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Billie

Billie

Billie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billie

Nicole Godwin

Demelsa Haughton

Tusk Books, 2018

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

9780994531414

Billie the dolphin loves the wildness of surfing the ocean’s waves -for her there is no greater thrill.  And so she sets off to find the most enormous wave that she can, one that will make her happy, safe and free.  But in her search for that one wonderful wave, she encounters more than she expected as she finds fellow marine creatures entangled in the human detritus and pollution of the ocean.  Fishing lines, plastic bags, nets, noise… all are modern-day hazards that have to be navigated as the ocean’s creatures go about their daily lives.  Billie helps to free as many as she can, but when she herself is caught in a net and her new friends come to rescue her, she finds something that is even better than surfing the enormous waves.

The Canberra author of Ella has made it her mission to be a voice for those creatures of the wild who don’t have their own voice to bring attention to the destruction of their habitat.  Many young  readers will be familiar with the sight of dolphins surfing the waves and develop a fascination for these beautiful, intelligent creatures from a young age.  But they are unaware of the issues that dolphins face as the human world encroaches more and more on their environment and so it is books like this that carry a critical message of conservation as well as a charming story that inspire them to action.  Rather like the little wave that forms and is then apparently lost in the vast ocean, but in fact becomes part of a larger wave, so the voices of authors like Godwin and illustrators like Haughton who has created such vivid images become bigger and bigger and louder and louder as both Ella and Billie are shared with our young students as part of the sustainability perspective of the Australian Curriculum.

The final double spread explains more about the issues that Billie encountered on her journey, and part of this includes this statemet, “One of the saddest parts of my journey was not being able to help my friends in the dolphin park. They belong in the wild, not in tanks.” This has the potential to become a formal debate on the role of places like SeaWorld and other venues where dolphins are held in captivity, perhaps even extending to the roles of zoos, in the understanding and conservation of the planet’s fauna.  So while this appears to be a picture book for the very young, it has scope to be used with a much wider, older audience.

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bee Book

Charlotte Milner

DK, 2018

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

9780241305188

As Spring finally reaches even the coldest parts of Australia and the blossoms, wattles and daffodils finally emerge from their winter slumber, so too comes the sound of the bees – as welcome as the warbling of nesting magpies and the laughing of the returning kookaburras. 

Bees have been an essential and integral part of life on the planet for over 100 million years – even pre-dating the dinosaurs – and about 20 000 different species can be found all around the world. While some bees are large, others small., some can cook and the original name of the much-loved bumblebee was “dumbledore”, the most famous is the honey bee and this amazing new book focuses on this species as it explores all aspects of its life and why it is so important to the survival of humans. 

Packed with easily accessible information  and eye-catching illustrations, this is the ideal book to show young children how critical bees are within the environment as they, along with other insects, are responsible for about a third of everything we eat! As well as emphasising their importance, there is also a warning about their decline in numbers and the potential for catastrophe if that happens. There are suggestions for how we can assist their longevity, including building a simple bee motel (although I cheated and bought one) with more detailed instructions available here.

With Christmas approaching, and Miss 12 and Miss 7 growing beyond toys and stuff, this book and a copy of this year’s winner of the CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, How to Bee  because they seem like natural companions, as well as the bee motel will make a somewhat different gift, but one which will inspire them!

A must for school libraries and fascinating and informative for those with an interest in the environment.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Boats: Fast & Slow

Boats: Fast & Slow

Boats: Fast & Slow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boats: Fast & Slow

Iris Volant

Jarom Vogel

Flying Eye, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $27.99

9781911171522

A boat is defined as “any vessel that is able to carry people across water” regardless of their size, propulsion, or the water body they are used on.  Since the earliest days of human history, particularly since people settled rather than roamed, boats have had a significant role in the exploration and development of this planet. 

From early rafts of woven reeds and animal skins to canoes carved from logs to the introduction of steam power and with a few stops to explore famous boats like the HMS Beagle and the Titanic, this book introduces young readers to this mode of transportation, highlighting how important it is to everyday life.  Extensively illustrated with short, informative passages of text, young readers can follow the journey of development and begin to consider what Australia, an island continent, might have been like without the invention of floating safely on water.  As they read about the role of boats, they will also learn that there are other significant names apart from those of Endeavour and The First Fleet, perhaps sparking their own investigations into all things nautical including boating sports, lighthouses, shipwrecks, military craft through the ages and so on.  Those with a scientific bent might like to investigate how those huge ocean liners can stay afloat.

