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Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Builds a Nest

Martin Jenkins

Richard Jones

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781406355130

It’s time for Bird to build a nest, but before she can begin she needs to find some food to give her the energy for the hard work ahead.  But the first worm she finds is very large and juicy, and no matter how hard she pulls, she is not strong enough to pull it from the ground because it is pulling back.  When she finally does get something in her tummy, she sets off to look for twigs – but some are too heavy or too long and she can’t carry them.  

And so the story continues until her nest is built with successes and failures as she goes – and each one explained in simple language to teach young readers the very basics of the physics of forces. Physics is a hard topic to understand because so much of it is invisible and requires the sort of abstract thinking that little ones are not able to do readily, so starting with a context such as this and using simple language is a brilliant idea.  The story is followed by an experiment using ping pong balls and modelling clay but no explanation is given to clarify the results.  

While the illustrations mirror the text to provide a greater understanding, they are in a muted, retro palette that may not catch the eye or interest of young readers.  Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing as part of the early childhood STEM curriculum simply because it makes the tricky concepts of force and pushing and pulling so explicit.  However, it might be worth having some props on hand so the children can try things for themselves as they learn that size and weight do matter. 

This is a companion to Fox in the Night which examines the phenomenon of light.  Putting physics into the everyday world of the young reader through stories about common events is a wonderful way to pique and satisfy their curiosity, encourage them to explore further and ask more questions and seek their answers. 

While not directly related to this book, there are several video clips available that will help explain the concepts as well as TLF resources  R10729 and L7879 available via Scootle

Bird to Bird

Bird to Bird

Bird to Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird to Bird

Clare Saxby

Wayne Harris

Black Dog, 2018

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

9781925381122

When a bird drops a seed to an English forest floor, who could imagine that that would be just the start of a journey that continued for generations across thousands of kilometers from its starting point?

A combination of minimal text from Clare Saxby, sublime illustrations from Wayne Harris and the reader’s imagination bring this story of nature, history, creativity and recycling together in a way that captures the imagination and inspires wonder. How could something as small as a seed have such a big future? That it could grow into a sapling then a tree which is harvested and become bunk beds on a convict ship bound for Australia.  And when that job was done its life was not over – it becomes a loom then a lean-to and then…

So often we explore life cycles with little people and we create a simple circle of birth>growth>reproduction>death, but we seldom explore much further.   Does the tomato that forms after pollination just drop to the ground or is it picked fresh and become part of a delicious recipe, or is it stored on a supermarket shelf picked over and not chosen, eventually becoming part of a compost heap?  Does a baby spider fly though the breezes to land far from its home-web and start a new colony or is it the victim of a foot or a can of bug spray?  Saxby has a much gentler conclusion for the seed her bird dropped but this story could spark a lot of investigation and imagination and new stories!

Teachers’ notes are available.

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

Chris Butterworth

Charlotte Voake

Walker Books, 2018

32pp., hbk.,  RRP $A24.99

9781406349405

There is much to love about trees – apart from their life-giving oxygen.  The In spring they are pretty with their new green leaves and buds like beads; in summer they are so shady and the sound of the wind in their leaves is like the swish of the sea; in autumn they are so colourful; and in winter when their branches are bare you can lean on the trunk and look up to the sky.

This early readers’ non fiction book traces a plum tree through its seasonal changes combining a narrative with facts about trees and beautiful water-colour illustrations.  Even though it is English, Australian trees follow a similar cycle and it is the perfect time to start an individual or class tree diary selecting a deciduous playground tree and using photographs and texts to trace its changes as the seasons change and learn not only what the changes happen and why but also to discover that their is beauty in all its aspects, even those bare winter branches.  The author has placed an emphasis on exploring how the changes can engage all the senses so this is also an opportunity to challenge students to engage theirs – to become more observant and notice detail, perhaps even to branch into creating similes and metaphors.

