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Gold!

Gold!

Gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold!

Jackie Kerin

Annie White

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.95

9781925804522

Victoria, Australia in the 1850s and the word of the discovery of gold is spreading around the world. Among the tens of thousands of everyday fold who flock to the goldfields are two young English brothers and another two from Canada.  They decide to team up but they soon discover that despite the rumours, the streets are not lined with gold and nor is it just lying around to be picked up.

Searching for gold is hard work for little reward as you battle the elements, the environment, the crowds, the thieves, the law -and Ma Kilduff’s advice doesn’t really make things easier.  Still they persevere until one day…

This is the “inside story” of the discovery of the first large nugget to be discovered in Victoria, the  Blanche Barkly, taking the reader through the harsh, hard life that the goldfields afforded yet was accepted because of gold fever.  However as well as the story itself, in the final few pages the reader is taken on a journey that provides even more detail beginning with the impact that the goldrush and subsequent discovery of the Blanche Barkly had on the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of the land., giving an interesting and original perspective that could be explored further in any curriculum studies of the topic.  Teaching notes are available but this lends itself to investigating  lines of inquiry such as…

  • How did the quest for gold impact the traditional owners of the land on which it took place?
  • How did it affect the environment?
  • Why did the government initially try to keep the discovery of gold a secret and did they make the right decision?
  • As the world’s second largest gold producer in 2020, what lessons have been learned  and what has changed  since the first discoveries? What differences would Ma Kilduff notice?
  • What has been the legacy of the goldrush 170 years on?

Alternatively, students could put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters from Ma Kilduff to Queen Victoria and research and retell the story from that personal perspective. Even just asking, “What did the author and illustrator need to know to produce this book?” would lead to some interesting investigations.

Hopefully the days of “This is Year 5 so it’s gold” and the meaningless study of facts and figures have disappeared so having s book as rich as this in offering different ways to learn about a critical part of Australia’s history is as precious as the metal itself. 

 

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Aunty's Wedding

Aunty’s Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Miranda Tapsell $ Joshua Tyler

Samantha Fry

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524838

In the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, it is time to get dressed for Aunty’s wedding.  But in this hot, humid climate it is not a time for long white dresses, high-heeled shoes and other fancy finery  – although Uncle, the groom, does dress “like a penguin”.  No, this is a time for a light, pretty hat, a wurrijinga in the hair or on the shirt, and a japalingini and pamijini for the bride…  But what is a wedding and why do we have them?

Beautifully illustrated with the meaning of the unfamiliar words made very clear, this is a story that not only celebrates Aunty’s wedding but also makes us think about the rites and rituals of other weddings the reader might have attended or seen.  Is Aunty any less married because her wedding ceremony is different or is Maningawu’s explanation of it being about love and two people publicly promising to care for each other forever at the core of all marriages and the rest of it just added extras?  What a stunning way to introduce an exploration into the ceremonies of the different cultures represented in the school. A worthy addition to the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection now available through the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

Puffin Books, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760896737

After the disastrous couple of years that have plagued Australia with droughts, bushfires and floods, and the impact on the environment that not only these have caused but also the healing that has happened because of global lockdowns, the health of the planet has never been in greater focus. 

Beginning with a poem that is a plea from Solli Raphael for each of us to be better and do better, this is a handbook of 50 ideas to enable to do just that as individuals.  But is more than the usual tips and tricks as it includes case studies from Australian kids, practical tips and easy activities that can involve your school, family and community that make a difference from using coffee grounds from cafés for compost to starting a school swap shop to recycle toys and books that have been outgrown. Some of the ideas are probably already familiar but there are some that are new and novel, helping each of us to understand that no one is too small to make a difference and we all need to keep learning and educating ourselves to be better. The case studies themselves are fascinating as they are Australian  stories and show the theory in practice so it’s not just somebody’s dream.

