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Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and the Ocean

Lian Tanner

Jonathan Bentley

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760633691

Ella lived in the red-dirt country
where the earth was as dry as old bones
and it hadn’t rained 
for years
and years
and years.

One night, Ella dreamt of the ocean… and the image mesmerises her and she wants to know more. So she asks her dad,  her mum and Ben the farmhand, and while each has a distant memory to share it is viewed through the lens of the cracked red earth, the dust of the dry, dry, plains and the hungry hungry cows.  Her Gran hasn’t seen the ocean but dreamt about it once – ‘it picked me up and carried me from one side of sleep to the other and I have never forgotten it’- and so she sets about making Ella’s dream come true.

This is an uplifting story that will resonate with so many children from the front cover of the red-roofed house surrounded by vast dry, red, rain-starved land and gaunt gum trees to the family melancholy of hard work and no relief to the power of just a small break in routine to restore faith and hope.  You do not have to venture too far from the city to see the impact that this interminable drought is having on the land, and just as it sucks the life out of the land, so it has the people. Like Ella’s family, that impact is not as visible but is in their body language, their words and their perspective and while we city folk might pay some attention to their plight it is not long before we go back to our own lives, having put a few dollars in a tin or bought a more expensive bottle of milk.  Stories like Ella’s  and images like Bentley’s bring the reality home and depending where you live, will either help the children understand that they are not alone in this plight or perhaps inspire them to do something that might be ‘the trip to the ocean’ that turns a family around for a little while longer.  Or perhaps look a little closer to home. maybe the local nursing home, and think about what they can do to disrupt the routine of same-same boredom to put a light into someone’s life.

So often any unit of work about weather and its causes focuses on the scientific rather than the human, and Ella’s Ocean works to redress this, as readers are almost compelled to think about the what-if. and the what-can-I-do.  Another one of those great picture books that can work across all age groups.

That’s Not My Koala

That's Not My Koala

That’s Not My Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Koala

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

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

9781474945561

For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. 

That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Song of the River

Song of the River

Song of the River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the River

Joy Cowley

Kimberly Andrews

Gecko Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781776572533

High in the mountains where he lives, Cam tells his grandfather that he wishes he could see the sea and his grandfather promises to take him there “one day.”

But as winter turns to spring and the snows begin to melt, Cam watches a trickle of water running through the pine trees, water that splashed and sang in the voice of the snow, 
Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.” And unable to resist its song, Cam follows it and begins a journey that broadens his horizons in so many ways.

The beautiful, lyrical words of one of New Zealand’s premier authors for children, Joy Cowley and the stunning, detailed, muted illustrations of Kimberly Andrews which echo both the high country of New Zealand and the Canada of her childhood come together in what is indeed a song of the river.  With a text that builds much like the river itself, rises to a crescendo and then returns to its original melody like a piece of music, this is indeed an aptly named story both in content and style. It lends itself to all sorts of mapping activities, more than just the physical journey of the trickle to the sea. Even exploring why the author named it “Song of the River” rather than “Story of the River” will open up the beauty of the language and the build-up of the journey.

With a landscape very different from those of the illustrations, and much of the country in one of the worst drought’s ever, this is an ideal book to begin an investigation of Australia’s rivers and compare their origins and uses to those of the river in the story.  A search of the NDLRN using Scootle will bring up a number of units of work focusing on the Murray-Darling Basin such as A Sense of Place (TLF ID R11374) (written by me for Year 3-4 but which could be adapted for both age and situation) that could be the perfect companions to maximise the impact of this book.

 

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.

Monkey Time

Monkey Time

Monkey Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey Time

Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books, 2019

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

9780062383020

It takes time to spin a web.

It takes time to climb a tree.

It takes time to hatch from an egg.

It takes time to eat a meal.

It takes time to bloom.

Monkey is trying to catch time.

Up, down, and all around Monkey goes.

Can Monkey catch a minute

Can you?

From the creator of  both Little i  and  Red, A Crayon’s Story  comes a new story that explores time, this time. Asleep in a tree with branches remarkably like a clock face, Monkey is taunted by Minute who challenges him to catch him as he races around the “clock”. And when, despite Monkey’s frantic effort, Minute beats him another Minute pops up with the same challenge. 

