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Little Lon

Little Lon

Little Lon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lon

Andrew Kelly

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2020

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

9781742035970

In the heart of Melbourne is a narrow street running between Spring Street and Spencer Street known as Little Lonsdale Street. In an area originally built from gold rush money, “Little Lon” was a dark, dingy place hidden from the elegant homes, shops and hotels of the main streets surrounding it, but it was home to many, and even if they were poor and not so flash as their nearby neighbours, immigrants newly arrived and those down on their luck, it was a thriving, energetic place, a melting pot of cultures and customs and colours that made it unique.

In this exquisitely illustrated book, the reader is taken back in time to that time when families created lives very different to today’s, where the only place to play was on the street so kids made friends with everyone; where Saturday night was a dip at the local pool to wash away the weekday grime; and on Sundays you dropped your roast and veg into a shop on the way to church and it was cooked ready for you to collect on your way home!

Drawing on the memories of one of the children, Marie Hayes, Andrew Kelly shows the 2020 reader a different life in a different time where everyone was accepted for her they were and valued for what they added to the community.  

Children’s lives have not always been rush, rush, rush, screen-driven hives of activity and this will be a valuable addition to that collection that takes them back in time to discover how things have changed and to consider whether it is a time to envy. Extensive teachers’ notes are available.

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2020

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

 9781760652272

Surrounding Australia’s coast are thousands of kilometres of coral reefs, and within those reefs lives a vast variety of creatures.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, young children are invited to count some of them while learning about them at the same time. This is more than just a 1 2 3 counting book where the reader matches the numeral to the number of items on the page – it also offers tidbits of information that the adult can share with them encouraging both curiosity and awareness of the life beneath the waves.

Beginning with  one giant whale shark  and counting all the way to twelve tired seahorses, it could also become a sort of almanac that the child with an interest in the ocean’s creatures could complete over a lifetime, marking the creatures off as they discover them. Even as a scuba diver in times past, there are those like the dugongs and whale sharks I’m still waiting to cross off!!! But it has been an adventure of a lifetime in the making.

But even for those not inclined to go beneath the surface, nevertheless this is a fascinating introduction to that unique environment, a worthy companion to all the other fantastic books that Frané Lessac has gifted our little ones throughout her career.

Show Me The Money

Show Me The Money

Show Me The Money

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Me The Money

Sue Lawson

Karen Tayleur

Wild Dog, 2020

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

9781742035895

 

For hundreds of years goods and services have been exchanged for money, and “cash is king” was an oft-used slogan. But since the advent of ubiquitous digital devices and particularly the outbreak of the pandemic, how we now pay for those same goods and services has changed dramatically.  Payment has become almost invisible as we tap-and-go, use afterpay and seemingly go to a machine in a wall that dispenses money on the insertion of a card.  Will there soon come a day when our little people will never know the thrill of tinkling coins in their pocket or the smell and feel of a crisp new note? Already the excitement of finding a threepence or even a sixpence in the Christmas pudding seems to be a memory reserved for us oldies!

Much of Australia’s history and heritage is told in our currency and this wonderful book collects it up and packages it in an accessible read for young independent readers who want and need to know more about this thing that makes the world go round, that seems to be the driving force behind every decision that governs their lives right down to how well their school library is resourced. Going back to the days before European arrival when First Nations followed trade routes along sacred paths and songlines where knowledge and stories were traded as much as goods and goodies,  the story of Australia’s currency has been traced through to the recent introduction of New Generation banknotes that are almost indestructible and counterfeit-proof, providing a solid foundation for  a fascinating investigation of this essential part of our lives.  

Using the resources of the Royal Australian Mint , this book uses clear, sharp illustrations of our notes and coins which are clearly labelled to explain their different features and icons as well as the stories of some of those featured on them.  There are defined rules for the production of our banknotes and those who can be featured on them so this book also serves as a springboard for students to design a range of new notes, investigating and justifying their design choices.  

An understanding of money, how it is earned and spent, budgeted and used is an essential life skill that we can and must teach children from an early age, even if it seems like our transactions for goods and services are seamless and almost magical these days. Using this book as an introduction and a springboard to all sorts of investigations would be a logical starting point.

 

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Tania McCartney

NLA, 2020

68pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279637

According to my Facebook memories, 12 months ago it was snowing heavily here in the Snowy Mountains while there were 95 bushfires raging in the north of NSW, and we, ourselves, were evacuated just a few weeks later because of fires that had ignited here. The talk and news were constantly about the “worst drought in memory”, the heat and the continual and spreading threat of those fires.  And just as we thought that it would never end and we were doomed to breathing smoke-laden air forever, the rains came and places devastated by flames were now threatened with floods!

