Archive | March 2020

Jump!

Jump!

Jump!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump!

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2020 

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

9781925804461

High up in the Cloud Tower, the little Quig stared at the world way below him.  As his brothers and sisters rolled out of their eggs, they did the same, quickly learning to use their clever tails and powerful fins to climb and clamber over the tower. But the little Quig didn’t join in because his tail was stumpy, not clever, and his fins were thin and wrinkly, not powerful.  And he was afraid of the open spaces around and beneath him.

So he sat and watched the others, trying to pluck up the courage to jump too, and enduring their torments because he was so different. But one day when their taunts got too much, he did jump.  And discovered something amazing…

If there was a signature book for this year’s Book Week theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds then this has to be it!  For Stumpy the Quig is indeed a curious creature and he does have a wild mind.  But he is also resilient and is not daunted about being different, which is the central theme. He may not be the same as the other Quigs but he has other talents that are probably going to make them very jealous when they are revealed!

Whenever I get a book by Andrew Plant to review, I know I’m going to get a beautifully illustrated, unique story and this is no different.  It is made for sharing and discussing.

 

 

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Scribbly Gum Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Dannika Patterson

Megan Forward

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804485

It’s family time and mum’s choice of activity and she chooses a bushwalk. While the children would much rather stay inside with their screens, they reluctantly join her, dragging their feet all the way.  But as they leave the built-up area and into the bush, they start to notice things like the train of “itchy grubs” on the old post and the new baby flying fox.  But Charlie, the youngest, has noticed strange writing on a tree and he will not move on till someone reads it to him.  Has someone taken a marker and written all over the bark, or is there another explanation?

As schools shut down and children are required to stay at home with only themselves for company, this is a timely release that may give parents trying to teach them at home an idea for an excursion.  Looking closely at the things in the neighbourhood, taking photos, mapping the journey and identifying interesting everyday things that usually go unnoticed could offer a broad spectrum of learning as well as the exercise involved.  And some might even like to investigate the strange writing on the trees to give Charlie his answer… Does it hold secret messages?

The rhyming text and the beautifully detailed pictures which hold so much to be discovered make this a perfect book to introduce our children to things they might not have noticed and send them scurrying for answers.  

The Night of the Hiding Moon

The Night of the Hiding Moon

The Night of the Hiding Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night of the Hiding Moon

Emma Allen

Sher Rill Ng

NLA Publishing, 2020

4099., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279583

‘Late one night, Felix heard a thousand giants march across the sky and the round, silver moon went into hiding.’

Alone in his room, Felix is frightened – he imagines he can hear giants gathering on the rooftop. As a wild storm thunders through the night, Felix turns to his trusty torch, creating strong, brave shadow creatures who can keep him company and protect him from the ferocity of the wind and rain.

One by one, frolicking creatures crowd Felix’s bedroom. With his shadow friends impatient to play in the night, Felix must decide whether to stay, alone, or venture out shoulder to shoulder with his friends and confront his fears.’

Storms can be terrifying for young people (and not-so) and how well I remember being told that lightning was just the angels having a fireworks party and thunder, the clouds banging together – explanations I shared with both my son and my grandchildren when they crept into my bed seeking comfort. So Felix’s fear is understandable and will resonate with young readers and perhaps offer them some reassurance. It offers an opportunity to not only investigate the origins of storms but also to play around with shadows and discover how they are caused.

But being from the NLA, this story has the added bonus of extra pages and these one focus on the art of telling stories with shadows, particularly shadow puppets.  There are even instructions for making your own and patterns that can be used. In these times of schools not necessarily being in physical spaces, this is one that could be recommended to parents (it’s available for purchase online) to offer lots of creativity and fun as well as learning. 

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

National Geographic Kids, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781426335297

They are the things we see and use every day and which are so familiar we take little notice of them -cameras. mobile phones, rulers,  toilets and even common customs like shaking hands, table manners and saying gesundheit. But each has a backstory about its invention or development and in this intriguing little book from NatGeo Kids, each is explained.  With hand-shaking now discouraged, what are the origins of this practice anyway? With toilet paper now a nightly news item, what is the story behind its development and the invention of the toilet?  

Using its customary bold, colourful design, with stunning photos, and jam-packed with awesome facts, there are 10 chapters each with related inventions to keep young minds entertained and educated for a long time.  Perhaps, if students are no longer in the physical space known as school, it could serve as a role model for their own investigation of something common. Perhaps a future edition might have concepts such as social distancing and self-isolation – what do these mean, what do they look like and why were they imposed?

While the book answers many questions, it has the potential to pose so many more, each of which could be a research topic for kids needing something to do, and with self-choice essential it will engage them while putting into practice all those information literacy skills! 

 

Goodnight Glow Worms

Goodnight Glow Worms

Goodnight Glow Worms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodnight Glow Worms

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2020

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

9780143792918

Goodnight, Glow Worms shining bright,
Time to dim your Glow Worm light.
Glow Worms gleaming, beaming round,
Can’t switch off and can’t wind down.

It is glow worm bedtime but they are finding it very difficult to go to sleep.  Something is missing.  But even when that’s discovered, Yellow Glow Worm just can’t turn off his light.

This is another delightful story for littlies from the author of the equally delightful Meerkat Splash written in rhyme and repetitive text and accompanied by illustrations that encourage discussion and interactivity with its focus on helping little ones identify colours. But it could also lead to bigger things with the child’s curiosity about glow worms sparked and an investigation into why and how they glow.  Can they really turn off their lights?

Perfect for preschoolers.

Hattie

Hattie

Hattie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattie

Frida Nilsson

Gecko Press, 2020

160pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776572717

Hattie is a street-smart country girl in her first year of school. She lives just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all. Although she has a dog called Tacka and two outdoor cats, Havana and Stick, as well as ducks and chooks, she lives in a place so remote that she is lonely. Luckily she’s starting school and that brings new adventures.

