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Koala Bare

Koala Bare

Koala Bare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koala Bare

Jackie French

Matt Shanks

HarperCollins, 2017

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

9781460751619

If there is anything more than an Australian who hates hearing koalas being labelled “bears”, it is the koalas themselves. 

I may be furry, fat and square-

but I am definitely not a bear!

In this joyful romp in rhyme Koala points out to the little bird trying to stick a “bear” label on his toe why he is not a teddy, a grizzly, a panda, a polar bear, or any other sort of bear – not even one from Goldilocks. 

Who wants blue or yellow fur?

Grey is the colour I prefer!

he says in absolute disdain of teddies and as for wearing trousers!! Teddy bears may feel superior, but not when faced with my posterior!

Jackie French is a most gifted and versatile author, writing for and entertaining older readers with the fabulous Matilda saga ; the newly independents with her Secret History series; history buffs with her family’s story about Horace and of course the very young with the tales about her resident wombat and echidna.  And now she has again drawn on the wonderful wildlife of her idyllic bush home to entertain and educate about koalas!  For me, one of the most appealing aspects of Jackie’s writing apart from telling a ripper yarn which has to be paramount, is her ability to teach as she tells so the reader finishes the book so much richer for having read it. 

But there is also a strong message that we are each unique and as individuals we shouldn’t be stereotyped or taken for what we are not.  As a natural redhead I’ve been plagued with assumptions that I have a fiery temper when really I’m quite placid and reasonable, and if I fire up it’s the issue at hand and nothing to do with my hair colour.  Everywhere we turn these days people are being labelled based on what they look like not who they are and this is a great story to start young readers thinking about the value of the individual rather than judging by how they are dressed or the colour of their skin. 

Matt Shanks has emphasised the gentle but firm thread of this story with his soft lines and light palette using watercolours.  Even the cover is soft to touch.   The addition of the scholarly cockatoo taking notes on each page is masterful.  Little ones will enjoy looking for him while others might predict what he has learned and recorded from each experience. There’s an opportunity to summarise right there – informal, in context and purposeful!

Apart from being a must-have addition to the library’s collection, this is the perfect gift for any little ones but particularly those who live overseas.  Maybe it will help dispel the belief that koalas are bears and save the grating on the ears from all those who know they are NOT!

Teaching notes are available but whether the little ones for whom this is intended need to know the technicalities of ‘onset and rime’ baffles me.  This is where schools stomp on the joy and wonder of reading – they have to teach a curriculum that focuses on deconstructing text rather than constructing imagination and wonderment! Shame, ACARA, shame!

 

Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Experiments

Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Experiments

Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Experiments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Experiments

Barry Hutchinson

Quentin Blake

Penguin Random House, 2017

96pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780141375946

Once upon a time George Kranky decided it was time to get his gruesome, grouchy grandma who had a mouth pinched in like a do’s bottom into a better mood by making her some special medicine.  But being neither doctor nor scientist, George just combines and cooks things he has on hand – and the results are not as he expects.

Building on from this favourite Dahl tale of George’s Marvellous Medicine  is this collection of science experiments that might not have the results that George’s concoctions had but which will be equally spectacular, just as much fun and importantly, they are all tested and safe (although some adult supervision might be needed.) With chapter titles such as Marvellously Messy, Excellent Eruptions and Vivacious Vehicles and full-colour illustrations by Quentin Blake, this is a science book like no other that is going to appeal to all those who like to explore what-happens-if and spark an interest in things scientific in those who are yet to discover the magic and fun.  Experience has shown me that kids are entranced by the ‘magic” of chemistry and having seen a result are keen to find out the how and the why so it’s a superb one to add to the teacher toolbox too.

And if you’re not sure yourself and are not confident following the easy-to -read instructions (which in themselves could serve as a model, start with these…

 

Too cool for school. And put George’s Marvellous Medicine at the top of you class read-aloud list for 2018!

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.

