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Living In Space

Living In Space

Living In Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living In Space

Lucy Bowman & Abigail Wheatley

Rafael Mayani

Usborne, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99

 9781474921831

With the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon approaching on July 20; the loss of the Mars Rover  after 15 years; and the Chinese landing a probe on the dark side of the moon space happenings are taking a prominent place in news bulletins this year and young minds start to think about what life in space might be like – something that is a distinct possibility for them.

Living In Space is from the Usborne Beginners series, a collection that is ideal for young readers to explore topics of interest as they are written in accessible language with lots of photographs and illustrations and supported by all the key cues and clues to support their independence in information literacy such as a contents page, index and glossary.  In it, they can learn about what it is like to work, eat and sleep in space with enough information to satisfy their initial curiosity and this, in turn, is supported by links to specifically chosen websites that will tell them more.  And if they want to learn about other aspects of space, they can search the Usborne Quicklinks site for “space” and find books and links to whatever they are curious about.

Up-to-date, easy-to-access and an in-demand topic make this a valuable addition to a collection that will get a lot of focus this year. 

 

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth

Kate Gardner

Heidi Smith   

HarperCollins US, 2019

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

9780062741615

Spiders are creepy.
Porcupines are scary.
Bats are ugly.

Or are they . . .

This captivating book invites you to look beyond your first impressions at these awe-inspiring animals in the wild. On each page is an exquisite pencil illustration of a common creature that usually inspires an emotion in the viewer accompanied by a one word description that fits that emotion.  But when you turn the page, there is an equally exquisite but different picture of the same creature, this time with a few lines about its uniqueness that shows a completely different side to it. 

For example, sharks, particularly the great white, can shivers up the spines of those who like to swim in the ocean yet without them at the top of the food chain, the entire marine ecosystem would collapse.  Similarly, bats eat many insects – up to 8000 mosquitoes in a night – thus controlling the populations.

Something a little different to encourage us to look beyond the first impression and the reputation…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Rose Hall

Lee Cosgrove

Usborne, 2018

16pp., hbk, RRP $A19.99

9781474943659

“Engineering is not just about engines.  Engineering means designing, testing and making all kinds of useful things .  To do this, engineers use mathematics, science, and -above all- their imaginations.”

Engineers work in teams to solve puzzles, whether the puzzle is big or small.  They follow a series of steps including 

  • asking questions to ensure they understand the problem
  • imagining possible solutions  by letting their brains go wild 
  • making detailed designs of their ideas
  • making models to test their ideas
  • having  the final version built and checking it carefully.

Not so long ago primary students had “art and craft” lessons in which they usually followed a set of instructions to create a cookie-cutter model of something their teacher had decided would be appropriate for the current theme or unit of work.  Then, in the 80s with the launch of the National Profiles, technology became a recognised key learning area and the strand of “design, make and appraise” gave students more freedom to imagine solutions to set problems and actually trial their thoughts,  In those days, engineering was still viewed as a subject for university level.  But with the advance of computers and computing and inventions like the internet came a realisation that university was too late to start that sort of thinking and now we have a real focus on “STEM subjects” – science, maths, engineering and technology – and with it, a growing understanding of how integrated all the disciplines are.  They are no and can not be stand-alone slots in a timetable. And now, with the rise of “makerspaces”, even our youngest children are involved in engineering on a daily basis.

While this is a “lift-the-flap” book it is a sophisticated one like others in the Usborne collection, providing explanations and answers in an interactive format that engages the reader and offers easy-to understand text within a myriad of diagrams.  Things typically associated with engineering like aircraft, rockets and robots are explored but so are more everyday things like bicycles,    solar panels and sounds.

Highly recommended for your STEM collection. 

 

Little People, Big Dreams (series)

Little People, Big Dreams

Little People, Big Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little People, Big Dreams (series)

Muhammad Ali

9781786037336

Stephen Hawking

9781786037329

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2019

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

New to the Little People, Big Dreams series, young readers can delve into the lives of these two men who, in their own unique ways, made such a contribution to the world of sport and science respectively. Presented in a picture book format and focusing on the childhood events that shaped their future decisions and success, the series is an excellent introduction to the biography genre.

As a child, young Cassius Clay had his bike stolen. He wanted to fight whoever stole his bike, but a police officer told him to control his anger, and learn how to box. After training hard in the gym, Cassius developed a strong hook and a stronger work ethic. His smart thinking and talking, inside and outside the ring, earned him the greatest title in boxing: Heavyweight Champion of the World while Stephen used to look up at the stars and wonder what else was out there. After gaining his education at Oxford University, Stephen went on to make a groundbreaking discovery to do with black holes: Hawking radiation. Although his health was declining due to MS, Stephen was more determined than ever to study and share his findings with the world. With his trademark voice and wit, Stephen brought science to everyone and became loved around the world.

Rather than a dry book of facts and figures, this series is intended to show our young students that even the most famous people came from ordinary beginnings, often similar to their own, and that it was a dream and the perseverance, determination and resilience to chase it that made the difference.  Perhaps they, too, have such a dream and with such inspiration could one day find themselves being in a series such as tis.

 

 

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.

Australian Birds

Australian Birds

Australian Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Birds

Matt Chun

Little Hare, 2018

36pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760502003

It took millions of years of isolation and a diverse range of habitats for Australian birds to evolve the way they did. The result is many of the world’s most striking and beautiful birds, including some that are stranger than fiction. In Australian Birds,  artist Matt Chun showcases 16 remarkable species that have captured the imagination of the world. 

