Archives

When The Fog Rolls In

When The Fog Rolls In

When The Fog Rolls In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Fog Rolls In

Pam Fong

Greenwillow, 2024

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

9780063136540

On a clear day, when the sea and the horizon stretch endlessly around, the flock of puffins takes flight from their rocky island home – except for one, who is a little tentative and anxious.  But, when he has the courage to follow his mates, the fog rolls in and things become murkier and murkier until it is so thick, he stumbles and can’t find his way forward.  Perhaps it would be safer to stay just where he is, but when a walrus looms in front of him, he realises that that can be dangerous.  And so, he summons his brave that let him leave his home in the first place, and goes forward learning that “the closer you get, the more you see. And the more you see, the clearer the path becomes.” And eventually, the fog lifts and the world and the horizons spread in front of you again.

On the surface this is a story about a little puffin separated from his flack, lost, afraid and bewildered until he finds them again, but it has been deliberately written as an allegory for helping young ones navigate uncertainty, open their minds and finding their way back to a place of safety and certainty. It helps them understand that, at times, we all face feeling lost and unsure, having to make decisions and having faith that what we decide will lead us to clarity.  

While there are lots of stories that celebrate being happy and positive, and others that deal with anger and sadness, there are few that confront confusion and uneasiness in such a way that makes it easy to start conversations and explore those emotions so that the child not only understands that there can be a pathway through without becoming too anxious, but others feel the same way at times.

An exceptional addition to your mindfulness collection for little ones, while useful for teaching older students about allegories and learning to read between and beyond the lines to what the author is really saying – an essential skill in being a critical reader.   

Who’s the Gang on Our Street?

Who's the Gang on Our Street?

Who’s the Gang on Our Street?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s the Gang on Our Street?

Susanne Gervay

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922896810

There are lots of gangs on our street – a rock and roll gang with spiky hair; a soccer gang with bright uniforms; a billycart gang who race down the hill; a music gang, a dancing gang, an acrobat gang… so many gangs that I don’t belong to but I could if I wanted to!  Because I have funky-punky hair, I love to move and play; I can fly faster than any human can run; I can hang upside down and twist and turn better than anyone… 

This is a jaunty, unusual introduction to one of Australia’s most iconic birds, the sulphur-crested cockatoo, and, as if to prove Gervay’s point about their versatility, there is a gang of them investigating a newly-fallen tree outside my window as I write.  They’re hanging upside down on the food feeder chains, looking for bugs in the newly peeling bark, while there is always one standing guard… and their distinctive squaark always lets us know when they are in the neighbourhood.

But for all that I see these birds almost every day once the mountain weather starts to warm up, there is still a lot in this new book that I hadn’t noticed, such as the fact that they always use their left leg like a human hand, so I will be observing them with fresh eyes this summer. 

Narrative non fiction has overtaken the traditional facts-and-figures books that used to be the core of the library’s non fiction collection and between them, Gervay and Bevington have produced something that is unique, fun and very appealing bringing this Australian icon right into the realm of the reader.  A short quiz encourages the reader to explore the fun facts that are included and ensures that these birds that bring so much joy through their antics (even though these are provoked by the eternal search for food) will become favourites for a new generation.  

 

  

The Littlest Penguin

The Littlest Penguin

The Littlest Penguin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Littlest Penguin and the Phillip Island Penguin Parade

Jedda Robaard

Penguin Foundation

Puffin, 2023

144pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781761341830

Before the Europeans came to Millowl (Phillip Island) there were at least ten little penguin colonies there, but these days there is only one.  Protected by law now, it is the largest colony in the world, and, at the end of each day, hundreds of tourists come to watch some of those 40 000 adults gather together in “rafts” before they surf into the beach, waddle across it and head up the familiar tracks to their burrows, each looking for landmarks or listening for their partner’s voice to find their way.  

And, just maybe in that daily trek there will be Little Penguin, Scruffy, Cheeky and Big Chick who are the stars of this absorbing, beautifully illustrated novel for younger readers as they begin their lives as downy chicks and grow into adults ready to have chicks themselves. Just 33cm tall and less than a kilo as adults, there are many dangers facing the little penguins, particularly as they can be at sea for up to a year on that first journey, and Little Penguin, Scruffy, Cheeky and Big Chick are exposed to all of them making for an engaging read as we hope for a happy ending for all of them.

As well as their story, there is also an extensive information section to tell the reader more including the usual facts and figures that add the background as well as what happens when they are affected by oil slicks, itself an intriguing, heart-warming story, as is the story of another colony at St Kilda.. 

