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Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

Coral Vass

Nicky Johnston

EK Books, 2022

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

It is the backdrop to the lives of so many, draws millions of visitors from around the world, and yet is so familiar now that many don’t even see it.

Who would have thought that such a magnificent structure could grow from a little boy playing with sailboats, watching swans land on water, collecting seashells and flowers, even playing with his breakfast orange peel?  And yet it did and in this beautiful retelling of the young life of  Jørn Utzon, the reader learns not only of the beginnings of one of the world’s most recognisable buildings but the power of the imagination, and the importance of letting dreams lead us into amazing places.

Where might today’s discovery take a young person in years to come? Even if it is a wet, indoors day, what might they build from “rubbish” that could become the start of something magnificent?  In 50 years, will a nation be celebrating their dreams as they are about to celebrate Jørn’s?  

Sensitively written and illustrated in a way that doesn’t reveal the mystery to the end, this is a book that not only celebrates a little life that has big dreams that come true, but inspires the reader to drift away and imagine… If Jørn could begin a building with orange peels, could they make a city floodproof by playing in their porridge and milk?

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockpooling With Pup

Kevin Brophy

Jules Ober

Ford Street, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922696137

There is a fascinating world waiting to be discovered in the pools left in the rocks by the retreating tide – creatures and plant that are so dependent on that regular movement of water to survive that they can live nowhere else.  But it takes a keen eye to spot them, and when Mia and her pup go exploring they see more than they expected because while they find a blue-ringed octopus, where are her rings?

Once again, Jules Ober has put her amazing modelling skills to use setting miniatures of Mia and Pup against incredible photographs of that fascinating world, which, when married with the text, introduce the reader to the many creatures that they might not otherwise know. 

It is no secret that I grew up by the beach at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand – next stop Antarctica – and the only rules we had were to come home when it got dark or when the tide was on the flood. So I spent my childhood leaping amongst the rockpools, queen of all I could see, and something I still do whenever I get the chance, and so this book really resonated with me.  So many memories.  

My happy place

My happy place

Many of our students will have done the same thing in recent weeks as school holidays will have seen them at the beach even though the water is a little cool to swim, and this is the perfect book to help them not only recall those happy times but also learn a little about what they saw. 

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

Swifty - The Super-fast Parrot

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Astred Hicks

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315918

   

In a hollow in a Tasmanian blue gum in a Tasmanian forest, a female swift parrot lays three eggs, Even though all three hatch, only one survives the perils of the forest, and learns which nectar is the sweetest and which lerps are best. 

As the Tasmanian weather cools and winter looms, Swifty joins the few remaining parrots of her species to make the 250km flight across Bass Strait to the mainland territories of Victoria, NSW, ACT and south-east Queensland following the blossom trail.  One of only two species of parrot that migrates, Swifty’s journey takes her on a perilous 4000km round trip but even a return to Tasmania does not guarantee safety as she finds the hollow in her tree already taken and so she has to make yet another journey to one of the outlying islands to breed in safety. 

Once again. CSIRO Publishing has employed top-shelf writers and illustrators to bring young readers a story that introduces them to another of Australia’s critically endangered species, raising awareness and understanding that there are so many of these lesser-known creatures that need protection, safety and help as their habitat declines.  As well as offering tips for kids on how to spot one in their backyard, how to help protect them and how to help further, there are comprehensive teachers’ notes  to enable deeper study. 

Another one to add to your collection from this publisher dedicated to ensuring our young readers know the inhabitants of their environment, a collection that includes On the Trail of the Plains-Wanderer, SwoopAmazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity A Shorebird Flying AdventureTiny Possum and the Migrating MothsOne Potoroo  and Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”! 

Dirt by Sea

Dirt by Sea

Dirt by Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt by Sea

Michael Wagner

Tom Jellett

Puffin, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894061

When Daisy’s family join in a rendition of the national anthem while watching television, little do they know the impact it is about to have.  Because Daisy hears the lyrics as “dirt by sea” rather than “girt by sea” and even though her grandparents and father explain that “girt by sea” means being surrounded by ocean, when she looks out the window all she sees is “girt by dirt.”

It is then her dad realises that he has never taken her to the beach, let alone the ocean, and the trip he and Daisy’s mum made in their old Kombi van are fading into distant memory.  So on Christmas Day, Daisy’s gift is that old Kombi, and on Boxing Day, she and her Dad set off…

Drawing on their own experiences of childhood and adulthood road trips with families, this is a round-Australia adventure for those with the skills to be able to read and follow its graphic novel format. It starts with Daisy’s blank map of Australia on the front endpage and finishes with a completely filled in, colourful one at the back detailing their trip from south-western Queensland to Airlie Beach and beyond around the country’s coastline.

