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When the World Was Soft

When the World Was Soft

When the World Was Soft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the World Was Soft: Yindjibarndi Creation Stories

Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation
96pp., graphic novel, RRP $A34.99
9781761180651
Yindjibarndi people traditionally lived in the area near the town of Roebourne in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and believe “all creation is written in our landscape and was sung long ago, filling our Ngurra (Country) with sacred meanings and deep religious significance. At the dawn of time, Ngurra Nyujunggamu, the world was soft as clay and the sky was very low. Our Creator, Minkala, sang the songs from which all life and Ngurra evolved.”
Encapsulated in this new publication with dramatic artwork by Alex Mankiewicz  in graphic novel format, including paintings by members of the Juluwarlu Art Group are some of these stories including Ngurra Nyujunggamu – Creation;  Jargurrungu Wangangga Garranyga – Wedgetailed Eagle, Crow and Black Kite; Nyinkara the Stoneman; Jiruna Yuya -Pelican and Quail; Bunggaliyarra – Fallen and Barrimirndi – Water Serpent. Each story not only has deep significance about the origins of the place and its people, but embeds the timelessness of respect and responsibility for the land making it as relevant today as it was for the ancient elders.  And while the characters and their circumstances may vary from other indigenous nations, nevertheless that deep-held connection to Country and the continuity of life is common to all. So although these songlines are of the Yindjibarndi people, there is the opportunity to understand that unique relationship with the land and its inhabitants that all indigenous communities share and perhaps seek out those stories that are unique to the particular part of Country that the reader lives in. 
There are also a number of pages at the back explaining who the Juluwarlu Group is, as well as a glossary of specific cultural words, explanations of the paintings and other relevant information that offers even greater depth and understanding.   

Pidge’s Poppies

Pidge’s Poppies

Pidge’s Poppies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pidge’s Poppies

Jan Andrews

Timothy Ide

Ford Street, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781922696380

High on a ledge in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian Wat Memorial in Canberra, there is a blodge of bright scarlet that stands out even against the colour of the stunning stained glass windows. And if you’re lucky, your keen eye might just pick out a couple of proud pigeons in this nest made from the remembrance poppies people have placed beside the names of their loved ones in the Hall of Remembrance down below to show that they and their service has not been forgotten.

Based on a true story that took place in 2019, and bringing the story of the role that pigeons played during World War I and II to life, this is a sensitive but compelling read that offers a new perspective to the commemoration of ANZAC Day, one that acknowledges the human sacrifices made but focuses on the contribution of these little birds – the many-times great grandmother and great grandfather of Pidge and Henry- instead.

In 2019, the Australian Parliament declared 24 February each year as the National Day for War Animals, also known as Purple Poppy Day. It’s a day to pause, wear a purple poppy, and pay tribute to the many animals who served alongside soldiers and this is a poignant and stunningly illustrated tribute to all those creatures, often symbolised by Simpson’s donkey but which involved so many other species doing so many other things in so many fields. So important have they been that there is now an international war memorial for animals at Posières in France and those who have provided outstanding service or displayed incredible courage and loyalty can be awarded the Dickin Medal or the Blue Cross Medal.

Accompanied by thoughtful teachers’ notes, this would be an ideal addition to your collection, particularly if used alongside Wear a Purple Poppy, and the resources  available through  the Australian War Memorial including a digitised version of their popular A is for Animals exhibition and its accompanying publication M is for Mates which may be in your collection already because it was distributed to all schools in 2010. There is also an education kit available.

Sadly, too many of our students have first-hand experience of war, or have relatives currently embroiled in conflict, so the commemoration of ANZAC  Day, while a critical part of the calendars of Australia and New Zealand, has to be handled in a different way, so perhaps exploring the stories of animals like Pidge’s relatives who served, and continue to do so, can put the horror at arm’s length yet still observe the purpose and solemnity of the day. 

