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Pollination

Pollination

Pollination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollination – How Does My Garden Grow?

Chris Cheng

Danny Snell

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486313235

When you live high up in an apartment in the city, it can be easy to take things like your food and clothing for granted, but take a trip to your grandparents in the suburbs and your eyes can be opened and your thinking changed entirely!

For even though young city kids might now know that bees are important, in this intriguing book they learn not only of the bees’ critical role in the survival of the planet as they flit from flower to flower, but also all the other pollinators who carry the precious gold dust – appropriate that it is gold, in the scheme of things – from plant to plant, not only providing food for humans but also for their own kind so that the cycle can continue on.  So, just as pollination itself is essential to the survival of the world’s ecosystems, so it is essential that we protect the pollinators.  As the child learns, something as simple as placing a bright-coloured flower in a pot on a balcony can contribute.

Linked to the Science strand of the Australian Curriculum, particularly the Biological Sciences understanding that “Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves ” as well as being used in conjunction with Bee Detectives,  Plantastic,The Butterfly and the Ants     and Wonderful Wasps, this is an excellent foundation for helping our youngest readers understand a concept that many adults wouldn’t believe they could even pronounce!

Extra notes and some suggestions at the end of the story offer further information as well as some ideas for the best plants to put in a “Pollinators Paradise” if the school were to go down the path of creating a special, year-round garden to attract and protect the local pollinators.  Imagine the investigations that would spark…

 

The Octopus’s Trick

The Octopus’s Trick

The Octopus’s Trick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Octopus’s Trick

Alexia Jankowski

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678768

Ollie is an octopus, and he might be smarter than you!
When Lucy and her friends decide to test how brainy Ollie the octopus really is by seeing if he can get prawns out of a sealed glass jar and photographing the action, they get a surprise when he steals the camera itself.  Can they get the precious footage back?

Told in rhyme, this is a story based on the author’s childhood snorkelling off the beach at Cottesloe, WA when an octopus actually stole their GoPro camera. Others have had similar experiences including one from NSW resulting in a photograph that won the 2020  Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The intelligence of these creatures has been recognised for some time and when one named Paul predicted the winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup interest in them as a species soared, so this is a great introduction to investigate more about these clever creatures so we can understand and protect them better -they’re so much more than the monsters of the deep that fiction taints them. 

 

Where’s My Stick?

Where's My Stick?

Where’s My Stick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Stick?

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678508

Maxie the dog loves finding and burying sticks at the beach and he is smart enough to know that he must leave markers at their burial site so he can find them again to play with.  But each time he does, his marker has disappeared – nature has ways of tricking him – and so he has to find an even bigger stick!

This is a story of perseverance and resilience because Maxie doesn’t get frustrated and give up when he can’t find either his marker or his stick, but works his way to another solution – and finally rewarded with something more than a stick. Young readers will relate to similar situations when they have found that things don’t work out for them the first time and so they must try again. 

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again.  

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

Bunny Ideas

9781761068119

Otter-ly Ridiculous

9781761068126

Renee Treml

A&U Children’s 2023

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

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet, but, despite their differences they are best friends who work together to solve mysteries. 

These are the two latest adventures in this graphic novel series  for young readers transitioning from the basal readers of commercial reading schemes to less-controlled books offering a stepping stone to more complex “early chapter books”. Following the format of the previous four where the emphasis is on the conversation between the characters, Treml again places her characters into situations that are familiar to her audience.  In Bunny Ideas Bea is planning some fun games to play with her friends but they must follow her rules while in a game becomes a quarrel that threatens friendships, offering opportunities for the reader to consider what options there are for harmony and what choices they might make in a similar situation.

In a recent media interview I was asked why I thought it was important for little ones to read and apart from fueling their imagination and inspiring their dreams, I emphasised the need for them to read about children and characters who were just like themselves so that they could not only see themselves in stories and thus affirming who they are as they are is enough, but that they could encounter and solve problems such as those in these stories from a distance.  Contemporary realistic fiction has been defined as  “real stories that could happen here and now [in which] the author attempts to weave a story based on believable characters, a plausible plot and a recognisable setting so that young readers … can vicariously live through the story’s characters while they read” (Travers, B. E. & Travers, J. F. (2008) Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley) and while it is a term usually applied to literature for young adults, IMO Treml has nailed it in this series for much younger readers.  

Lou

Lou

Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lou

Breanna Carzoo

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780063054059

Lou has an important job . . . as the neighbourhood toilet for dogs on their walks, particularly as he is across the road from a doggy day care centre.. All day, every day, they come and sniff, and twirl and twist and lift and…

Useful as he may be, he gets the feeling that deep down inside, there might be more to him than that. He just doesn’t seem to know exactly what yet. When disaster strikes, will Lou find out what he’s made of and save the day?

Young readers will giggle their way through the start of this book as the recognise a very familiar scenario, but the astute ones will also be looking at the pictures and discovering a whole different scenario playing out in the background while Lou is musing about his lot in life.  

This is one to encourage young readers to read the pictures as well as the words because in quality picture books they are integral adding to both the plot and the meaning. Like Lou, this story shows that there is more to each of us than first meets the eye, and that each of us has hidden qualities that others might not appreciate at first. Little ones who are usually the least empowered can have fun identifying just what it is that makes them unique and special, perhaps adding to a group collage that shares their particular talents. Who knows what future hero or champion might be lurking. 

