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Bee Detectives

Bee Detectives

Bee Detectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Detectives

Vanessa Ryan-Rendall

Brenna Quinlan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486313396

When Olivia and Hamish are woken by the scream of a chainsaw coming from their local park and see what looks like a cloud of smoke rising, they are very concerned that there is a fire.  But they soon discover that what they thought was smoke is a cloud of insects disturbed when their tree home fell.

With the help of the specialist Bee Team, they learn that the insects are Native Social Stingless Bees and because the hive contains the bees’ babies it needs to be rescued.  That evening, when the last of the bees is safely in the temporary hive, Hamish and Olivia are invited to take it into their backyard so they can learn about these bees and how they are essential to the well-being of the environment.  The children take on the challenge and they, and the reader, learn not only about the bees’ importance but also about the many other native bees that live in the garden, usually unnoticed.

While the plight of bees globally is gradually being recognised as becoming critical, most young readers associate them with the fluffy black and yellow bumblebees of their storybooks, not realising that Australia alone has over 1700 species of native bees, each of which needs protection.  With a special section giving the reader more information about these species, particularly those mentioned in the story, and tips on how to attract them to the suburban garden, this is an important publication to help young students develop their awareness of the role bees have and understand how they can promote their well-being. Using a story format accompanied by charming illustrations that also put the bees under a magnifying glass so they can be more than squiggles on a page means that this has the potential to be used as a springboard to an intriguing investigation as students start to identify the various species and search for them in their own surroundings.  As well as extensive teaching notes to assist this, students might also consider establishing a bee hotel to encourage the bees to stay.

 

Night Ride into Danger

Night Ride into Danger

Night Ride into Danger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Ride into Danger

Jackie French

HarperCollins, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781460758939

Braidwood, NSW.  June, 1874 and a typical cold, wet winter’s night.  But despite the weather, the Cobb & Co coach to Goulburn carrying passengers and mail must run on schedule and so, as usual, as they do night after night, Jem and his father are preparing to leave. But this is not the modern-day hour’s run on sealed roads between the two towns – this is an overnight journey with a uncomfortable coach and four horses that involves many twists and turns, each with its own danger. And added to the regular perils  like fording the Shoalhaven River, tonight each passenger has their own particular secret, each of which is gradually exposed as the journey continues and each of which shapes the way events will unfold. 

Nevertheless, with a mission to achieve, a contract to fulfil and a timetable to keep, Jem and his Paw set out as usual until disaster strikes and Jem finds himself in a situation that not only puts his physical strength, courage and determination to the greatest test, but also exposes Paw’s own secret, one which has a profound bearing on Jem’s life.

There are few authors whose new works I pick up and read as soon as they arrive, but Jackie is one of them, because I know I will be in for an engrossing read, meticulously researched and one that will have more layers than an onion. This is not just a story about Jem needing to dig deep to draw on his knowledge and skills and self-belief. It is about self-discovery, finding out who and what we are really made of, how our heritage has shaped our present and will influence our future and understanding that the public face is often a mask for the private persona. 

Competent, independent readers who crave a story that will engage them, entertain and educate them, challenge them and stay with them long after the final page is read will thoroughly enjoy this read, and if it is their first encounter with Jackie’s works, have them seeking more such as The Ghost of Howler’s Beach.

If you are looking for a new class read-aloud over the cold wet, wintery days to come, this is it. 

 

 

Main Abija My Grandad

Main Abija My Grandad

Main Abija My Grandad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Abija My Grandad

Karen Rogers

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760526030

As the loss of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is dominating headlines, the special relationship we have with our grandfathers has been thrown sharply into focus – the memories we made, the things we were taught… particularly if he, too, has passed and so there can be no more.

And so it is for Ngukurr great grandmother Karen Rogers who reflects on all that she learned from her grandfather, the adventures they add, the memories they made and how she is passing it all on to her grandchildren and great grandchildren in this enchanting story told in both her own Kriol language and English and illustrated with her bold illustrations, a talent inherited from her grandmother and great-aunts.  From school holidays spent on his outstation at Wuyagiba “near the saltwater” where he was a stockman, she recalls travelling in the old Toyota troopy to go fishing and swimming, and learning about  the land, its bounty and its secrets while they were there. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The stories are told in words and pictures that are inseparable, as the best picture books are, and the feelings of connection and the unending circle of life are strong.   It offers a wonderful opportunity to not only see how the author’s memories are common to all of us – there will be many, like me, who have sat and listened to their granddad tell stories as the sun sets over the ocean (or anywhere) or had their first fishing lessons under his guidance – but also to reflect on other memories and what they have already learned, despite being so young, that they will pass onto their own children.  Sitting in my loungeroom, untouched for years because I never mastered it is an expensive Yamaha piano, bought purely because of the memory of sitting on my grandfather’s knee while he played to me! 

