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A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Jackie Kerin

Milly Formby

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

978148631449

 

A few weeks ago we found ourselves at an international airport, which might not seem unusual except we we had no luggage, tickets or boarding passes, we weren’t intending to fly anywhere and our feet were firmly planted in the sand of Shoalhaven Heads in the Illawarra District of Australia’s East Coast.

 

But this was not your usual airport where planes take off for faraway destinations – it’s actually an important bird migration destination on the East-Asian Australasian Flyway  that extends from Arctic Russia and North America to New Zealand and is used by over 50 million migratory waterbirds.  Twice a year, 36 species of migratory shorebird fly annually to Australia and New Zealand for their non-breeding, or overwintering, season, and then return to breed in the northern hemisphere above the Arctic Circle.

So the release of this book for review was very timely, particularly as it also coincides with an opportunity to follow illustrator Milly Formby’s microlight adventure around Australia to raise awareness for migratory shorebirds in May–November 2022, complete with all sorts of support resources including the teachers’ notes downloadable from the book’s home page..

While we might be learning about the amazing migratory journeys of species like the humpback whale  and other creatures, they are able to stop, rest and feed on their journey.  How can a red-necked stint which weighs about the same as a piece of toast fly 500km without stopping – that’s the distance from Sydney to Perth and then another 1000km out to sea?  Who are these amazing birds, who can’t land on the water because they don’t have webbed feet, and what do they do to prepare for their amazing journeys? How do they find their way across both ocean and continent covering up to 12 000km in nine days like E7, the bar-trailed godwit which was fitted with a tracker to record the first world bird record for the longest non-stop flight?

In this absorbing book, the reader is taken on a trip to the Arctic tundra and back to discover the life and lifestyles of these wanderers in a format that is engaging, accessible and which opens up a whole new world to wonder about.  With books like this and The Great Southern Reef  we can introduce our students to the amazing world that is right on their doorstep, perhaps opening up new interests and dreams. For Milly Formby has a dream to fly her microlight to Siberia and back to follow the birds, the first step being that  Wing Threads adventure of flying around Australia. A real-life example of “Dreaming with Eyes Open.” 

Milly's Journey

Milly’s Journey

 

 

Then to enrich the experience, as well as being involved in  Milly’s adventure, track down a copy of the movie Fly Away Home, the remarkable story of saving Canada geese by training them to follow an ultralight, based on the real-life experience of Bill Lishman.

What a world has opened up for me because I found myself at that unknown airport!  And my feet haven’t even left the ground!

 

 

Song of the White Ibis

Song of the White Ibis

Song of the White Ibis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the White Ibis

Phillip Gwynne

Liz Anelli

Puffin. 2022

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

9781760897949

The ‘chorus” of this song would seem to sum up this bird’s reputation…

Call me Bin Chicken
Call me Tip Turkey
Call me Picnic Pirate

But, in fact, the white ibis – Threskiornis molucca – has  a more dignified tale to tell. That of being related to the Sacred Ibis of Egypt and to Thoth, the god of science, writing, magic and the moon; that of being the farmers’ friend as their long beaks aerate the soil as they dig for troublesome insects like locusts; that of once living in the wetlands but driven to being of scavenger of the cities because of human habitation overtaking theirs. 

There was much derision when Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe suggested the white ibis to be the mascot for the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane but this intriguing book by Phillip Gwynne with its detailed illustrations from Liz Anelli  shows the bird in a completely different light, offering a different side to its common image. Certainly, the final message of “reduce, reuse, recycle’ or we might all become bin chickens is confronting but is a definite heads up to make us think about why there is just so much waste to enable these birds to thrive in the urban environment. 

According to the  National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study

  • Food waste costs the economy around $36.6 billion each year.
  • Each year we waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food across the supply and consumption chain – this wastage equals about 312kg per person, equivalent to around one in five bags of groceries or $2,000 to $2,500 per household per year.
  • Food waste accounts for approximately 3% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Australia uses around 2600 gigalitres of water to grow food that is wasted – this equates to the volume of water in five Sydney Harbours.
  • The amount of land used to grow wasted food covers in excess of 25 million hectares, a landmass larger than the state of Victoria.

(Source: Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, 2022)

Thus, this book could be the springboard to students  investigating food waste and its management in both our schools and our homes making it so much more that a plea from a bird for some dignity and respectability. Even young readers can create visual representations of what 312kg  or one in five bags of groceries look like. And that notion of it being the Olympic mascot could be more beneficial than first considered… 

Einstein the Penguin

Einstein the Penguin

Einstein the Penguin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Einstein the Penguin

Iona Rangeley

David Tazzyman

HarperCollins, 2021

224pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9780008475963

December in London “where the days end early and forget to start on time” can be cold and miserable and so the Stewart family decide to spend the afternoon at London Zoo. Six-year-old Arthur and nine-year-old Imogen each have their favourites to see, but Arthur particularly wants to visit the penguins.  And while he is there, it seems he connects to one tiny one in particular, reluctant to leave, and so Mrs Stewart bids it farewell saying, “And you, Mr Penguin, must come and stay with us whenever you like.  Penguins are always very welcome at our house.”

