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Little Puggle’s Song

Little Puggle's Song

Little Puggle’s Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Puggle’s Song

Vikki Conley

Hélène Magisson

New Frontier, 2019

32pp,m hbk.  RRP $A24.99

9781925594690

All Little Puggle, the baby echidna, wanted to do was to be able to sing like the birds in his native bushland.  Each bird had its own sound – Little Blue’s was whispery like the wind; Fantail peeped like a bush mouse; Fancy Crest’s voice had a crack like lightning and when Brown Feather laughed the bush stood still – but Little Puggle made no sound at all.

When Brown feather gathered the birds together to begin a bush choir, even Little Grey and Long Tail were allowed to join, but all silent Little Puggle could do was watch from the sidelines.  But when disaster strikes the choir’s special performance for the birth of the emu babies, Little Puggle finds his voice in a very different way!

This is the most charming story, superbly illustrated, that introduces our youngest readers to the creatures that are unique to the Australian bush and to the concept that we, ourselves, are unique, each with their own way of contributing. An opportunity  to take the children outside and have them listen to the birdsong and notice that each species has a different sound, one that is individual to them but each of which contributes to the chorus, and then to have a discussion about each child’s special talents and how they help make the class or their family, a whole.

 

All Aboard! True Train Tales

All Aboard! True Train Tales

All Aboard! True Train Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Aboard! True Train Tales

Pauline Deeves

NLA Publishing, 2019

120pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279392

“I come from a railway family. My dad drives trains, my grandpa was an engine driver and so was his father …” 

Jack is 8 and he lives in the country in an old white house near the railway station, surrounded by wheat paddocks where the river that snakes through the town sometimes floods and cuts the town in half.  He loves nothing better  than visiting his Grandpa who had a full-sized red train carriage devoted to all his train memorabilia which is his passion, and together they are working to save the railway museum particularly on Open Day when visitors come to ride on the steam train and view the exhibits. 

The story of saving the museum is woven amongst Grandpa’s tales of happenings on Australia’s railways in the 19th and 20th centuries, all of them true, and interspersed with pages of information full of statistics, fun facts, quizzes and historic images from the NLA’s collection. Superbly designed, meticulously researched and well written by an experienced teacher and teacher librarian, this is a book for lovers of trains, independent readers who prefer non fiction but made more cohesive with Jack’s story so that even non-train aficionados can appreciate the history of episodes like the 1887 Hawkesbury crash, the Wirth’s Circus train and the plots and plans of bushrangers like the Kelly Gang and Frank Thomas.

Recently I have spent some time driving through central NSW and crossing railway lines that led to nowhere but overgrown grass, past tiny stations now abandoned, signs advertising railway museums and special steam train trips and avoiding the super-sized trucks that have taken over what were the veins that kept the freight in this country moving. It made me wonder about the stories of the past of both the towns and their trains, and so this is the perfect book to hook me into learning more. Perhaps I will join the hundreds of others who book a trip on the next steam train out of here. Others might like to investigate the role of the railway in the development of their town. Don’t forget as well as the resources available via the NLA, there is also a plethora from the National Digital Learning Resources Network.

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and the Ocean

Lian Tanner

Jonathan Bentley

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760633691

Ella lived in the red-dirt country
where the earth was as dry as old bones
and it hadn’t rained 
for years
and years
and years.

One night, Ella dreamt of the ocean… and the image mesmerises her and she wants to know more. So she asks her dad,  her mum and Ben the farmhand, and while each has a distant memory to share it is viewed through the lens of the cracked red earth, the dust of the dry, dry, plains and the hungry hungry cows.  Her Gran hasn’t seen the ocean but dreamt about it once – ‘it picked me up and carried me from one side of sleep to the other and I have never forgotten it’- and so she sets about making Ella’s dream come true.

This is an uplifting story that will resonate with so many children from the front cover of the red-roofed house surrounded by vast dry, red, rain-starved land and gaunt gum trees to the family melancholy of hard work and no relief to the power of just a small break in routine to restore faith and hope.  You do not have to venture too far from the city to see the impact that this interminable drought is having on the land, and just as it sucks the life out of the land, so it has the people. Like Ella’s family, that impact is not as visible but is in their body language, their words and their perspective and while we city folk might pay some attention to their plight it is not long before we go back to our own lives, having put a few dollars in a tin or bought a more expensive bottle of milk.  Stories like Ella’s  and images like Bentley’s bring the reality home and depending where you live, will either help the children understand that they are not alone in this plight or perhaps inspire them to do something that might be ‘the trip to the ocean’ that turns a family around for a little while longer.  Or perhaps look a little closer to home. maybe the local nursing home, and think about what they can do to disrupt the routine of same-same boredom to put a light into someone’s life.

