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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. 

   

 

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Gordon Winch

Stephen Pym

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594492

Holly the honeybee is the dancing star of her hive: she waggles, she wiggles, and she waggles again. But is there a secret message in Holly’s waggle dance? And could it help the bees survive through a long, hot summer?

The understanding of the importance of bees in our environment and their current plight, particularly during this drought, is becoming more and more widespread, and this is the most stunning book to help little children learn what about these creatures. While it focuses on Holly’s dance that leads the bees to the source of the nectar for their honey, it also offers an opportunity to talk about their critical role in the pollination of plants, without which we would have much less food to choose from. 

Adding to the reality of the book are the remarkable illustrations from Stephen Pym and you can read how much work went into designing Holly so she was an accurate yet appealing interpretation here.  The Australian bush is brought to life and readers may have fun identifying familiar species. 

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

To add to the authenticity, there is a page with more information about Holly so adults can easily answer the questions young readers will have. 

A must-have addition to any collection that focuses on the environment and its sustainability.

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bee Book

Charlotte Milner

DK, 2018

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

9780241305188

As Spring finally reaches even the coldest parts of Australia and the blossoms, wattles and daffodils finally emerge from their winter slumber, so too comes the sound of the bees – as welcome as the warbling of nesting magpies and the laughing of the returning kookaburras. 

Bees have been an essential and integral part of life on the planet for over 100 million years – even pre-dating the dinosaurs – and about 20 000 different species can be found all around the world. While some bees are large, others small., some can cook and the original name of the much-loved bumblebee was “dumbledore”, the most famous is the honey bee and this amazing new book focuses on this species as it explores all aspects of its life and why it is so important to the survival of humans. 

Packed with easily accessible information  and eye-catching illustrations, this is the ideal book to show young children how critical bees are within the environment as they, along with other insects, are responsible for about a third of everything we eat! As well as emphasising their importance, there is also a warning about their decline in numbers and the potential for catastrophe if that happens. There are suggestions for how we can assist their longevity, including building a simple bee motel (although I cheated and bought one) with more detailed instructions available here.

With Christmas approaching, and Miss 12 and Miss 7 growing beyond toys and stuff, this book and a copy of this year’s winner of the CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, How to Bee  because they seem like natural companions, as well as the bee motel will make a somewhat different gift, but one which will inspire them!

A must for school libraries and fascinating and informative for those with an interest in the environment.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Bonkers About Beetles

Bonkers About Beetles

Bonkers About Beetles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonkers About Beetles

Owen Davey

Flying Eye Books, 2018

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

9781911171485

The fourth book in Owen Davey’s series about the creatures on our planet focuses on the 400 000 different species of beetles which are found all over the world with the exception of Antarctica.

As with Mad About Monkeys, Smart About Sharks, and  Crazy About Cats  young, independent readers can use the clear layout, short paragraphs and accessible language to discover more about these insects.  Although it is illustrated with pictures and diagrams rather than photographs, nevertheless these are clear and easy to understand, with all sorts of amazing information. 

While several species are put in the spotlight including fireflies and their strange luminescence, and the common, much-loved seven-spot ladybird, Davey covers all sorts of aspects of the beetles’ lives ranging from their camouflage to their place in mythology to their contribution to ecosystems, the impact of human activity and their conservation. There are even instructions for building a bug hotel which could make for interesting on the spot observations and investigations in the school playground.

Even though the retro, subdued palette might not appeal at first, this is an excellent series for anyone wanting to get up close and personal with those things that inhabit our planet.

 

Moth: An Evolution Story

Moth: An Evolution Story

Moth: An Evolution Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moth: An Evolution Story

Isabel Thomas

Daniel Egnéus

Bloomsbury, 2018

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

9781408889756

In a clean, fresh world, a shiny cocoon wriggles and jiggles and a moth with salt-and-pepper wings emerges. But there is no time to languish – as daylight emerges, it must fly to the nearby trees with their lichen-covered branches where its colouring camouflages it from its predators – birds, bats and cats!

But some moths are born with charcoal wings, easy prey as their colouring makes them stand out . While they become food for hungry birds and their chicks, the speckled, freckled ones are safe in their disguise and the next night they lay eggs of their own, and their babies will be just like their parents.

But then the world began to change and coal-burning factories and steam-driven trains changed it to a dirty, dark place full of pollution which stained the clouds, and darkened the branches where the speckled, freckled ones rested. And they became the vulnerable ones while their charcoal friends were safe.  So gradually, they changed and it was the dark-winged variety that was common and the salt-and-pepper ones became rare.