Regardless of the time of year, the weather in Australia is always a reliable topic of conversation and now two of my favourite creators have teamed together to offer an explanation for the phenomena for our younger readers.  Beginning with an explanation of whatever is weather, their combined writing and drawing talents have been used to explore the various elements of the weather, particularly in Australia so there is a greater understanding of the why, where, when and how of that which has such a bearing on our lives so that it is more than listening to the brief forecast on television or the BOM site. or being fascinated by the rain radars.  Living in the bush as I do, my favourite pages were Bush Forecasting that explain some of the behaviours and characteristics that we have come to notice and learn as the weather changes. Black cockatoos are always a welcome sign here.

Both Stephanie and Tania have drawn deeply on the resources of the National Library of Australia (luckily for them, it’s in their neighbourhood) and being a NLA publication the support materials for further exploration are very detailed. Even moreso though, is the module written to support the book as part of the NLA’s digital classroom   Aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography), and Science for Year 4, 5 and 6 students, it adopts an inquiry-based learning approach to develop students’ understanding of geographical and scientific processes relating to weather, environments, people and systems.

What more could you want?

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Gina Newton

Tiffanee Daley

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804577

Combat Wombat, Wildlife Warrior of the Bush is fast asleep when he is woken by the other creatures, wanting to play. But there is no time to play because Combat Wombat’s super-sensitive nose, ears and paws have picked up some unmistakable signals – there is a bushfire on its way.  Quickly organising  his friends to be in charge of certain elements of safety, Combat Wombat leads them to Billabong Island where they will be safe.  Even though there are significant obstacles on the way he uses his special talents to overcome these until he gets to the river’s edge.  All the others can get across the water, but wombats are not built for leaping, flying or swimming.  Can he trust Bingo Dingo to get him there safely?

This is a story for younger readers that puts the plight of wildlife during a bushfire firmly in focus, particularly relevant given the events of last summer.  By using their special talents and working together, the creatures keep themselves safe, a lesson that goes beyond this particular situation. Much of the story is told in the artwork which is unique and Tiffanee Daley has shared her technique in this video.

Teachers’ notes offer a variety of ideas about how to use this book in the classroom with little ones but I believe they will enjoy it just for its own sake. I did.

The Fire Wombat

The Fire Wombat

The Fire Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fire Wombat

Jackie French 

Danny Snell

HarperCollins, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781460759332

A curl of smoke appears on the horizon, gradually getting bigger, blacker and more ominous as it comes closer.  The parched earth burns and day becomes night as the ash-thick air envelops all before it and beneath it. 

Nowhere above the ground is safe for anything with two legs or four, but this is not the animals’ first fire and Wombat knows where to go and what to do. And when it is finally safe to emerge, the landscape is unlike the one they had left… grey, charred, burnt, devoid of both food and water. But a primeval instinct drives Wombat and she pushes on and on, seeking the liquid that would mean life…

Written about a little wombat that stumbled onto her Araluen Valley property and then collapsed, this is Jackie French’s own story of resilience and hope amidst the horror that was the summer of 2019-2020 when she and those she loves were surrounded by four fires and the future looked bleak, if not dire. It is a story about how when things seem to be at their worst, basic human nature, kindness and goodness prevails and we look out for those who are in worse circumstances, including our precious but often helpless wildlife. Even though what is done initially may not solve the problem, it is something that can lead to something else and something else… Like the Fire Wombat, we just need to keep searching until we find what we need.

It is a story that  embraces all the age groups – on the surface it is a story for little ones about a little wombat whose basic instinct is preservation and which perseveres to find what it needs; but it is also for older students who can consider the sort of assistance that is required and what they can do; maybe even what they can do to prevent fires of the future. The teachers’ notes which I wrote span all these aspects offering another avenue for our students to heal from that awful summer.  Pandemic or not, there are still many wounds to tend to.

No matter at what level you read this beautiful story – along the lines, between them or beyond them – you  will acknowledge that Jackie French is indeed a master storyteller, and her words have been enriched and enhanced by Danny Snell’s sensitive artwork.

And the rainbow after the rain, the dawn after the dark? Jackie has just shared that the Fire Wombat now has a baby of her own, “black as charcoal, fat and bouncing” . She glimpsed them in the valley three weeks ago and Fire Wombat is fat and happy too! 

