Easy Peasy

Easy Peasy

Easy Peasy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Peasy

Ky Garvey

Amy Calautti

EK Books, 2023

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

9781922539441 

When her dad gives her a pair of shiny, sparkly red roller skates for her birthday, Ruby is thrilled and can’t wait to try them out because she thinks roller-skating will be easy-peasy.  She rejects her dad’s offers of help even though she spends a lot of time wibbling and wobbling and crashing.  Luckily, she has all her safety gear on so her injuries are minimal although her pride is hurt and that night, instead of taking the skates to bed she throws them in the cupboard. Will she abandon them altogether, or will she be prepared to take her dad’s offer of help?

This is a story of resilience and perseverance as well as accepting that we can’t all be good at everything we try immediately.  That some things take instruction and practise and we need to be willing to put in the effort needed if we are to move forward and master the skill.  Sadly, some of our students have never experienced failure and so haven’t learned Ruby’s lessons yet, so this is a worthwhile discussion starter particularly as a new school year begins.  Growing and learning involves embracing new challenges and working at them one step at a time to maser them, understanding that mistakes are just opportunities to learn and develop.  Ruby can leave her new skates in the cupboard and never try again, or maybe she can have another go and discover a whole new world of friends and adventures. 

 

 

Pow Pow Pig 4: Loch Ness Adventure

Pow Pow Pig 4: Loch Ness Adventure

Pow Pow Pig 4: Loch Ness Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pow Pow Pig 4: Loch Ness Adventure

Anh Do

Peter Cheong

A&U Children’s,  202

224pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781761068867

It is the year 2050 and the world is in trouble. In 2030 the rich animals of the world voted to stop helping the poor and as they became richer, forever seeking bigger and better while discarding their unwanted things instead of sharing them, creating a huge amount of waste.  And then the fighting started.

But all is not lost and Piccolo Pig (aka Pow Pow Pig) , inspired by his parents’ role model has yearned to join CHOC (Creatures Helping Other Creatures) to help make the world a better place through small acts of kindness. So as soon as he was old enough he joined, and now, after three years of training it’s Graduation Day. But he and his friends Danielle Duck (aka King Fu Duck), Chelsea Chicken (aka Cha Cha Chicken) and Barry the Goat (aka Barry the Goat) are not in the A Team but the Z Team.  So they are the last to be picked when it comes to world-saving missions,

So when a call comes in and they are the only ones left, it is up to them to save the situation.  Although they live in 2050, they have time machine that allows them to travel back in time but sometimes it doesn’t work as it should.

In this , the fourth in this series from the ever-popular Anh Do, the team has to retrieve their special camera from the monster that swallowed it and find themselves in Scotland in 1845.

More for younger independent readers as it has all the attributes required to support their transition to novels including a larger font, a light-handed layout and many illustrations, But, as with his other series embedded in the thoroughly modern characters, action, adventure and humour, there is an underlying message that gives the story more than just fleeting entertainment value. By making the heroes creatures often associated with being underdogs and having them as the Z Team readers can learn that success can take many forms, that not all battles are won with might and power – a tea towel and a broom can be very effective when used cleverly – and that the desire to do well has to come from within. They can also visit other time periods in an exciting adventure, providing a gentle step into the concept of history and offering an insight into life in those times that is much more fun that facts and figures.

Anh Do is a prolific storyteller, and one of our most popular currently, and those who enjoyed the first two will be thrilled there is now another with more promised. Young readers will be delighted that there is a new one available to ease them into the new school year. 

Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

What If History of Australia (series)

Craig Cormick

Cheri Hughes

Big Sky, 2022

190pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922615763

As the dust begins to settle on the media coverage of the controversy over the date, events and perceptions of Australia Day, as the debate and  vote on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice  referendum  gathers momentum, it will flare up again and again. 

