Archive | August 2022

The Very Hard Book

The Very Hard Book

The Very Hard Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hard Book

Idan Ben-Barak

Philip Bunting

A&U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760526221

Can you make up a joke that makes you laugh? Sit in an empty room?  Or be somewhere else for a minute?

At first, this book with its short sentences, large font and intriguingly ‘simple’ pictures looks like one of those fun ones that engage young children in the joy of reading through the power of the absurd,  And, indeed, it is just that – but a closer look, as well as the diagram on the final endpaper, show that it is so much more.

Because once again, the author of the very popular Do Not Lick This Book has put his scientific brain to work to create an introduction to the world beyond the words, this time about thinking about thinking. The act of thinking about thinking is known as metacognition and forms the basis of all critical thought. It is also a concept that comes easily to children whose inquisitive nature makes them able to engage in abstract questions and open-ended thinking without the constraints, learning and lenses that the adult brain automatically imposes.

Bunting, who teamed up with Ben-Barak to create We Go Way Back has very cleverly used characters that resemble dendrites , the brain cell’s message receptors, to further emphasise the confusion and complexity of the tasks that seem so simple on the surface.  

Some years ago when science made it possible for specialists to really start delving into how people learn, and people like Bob Sylwester, Renate and Geoffrey Caine  Eric Jensen and Robin Fogarty  began to interpret what this looked like in the classroom providing the foundations for the pedagogies we now use, students were encouraged to think about their thinking, to know how their brains worked and apply that to their learning.  And they were engaged and fascinated as they learned about “the magic trees of the mind” . Even though this might not be such a focus now, nevertheless this would be an excellent introduction to get them to start thinking about thinking and stretching and growing their brains beyond the screen and someone else’s imagination. 

For surely, if our students are to become critical thinkers, they must first know how and why they think and the influences that play on that. 

 

The House on Pleasant Street

The House on Pleasant Street

The House on Pleasant Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House on Pleasant Street

Sofie Laguna

Marc McBride

A & U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760526450

Alby and his family are new on Pleasant Street. Their house is perfect, with a great tree to climb, and a pool. Their pet, Delia, is still in training, but she’s settling in just fine. So why can’t he make friends?  Particularly when tonight is Halloween – Alby’s favourite night of the year – and trick-or-treating is much more fun with other kids…

If ever there was an example of the words saying one thing and the illustrations portraying something very different, then this is it.  Award-winning illustrator Marc McBride has really put an unexpected spin on Sofie Laguna’s words but if you know his style through books like Deltora Quest and have taken a peek at his website, then you will have an inkling of what to expect in this new collaboration with his wife.  There is so much happening on each page in the exquisite details that this is a book best savoured alone so there is plenty of time to explore the world that has been created and then read again and again with more and more to discover.  

It’s funny, it’s entertaining and it’s utterly unique!

Animal Migrations

Animal Migrations

Animal Migrations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Migrations – Flying, Walking, Swimming

Diane Jackson Hill

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

80pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486315413 

Every year hundreds of thousands of animals trek across kilometres of land, traverse entire oceans or fly from one end of the planet to the other, and then back again. 

While drawings from the Stone Age period show hoofed animals travelling across the African savannah and  the Ancient Greeks were aware that the local birdlife disappeared and reappeared at certain times, today’s scientists are still asking questions and learning the answers as these annual journeys take place centuries on.  But why do they do this?  Where do they go? How do they find their way? How do they last the distance? How do they survive extreme weather and hungry predators? How do they navigate a landscape that includes rivers, mountains, oceans, cities and towns? 

These are the sorts of questions that our budding naturalists ask and which are answered in this new publication in an accessible layout that has lots of photos and other illustrations as well as text that is written to meet the needs of the intended audience without being too babyish or scientific. It explores the migrations of mammals, birds, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans and aquatic microorganisms, as well as their effect on our world, and how we can help these migrating animals.

With all the supports expected of a quality non fiction text, including a glossary, index and suggestions for further investigations this will be a valuable addition to any school library.

My Baba is the Best

My Baba is the Best

My Baba is the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Baba is the Best

Bachar Houli

Debby Rahmalia

Puffin, 2022

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

9781761046568

As Fathers Day approaches, this is a book to share to celebrate the special bond between fathers and daughters, and the fun times they share. 

My baba has a big beard and a big smile. He gives the best hugs and never sits still.
Gardening, jogging, fishing, watching movies or going camping . . . Baba and I do lots of things together.

My baba is the best. I love my baba!