Like its predecessor, Horses Wild and Tame, this is a dip and delve book designed to introduce young readers to the importance of some things in the development of civilisation that they might not have thought about or have taken for granted. It is what I call a pebble-in-the-pond book because its core subject can spark the reader into exploring an entire circle of different aspects of the topic leading to diverse and different discoveries depending on their particular interest.  Using a focus question such as Why have boats been important to human development? it is perfect for getting young students to learn to pose their own questions to answer while developing information literacy skills that have context and meaning for them personally and covering every facet of the curriculum. 

A worthwhile addition to the library’s collection or for any child fascinated by water craft, what they can do, and the people associated with them.

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

Ben Hoare

DK, 2018

224pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241334393

Our planet is inhabited by so many different species, each of them fascinating in their own way.  Over 100 of them, from the orca to the otter, the giraffe to the ant and all stops in between have been collected together in this beautifully presented book that is the perfect introduction to the animal kingdom for young readers.  

Each creature has its own double-page spread featuring a large hi-definition photograph and just enough text to intrigue.  There are unique facts – porcupines rattle their quills to warn off predators while the word “koala’ means no drink in an Aboriginal language, referring to the koala getting most of its water needs from the eucalyptus leaves – as well as other intriguing information. There is a representative from all the major groups on the Tree of Life, and this, itself, is depicted at the end of the book. 

Those who read my reviews regularly know that I believe that informal, shared reading is a critical element of honing literacy skills, particularly for boys, and this would be a perfect candidate for that.  Boys also like to borrow big thick books and so it suits that criterion too, although this is one that has accessible language and layout, and a visual guide so young readers can find the one they are interested in without having to know its name so it is likely to actually make its way out of the library bag and onto the dining room table to provoke wonder and discussion as it is shared with other family members.  With Christmas on the horizon, it would also make a unique and treasured gift!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Ocean Emporium

Ocean Emporium

Ocean Emporium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ocean Emporium

Susie Brooks

Dawn Cooper

Egmont, 2018

64pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99

9781405290975

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, and of that, about 96.5 percent  is contained in the oceans which sweep between the land masses. Scientists estimate that 15% of Earth’s species live in the oceans and in this new book, the reader is introduced to just a few of the estimated 250 000 known species that prefer the saline environment. 

Each double page spread features a broad classification such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish;  crabs; and seahorses, seadragons and pipe fish, while some individual species are scattered throughout.  There is a brief introductory paragraph for each collection but the majority of the book is devoted to illustrations of some of the more unusual representatives of each.  While each has its common and Latin name provided, the reader would have to look elsewhere for more specific information. 

What this book does is show the diversity of  life above and below the waves, offering the young reader with an interest in such things a taster of what’s on offer.  A useful addition to your 591.77 collection.

 

Ariki and the Giant Shark

Ariki and the Giant Shark

Ariki and the Giant Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ariki and the Giant Shark

Nicola Davies

Nicola Kinnear

Walker Books, 2018

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781406369793

Washed up on the shores of Turtle Island in her cradle, no one knows quite where Ariki has come from and the islanders wanted to put her back on the waves, but Arohaka said she was a gift from the ocean and a gift should never be refused.  So he becomes her guardian although no matter how long she lives there, she is not accepted as one of them – by the adults or the children.

Protected by her distinctive tattoos which are different from those of the other children, Ariki loves to spend her days in the sea rather than doing chores.  An excellent swimmer, her favourite game is to catch the tail of the baby yellow moon sharks and hitch a ride around the lagoon while they are too young to turn and bite her.  She is more at home in the sea than on the land, and on the day her life is saved from the jaws of the nihui by a shark bigger than she has ever seen, life changes for her.  Struck by drought, the islanders are struggling to find food and when two of the island’s fishermen tell a tale of a large creature that scares the nihui and almost bites their boat in half, leaving behind a tooth bigger than a man’s hand, then fear strikes and the islanders are frightened to go into the sea. They are determined to kill this monster but Ariki, her friend Ipo, Arohaka and the children have other ideas…

This is the first in a new series from zoologist Nicola Davies and as well as being an entertaining read, her knowledge of the ocean, its ways and its creatures gives an added dimension of authenticity.  Ariki is a strong, independent feisty heroine who is content with herself despite the ridicule of her peers and her friend Ipo also shows similar resilience as he deals with his own issues. Highly original, well-written and utterly engaging, this is the perfect read for those who are independent readers moving on from beginner novels. 