So often any unit of work about weather and its causes focuses on the scientific rather than the human, and Ella’s Ocean works to redress this, as readers are almost compelled to think about the what-if. and the what-can-I-do.  Another one of those great picture books that can work across all age groups.

That’s Not My Koala

That's Not My Koala

That’s Not My Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Koala

Fiona Watt

Rachel Wells

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781474945561

For 20 years Usborne have been supporting the literacy development of the very young with their series of touchy-feely books That’s Not My… in which familiar, and not-so, objects are explored through a series of cutouts filled with textural surfaces, with the final page offering confirmation that this is indeed the object. 

That’s Not My Koala is the latest in the collection, celebrating this milestone birthday. Shiny noses, fuzzy tummies and rough tongues are designed to help develop sensory and language awareness, by engaging the youngest reader in the reading experience and encouraging them to predict and retell the sequences for themselves. Being about an Australian animal they are probably familiar with is an added bonus.

The perfect counterpoint to handing the toddler a screen device to keep them amused, and help them discover the joy of books. Let them catch the reading bug early!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Saved!!!

Saved!!!

Saved!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved!!!

Lydia Williams

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

9781760524708

Living alone in the Australian outback, Lydia loves her sport but she doesn’t have anyone apart from the animals to play with.  And even then, she seems to be beaten before she starts.  Kangaroo can bounce too high and blocks all her shots at the basketball ring; Emu gives her a good start in the running race but still whizzes by,; and even sleepy Koala has her covered when it comes to Aussie Rules.  Lydia really wanted to be the best at something but didn’t know what that could be until Kangaroo suggests a game of soccer…

The author, Lydia Williams is an Indigenous Australian soccer player who grew up on the red dirt of Western Australia, travelling with her family to many Aboriginal communities where she learnt how to play sport with bare feet. Her family taught her how to live off the land and the values of Indigenous culture; they even had two pet kangaroos. When her family moved to Canberra, Lydia started playing soccer competitively as a way to make friends. Having played soccer for nearly twenty years, she currently plays for Melbourne City in the W-League. Lydia is the first-choice goalkeeper for the Australian Matildas, and is also signed to the Seattle Reign FC in the United States. 

Using her experience and expertise, she has crafted a charming story for young readers about persevering to find your niche and being the best you can be. It wouldn’t have surprised me if the outcome of the story had been different because you just know that she would have dealt with either result well, echoing her real-life experience of leaving WA at 11 years old and having to forge a new life in Canberra, not only 3000km away but also a busy city! ‘”It’s a bit of an autobiography, a little bit of fantasy and has a good message as well. It has a unique take on it to go out in the world…It encourages kids that no matter what their background is or what challenges are in their way, they can have fun and actually achieve something they enjoy if put their mind to it.” You can learn more about her early life in this interview

Accompanied by Lucinda Gifford’s delightful illustrations that echo the palette of the outback, this is a story with a difference because of its authenticity that will resonate with young readers particularly those with older siblings who seem to be better at things than they are. 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Gordon Winch

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594560

In 2017, Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington presented our youngest readers with an introduction to some of this country’s native fauna and flora in the hauntingly beautiful Can You Find Me?Now they have teamed up again to delve closely into what might be living in the garden with this new counting book that is as stunning as the first.

Beginning with some of the larger creatures such as the blue-tongued lizard and kookaburras, young readers are enticed to look more and more closely at the illustrations to discover just what might be hiding amongst the trees, bushes, flowers and leaves, culminating in a challenge to find all of them in the final spread. As well as the introduction to iconic creatures and enabling the reader to practise their counting skills, like the first book, it  encourages them to look more closely at their environment and see it with new eyes, to appreciate it more and perhaps even preserve it more carefully.

A counting book that does so much more than help little ones count.  

Brindabella

Brindabella

Brindabella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brindabella

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2018

208pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760112042

While Pender is playing in the bush near his home, he hears a gunshot and to his dismay he discovers a mother kangaroo taking her last breath.  But as her eyes glaze, he notices movement in her pouch and Pender finds himself with no choice but to take care of the baby joey he names Brindabella.  With his artistic, somewhat reclusive father, they raise Brindabella and even though Pender knows she will one day need to return to the bush he puts that way to the back of his mind, until the day her natural instincts become too much for her and Brindabella leaves…

With the narrative switching between Pender and Brindabella’s perspectives, this is a sensitively written novel for young independent readers that explores the relationship between people and animals. Why do Pertelote the chook, Billy-Bob the dog and Ricky the cat stay with Pender and his father while Brindabella has a compelling need to leave? Confronting, even emotional in parts, Dubosarsky brings the Australian bush alive so all the senses are engaged and the reader is there with Pender, opening opportunities for lots of sensory responses that confirm, compare and contrast Pender’s home with that of the reader themselves.