And while you might think there are many such books available, this one is written by Bachar Houli, not only triple AFL Premiership player for Richmond and All-Australian on-field, but also the  first devout Muslim to play the game at that level.  So this is a unique opportunity for our Muslim students to see themselves in such a story, demonstrating that their relationships with their dads is pretty much the same as all kids, whilst acknowledging the subtle differences like the special bedtime prayer.  

Time and time again we hear those who are not from the dominant mainstream WASP community say that they despaired because they never saw anyone like them represented in books or on television – Dylan Alcott addressed it directly in his acceptance speech for Australian of the Year, 2022 –  “I used to hate having a disability. I hated it so much. I hated being different and, you know, I didn’t want to be here anymore. I really didn’t… Whenever I turned on the TV or the radio or the newspaper, I never saw anybody like me.”- and while this is gradually being addressed , how delighted young readers will be to see their family reflected in something so special. 

While we all have more in common than difference, it is the difference that seems to get the attention so by sharing such as this even our youngest readers can start to understand the threads that bind us are so much stronger.  Our relationships with our dads are the same no matter who we are, what we look like, what we do or what we believe in. 

A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic

A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic

A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic

Shivaun Plozza

Puffin, 2022

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

9781761043994

Willa is just an ordinary non-magical 12 year old girl, living in the Wild – a city squished between two warring witch covens. She hates the constant conflict and spends her days dodging wayward spells – from raining frogs to dancing chickens – which cause havoc for regular people like her. And it’s all because of the witch war! No wonder she also hates witches.

But one day she’s not ordinary at all. She discovers she does, indeed, have magic, much to her dismay.  Thus, she is taken to the castle where she learns all about spells, witchcraft, and the two waring covens of witches, one of which she will have to join and be initiated into before her 13th birthday. If she doesn’t choose one or the other, her magic will be uncontrollable and she will explode. She seeks help from her new friends -Gish, the castle dogsbody, Marceline, the palace librarian, and Talon, one of her most faithful cat companions – to try to find a resolution but her attempts to control her magic are interrupted by a rogue witch, who begins nefarious spells against the Ordinary Folk. What does the witch want and what does it have to do with Willa? Can she get her magic under control before the whole town is doomed and her birthday arrives? 

Written more for independent readers at the upper end of this blog range, this is an imaginative story that capitalises on the current fascination with all things magical while allowing the reader to put themselves into the story.  Given the choices between the two covens. perhaps exploding might be the better option! It relies on the traditional good versus evil for its basic premise while including the modern scenario of a young girl being able to make her own decisions and choose her own path. 

 

Where Seagulls Dare: A Diamond Brothers Case

Where Seagulls Dare:

Where Seagulls Dare:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Seagulls Dare

The Diamond Brothers

Anthony Horowitz

Walker, 2022

256pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781529501179

This is a new story heralding the return of a popular series from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s recounting the adventures of the world’s worst private detective, Tim Diamond (28), and his much more intelligent younger brother, Nick Diamond (14). Because of their popularity they have been re-issued over the years, each time gaining a new generation of fans, often moving on to read Horowitz’s more mature novels such as the Alex Rider series.

In this episode, Tim and Nick haven’t had a case for three months and are down to their last cornflake so when a glamorous woman comes into their office offering them a pile of cash to find her missing father, they think Christmas has come  Before they know it, they are caught up in a case involving bike-riding hitmen, super-hackers and a sinister far right organisation, the White Crusaders. The Diamond Brothers are in trouble over their heads. 

Even though it has a teenage protagonist and international criminals, it is written for the 7-9 age group, lightened with humour, puns. pop culture references and absurd situations characterised by titles that are spoofs of popular movies. Something to entice young males to keep reading and perhaps lead them on to other works by the same author. 

 

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snakes Awake

Jarrod Paine

Shannon Boland

Ford Street, 2022 

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

9781925804928

Pip and her mum love to explore the bush, particularly in summer when so many creatures have woken from their winter slumbers and are out and about.  Pip’s favourite creatures are snakes, especially the red-belly black snake, but there are lots of things to know and do so she and her mum stay safe while they are exploring.

Written for younger readers so they too can heed Pip’s advice, this is a timely book to share as the weather warms up and families and animals are more active. As well as the story, it includes easy-to-read charts for both staying safe and first aid should there be the need.  Above all, it shows that while we must take care in the bush, just as we do at the beach, there is much to see and admire if we are prepared to wear our “special nature goggles”. 

