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Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tasmanian Devil

Claire Saxby

Max Hamilton

Walker, 2022

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

9781760652418

Anyone who has ever heard the screech of a Tasmanian Devil split the night will know why these creatures, which once roamed mainland Australia but are now found only in Tasmania, have been so-named.  The largest living carnivorous marsupial in the world, , they live a solitary life as adults but will occasionally share carrion if it is large enough and the feasting is accompanied by blood-curdling cries as each tries to assert dominance.

Endangered because of the devastating Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). which is contagious and kills them within 3-6 months of the lesions appearing, this new addition to the wonderful Nature Storybook series, a narrative non fiction series which introduces young readers to the wonders of the natural world, is ideal for bringing these creatures into the realm of our young readers.  It traces the development of two young devils known as imps (or joeys or pups) as they become more and more independent showcasing different elements of the habitat, behaviours, and day to day life of one of Australia’s most famous marsupials.

Saxby, also the author of Big Red KangarooEmu Koala, Dingo,  Kookaburra and  Great White Shark, again brings her ability to create pictures with her words to create magic on the tongue, ensuring this is as much an engaging, entertaining story as much as it is educational.  

 

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

Nicola Davies

Jenni Desmond

Walker Books, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406394771

It is one minute to midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, April 21 and as the clock strikes midnight there, the reader begins an amazing journey around the world to see what is happening in other places at this precise time, whether that be having breakfast or even afternoon tea.

But this is not the more common snapshot of what people are doing at a specific time. but a glimpse at what the natural wildlife are up to, the threats they face and in some cases, what’s being done to mitigate them.  We travel to the polar bears in the Arctic; to sea turtles in India struggling to the sea after they’ve just hatched;  to kangaroos fighting both the climate and each other in Mutawintji National Park in NSW; and so on around the world as different species respond to the time zone of their environment.

The date was chosen because at that time of the year there is something exciting happening in the animal kingdom around the world, and coincidentally it was Earth Day, celebrated since 1970 “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. and act as a call to action to acknowledge that “the clock has struck and it is time to make a difference together”. Accompanied by stunning illustrations, each of which includes the two little children who are taking us on the journey so that there is a storyline rather than just a time-lapse diary, the reader is introduced to creatures like the polar bear whose plight may be familiar as the warming planet melts their icy home to the not-so familiar owl monkeys of Ecuador whose habitat is being destroyed in the search for oil.  And while it might seem impossible for a young reader in Australia to help them, nevertheless there are things that each of us can do to  daily to make a difference. So books such as these  which raise awareness in interesting, fascinating ways are perfect for helping us to think globally and act locally.  

And there is always the sideline of investigating why it’s midnight in Greenwich but midday in Sydney!

Seree’s Story

Seree's Story

Seree’s Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seree’s Story

Irma Gold

Wayne Harris

Walker Books, 2022

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

9781925126990

When they came, the herd scattered in fright, their trumpeting calls shattering the morning. Seree and her mother were cornered. Life in the jungle was good for young Seree and her mother until the day poachers come. Separated from her mother and the life she knows, Seree is taken to work in a circus. Forced to perform every day and spend each night in chains, Seree longs to be with the herd and reunited with her mother. Will she ever be free? 

This is another picture book that, on the surface, looks like it is for young readers, but which would be really useful with older students aware of animal conservation and the plight of many creatures. 

In 1992, 30 years ago, the ACT introduced ground-breaking legislation that banned the use of exotic animals in circuses and by April this year, 45 countries had imposed similar bans. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Stanley’s The Deliverance of Dancing Bears it can open up discussions about how animals are used and treated, and whether there is ever a place for their being in captivity but also how attitudes have changed and it is the voice of the people calling for that change that has made the difference. So while the focus of the book may seem anachronistic, its importance in continuing to shine a spotlight on the welfare and treatment of animals in general, and elephants in particular, will sadly, always be necessary.  There are always those willing to exploit our wild creatures for any reason that makes them money and while it may no longer be for circuses,  there are other heinous issues that must be wiped out, before the elephants themselves are gone. The author is an ambassador for Save Elephant Foundation and offers more information about their plight and what can be done in the final page. 