 

Vote 4 Me

Vote 4 Me

Vote 4 Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vote 4 Me

Krys Saclier

Cathy Wilcox

Wild Dog Books, 2020 

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

9781742035956

The students at Mount Mayhem school are about to hold an election to form a committee to make some long-wanted changes at the school.  But the Year 6 class can’t decide on who should represent them and so Ms Sparks decides it is an excellent opportunity to teach them about Australia’s system of preferential voting.

Written by an expert in teaching students about elections, this book provides an explanation of the system within a context that the children will understand and carry with them into later life when they are involved in local, state and federal elections. It clearly shows how the process works and why it is fairer than a first-past-the-post count, offering the opportunity for all voices to be heard equally. 

At a time when elections are being held and getting a lot of publicity and coming into the period when school-based elections for leadership teams for 2021 are held, this is a book that has a place in any collection that focuses on democracy and how it works.  Sharing it when there is a real-life context to relate it to gives it extra punch and helps create more-informed voters of the future.  

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

Old Man Emu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man Emu

John Williamson

Simon McLean

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760898793

Fifty years ago teacher John Williamson wrote a ditty about an old emu racing across the Australian countryside in pursuit of a female friend.  As he goes he meets many iconic creatures such as a galah, cockatoo, wedge-tail eagle, kookaburra and the kangaroo, but while they all they have their unique characteristics, none is as charismatic or as fast as Old Man Emu.

“He can’t fly but I’m telling you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo.”

 

Such hilarious and well-known lyrics, which not only launched Williamson’s career as a singer and songwriter but became essential singing in classrooms, demand to be illustrated and Simon McLean has done an outstanding job bringing them to life so that a whole new generation can  sing and laugh along and be introduced to the work of the man who gave us True Blue , regarded as one of our national anthems, and the haunting Raining on the Rock.

Over the past half century, Williamson has given us so many songs, each with such a unique message about this country, its people, its places, its past that they cry out to be the basis of investigations to discover what it is that makes us unique.  What is he saying in Rip, Rip Woodchip? What is the story behind A Flag of Our Own? So to have this very first one in picture book format to open up a study of not only emus but a whole range of fauna is just precious, and I’m sad that I’m no longer in a classroom or library to make it happen.

Something special for any child, Australian or otherwise. 

What Zola Did on Wednesday

What Zola Did on Wednesday

What Zola Did on Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Wednesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895174

Zola is getting very busy after school these days.  She has her gardening club on Mondays and her knitting group on Tuesdays and she still has to find time to play with her cousin Alessandro and the dogs while trying to keep out of trouble.  But when her neighbour Leo’s mum, who is a police officer, brings home a new sniffer dog for training, things can only get interesting – particularly when her friend Sophia’s little turtle goes missing and Lola hatches a plan to find it…

This is the third in this series about Zola and her friends – a diverse group of kids who could live in any neighbourhood, anywhere. Their everyday lives are just like those of the readers who can see themselves, understand and relate to the friends, while being a stepping stone for  consolidating their new reading skills with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour.  Because the characters and events are so common,  the stories could be the inspiration for children to get together in ways they did in previous generations and be the foundation blocks of a new community as we find new ways to get together in these COVID times. Perhaps our new lives may not be so frantic that we don’t have time for the simpler pleasures of yesteryear.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one is as entertaining as the others. 

Aussie Kids series

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Dooley on the Farm 

Sally Odgers 

Christina Booth

9781760893682

Meet Matilda at the Festival

Jacqueline de Rose Ahern

Tania McCartney

9781760894511

Puffin Books, 2020

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

These are the final two books in this series first launched in February, and continuing in April and September, meaning newly independent readers can complete reading about this diverse group of kids within the year.  Featuring a story from each state or territory, readers have journeyed around the country learning about its diversity through the children and their adventures.  In these final two, Dooley’s cousin is coming to visit him on his farm in Tasmania where they are planning to sleep out in the barn,  and Matilda takes us to a festival at the Japanese embassy in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory as she bids farewell to her special friend Hansuke is returning home with his family.

At a time when travel between the states and territories has been all but impossible, this series has allowed young readers to visit various parts of the country from the comfort of their favourite place to read enjoying stories about kids just like them specially written and illustrated by leading Australian creators for those who have new skills they need to consolidate.

This is a unique series which lends itself to all sorts of activities and with all eight now available, there is scope for each student to individualise their learning by choosing the one that resonates with them the most.