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Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Monsters

Sharon J. Yaxley

Forty South Publishing, 2019

46pp., hbk., $25.00

9780648168881

A walk along the beach is often characterised by the sound of the waves, the fresh air and the sheer exuberance of being able to move with such freedom as we pass rocks, seaweed and other detritus washed up by the tides. Being king of the castle, drawing pictures in the sand with sticks, feeling the texture of the sand and shells under our feet and the delight of beating the waves as they try to soak our clothes are just a few joys of this most pleasurable experience.

But what if we slowed down and took the time to look at what is there, to examine the shapes and colours and textures of the landscape? Where might our imaginations take us? Into a world of monsters or somewhere different?

Environmental activist David Suzuki says

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.

Author/photographer of this new book for young readers, Sharon Yaxley has used this quote to describe the concept of this remarkable book for young readers, to encourage them to look more closely at the things in their world and let those things talk to their imaginations.  Tails, tusks, dark eyes, sharp noses and jaws with jagged teeth are all there in the seaweed, driftwood, rocks, sand… and when the tide crashes in and the wind does its work, they change into something different.  Looking closely, thinking about the object’s story and the story it could inspire all help to slow the child down in this breakneck world, to be curious and spark their wonder.

Even if your students live nowhere near a beach, this can still be the inspiration to take them outside and let them immerse themselves in what is there and imagine… Let’s take the opportunity to connect our kids to the real world so they want to protect it too. Extensive teaching notes aligned to many strands of the Australian Curriculum are available. 

 

 

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

National Geographic Kids, 2019

24pp., board book,RRP $A14.99

9781426333149

Little people have endless questions about their world, once they begin to explore it, and the world of the night sky is particularly fascinating.  So this latest publication from Nat Geo Kids which explores the basics of the solar system with amazing photographs, super-simple facts, and lively, age-appropriate language is perfect to introduce the very youngest to what is out there and spark both  their curiosity and imagination.

So often the board book format is restricted to learning the alphabet, colours and counting or to simple stories, so to have non fiction available in a way that it will stand up to little hands is a bonus. Let them learn that they can learn from books as well as the screen.

Space on Earth

Space on Earth

Space on Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space on Earth

Dr Sheila Kanani

Alma Books 2019

1287pp., pbk., RRP $19.99

9781846884559

The 50th anniversary of man stepping on the moon and the declaration by President Trump that they will be back there by 2024 with NASA’s Project Artemis has again ignited the debate about the cost of space exploration and whether the money could be better spent back here on this planet. 

So the publication of this new book from Dr Sheila Kanani, a British astronomer with a particular interest in Saturn, is very timely because it examines how the discoveries in space have been translated back into everyday objects on Earth.  It is full of amazing facts about everyday innovations, from drills and dustbusters to bike helmets,  that have been inspired by space travel and includes sections on the people who brought them to us,

Divided into three sections – technology, health and fashion – it examines objects as diverse as baby blankets, artificial limbs and skiwear, examining how their development is related to space exploration as well as a short piece about the scientist who imagineered the development.

Intriguing and offering much food for thought that could spark further investigations. 

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

Laura Greaves

Puffin, 2019

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143796879

Dogs have been living with and helping humans for around fifteen thousand years. All those years ago dogs were either hunters or guardians, but these days, dogs can do all kinds of amazing jobs. Often our first thoughts about working dogs are those who are assistance dogs or those on farms working with cattle or sheep, perhaps even Oddball who protected a penguin sanctuary from fox attacks,  but in this collection the stories of over 30 dogs are told, each one different and unique.  There is Bailey the border collie became the Assistant Director of Seagulls at the Australian National Maritime Museum;  Caesar, the footy mascot for the Western Bulldogs;  Mr Walker who became a canine ambassador at a Melbourne hotel and Molly Polly, the Aussie silky terrier, who  saves lives.

Written for independent readers, each “biography” features a fact file that the reader can use to determine if this is a dog they want to read about today, and for those like Oscar  who have their own online presence , there are links to follow to find out more. While many of the dogs are Australian-based, the author has also included stories of dogs from other places like the Akaroa Dolphin dogs in New Zealand and Rowdy who is a vitiligo ambassador in the US. 

This is definitely a dip-and-delve book that will not only appeal to dog lovers, but perhaps also to reluctant readers who are still developing their skills because the chapters are short, it is non fiction and the subject is a universal one. Perhaps they could even add a chapter about a special dog they know.