While not particularly flash and gaudy in its appearance – itself being a green publication – this is such a practical guide to help individuals make just small changes in their lifestyle that can have a huge impact.  Helping students start to view their world through a more protective lens so that it just becomes the norm is one of the most positive things teachers can offer for their positive future.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kookaburra

Clare Saxby

Tannya Harricks

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781760651060

Dawn and in a line on a limb, Kookaburra and her family greet the rising sun with their distinctive call, harsh at times but more melodious than any alarm clock.  After welcoming the daylight hours, they go their separate ways in search of food, using their keen eyesight to spot even the most elusive snack.  But it is nesting season and after being presented with a delicious morsel by her lifelong mate, they go in search of a new tree hollow in which to lay their eggs.  But despite looking at a lot of new real estate, they return to their old home even though they have to defend it and the surrounding territory from intruders. And as the shadows grow longer and dusk falls, once again there is a line on a limb and that familiar sound bids the world goodnight.

There is no more iconic sound of the Australian bush than the laugh of the kookaburra – even though it varies according to circumstance and season and is never actually directed at something amusing – and in this latest addition to the narrative non-fiction Nature Storybook series that opens the world of Australia’s fauna to young readers by telling the story of one creature and accompanying it with facts about the species in general, Saxby and Harricks have captured both the sound, sight and antics of this stunning bird perfectly. 

Saxby, also the author of Big Red Kangaroo, Emu,  Koala  and Dingo (also illustrated by Harricks) brings her ability to create pictures with her words to create magic on the tongue, while Harricks has captured the colours and the contours of the bush in oils with her bold strokes and beautiful palette. This book is going to a family for whom the kookaburra was the favourite of their recently-passed Nonna and it will be the perfect memorial.  

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

The Battle of Book Week

The Battle of Book Week

The Battle of Book Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Book Week

Kate & Jol Temple

Georgia Norton Lodge

Allen & Unwin, 2020

206pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760875572

It begins when Alice Toolie becomes a library monitor and demands that Jimmy Cook  returns a library book, Princess Snow Cone and the Snuggle Panda Sleepover which she claims he has had forever and consequently banning him from borrowing any library books until it is returned.  Jimmy Cook denies all knowledge of the book but is desperate to maintain his borrowing privileges as he needs to learn as much about space as possible before his upcoming voyage there.  The conversation sparks a furious exchange of notes and messages and continues as Jimmy eventually gets the signatures he needs to a petition to become a library monitor himself and thus have unlimited access to the books.

But when Book Week is imminent and the two are required to work together to organise activities, particularly a visit by two unknown-to-them authors, the rivalry and hilarity reaches new levels as each tries to claim the glory. Ms Murtle, the librarian, fires them, and the only way they can get their positions back is to win the Book Parade – but that means having to work together…

 This is an engaging easy read told in the notes and messages between Alice and Jimmy that will have those newly independent readers thoroughly entertained and looking for the others in the series if they have not yet discovered them.  With its humour, format and clever graphics it is the perfect forerunner to this year’s CBCA celebrations as Alice and Jimmy decide who will be the unicorn’s bottom! Who comes out on top and is the disappearance of Princess Snow Cone and the Snuggle Panda Sleepover resolved?

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

384pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760891039

Alice-Miranda and her friends are off to the Australian Outback! They’re going to help an old family friend who’s found himself short staffed during cattle mustering season. The landscape is like nothing else – wide open and dusty red as far as the eye can see. It’s also full of quirky characters, like eccentric opal miner Sprocket McGinty and the enigmatic Taipan Dan.

As the gang settles in at Hope Springs Station, mysteries start piling up. A strange map is discovered indicating treasure beneath the paddocks, a young girl is missing and there are unexplained water shortages. Can Alice-Miranda get to the bottom of this desert dilemma?

It’s been 11 years since we first met Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, and, in that time she has had many adventures around the world, entertaining so many young girls over that time with her positivity and perseverance.  Even those who started their own reading journey when Alice-Miranda first organised her own admission to Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies like to pop back and enjoy her new adventures.  This new adventure takes them into the Australian Outback, a new experience even for many Australian kids, and, within the context of an engaging story, offers them an opportunity to learn about the history of the country that extends beyond the First Fleet and the ugly, dirty streets of early Sydney.