This is a beautifully crafted book, superbly illustrated with great attention to detail and colour, which is the perfect introduction to Australia’s unique birdlife. Each of the birds featured is one that will be well-known to many of our students because it will be a part of their environment, but at the same time, will be new to others who live in a different part of the country.  Living in the bush as I do, I’m privileged to see lots of varieties on a daily basis, whether it’s the little finches who have just raised a family in their little nest in the honeysuckle outside my window, to the magpie family who bring their babies down to feed and learn each year, the cheeky crimson rosellas who delight in splashing in the birdbaths we have around or the raucous kookaburras who are better than any alarm clock.

Children will delight in telling you which ones they already recognise, while it would serve as a wonderful resource to start identifying,  spotting and tallying the species and numbers of birds found in your school playground throughout the various seasons and investigate ways that it could be made more bird friendly, perhaps even being involved in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count in October this year.  

 

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….

100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding

Alice James

Usborne, 2018

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474942997

Did you know that out of 30 million emails sent in the time it takes to tread this line, 20 million of them will be spam?

That a champion mathlete can add ten 10-digit numbers in their head in 13 seconds?

The first computer game for two players was based on playing tennis and was created over 60 years ago?

These are just some of the interesting facts that are shared and explained in this fascinating new book from Usborne that is so easy to explore, navigate and read.

Way back when, in a time when I did not teach maths well and avoided it if I could, I was presented with a class of eight-year-olds who were as turned off the subject as I was.  In the days when text books and workbooks were the norm and the curriculum comprised going through said books which were cheaply produced, unattractive and unappealing, it was no wonder that those for whom maths was a mystery were not enthused to participate.  However, I was a successful “language arts” teacher and so in the interests of my students, I had to invigorate my interest and so I examined what I did well in my whole language classroom and translate it into a whole maths classroom.  By the end of the year, we were all thriving, I’d written many articles about my approach and even had several book contracts lined up!

The secret was to show the kids how maths related to their everyday lives, in both overt and obscure ways so that it became apparent that it permeates everything we do.  We started with a focus question of “What would we do without numbers?” and delved into the history of number and so on, and things just flew from there. This book, 100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding would have been a godsend in those days as even though its focus is computing and coding, there is enough in it to build a lesson a day for almost an entire school year and that doesn’t include the offshoot investigations that would take you off on a tangent! I can envisage those eight-year-olds of 30 years ago pouring over it!

There are often queries to teacher librarian forums about how to engage with the maths teachers to show that the library offers them something, and the usual answers of teaching the Dewey Decimal System pop up, but imagine the interest there would be if you shared a fact a day and invited explorations as part of your library displays!  Those who see libraries as being about books and reading and therefore not for them would be engaged and their learning could go off in any direction, while not even realising they are engaging with reading, books and information literacy.  Sort of like hiding vegetables in cakes.

Don’t buy this book and hide it away in the 004 section.  Buy it and use it as the basis to turn students’ attitudes towards maths, computing and coding into something positive!

Fiona The Hippo

Fiona The Hippo

Fiona The Hippo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiona The Hippo

Richard Cowdrey

Zonderkidz, 2018

30pp., board book, RRP $A13.99

9780310766360

On January 24, 2017 a baby hippo was born six weeks premature at Cincinnati Zoo, the first born there for 75 years.  With a birth weight of just 13kg compared to the normal 25-54 kg she was cared for by zoo staff with the help of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, being bottle fed with milk from her mother supplemented by baby formula.  Named after the Shrek heroine, Fiona had to be strong enough to learn to walk and swim and so she was kept separate from both her parents Bibi and Henry as well as the other zoo animals. Even though she was not expected to live, Fiona showed remarkable resilience and by the time she was six months old she was her expected weight and able to join her parents and the other zoo animals.

In this endearing book, Richard Cowdrey has retold Fiona’s early days with humour and stunning illustrations, repeatedly referring to her tenacity with the phrase, “I’ve got this!”  As well as introducing her to an even wider audience than the Internet sensation she became, there is also a thread of courage, determination and perseverance that might inspire others, including adults, facing difficulties to keep going, one step at a time.

Today is her second birthday – no doubt she is there ready to blow out her candles.

 

 

The Extraordinary Life of …(series)

The Extraordinary Life of ...(series)

The Extraordinary Life of …(series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Extraordinary Life of …(series)

Michelle Obama

Dr Sheila Kanani

9780241372739

Malala Yousafzai

Rita Petralucci

9780241372753

Stephen Hawking

Esther Mols

9780241373927

Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Stephen Hawking …all contemporary heroes who have contributed much more than the average person to making the world a better place and who are the three initial subjects of a new series from Puffin called The Extraordinary Life of…  To be joined in June by Neil Armstrong, Anne Frank and Katherine Johnson, then later in the year by Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole,  this is a new series of biographies for young independent readers introducing them to those who have shaped their world.

Done with a monochromatic theme with lots of line drawings it combines the essential information of each person’s life with significant quotes that encapsulate their philosophy for doing what they do. 

“When someone takes away your pens you realize quite how important education is”.  Malala Yousafzai

“You too can reach your dreams and then your job is to reach back and to help someone just like you, do the same thing. ”  Michelle Obama

“I am happy if I have added something to the understanding of our universe. ” Stephen Hawking.

Three different people doing different things but with a common philosophy that focuses on humanity as a whole.

Written in a style and format that fosters a desire to continue reading rather than dipping and delving to find facts, this series is a way to introduce young readers to biography as a genre and its focus on people whose names may well be familiar to the audience will draw in those who might not yet be aware of this type of non fiction. Thus they are not only learning about the person in focus but discovering a new genre that will open up new reading pathways and perhaps inspire them. While our collections abound with biographies, they might not appeal to young readers so a series that captures the current desire for short bursts of information presented in a non-traditional way deserves serious consideration for adding to your collection.