Search Results for: tiny wonders

Tiny Wonders

Tiny Wonders

Tiny Wonders











Tiny Wonders

Sally Soweol Han

UQP, 2022

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


When we were kids, if you held a dandelion under your chin and the yellow was reflected it meant you liked butter, and if you blew on the fluffy seeds, the number of breaths it took to clear it represented the time in Fairyland.  But for April, they represent something much more…

She thinks if her town was a colour, it would be grey. Everyone is too busy to stop and look around. How can she help them slow down?

When she remembers the happiness that dandelions brought her grandmother, April comes up with a plan … what if she were able to plant dandelions so their bright yellow flowers brought joy and colour back to the town. But it’s not as easy as she thinks, but then she has the determination and tenacity to persist…

Even though recent global events have meant that many have slowed down and are appreciating the natural world more, the easing of restrictions has shown that it won’t take much for towns and cities to become grey and blind again so this is a build-on book that could inspire all sorts of plans and preparations to make our homes and schools more cheerful and friendly, and, in doing so, give Mother Nature a helping hand.  As well as allowing young children to investigate how they could beautify their neighbourhood and the life cycle of plants, there is scope to discover what grows where and when and why as well as having to take on the long-term responsibility of nurturing a garden.  There are all sorts of biology investigations about the colour of flowers and the insects they attract and their value to the bigger picture as well as the language of flowers that both April and the author focus on.  

While there are many picture books focusing on the environment, this one that brings it right back to the child and their own back yard is a charmer and offers much scope for change – perhaps there will be many pockets of colour amongst the grey in the months ahead. 


Who Makes a Forest?

Who Makes a Forest?

Who Makes a Forest?











Who Makes a Forest?

Sally Nicholls

Carolina Rabei

Andersen Press, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Who makes a forest? A wizard, a giant, a business corporation or an emperor and all  his armies?

With its very English orientation this has been sitting on my to-review pile for some time, patiently waiting its turn as I pondered whether it was appropriate for young Australian readers, But as other reviews unfolded, particularly the series about the development of the planet from the Big Bang , the formation of land shapes and landscapes that we view in awe today, and the birth of animal life  its place in the scheme of things began to evolve.  For if this planet was formed by a mighty explosion that left us with scalding molten rock that eventually cooled, how did it become covered in all the plant life we know today?  

Compounded by watching what, for decades, has been a sharp, clay bank where the earth was cut out for a building turn to a moss-covered haven for tiny creatures as this year’s rain has seeped through the ground from the hills above us, and lichen grew on tree stumps that have been dead for just as long, the book found its way to the top of the pile.  So even though the plants and creatures that the children meet as they walk through the woods with Grandpa, nevertheless it is the concept of how  a thousand tiny things can come together to change the face of the earth. And so just as the children find moss and algae and lichen on the rocks, so I too, am finding it in my very Australian bush landscape.  And just as they see the tiny plants emerging from the soil created as those mosses and lichen break down, so am I seeing the shoot of a grass.  And as they see the butterflies and bees followed by the birds whose droppings not only nourish the fledgling soil but leave seeds that will sprout, so am I seeing clumps of wattle trees and other wildflowers starting to carpet what has been barren clay and shale. 

So from what was a book that didn’t really speak to me loudly, it has now taken its place in that collection that will help our young readers better understand the world around them and how it works.  And regardless of what evolves in the middle of the story, the start and the end of forests are the same – and there are even tips on what we can do to help them last longer. 

Earth is Big

Earth is Big

Earth is Big











Earth is Big

Steve Tomecek

Marcos Farina

What On Earth Books, 2021 

48pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


Even though Earth is our home and for most of our history it was the only place we knew existed.  But once scientists began to study outer space, they discovered that our planet is just one of many in the universe and despite it seeming big to us, it is really very tiny compared to the rest of space.

Nevertheless, our planet is quite different from the rest of the known worlds in the solar system because over billions of years different processes have moulded and shaped it like no other. And to understand it better those scientists began to compare it with the rest of the universe resulting in this informative, very readable book that introduces us to our big, small, heavy, light, cold, hot, wet, dry, fast, slow, round, jagged planet as well as the language and tools of measurement in a most meaningful way.

Using easy-to-read diagrams, charts, timelines and other infographics, comparisons connect together a broad range of familiar subjects  including animals, space, rocks and minerals to STEAM topics such as physics, chemistry, mathematics and measurement helping the reader understand concepts like how big is big and how old is old so they begin to grasp how important  measurement  is to our perception of things and how comparison permeates nearly everything we do.  For example, soap bubbles are some of the roundest objects in the universe or that when it comes to population, humans are vastly outnumbered by chickens!