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Little Dung Beetle

Rhiân Williams

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2024

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

9781742036656

Australia is rich with fascinating beetles that all have a job to do. Using counting rhymes, young readers are introduced to some of these unique species and identifying the roles that each type of beetle plays in the environment including the dung beetle, the once-iconic Christmas beetle and some with the most remarkable colouring.  

With stunning endpapers, and accurate anatomical illustrations throughout, this offers an insight into the prevalence of beetles in the landscape and the critical role they perform in keeping it healthy and vibrant.  Teachers notes  offer further resources and links to investigate further, including the world of entomology, while also guiding young readers through the process of distinguishing a non fiction title from a fictional one, and how to use the cues and clues to prepare themselves for getting the most from it.

But while its format might suggest an early childhood audience, there is also scope for older readers to springboard their own investigations – why was the dung beetle introduced to Australia and were all introduced species as successful? Why do some have such remarkable colouring?  Why have all the Christmas beetles disappeared to the extent there is now a national count?  

Even if the reader is a little young to appreciate all the information, much of it embedded in the illustrations, they will enjoy practising their counting skills as they try to find all the beetles as well as the number of holes nibbled in the title number.  The pictures also include other creatures so there is also the opportunity to investigate the concepts of “more” and “less” and other early maths basics. 

With its focus topic which will encourage little ones to look at their environment with fresh eyes as well as its format, this is one that offers so much more than first meets the eye.  Give it with the gift of a magnifying glass and see the joy and wonder explode. 

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

Charlotte Barkla

Walker Books, 2024

192pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760657949

Ever since her Great Aunt Mildred picked the vacant block on the new housing development as a child in 1863 because she loved its giant Moreton Bay fig tree, it has belonged to Dorothy’s family and now they have moved from the country to the city to live in the house and run the store that Mildred’s mother established.

But city life  is very different to the rural one Dorothy has known. Ruby Road is bustling – full of families and children, horse-drawn carts and even a mysterious dog – and there are many other changes such as having to go to school and crossing swords with Miss Armstrong who insists on perfect printing of letters and needlework , despite Dorothy’s love of writing stories which she does in her secret writing room. Meeting a young Asian boy who also likes to write stories, Dorothy not only finds an outlet and audience for her imagination, but is also exposed to prejudice and racism, particularly towards the Chinese who were blamed for “taking all the gold” from the gold rush and inspired the White Australia Policy, as the colonies united to become one country. Inspired by a declaration by her Aunt Esme that she wouldn’t marry and be the possession of a man, Dorothy dreams of being a famous actress and independent and writes a play that she persuades the neighbourhood children to perform. But then a conversation between her mother and Esme about women having the right to vote and have a say in their lives, inspires a change of focus… and hopefully, a change in thinking for many.

Somewhat akin to the concept of Nadia Wheatley’s classic, My Place, this is the first in a series tracing the stories of the occupants of 11 Ruby Road in Brisbane, introducing young independent readers to the lives of those who lived in the times, as well as the genre of historical fiction.  It opens up many avenues of Australia’s history to explore – federation, racism, the status of women- all of which give today’s children an insight into how things were and an opportunity to investigate how and why they have changed.

A series worth following and offering to those investigating or interested in this country’s history in a way that makes it meaningful and accessible.

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Australian Nursery Rhymes

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2024

96pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760655099

Take a bunch of familiar nursery rhymes from time immemorial, give them a new, uniquely Australian twist, add the iconic illustrations of Frané Lessac and you have the perfect present for any book-based baby shower, or newborn’s welcoming present you could ever wish for.

We know it is not so much the words of rhymes like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Old MacDonald had a Farm that little ones respond to, so much as the melodic rise and fall of the voice as it moves over the rhyme, rhythm and repetition of these hand-me-down jingles, but to embed our native wildlife into them is pure genius.  So it is not little stars that we wonder about, but southern stars; it is not the cow jumping over the moon but a big kangaroo; and it’s not Peter picking a peck of pickled peppers but Pygmy Possum picking a peck of pickled pollen…

So while Jack and Jill will always climb the hill to fetch their pail of water, perhaps a new generation will see them as something other than two little children, or it will be four and twenty kookaburras emerging from that famous pie…

Brilliant.

