Archive | June 2021

Oona

Oona

Oona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oona

Kelly DiPucchio

Raissa Figueron

Katherine Tegen Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A 29.99

9780062982247

Oona the mermaid and her best friend Otto the pufferfish love to search for treasure on the ocean floor, … but often they find trouble instead.

Messy trouble.

Tricky trouble.

Even shark-related trouble.

That’s never stopped them though! So when Oona spies a beautiful crown caught in the sand at the bottom of a narrow crack she was determined to have it.  But does she have the courage to dive right in and fetch it from the dark, murky depths where who knows what might be waiting for her? 

This is an engaging story that has the unusual twist of Oona actually giving up on retrieving the crown but then continuing with how that made her feel and her resolve returning.  We all know the feeling of dissatisfaction when something we desire, tangible or not, remains just out of reach. We have to consider whether it is a walk-away thing or whether it’s an occasion to rethink our strategies so we can attain or achieve it. So, by not having Oona reach her goal, the author opens up the discussion about what we can do it we don’t win.  In this success-oriented world where children are rewarded just for turning up to something they have committed to, they don’t often have the opportunity to learn to lose, to experience the feelings that that entails and how to not only deal with the loss but also those feelings. 

The other element that sets this apart from other stories about mermaids is the illustrations, for Oona is not the stereotypical pretty white mermaid with long golden locks and fish-scale tail and Otto is not a cute rainbow-fish type companion, so that also could lead to an exploration of stereotypes, their impact on our perception and how something that is completely different from what we were expecting can impact on our reading.  Does the diversity enhance the experience or distract from it?

This is a book for a range of ages – it could be just a story about a mermaid or even a discussion about how the “treasure” she finds ends up in the ocean, it could be the springboard to much more. 

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury, 2021 

192pp., pbk., RRP $a14.99

9781526615336

Women have been responsible for many of the world’s most groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Kate Pankhurst tells the stories of some incredible female scientists whose hard work and persistence changed our understanding of science, and transformed people’s ideas of what women can do.

As a child Mae Jemison imagined herself reaching for the stars and that’s exactly what she did: she became the first African-American woman to go into space. When Elizabeth Blackwell was told women weren’t allowed to be doctors, she didn’t take no for an answer. Tu Youyou spent months on a remote island during the Vietnam War to try and invent a treatment for malaria – and she did it. Other women whose stories are told include Marie Curie,  Janaki Ammal, Caroline Herschel, Katia Krafft, and Rosalind Franklin so readers are introduced to some new names as well as those more familiar.

Including comic strips, family trees, maps and more, Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories is a celebration of women who made some of the world’s most important scientific breakthroughs.

This is another in this series by Pankhurst , a descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, who looks at the impact of women in several apparently male-dominated fields, some of which are also available in picture book format. If our girls are to be inspired to reach great heights, it is empowering if they read of others who have done so and understand that perseverance and resilience are essential. 

Music for Tigers

Music for Tigers

Music for Tigers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music for Tigers

Michelle Kadarusman

Pajama Press, 2021

192pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781772781892

“The first sound I hear in the forest at the bottom of the world is Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons. There’s a movement in the violin concerto that’s meant to mimic the sound of birds. When I step off the bus in the Tarkine bush, that’s exactly what I hear. An orchestra of birdsong descends like musical rain from the Tasmanian treetops.”

Shipped halfway around the world from Toronto to Tasmania to spend the summer with her mother’s eccentric Australian relatives, middle schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is prepared to be resentful. All she wants to be is a violinist, not a biologist like her mother but her mother has discovered that the family-run sanctuary is about to be destroyed and thinks Louisa needs to know more about her heritage.

Life at the family’s remote camp in the Tasmanian rainforest is intriguing, to say the least. There are pig-footed bandicoots, scary spiders, weird noises and odours in the night, and a quirky boy named Colin who cooks the most amazing meals. Not the least strange is her Uncle Ruff, with his unusual pet and veiled hints about something named Convict Rock. 

Finally, when Uncle Ruff gives Louisa her great-grandmother’s diary, she learns the truth: Convict Rock is a sanctuary established by her great-grandmother Eleanor-a sanctuary for Tasmanian tigers, Australia’s huge marsupials that were famously hunted into extinction almost a hundred years ago. Or so the world believes. Hidden in the rainforest at Convict Rock, one tiger remains. But now the sanctuary is threatened by a mining operation, and the last Tasmanian tiger must be lured deeper into the forest. The problem is, not since her great-grandmother has a member of the family been able to earn the shy tigers’ trust. 