So everyone is very surprised when Mr Penguin actually turns up on their doorstep that evening, with a rucksack labelled ‘Einstein’ on its back…

But what is a fairy penguin from Sydney, Australia doing in London in the first place?  Imogen, who fancies herself as a detective like her favourite book character, enlists Arthur’s help on a mission to find out… But will the discovery mean saying goodbye to Einstein forever?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, very different story for newly independent young readers who will love the fact the Mr and Mrs Stewart are not only willing to go along with having Einstein stay but also enable the children to discover what’s going on.  Rarely are parents so amenable to their children’s wishes. But the story also throws up questions about keeping pets, and whether it’s fair to keep some creatures in captivity either as a pet or in a zoo, so it offers an opportunity for the reader to reflect on issues broader than the story itself. 

 

 

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 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 KangarooEmu 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. We are blessed to live in a place where we see a range of Australian birds in their natural habitat every day but despite the magpie family’s loyalty, the brilliant colours of the crimson rosellas and the mad antics of the galahs and cockatoos, it is always the call of the kookaburra that brings the widest smile.   While trees with hollows are becoming harder to find, particularly after the Black Summer bushfires, hopefully there will always be a home in the bush near us for them. 

Rusty, the Rainbow Bird

Rusty, the Rainbow Bird

Rusty, the Rainbow Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rusty, the Rainbow Bird

Aleesah Darlison

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2022

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

 9781760899240

It is the dry season in the northern reaches of Australia, a tough time for tiny Gouldian Finches like Rusty who watches the waterhole shrink knowing that, like all finches, he needs to drink several times a day. But Rusty is lucky, for he has met Olive and after an energetic courtship dance during which he displays displays the magnificent colours that belie his name – a bright green back, yellow belly, a purple breast and black face (although Olive is the rarer red-faced version)  – together they build a nest in a hollow tree and get ready to raise their young, adding to the population of these endangered birds. It is hard work feeding six always-hungry mouths but it’s made easier because each baby, although naked and blind, has a colourful pattern on its mouth so its parents can see it in the dark of the hollow.

But even more dire than the shrinking water hole which means that Rusty and Olive have to fly further and further to find the insects and seeds to feed their babies, is the fire that is roaring across the countryside…

This is the third in this series about Australia’s lesser-known endangered species  and like its predecessors,  Poppy, the Punk Turtle  and Coco, the fish with hands both author and artist have created a perfect text attractive and accessible to its intended audience of young readers with a curiosity about the natural world around them. The colour and simplicity of the illustrations catch the eye immediately (as would a Gouldian Finch) and the story written in simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence, supported by fact boxes, is ideal for introducing young readers to a world beyond their own.

This is an essential collection of stories for any parent or teacher wanting to expand their child’s horizons so they understand that there are many creatures in the environment that need both help and protection from us, and we have a responsibility to them all, no matter how small or obscure.  

Cato’s Can Can

Cato’s Can Can

Cato’s Can Can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cato’s Can Can

Juliet Sampson

Katrina Fisher

Ford Street, 2021

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

9781925804768

Cato the cockatoo loves to dance. Each day he bops and rocks and kicks and stomps all by himself.  He would dearly love to find a dance partner but none of the local birds are interested.  But then, throughout the course of a week he spies lots of dancers who move just like his different bird-world friends – spinning like a lyrebird, bopping like lorikeets, snapping like lyrebirds, leaping like brolgas, tapping like grebes, hopping and prancing like bowerbirds – but even though he shows off his moves, they disappear without noticing him.

So, instead of showing off his moves, he decides to follow them – and everyone gets a surprise…

This is a charming story that celebrates both the unique movement of bird species and the magic of dance. Using a days-of-the-week and cumulative-counting format, both Cato and the reader focus on the various forms of dance that humans have developed to bring joy to themselves and others making a delightful read for all those who love to dance. No doubt they would be able to add other genres and similes such as waltzing and gliding like swans.  As well as being great for investigating similes, bird movements and dance types, it would also be fun to explore the sort of music that would accompany each, and perhaps even find examples of each type. 

So much more than a one-off read! 

Book of Curious Birds

Book of Curious Birds

Book of Curious Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of Curious Birds

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian, 2021

60pp., hbk. RRP $A26.99

9780734420473

One of the great delights of living in the bush is watching the cavalcade of birds that visit and sometimes make their home amongst the snow gums, the native pines and the wattles that dominate this landscape.  Some are seasonal workers, some are permanent residents, but none is as weird as those that make the pages of this new book by Jennifer Cossins, creator of The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book and The Ultimate Animal Counting Book. 