One Bird Band

One Bird Band

One Bird Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Bird Band

Sacha Cotter

Josh Morgan

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922678485

With its rinky-dink-dink, rat-a-tat-tat, toot-a-toot-toot, and clang-a-clang-CLANG, the little bird really is a one-bird-band, But as it makes its way through the jungle, it discovers other creatures who are really sad and to cheer them up, it gives away its instruments one at a time, until it has none left.  Now it is the sad one!  But then…

While the main focus of the story is the concept of sharing, little readers could have fun deciding which instruments make each sound, and then perhaps even discover what noises other instruments make and suggest vocabulary for them in the style of the author.  What would their one-man-band sound like? While onomatopoeia is a big word for little mouths,  it can be a lot of fun as the child pays attention to the sounds around and increases their vocabulary so this is a charming story to share and build on.

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The Last Crayon

The Last Crayon

The Last Crayon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Crayon

Fifi Colston

Little Steps, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678522

When the squirrels find a box of crayons, each takes one and knows exactly what they are going to draw based on its colour.  Except for grey squirrel who gets the grey crayon.  If yellow is for the sunrise, blue is the sky and green is the grass, what is grey for?

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together. With so much screen-based interaction for our littlies, taking the time to share a story and discuss it with them is critical if they are to learn about the constancy of print and the potential that the stories offer, and particularly that they can return to them time and time again and even build their own stories. What else could they draw with the red crayon? What might happen if the squirrels mixed the colours together?  Can they use pictures from magazines to make a collage of purple things?  Is one colour more common than the others? What might the world look like if it was monochromatic? And so on…

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willa and Woof 3: Grandparents for Hire

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2023

128pp. pbk., $A12.99

9781761043338

Willa’s four-legged best friend is her albino wolfhound, Woof; her same-age best friend is Tae Jin whose name means “person of greatness” in Korean; and her old-age best friend is Frank Pickles who lives next door in the retirement village and is very old and very grumpy with crinkly skin and bags under his eyes.  Willa visits him almost every day and listens to his stories about how he used to race pigeons when he was younger, although now he only has Mimi in the aviary in his tiny back yard. 

But when the principal announces that there will be a Grandparents’ Day next week when the children can bring their grandparents to school to join in activities – a common event in many schools – Willa discovers that not everyone has a grandparent to ask or that some are just not in a position to attend, including herself.  So she sets out with a plan to make it a day that everyone can enjoy but sometimes plans don’t turn out the way you expect.

This is the third in this series for younger emerging readers following Mimi is Missing and Birthday Business with the fourth due in April, making the wait in between episodes not too long and thus being ideal for demonstrating how books in a series build on each other so the characters become more and more familiar and thus, more real. They begin to care about what happens to them, an essential if they are to finish the book. 

Series are an important part of reading development and are so much more than a commercial decision to attract readers back. Because the reader is already familiar with the characters, the settings and the likely storyline they are able to bring their existing knowledge to the read, predict what is likely to happen and be empowered to tackle more complex stories, using and honing their developing skills as they do so. Each book completed offers a sense of accomplishment and builds a desire and momentum to complete the series, making the choice of the next read easier while continuing to affirm that they can become a “real reader” and encouraging them to seek other books by the same author or in the same genre, ever widening their reading horizons.    

It’s worth finding innovative ways to display series so they are easily accessible by even the most reluctant reader and build on their intrinsic popularity. Authors like Jacqueline Harvey who create characters like Willa and her friends and build stories around things that are really familiar to young readers do so much to make the teacher librarian’s job so much easier. 

 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile: Junior Novelisation

Bernard Waber

Adapted by Catherine Hapka

HarperCollins US, 2023

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

9780358755432

When 12-year old Josh Primm and his family move to New York City, they are surprised to discover a crocodile living in their attic – a crocodile that is fun, playful, and can sing! Josh and Lyle become best friends but then Lyle’s former owner turns up to claim him for a new musical act and despite the issues Lyle has caused with a neighbour, the Primms realise how much Lyle means to them and that they need to keep him as part of the family.

Based on the original story by Bernard Waber , this is the novelisation of the film currently so popular with young children, making it an ideal addition to any family or school collection as we encourage them to read and revisit the fun they have shared.  Knowing the scenario will support those who are consolidating their skills while others may seek out the original as well as others in the series and others by the same author,  expanding reading horizons beyond the screen.

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cicada Sing Song

Pat Simmons

Katrin Dreiling

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

 9781922358462

After spending so many years underground as nymphs, the warm winds have brought the cicadas to the surface and they are ready to get together to make their music, the loudest insects on the planer and the sound of summer evenings in Australia for so many.  

Yellow Monday, Black Prince, Green Grocer, Orange Drummer, Brown Bunyip, Floury Baker, Razor Grinder… all the males are pumping out their own particular song  to try to attract a mate and begin the cycle again. Even their rock star names suggest something special- which other insects have such tags? 

Written in rhyme, this is a fascinating book that brings the songs of the cicadas to life in what to some humans is just a cacophony because it  can be up to 120 dB at close range (approaching the pain threshold of the human ear), or so high in pitch that the noise is beyond the range of our hearing but which is unique to each species so that they only attract the females of the same species.

So as well as being entertaining it is also educational and combined with a book such as Searching for Cicadas could open up a whole new world of investigation for the young reader as they not only discover new things about this ubiquitous creature but perhaps the world of music too.  Which is their favourite genre? And if they were a cicada, what would their name be?