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Everest

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Alexandra Stewart

Joe Todd-Stanton

Bloomsbury, 2019

64pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9781526600769

Prior to the lunar landing 50 years ago, climbing to the top of Everest was seen as perhaps the greatest physical feat that had been achieved.

In the late morning of May 29th 1953, the sun was shining brightly on the roof of the world, a gentle breeze was blowing and two men were there to witness it for the first time ever … Their names were Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and the roof of the world was Everest.

This is the breathtaking story of how two very different yet equally determined men battled frost-biting temperatures, tumbling ice rocks, powerful winds and death-defying ridges to climb the world’s highest mountain. Join these two unlikely heroes on the most amazing of adventures and discover the impact of hundreds of men and women that helped Hillary and Tenzing achieve their goal. But triumphs can be marred with tragedy as not everyone who climbs Everest survives …

With a  foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, this  book combines fresh and contemporary illustrations by Joe Todd-Stanton with Alexandra Stewart’s captivating writing and has been published to concide with the celebrations of f Edmund Hillary‘s birth in New Zealand on January 20, 1919. This unique narrative tells the story of how Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made their mark on the world from birth right up to their final days and the impact they’ve had on Nepal today.

Perhaps because Sir Edmund became a friend of my mother’s and once took her down Aoraki (Mt Cook in New Zealand) on the back of a skidoo so she could be home in time for my birthday, Everest has always held a fascination for me. So to learn about the story behind the climb that made him a household name at a time when New Zealand was not, has been a most fascinating read.

Something to capture the imagination of those who like their superheroes to be real.

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Ways to Make the World Better

Lisa M. Gerry

National Geographic Kids. 2019

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

9781426329975  

From something as manageable as forgiving someone or leaving a complimentary note in their locker to more complex ideas such as taking a First Aid class or letting your trash be someone else’s treasures, this is a small book full of big ideas about how to make the world a better place both physically and emotionally. 

With philosophy such as being the kind of friend you’d like to have and being inclusive, it covers personal issues that can help the individual be more calm, more mindful and more responsive to their world while also taking actions that can help shape the world into what they want it to be.   Ideas are presented as simple concepts with engaging graphics and photographs, and many are followed by detailed supporting information, including advice from Nat Geo explorers, interviews with experts and weird but true facts. readers can get a sense of their own power to make a difference and an understanding of what actions contribute to positive outcomes and how they can change things by themselves.

While journalling and personal challenges are becoming a popular way to have students focus on the positives and support their mental health, sometimes knowing where to start can be overwhelming so this could be used to guide that journey by having students set themselves the 100 tasks over the school year, and help them structure their progress that way as they work their way through them. They might also have spaces for another 20 ways they discover that are not mentioned in the book and these could be added to a class wall chart to inspire others to look more widely. 

While these sorts of books always inspire when you first pick them up, without accountability life can go back to routine quickly so offering ways to keep the ideas in focus and support the reader over time will not only help them, but also the adult offering that support. We can all make our world better. 

 

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children's Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Maps

Steve Evans

Collins/Times, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780008320324

In all my years of teaching (nearly half a century!) either as a classroom-based teacher or a teacher librarian, it has never ceased to amaze me how little ones are fascinated by maps and atlases and they pore over them for hours, dreaming dreams and making plans for the future.  I remember as a youngster spending endless hours with an atlas mapping out a route around the world that would take me to every capital city, and surprisingly (not) that atlas is now among my treasured possessions inherited from my wanderlust mum, (along with an amazing dictionary that got just as much attention!)

So there is no doubt that this new atlas for young children will have the same sort of fascination for your young readers. 

Designed to take children on a journey of discovery around the countries of the world, it begins with intriguing endpapers of the world’s wildlife and then plots a contents journey around the continents that is perfect for its target audience.  Funky, colourful illustrations  depict a range of themes of the iconic features of countries, building up a hankering to see these in real life when they are older.  Minimal text provides basic information and there are the usual non fiction features like an index to help them navigate their way through the book as well as around the world.

Guaranteed to provide hours of engagement and entertainment! 

Hey Baby!

Hey Baby!

Hey Baby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Baby!

Stephanie Warren Drimmer

National Geographic Kids, 2019

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

9781426329319

“In every corner of the Earth-from the Arctic to Australia, from ocean depths to mountain tops, from dry deserts to lush rain forests – tiny tots are learning to find their way in a big beautiful world.” 