Tilly’s Reef Adventure

Tilly's Reef Adventure

Tilly’s Reef Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilly’s Reef Adventure

Rhonda N. Garward

NLA Publishing, 2017

36pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780642279088

On a still moonlit night, a mother turtle lays her eggs in a hole in the sand of a Queensland beach and returns to the ocean with all the other mothers who have done the same thing.  When it comes to raising offspring, their job is done.

Eight weeks later the eggs hatch and right from the get-go, life is hazardous.  Just getting to the water from the nest is treacherous with a lot of dangers to dodge – hungry herons, seagulls and crabs lie in wait – and life in the water is also testing.  Who is friend and who is foe?  Luckily, Shelly the seahorse is a friend and introduces Tilly to some of the other creatures that inhabit this unique, spectacular watery world.  While there are still those who are enemies, Tilly’s greatest threat comes from something that is water-borne but not water-bred…

You just know that children’s books from NLA Publishing  are going to be brilliant, packed with stunning real-life illustrations and information that is pitched at the young reader and backed up with added extras after the story ends.  Tilly’s Reef Adventure is no exception. Using a seamless lift-the-flap format, young readers are introduced to the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef so they can experience its beauty and colour and start to build an affinity with it through the personification of its inhabitants.  Thus, when Tilly’s life is threatened because of thoughtless human actions, there is an emotional connection so that they might think before they do a similar thing.  Actions have consequences and sometimes they are devastating.

A stunning addition to a growing collection of beautiful books that offer so much more than a good story.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Why do we need bees?

Why do we need bees?

Why do we need bees?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do we need bees?

Katie Daynes

Christine Pym

Usborne, 2017

12pp, board book, RRP $A19.99

 9781474917933

Type the title of this book into a search engine and you instantly get millions of results including this video, such is the importance of this tiny creature to the welfare of the world.  For without bees to pollinate the plants there are no plants and therefore no food to sustain people or animals. 

So it makes sense to make our very youngest scientists and botanists aware of the critical need to protect these creatures as they carry out their important work and this new release in the Usborne Lift-the-Flap series does just this. 

Using the question-and-answer format that little children themselves use and which lays the foundations for inquiry-based learning, the role of bees is explored in six double page spreads.  Each starts with a key question such as what are bees?; why do we need bees?; and where do bees live? and this is then supported by a more focused question, the answer to which is hidden under a flap. Delicately illustrated but sturdily constructed as a board book, each page offers much to explore and learn, with both the questions and answers in simple sentences and vocabulary that young readers understand. And for those who want to know more Usborne Quicklinks supplies vetted weblinks to satisfy.

Children are curious about the world around them and we know that as parents and teachers we can’t always answer all their questions.  Helping them understand that there is information to be found in books and their questions can be answered is a first step in the development of their information literacy, and learning that you can dip and delve into books as your interest is piqued and that you can readily return to what you discover is invaluable.  

Even though this is a lift-the-flap book, a format normally associated with the very young, it contains a way into non fiction that is perfect for early childhood and could serve as a model for presentation for older students required to investigate the world around them as they learn to pose questions as well as answer them succinctly.  An interesting way to introduce keywords, note-taking, summarising, paraphrasing and using your own words!  

A book that has riches beyond those given to us by its subject!

A Bag and a Bird

A Bag and a Bird

A Bag and a Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bag and a Bird

Pamela Allen

Viking, 2017

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

9780143783909

John and his mother decided to have a picnic in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens.  The long walk from Kirribilli across the Harbour Bridge to the Gardens was all part of the adventure and there was something special about seeing everyone else rushing while they were relaxing.  

Nevertheless, when they finally arrived they were hungry and John pulled his sandwiches out of a plastic bag.  Surrounded by curious, hungry ibises John is more interested in the way they snaffle his last sandwich when a teasing wind blows his bag onto the ground not realising that he is setting off a chain of events that is unlikely to end well…

Master storyteller Pamela Allen’s message in this story could not be clearer.  Clean Up Australia   estimate that about 1 trillion bags are used and discarded world-wide every year and in Australia alone over 10 million new bags are being used every day. These either end up in landfill or in the waterways, taking 400-1000 years to break down depending on their exposure to light. The story of the ibis is just one story of hundreds that must happen every day to our fauna, without such a good ending.

