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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle

Puffin, 2019

24pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9780141338484

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf…”  So begins one of the most well-known stories written for children in the modern era.  First published in 1969, who doesn’t know this classic story of the hatching of that little egg, and the caterpillar’s journey through a an orchard of fruits throughout the week, an un-caterpillar feast on Saturday and culminating in a massive stomach ache?  So big, in fact, that the little caterpillar has to eat through a nice green leaf to ease it and then goes to sleep for another week, snug in a cocoon until he emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

With an engaging character, bright pictures created in Carle’s signature collage style, cut and cutout pages that promise new things when they are turned, counting and predicting and reading along, and a most satisfying ending, this book has endured to become a classic, one that should be on the bottom shelf, your read-aloud basket and your teaching toolkit. Being a larger board book edition, it is designed to stand up to the constant reading it will have as it is passed along and around families, sparking and creating memories of times spent together. A classic that needs to be kept alive for generations, despite screens and other distractions. 

Nit Boy

Nit Boy

Nit Boy

 

Nit Boy

Tristan Bancks

Heath McKenzie

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760896300

Lewis Snow has the worst case of nits in world history. Everyone wants him to shave his head. But Lewis thinks of his nits as pets. He’s determined to keep his hair and his nits, whatever it takes.

Ned lives on Lewis’s head. He’s the first-ever jumping nit. His dad wants Ned to help nits take over the world. But Ned likes it on Lewis’s head. Ned’s vegan and hates the taste of human blood.

In the tradition of a number of other authors who have captured the imagination of boys of a certain age who like stories that are about bodily functions that are not normally the subject of polite, adult conversation, Bancks and McKenzie have developed a cast of characters and crafted tales that fit the criteria perfectly.  Who hasn’t started feeling itchy and anxious the minute a case of nits is confirmed in a classroom?  Starting with his explanation that nits are just the unhatched form of head lice, Bancks will capture the interest and imagination of that cohort who delight in seeing others squirm and will not only have them  reading from beginning to end and demanding more, but also starting a cult following of the series among their peers.

We know Bancks is a gifted author with unputdownable stories like Detention, Two Wolves and The Fall to his credit  so for all its wacky premise, there will be a quality story at the heart of this book and when combined with the talent of McKenzie that this will be a hit series with its intended audience.  The bonus is that there are two books in one in this release so readers will not have to wait for the next episode.

Do You Love Bugs?

Do You Love Bugs?

Do You Love Bugs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Love Bugs?

Matt Robertson

Bloomsbury, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526609519

From an early age many children develop a fear of bugs – perhaps it’s because of their imagining the feel of all those legs crawling over them, or they are warned about being the target of the creature’s defence system.  So in this book with its accessible text, quirky illustrations and engaging layout, Matt Robertson attempts to show that the minibeasts that inhabit both the indoors and outdoors are actually beneficial and essential to both our planet and our well-being. 

Bees, worms, stick insects, grasshoppers, snails, butterflies and moths, ants beetles, even spiders are all put under the microscope and shown through the lens of being critical to the environment and its health.  Robertson has used a clever technique of portraying the critters in cartoon-like style so that they have personality and are not a scary exact likeness, and that coupled with fun facts like snails being deaf and bees communicating by dancing brings each species into focus in a gentle way.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Before sharing the book, young readers might even like to identify the bugs on the colourful endpapers setting them up ready to learn more about those they know.

Much as I appreciate this approach and the value that bugs add, I’m still not convinced about the usefulness of spiders and flies yet…

Goodnight Glow Worms

Goodnight Glow Worms

Goodnight Glow Worms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodnight Glow Worms

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2020

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

9780143792918

Goodnight, Glow Worms shining bright,
Time to dim your Glow Worm light.
Glow Worms gleaming, beaming round,
Can’t switch off and can’t wind down.

It is glow worm bedtime but they are finding it very difficult to go to sleep.  Something is missing.  But even when that’s discovered, Yellow Glow Worm just can’t turn off his light.

This is another delightful story for littlies from the author of the equally delightful Meerkat Splash written in rhyme and repetitive text and accompanied by illustrations that encourage discussion and interactivity with its focus on helping little ones identify colours. But it could also lead to bigger things with the child’s curiosity about glow worms sparked and an investigation into why and how they glow.  Can they really turn off their lights?

Perfect for preschoolers.

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Mark Kurlansky

Jia Liu

Bloomsbury, 2020 

176pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781547600854

The drought and the bushfires have certainly taken their toll on the wildlife of this country and the devastating effect on the environment is nightly news.  But while the trees are slowly recovering there are some species that never will, species that we seldom give a lot of thought to in the way that koalas and kangaroos capture our attention.  For just as their habitat has been destroyed so has that of the insect world, although theirs is an ongoing worldwide invisible demise.

While there is acknowledgement that the planet’s life-givers, bees are disappearing, they aren’t the only species at risk. Populations of fireflies, butterflies, and ladybugs have all been declining in recent years, too. This middle grade nonfiction explains the growth, spread, and recent declines of each of these four types of insects. Exploring human causes to natural occurrences Mark Kurlansky shows just how much bugs matter to our world. While it might be a natural instinct to swat a fly or a mosquito and deliberately eliminate those that carry disease, each life contributes to another life and in this book the author explores that interdependence and why it needs to be preserved. 

An interesting perspective and insight into the insect world that shines a new light onto a world we don’t often think about. 

