Archives

Oceans at Night

Oceans at Night

Oceans at Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oceans at Night

Vanessa Pirotta 

Cindy Lane

CSIRO Publishing, 2024

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

9781486317233

For many young readers, when they pack up the buckets, spades and surfboards and head home after a day at the beach, that’s the last they think of the ocean until they visit it again.  But as the sun sets on their day, a new world starts to come alive beneath the waves and in this stunningly illustrated book the reader is introduced to just a fraction of the nightlife that emerges when dusk and darkness fall.

And believe me, it is a world that is very different from the daytime with creatures not normally seen coming to life.  How well I remember putting my brave on and with only a cyalume stick strapped to my wrist, stepping into the inky black waters off Heron Island for my first night dive.  But it was worth the fear because the world we went into was so different from that which we had dived a few hours before, even though it was the same location.  Not only was the resident moray of the bommie out and about but my enduring memory is that of the beauty of the Spanish Dancer nudibranch swimming along, skirts dancing like a flamenco dancer, brilliant colours brought to life by the light of our sticks.

11,100+ Sea Slug Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock |  Blue dragon sea slug, Green sea slug, Blue sea slug

As the world celebrates World Ocean Day and we have a particular focus on the environment that makes up 70% of our planet, this is an outstanding first look at those creatures who prefer dark to light – even those who never see light so deep do they live – and even includes the strange collection of plankton that, in certain conditions, turns the foaming waves blue and attracts sightseers whenever it is spotted. 

When I was a kid it was a television show called Sea Hunt starring Lloyd Bridges that sparked my desire and determination to become a scuba diver, perhaps these days it is the feats of James Cameron and his Deepsea Challenge or other movies that take viewers to depths that modern technology allows. but whatever the inspiration, it is books like this that ignite the thirst for knowledge.  Written to inform the young independent reader and encompassing creatures from little penguins returning to feed their youngsters to the almost-mythical giant squid, this is one that could begin a journey that will last a lifetime.  

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

R. J. Timms

Albert Street, 2024

272pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781761068607

Deep under the ocean in the Shallow Side of Chumville Finley the reef shark lives with his dentist parents Su and Shi, and his siblings, Dash, Smash, Crash, Flash , Splash and Bash.  During the day Finley goes to school with his mates Hunter the tiger shark, Gnash the pointer shark and Gilleon the lemon shark, but at night, they are secretly the super-famous rock band JAWSOME!

In this, the second in the series, the band is off to play at Euro-fishin, and international music competition, where there will be bands like Swim Shady and Mertallica. But at the airport as departure time draws closer, Gnash (aka Gnarly Gnelson) hasn’t turned up, and a phone call to his parents reveals that he is missing. Immediately suspicious, and the police not taking the matter seriously, the band members find themselves deep in mystery and intrigue which includes  stopping evil A.B.B.A. (Alliance of Brutally Bad Anglerfish) agents from destroying the ocean. Then, in the second story, unmasking a strange new band called the Killer Wails, that everyone seems to follow, and having to use all their rockstar skills to save Chumville from becoming mindless zombies.

This is a fun series for those emerging readers who like a light-hearted read, peppered with pun humour and plenty of illustrations.  Verging on a graphic novel because so much of the action happens in the illustrations as it does in the text, it will also appeal to those students who like to be seen with thick books – it has over 300 pages because of the large font and copious graphics.  With most of the puns printed in bold, it is also a good opportunity to investigate that literary technique and how its use adds humour to many situations, as well as identifying the common elements and themes of such stories so readers start to understand the concept of genre, in this case the tropes of spy stories. 

Released at a time when so many of our students are swept up in the Swifties craze as Taylor Swift tours the nation, this is an engaging and enjoyable read on many levels that will have wide appeal. 

Little Horses

Little Horses

Little Horses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Horses

Deborah Kelly

Jenni Goodman

Wombat Books, 2024

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

9781761111310

Out in the bay, where sailboats glide

Little horses drift and glide

Changing colours so predators pass

In gardens of sponge and coral and grass

In the calm peaceful waters, disturbed only by the rise and fall of the tide, little seahorses spend their lives swaying with the movement of the water, occasionally spotted by sharp-eyed scuba divers who are lucky to see them amongst the seaweed. They give birth and raise their young in a way that only seahorses do, continuing a cycle that is generations old.