 

Rainbow the Koala

Rainbow the Koala

Rainbow the Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow the Koala

Remy Lai

A&U Children’s, 2022

112pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761065453

It is time for Rainbow the Koala to become more independent and so, after a year of being nurtured and comforted and provided for, he has to say goodbye to his mother and venture off on his own- find a new tree, seek his own food and generally be the adult he was destined to be.  But it’s not easy – for starters,  it’s not just a matter of climbing the nearest tree and calling it his.  It has to be the right species and unoccupied and with the way land is being cleared for humans and the drying landscape making them less nutritious,  there are not so many of the just-rights available.  Waterholes made by humans can be treacherous, dogs are not always the koala’s best friend and the smell of smoke on the air is a signal for alarm…

This is the first in a new graphic novel series called Surviving the Wild designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it.  The new NSW English syllabus, particularly, requires students to be able to “to express opinions about texts and issues… both objectively and subjectively”, so as well as empathising with Rainbow as they, too, face having to step out of their comfort zone to navigate the new world of school; meeting new people who, like Kookaburra, may not be as friendly as they expect, and having to solve problems for themselves, they also learn about the perils of things like habitat destruction, climate change, drought…  Being in the shoes of the main character, in this case a koala which automatically has inbuilt appeal,  helps them be more engaged and understand the situation better, hopefully inspiring them to become not only more aware but more active in environmental protection.  Inspired by the devastating bushfires of the 2019.2020 summer in which it’s estimated over one billion creatures were lost, there are extra pages explaining the origins of Rainbow’s predicament as well as ways that the reader can help by making simple, everyday changes. 

Hallmarks of quality literature include having characters and a plot which are engaging and interesting for the students, offering layers and levels of complexity that are revealed with multiple readings and which enrich discussion and challenge perceptions, thinking and attitudes.  This certainly does that and young readers will look forward to Star the Elephant which is already published and Sunny the Shark due in August. 

 

 

 

Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise

Little Wombat's Easter Surprise

Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise

Charles Fuge

Walker, 2022 

28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760654269

Little Wombat is busy collecting eggs on his Easter hunt when he sees Rabbit hop by wearing a special Easter Bunny costume. It’s such a good costume that the tail and nose won’t come even off – but wait, is that really Rabbit? Or is it his new friend, Bilby?

In 1991,  the Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia (RFA) developed and registered the Easter Bilby campaign  to raise awareness of the damage rabbits do to native wildlife, and to raise money with royalties from Easter Bilby sales to fund research programs. In 1993, Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide stopped making chocolate Easter bunnies and made the first Easter Bilby, donating part of the proceeds to RFA.  More recently the Easter Bilbies have been made by Fyna Foods sold under the brands of Australian Bush Friends and Pink Lady and have been stocked by national chains and other independent stores. 

Aligned to this, in 1999 the  Save the Bilby Fund was established in 1999 to raise money and awareness to help stop the steady decline of bilbies. The fund helps support bilby conservation initiatives including a breeding program and a “bilby fence” creating a predator-free zone in Western Queensland. 

Dedicated to Tim Faulkner and his work with Aussie Ark ,Little Wombat’s Easter Surprise shines a new light on the both the plight of the bilby and the reasons behind Australia having such a unique interpretation of the familiar Easter Bunny both for the young audience and their parents who share it because they will be too young to remember the circumstances.  As in Swim, Little Wombat, SwimLittle Wombat tries to mimic the actions of his new friends Bilby and Easter Bunny only to discover he has his own unique talents that come in very handy for building friendships and having fun.

As well as being a fresh story about Easter in Australia, and helping children understand that we each have special abilities that we can use for the good of others, it is a great way to introduce another Australian species, sadly also endangered, and raising awareness (and perhaps money) that there are many who need our help.  

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.  

The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Dragon

Charles Massy

Mandy Ford

NLA Publishing, 2021

44pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780642279729

 

Beneath the western mountains, on the open plains of the high Monaro where the skies are blue and big, there lived a little dragon lizard.

Timpo is the smartest, best-disguised lizard in Narrawallee, the Big Grass Country. Wolfie the spider is his good friend, but there are no other dragon lizards and he is lonely for his own kind. 

Timpo and Wolfie embark on a journey to discover if Timpo is indeed the last dragon left in the valley. Through a landscape of grassland, granite boulders, shiny snow gums, and shady creeks they search, encountering new friends but also facing grave danger. Wolfie must return home with her spiderlings, but Timpo trudges on … will he ever find another dragon lizard? 

Who could resist requesting, reading and reviewing a book that is set pretty much on my doorstep, on a farm just a little south-east of my home?  And I am so glad I did because not only did I learn about a little creature that is highly endangered, I read a touching story of determination and courage, of survival and an amazing conservation effort.  With artwork that is amazing in its detail, this is a story written by a local farmer on whose property the little creature was found, one who is highly qualified and recognised in the field of regenerative landscape management so that you know that what you’re reading is not only authoritative but inspirational – there can be co-existence between humans, domestic animals and creatures of the wild. 

More for independent readers, as well as Timpo’s story there is a double-page spread of simple facts accompanied by a photo and then Massy’s story of the history of the earless dragon lizard and how it is being protected on his farm at Severn Park, about 15km from Berridale. If your curriculum focus is Australia’s at-risk species and you are looking for something different, something with a positive story then this is a must for your collection.