With plastic bags banned in some jurisdictions and about to be in others, nevertheless even those which replace them can be just as toxic to our wildlife so this is the perfect book to develop awareness and to begin investigations into their use, their disposal and the litter issues that we seem to be drowning in ourselves.  While many schools have student-led litter patrols which focus on the immediate environment, A Bag and a Bird highlights what can happen further afield, particularly bringing the message home with her choice of setting and illustrations of sights very familiar to even those who don’t live in Sydney.

Not just a cracking story, this book has the potential to change attitudes and actions – can we ask for more from 32 pages? A book for all ages. 

 

I’m going to eat this ant

I'm going to eat this ant

I’m going to eat this ant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to eat this ant

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Bloomsbury, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408869901

 

Anteater is hungry and as usual, his very l-o-n-g twisting, twirling tongue is searching for ants.  But Anteater is tired of wriggling, tickling, stinging, fighting, biting ants so he picks on one in particular and starts to dream of the ways he might devour it. Perhaps served in a sandwich or sucked up in a straw; sundried or salted, smothered in sauce or sliced like salami… But the ant has other ideas and sorts Anteater out, well and truly…

A funny, engaging story that explores all the ways an ant could be eaten – who knew there were so many terms starting with “s”? Great for getting the tongue around and the ending will delight those who like the little guy to win.  An entertaining story in itself, it would also be perfect for those who explicitly teach phonics focusing on a letter-of-the-week or those who are introducing students to alliteration. If you have to do that stuff, it may as well be fun! Students could also have fun investigating the various methods we use to cook things, why we cook things and the changes that occur when heat is added.

 

Do You Know About Space?

Do You Know About Space?

Do You Know About Space?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Know About Space?

Sarah Cruddas

DK Publishing, 2017

144pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241283820

What is space?  Where does space really begin?  Why is Jupiter stripy? What is a light year? How are rockets launched?

There are few parents of young, curious children who have not been confronted with questions like these as their offspring begin to realise that there is a world even larger than the one immediately around them and they want to find out more. 

So here is the answer – a new publication by DK that uses children’s questions and an inquiry approach to provide the answers.  Using extraordinary photos and clear diagrams supported by child-size bites of text over 200 common questions about space have been answered at a level that the child will understand.  Yet there is enough information for the really curious to want to investigate further.  For example, in 2007 tiny animals called tardigrades survived for 10 days in space outside a spacecraft – but what is a tardigrade?  (You can find out here.) There are even quick quizzes that encourage them to read the text closely, including picture captions, critical information literacy skills.

DK have a sound and deserved reputation for bringing non fiction to young readers in a way they can access and engage with and this new addition is no exception.  Ideal for the eyebrow-raising questions for parents who can get themselves off the hook by suggesting they use the book to find out together, yet tantalising enough for those with a need to know more.

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

Dorling Kindersley, 2017

224pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241276358

 

Anyone who has spent time with little people, particularly boys, will know that they often gravitate to the non fiction collections of the school library where they can get a THICK book (very important) and then pore over the pictures for hours at a time.  If the pictures and diagrams are of high quality then they can absorb a lot of information from them even if they can’t manage the text yet.  

In this new publication from non fiction experts DK the editors have mastered combining stunning illustrations with just the right amount of text to support the beginning reader, often only one sentence and using vocabulary that is appropriate to the age group whilst not “talking down.” Divided into four sections – All About Animals;  Amazing Animals; Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals – it begins with a clear explanation of what animals are, differentiating them from plants, and then moves on to those of land, sea and air. 

Using lots of colour, a clear, clean font of a good size, labels, speech bubbles and other literary devices, the young reader is taken on a journey through the animal kingdom that they will return to again and again, all the while honing their reading skills as they want to know more than just the pictures can tell them.  At the back they are introduced to the concept of a glossary which explains the meaning of some of the more unusual words they might encounter like amphibian and exoskeleton, as well as an index that will help them find just what they are looking for. 

With more and more research emerging about the need for children to develop basic literacy skills using print if they are to use and interpret online information efficiently and effectively,this is a must-have addition in both the school and home libraries.