But then a storm hits the bay and the seahorses are swept away from their home by the tumbling, crashing waves to a barren place where there are no sponges, coral and grass until…

Inspired by true events when severe storms hit Port Stephens, NSW between 2010 and 2013 and almost wiped out the fragile population of White’s Seahorses (hippocampus whitei) – so much so that it was declared endangered on the IUCN list – this story tells the story of how scuba diver David Haraski spotted two seahorses beginning to build a new home on an old lobster pot that had also been swept away bit which was starting to sprout new corals and sponges. With the adage, “If we build it, they will come” in mind, in 2018 Haraski  built and placed the first seahorse hotel onto the Port Stephens seabed – and it worked.  Haraski the tried his concept in Sydney Harbour where there were other endangered populations and now these seahorses hotels are springing up around the world, including a dedicated breeding program at Sydney Sea Life.

This is such a positive spin on how humans are working to save the environment and its creatures that it deserves a place in any library collection to support the environment and sustainability curriculum. The gentle rhyme has a rhythm that mimics the wave movement, building to a crescendo when the storm hits, and all set against eye-catching artwork that is so lifelike.  There are notes about both the seahorses themselves and the seahorse hotels to add context and whet the appetite to know more and explore further.

With summer beach holiday memories still fresh in the mind, this is the ideal time to encourage students to think what lies below the yellow sands, beneath the rockpool calm and beyond the sparkling waters and used together with Beach Song and Voice of the Sea, there is the trifecta of storybooks to form the basis of the investigation.

 

 

 

Voice of the Sea

Voice of the Sea

Voice of the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voice of the Sea

John Williamson

Andrea Innocent & Jonathan Chong

Puffin, 2024

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

9781761344237

Described as “an unrequited love song to the ocean, a national anthem of the sea”, this is the picture book version of the iconic song by one of Australia’s most loved musicians that has become so integral to the campaign to conserve the oceans that it won an ARIA award.

With references to global warming, overfishing and the risk of losing some of our incredible marine wildlife a turtle swims through what were once pristine waters, narrowly escaping the clutches of a plastic bag already filled with precious creatures, lamenting, “Where did it go? Where has it gone, your love for me?” From the time that the first European settlers landed, the oceans of this country “girt by sea” have been exploited and now, with the personification of the ocean as a friend in need, students are encouraged to think of how we can preserve this natural wonderland – how we can give rather than take.

Written specifically for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, there are both teachers’ notes and a free education kit  to encourage not only an awareness of humans’ impact on the ocean but also how we can embrace it as a friend again including investigating the projects already in place like The Accidental Penguin Hotel.  the seahorse hotels and others that they might become involved in, offering hope for those who are concerned about the planet’s future. 

This is most definitely one for any collection, and the perfect starting point for any investigation of the oceans, it creatures and their challenges. 

 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

The Deep EndReal Facts About the Ocean

The Deep End
Real Facts About the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

Drew Sheneman

HarperCollins, 2023

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

9780063224551

Despite the wild weather that has plagued Australia’s east coast recently, many will have enjoyed a beachside holiday and some will have wondered about what actually lives in that deeper water out beyond the breaking waves.

So they will enjoy this exploration and explanation told in a mixture of regular text and cartoon illustrations as Brownbeard the pirate, his first mate Alan the parrot and a knowledgeable scientist take them on a journey that spans the development of the discovery of the deep from those who first dived to find food to the development of modern sonar and submersibles, the things they found and saw and the legends that they sparked.  There is an introduction to some of those mysterious creatures that can survive the incredible pressure of being kilometres below the surface, as well as the cold and the permanent darkness.  But as well as the humour there is also a serious side as it is revealed that on a recent trip to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of the ocean on the planet, a plastic bag was discovered floating in the depths and the darkness, raising awareness that despite its size and still being relatively unexplored, the ocean is in danger. 

This is a unique way of piquing the interest of curious readers, all of which is factually accurate, and sparking a desire to learn more through more conventional presentations. 