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A is for Ant

Kate Slater

DK, 2020

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

9780241435922

There has been something of a revolution in board books over recent times. Our youngest readers are now getting interesting stories rather than one-word concept books and now publishers like DK are acknowledging that even at this early age, some are choosing non fiction as their preference. A is for Ant  is the first book in a new alphabet series, each of which looks at a particular animal that begins with that letter as well as features about the creature that reinforce the letter while illustrations bring the world of ants to life, as toddlers learn about ant hills, antennae and more.   Filled with simple, fun facts, A is for Ant provides lots to talk about as they learn how ants work together, what they eat, and where they live. It is cleverly designed to encourage early learners to repeat the fun a-words.

With the competition from screens of all sorts, convincing little ones that books are worthwhile even if they do appear static can be tricky but books such as this which demonstrate they do have something to interest them are a great starting point. Maybe, given the ubiquity of ants, it is time to invest in a magnifying glass to go on an ant hunt and discover more about these creatures, while older siblings could suggest more ‘a’ words to go with those already included. 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas Eve

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve

Eric Carle

Picture Puffin, 2019

12pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9780241350249

It’s a cold, snowy Christmas Eve and everyone is at home waiting for a special visitor…

Little ones will adore this new story featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar as they lift the flaps to discover who is hiding behind.  With its northern hemisphere focus  offering the opportunity to talk about why Christmas is so different from here, they will enjoy searching for the VHC because although he doesn’t play an active role in the story, he does appear on each page sharing the precepts of the Christmas season in simple text and classic Carle illustrations which will help focus their thinking to predict the story and who might be hiding. 

A favourite friend in a familiar setting and a recognisable author – has to be a Christmas stocking winner.

 

 

Tulip and Brutus

Tulip and Brutus

Tulip and Brutus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip and Brutus

Liz Ledden

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804348

Tulip and her ladybug friends live amongst the flowers while Brutus and his stinkbug friends live up in a tree.  They never play together. They are so very different that it would be hard to think they could ever be friends. But after a day of heavy rain, their habitats become merged and they realise they have to work together to protect themselves.  As they do, they begin to understand they have more in common than they realise, and each discovers new joys to explore.

The theme of unlikely friendships is not new in children’s literature, but this one is brought to life by the scintillating, action-packed illustrations of Andrew Plant (Pippa, The Perfect Leaf; Glitch,  Spark, and The Poppy) . With a mix of imagination and real-world, Ledden and Plant have combined to create a story that will appeal to young readers, bug-lovers and haters alike, and help them understand that being different and diverse is natural but that there is much to learn and enjoy through trying new things.

 

 

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for Cicadas

Lesley Gibbes

Judy Watson

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781922244420

It is one of the distinctive sounds of summer in Australia and Grandpa and Child are going in search of its creator – the cicada.  Packing up their tent and other supplies in the little wagon, they head off to Apex Reserve to wait and watch with the other families. At sunset the noise starts  – the male calling for a mate – and the hunt begins.  Last year they saw Green Grocers, Yellow Monday sand a Floury Baker.  Will they be lucky this year and find the elusive Black Prince?

Packed with facts both in the story and in the accompanying  information paragraphs, this is another in the stunning Nature Storybooks collection that teaches our young readers about our unique fauna within the context of a picture book story.  In this case it highlights one of those special relationships children have with adults, that when they themselves are an adult, they will look back on with fond memories and perhaps try to replicate them with their own offspring.  I know my memories of time spent with my grandfather have shaped my relationships with my granddaughters. 

As well as the information within the story, there is also a summary about the cicada and an index to take the reader back to the relevant pages so that even from a very young age, little ones can begin to understand the structure of non fiction and how to use it to learn more.

Fact or fiction? This is a line-crosser that is quite simply, brilliant.  Loved it (even though I’m not a fan of anything with more than four legs.)

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bug Collector

Alex G. Griffiths

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594539

George loves Sundays because that’s the day he goes on an excursion with his grandfather. Today they go to the Museum of Wildlife but instead of stopping to look at the dinosaurs, whales and other wondrous creatures, Grandad takes him to Insect World.  Immediately George is captivated and can think of nothing else on his way home.  He even dreams about them! Next day, he arms himself with a host of bug collecting equipment and once he gets the knack of catching them, it’s not long before he has his own collection all lined up in jars in his treehouse.  But Grandad is not as excited to see them as George anticipates.  In fact, he is the opposite – and George learns the role that bugs play in keeping the environment healthy and flourishing.  Clever Grandad also has a solution…

To many, bugs and minibeasts are things to be afraid of and are stomped on,  sprayed or otherwise disposed of without thought to their purpose or place in nature’s hierarchy.  Certainly, anything with eight legs or more can expect doom inside my house. But as George learns, they do have a vital role in the ecology and so this is an excellent book to introduce young readers to this and help them develop a healthy appreciation and respect for them from the get-go. 

Based on his own childhood memories of his relationship with his grandfather and their time together in the garden, this is one that can have wide appeal because no matter what sort of garden we have access to, even if it’s just a hoop of grass on the playground, it is amazing the diversity of wildlife that exists there and the learning that can springboard from that. Perhaps the playground will be transformed in the same way George’s garden was.  Then, if investigating minibeasts doesn’t appeal, there is always the relationship the child has with an older person, grandfather or other, and the memories they share and will share with their children.

Griffiths says that this is his first foray into actually creating the story to go with his illustrations and that he found it quite difficult, but the end result is so rich and so relatable for every young reader that he should be ecstatic about the result.  It’s certainly taken this grown-up to a happy, nostalgic place and hopefully I can provide my grandchildren with some memories too.