Produced by the Penguin Foundation which “raises funds to enhance Phillip Island’s natural environment and protect native wildlife through research, conservation and education programs”, and published by Penguin random House (who else? and who provide funding for the organisation), this is the ideal read-aloud or read-together to inspire interest in and awareness of these little birds as well as giving all those who are likely to make the trip to Phillip Island over the upcoming Christmas  break the knowledge and understanding of just what they are seeing. Maybe, as they learn more from both the Penguin Foundation and the Penguin Parade websites, they might even want to adopt a penguin for themselves. 

I adored it.

 

Penguin chick born in Eden for the first time in 30 years holds hopes in re-establishing colony 

The Bird Book

The Bird Book

The Bird Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bird Book

Steve Jenkins

Robin Page

Clarion Books, 2023

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780358325697

From the time a small feathered animal launched itself into the air 150 million years ago, the planet’s skies have been populated with birds and now  more than 10 000 species have evolved from that first archaeopteryx, being the only creatures of the dinosaur era to survive the impact of the asteroid that hit the earth 66 million years ago.

Using minimum text and many many illustrations of examples, the reader is taken on an exploration of the species that explains what a bird is, how the species evolved, and the features that have made them so successful including the power of flight, their senses, their adaptations to  their habitats, migration and all the other facets of life that one would expect to discover. The only drawback that it may have for the younger reader is the small, hand0writing like font that may prove tricky for them to read without help. Overall, though, this is an intriguing and informative book that really provides an ‘all-you-need-to-know’ introduction to a creature that varies from the bee hummingbird that weighs less than a ping pong ball tp the wandering albatross with its wingspan of over three metres to the ostrich which is the largest living bird on the planet these days, outstripped by the extinct giant moa, endemic to New Zealand.

Steve Jenkins has given young readers some fascinating insights into the animal world such as The Animal Toolkit and Animal Facts by the Numbers, and this is just as fascinating.

Pippa and the Troublesome Twins

Pippa and the Troublesome Twins

Pippa and the Troublesome Twins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa and the Troublesome Twins

Dimity Powell

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.98

9781922696298

Pippa loves her new twin baby brothers, Pepi and Penn. But their constant mess and cries for attention are driving her batty and she  yearns to take off on her own to the Too-far-to-fly-to Forest but each time she asks about flying to the Too-far-to-fly-to Forest, her parents are always too busy attending to the babies.  Instead, they have left her to babysit the twins while they go off to find food.

Pippa has always been an adventurous bird even though her parents found it hard to let her be independent, but now they have given her the responsibility of looking after her brothers, she has to show that she is worthy of their trust. 

Like its predecessor, this story has themes that will resonate with many readers who have to come to terms with there being new babies in the family and the disruption to everyone’s routines that this causes.  But although this might seem to be just for younger readers, the excellent teaching notes that embrace all strands of the curriculum expand some of the themes for more mature readers too.  So while little ones can compare the arrival of the cat to the concept of “stranger danger”, older readers might investigate why birds can fly but humans can’t, or use their own experience to compare the pros and cons of being an only child to that of having siblings. Even more mature readers might like to investigate how picture books like this are used to address the issues that younger children face and then compare that to how their own issues are addressed in contemporary realistic fiction and why there is such a change of approach. 

Whichever level the reader is at, this is an entertaining story that deserves its place in the library’s collection.

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

Coral Vass

Jess Racklyeft

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486316403

Once upon a time, the soft warbling melody of the regent honeyeater would “bounce of trees, skim across billabongs and echo through woodlands.” But, as “trees turned to towers, billabongs to buildings, and the woodlands to carparks…and forests turned to farms” many birds flew away, never to return. But when Regent felt the urge to sing the song to attract a mate that had been passed from father to son for generations, he couldn’t remember it.  And there was no one to remind him.  He searched the forest listening to the songs of others for a hint of the tune, he even tried out a few of them himself, but no one came…

How will the species survive if he can’t remember the tune, and have a son of his own in time…

Once found frequently in the woodlands of south-eastern Australia, the regent honeyeater  is now found only in three regions –   around Chiltern-Albury in north-east Victoria, and at Capertee Valley and the Bundarra-Barraba region in NSW – and is officially listed as “critically endangered” with an estimated overall population of just 350-400, probably less.  So this lyrical, beautifully illustrated story is another brilliant wake-up call for young readers not only about the impact of urban sprawl on this species in particular, but on our birdlife generally.  Accompanied by some basic facts and a timeline stretching back to First Nations peoples, young readers learn about the importance of bird-song in perpetuating a species and how the loss of potential mates can have devastating consequences. But all is not lost and there are programs in place to preserve and increase those that are left including a national plan  largely co=ordinated by Birdlife Australia.

