Archive | February 11, 2019

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Welcome Home











Welcome Home

Christina Booth

Ford Street, 2013

hbk., 32pp., RRP $A26.95


Once upon a time, although not that long ago, whaling along Australia’s shores was a thriving industry and vital to the livelihoods and life of the communities at its centre. Whaling is again becoming a thriving industry along Australia’s shores, but it’s the marvelling at these awesome creatures, not the killing of them that is its focus. How far we have come in just a handful of generations.

In this beautifully, gently illustrated book by Christina Booth a young boy hears the call of the whale “echoing off the mountain like a whisper while the moon danced on the waves”. Neither his parents nor his grandparents could hear it – it was a sound for his ears only.  And each day he hears her call and learns something new about the treacherous path her ancestors followed and the murderous intent his ancestors had.  Can there be a reconciliation between humans and these magnificent creatures? Will she feel safe enough to show herself as he waits under the night sky? Will a whispered “Sorry” give her courage?

The tone of this book is set in the dedication on the title page – “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” (Chief Seattle)  And it is one of the most sensitive, beautifully told stories that I’ve had the pleasure to read for a long time.

Although the setting is not identified, the story was inspired by the birth, in August 2010, of a southern right calf in the Derwent River, Hobart – the first in 190 years! While those who witnessed this and the gradual return of the southern right (so-called because they were the ‘right’ whale to hunt) to the Derwent and whisper, “They are back”, this story explores “Where did they go?”  Known in the 19th century as a whale nursery, whalers hunted the southern right almost to extinction but since 1935, when they became the first species to be declared protected in either Australia or New Zealand, the whales are slowly returning knowing that once again, there is safe haven where only their photographs are taken, not their lives.

Is the whale in the story, sighted in July 2013, the same one who had the courage to give birth back in 2010?  Only time will tell.  But for all those children who ask, “Where did they go?”, not just about the southern rights but also all the other species that migrate northwards and still inspire a sense of awe and wonder, this is a perfect introduction to a past that is an integral part of Australia’s history and the foundation for an opportunity to build a more glorious future. Fitting into the cross-curriculum priority of sustainability perfectly, there is such scope for not only looking at what happened and why, but also the changing perspectives of humans towards their environment over time and what can be done and achieved, as well as giving background to the questions and arguments that arise when the Japanese begin their annual whale hunt, or even looking at how science, particularly that emanating from World War II, has produced viable alternatives. Riches indeed to capture the passions of all.

“Welcome Home” is one of my top five books for teaching children about treading lightly on this earth – it is not ours to destroy.



Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist










Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Peter Macinnis

NLA Publishing, 2019

248pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99


Anyone who knows Peter Macinnis, either personally or through his writing, knows that he is passionate about connecting young children with science and this latest contribution to the education of our students sits perfectly alongside his Australian Backyard Explorer and Australian Backyard Naturalist

In it, Macinnis takes the reader on a journey from explaining what earth science is and the earliest beginnings of the planet to the current debate about climate change, stopping along the way to investigate and explain all sorts of things which affect the development, health and performance of the planet like how rain is formed, the various types of rocks that lie beneath our feet, the impact of the currents on life and a zillion other things like why humidity is a critical factor in bushfire season, all tailored to helping young scientists understand what is happening in their own backyard.  It’s not “out there”, it’s right in front of them.  

Using his incessantly curious mind, he ferrets out all sorts of unknown facts and curiosities and then writes about them in a way that makes them so easily readable by his young target audience while giving them all the information they need yet not overloading them with too much detail. He leaves the door open for further investigation from more specialised sources.  The book is richly illustrated with photos, many of his own, diagrams and charts and there are projects to undertake, sections that delve more deeply into a topic, and ‘ologists’ to investigate and inspire.  

But for all the facts and figures and photos, there shines through a deep and abiding respect for this planet and an acute awareness that we must do more to protect it, and it is through young people having the knowledge and understanding about how it works that is likely to make the most difference.  Even though it has a global perspective, readers are inspired to “think global, act local” and examine what it is they can do to make their part of the world a better place for all, such as making a frog pond and keeping a seasonal diary.

If you add one non fiction book to your collection  this year, then this should be it – and if you don’t have the previous two then track them down through the NLA Bookshop.

Teachers’ notes are now available.

WINNER 2019 Educational Publishing Awards from the Australian Publishers Association.