The Beehive

The Beehive

The Beehive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beehive

Megan Daley

Max Hamilton

Walker Books, 2024

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

9781760655228

Even though Willow hurries to school every day, today is a very special day. Today was the day that Tom the groundskeeper was going to divide the hive of native bees living in the hollow of an old tree, and Willow was going to be able to take half of it home to begin a new hive…

Part of the brilliant Nature Storybooks collection, and written by Megan Daley, a name familiar to any teacher librarian who has been around for a while, this is a book that is a must-have in any library collection, but particularly those where the protection and conservation of the environment is high on the agenda, and even moreso if the students are developing a bee-friendly garden.

Alongside the story of Willow’s growing interest and excitement, is the informative parallel text introducing young readers to Australia’s native bee species – there are over 2000 of them – not only explaining their habits and habitats but demonstrating just how important they are in the natural scheme of things.  While there have been a number of books awakening young readers (and not-so- to the importance and plight of bees, this has a unique local focus that stimulates the imagination into what could be happening in the school playground or the home backyard with some input from an expert – of which there are a growing number. While Willow is lucky to have the help of Tom and her stepdad, both of whom know what they’re doing, it is not hard to find help from experienced keepers, even in the heart of the city. There are apiarists’ associations in every state and territory.

And given Megan’s professional life, and in keeping with others in the series, there is both an index and a glossary included so young readers can begin to learn the cues and clues for navigating non fiction resources so they can find the information they want.

When it comes to narrative non fiction and sparking interest in the world around them, this series is in my top five favourites and this particular addition just adds to their repertoire and reputation. 

 

Night Watch

Night Watch

Night Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Watch

Jodi Todering

Tannya Harricks

Walker Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760655310

As Sun’s final flames linger in the sky and Dusk whispers, Tawny Frogmouth wakens and with a drumming noise, calls Moon over the horizon because together they have a journey to make.  It is time for the Night Watch.

And so, over Australia’s vast and diverse landscapes they travel, bidding goodnight to her many creatures with their babies as they settle down…

Over the years I have read and reviewed many books focusing on Australia’s unique wildlife, each special in its own way, but this lyrical, lullaby-like tale is outstanding. With its bold, oil painting illustrations that echo not only the deepening and then lightening of the night but also the strength that is required to thrive in the landscape, the  reader is taken on the same journey as Moon and Tawny Frogmouth with the words calming and gentling as both reader and those in the book settle down to sleep. It reinforces the notion that even though it might be dark, nevertheless someone or something is looking over the sleeper and dawn will come to begin another day, and with all being well, Tawny Frogmouth’ work is done for the night..

Loved it and if ever there were a must-have book to share at a baby book shower to start the little one on their 1000 books before big school,  this is it.  Timeless and one to pass on and on and on… 

 

Little Horses

Little Horses

Little Horses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Horses

Deborah Kelly

Jenni Goodman

Wombat Books, 2024

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

9781761111310

Out in the bay, where sailboats glide

Little horses drift and glide

Changing colours so predators pass

In gardens of sponge and coral and grass

In the calm peaceful waters, disturbed only by the rise and fall of the tide, little seahorses spend their lives swaying with the movement of the water, occasionally spotted by sharp-eyed scuba divers who are lucky to see them amongst the seaweed. They give birth and raise their young in a way that only seahorses do, continuing a cycle that is generations old.

But then a storm hits the bay and the seahorses are swept away from their home by the tumbling, crashing waves to a barren place where there are no sponges, coral and grass until…

Inspired by true events when severe storms hit Port Stephens, NSW between 2010 and 2013 and almost wiped out the fragile population of White’s Seahorses (hippocampus whitei) – so much so that it was declared endangered on the IUCN list – this story tells the story of how scuba diver David Haraski spotted two seahorses beginning to build a new home on an old lobster pot that had also been swept away bit which was starting to sprout new corals and sponges. With the adage, “If we build it, they will come” in mind, in 2018 Haraski  built and placed the first seahorse hotel onto the Port Stephens seabed – and it worked.  Haraski the tried his concept in Sydney Harbour where there were other endangered populations and now these seahorses hotels are springing up around the world, including a dedicated breeding program at Sydney Sea Life.