 

 

Mr Clownfish, Miss Anemone and the Hermit Crab

Mr Clownfish, Miss Anemone and the Hermit Crab

Mr Clownfish, Miss Anemone and the Hermit Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Clownfish, Miss Anemone and the Hermit Crab

Sean E. Avery

Walker, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760654344

In the ocean there is no closer friendship than that between Mr Clownfish and Miss Anemone.  She protects him with her stinging tentacles if a big fish threatens him, and he protects her from other fish, cleans her tentacles twice a day and finds delicious small morsels of food they eat together, although Miss Anemone does get lonely when he swims off because she is tethered to the side of a large rock. They are each other’s heroes, 

On Miss Anemone’s birthday, Mr Clownfish gives her a hermit crab as a present and then goes in search of something special for their birthday tea. But when he returns, Miss Anemone has disappeared!  Convinced she has been kidnapped he follows the tracks in the sand and finds Miss Anemone riding on Hermit Crab’s back delighted in being able to explore the ocean at last. Mr Clownfish is devastated, convinced he is  no longer needed. But he has a very important lesson to learn about friendship… 

For those who have seen Finding Nemo (and this is a good reason to show it again),  the fun and friendships of the cheeky clownfish will be well-known as will the diversity of life on the ocean floor that is so beautifully depicted in Avery’s iconic, quirky illustrations, as Mr Clownfish delivers dinner in a scoop of seaweed rather like an underwater Uber Eats.  Apart from being a most engaging story of a special friendship that opens opportunities to explore the symbiotic relationships of creatures, not just in the ocean, and their interdependence so they can survive. it also puts the intricacies of human friendship into the spotlight.  Written for an age group that is just starting to build relationships beyond family ties, and often being very possessive of those, it raise questions about whether it is possible to have more than one special friend and how to respond if our special friend finds someone else.  While they might not need their friends to protect them in the way that Mr Clownfish and Miss Anemone interact, what are the unique attributes of their friends and how do they enrich each other’s lives? 

As with Frank’s Red Hat, shortlisted in the CBCA 2023 Book of the Year awards, Avery has offered our younger readers a most delightful read but with many more layers than meet the eye,  

Parcel For Turtle

Parcel For Turtle

Parcel For Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parcel For Turtle

Shelley Knoll-Miller

Puffin, 2023

24pp., hbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761046643

Turtle and his friends are hiding under the rocks wanting to go back to the water but wary of a pesky pelican who is hovering with a hungry look in his eye. when Postman finds a unique way to safely deliver a parcel from Koala.  

But what could it be? It doesn’t sound like a remote control car that could whizz them to the water’s edge; it’s not the right shape for a beach umbrella that could shelter them as they ran and and it’s not big enough to be a trampoline so they could bounce back either.   There is one way to find out… open it.

As with its predecessors, Penguin, Gorilla and Koala, the contents are unexpected but perfect for solving their problem. And, as with those predecessors, the premise of the story is summarised in the intriguing endpapers so there are two stories that can engage our youngest readers as they put their predictive and deductive skills to the test – both key elements of mastering the printed word and becoming a reader! Bright, appealing illustrations, funky characters (even if they have evil on their mind), the opportunity to think about how the characters might be feeling as the story progresses, and the unexpected twist in the tale all make this a story that will move from a first-read to a favourite very quickly!

Apart from putting a smile of sheer delight on my face when I open each new title in this series, it is one that should become as much as a staple in a little one’s library as other classics like Where’s Spot , Ten Minutes to Bed and those by Hervé Tullet. Stories that first and foremost entertain and engage the reader so that start to develop the expectation and anticipation of being “real readers” are the foundation of literary and literacy success and this series is definitely one of those.  Originally intended to be just a collection of four stories, I, for one, would love to see more. 