As the summer progresses, Louisa forges unexpected connections with Colin a young lad on the autism spectrum; with the forest;  and-through Eleanor’s journal-with her great-grandmother. She begins to suspect the key to saving the tiger is her very own music. But will her plan work? Or will the enigmatic Tasmanian tiger disappear once again, this time forever? 

This is an intriguing read for independent readers who are looking for something different, and something that will stay with them long after the last page is read. The Tasmanian Tiger remains an mysterious, elusive creature which fascinates because of the sporadic “sightings” and suggestions that it may not have become extinct when the last one died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. Acknowledging the expertise of the land’s traditional owners, it is one that has the preservation of the environment at heart, but also the changing nature of people and families as they learn more about who they are.

Written for readers at the upper age limit of this blog, I, as an adult, was engrossed and I could hear myself reading it to a class of entranced listeners. 

 

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

Rachel Bright

HarperCollins, 2021

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

9780008408329

Love Monster is going on an exciting adventure with his friends… to the beach! He can’t wait to be THE BEST SURFER IN THE WORLD! But as Love Monster gets closer to the extremely big waves, the less sure he is. Will he even have the courage to dip a toe in the ocean? Of course he does – after a bit of trepidation and consideration.  But that first wave dumps him so does he have the courage to try again?  

This is a story featuring a character who now has his own series on CBeebies, thus making him familiar to many young readers and encouraging them to read. It has a familiar theme of being afraid to try something new but having the courage to eventually have a go, perhaps inspiring those same young people to tackle something that has seemed like a mountain to them so they too, can feel the thrill and empowerment of achievement.

 

The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife

The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife

The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife

Maz Evans

Hodder Children’s, 2021

225pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781444957679

Scarlett Fife has BIG FEELINGS. And when she has BIG FEELINGS, they explode out of her like an over-squeezed stress ball.

Scarlett’s in big trouble after a BIG FEELINGS episode leads to a runaway hamster getting into the vicar’s trousers at her aunty’s engagement party. If she loses her temper ONE MORE TIME, she’s going to miss out on her trip to Mega Awesome Sicky Fun World, the best theme park on the planet.

But feelings are like slime in a party bag. No matter how much someone tells you to keep it in, it’ll always find its way out. And very soon, Scarlett notices that every time she pushes her feelings down, something explodes. Like … really, properly explodes.

It might be her teacher’s slimy green smoothie. A huge pot of purple paint. Or a massive pile of elephant poo at the zoo. And let’s hope Scarlett doesn’t get mad at Aunty’s wedding – that wedding cake is HUGE …

Start a story with “I AM SO ANGRY I THINK MY BUM MIGHT FALL OFF’ and populate it with characters who are instantly relatable to its audience, add modern illustrations and a graphic layout and you have a story that is going to appeal to a wide number of newly independent readers, particularly girls who understand Scarlett’s frustrations. This is a new series  (with at least two more scheduled) for those in the 9+ age group who like humour, action and an assertive sassy heroine who can’t always control her feelings and her temper.  Most importantly,  it demonstrates that sometimes the healthiest way to deal with a situation is to let yourself explode, express your frustration and anger and not be the sweet, demure, considerate person that people expect you to be.  (Ask me how I know!!) But it also shows that there are times when you need to suck it up and move on – learning the when and why of both responses is part of maturing and that’s just what Scarlett and her readers are doing. 

Freaky, Funky Fish

Freaky, Funky Fish

Freaky, Funky Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freaky, Funky Fish

Debra Kempf Shumaker

Claire Powell

A & U Children, 2021

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

9781760526733

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, and within them live 15% of all the creatures that live on the planet including more than 32 000 species of fish.

Fish have fins and gills and tails. All fish swim and most have scales…

But not every fish is the same.  There are zappers, stingers, singers, shakers; dancers, and a whole host of others with strange characteristics that enable them to survive, and in this engaging book for curious, independent readers, Debra Kempf Shumaker has written an intriguing rhyming text which focuses on the traits of some of the weirdest fish that dwell there, rating each on the freaky/funky scale.  The slimy hagfish scores 5/5 on the freaky scale while the snotty parrotfish gets 5/5 om the funky scale.

However, this is so much more than a story that rhymes – from the front cover to the endpapers and every page in between, there are hundreds of illustrations of those fish and loads of information about them, all brought together in a most imaginative layout that not only engages the reader but satisfies their curiosity and encourages them to explore further. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Ideal for helping little ones explore the new worlds of beneath the waves. 

 

The Silly Seabed Song

The Silly Seabed Song

The Silly Seabed Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silly Seabed Song

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899394

Jelly flubber! Wobbly gong!
It’s the Silly Seabed Song!

