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. 

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Max's Dinosaur Feet!

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max’s Dinosaur Feet!

Lana Spasevski

Penelope Pratley

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594638

Max loves to STOMP, STAMP and SMASH around on his dinosaur feet.  But his mum tells him to walk quietly because he will wake baby Molly.  She has to reach him how to tiptoe as though he is walking on dinosaur eggshells. 

All is quiet for a while until Dad’s happy summer feet drip. slip and flip as he comes in from surfing.  So Max teaches him how to walk on dinosaur eggshells and all is quiet 

again.   But then Pop comes in with his walking feet, and Merida with her dazzling  dancing feet… Still Molly sleeps on until Rufus arrives with his wrinkly wet nose that just loves feet….

This is a joyful story for young readers that will speak to them about a familiar situation.  With its charming illustrations it offers all sorts of scope for stomping around like dinosaurs and dragons and elephants and then learning to tiptoe on dinosaur eggshells! Little ones will love it. 

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece (Nursery Crimes: Case 1)

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

John Barwick

Dave Atze

Big Sky, 2019

120pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781925675993

Sheep go to a lot of trouble to grow their wool to keep themselves warm, but as soon as it gets to a certain length the farmer shears it off and sells it, often making a lot of money for it, particularly if it is black like Baaa Baa’s. Surrounded by high fences, spotlights and video cameras so neither she nor her wool could be stolen, Baaa Baa was fed the best food and was shorn twice a year whereas her lighter cousins were only shorn once. Once shorn the wool was stored in a closely-monitored control centre with television surveillance so it is certainly precious. So when Farmer Fred sells one of the three precious bags to the local headmaster, another to Dame Horrida and the third to Theodore Thumpnose, the local bully, when he could have got much for it at the wool market, suspicions are raised….

This is the first of seven stories investigating the crimes in the nursery rhymes that little ones hear so often. Told in an interesting style where the narrator and an imaginary reader engage in a conversation, as  though the narrator is anticipating the questions a real reader might ask, it is engaging and different and designed to appeal to the newly-independent reader who is ready to move on but would still benefit from the familiarity of known characters.  It is reminiscent of the fractured fairytale format where something well-known is turned on its head and examined more closely, told from a different perspective and raises issues that might not otherwise have been thought about. 

Cleverly illustrated by David Atze that takes it out of the realm of the usual cutsie graphics of nursery rhymes, this is fun and perfect for those who like something out of left-field.

One Runaway Rabbit

One Runaway Rabbit

One Runaway Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Runaway Rabbit

David Metzenthen

Mairead Murphy

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760523558

Lulu is happy to live in her hutch in the backyard but one night when she spots a hole in the fence, she is tempted through to explore the world further. Unfortunately a hungry fox is on the prowl and his nose smells Lulu and the chase is on.  Can she escape?

Metzenthen has used the minimum of words to tell this tale because with the exquisite illustrations in a style that might be unfamiliar to younger readers, no more than what are there are needed. This is perfect for encouraging the reader to look carefully, tell their version of the story and predict the outcome.  All are essential elements of the early reader’s arsenal in making sense of print and stories and demonstrate their level of comprehension. 

A delightful story that offers something new to explore each time it is read, especially if the astute adult asks “what if…?”.  Metzenthen says he dreams of writing the perfect story – this is getting close to it. 

 

Goodbye House, Hello House

Goodbye House, Hello House

Goodbye House, Hello House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye House, Hello House

Margaret Wild

Ann James

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.99

9781743311103

This is the last time I’ll fish in this river. 
This is the last time I’ll run through these trees. 
This is the last time I’ll dream by this fire …  

In scenes familiar to many, Emma is saying goodbye to all the familiar places in her old home in the country as her family prepares to move to a new one in the city.  Perhaps the most poignant is when she  changes the writing on the wall from Emma lives here to  Emma lived here. But rather than being maudlin and upset, the story turns around as she arrives at the new house and she anticipates all the possibilities it offers. And this time changes the writing on the wall of her new room by changing the old Kim lives here to Emma lives here now, consolidating the idea that change happens and things move on. 

Even though Wild has used a minimum of text, James’s illustrations tell much of the story with the backgrounds depicting the juxtaposition of the two houses, with the unique depiction of Emma superimposed on them showing that she remains the same and the experiences she will have will still be familiar in many respects. Against the muted background, Emma really pops out with all her emotions on display, again demonstrating that the story of a little girl is what’s important rather than the place she finds herself in.  We are still who we are despite the circumstances that surround us. 

Many young readers will have stories to tell that are similar to Emma’s and this offers them the opportunity to open up about their experiences and emotions, particularly those around starting a new school as Emma will have to do. It may offer some insight into how scary things can be for those who have not had the experience.  

Saved!!!

Saved!!!