However, as people realised the harm they were doing, slowly the world began to change again – not quite as clean as before but so much better.  And a miracle happened…

Encapsulated in this beautifully illustrated book is the story of the peppered moth, an example of natural selection and the theory behind process of evolution – creatures changing themselves to adapt to and survive in their changing environments. With its explanation of the moth’s story and extrapolating from that to all creatures including humans, this is the perfect introduction to Darwin’s theories and the impact of human intervention on the environment.  Throughout though, there is hope – that we are not doomed as many would have us believe, but that we are changing and we must adapt to that change whilst doing all that we can to assist Mother Nature by keeping our planet pure and pristine because try as we might, not all creatures can adapt as readily and quickly as the moth does and the list of species, both fauna and flora, that have become extinct continues to grow.

A must in any library in a school that has students and staff concerned about the environment – what might be living in the playground that could use a bit of positive human intervention?

The Last Peach

The Last Peach

The Last Peach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Peach

Gus Gordon

Viking, 2018

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

9780670078912

As summer draws to a close, a delicious golden peach hangs in front of the two bugs, tantalising them with its perfection.   But which of them should eat it?  Indeed, should it be eaten at all? Should it remain beautiful and perfect or should they satisfy their hunger?

Discussing the problem and examining the pros and cons, the story is told entirely in dialogue and illustrated using mixed media, particularly paper collage, making the pictures as diverse as the bugs’ dilemma.  

It is ideal for encouraging students how to look at the many sides of a situation because even the simplest set of circumstances can have many perspectives and possible solutions, and perhaps even examining motive and bias,  Does the bug that tells them it’s probably “all stinky and rotten on the inside” covet it for himself? 

This is an intriguing read with a most unexpected outcome that will encourage lots of discussion and debate. 

 

I love you, Stick Insect

I love you, Stick Insect

I love you, Stick Insect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you, Stick Insect

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP A12.99

9781408882955

How much fun can two stick insects have in one day?  When one meets another, he immediately falls in love and describes the magical day they will have – joining a band, going to the beach, surfing, skating, kiting… But all the while the butterfly is trying to tell him he is romancing a stick!  But is he???

A year or so ago a friend’s granddaughter (who has been described as a mini David Attenborough) went through a stick-insect-as-a-pet stage, apparently more common that we might think with specimens easily purchased from various sources.  She chose a Goliath (or two or three) and while not everyone’s idea of a pet, she took great care of them ensuring they had the right leaves and humidity and so on to maximise their lifespan. 

So while a humorous book with a stick insect as its focus might seem strange, nevertheless there will be those who will pick it up because of that.  Others will just love it for its fun and the twist in the end.  Those who enjoyed I’m Going to Eat this Ant will be familiar with the creator’s way of telling a story and will be pleased to see a new release from him.

Butterfly Wishes (series)

Butterfly Wishes

Butterfly Wishes

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Wishes (series)

Jennifer Castle

Bloomsbury, 2018 

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Sisters Addie and Clara have just moved to a new house in the country, where they discover that their backyard is a gateway to the enchanted realm of magical butterflies called Wishing Wings. These special butterflies have the power to make wishes come true! 

Each story is complete with plenty of illustrations (the covers alone will inspire imagination) and contain a gentle life lesson as the problem and its resolution are explored.

This is a new series for newly independent readers, particularly girls, who are looking for something with sparkle, magic and the beginnings of fantasy.  While the first, The Wishing Wings,  is available now the others will be released in quick succession so these young readers do not have to wait too long to revisit this new magical world. 

A delightful new series that will encourage young readers to keep coming back for the next episodes.

 

Busy Little Creatures

Busy Little Creatures

Busy Little Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Little Creatures

Raising Literacy Australia

Fiona Bowden

Little Book Press, 2017

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

9780994385345 

From bees to beetle to butterflies, our world is full of busy little creatures and ten of them are collected here in a book which not only introduces them but also helps the very young reader explore movement, colours, patterns, sizes and numbers. Perhaps they might also become a detective as they create a chart of the creatures so they can tick off each as it is discovered and maybe even add new ones not featured in the book!  There could also be discussions about why people are dependent on these minibeasts and how we need to protect them rather than squash them, squirt them and otherwise kill them, as well as learning which are friendly and which are not-so!