Comparisons could also be made with a eucalypt or other evergreen to discover if they really do stay the same throughout the year or whether, they too, have their own cycle of change including tracking the creatures that seek shelter in them, perhaps even setting up investigations into other life cycles and interdependence.  

Trees really are the perfect plants and there are so many things to love about them.

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

Helen Martin & Judith Simpson

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2012

26pp., board book, RRP $A14.99

9780733330513

As soon as they are old enough to notice the difference between day and night, perhaps even before that when they first ask “Why is the sky blue?”, little people have questions about space.  This board book with its rhyming text, provides the first introduction to that mysterious world beyond our planet.

Designed to help little ones become more observant, such as looking at the changing phases of the moon, it also encourages their imagination as they think about what it might be like to land on the moon.

Perfect for preschoolers with questions!

See Inside Space

See Inside Space

See Inside Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Inside Space

Katie Daynes

Peter Allen

Usborne, 2008

12pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9780746087596

The publisher’s blurb describes this best…”A flap book of astronomical proportions, packed with facts and information about the stars, planets and the universe. Fabulous double-page topics show our solar system, the Milky Way, how scientists think the universe was created and the latest space travel technology. Over 50 flaps reveal fascinating facts about the universe and there’s a little book of star maps tucked in a pocket at the back of the book. Includes internet links to websites with the latest space information, games and photos.”

But even though it is a flap book (in board book format to accommodate this and ensure its durability), this  is a book for older children who have an interest in topics like the Big Bang, the history of space discovery and space travel. While there have been advances in the 10 years since it was first published, nevertheless it serves as a sound introductory title to this fascinating place with its basic information (albeit in small font so readers need to be independent) and its myriad of flaps to lift and its stunning double page spreads that open out to reveal so much more. And if that is not enough, there is also the customary weblinks page to take those who want to know more on even greater adventures. 

This is one of those books that will encourage young readers, particularly boys, to collaborate and share their discoveries, an activity not well recognised yet for its importance and potential on the reading journey.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

 

Lyla

Lyla

Lyla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyla

(Through My Eyes-Natural Disasters  series)

Fleur Beale

A & U Childrens, 2018

208pp., pbk., RRP $A 16.99

9781760113780

DISCLAIMER: This will be neither an impartial nor an unemotional review. For one who called Christchurch home for many years, particularly those formative years of my schooling and teacher education, and for whom so much that was so familiar is now gone, it is impossible to be objective when the places and events are so well-known.  Although I was not there during the earthquake I have made trips back and I still can’t get my head around it.

February 22, 2011 and life has returned to normal for Lyla and her friends Katie and Shona after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck – that’s if having the earth move under your feet several times a day and making a game of guessing the magnitude can be considered normal. Even the daily reminder of the main block of their school, Avonside Girls’ High, being damaged and unusable has been set aside as they try to do the things that 13 and 14 year olds students do. Caught in town at 12.51pm when ‘the big one’ hit, their lives are plunged into chaos as buildings collapse and  people panic as the air fills with dust making visibility almost impossible.

While it is possible to watch endless news coverage, read articles and information it is impossible to know what a natural disaster such as this is really like unless you are part of it and experience it for yourself.  So while I had watched and read and listened and learned, spoken to family and friends who were in the thick of it and even returned home and visited the backyard of such a major part of my life, it was not until reading Lyla that I got a real understanding of what it was to be in the moment.  Beale has drawn on stories of the events of the day and the months following and woven them into a narrative that is both scary and un-put-downable that illustrates not just individual heroism but that sense of community among strangers that seems to emerge when humans are put under such duress – made all the more haunting when you can picture the reality of the setting which is a well-known as the face in the mirror.

In the beginning, there is the fear for family and friends as both Lyla’s mother, a police officer and her father, a trauma nurse at Christchurch Hospital are unaccounted for and she is separated from Shona and Katie in the chaos as the SMS service goes into meltdown, and while they are eventually found to be OK that need to know family is safe means that all families have an earthquake plan much the same as Australians have a bushfire plan. The theme of needing to be with others is strong throughout as neighbours have a need to eat and sleep and be together even if they have a habitable home to go to, and enduring and unusual friendships and bonds are formed.   