But had Captain Cook not landed here in 1770 and claimed this land for the British, would it have been left untouched by all except the First Nations people until now? What if Captain Cook’s ship sank when it hit the Great Barrier Reef in 1770? And what if the French settled Australia first? And what if King Louis 16th and Napoleon both ended up here, fighting over who was the rightful ruler in exile? And then the British arrived…

This is a new series (the second focuses on the gold rush) that looks at Australia’s history through a different lens, posing those alternative questions that we encourage students to ask as they delve deeper into common topics and start to form their own opinions.  As well as posing the questions, it also explores the possible answers such as what if John Batman’s treaty with the indigenous peoples of what is now Melbourne was legitimate and other treaties were initiated because of it. What if La Perouse had beaten the First Fleet into Port Jackson, would the aristocrats fleeing the French Revolution have settled here, including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

While it is intended as a humorous look at times past, nevertheless it provides a lot of information not usually found in more traditional historical texts, and its value in encouraging our students to pose alternative questions and consider what might occur if there were a different outcome has value across all branches of the curriculum.  If we are to encourage them to be creative and critical learners  then they must have access to model texts that do this.  While it is more for those who are mentally mature enough to put themselves in the shoes of others and consider different points of view, it definitely has a place in both the primary and secondary school libraries. 

 

Friday Barnes: Last Chance

Friday Barnes: Last Chance

Friday Barnes: Last Chance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Barnes: Last Chance

R. A. Spratt

Puffin, 2023

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143779247

Friday Barnes is the daughter of two highly-intelligent, eccentric physicists who are so disconnected from her upbringing that they called her Friday even though she was born on a Thursday.  She did have four siblings, all much older than her being born during the four-and-a-half years their mother had allocated for the task.  Friday was not scheduled and her birth was fitted in around a lecture her mother had to give in Switzerland.  Eleven years later, Friday had largely raised herself and she was happy with that.  Her greatest wish was to be unnoticed because you could do so much more that way like eating a whole block of chocolate at once without it being taken off you.    Unfortunately, it also means that you do not develop very good social skills particularly if you spend your time reading scientific tomes and educating yourself beyond the realms of anything a school could offer.

However, as well as the non-fiction her parents library consisted of, Friday had a penchant for detective novels because “being a detective allowed a person a licence to behave very eccentrically indeed” and she had honed her powers of observation and logical thought over the years.  But the time has now come for Friday to go to high school and given her parents haven’t even realised she is no longer in preschool, it was up to her to sort it.  She would have preferred not to go at all because she saw it as being all about “bullying, dodge ball and having to find a date for the prom” but the government was insistent that she do.  She tried to compromise by applying for university and passed the exam to study medicine but was knocked back on her age. 

So rejecting the idea of the Foreign Legion, the Peace Corps and being smuggled out of the country by people traffickers, after helping her ex-cop, private investigator Uncle Bernie solve a case she finds herself with the means to send herself to Highcrest Academy the best and most expensive boarding school in the whole country.  Her intention is to stay under the radar, do what she has to do and leave.  But things do not work out that way.  Right from the start, her nondescript self-imposed uniform of brown cardigans, grey t-shirts and blue jeans makes her stand out among the fashion parade that is the elite, wealthy students who also attend and being knocked down in the carpark on the first day doesn’t help either. Nor does being the brightest student in the entire school, being labelled “scholarship girl” by the school bully and being unable to help herself being able to point out the flaws and inaccuracies in the conversation and presentations of others. Antagonising the handsome, previously-smartest student Ian Wainscott adds to her woes, particularly when her roommate, the not-so-bright Melanie insists there is a romance blooming, something that Friday scoffs at. But their paths have already been inextricably interwoven…

Now, Friday, Melanie and Ian are Paris and they are discovering that the art scene is a hot-bed of crime as they investigate a mystery surrounding the Mona Lisa. Is the painting hanging in The Louvre a fake? And where is the original?

