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No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Place for an Octopus

Claire Zorn

UQP, 2019

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

978070226260 

At that special time when the ocean pauses its ceaseless movement, a little one goes for a walk to explore the mysterious water worlds in the cracks and crannies in the rocks that have been left behind by the retreating tide. Rockpools reveal all sorts of secrets and there, hiding behind the seaweed is an octopus!

Long. curly arms/legs, suction caps and a blobby head, perhaps a little afraid and definitely looking lonely,hungry, wet and cold. Imagine the fun it could have if the little took it home, fed it, bathed, it, made it comfy and snug, an interesting friend that could play games or even ride the roller-coaster…  Or could it?

With its intriguing front cover and stunning illustrations, the author’s first foray into illustration, indeed picture books, this is a story that will resonate with every child, indeed adult, who has wandered among the rockpools and been mesmerised by the life within them, and determined to take a creature home with them.  How many show-and-share sessions have we seen starfish and shells and other creatures carefully preserved in buckets of sea water, but so far away from their home they can never see it again? The message that the rockpool is the perfect place for the octopus, and all the other rockpool creatures, is very strong, despite the adventures we humans might think it would like.  Thus, this is a timely story to share and discuss as summer holidays loom and visits to the beach and rockpools are anticipated. No matter the temptation we need to take only photographs, leave only footprints whether that is the rockpool or the desert.  

Zorn says, “I wanted to engage with the child’s love of the absurd by placing the octopus in all sorts of silly scenarios…[but] I also sought to create an exercise in empathy where the child is able to identify the octopus’s feelings about the situation it finds itself in.”  She succeeded.

Teachers’ notes are available.

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa's Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2019

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

9780241405024

When Peppa wins a colouring competition, nobody can believe the prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Peppa and her family head to Australia to explore the wonders of the reef with Kylie Kangaroo and marine biologist Mummy Kangaroo. There are so many incredible creatures to find in their underwater adventure.

With its usual mix of entertainment and education, this is another brilliantly coloured addition to the Peppa Pig series that is so appealing to our youngest readers. Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of Kmart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading. 

To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own pace, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey.

Creators and publishers have also realised this and the quality of the stories has increased exponentially so it’s worth capitalising on the appeal and giving our little ones a headstart.  Being a successful reader is as much about having a positive attitude as it is about the skills involved. 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Don't Worry, Little Crab

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406385519

In the rockpool above the sea, live two crabs: Big Crab and Little Crab. Today, they’re going for a dip in the sea. “This is going to be so great!” says Little Crab as they go tic-a-tac, tic-a-tac over the rocks, splish splash, splish splash across the pools and squelch, squelch, squelch through the slimy, slippery seaweed. “I can go ANYWHERE”, says Little Crab.

But when he reaches the sea and sees the size of the ocean waves, he is somewhat daunted and very reluctant to take that final leap.  Will he find the courage?

The illustration style  is very distinctive and it tells as much of the story as the text does, about a little one finding the courage to face their uncertainty. This is a common theme in children’s picture books, this time inspired by the creator’s observations of crabs and their human-like way of moving. and the way they braced for the impact of a wave but then went about their business once it frothed away. In fact, the story of the story’s evolution gives a real insight into where authors get their ideas and how they are shaped, so it is worth sharing that too. It wasn’t so much the message that came first, but thinking about what was in front of him and working from that! Perhaps a lesson for budding writers about being observant and curious and working backwards!

 

Australian Sea Life

Australian Sea Life

Australian Sea Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Sea Life

Matt Chun

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2019

36pp, hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760504694

Even though Australia is surrounded by ocean, not everyone has the chance to visit it regularly and even fewer have had the opportunity to explore it as a scuba diver and really see the diversity of life under the waves.  (Believe me, it is a fascinating world and even more diverse at night.) So in this companion to the 2019 CBCA  shortlisted Australian BirdsMatt Chun has taken his talents beneath the surface to give us a peek at what is in the waters that enclose us.  

From the Great White Shark to the Dugong to the Weedy Sea Dragon, readers can explore and discover pictorial and textual descriptions of familiar and not-so creatures that are part of our natural seascape. The attention to detail is again superb, and while most children won’t recognise as many of the species as they might have in Australian Birds, this is the perfect time, with summer and beach holidays around the corner, to pique their curiosity raise their awareness and inspire thoughts of conservation.  