As the Rock Oysters sing their final song of the evening, and all the sea creatures sing and dance along, all little Turtle Hatchling Fred wants to do is sleep.  But how can he with all this laughing and giggling and NOISE??? It seems everyone who lives under the water has come to join in and the result of this “lullaby” is just a cacophony.  Or is it?

Once again, the author of Goodnight Glow Worms, and Meerkat Splash offers our youngest readers a charming story for bedtime with its lyrical rhyming text and appealing illustrations. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As well as introducing them to a range of creatures that dwell in the ocean that they are probably not familiar with, there is also the challenges to find a range of them as they frolic with the party-goers amongst the seaweed and sand.  There’s a new little person coming to our family soon and this will be the perfect bedtime story for a proud grandfather to read!! 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Aleesah Darlison

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899226

Deep in the estuary where the river meets the sea of the Derwent River in Tasmania lives one of the most endangered species in Australia – the tiny spotted handfish, so named because they use their “hands”  to walk along the sand and silt of the sea floor rather than using their fins to swim. So endangered that it is the first marine fish in the world to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  

It is Spring when we first meet Coco and it is a busy time for her because she needs to find a  sea squirt that will be safe to lay her eggs and she only has a few weeks in which to do so, find a mate and then guard them until they hatch.  And even then they are not safe because even though she can lay 80-250 eggs each year, there are still only about 3000 spotted handfish in the wild in the world – all in that remote river in Tasmania! Existing since the time of the dinosaurs, yet now threatened by invasive seastars, pollution and climate change, Coco and her babies have more than hungry fish to worry about.  

This is the first in a multi-book series that will introduce our youngest readers to some of Australia’s most vulnerable wildlife, particularly those that are scarcely known.  And with her usual gift for words, Aleesah Darlison has crafted a story that is full of information (and supported with fact boxes) while being entertaining in itself.  Coupled with illustrations that are visually appealing whilst still being biologically correct, this is a fascinating introduction not only to this little-known creature but also to the power of print in non fiction.  So many of our littlest readers are fascinated with the unusual world around them (talk to my friend’s little person about pangolins) yet there is not yet a lot that reaches down to their level of literacy so they can access it for themselves.  Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike. Given there is another book on the same subject shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for 2021 this will be an excellent addition to the collection to satisfy the curiosity of those clamouring to know more. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

The Colour of Music

The Colour of Music

The Colour of Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colour of Music

Lisa Tiffen

Matt Ottley

MidnightSun, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227871

Molly can see the music. Colours flash brilliantly as she listens. The music takes her on a journey into places filled with colour, revealing connections between music, emotions, and the world we live in.  As she lies on the floor with her eyes shut and her ears open, and the vibrations of sound running through the floorboards to make her fingers tingle, she is transported to a world of colours and pictures, impressions and feelings that not only give her a whole inner body experience but also a whole outer body experience.

Tiffen’s lyrical text, accompanied by Ottley’s magical illustrations offer the reader just a taste of the river of sights and sounds and sensations that Molly undergoes when she is connected to her music, an experience known as synaesthesia – an involuntary merging of the senses  such as hearing colours or seeing sounds.  But even though we might not be synaesthetic, nevertheless music can still evoke amazing images with the same piece of music interpreted differently by each individual. 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Play a piece for your class while they shut their eyes and let their imaginations drift and then have then share or draw what their mind’s eye saw. It is a soothing way to relax and spend an hour or two. Good for the soul and so much simpler than any contrived mindfulness exercises. . 

Not being the slightest bit musical, and having no love of classical music, I was amazed at how I could listen to ABC Classics on the nights I couldn’t sleep during my recent illness and the places my mind went so I eventually drifted off into a technicolour dream world that mirrored the sounds I was hearing.  So synaesthetic or not, the colour of music can be seen by all of us if we are willing to look. 

You Can’t Take an Elephant on Holiday

You Can't Take an Elephant on Holiday

You Can’t Take an Elephant on Holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Take an Elephant on Holiday

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408898567

With winter closing in, holidays seem like a tempting option right now but whatever you do or wherever you go, DON’T take an elephant with you. Or a cheetah, or a rhino, or a meerkat or an albatross for that matter.   Or any of the animals mentioned in this wacky book, because even though they just want to have fun, they are going to cause havoc.

This latest addition to the You Can’t Take an Elephant  series is as hilarious as the others and will delight both child and adult alike as they share it together.  Let the child think of then draw a scene from their favourite holiday spot and then add a favourite animal and a situation and there is the basis for a story.  Even better if it rhymes as this text does! Or explore how the author has used language to make the rhymes and play with their words so they do too. Imagine what a wombat might do if you took it to the beach with you!

A bit of fun to play with as the long winter terms drags on…