This is the 11th in this series  that was first published in 2014 and which quickly became a favourite among those looking for a story that had some meat to it with a heroine they could relate to, including Ms Then-8. Since then Friday’s adventures and escapades have garnered a wide and increasing audience, including Ms Now 16 who will be thrilled to get this one despite being eight years older.  But as well as the established fan base, this is such a timeless and quality series  the beginning of the school year is the perfect time to introduce it to a new generation of independent readers who not only have 10 others to fill their reading calendar but also another episode to look forward to in 2024.  Even if they read nothing else this year, this is a solid foundation for the future. 

Pollination

Pollination

Pollination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollination – How Does My Garden Grow?

Chris Cheng

Danny Snell

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486313235

When you live high up in an apartment in the city, it can be easy to take things like your food and clothing for granted, but take a trip to your grandparents in the suburbs and your eyes can be opened and your thinking changed entirely!

For even though young city kids might now know that bees are important, in this intriguing book they learn not only of the bees’ critical role in the survival of the planet as they flit from flower to flower, but also all the other pollinators who carry the precious gold dust – appropriate that it is gold, in the scheme of things – from plant to plant, not only providing food for humans but also for their own kind so that the cycle can continue on.  So, just as pollination itself is essential to the survival of the world’s ecosystems, so it is essential that we protect the pollinators.  As the child learns, something as simple as placing a bright-coloured flower in a pot on a balcony can contribute.

Linked to the Science strand of the Australian Curriculum, particularly the Biological Sciences understanding that “Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves ” as well as being used in conjunction with Bee Detectives,  Plantastic,The Butterfly and the Ants     and Wonderful Wasps, this is an excellent foundation for helping our youngest readers understand a concept that many adults wouldn’t believe they could even pronounce!

Extra notes and some suggestions at the end of the story offer further information as well as some ideas for the best plants to put in a “Pollinators Paradise” if the school were to go down the path of creating a special, year-round garden to attract and protect the local pollinators.  Imagine the investigations that would spark…

 

Koko and the Coconut

Koko and the Coconut

Koko and the Coconut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koko and the Coconut

Turia Pitt

Celestine Vaite

Emilie Tavaerli

Puffin, 2023

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

9781760892944

It’s a big day for Koko for not only does he have to leave the shell that has been his home since he was born because he now has a tough shell of his own, but he must also crack a coconut by himself if he is to feed himself and survive. But to reach the coconut there is an enormous palm tree to climb, and then, once he has the coconut on the ground there is the task of opening it. Even though all his friends are cheering him on, it does seem like an insurmountable task so will he succeed?

Based on the life stories of Birgus latro, the large terrestrial crabs of her native Tahiti, Turia Pitt has crafted a story of determination, perseverance and resilience – all those qualities that adults associate with her own story of survival. But for young readers, it is also an inspirational story as they tackle big challenges in their own lives, such as starting school. Like Koko, it is the next must-do part of their growing up, and like Koko, all their family and friends are encouraging them on the way, expecting them to succeed even if there are setbacks.  But most importantly, like Koko, they have to believe in themselves, know that they will succeed and be willing and courageous enough to take the next step, just as Koko climbed the palm tree continually telling himself he could do it.

Koko is the story’s narrator which immediately puts the reader in Koko’s “shoes”, while the stunning illustrations with their clever use of perspective echo the enormity of the task ahead so they are invested in the story from the get-go.

At this time of the year our young ones are hearing all sorts of stories about starting school and overcoming their fears, so this is one to add to that collection because of its parallels with that experience and its positive message.  As a story it is a stand-alone but astute adults will help the young listener dig deeper, helping them to understand that stories can have lots of layers of meaning. The message of believing in yourself is powerful and one our children need to hear so often.  

The Octopus’s Trick

The Octopus’s Trick

The Octopus’s Trick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Octopus’s Trick

Alexia Jankowski

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678768

Ollie is an octopus, and he might be smarter than you!
When Lucy and her friends decide to test how brainy Ollie the octopus really is by seeing if he can get prawns out of a sealed glass jar and photographing the action, they get a surprise when he steals the camera itself.  Can they get the precious footage back?