If Australian Birds inspired your class to be involved in this year’s Aussie Bird Count later this month, then perhaps there could be an in-school project to identify the marine creatures the students discover over summer. 

If we are to protect our planet and its inhabitants, knowing about them first so they are valued is essential and this is the perfect starter.

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760650810

New to the realm of supportive novels for newly independent readers is this title from graphic designer cum author Kylie Howarth. 

Using the popular superhero theme as its foundation, this is a series with a difference because as well as being entertaining, it also teaches those young readers about the ocean environment and its inhabitants.  Bodhi’s parents are right into the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and they travel the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface. But Bodhi isn’t into this world as much as they are, preferring dry land but then he discovers he has magical powers…

Each book is set in a different oceanic environment where Fish Kid befriends an amazing marine creature. As he bonds with his new animal friend, he discovers a new fish power. Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). In this, his family are in the Galapagos Islands and he finds himself stuck on the boat with the captain’s daughter Emely, who likes to play pranks on him, although the innocent looking green smoothie with its secret ingredients would make even the reader have the same reaction as Bodhi. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

Although I haven’t dived the Galapagos Islands, this book took me right back to my experiences on the Great Barrier Reef and for that, this is one destined for Miss 8 so she can share the wonder her grandmother, grandfather and father still have.  Perhaps she, too, will be tempted like Bodhi.

 

Little White Fish (series)

Little White Fish  (series)

Little White Fish (series)

 

 

 

 

 

Little White Fish (series)

Guido Van Genechten

Catch A Star, 2019

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

9781925594324

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 its bright illustrations set against a black background it is immediately eye-catching and appealing and with its simple, repetitive text about familiar situations, our very youngest readers will be able to listen to it and then be able to tell themselves about Little White Fish’s adventures – the precursor to “real” reading. 

Featuring Little White Fish, Little White Fish is so happy and Little White Fish has a party , each book has a storyline that will be familiar and each builds on the other, consolidating the characters and the knowledge that the child has learned. 

Something new to encourage the very young away from the screen and into books, and with their board book format, able to withstand the treatment they will get. 

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Home

Christina Booth

Ford Street, 2013

hbk., 32pp., RRP $A26.95

9781925000092

Once upon a time, although not that long ago, whaling along Australia’s shores was a thriving industry and vital to the livelihoods and life of the communities at its centre. Whaling is again becoming a thriving industry along Australia’s shores, but it’s the marvelling at these awesome creatures, not the killing of them that is its focus. How far we have come in just a handful of generations.

In this beautifully, gently illustrated book by Christina Booth a young boy hears the call of the whale “echoing off the mountain like a whisper while the moon danced on the waves”. Neither his parents nor his grandparents could hear it – it was a sound for his ears only.  And each day he hears her call and learns something new about the treacherous path her ancestors followed and the murderous intent his ancestors had.  Can there be a reconciliation between humans and these magnificent creatures? Will she feel safe enough to show herself as he waits under the night sky? Will a whispered “Sorry” give her courage?

The tone of this book is set in the dedication on the title page – “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” (Chief Seattle)  And it is one of the most sensitive, beautifully told stories that I’ve had the pleasure to read for a long time.

Although the setting is not identified, the story was inspired by the birth, in August 2010, of a southern right calf in the Derwent River, Hobart – the first in 190 years! While those who witnessed this and the gradual return of the southern right (so-called because they were the ‘right’ whale to hunt) to the Derwent and whisper, “They are back”, this story explores “Where did they go?”  Known in the 19th century as a whale nursery, whalers hunted the southern right almost to extinction but since 1935, when they became the first species to be declared protected in either Australia or New Zealand, the whales are slowly returning knowing that once again, there is safe haven where only their photographs are taken, not their lives.

Is the whale in the story, sighted in July 2013, the same one who had the courage to give birth back in 2010?  Only time will tell.  But for all those children who ask, “Where did they go?”, not just about the southern rights but also all the other species that migrate northwards and still inspire a sense of awe and wonder, this is a perfect introduction to a past that is an integral part of Australia’s history and the foundation for an opportunity to build a more glorious future. Fitting into the cross-curriculum priority of sustainability perfectly, there is such scope for not only looking at what happened and why, but also the changing perspectives of humans towards their environment over time and what can be done and achieved, as well as giving background to the questions and arguments that arise when the Japanese begin their annual whale hunt, or even looking at how science, particularly that emanating from World War II, has produced viable alternatives. Riches indeed to capture the passions of all.

