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The Tale of the Whale

The Tale of the Whale

The Tale of the Whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tale of the Whale

Karen Swann

Padmacandra

UQP, 2021

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

9780702263262

‘Where land becomes sky

and the sky becomes sea,

I first saw the whale and

the whale first saw me …’

Imagine going for a ride on the back of a humpback whale and seeing all the sights beneath the waves – mountains and valleys carpeted in colour and full of intriguing creatures. “An ocean in motion, a bright, busy land..”

But this is no romantic joyride – the whale has a reason for taking the child (and the reader) on this journey. Because when its tummy rumbles and he opens his mouth wide, and half of the ocean is swallowed inside, it is not packed with krill and other whale delights but with rubbish, particularly plastics, thoughtlessly tossed away by humans and now inside his tummy where he tries to digest it in vain.  That then causes the child to look with new eyes at the creatures he had seen – the turtle tangled in a plastic bag; the seagull with the six-pack ring around its neck… the sea is really just plastic soup.

Even though our students are becoming more and more aware of the issue of plastic being disposed in the ocean through stories such as these and teachers using them to raise awareness in carefully constructed units, the problem continues to grow causing phenomena like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. However, solutions begin with awareness and this lyrical and sensitively illustrated story is a must-have addition to your collection that supports these investigations. If just one child teaches their adult to think before they throw, then that is a win. 

Teachers’ notes supporting the environmental aspects of the story are available.

  

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

Anne Morgan

Lois Bury

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486313952

Down in the seaweed and kelp forests of Australia’s southern coasts dwells a creature that looks like it has come straight from the pen of one of our children’s book illustrators.  With its colourful spots and bars, long snout and tail and dingly-dangly camouflage bits it revives any loss in the belief of dragons.  The little weedy sea dragon (and its cousins the leafy sea dragon and the ruby seadragon from WA) are among the fascinating creatures that live in this new world  of under the water and to have had the privilege of watching their graceful mating dance remains one of my most precious scuba-diving memories.

In this stunning book, not only is the reader introduced to this intriguing inhabitant of the ocean but also to the reason that these sorts of non fiction titles must remain an essential element of the school library collection.  “Everything” may be “available on the Internet” but who would know to investigate weedy sea dragons if you don’t know they exist? You don’t know what you don’t know.  Alongside Bury’s delicate illustrations, Anne Morgan has crafted a text as graceful as the dragons’ dance and accompanied it with further information that whets the appetite and supports the development of those critical information literacy skills. As well, there are extensive teaching notes  for Yr 2-6 that focus on Science, English and Media Arts, leading the reader to consider how individual characteristics help species survive and thrive.

A must-have that will lead young non fiction readers into their own new world. If there are dragons in the oceans, what else might be there?

 

 

 

Iceberg

Iceberg

Iceberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceberg

Claire Saxby

Jess Racklyeft

Allen & Unwin, 2021

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760526047

It is the final freeze of the bitter Antarctic winter, the aurora borealis dances across the sky in a wonderland of wispy colour and movement, and, as morning looms in the pale light an iceberg shears off the face of a glacier and sets sail in those cold waters.  But this is not an empty place, nor a quiet place – for in the water below, the skies above and even on the berg itself, there is life.  Life that is dependent on other life, as the eternal cycle of food and prey plays out.

This is the most stunning book complete with huge foldout pages that brings the frozen world of the southern continent to life in a way seldom seen.  To the daughter of the first female journalist to ever visit the ice back in 1968, it is not an unknown world but to many of our students it will be and they will be astonished at the abundance of life and the connections between the species that exist. In this country of increasingly hot summers where climate change is leaving its mark on the scorched,, burnt landscape, it is hard to imagine how in such a cold climate even small changes can have any impact let alone a significant one.  But as the year turns, the “ocean, sky, snow and ice minute greens and giant blues dance a delicate dance” life blossoms and fades in an intricate, harmonic melody that embraces all. What happens there impacts here.