Even though this is a story personal and unique to Ms Rogers, it is, at the same time, a universal one – and stories come no better than that. 

Hello and Welcome

Hello and Welcome

Hello and Welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello and Welcome

Gregg Dreise

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760898328

Hello and welcome to our corroboree.
Hello and welcome to our gathering.
Father Sky, Mother Earth, together here with me.
Different colours, different people, together in harmony.

Welcome to Country has now become the norm before any formal gatherings in Australia and in this stunning book by Gregg Dreise, a companion to My Culture and Me, the reader is taken through this traditional welcome in the traditional Gamilaraay language of the Kamilaroi people.

Paying tribute to those who have gone before, their stewardship of the land they live on, the generosity of that land and thanking them for those who are here now and yet to come, the words are interpreted in traditional dance moves that have been passed down through generations.

If we want our students to respect these sorts of traditions, rather than pay lip service to them, then the more they understand the meaning and movements associated with them , the better. To enable this,  the initial words of welcome and their actions have been included so all children can join in.  The illustrations that depict ancestors sit alongside and intertwine with illustrations of how the modern day Kamilaroi people celebrate and thank Father Sky and Mother Earth demonstrating that this is a ceremony that embraces everyone and all can participate. Despite there being 250 Indigenous Countries within Australia, each with its own language and cultures, each shares a respect for Mother Earth, each other and sharing resources, so this book could inspire a new way of sharing that Welcome to Country.

Students in a Canberra school were challenged to examine the meaning of their local Welcome to Country text and to develop one that had meaning for them which would be used at the start of each day. This is the result from the Year 3 class in the Bungle Bungles unit. With students from preschool to Year 6 all undertaking this task at the beginning of the year, the principal reports there is not only greater understanding but greater harmony and respect for the environment across the school.

Welcome to Country

Welcome to Country

Wombat

Wombat

Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wombat

Christopher Cheng

Liz Duthie

Walker Books, 2021

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

9781760651374

Even though they can be destructive, ornery and bite the unwary really hard, wombats still rank high among children’s favourite Australian animals. So this new addition to the Nature Storybook series,  released today,  will be a welcome addition to the collection.

Given the bushfires of last summer and now the floods of this autumn, the plight of Australia’s native creatures has never been so precarious or prominent as young readers begin to understand the impact of these natural disasters on habitat and food supplies.  Therefore, this story about the life of a wombat, looking at the interesting way these animals build their homes, look after their family and protect themselves from predators is very timely. From the day breaking as she snuggles down in her burrow where the tree roots mesh to marking her territory as she is a solitary creature, to having to defend herself and her little jellybean-like baby against the dingo, Cheng has crafted the most compelling story, accompanied not only by stunning illustrations from Duthie but also lots of wombat facts as imagination and information sit comfortably side by side in this narrative non fiction format that makes so much available to our young readers. 

Chris Cheng is at his best when he meshes his meticulous research with his way with words and this sits very well along Python, his other contribution to this series and his many others stories for children, my personal, long-term, yet-to-be-beaten favourite being One Child

A must-have for any collection that meets the needs of any children with a liking for or an interest in these unique creatures.  

And if you would like to get your students started on writing faction, beginning with a wombat focus, then From Fact to Faction(e:update 011, 2012) written by me is available to Primary English Teachers’ Association Australia members.

 

The Bird in the Herd

The Bird in the Herd

The Bird in the Herd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bird in the Herd

Kathryn Apel

Renée Treml

UQP, 2021

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

9780702262944

There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. 

After half a century as a teacher, most of it spent focusing on teaching our youngest readers to read, I am quite vocal with my criticism of the current push to have phonics as the basis of instruction and while I could write much about why, I won’t.  However, this is a clever and quirky read which mainly relies on rhyme, rhythm and  repetition to carry it along but central, and most importantly, there is a charming story at its core. 

Beginning with a bird stalking a herd of cows to snap up the slugs and bugs they disturb, the scene is tracked back through all its elements – there is so much more than just the cows wandering along the track- with a repetition reminiscent of The House that Jack Built until an ignorant, impatient idiot  upsets everything.  So rather than the traditional set of disconnected pictures with sentences declaring the cat sat on the mat and the frog sat on the log, this is one that young readers can not only apply their new knowledge of phonemes but can actively engage with Treml’s illustrations and their existing knowledge of farm animals to read it for themselves.  They learn that the best books tell a story that is worth reading, that the words and pictures are integral to each other and this reading thing is something they can master. Such empowerment. If only all that we asked our beginning readers to read were as good as this…

Teachers’ notes are available.

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Allison Paterson

Big Sky, 2021

72pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781922265234

As our nation prepares to honour those who have served this country in both war and peace on ANZAC Day 2021,  once again we will see and hold commemorations that while confronting in their origins are comforting in their familiarity. Regardless of which town or city we are in, there will be many aspects of the services that are familiar because they have been traditionally associated with ANZAC Day (and other remembrance days) for over a century.