This is such a positive spin on how humans are working to save the environment and its creatures that it deserves a place in any library collection to support the environment and sustainability curriculum. The gentle rhyme has a rhythm that mimics the wave movement, building to a crescendo when the storm hits, and all set against eye-catching artwork that is so lifelike.  There are notes about both the seahorses themselves and the seahorse hotels to add context and whet the appetite to know more and explore further.

With summer beach holiday memories still fresh in the mind, this is the ideal time to encourage students to think what lies below the yellow sands, beneath the rockpool calm and beyond the sparkling waters and used together with Beach Song and Voice of the Sea, there is the trifecta of storybooks to form the basis of the investigation.

 

 

 

Voice of the Sea

Voice of the Sea

Voice of the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voice of the Sea

John Williamson

Andrea Innocent & Jonathan Chong

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761344237

Described as “an unrequited love song to the ocean, a national anthem of the sea”, this is the picture book version of the iconic song by one of Australia’s most loved musicians that has become so integral to the campaign to conserve the oceans that it won an ARIA award.

With references to global warming, overfishing and the risk of losing some of our incredible marine wildlife a turtle swims through what were once pristine waters, narrowly escaping the clutches of a plastic bag already filled with precious creatures, lamenting, “Where did it go? Where has it gone, your love for me?” From the time that the first European settlers landed, the oceans of this country “girt by sea” have been exploited and now, with the personification of the ocean as a friend in need, students are encouraged to think of how we can preserve this natural wonderland – how we can give rather than take.

Written specifically for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, there are both teachers’ notes and a free education kit  to encourage not only an awareness of humans’ impact on the ocean but also how we can embrace it as a friend again including investigating the projects already in place like The Accidental Penguin Hotel.  the seahorse hotels and others that they might become involved in, offering hope for those who are concerned about the planet’s future. 

This is most definitely one for any collection, and the perfect starting point for any investigation of the oceans, it creatures and their challenges. 

 

Wear a Purple Poppy: Remembering Animals in War

Wear a Purple Poppy: Remembering Animals in War

Wear a Purple Poppy: Remembering Animals in War

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wear a Purple Poppy: Remembering Animals in War

Fiona White

Kathleen O’Hagan

Lothian, 2024

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

9780734421630 

It begins…

For the horses and the mules, for the donkeys and the camels,

We wear a purple poppy for you.

To the dogs and the pigeons, to the elephants and cats,

We wear a purple poppy for you…

And it continues by taking each part of the poem and explaining the role that animals have played in conflict for Australia over the decades “from Beersheba to Afghanistan, Kokoda to Posières” in tribute to these brave creatures that now “lie in distant fields far from home”. 

In 2019, the Australian Parliament declared 24 February each year as the National Day for War Animals, also known as Purple Poppy Day. It’s a day to pause, wear a purple poppy, and pay tribute to the many animals who served alongside soldiers and this is a poignant and stunningly illustrated tribute to all those creatures, often symbolised by Simpson’s donkey but which involved so many other species doing so many other things in so many fields. So important have they been that there is now an international war memorial for animals at Posières in France and those who have provided outstanding service or displayed incredible courage and loyalty can be awarded the Dickin Medal or the Blue Cross Medal.

Released in time for this year’s commemoration, this is an enlightening tribute that is supported by comprehensive teachers’ notes which cover significant strands of the curriculum and include a long list of picture books, novels and other resources which will encourage students to read and investigate more widely. As well, the Australian War Memorial has compiled a number of resources that will further students’ understanding including a digitised version of their popular A is for Animals exhibition and its accompanying publication M is for Mates which may be in your collection already because it was distributed to all schools in 2010. There is also an education kit available.

For any school that has the commemoration of our military history in its curriculum, this is a must-have in the library’s collection.