 

Collecting Sunshine

Collecting Sunshine

Collecting Sunshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collecting Sunshine

Rachel Flynn

Tamsin Ainslie

Puffin Books, 2018

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

9780143785187

Mabel and Robert are enjoying walking in the park, collecting things in their paper bag.  Leaves, stones, seedpods, berries, flowers and sticks – they all go into the bag.  But disaster strikes when it begins to rain and Robert decides to collect the raindrops.  The bag disintegrates and their collection falls on the ground!  Mabel is despondent but Robert soon cheers her up – he has another way to collect things.

The is a charming book for early childhood readers that turns an ordinary walk into an adventure and will inspire them to do the same. Before the rain, Mabel and Robert just collected things they could pick up and put in their bag, but without the bag they have to use their senses and really start to experience the beauty of the park so this could be the beginning of a sensory walk through the playground.  But first they can use their sense of sight to spot the budgie and the mouse hidden in each illustration, helping them to hone in on the detail in the illustrations – an essential early reading skill!

As cheery as its title.

An activity pack is available.  

 

Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonders of the World

Isobel Otter

Margaux Carpenter

Little Tiger, 2018

16pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781848577251

The sub-title of this book is “An interactive tour of marvels and monuments” and indeed, that it what it is from cover to cover as it explores the wonders of both the ancient and the modern world.

More than 2000 years ago, Antipater of Sidon, a Greek writer identified seven must-see sites of the small world around Greece (world exploration was limited and the Mediterranean was seen as the centre of a flat world) and these became known as the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”, still referred to in books and quiz shows as such. However, in 2000 AD a new list was compiled from the popular votes from a list of 200 man-made landmarks and these are considered to be the seven wonders of the modern world.

All 14 are explored in this colourful, interactive lift-the-flap book beginning with a world map showing their locations and whether they are ancient or modern selections.  Each has an illustration of the building, an introduction to it and then several pertinent facts that are often hidden under a flap or other device demanding interaction.  

While Australia has no entry in the man-made wonders, it does feature in the list of natural wonders on the final endpapers, which are presided over by a magnificent pop-up Paricutin Volcano, the youngest volcano in the world.

As well as perhaps laying the seeds for future travel and discussions about why these monuments have endured,  this is one of those books that groups of young boys love to pore over and discuss, a behaviour that appears to be crucial to their reading development as they seek to discover the wonderful and the weird and out-do each other with their discoveries.  It is worth having in your collection for that alone!

 

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

Antonia Pesenti

Little Hare, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760125240

For the most part, our children are surrounded by buildings – manmade structures that are carefully designed and constructed to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.  In this book, with the help of a little snail who carries is building on his back, young readers are encouraged to take a closer look at the features of these buildings and discover numbers, colours and shapes. 

Using 18 well-known buildings from around the world such as the Tate Modern in London, St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and the Seattle Central Library, the various features are pointed out using a minimum of words – those that have been used are explained using colour or shape or numbers – as the visual elements of each are the most important. Very young readers can use these clues to find the parts of the building that matches them while starting to build the basic maths concepts. 

In the late 1980s maths trails were a much-loved phenomenon to help students understand the concepts of number and shape as they were encouraged to find examples of each in their environment as they followed a set of clues.  They loved the investigative nature of the quest, being in the outdoors and the challenge of completing their task before another team.  Students from Kindy to Year 6 could be found exploring their environment, eagerly talking numbers, shapes, measurement and other maths concepts So this book would be the ideal precursor to revitalising that activity. Older students could use it as a model for developing their own maths trail around the school or local area.

For those who have an emphasis on STEM its application is broad – creating models of the buildings featured or being challenged to construct buildings that feature four red towers that are pyramids (for example).  A double-page spread at the end identifies all the featured buildings so others might like to map the locations of the buildings and plan a journey to visit them, costing it for future reference.

Sometimes the seemingly simplest  of books offer the greatest wealth of ideas – and this is up there.  If nothing else, the book demonstrates that we are surrounded by mathematics – it’s not just something confined to a slot in the school timetable.

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

9781848699557

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.