Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny the Shark

Surviving the Wild 3

Remy Lai

Allen & Unwin, 2022

112pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9781761065460

Usually Sunny the whitetip shark is a fierce predator, cruising the ocean with a shoal of pilot fish friends, looking for food. However, when she mistakes a plastic ring for food and it gets wrapped around her fins making  it tricky to hunt her life is in danger.   

For despite their willingness to help her, even following whale songs to try and find food while being terrified of the presence of any boat, Sunny is cranky and snappy – emotions provoked by fear rather than anger. So will she be able to break free by herself, and find food before winter sets in, or will she need to accept her friends’ help?

This is the third in this new graphic novel series  designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it.  The new NSW English syllabus, particularly, requires students to be able to “to express opinions about texts and issues… both objectively and subjectively”, so as well as empathising with Sunny whose problems may be similar to those they are facing,  they also learn about the perils of things like pollution, the dangers of plastics for wildlife and why we all need to be responsible consumers as well as disposers. Being in the shoes of the main character – this one inspired by a true story about another shark, Destiny, who was found in similar circumstances – helps them be more engaged and understand the situation better, hopefully inspiring them to become not only more aware but more active in environmental protection. 

Hallmarks of quality literature include having characters and a plot which are engaging and interesting for the students, offering layers and levels of complexity that are revealed with multiple readings and which enrich discussion and challenge perceptions, thinking and attitudes.  Add to this the appeal of a graphic novel format and this is another winner for this talented creator. 

The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Missing Piece

Jordan Stephens

Beth Suzanna

Bloomsbury, 2022

92pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781526618139

Sunny loves jigsaw puzzles – the bigger the better. When she completes one, she gets a warm, happy honeybee buzz and it’s a feeling she chases time after time, constantly looking for another puzzle to complete, like a drug addict seeking another fix.  One day, her Gran gives her a ONE-THOUSAND-PIECE puzzle. Piece after piece, all by herself, she puts together the picture, until … DISASTER! The final piece is missing. Sunny may be small, but she is very determined –and when Gran says that the puzzle had been lent to the family next door,  Sunny she sets off to find the missing piece but finds so much more in the meantime. 

Many educators predicted that children returning to school after COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation would face a range of well-being issues from missing the critical socialisation aspects that are the core of the school experience, and principals and teachers around the world are indeed, reporting anxiety, depression and changed behaviours.  Experts, such as those of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have examined the phenomenon and, in conjunction with state education authorities , have identified and put in place a range of strategies to help children relearn the skills and attitudes necessary to cope with getting along with other children in groups that are more than just family members. 

So while this may seem like just another story about a child learning that they are more than they imagined, that their self-worth is not dependent on their being able to excel at one thing, and their self-esteem being shattered if they “fail”,  at this time it could have a vital role to play as we each and all try to support those who have not come through the past three years as resiliently as we would have liked.  Although Sunny’s isolation from her neighbourhood friends is unexplained, it is immaterial – it is her courage to knock on doors to find that vital piece, a goal larger than anything that may have prevented her from reaching out before, that drives her and she is able to rediscover much she had lost.   

While sharing stories such as this is just one part of the healing process, nevertheless it can be helpful particularly if followed by a discussion about why her Gran did what she did, why Sunny might not have seen her friends or been willing to play with them and so on – all addressing individual’s concerns but at arm’s length so no one feels exposed but they can feel comforted and perhaps more confident. 

Football Fever 1: The Kick-off

Football Fever 1: The Kick-off

Football Fever 1: The Kick-off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Football Fever 1: The Kick-off

Kristin Darell

Puffin, 2022

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

9781761048067

It’s a new season for the Under 11s Merridale Fever! Kyra’s the star striker and can’t wait to meet the team’s new recruit, Sam – all the way from England. But Sam has a secret – he’s never played on a mixed team, and it’s shaking his confidence. Will advice from some very special football superstars help Kyra and Sam join forces so the team can kick off the season with a bang, or will it end in disaster before it even begins?

Suitable for newly independent readers, particularly those with a passion for football,  this is the first in this series, the beginning of  an expansive publishing program in partnership with Football Australia.  Featuring Commbank Matildas and Socceroos stars Sam Kerr, Ellie Carpenter, Mary Fowler, Rhyan Grant and Joel King – it is  part of the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July-August, 2023.  

The second in the series, Half-Time Heroes, is due late November so readers can look forward to regular new releases as anticipation builds. 

 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”! 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

Patricia Cleveland Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526635402

It’s Grand Final weekend for the AFL and next weekend is the NRL’s turn so what better time to share the latest in this series which focuses on what happens if you let animals loose in the sporting arena.

While weight-lifting wombats and cricketing kangaroos might not win any medals, the animals do learn and important message, and if by chance the reader is still gloomy at the end then there is always a universal solution.

Just for fun.

Purple

Purple

Purple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple

Terri Rose Baynton

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678591

Monster One likes red; Monster Two likes blue.  And the two quite happily paint side-by-side with their favourite colours until a dollop of red paint ends up in the tin of blue.  But instead of squabbling about it, the two monsters decide to mix them together to see what happens – and are delighted with the result. 

As well as being useful for teaching our youngest readers the names of the colours, and perhaps even experimenting with new combinations such as using blue and yellow or yellow and red, then perhaps going further and playing with tints and hues, this is also about being willing to step out of our comfort zone to try something new, such as a new food or activity.

Written in rhyme which provides the rhythm young listeners like, it also offers opportunities for them to share their own knowledge – if they were painting with only red, what objects would be their focus? It could even focus on conflict resolution strategies. Early childhood teachers will find much teaching scope in this.  