But this is more than just being a travelogue or tourist brochure. Carried along in the conversations between the two, it becomes a personal journey of development for Daisy, her relationship with her dad as he relives his life with Daisy’s mum whose absence is both noticeable and unexplained, and also Daisy’s realisation that she misses her family, and for all it might by “girt by dirt” there is still no place like home with the people and things you love and how they have helped you become who you are. By the time they make it home, neither Dad nor Daisy are the same people who left, and there is a bond between them that the reader knows will endure long into their futures. 

As the blurb says, they discover so much more than the sights and sounds of the wild and wonderful Aussie coast. 

 

Out of the Pouch

Out of the Pouch

Out of the Pouch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Pouch

Laura Hamilton

Nandina Vines

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.95

9781922358431

Poppy the baby joey is learning to be independent and so her mother often nudges her out of the pouch to explore.  Poppy loves the freedom but one day she zigs and zags and zooms so much she gets lost.  Using her smarts, she doesn’t panic but asks the other creatures for help.  But Kookaburra. Koala and Echidna are too busy in their own little worlds to know where Poppy’s mother is.  Until Cockatoo comes to the rescue…

This is an Australian twist on a familiar theme that would be the perfect introduction to talking to our youngest readers about what they should do should they get lost.  An opportunity to teach them about who the safe strangers are, the importance of knowing their name, address and telephone number, and having the resilience to take a deep breath and think of the best strategy to use. 

One for the preschooler’s library…

 

Tilda

Tilda

Tilda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilda

Sue Whiting

Walker Books, 2022

272pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9781760654634

As the 19th century becomes the 20th, hard times have befallen Tilda and her beloved Papa as they grieve the loss of Tilda’s mother, the burning down of the Nimble Ninepence so Papa is out of a job, and his family turning his back on them. Desperate, he puts Matilda into the Brushwood Convent and Orphanage for Girls while he joins the SA Citizen Bushmen Contingent to go to South Africa to fight in the Boer War.  

But he vows to return to her for her, and it is this promise that Matilda clings to as she endures orphanage life with all the harshness that we associate with those institutions, except she has a particularly rough time as head nun Sister Agatha has singled her out for some reason, determined to break her spirit.  Buoyed by her mother’s advice telling her to be strong, and her strong friendship with the sickly Annie, Matilda resists every attempt and every punishment to admit that she is an orphan, until she sees apparent proof that her father has indeed, abandoned her, and her world crumbles…

Ever since I first came to Australia and read Playing Beattie Bow in 1980 (introduced to her by a Tl mate whose job I envied),  I have had a penchant for historical fiction set in Australia, with strong female leads..  Tilda is a worthy addition to my list.  Author Sue Whiting has grounded the story loosely on her grandmother’s life who, like mine, was born in New Zealand in 1896, and then moved as a baby to Australia.  While she has manipulated the events and the timeline slightly, as authors are allowed to do, she has used the little she knows to craft a powerful story of courage and determination, a willingness to stand up to authority and be her own person, that was not the norm in those times.  Or, if they were, it was still very much a man’s world and such resilience in girls was not written in the history books.  Despite the reign of Queen Victoria. the lives of independent young women were relegated to novels. 

More for the older end of the target readership of this blog , nevertheless it is one that more mature younger independent readers will relish as a new world of times past will be opened up to them.  While they may not relate directly with Tilda’s circumstances, nevertheless they will be cheering her on, barracking for her each time she stands up to Sister Agatha, and empathising with her as she is determined to look after Annie.  Who knows – this may be a young girl’s “Beattie Bow” and lead them down reading paths they didn’t know existed.  

Stacey Casey (series)

Stacey Casey (series)

Stacey Casey (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stacey Casey (series)

The House that Time Remembers

9781922615886

The Cheeky Outlaw

9781922615848

Michael C. Madden

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2022

164pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Stacey Casey’s father is a terrible inventor. But now, despite years of failed inventions, he has created a functioning time machine.  But instead of sending him back in time, he turns their entire house into a time machine, transporting everyone and everything in it back into history, although they still have access to parts of 2022 like mobile phones and the internet.