Told in rhyme, this is a story based on the author’s childhood snorkelling off the beach at Cottesloe, WA when an octopus actually stole their GoPro camera. Others have had similar experiences including one from NSW resulting in a photograph that won the 2020  Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The intelligence of these creatures has been recognised for some time and when one named Paul predicted the winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup interest in them as a species soared, so this is a great introduction to investigate more about these clever creatures so we can understand and protect them better -they’re so much more than the monsters of the deep that fiction taints them. 

 

Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

Jacqui Halpin

Big Sky, 2022

72pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922615602

For over 100 years Australia’s military nurses have been risking their own lives to save the lives of others. From nursing Gallipoli wounded in Egypt during World War I, to treating injured troops and civilians in modern day Afghanistan, with skill, devotion, and compassion these courageous nurses have cared for the casualties of war.

Australia Remembers 6: Care and Compassion – Wartime Nurses, the sixth in this series, shines a light on the remarkable women, and later men, who have served, and continue to serve Australia and humanity during times of war, conflict and natural disasters. The hardships, dangers and sorrows they faced is made accessible to younger readers and highlights the outstanding contribution of these often-forgotten heroes. With historic photographs, quotes from past and present-day nurses, fascinating facts and medical breakthroughs, questions and fun activities, it provides engaging and informative reading for children, adults and educators.

It ensures Australia’s military nurses will be remembered for the sacrifices they have made, the care they have given, and the lives they have saved with facts and photographs combined in a layout that makes the information readily accessible. Teachers’ notes are available to guide a deeper understanding  of both the text and its subject, making this a valuable addition to any collection that focuses on Australia’s military history and the things we commemorate around Both April 25 and November 11.

Where’s My Stick?

Where's My Stick?

Where’s My Stick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Stick?

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678508

Maxie the dog loves finding and burying sticks at the beach and he is smart enough to know that he must leave markers at their burial site so he can find them again to play with.  But each time he does, his marker has disappeared – nature has ways of tricking him – and so he has to find an even bigger stick!

This is a story of perseverance and resilience because Maxie doesn’t get frustrated and give up when he can’t find either his marker or his stick, but works his way to another solution – and finally rewarded with something more than a stick. Young readers will relate to similar situations when they have found that things don’t work out for them the first time and so they must try again. 

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again.  

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

Bunny Ideas

9781761068119

Otter-ly Ridiculous

9781761068126

Renee Treml

A&U Children’s 2023

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet, but, despite their differences they are best friends who work together to solve mysteries. 

These are the two latest adventures in this graphic novel series  for young readers transitioning from the basal readers of commercial reading schemes to less-controlled books offering a stepping stone to more complex “early chapter books”. Following the format of the previous four where the emphasis is on the conversation between the characters, Treml again places her characters into situations that are familiar to her audience.  In Bunny Ideas Bea is planning some fun games to play with her friends but they must follow her rules while in a game becomes a quarrel that threatens friendships, offering opportunities for the reader to consider what options there are for harmony and what choices they might make in a similar situation.

In a recent media interview I was asked why I thought it was important for little ones to read and apart from fueling their imagination and inspiring their dreams, I emphasised the need for them to read about children and characters who were just like themselves so that they could not only see themselves in stories and thus affirming who they are as they are is enough, but that they could encounter and solve problems such as those in these stories from a distance.  Contemporary realistic fiction has been defined as  “real stories that could happen here and now [in which] the author attempts to weave a story based on believable characters, a plausible plot and a recognisable setting so that young readers … can vicariously live through the story’s characters while they read” (Travers, B. E. & Travers, J. F. (2008) Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley) and while it is a term usually applied to literature for young adults, IMO Treml has nailed it in this series for much younger readers.