But these are not human babies – they are animals of all shapes and sizes and each has its own life story, some more complex and demanding more attention than a human baby. Using the most stunning photos, this is a collection of pictures, poems, stories, folktales and information from Nature’s nursery that will introduce young readers to the diverse creatures of this planet. Grouped according to habitat such as mountains and plains, forest and streams, oceans and seas, each creature has a short fact box giving the name of the young, its home and its food as well as other information, and each section also has a Tot Lot which is a group of eight creatures with not quite so much detail but adding to the wonder of the variety of fauna that shares this planet with us.  Many have a story or even a classic poem to accompany them, such as The Legend of the Pink Dolphin or The Duck and the Kangaroo by Edward Lear to further engage the young reader as this is a book to be shared or read by an independent reader.

An investment in a child’s learning. 

 

 

Playing with Collage

Playing with Collage

Playing with Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing with Collage

Jeannie Baker

Walker Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406378665

On the surface, this looks like a how-to guide to creating illustrations using collage, a technique defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “A piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric on to a backing”.  Created by Jeannie Baker whose collage masterpieces have fascinated readers in all her works including Where the Forest Meets the Sea and Window, the reader is led through various sections that explore and explain such things as the tools to be used, the materials that lend themselves to being used and even a page that challenges the reader to identify a variety of those materials.

But to me, its power lies in its introduction. Ms Baker shares how even examining paint that has dried and weathered fascinated her, and how its cracks and layers told her so much about the story of the object it was adhered to.  Each was another story in its history and made her curious and she would carefully collect a piece to add to other pieces that would help tell a similar story. She finds the materials for her work everywhere, both natural and manmade, and she has become more and more observant of the things that make up this world and how they can be used together to create something new and equally wondrous.  And as she says, the purpose of the book is to inspire the reader to be and do the same – to look more closely, to discover “secrets and gems”, to think about them beyond their original purpose or state, and to create more and different magic with them.

As young children move through the natural stages of creating pictures, they get to one where their creation must be lifelike and when it doesn’t meet their expectations, that’s where their artistic abilities stall.  They are so dissatisfied with their efforts they tell themselves they can’t draw and the negative self-talk takes over.  But, as Ms Baker points out, “When you work in abstract, you don’t have to worry about how things ‘should’ be done -it allows for you to be far more creative and free. There are no right or wrong answers: nothing is ‘bad, just trust your instincts and PLAY!”

By offering the reader ideas for starting their own collage and sharing samples of her work by putting the individual found pieces into a pleasing arrangement, this book should kickstart those who have stalled off in a new direction, encouraging them to pay closer attention to the shapes, colours and textures of the world around them, as well as sending them back to Baker’s earlier works  to examine them in closer detail.

In the breakneck speed that our children seem to lead their lives, anything that gives them cause to pause, stop, look and wonder, perhaps even create, has to be a positive influence. There is tremendous scope to use this as the centrepiece of a group activity in the library, with children invited to bring in suitable materials and arrange them in interesting ways – rather like the group jigsaw but much more creative because there is no “right way.” Get started with the Teachers Resource Kit and worksheets.

She also talks to the ABC about her long career, her love of collage and her passion for the environment here.

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin's brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Libby Hathorn

Phil Lesnie

Lothian Children’s, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734417879

Imp is a wild child, roaming the paddocks of the farm where Miss Franklin is employed as governess to the Davis children. Disdained by them as a “real naughty girl” they have been warned by their mother to keep away from her, although Florrie has struck up a friendship of sorts, and dismissive of learning to read and write as a “waste of time”, nevertheless she continues to hang around the schoolhouse and gradually a trust builds between her and Miss Franklin.

Miss Franklin, who had taken the job to help her family out of financial difficulties, has bigger dreams than being a governess, and when she eventually confesses these to Imp, Imp gives her some advice that changes her path and her life forever.

Written about Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career,  and namesake of two major literary prizes, this not only shines a light on the author’s early life but demonstrates how famous people start out as very ordinary and it can be just chance that sets them on their path to fulfil their dreams. And while most of us have dreams, sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that gives us the impetus to pursue them and the courage and determination to make them come true.  Even though Imp’s dream was nowhere near as grand as that of Miss Franklin, she too was able to take the first steps towards achieving it. The endpapers tell her story! So as much as Libby Hathorn and Phil Lesnie have captured Miss Franklin’s story, it is also an encouragement to anyone to take and chance and chase what they want.