So whether your girls are already avid fans or newcomers to this series, there is much to absorb them and the good news is, that unlike Clementine Rose,  Jacqueline Harvey is already planning new adventures. 

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie Kids

Meet Sam at Mangrove Creek

Paul Seden

Brenton McKenna

9781760894122

 

Meet Mia at the Jetty

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

9781760893668

Puffin Books, 2020

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

The great reading continues in the latest two in this wonderful series which features Aussie kids from a diverse range of backgrounds and settings celebrating something unique about their home state. So far we’ve met Zoe and Zac from NSW and Taj from a Victorian lighthouse; Eve from the outback of WA  and Katie from a beautiful Queensland beach and now it’s time to meet Sam from the Northern Territory and Mia is South Australia.

Sam lives near the beach on the northern tip of the Northern Territory and, having saved his money to buy a new throw net, today he is going to use it for the first time because his cousin Peter is coming fishing too.  They set off to catch the high tide and perhaps catch barramundi following the bait fish into the mouth of the mangrove creek. But Sam gets cross when Peter opens a bag of banana lollies because everyone knows that having bananas on a fishing trip is bad luck for real fishermen. But is there more to catching fish with a throw net than the choice of snack you have?

Meanwhile, Mia is in Victor Harbour in South Australia waiting for Jim, the son of her mother’s friend, to arrive so she can be a super tour guide, especially taking him on the horse-drawn tram ride to Granite Island.   But can she carry out her plan without her big sister Alice taking over?

This really is an excellent series that not only introduces young, emerging readers to the diversity of this country and the children in it, but invites them to think about what is special about where they, themselves , live.  With travel restrictions still in place, and lockdowns back in force in some places, this is the perfect time for children to get to know their immediate surroundings better and consider what it is that makes it such a special place.  If they had a friend or relative coming to stay, what would be the unique things they could show them? Such a question opens up a range of writing and art activities that would be perfectly pitched to the child’s individual interests and abilities because each would have a different response.  For those who want to take a different direction, they could start to examine the circumstances that led them to this place at this time,  making connections with their past. There is a lesson guide available but just using the format of the book with its introductory postcard, identifying the points of interest (in whatever format) and adding some fun facts about something that is significant offers riches in itself.  

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781922265074

On a trip to Sydney before being sent to boarding school in Brisbane, country girl Carly Mills visits the sights and sites of Sydney’s past with her new friend Dora. At Customs House they are refused admission because the exhibits are being changed. but when Carly picks up two shawls that drop off a trolley she is told to keep them as they are probably being discarded.

But what she doesn’t realise is that hers has a magic of its own when she puts it on- it transports her back in time to meet some of the influential women in  history.

In the first in this new series she is taken back to 1841 to the days of Caroline Chisholm and her work with new immigrant women and girls giving them a safe haven in the Female Immigrants’ Home and getting suitable employment. In others she meets Dr Lilian Cooper, Dame Nellie Melba, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Miles Franklin.

Written for newly-independent readers, the series is a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women who have shaped the world bringing history alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. A companion series to Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy, this has great potential to introduce young readers to important people of the past in a way that will engage and educate at the same time.

Bluey: All About …

Bluey: All About ...

Bluey: All About …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: All About …

Bluey

9781760898304

Bingo

9781760898298

Puffin, 2020

12pp., board books, RRP $A14.99

Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC. 

Now these two books add another dimension to the characters by offering a behind-the-scenes look at their lives and loves, thus introducing the concept of characterisation to our youngest readers. Both Bluey and Bingo have their own stories beyond their two-dimensional screen portrayals. Using such familiar faces to not only develop concepts about print and early reading behaviours but also to sow the seeds of literary appreciation is the perfect way to start developing an understanding about how quality stories are built and why certain characters stay with us for a long time.  I know friends with young children have been known to ask, “What would Bluey do?” when their children have been faced with a dilemma!

To take the power and impact of the books a step further, children might like to do a shape book of themselves, sharing their likes and dislikes so they can start to see that they, too, are made of many different layers. Then, if they share their books with their friends, they can begin to understand that each is unique with many similarities while still being different and that just adds to the reasons  they like each other.