Saved!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved!!!

Lydia Williams

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

9781760524708

Living alone in the Australian outback, Lydia loves her sport but she doesn’t have anyone apart from the animals to play with.  And even then, she seems to be beaten before she starts.  Kangaroo can bounce too high and blocks all her shots at the basketball ring; Emu gives her a good start in the running race but still whizzes by,; and even sleepy Koala has her covered when it comes to Aussie Rules.  Lydia really wanted to be the best at something but didn’t know what that could be until Kangaroo suggests a game of soccer…

The author, Lydia Williams is an Indigenous Australian soccer player who grew up on the red dirt of Western Australia, travelling with her family to many Aboriginal communities where she learnt how to play sport with bare feet. Her family taught her how to live off the land and the values of Indigenous culture; they even had two pet kangaroos. When her family moved to Canberra, Lydia started playing soccer competitively as a way to make friends. Having played soccer for nearly twenty years, she currently plays for Melbourne City in the W-League. Lydia is the first-choice goalkeeper for the Australian Matildas, and is also signed to the Seattle Reign FC in the United States. 

Using her experience and expertise, she has crafted a charming story for young readers about persevering to find your niche and being the best you can be. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the outcome of the story had been different because you just know that she would have dealt with either result well, echoing her real-life experience of leaving WA at 11 years old and having to forge a new life in Canberra, not only 3000km away but also a busy city! ‘”It’s a bit of an autobiography, a little bit of fantasy and has a good message as well. It has a unique take on it to go out in the world…It encourages kids that no matter what their background is or what challenges are in their way, they can have fun and actually achieve something they enjoy if put their mind to it.” You can learn more about her early life in this interview

Accompanied by Lucinda Gifford’s delightful illustrations that echo the palette of the outback, this is a story with a difference because of its authenticity that will resonate with young readers particularly those with older siblings who seem to be better at things than they are. 

 

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.

 

Meerkat Splash

Meerkat Splash

Meerkat Splash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meerkat Splash

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143792895

Digging down, down into the meerkat burrow, Meerkat Red discovers it is bathtime for the meerkats and he joins in what quickly becomes a riotous time for meerkats of every hue – blue, green black, orange , brown … even Rainbow Meerkat joins in the fun!

Action-packed with lots of humour, this is a story-in-rhyme that not only teaches young readers about colours but also inclusivity.  No matter what its colour, each meerkat is welcome to come and join the bathtime fun before bedtime as they live in harmony in the beautiful burrow mapped out on the endpapers. 

Meerkats have enjoyed a popularity since we were introduced to Timon in the 1994 release of The Lion King, and now rebooted with the current version, as well as the popular Meerkat Manor and so our youngest readers are familiar with their cheeky antics and they will not be disappointed with this new incarnation. Lots of fun!

Rabbit’s Hop: A Tiger & Friends book

Rabbit's Hop

Rabbit’s Hop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit’s Hop

Alex Rance

Shane  McG

Allen & Unwin, 2019 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760524449

Jack Rabbit loved Rabbit Island. He loved his friends and family and all the little rabbits. He loved being the best at hopping and chomping and (nearly the best) at zigzagging. As he taught the little rabbits to hop and chomp and zigzag, he encouraged them to be kind, work hard and enjoy themselves, a mantra that he finds himself putting into practice as he makes his way from his comfort zone of Rabbit Island to the unknown of Big Island at the invitation of his cousin Roo.

This is an entertaining tale that encourages young readers to have the confidence to take risks and explore a world wider than the one they know. A sequel to Tiger’s Roar it continues the positive message of self-belief, unselfishness and perseverance that young readers need to hear and see in practice.  And to add a twist, a series of letters from the key characters on the final page sets up the series for its next episode.  

Just a happy, charming series about friendships and our dependence on one another to be our best selves.

 

Duck Duck Moose

Duck Duck Moose

Duck Duck Moose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duck Duck Moose

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2019 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760634704

Two ducks with attitude are making their way through the forest when suddenly they encounter Moose…

To tell the rest of the story would not only spoil it but would also just be my interpretation of the sparse text juxtaposed against the fabulous illustrations which contain all the action and expressions, the problem and its solution.

This is one of those books that is perfect for encouraging littlies to read both the words and the pictures and tell their own story, and even though Australian children might not be familiar with a moose there is no mistaking what it is and its impact on the ducks.  With the endpapers being an integral part of the story, it really does encourage interaction with the whole book and provides so much scope for language development, not just reading.

So, as well as being perfect for littlies, it is also rich enough in its story for being one for those who are learning English as a new language to also engage with.  Apart from interpreting the story itself, there is scope to talk about the expressions and emotions, so perfectly portrayed in the illustrations and which are universal.  

A true picture book where every element is interdependent and the key link between them is the reader and their imagination.