Alex Neptune (series)

Alex Neptune (series)

Alex Neptune (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Neptune (series)

Dragon Thief

9781474999236

Pirate Hunter

 9781474999274

Monster Avenger

 9781474999298

David Owen

HarperCollins, 2022-2023

250+pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

Alex Neptune lives in Haven Bay, a town whose history and currency is intertwined with the sea, and particularly the legends of the Water-Dragon and the pirate, Captain Brineblood, But Alex hates the sea because he is convinced it wants him dead and besides, strange things have happened to it since a mysterious factory was built and it is now so polluted that visitors no longer come to the town, let alone support the family gift store Neptune’s Bounty.  And what’s happening with the long-closed aquarium at the top of the hill which mysteriously glows green at night time?

This is new series for independent readers (best read in order for story continuity) that contains all the elements of relatable quirky characters, sea creatures that can talk and adventure that has  been described as  perfect “for fans of Percy Jackson and Dragon Realm”. With his tech-genius best friend Zoey, legend-lover Anil, and a sharp-shooting octopus, Alex discovers that he actually has power over his nemesis , the ocean, and embarks on a series of escapades that feature the town’s two legends, as he tries to save it from whatever is bringing it doom.

Full of action and embedded humour to lighten the mood, this is an entertaining read that has a powerful underlying message of how the ocean is being used by the unscrupulous for their own greed without regard for the consequences. From hating and fearing the ocean, Alex comes to appreciate and value it.  An eye-opener… 

Etta and the Octopus

Etta and the Octopus

Etta and the Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Etta and the Octopus

Zana Fraillon

Andrew Joyner

Lothian, 2023

100pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780734421685

FOUND!

One octopus!

Likes to eat tuna sandwiches.

Goes by the name of ‘Oswald’.

It all began when Etta decided to take a bath . . . And realised she wasn’t alone. In the bath sat Oswald. Etta had never had an octopus in her bath before. At first, Etta thinks it might be fun to have Oswald around. But she soon learns that octopuses are not very good at being tidy . . . or cooking . . . or sharing . . . or even playing nicely. Just as Etta has almost had enough, someone comes to claim Oswald. Oswald isn’t perfect, but does Etta really want to send him away?

This is another in the collection of books for emerging independent readers that focus on a young person being befriended by an unusual creature – in this case, an octopus.  It has all the structures like a larger font, short chapters and plenty of illustrations that a young person needs; it contains instructions for the game that Etta and Oswald play, and Andrew Joyner has included a step-by-step guide to drawing Oswald.  But what sets it apart is that Etta starts making a list of the pros and cons of having an octopus as a pet, a strategy that our young readers can learn and adapt as they venture into the realm of persuasive writing.  Their growing maturity allows them to view a problem or situation from more than their own perspective and to be able to stand back and look at the advantages and disadvantages and then list these so they can make an informed opinion is the basis of a quality  argument which is at the heart of persuasive writing and being a critical thinker.  

So, having shared the story with the students, it offers opportunities to set up similar situations such as a dragon having taken up residence in the school playground, so they can start to explore and develop this strategy for themselves.

The ending of this story sets it up to be a series so perhaps there will be more to come that those who like quirky adventures can enjoy. 

Jawsome

Jawsome

Jawsome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jawsome

R. J. Timms

Albert Street, 2023

304pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781761068591

Deep under the ocean in the Shallow Side of Chumville Finley the reef shark lives with his dentist parents Su and Shi, and his siblings, Dash, Smash, Crash, Flash , Splash and Bash.  During the day Finley goes to school with his mates Hunter the tiger shark, Gnash the pointer shark and Gilleon the lemon shark, but at night, they are secretly the super-famous rock band JAWSOME!  But not everything is cruisy. Can JAWSOME get to the bottom of an ocean of shady shark-nanigans while keeping their secret identities watertight?

This is a new series for those emerging readers who like a light-hearted read, peppered with pun humour and plenty of illustrations.  Verging on a graphic novel because as much of the action happens in the illustrations as it does in the text, it will also appeal to those students who like to be seen with thick books – it has over 300 pages because of the large font and copious graphics.  But woven among the puns and other fishy jokes are facts about sharks that will de-mystify and maybe un-demonise these creatures so there is learning as well as laughing, as well as a strong lead character that has to learn to face his fears of singing in public step up to help his mates.

One to look for and perhaps give to some reluctant readers to determine if it is worth adding upcoming additions to the series to the library’s collection.