There would be many Australian children who could relate to the isolation of Hattie and who long to go to school for the social contact that is so critical, and while her adventures at school are set in the Scandinavian world they are not so different from situations our children might find themselves in. However, this book is probably better as a read-aloud rather than a read-alone because its format is not as supportive for those reading about six-year-olds as other books are.  Perhaps that reflects the Scandinavian school experience where kindy kids can read independently with regular fonts and few illustrations. That aside, it is an engaging story that introduces young readers to a world that is very different from theirs yet remarkably similar. 

 

 

The Easter Bunnyroo

The Easter Bunnyroo

The Easter Bunnyroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Easter Bunnyroo

Susannah Chambers

Laura Wood

Allen & Unwin, 2020 

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

9781760635015

Last week my dad found an orphan who needs our help. She has LONG ears and BIG feet and a BUILT-IN BASKET. He says she’s a joey but I know who she really is – THE EASTER BUNNY! But Ruby is too little to hide the eggs and hop to all the houses in the world by herself and so begins a charming story that will appeal to our youngest readers. They can suggest all the skills that Easter Bunny would need to know to do his job well, including making a map so that all the eggs are delivered on time, and how Ruby could learn these.

Susannah Chambers, author of  The Snow Wombat, has created another appealing story, drawing on her knowledge of our native fauna and illustrator Laura Wood has packed a lot of detail into the pictures so there is much that can be talked about as the story is shared. The final twist is superb, and given the number of orphaned animals after the recent summer, the need for and role of carers is vital and this could also up other avenues for discussion and, perhaps, action. 

This is one Easter story that is not twee. 

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury 2020 

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

9781408899298

Many of our students now know the name of Greta Thunberg,  but do they know the names of the women on whose shoulders she stands?  With its very visual, colourful layout, this is one of a series from a creator whose own name is synonymous with women who changed the world, and introduces just a handful of the women who have made it their mission to respect and protect the planet.

Young readers are introduced to people such as  Isatou Ceesay  whose recycling of plastic waste into beautiful objects became the beginning of the ban on single-use plastics;. Jane Goodall’s whose work with chimpanzsees is legendary; Anita Roddick and The Body Shop who highlighted the need for fair trade and cruelty-free products;  Wangari Maathai who recognised the dangers of devastating deforestation and planted seeds of change and the two Aboriginal women Eileen Kampakuta Brown and Eileen Wani Wingfield who led the campaign to stop the building of a nuclear waste dump near their desert home of Woomera in South Australia. 

Offering inspiration and evidence that even small things can lead to large outcomes with the most ordinary people doing extraordinary things, it also challenges the reader to consider how they will speak up for the planet. Perhaps these women will become as well-known as today’s activists, but what is more important than their names is the work they did and why we, as a planet, are so much better for that.

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Jennifer Bell

Alice Lickens

Walker Books, 2020

184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781406388459

Daughter of world famous botanists who were killed on a flower-collecting expedition in Australia, 8-year-old Agnes now lives with her uncle who doesn’t understand her and certainly doesn’t understand her need or demand for a pet.  For although she now lives in a flat on the 26th floor of an apartment block in a big grey city, she has her parents’ love for the outdoors and being with the creatures in the local park is her favourite thing to do. So when she discovers a mysterious creature on her bed – one who informs her he is an elephant shrew, Rhynchocyn petersi,  Attie (short for “Attenborough”) a field agent for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Atlantic forest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? 

This is a new series for newly independent readers who have an interest in the environment and its preservation, as they can put themselves in the story as they venture into foreign places on important missions.  Avid readers are always looking for new series while those who are more reluctant will appreciate the short chapters and many illustrations. Both will enjoy having a meaty, meaningful story to engross them as they transition from set basal readers to novels.

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

Jackie French

Angus $ Robertson, 2020 

272pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460757727

 

Butter O’Bryan lives in a Very Small Castle with his father and three aunts – Aunt Elephant, Aunt Cake and Aunt Peculiar. These aren’t their real names, of course, just as Butter’s father isn’t really called ‘Pongo’.

And even though Butter is only twelve years old, and the grandson of one of Australia’s most successful Jam Kings, he is very aware of the hardship many people are experiencing.

Butter has been told there are ghosts at the nearby isolated Howlers Beach, but are there? And how can the children Butter plays cricket with on the beach simply vanish? Who are these children and why do they refuse his help?

The Ghost of Howlers Beach just sounds like one of those old-fashioned Secret Seven or Famous Five stories that generations have enjoyed for years, and in a way, it is. But this one has the unique Jackie French touch of magic, and rather than being a contemporary novel as those adventures were, this one takes the independent reader back to The Depression of the 1930s when the ramifications of World War I were still very evident and the realities of being unemployed, or worse, being a woman without a man but with a family, or even worse, being an indigenous person, are brought to light. With a light hand and intriguing characters, French brings to life life in the “susso camps” ; the great divide between the haves and the have-nots and the ever-present threat of diseases like polio before vaccines were available.

Read against the backdrop of today’s coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide economic collapse, it is very clear how far we have come in less than 100 years in both health, economic and social support and perhaps put things in perspective.

The subtitle to this novel is The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries, #1 and with the cast of characters now set hopefully more will follow quickly as we not only enjoy a good, meaty story but one that teaches us about a time not that long ago but eerily familiar all the same.

The timing of its release is remarkable (set long before the current virus was even heard of) and while there are comparisons that can be made between now and then, knowing that its setting and background are based on reality there is a sense of optimism that current times will pass and we will come out of the other side. Perhaps changed, but definitely intact.