is coming too fast…

It is Christmas today.

My dad is still gone. I am sad.  Christmas feels strange without him… but soon is getting closer.

Time is such an abstract concept for young children to grasp that adults usually resort to the seemingly innocuous “soon” when asked, “How long till…?”

But soon can seem to be a long time when you’re young, seemingly meaning  “forever” when it stretches over birthdays, Christmas and Easter, and almost touches “Never!” When creator Jess Love’s dad was deployed overseas with the Australian Defence Forces, she became one of many children, including my own grandchildren, who measured the concept of “soon” in special days, events and activities missed.  Even letters, emails and phone calls become bittersweet because while it is great to catch up, it just makes the pain of missing even more acute and “soon” seems just as far away as it ever was.  Even knowing the absence is because someone else is being helped doesn’t really register with littlies because they want their daddy or mummy there to help them.

The predecessor to Sometimes   young author Jessica has articulated and illustrated the innermost feelings of any child missing a loved one who is absent for whatever reason, not just overseas deployment.  While the adults in their lives can understand calendars and do mental countdowns and fill their days, young children have to be satisfied with “soon” and it can be confusing.  Is it a long time, getting closer, almost here, or taking too long? And for some it can mean feeling bereft or even abandoned.

This is an important book for parents to know about so they can understand that “soon” isn’t enough in times of extended absence; that while their child might seem to understand time it can be confusing and there needs to be some sort of mechanism that help them have a picture of what “soon” means such as a calendar to cross off the days or the number of sleeps left; something that helps them realise that “soon” will come and it will happen. 

For the children of those in the Defence Forces or other professions that entail long absences, it is important for them to know that their feelings are real, shared and validated and that “soon” will come eventually. While crossing dates off a calendar might seem pointless and endless, perhaps instead of marking special things missed, they can set themselves a goal to achieve before “soon” happens.  Riding their bike, playing a tricky tune on the piano, knitting a jumper, achieving the next level in a sport – whatever is their passion can become their driving force for making “soon” hurry up. And even though it seems that it is dragging its feet, it eventually does arrive.

As teachers there is much that we can do to acknowledge the anxiety, help the understanding of time by making the countdown the kickstart for a series of lessons about how humans have measured time over millennia and make “soon” become “now”.

Another important addition to  our mindfulness toolboxes and collections.