This is an important stand-alone book for any teacher wanting to show the importance and application of measurement to our everyday lives but it is also a really valuable adjunct if you are following the Ancient Worlds  , BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began  investigative series. Again it offers students information and opportunities to explore and explain, show and share those areas that fascinate them most. It has all the critical elements of a quality information book including a glossary, index, links to other sources and so on as well as offering a model of how to present what could be dry, boring facts and figures in an engaging way. 


BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began

BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began

BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began











BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began

Katherine Halligan

Amy Grimes

Walker Studio, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Today’s book is the perfect accompaniment to Our Country: Ancient Wonders  as it takes the reader back beyond the formation on those ancient rocks at Kakadu 2.5 billion years ago to the very beginning of the universe answering those questions that some will inevitably ask about what came before even those ancient Australian formations.

In the beginning there was Nothing

No dark. no light, no day no night.

No sun, no moon, no stars.

No land , no sea, no air.

No plants, no animals

No me,

no you.





With a clever design technique of increasing the font with each statement, there is a sense of anticipation building until the reader in catapulted into the incredible story of billions of years of life on Earth, from the first tiny cells, through the age of dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts, all the way to the first humans. Using language that appeals as it describes the growth (“green things, buggy things, swimmy things, wriggly things, scaly things (big ones)”  it tracks the development of life in a way that offers enough information to satisfy curiosity without being overwhelming, while opening the door to further investigation for those who are intrigued.  And, as with Our Country: Ancient Wonders the historians, the scientists, the mathematicians, the artists and the storytellers can explore and explain the theory according to their interest and some can even consider the implication of a radical new theory,  perhaps even setting up a debate about that, the Big Bang and the various religious viewpoints.  

However, to pinpoint a focus, what really appealed was that after the meteor disaster that wiped out the dinosaur era, the planet recovered and this should give some comfort to those who are anxious about the current focus on the environment and climate change.  Both the land and those who inhabit it are very resilient. So with all the dystopian, post-apocalypse literature (both print and screen) dominating their leisure time,  there is scope for hope and belief in a future.

Books like this that can open up the potential for a series of rich, meaningful experiences that allow the development of essential investigative skills without appearing to be formal isolated, check-the-box lessons provide authentic learning experiences for students that last well beyond the classroom walls, particularly if there is a co-operative task that allows participants to use and build on their existing interests and talents.

 These days, after 51 years in teaching, it is a rare book that makes me wish I was back in the face-to-face situation but both this and yesterday’s have.  

And to help you here are some worthwhile links… Geoscience Australia is a rich trove. 

Table of Geological Periods

Geoscience Australia – Education resources

Geoscience Australia classroom resources 

Australia through Time  (map)

Australia Through Time (poster)

Shaping a Nation: A Geology of Australia    this is a book with each chapter available separately

Australia: an ancient land (teacher notes)

You might also like to check out We Go Way Back by Idan Ben-Barak which has a similar theme.



The Wild One

The Wild One

The Wild One









The Wild One

Sonya Hartnett

Lucia Masciullo

Penguin/Viking 2014

hbk, 32pp., RRP $A24.99


Charlie met the wild one when he was young.  His kite got stuck in the branches of the tree and there, sitting on the bough beside it is a barefoot, slightly dishevelled little boy – looking remarkably like Charlie himself.  All day they did things that little boys liked to do running, jumping, splashing, playing in the water, rolling in the mud, hanging from trees and scattering the leaves of autumn.  At the end of the day, it was time for Charlie to collect his kite and he was surprised to find that his new friend didn’t have to go home.  “Here is where I live,” he said. 

Whenever he could, Charlie visited the wild one and played and explored the wonders of nature. They caught tadpoles and saw the tiny legs; they watched caterpillars spin cocoons and spiders weaving webs; and they hooted to the mopoke who stared at them through feather goggles.  But such an idyllic life cannot last and Charlie had to go to school to learn mathematics and history and science.  Every now and then Charlie visited the wild one and he had not been forgotten but as life intervened the visits became fewer and fewer … until one, day, with his own son in his arms, he cannot find him at all.  Is he lost forever? 

This is a most gentle story of a boy who finds another side to himself, but loses it as life intervenes but as the sun rises and falls and the moon circles the earth, he discovers it again in time to share it.  Beautifully illustrated by Lucia Masciullo – this is the third partnership between the pair – it celebrates the joys of childhood and shows that the magic never quite leaves us, even if we cover it with layers of adult life.   The passage of time and the cycle of life are inexorable but deep down we never lose the wonder of our earliest days, and the need to replicate it for our children and our grandchildren.

Like all excellent picture books, this appeals to so many ages.  It’s perfect for helping the very young understand that time passes and things change, yet at the other end of the scale it would also be a perfect addition to a more abstract, conceptual  theme of belonging or journeys or discovery.  The more you read it, the more you discover.