With names often  as weird as their characteristics (such as  tawny frogmouth, ocellated turkey, twelve-wired bird-of-paradise and Guianan cock-of-the-rock) readers are introduced to birds that have startling colours; strange physical features, and curious habits that make them stand out amongst others of their species. There are those like the wandering albatross that can glide for 900km in a day with little effort and those like the North Island brown kiwi confined to land for life and that are closer to mammals than birds.  There are the Vulturine Guinea Fowl with their complex social structure indicating high intelligence and the blue-footed booby, known as “the clown of the Galapagos”. There are the Secretary Birds that are amazing snake killers and the Tufted Puffin renowned for catching fish 25 metres below the surface!

Whatever the reason, each has made its way into this fascinating book that had me turning the pages for ages and I am not known for being an ornithologist or even a twitcher.  With each having a double page spread , an introduction in easily accessible text and accompanied by Cossins unique illustrative style, this is an essential addition to the collection to add to the current interest in the planets strange and peculiar inhabitants, to offer those who prefer non fiction to fiction and for small groups to share together, an intrinsic part of reading development in young boys, particularly. 

The Song of Lewis Carmichael

The Song of Lewis Carmichael

The Song of Lewis Carmichael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Song of Lewis Carmichael

Sofie Lsguna

Marc McBride

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760878573

Matthew has dreamed and read and thought about the North Pole for as long as he can remember. And he has done it secretly. It is a place that cannot be tarnished by the world in which he lives – a world in which he struggles to find answers and make friends, while everything seems to come easily to other children.

But one day, while reading in the park, Matthew befriends a crow with a broken wing and that night  Lewis Carmichael taps on Matthew’s window – a crow who believes in Matthew in the most simple and ordinary ways. Soon, the unexpected voyage of a lifetime begins, and it will change everything… A hot-air balloon ride to the Arctic and now Matthew stood on the snowy peak and stared out at the world spread before him. Every picture in his books had been limited by the size of the page, contained within frames. Here, there was no frame. Here, the picture didn’t end. Beyond those icy plains, the sea, and beyond the sea, a land that floated on the ice, drifting northwards. Matthew put the binoculars to his eyes and saw valleys and cliffs and rivers all made of snow. Everywhere was white.

Parents looking for quality stories to slip into their child’s Christmas stocking this year are spoiled for choice – and this new one from Sofie Laguna is no exception.  Matthew is that quiet child, withdrawn, unable to make friends who prefers to read and make friends with the characters in his books because he feels like he doesn’t belong that so many parents and teachers will recognise. But, to my knowledge, none of those I know have befriended a crow, particularly one that can talk, and get taken on such an extraordinary adventure… Yet, this is so well-written and so delicately illustrated (the Aurora Borealis spread is exquisite) that it is utterly believable and the reader is swept up in the adventure. And while he is away, this child of helicopter parents has to learn to be resilient, independent, decisive, courageous and confident – all those things that we want for our children but are sometimes too afraid to let them develop. 

Presented entirely in a blue monochromatic scheme, including the text, this is one that is either a read-alone for independent readers, a read-together between parent and child as the perfect bedtime story or a read-aloud with a class and the opportunity to explore a mysterious land with Matthew. 

 

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Birdies

Andy Geppert

Lothian Children’s, 2021 

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780734420695

Can your children tell the difference between a beach chicken (seagull) and a bin chicken (white ibis) ?

Or a roof chicken (pigeon)  and a chicken chicken (chicken)?

In this introduction to the birds commonly seen in Australian backyards, including large inflatable flamingoes and swans, Andy Geppert mixes a few basic facts with a lot of humour to make for an enjoyable read for young children who will just be noticing the differences between the species.  Clever illustrations and funny text combine to make this the most unusual field guide but one which will pique little ones’ curiosity and have them trying to identify the birds that they see.   They could even make a chart and mark each one off as it is spotted from their window, beginning their skills in data gathering, mapping and interpretation!   It’s the simple things….

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

Angela Robertson-Buchanan

Wild Dog Books, 2021

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

9781742036076

When their tree-home was cut down leaving two baby sulphur-crested cockatoos alone because their parents flew away in fear, wildlife rangers rescued them and raised them until they were able to be independent.  Anyone who has heard the screech of these common birds of the bush will understand how well their names Squeak and Squawk suit them, and will enjoy following this photographic journey of their survival from just two weeks old.

Written for young readers,  this is a beautiful book written and photographed by a wildlife carer and  includes just enough information to give the intended audience what they need to know about these majestic birds. Teacher’s notes   encourage young readers to think about why young creatures need human help and what can be done to help them.

A great introduction not only to sulphur-crested cockatoos but also to how books can provide us with information and open new worlds.