And if you remember my writing about the little Kindy kid who taught me about pangolins, well now I’m going to return the favour and teach him about one that lives about 10 minutes from his front door!!! Xander, this is for you. 

Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths

Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths

Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths

Julie Murphy

Ben Clifford

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486314621

High in the snowy mountains of the Australian Alps an amazing story of life plays out each year, one that was thought to have long since ended but a chance discovery at Mt Hotham in 1966 gave hope.

The story of the  mountain pygmy possum and its relationship with the migration of the bogong moth is told in this beautifully illustrated book, bringing to life the tiny creature’s dependence on them for food.  In the warmer months, the moths migrate to the mountains where the pygmy possum gorges on them to build up the fat reserves it needs to survive in its little nest deep beneath the winter snows.  But as urbanisation expands, climate changes and droughts hit. many moths do not make it to their mountain homes (there has been a 99.5% decline in populations in five years and it is now on the IUCN red List) meaning there is less food for the possum.  With only 2500 left in three isolated populations in the alps, this could lead to those earlier fears coming true.

As with One Potoroo, once again CSIRO Publishing have brought the plight of one of our lesser-known endangered species to light in a picture book that will have broad appeal.  Apart from the information embedded in the story, there are extra pages that give much more insight into the possum’s life and habitat and how we can help.. Something as simple as turning off excess lights or drawing the curtains if your home is part of the moths’ migratory path can mean they won’t get distracted and can fly on.  

Clifford’s illustrations are works of art in themselves – their detail is exquisite offering much to explore – and the whole really offers food for thought, not just for those who live in this region but also those who enjoys its winter snows.  If there is a tiny pygmy possum surviving the winter beneath their feet, what else might there be? And what else might be living in other habitats that we take for granted? As usual. there re comprehensive teachers’ notes directly linked to the Australian Curriculum to support its use in the classroom.

Superb!

 

Tala the Bengal Tiger

Tala the Bengal Tiger

Tala the Bengal Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tala the Bengal Tiger

Beverly Tatwahi

Sunita Chawdhary

Little Steps, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.95

9781912678433

Despite it putting fear into the hearts of others, whenever Veera heard the roar of the Bengal tigers at night or found their pawprints around the village she felt comforted rather than scared. On the day she was born her mother spotted a tiger cub through the window and saw it as a sign, one that has guided Veera as she grew up and launched her own Save the Tigers campaign.  And one day the strange connection between the two comes into its own.

This is the second book in the Together We Can Change the World Series,  seven stories, covering seven continents, with seven important virtues: Love, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Kindness, Integrity and Gratitude. Each book highlights a fundamental core value, whilst simultaneously encouraging children’s responsibility towards Planet Earth. The books’ protagonists are an endangered or threatened species from each continent, the first being Pedro the Puerto Rican Parrot and the third Wanda the Whale. All author royalties go to Wildlife Vets International.

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

Andrew Kelly

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2021

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

 9781742036281

For generations the little penguins have left their island home to hunt for the shoals of small fish in the rich waters of the bay and the mouth of the river.  And when they have had their fill they risk their lives navigating the rip   and the shipping to go back to their burrows on their island home.  The island has all they need to build their burrows but it is getting crowded and the young males are finding it tricky to find a place that is safe and that will attract a young female. But there is nowhere suitable to build a burrow on the bay.

And then changes start to happen to their feeding grounds – huge machinery is dumping rocks into the sea to build a breakwater to protect the boats and the beach, and over time the sand and silt build up in the cracks and crevices. Sometimes the penguins rest on the rocks but they always return home.  Until one day, one little penguin decides to stay…

Much is written about the impact on wildlife when humans change the landscape and it’s usually negative so to read a positive story is unusual.  For this is the story of how the penguin colony at St Kilda, Victoria emerged and is continuing to grow. While they still have to deal with the hazards of dogs, cats, ferrets, stoats, human vandals, plastic pollution, boat strikes, boat propellers, oil spills, the fragmentation and loss of habitat and climate change, nevertheless because of the conservation practices in place they have shown that it is possible for native wildlife to live side by side with humans. Using just one little penguin as its focus personalises the story and brings it into the realm of the young reader, so they are more able to relate to it and understand the situation.  

Told by the Yarra Riverkeeper and beautifully illustrated this is an uplifting story that shows that the relationship between humans and the natural world can be a positive one, as well as demonstrating how that world adapts to deal with issues such as overcrowding. But charming as it is as a standalone story, it is one that has enormous potential to be a springboard into further investigations both of the penguins (with comprehensive teachers’ notes) and then human impact generally.  If you “can’t stop progress” how can it be managed through environmental impact studies, local support groups and so forth?  Is there a development happening in the readers’ community that might be having a wider impact than is immediately visible?  The opportunity to “act locally, think globally” is very apparent and this book can fulfil the purpose of the author. “Let us walk gently together.”