 

The Rabbit’s Magician

The Rabbit’s Magician

The Rabbit’s Magician

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rabbit’s Magician 

Shae Millward

Andy Fackrell

Ford Street, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922696083

When Koala, Echidna and Quokka each invite the newcomer rabbit to play with them, Rabbit continues to gaze at the moon and politely declines explaining that he is waiting. When Owl asks what Rabbit is waiting for,  Rabbit explains that he is waiting for his magician friend The Great Albertino who used to perform all sorts of magic tricks, and while he would practise new tricks for days at a time to perfect them, he also told Rabbit that everything was just an illusion, a trick of the eye. 

But this time, when Albertine disappeared into his room he didn’t return and now Rabbit is waiting… 

It is up to Owl to explain the concept of death to Rabbit but to show him that even though Albertino might not return in the way Rabbit expects, nevertheless he is always there.

Given the focus on dying these last few days with the death and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and today’s National Day of Mourning, this is a gentle and exquisite way to help our youngest understand the concept for whom it may well have sparked many questions.   It was mentioned during broadcasts that 17 000 people had died in the UK alone, since Her Majesty’s death, and so this is something that our children face in their families even though it is not on such a grand scale, something that can be bewildering, can be guilt-inducing, and definitely something that stirs unknown emotions. 

To be able to answer the questions through such a sensitive, beautifully illustrated story,  will be welcomed by both teachers and parents at this time and help our little ones understand and accept things just that little bit better.   

 

Dirt by Sea

Dirt by Sea

Dirt by Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt by Sea

Michael Wagner

Tom Jellett

Puffin, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894061

When Daisy’s family join in a rendition of the national anthem while watching television, little do they know the impact it is about to have.  Because Daisy hears the lyrics as “dirt by sea” rather than “girt by sea” and even though her grandparents and father explain that “girt by sea” means being surrounded by ocean, when she looks out the window all she sees is “girt by dirt.”

It is then her dad realises that he has never taken her to the beach, let alone the ocean, and the trip he and Daisy’s mum made in their old Kombi van are fading into distant memory.  So on Christmas Day, Daisy’s gift is that old Kombi, and on Boxing Day, she and her Dad set off…

Drawing on their own experiences of childhood and adulthood road trips with families, this is a round-Australia adventure for those with the skills to be able to read and follow its graphic novel format. It starts with Daisy’s blank map of Australia on the front endpage and finishes with a completely filled in, colourful one at the back detailing their trip from south-western Queensland to Airlie Beach and beyond around the country’s coastline.

But this is more than just being a travelogue or tourist brochure. Carried along in the conversations between the two, it becomes a personal journey of development for Daisy, her relationship with her dad as he relives his life with Daisy’s mum whose absence is both noticeable and unexplained, and also Daisy’s realisation that she misses her family, and for all it might by “girt by dirt” there is still no place like home with the people and things you love and how they have helped you become who you are. By the time they make it home, neither Dad nor Daisy are the same people who left, and there is a bond between them that the reader knows will endure long into their futures. 

As the blurb says, they discover so much more than the sights and sounds of the wild and wonderful Aussie coast. 

 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

Sam Hume

DK Publishing, 2022

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

9780241546321

It is no secret that I have long been a fan of the non fiction produced by DK Publishing as a source for non fiction for young readers, and this latest one in a series which includes Nature’s TreasuresDinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life, and The Mysteries of the Universe is no exception. 

This time the reader is taken an enthralling journey through the aquatic world that spans  the deepest, widest ocean to the tiniest puddle. Each page, with its stunning illustrations and easily accessible text introduces amazing animals, ingenious plants, and much more  within the categories of deep ocean, shallow seas, wetlands, rivers lakes and ponds, covering s diversity of watery habitats that each houses its unique lifeforms, some familiar, many not-so. It also includes a timeline of life moving from water to land, as conversely, land back to water, while the index is in the form of a visual guide that allows the browser to follow up on what piques their interest visually.

It is a fascinating dip-and -delve book that offers an entree that will satisfy the taste buds of the generally curious while encouraging those with a deeper interest to go in search of the main course. DK editors know what young readers are interested in and they know how to present it so that the imagination is captured while the information is shared and that’s a winning combination, in my opinion.                             

Tarni’s Chance

Tarni’s Chance

Tarni’s Chance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarni’s Chance

Paul Collins

Jules Ober

Ford Street, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9781922696052

When Tarni’s mum says goodbye, all the colour and joy of life seem to go with her. Tarni retreats into her bubble. Her world became smaller and the air seemed thinner. But then Chance steps in . . .

As much as the text in this narrative of family breakdown, self-doubt and anxiety echoes the feelings of loss and loneliness that so many readers will have felt, it is the illustrations that make it so special.  Beginning in deep shades of grey as her parents argue, with the only colour being Tarni and her guitar, her bubble of music, a monochromatic scheme that continues as Tarni comes to grip with her loss, finding solace only in solo activities like drawing and reading, gradually being consumed by the grey of her grief.  Using handmade miniatures set against black and white photography, the reader is drawn deeper into Tarni’s world, but then Tarni spots a stray, ragged dog, seemingly as lost as she is, and there is a ray of hope.  Brief though it is, it shows both the reader and Tarni that there is still a glimmer of colour in the world, and when the dog returns the grey gradually disappears. 

While this is not the first book to use colour to depict mood and emotion in this way, and the use of miniatures and photography was a feature of the 2020 CBCA shortlisted The Good Son, nevertheless it is a powerful representation that those who have passed through the grey of grief will relate to, and those who are still in it will be buoyed by the prospect that colour still exists and step by step they will find it.