As with all these publications for young readers, once again the plight of a likely-unknown species is brought to their attention, offering an insight not only into the diversity of Australia’s indigenous wildlife but also the threats they face and what even young individuals like them can do about it.  So even if this is not a species relevant to their particular region, little ones can investigate those that are and what it is that they might be able to do (or not) to ensure there is a future for them.

Both Coral and Jess have provided a unique approach for developing an awareness, if not an understanding, that is engaging, helping all of us to realise that those bird calls we hear every day but take for granted, have both meaning and purpose for the birds that sing them.  They are more than just melodies for our pleasure. 

Sightings of critically endangered regent honeyeater in NSW give conservationists hope  

ABC News, July 1, 2023

Hope Is The Thing

Hope Is The Thing

Hope Is The Thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope Is The Thing

Johanna Bell

Erica Wagner

A&U Children’s, 2023

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

9781761180026

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
These opening lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope is the thing with feathers   are the inspiration for this stunning picture book  begun after the devastation caused by the bushfires which ravaged so  much of south-east Australia in 2019-2020. 
A young girl who is a bird lover and watcher, as are the book’s creators, focuses on the birds around her as they return to their burnt-out habitats to resume the lives and lifestyles that are natural to them clearly with the hope, indeed expectation, that it will continue as always regardless.  The kookaburra sings, the baby emus learn to run, the parrot nests in the hollow tree, the seagull is still eyeing off the hot chips…
The last years have been tough for many, and there will be those facing new challenges as the new year rolls over, so this is a perfect book to share to show that hope for better things is what drives us forward regardless of how dire the current situation might be. While hope might be seen as unreachable as the eagle able to soar above and be free, it can also be as mundane as the ibis returning to raid the rubbish bins in anticipation of food.   If the bowerbird still seeks the blue among the black ruins of the landscape, we, too, can look for the diamonds amongst the stones. 
Erica Wagner’s extraordinary mixed media illustrations interpret the author’s lyrical words perfectly, the final illustrations showing that with hope, we too can fly…
Perfect for sharing with students at the beginning of the year as they think about their hopes and dreams for the year and start formalising goals they want to achieve.
Erin Hanson Poetry

Erin Hanson Poetry

The Twelve Days of Christmas Island

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas Island

The Twelve Days of Christmas Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas Island

Teresa Lagrange

A & U Children’s, 2022

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

9781761068041

Over 2600km north-west of Perth, Christmas Island is a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean, just 135 square km and most of that, national park.  This geographical isolation and its dense rainforests mean it is a sanctuary for plants, animals and birds with hundreds of species calling the tiny island home. There is so much more than the red crabs we usually associate with the island.  

In this unique book which draws on the format of the traditional Christmas song, young readers are introduced to just a handful of those birds species, so very different to those they usually see on mainland Australia. From the bright-red plumage of the Frigatebird to the iridescent green of the Emerald Dove, these rare and special birds are depicted with brief notes about each species, the lilly pilly tree in which they gather and the island itself complete the pages making the complete package. 

If you’re looking for a Christmas book that is not the cardinals and robin redbreasts of the northern hemisphere, or even those in the song, this one is special. 

 

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

Swifty - The Super-fast Parrot

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Astred Hicks

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315918

   

In a hollow in a Tasmanian blue gum in a Tasmanian forest, a female swift parrot lays three eggs, Even though all three hatch, only one survives the perils of the forest, and learns which nectar is the sweetest and which lerps are best. 

As the Tasmanian weather cools and winter looms, Swifty joins the few remaining parrots of her species to make the 250km flight across Bass Strait to the mainland territories of Victoria, NSW, ACT and south-east Queensland following the blossom trail.  One of only two species of parrot that migrates, Swifty’s journey takes her on a perilous 4000km round trip but even a return to Tasmania does not guarantee safety as she finds the hollow in her tree already taken and so she has to make yet another journey to one of the outlying islands to breed in safety. 

Once again. CSIRO Publishing has employed top-shelf writers and illustrators to bring young readers a story that introduces them to another of Australia’s critically endangered species, raising awareness and understanding that there are so many of these lesser-known creatures that need protection, safety and help as their habitat declines.  As well as offering tips for kids on how to spot one in their backyard, how to help protect them and how to help further, there are comprehensive teachers’ notes  to enable deeper study. 

Another one to add to your collection from this publisher dedicated to ensuring our young readers know the inhabitants of their environment, a collection that includes On the Trail of the Plains-Wanderer, SwoopAmazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity A Shorebird Flying AdventureTiny Possum and the Migrating MothsOne Potoroo  and Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”!