In the first episode, Stacey and her friend Oliver find themselves in 1964 faced with a series of extraordinary events. They find a bizarre artifact and encounter strange man who seems to know Stacey … but why is he chasing them? Who set the school on fire? And what’s with all the famous people they keep meeting? Can the friends solve the string of unanswered questions and find their way home?

In the second in the series, Stacey, Oliver and Mr Casey are 100 million years in the past looking at dinosaurs. Suddenly they find themselves chased by an angry lightning claw and escape by an emergency jump back to 2022. Now they have two problems: a stowaway baby cooperensis dinosaur and a damaged time machine. To try and fix things they travel back in time to 1880s Australia where they find themselves faced with more challenges – outlaws, explorers and a mystery that could destroy the universe!

Historical fiction is a valuable way to take students back to previous times so they can immerse themselves in the way of life then and thus get a better understanding of the events that occurred and the decisions that were made, some of which may still be impacting them today.  This new series for independent readers who have developed that concept of times and lives  past being real, as opposed to the futuristic, imaginary world that much of contemporary literature places itself in, is another opportunity to broaden horizons.  For example, in the first story they find themselves still in their home town but in 1964 so students might like to investigate what their own town was like in 1964, perhaps interviewing residents who were there then or investigating how it has changed over 60 years and the causes for those changes, thus developing an understanding of how the past can reach out to shape the present. 

Teachers’ notes  linked to Australian Curriculum outcomes offer suggestions for implementing these sorts of investigations with a strong theme of linking today’s students’ lives to the events in the story, such as being accused of something they haven’t done, ensuring that the series is more than just a fictional recount of past events. 

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

Rohan Cleave

Julian Teh

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486314478

Far out west, on the grassy plains straddling the borders of New South Wales and Victoria, lives a little bird, the only one of its kind in the world.  With no other relatives in its family tree, and itself moving closer to extinction because its habitat is diminishing as the land is farmed, and threats like foxes and other predators constantly endangering them, it is one of the world’s rarest and most threatened species.

But on this, National Threatened Species Day (recognised on September 7 because that’s the anniversary of the death in Hobart Zoo in 1936 of the last thylacine), it is time to shine a spotlight on this little creature to make it, and its plight, more widely known.  Although the scientists have been able to start a captive-breeding program, which includes using a feather duster in an unusual way, the birds lead such secretive lives it is not an easy task.

Told in a facts-rich narrative with life-like illustrations, with further information at the back as well as teachers’ notes, this is another opportunity to highlight another seriously endangered creature that is not as well-known as others. Even if the plains wanderer is not in our particular neighbourhood, other species are and students can be encouraged to consider their ecological footprint and what they can do to help so that their awareness is raised and they realise that even an individual can make a difference so Australia’s pitiful record of species loss can be stemmed. 

Now is the time to introduce our students not only to this little bird – adults are just 15-19cm high and weigh 40-95 grams- but to other unique Australian species through books like Amazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity , A Shorebird Flying Adventure, Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths, One Potoroo  and Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish so that other species don’t go the way of the thylacine. 

Swoop

Swoop

Swoop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swoop

Nicole Godwin

Susannah Crispe

CSIRO Publishing, 2022 

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

 9781486315697

Father Magpie has just one job – and it is one that he takes very seriously and does diligently.  And that job is to protect the eggs that Mother Magpie is sitting on.  Every person who passes near the nest is seen as a potential robber and thus he swoops them, just to let them know they are trespassing on precious territory,  Regardless of any protection or disguises they might employ, he is on patrol… Until some ignorant boys think that they know better…

Coupled with explanatory notes at the end and thorough teaching ideas which cover science, English, ethics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, this is a book that must be shared with every young student so they understand why magpies swoop, and that they are just like human parents in their desire to keep their babies safe.  By telling the story from Father Magpie’s perspective, young readers learn to understand and empathise with this annual phenomenon (which is happening now) and help them realise that there is a reason behind the behaviour,  that it is only for a short time and that animals must be allowed to do what comes naturally, even if it impinges on the lives of humans. They might also learn that magpies are smart, they recognise familiar, friendly faces on their territory and that they are very family-oriented, raising their young right through until the next nesting season.  

One of our greatest joys is watching our Mother and Father Magpie through the seasons, greeted with a beautiful chorus whenever we put scrap food out. particularly in winter when natural food is scarce here, and knowing they know that neither we nor our elderly dog are threats so we can go outside without fear. 

It seems amazing that it has taken so long for such a book to be written about such a common occurrence, but now it has we have a duty to share it.