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

Sue Lawson 

Karen Tayleur

Wild Dog, 2022

44pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036267

“An invention is something created to solve a problem or make life easier. Inventions can start as a question: ‘I wonder if there’s a better way to do this?’  Or they can come about by chance…”

In this new book that focuses on things created or developed by Australians, young readers can discover the ingenuity of those who have contributed some of the most significant items to make the world a better place and which have endured over time. From the development of firestick farming , the yidaki (didgeridoo), woomera and eel traps of First Nations peoples to wifi, flashing cricket stumps and the mobile laundry for the homeless, the collection is divided into categories such as agricultures, medicine, technology, and communication with short easy-to-read summaries of the invention and all neatly brought together in a useful, colour-coded timeline at the end. As well as the readily-accessible text, there are lots of photos and the usual supports to help junior researchers navigate the contents. 

This is a timely release  when we are particularly encouraging students to dream with their eyes open and to let their imaginations soar, including those with a penchant for non fiction, making it one to highlight. 

A Clue for Clara & Rita’s Revenge

A Clue for Clara & Rita's Revenge

A Clue for Clara & Rita’s Revenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Clue for Clara 

9781760877699

Rita’s Revenge

9781761066009

Allen & Unwin, 2020-2022

320+ pages, pbk., RRP $A16.99

 

GREETINGS. AM LOOKING FOR A MAJOR CRIME TO SOLVE. PLEASE INFORM ME OF ANY RECENT MURDERS, KIDNAPPINGS OR JEWEL HEISTS IN THIS AREA.’

A scruffy chook, literally henpecked by the other hens, Clara has become addicted to the detective shows she sees on the humans’ television and now she wants to be a famous detective like her hero Amelia X with her own TV show. She can read claw marks, find missing feathers and knows Morse code and semaphore, but  being small and scruffy chook no one takes her seriously. But when she teams up with Olive, the daughter of the local policeman, they might just be able to solve the crimes that have been troubling the town of Little Dismal. 

And having solved the crime and prevented the theft of some sheep, but in the process having made the ducks look less than the courageous creatures they perceive themselves to be, the ducks are ticked off and are seeking revenge.  They decide they are going to make Clara’s life a misery but brave as they profess to be, none is willing to lead the charge.  Until Rita, in disgrace for offering poetry at the recent Talent Night, volunteers in an effort to seek redemption.  But But Rita finds more than revenge on her mission. She uncovers a dastardly plan to chook-nap the clever chicken that will take them both a long way from home.  But her unlikely friendship with a small human and the help of some street-smart birds just might save the day and inspire an epic poem!

This is a LOL duo for the newly independent reader who likes something completely wacky and entertaining, written in an easy-to-read unique diary format with plenty of other textual supports while being thick enough to impress peers!  Both see the human world through a different lens offering interesting insights as well as hilarious observations and misinterpretations, but more than that, they validate the importance of being yourself regardless if that is a little different to the norm and the expectation of others.  Young readers who see themselves as being a little outside whatever is currently accepted amongst their peers will delight in seeing both Clara and Rita rise above the pack (flock?) to triumph. 

 

E-Boy (series)

E-Boy (series)

E-Boy (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-Boy (series)

Anh Do

Chris Wahl, Tim McEwen

Allen & Unwin, 2020-2022

200+ pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

 

Ethan is supposed to be doing regular teenage things – like playing sports and hanging out with friends.
He is not supposed to be in hospital getting a brain tumour removed by Gemini, a high-tech android doctor. But just as the operation begins, the medical facility is hit by an unusual bolt of lightning …

When Ethan wakes up he discovers that things are different. He’s always been good with computers, but now his skills are next-level. Ethan almost feels like he’s … part of the machine because now he has powers to hack into any electronic device.. And what about the android Gemini? If Ethan is now part robot, does that make the robot part human?  It seems so,  and the government wants him to themselves to try to catch Ethan because they fear what these powers might mean for their security. And so Gemini is now in pursuit of Ethan but what is his purpose if he catches him?

Ethan will need all his new skills just to stay alive… but just because he can hack into computers, should he actually do so?  Anh Do sets up an ethical dilemma that the reader has to grapple with. 

This is an interesting series because while its hero is a teenager, its format is more like that for those who are newly independent readers, including plenty of illustrations, so it is perfect for those older boys who are looking for something age-appropriate but still needing that support.  It also means they can be seen reading a book by one of the most popular authors at the moment, so that is also important for their self-esteem. Added to that, within this story are references to some of Do’s other series including Skydragon, and Rise of the Mythix  so it might just open up other reading horizons for them.  

So far, there are four in the series and they are best read in order so there is continuity of both plot and characters, but the early episodes are still readily available if this is not yet in your collection.