In this new book, a companion to Australia Remembers  the author has worked closely with the Department of Defence and History and Heritage units of the Navy, Army & RAAF to deliver answers to questions I have often been asked as a teacher on our major days of commemoration, Beginning with answering the question “Why do we have customs and traditions?,  chapters address items such as mottos, codes, music, parades and drills, flags, banners and pennants, badges and awards, ranks, uniforms, animals and mascots and many other elements that go together to make up these special days.  It is more than just pomp and pageantry – there is a story behind each story!

With hundreds of photos, easily accessible language and all the supports needed to navigate the text easily, this is a fascinating look behind the scenes enabling students to have a better understanding of not just the overall ceremony but why things are done the way they are. Having been a teacher librarian for over 20 years, the author knows just what is needed to make a text student-friendly.

Remembering those who have served has a prominent and rightful place in the ceremonial life of our schools, as was demonstrated in 2020 when thousands stood at dawn in their driveways because COVID-19 prevented them from participating in the traditional assemblies (itself the beginning of a new tradition) and this new volume in this series  is another significant contribution to the library collection so that the memories and the understanding continue.

It will joined by Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly in September, which tells the story of Kamilaroi man Len Waters, who, during World War II became Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.50

9781922387646

When Carly Mills goes to Melbourne with the school choir, she gets more than she expected.  Thanks to her magic shawl that transports her back in time, she takes a trip back to 1867 and a chance meeting with a mischievous little girl who might just grow up to be the world famous opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba. If Carly is to help the little girl achieve her dream, she will have to endure Nellie’s practical jokes, an angry headmaster, and her father’s belief that opera is not a fit career for a lady. Not to mention Simone’s bad moods and Dora’s terrible singing. But at the same time, she discovers her own abilities to persevere if she wants to make her own dreams come true. 

This is the third in this series, written for newly-independent readers who are interested in learning about the lives of women who have shaped history  With a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women it brings them  alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. With her own website, and a host of resources for teachers and students, this is a series that will appeal to young girls in a similar way that Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy appeals to young boys. 

 

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Catherine Clowes

Rachel Gyan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486313211

While books about Australia’s unique fauna abound for readers of all levels, there are fewer that focus on our unique flora and even less for younger readers who are just developing an interest in the plants the populate our landscape. 

In this new publication from CSIRO, 26 of our well-known and not-so plants are in the spotlight offering an introduction to things we see daily and those that are not so common yet still readily seen in local environments. Maps pf plant ecoregions enable readers to identify what they are most likely to see where they live.  Each double page spread has a similar format with some detailed information using accessible language that speaks directly to the reader ensuring challenging scientific concepts are easily understood such as  the exploration of plant classification (families, genera and species) through the analogy of mixed lollies;  an interesting fact that goes beyond the scientific nature of the plant; and an activity that encourages the reader to discover more about what they have just read and engage with the plant.  There are beautiful biologically accurate watercolour illustrations of each plant and its parts, while the whole has all the necessary elements to encourage easy navigation and information literacy skills.   Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available spanning a number of the Australian Curriculum areas, including a focus on the use of the plants by indigenous people.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If we are to have our students value our bushland then they must first know what there is to value (and there are pointers about how to explore it so that both explorer and environment stay safe) and so this is a must-have for any library collection and study that has the protection of our habitat at its heart. 

 

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tram to Bondi Beach 40th Anniversary Edition

Libby Hathorn

Julie Vivas

Angus & Robertson, 2021

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

9781460759660

Sydney in the 1930s and Kieran is fascinated by the trams as they rattle past his house and down the hill to Bondi Beach.  But even moreso, he loves to watch Saxon the paperboy swing his way along the running board, deftly selling papers and giving change as he goes.  He is determined that he too will be a paperboy and finally, when he is 9, Mr Francis gives him a job. The only trouble is, when the newsagent hires him,  Saxon tells the younger Keiran this tramstop is his territory.

Keiran is determined and tries to copy Saxon’s technique on the trams. It all ends in a fall and his dad’s fury and the threat of losing his first job. Are Keiran’s dreams shattered before they have really formed?

This is a classic story from one of Australia’s most established children’s authors that has lasted the test of time as it takes the reader back to an era barely recognisable in today’s hustle and bustle.  The lives of Keiran and Isabelle are quite different from that of today’s 9 year-old – could having a job as well as school be a normal thing today? The signature style of Julie Vivas’s illustrations add a richness that demand a compare and contrast that will show that while there are many outward differences as time has moved on, not just between 1931 and now but also 1981 when it was first published and now. that inner strength of family remains unchanged. 

It also highlights the current controversy of the delivery of news, including the situation with Facebook withdrawing access to news sites, setting up an investigation into how people have got their news over time, its integrity and its relevance, making it a book that could be used at any level across the school.