Shortlisted for the 2019 CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, this is a story that I know Miss 8 is going to adore particularly because she loves to roam our bush block and we have our own share of Brindabellas, but for those not as fortunate, there are teachers’ notes and activities that will help to bring it into the realm of city kids. Download them from the home site.

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin's brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Libby Hathorn

Phil Lesnie

Lothian Children’s, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734417879

Imp is a wild child, roaming the paddocks of the farm where Miss Franklin is employed as governess to the Davis children. Disdained by them as a “real naughty girl” they have been warned by their mother to keep away from her, although Florrie has struck up a friendship of sorts, and dismissive of learning to read and write as a “waste of time”, nevertheless she continues to hang around the schoolhouse and gradually a trust builds between her and Miss Franklin.

Miss Franklin, who had taken the job to help her family out of financial difficulties, has bigger dreams than being a governess, and when she eventually confesses these to Imp, Imp gives her some advice that changes her path and her life forever.

Written about Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career,  and namesake of two major literary prizes, this not only shines a light on the author’s early life but demonstrates how famous people start out as very ordinary and it can be just chance that sets them on their path to fulfil their dreams. And while most of us have dreams, sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that gives us the impetus to pursue them and the courage and determination to make them come true.  Even though Imp’s dream was nowhere near as grand as that of Miss Franklin, she too was able to take the first steps towards achieving it. The endpapers tell her story! So as much as Libby Hathorn and Phil Lesnie have captured Miss Franklin’s story, it is also an encouragement to anyone to take and chance and chase what they want. 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Detention

Detention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Tristan Bancks

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791799

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one. 

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. 

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block. 

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?

Whatever decisions are made will change their lives forever.

With the rise and spread of nationalist, right-wing conservative governments around the globe, xenophobia is alive and well in communities and countries around the world. In Australia it is always a hot topic particularly around election time and especially since former prime minister John Howard declared, “It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people, taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” in an election speech just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.

Having just had another federal election with the rhetoric of asylum seekers, detention centres and people’s rights claiming a lot of media space and votes, this new book from Tristan Bancks is very timely. In it, through the students in the Reading Superstars class and their teacher Miss Aston, he asks the questions that need to be considered about the plight of refugees, particularly as much of what the children say is the echo of their parents’ perspectives. Bancks says he has tried to tell the story as “a human one, rather than a political one” and he has achieved this as the reader becomes very invested in the plights of Simi and Dan and constantly wonders what would they do if they were either of those characters.

In my opinion, the greatest power of this book is in the hands of a class teacher reading it aloud and discussing the issues as Miss Aston does while she and her charges are in lockdown. That way, a range of points of view can be explored and explained, taking the story to a whole new level, rather than being an individual read that throws up questions but for which the reader doesn’t seek answers. And that teacher should be prepared to answer the inevitable, “What would you do if you were Miss Aston?”

Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get. Superb.

 

 

One Careless Night

One Careless Night

One Careless Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Careless Night

Christina Booth

Black Dog Books, 2019

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

 9781925381856

“Where the mist swallows mountains and winds whisper through ancient trees, myths and legends are born. There are forests here where no one has trod and creatures run free in endless rain and deep, dark bush.”

And among those creatures is a mother thylacine who is trying to show her young pup how to survive.  But while she and her offspring might be at the top of the natural food chain, there is one that is even mightier. One that has guns and traps and the motivation of a government bounty. One that outsmarts both mother and young and takes them to a different forest – not one of trees and the scents of fern and pine and thick, dark sanctuary but to one made of concrete and steel exposed to the harsh daylight and hot summer sun. The mother fades away and only the pup is left, until she, too, no longer is. The last of her kind that is known. But perhaps in that secret place where the mist still swallows the mountains and the winds whisper though the ancient trees, there is a sound…

From her bush studio in her Tasmanian home, Christina Booth produces the most amazing work, particularly the stories that she writes and illustrates herself. From the charming Purinina, A Devil’s Tale  which tells the story of a young Tasmanian Devil growing up to the beautiful Welcome Home with its focus on whales long gone from Tasmanian shores, to this evocative, haunting tale of the last thylacine she puts young and not-so-young readers in touch with the stories of some of Australia’s most amazing creatures which have suffered so significantly at the hand of humans and in the name of progress and prosperity.

With its dark palette that echoes the darkness of the deep bush of undiscovered Tasmania to the stark whiteness echoing the harsh conditions of Hobart Zoo, the reader is taken on a visual and verbal journey that is so intertwined it is like poetry. But despite the fate of the main character and that of the thylacine as a species being known, nevertheless there is a story of hope for now we think and do differently, and perhaps somewhere in the depths of that untrodden bush there is the possibility…

This is a must-have addition to support any curriculum study that has sustainability and the plight of our planet’s creatures as its focus.