Saxby’s poetic text and Racklyeft’s illustrations are matched in a dance as integral to each other as the life surrounding the iceberg bringing a new world of wonderment to young readers, one that will open eyes and minds and hearts in a way that will inspire them to know it and protect it in the same way my mum did since her childhood when she stood on the wharf at Bluff and watched the explorers’ ship sail South. 

You know that it if has Claire Saxby’s name on it, it will be extraordinary and this is no different.

 

Santa Jaws

Santa Jaws

Santa Jaws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Jaws

Mark Sperring

Sophie Corrigan

Bloomsbury, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A13.99

9781408897812

When Shelly the shark buys herself a Christmas hat and puts a sign on her door welcoming all the other marine creatures to Santa’s grotto, they all leave quickly surmising it is a trick for Shelly to have an easy Christmas dinner.  But Sid the squid is curious and very excited because he has never met Santa Claus or even had Christmas and so he ventures in.

What happens next is an hilarious adventure told in rhyme by the creators of Mince Spies  that will delight young readers and show them that Christmas is a time for everyone. The rhyme and rhythm carry the story along so even though Shelly might look a little scary on the cover, young listeners will be drawn in and delight in the illustrations that offer so much.  One to be shared again and again. 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2020

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

 9781760652272

Surrounding Australia’s coast are thousands of kilometres of coral reefs, and within those reefs lives a vast variety of creatures.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, young children are invited to count some of them while learning about them at the same time. This is more than just a 1 2 3 counting book where the reader matches the numeral to the number of items on the page – it also offers tidbits of information that the adult can share with them encouraging both curiosity and awareness of the life beneath the waves.

Beginning with  one giant whale shark  and counting all the way to twelve tired seahorses, it could also become a sort of almanac that the child with an interest in the ocean’s creatures could complete over a lifetime, marking the creatures off as they discover them. Even as a scuba diver in times past, there are those like the dugongs and whale sharks I’m still waiting to cross off!!! But it has been an adventure of a lifetime in the making.

But even for those not inclined to go beneath the surface, nevertheless this is a fascinating introduction to that unique environment, a worthy companion to all the other fantastic books that Frané Lessac has gifted our little ones throughout her career.

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherlock Bones and the Sea-creature Feature

Renée Treml

Allen & Unwin, 2020

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760525262

Sherlock Bones, a talkative tawny frogmouth skeleton, and his companion Watts, a mute, stuffed Indian ringneck parrot are joined by Grace, a sassy raccoon in the second in this series, with a new mystery to solve in their natural history museum home.  Drawing on his years as an exhibit in the museum, this time Bones is exploring a new exhibition focusing on the life between reef and shore. It includes a mangrove forest and shallow coral reef habitat. When Sherlock overhears a that a swamp monster has been sighted, he gathers his team to investigate. At first Sherlock Bones suspects Nivlac, a quirky octopus with a talent for camouflage–and tank pranks. But then, loud bellowing leads Bones and the team to the mangroves, where they find a horrifying long-haired green beast…

This graphic novel is quite different to the books for preschoolers that we generally associate with Renée Treml although her eye for detail is still evident as she includes an amazing amount of detail and information in the backgrounds of the illustrations. Nevertheless, with its humour and using the technique of Bones telling the story as a conversation with the reader, it is an engaging story for the newly independent reader in a format that offers much more than just a tale told well.  Treml’s skill as an illustrator is teamed with her environmental science degree to produce something quite different.

Peppa Pig Duo

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Spooky Halloween

9780241412268

Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef

9780241457542

Ladybird, 2020

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

The end of this weird school year is in sight and plans for 2021 start to solidify including introducing today’s pre-schoolers to the adventure of “big school” that will be their reality next year.  Whether this is being done in person or via video clips, the orientation is a critical part of the transition to allay all the natural fears that these littlest ones will have.  Thus to come to the library and see familiar family favourites like Peppa Pig on display ready for them to take home can be very reassuring.

Family Favourites were always popular with the little ones.

Family Favourites were always popular with the little ones.

So these two new releases from the ever popular Peppa Pig range will be valuable additions to your Family Favourites collection that will provide familiarity and continuity to these newest students.

In Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef Peppa and her family join marine biologist Mrs Kangaroo in her submarine as she explores her office, the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the creatures that inhabit this very special part of the planet. In Peppa’s Spooky Halloween the family don their favourite costumes for a special spooky show. – both books offering the opportunity to go beyond current boundaries and enjoy an adventure.

Never underestimate the power of seeing familiar characters in unfamiliar situations or the impact that they can have on early reading behaviours as their familiarity immediately connects the young reader to books and stories and the promise of fun to come.  So whether you are doing virtual visits or are lucky enough to be allowed real-life, real-time sessions, having stories like these visible will offer promises of magic and more magic.  The library is a place for them – what a positive message to receive from the get-go! 

 

Mama Ocean

Mama Ocean

Mama Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Ocean

Jane Jolly

Sally Heinrich

Midnight Sun, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227659

On the surface the ocean was a silver mirror, but deep below, Mama Ocean rose from the seabed and called her children to her for she was sad, distressed and unwell. To cheer her up all the creatures brought her gifts of the amazing things they had found swirling in the currents – bags, straws, bottles, cans. toys, nets, all manner of things that were shiny and bright. But nothing helped Mama Ocean to cheer up and start feeling well again.  As she gasped for breath, the creatures realised that all the finery they thought was pretty was fake and it was what was killing her.  And they hatched a plan, one that had extraordinary consequences…

This is the companion story to Papa Sky, and it is equally as powerful and poignant with its message about the plight of the planet. Visually stunning with so much of the message conveyed in the illustrations, the reader cannot fail to understand what Jolly and Heinrich are trying to say and portray. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If COVID-19 was the circuit breaker that the planet needed then it is stop-you-in-your-tracks stories like this that will hopefully persuade all of us to look at the ocean through a new lens, not as something sparkling that stretches forever and thus just a vast dumping ground, but something that is vital to the health of the planet and its inhabitants, whether we live by the sea or not.  Teaching notes are available.

That’s Not My Narwhal

That’s Not My Narwhal

That’s Not My Narwhal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Narwhal

Fiona Watt

Usborne, 2020

10pp., board book. RRP $A14.99

9781474972109

A little board book in this popular series that encourages children to explore both language through its repetitive text and their sense of touch through its textured patches actually has the potential to appeal to a much wider audience as students get ready to enjoy the 2020 Book Week theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds. 

This almost mythical creature, which actually lives in the cold waters of Greenland, Canada, and Russia is rapidly becoming the “creature-du-jour” with young readers looking for something more exotic than the unicorn which has become a bit ho-hum.  So even though this book in this popular series explores why none of the five narwhals depicted is the reader’s narwhal, the question that begs to be answered is, “What IS a narwhal?”, a question that could spark an interesting investigation and perhaps lead to a presentation entitled This is My Narwhal satisfying the Critical and Creative Thinking outcomes of the Inquiry strand, as they pose questions to identify, explore and organise information and ideas. 

I love discovering books written for littlies that have application across the ages and this is surely one of them, and a most timely release. 

Little White Fish (series)

Little White Fish (series)

Little White Fish (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little White Fish (series)

Little White Fish under the Ocean

9781922326102

Little White Fish and his Daddy

9781922326034

Guido Van Genechten

Catch A Star, 2019

board book, 16pp., RRP $A12.99

Originally published in Belgium and The Netherlands in 2004, and well-known throughout Europe, the Little White Fish series is now available to tiny Australian readers. With bright illustrations set against a black background they are immediately eye-catching and appealing and with simple, repetitive text about familiar situations, our very youngest readers will be able to listen to each and then be able to tell themselves about Little White Fish’s adventures – the precursor to “real” reading.

In Little White Fish under the Ocean, the reader is taken on adventure to the depths of the sea, down to where no sunlight reaches and it is pitch  black, because Little White Fish wants to know just how deep it is.  Little White Fish and his Daddy has a familiar theme of the the various undersea creatures comparing the merits of their fathers, reminding me of the popular kids’ song My Dad’s Better Than Your Dad from Colin Buchanan that was always sung with great gusto by my students.

Two more from a publisher that understands that even the littlest people need entertaining stories in a format that is the right size for little hands and can withstand the enthusiasm of those hands.