There is also a strong thread of Lyla feeling powerless because of her age but finding things she can do that make a difference such as babysitting her neighbour’s children so their mother can return to the medical centre where she works; helping shovel the oozing, stinking liquefaction for elderly neighbours; setting up a charging station for those still without electricity… seemingly minor things within the big picture but nevertheless critical to her mental health at the time.

But like so many then and now, the situation becomes overwhelming. Despite hearing the harrowing tales of others and the rising death toll, and the news of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and telling herself that compared to them she is in great shape, Lyla succumbs and needs qualified medical intervention.  This is another strength of the story – given that seven years on the city still has not recovered it was never going to have a happy, all-is-fine ending, so having Lyla denying help because the common thinking is that the people of Christchurch are somehow more resilient than others, that because her home isn’t munted she should be okay, but nevertheless accepting it and going some way towards recovery shines a light on the okay-ness of needing assistance to get things back in balance.  This particularly poignant in light of the subsequent increase in suicides, unprecedented demand for psychological help and the continuing need for support as there has been a 73% increase in the number of children who need support for mental health issues in Christchurch.

While this has been an emotional read for me, it and the others in both this series and its twin focusing on children living in conflict are essential elements of both the curriculum and the collection as they offer the ‘colour and detail’ to the stark monochrome sketches of news reports, websites and other information-only sources.  They are the blend of imagination and information that such fiction can offer that leads to insight and understanding.  

Seven years on, long after the event has disappeared from the news headlines and faded from the memories of those not directly involved,  the reality of that time is still in-your-face on every corner of Christchurch and will be for many years to come – Lyla and her friends will be 20 now, confronted by images and memories of that day still, just as anyone who has lived and loved Christchurch is.  For now Ruaumoko, the Maori god of earthquakes has settled a little (even though there were 25 quakes in the week preceding the anniversary, albeit peanuts compared to the 15669 on that day in 2011) but like her friends, family and all those who chose to remain in Christchurch to rebuild their lives and their city one wonders when he will wake again.

185 empty white chairs

185 empty white chairs surrounded by empty spaces, broken buildings and a gloomy sky – September 2015

 

 

How to Be a Fashion Designer

How to Be a Fashion Designer

How to Be a Fashion Designer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Fashion Designer

Lesley Ware

Tiki Papier

DK, 2018

96pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781465467614

The world of fashion, with its perceived glamour and glitz, always appeals to a certain number of students who care about what they wear and have the ability to make the proverbial sack look good. Sadly though, enduring emphasis on body image continues despite all that is done to combat it and many soon realise they don’t have “the look” to be a top model and turn away.  But in this easy-to-read manual other avenues in fashion are explored, particularly those of the designer and the stylist.  “While designers create their clothes, stylists know how to put them together.”

Using themed double-spreads students are taken through the basic steps with typical DK layout pizzazz, illustrations galore, tips and challenges that encourage them to start designing now.  The last 20 pages offer opportunities to design a t-shirt, trousers, skirt, hat, shoes and accessories with outlines already provided so new knowledge can be applied immediately as the reader learns about colour, texture, patterns and shape while being encouraged to be inspired by the event and the environment.  Recycling and upstyling are explored so not only is waste minimised but even those with few dollars do not need to be deterred.

Ware believes that those who can “speak up with fashion” have the courage to speak up in other ways too so as teachers we should look to those who dare to be different as being more than clothes horses.  A close-to-home example is a student I taught a few years ago who always made the compulsory school uniform a personal statement, who was a whizz at design puzzles like tangrams and who, at 17, starred in a local show in a country town and six months later in 2017, had her designs on the catwalk in Vancouver  and more recently, Nassau in the Bahamas! Her story alone should give students confidence to continue.