“We are lightning fast, and you are a slowpoke, Monkey.”

Fifty-nine times, Monkey chases the minutes until…

Time is a very abstract concept for young children and while they constantly hear about “Just a minute” and “Wait a minute” and so on, it is hard for them to know just how long a minute is. For anyone, even an adult, who is watching the clock a minute can whiz by or it can drag like a gammy leg, so it’s no wonder it’s a tricky concept for a little one to grasp.   However, by having fun with the book and challenging the child to see what can be accomplished in a minute using a one-minute egg-timer as a visual reference, it will start them on the journey towards understanding.  The addition of the strategy for breaking an hour up into blocks and the counting endpapers enhance  the power of the book, as do the descriptions of the rainforest creatures that appear in Monkey’s story. 

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. 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Gordon Winch

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594560

In 2017, Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington presented our youngest readers with an introduction to some of this country’s native fauna and flora in the hauntingly beautiful Can You Find Me?Now they have teamed up again to delve closely into what might be living in the garden with this new counting book that is as stunning as the first.

Beginning with some of the larger creatures such as the blue-tongued lizard and kookaburras, young readers are enticed to look more and more closely at the illustrations to discover just what might be hiding amongst the trees, bushes, flowers and leaves, culminating in a challenge to find all of them in the final spread. As well as the introduction to iconic creatures and enabling the reader to practise their counting skills, like the first book, it  encourages them to look more closely at their environment and see it with new eyes, to appreciate it more and perhaps even preserve it more carefully.

A counting book that does so much more than help little ones count.  

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! 

Brindabella

Brindabella

Brindabella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brindabella

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2018

208pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760112042

While Pender is playing in the bush near his home, he hears a gunshot and to his dismay he discovers a mother kangaroo taking her last breath.  But as her eyes glaze, he notices movement in her pouch and Pender finds himself with no choice but to take care of the baby joey he names Brindabella.  With his artistic, somewhat reclusive father, they raise Brindabella and even though Pender knows she will one day need to return to the bush he puts that way to the back of his mind, until the day her natural instincts become too much for her and Brindabella leaves…

With the narrative switching between Pender and Brindabella’s perspectives, this is a sensitively written novel for young independent readers that explores the relationship between people and animals. Why do Pertelote the chook, Billy-Bob the dog and Ricky the cat stay with Pender and his father while Brindabella has a compelling need to leave? Confronting, even emotional in parts, Dubosarsky brings the Australian bush alive so all the senses are engaged and the reader is there with Pender, opening opportunities for lots of sensory responses that confirm, compare and contrast Pender’s home with that of the reader themselves.

Shortlisted for the 2019 CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, this is a story that I know Miss 8 is going to adore particularly because she loves to roam our bush block and we have our own share of Brindabellas, but for those not as fortunate, there are teachers’ notes and activities that will help to bring it into the realm of city kids. Download them from the home site.

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760650810

New to the realm of supportive novels for newly independent readers is this title from graphic designer cum author Kylie Howarth. 

Using the popular superhero theme as its foundation, this is a series with a difference because as well as being entertaining, it also teaches those young readers about the ocean environment and its inhabitants.  Bodhi’s parents are right into the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and they travel the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface. But Bodhi isn’t into this world as much as they are, preferring dry land but then he discovers he has magical powers…

Each book is set in a different oceanic environment where Fish Kid befriends an amazing marine creature. As he bonds with his new animal friend, he discovers a new fish power. Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). In this, his family are in the Galapagos Islands and he finds himself stuck on the boat with the captain’s daughter Emely, who likes to play pranks on him, although the innocent looking green smoothie with its secret ingredients would make even the reader have the same reaction as Bodhi. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

Although I haven’t dived the Galapagos Islands, this book took me right back to my experiences on the Great Barrier Reef and for that, this is one destined for Miss 8 so she can share the wonder her grandmother, grandfather and father still have.  Perhaps she, too, will be tempted like Bodhi.