“Welcome Home” is one of my top five books for teaching children about treading lightly on this earth – it is not ours to destroy.

 

 

There are Fish Everywhere

There are Fish Everywhere

There are Fish Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are Fish Everywhere

Britta Teckentrup

Big Picture Press, 2018

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

9781787410763

As summer draws on, it is likely that many of our young readers will have either been fishing or will have eaten fish or perhaps seen them “in the flesh” over the past few months. While those who have caught them in rivers, lakes or the sea may be able to identify the species of their catch, with over 33,600 described species in the world, fish are the most diverse creatures  than any other group of vertebrates found in aquatic environments all over the world. 

“Big or small, spiny or flat, spiky or blobby, bright or exactly the same colour as the sand”, fish have inhabited the planet for about 420 million years, and in this richly illustrated, informative book from Britta Teckentrup, young readers can investigate all things fishy from the biological characteristics of fish to their evolution to what lives where. Focused on providing initial answers to a variety of questions it is a broad-ranging text that will  satisfy the reader’s curiosity and perhaps inspire them to investigate further. With information in manageable chunks and accessible language it is an ideal starter text for the independent reader, and with invitations to search for things, including the rarely seen but most common fish on the planet, the bristlemouth, they are encouraged to read and look carefully.  Ideal for those with an interest in these amazing creatures.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Billie

Billie

Billie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billie

Nicole Godwin

Demelsa Haughton

Tusk Books, 2018

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

9780994531414

Billie the dolphin loves the wildness of surfing the ocean’s waves -for her there is no greater thrill.  And so she sets off to find the most enormous wave that she can, one that will make her happy, safe and free.  But in her search for that one wonderful wave, she encounters more than she expected as she finds fellow marine creatures entangled in the human detritus and pollution of the ocean.  Fishing lines, plastic bags, nets, noise… all are modern-day hazards that have to be navigated as the ocean’s creatures go about their daily lives.  Billie helps to free as many as she can, but when she herself is caught in a net and her new friends come to rescue her, she finds something that is even better than surfing the enormous waves.

The Canberra author of Ella has made it her mission to be a voice for those creatures of the wild who don’t have their own voice to bring attention to the destruction of their habitat.  Many young  readers will be familiar with the sight of dolphins surfing the waves and develop a fascination for these beautiful, intelligent creatures from a young age.  But they are unaware of the issues that dolphins face as the human world encroaches more and more on their environment and so it is books like this that carry a critical message of conservation as well as a charming story that inspire them to action.  Rather like the little wave that forms and is then apparently lost in the vast ocean, but in fact becomes part of a larger wave, so the voices of authors like Godwin and illustrators like Haughton who has created such vivid images become bigger and bigger and louder and louder as both Ella and Billie are shared with our young students as part of the sustainability perspective of the Australian Curriculum.

The final double spread explains more about the issues that Billie encountered on her journey, and part of this includes this statemet, “One of the saddest parts of my journey was not being able to help my friends in the dolphin park. They belong in the wild, not in tanks.” This has the potential to become a formal debate on the role of places like SeaWorld and other venues where dolphins are held in captivity, perhaps even extending to the roles of zoos, in the understanding and conservation of the planet’s fauna.  So while this appears to be a picture book for the very young, it has scope to be used with a much wider, older audience.

Ocean Emporium

Ocean Emporium

Ocean Emporium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ocean Emporium

Susie Brooks

Dawn Cooper

Egmont, 2018

64pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99

9781405290975

About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, and of that, about 96.5 percent  is contained in the oceans which sweep between the land masses. Scientists estimate that 15% of Earth’s species live in the oceans and in this new book, the reader is introduced to just a few of the estimated 250 000 known species that prefer the saline environment. 

Each double page spread features a broad classification such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish;  crabs; and seahorses, seadragons and pipe fish, while some individual species are scattered throughout.  There is a brief introductory paragraph for each collection but the majority of the book is devoted to illustrations of some of the more unusual representatives of each.  While each has its common and Latin name provided, the reader would have to look elsewhere for more specific information. 

What this book does is show the diversity of  life above and below the waves, offering the young reader with an interest in such things a taster of what’s on offer.  A useful addition to your 591.77 collection.