Written to support a STEAM curriculum, the suggestions in this book offer an entire term’s curriculum for those with this sort of interest but even those who aren’t particularly interested in fashion can learn how to step out with a bit more style to give themselves a confidence boost.

 

100 scientists who made history

100 scientists who made history

100 scientists who made history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 scientists who made history

Andrea Mills & Stella Caldwell

DK, 2018

128pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241304327

Throughout history there have been so many perceptive pioneers, brilliant biologists, medical masterminds, clever chemists, phenomenal physicists, incredible innovators and other scientific superstars who have challenged the known to change our lives that to choose just 100 of them must have been a taxing task. 

Nevertheless, in this brand new release from DK, the achievements of people as diverse as Aristotle, Alexander Fleming, Louis Pasteur, Ernest Rutherford, Alan Turing and Edwin Hubble are all described in typical DK format with it characteristic layout, top-quality photography, bite-sized information and accessible language.  But there is so much (and so many more). Although not being of a scientific bent, while many of the names of those in the clear contents pages were familiar, there were as many that were not, and sadly many of those not were women.

But the authors have included many women in the lists – who knew that Hildegard of Bingen, aka the singing nun, born in 1098 could have had such an impact on medical treatments through her study of and writing about the medicinal uses of plants?  Or that of five of those credited with having such an influence on the development of computing, three were women? Or that Mary Somerville correctly predicted the existence of the planet Neptune in the early 19th century and that there were many 19th century astronomers who were female?

This is a wonderful book for everyone – not only because it will introduce a new generation to those who discovered so much of what we take for granted today – they didn’t make history because they became famous, they made the history we look back on so we can move forward-  but also to inspire – “If them, why not me?”  Challenge your students to find another scientist who could have been included and have them develop a page for them using the DK format as a model.

I know a budding scientist who needs this book!

Women in Science

Women in Science

Women in Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women in Science

Jen Green

DK, 2018

64pp., hbk,, RRP $A14.99

9780241315958

More and more as news coverage reports scientific breakthroughs, it is a woman who is the face of the science rather than the stereotypical man in a white coat.  Women leading scientific discoveries is not a new phenomenon, as this new DK publication demonstrates with its introductory section about scientists of ancient times, but at last it is becoming understood and accepted that science is not “bizniz bilong men”.

Written especially for young readers who are verging on independence or who have made that journey, this book links the achievements of just a handful of women who have made significant contributions to their field of study.  Familiar and unfamiliar names are included as well as a brief introduction to just some of the fields that come under the science umbrella, encouraging the reader to perhaps be the next big name. There is a quiz to spark further investigations as well as the characteristic DK attention to detail in the layout and supporting clues and cues. 

As well as introducing young readers to the work of these remarkable women, there is scope for it to be the springboard as they answer the questions, “Who would you add? Why?’

The Amazing Animal Atlas

The Amazing Animal Atlas

The Amazing Animal Atlas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Animal Atlas

Dr Nick Crumpton

Gaia Bordicchia

Flying Eye Books, 2017

52pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9781909263116

Little people love big books so this one that is 375mm tall will certainly appeal.  Add to the size is the content which is also a favourite of little people and this new publication will be a welcome addition to  the collection.

Beginning with a huge double page spread that shows the animal side of the tree of life in pictorial format which is followed by another double spread of their key habitats around the world, it then starts in the Arctic and makes its way through all the continents showing the iconic creatures of each region with some pages opening out to magnificent double double-page spreads! Information is in short paragraphs which will encourage further exploration in more detailed texts. 

Having whet the appetite with the amazing variety of creatures that share the planet with us, there are four pages devoted to identifying why they are at risk and what we can do about it – very much a case of “Now that I know this, what can I do about it?” 

Complete with a contents page, index, and references this is also a great resource for helping young readers use the cues to find the information they want – no one is too young to begin their information literacy.

A sound investment for either the library or the home collection.