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Diary of a Rescued Wombat

Diary of a Rescued Wombat

Diary of a Rescued Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Rescued Wombat – The Untold Story

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9781460761823

Twenty years ago, a baby wombat was rescued from its burrow in southern New South Wales and began a story that not only continues today through the adventures of her granddaughter Wild Whiskers posted on Jackie’s FB page,  but which brought a whole new dimension to the stories published for preschoolers at the time. For despite Diary of a Wombat  being simple one-word captions accompanying Bruce Whatley’s adorable illustrations, those words told a story, endeared the character to the readers and left them wanting more.  And despite being simple one-word captions accompanying Bruce Whatley’s adorable illustrations, that book was loved by all ages and went on to win the Young Australian Readers’ Award (along with a host of others) for that year, an award for which I was co-coordinator but which was entirely decided by the reviews and votes of children throughout Australia.  

Since then, as well as being made into a stage presentation and having a commemorative coin minted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its publication, Diary of a Wombat is now a must-have staple in the collection of any new-born baby, as familiar and as loved as Grandma Hush and Poss, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and a small handful of others who have survived the test of generations. 

But what led Mothball to become such a part of Jackie French’s family and for her descendants to be as loved as she is?

In this new book, Jackie and Bruce take the reader back to where it all began, to where little Mothball was initially rescued and how she developed a love of carrots (but not so much for toilet paper) and how she learned she could train the humans she lived with to do her bidding.  In a world full of prequels and sequels, in my opinion, this is one of the best prequels ever!!!  And not just because it is charming and engaging and brings back so many memories including the beginning of a long-standing personal friendship with the author, but because of the joy and wonder and awareness that it is going to bring to another generation of children as the wombat is cited as being the most endearing of Australia’s indigenous creatures by so many.  

In her book The Fire Wombat , Jackie tells of the impact that the fires that ravaged the landscape three years ago had on the wildlife; but now our country has been devastated by floods and many wombat burrows and other habitats are under threat again.  How many other little Mothballs are there that now need our help, our care and our support?  By telling the original story in this way, so that both books go hand in hand, a new generation of readers is going to feel a similar connection to these creatures and thus ensure their safety and survival.  

The memory of Miss 6 sitting up in bed beside Miss 2 and reading Diary of a Wombat to her, one of the first she had ever read independently and was so determined to share with her little sister, is one of my most precious.  So my review copy is going to be in a special Santa Sack this Christmas, even though the girls are now 16 and 12, and it will be as warmly welcomed there as it will be by any other little (or big) reader who is given it. 

 

Wonderful Wasps

Wonderful Wasps

Wonderful Wasps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Wasps

Katrina Germein

Suzanne Houghton

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315734

The first line asks, “What do you know about wasps?” My answer can be summed up in two sentences …They sting. I avoid them because of a childhood allergic reaction that almost killed me.”

Who knew that there are so many other species apart from the “we’re everywhere” European wasps?  That there are over 12 000 “we-have-always-been-here” species found in Australia and they are as critical to our survival because of the work they do as their cousins, the bees

Beginning with a visual introduction on the endpapers, this beautifully illustrated book introduces the reader  to some of the native wasps that thrive in our native gardens and bushlands, the work they do  in sustaining both the flora and fauna while maintaining a healthy respect and difference for a creature that can sting and sting again, although unlike the common European wasp, many indigenous species are not aggressive unless provoked.  

As summer comes on, and our bushland springs to life with its floral beauty, the wasps will be active again and so this is a beautiful book for younger readers to start to learn more, both from the factual information in the final pages and from the activities suggested in the thorough teaching notes.  While there has been an emphasis on protecting and nurturing bees in the environment lately with gardens being established and even bee hotels installed, perhaps it  is time to expand the focus and consider what could be done to ensure the preservation of our wasp species as well.  Among them, Katrina Germein, Suzanne Houghton and CSIRO Publishing have provided the perfect starting point.  (And I know a lot more than when I started!) 

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back On Country: Welcome to Our Country

Adam Goodes

Ellie Laing

David Hardy

A&U Children’s, 2022

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

9781761065088

Mum is taking David and Lucy on a road trip to visit her family and they are as excited as they are curious for this is their first time back on Country and there are so many special places to see, things to do, stories to hear and words to learn. This is their time to reconnect with their Aboriginality, and learn about their land and culture and how they fit within it from their Elders. As the children find out, it can be very emotional and spiritual as they learn of the generations who have gone before and how those ancestors continue to influence and impact their modern lives.

The third in this series, which includes Somebody’s Land and  Ceremony, young readers continue to learn about what is behind the Acknowledgement of Country that has become an integral part of the day in so many schools now.  As with the others, this is a story from the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders ranges in South Australia, the country of author Adam Goodes. with  stunning illustrations and text featuring both English and Adnyamathanha words (which are explained in a visual glossary on the endpages).  As well as the introductory background notes on the verso, there is a QR code that leads to a reading of the story as well as teachers’ notes  available to download. 

In my opinion, this series is one of the most significant publications available to help our young children understand and appreciate the long-overdue recognition of our First Nations people in schools, so that when they hear a Welcome to Country or participate in an Acknowledgement of Country they do so with knowledge of and respect for all that is contained in the words.  

 

Mia

Mia

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mia

Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Zones

Dianne Wolfer

A & U Children’s, 2022

256pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760877026

It is 2019 and 13-year-old Mia lives on a bush block in the Pilbara, where she assists her mother’s work as a vet and equine therapist. Although she is used to the seasonal cyclones that threaten the West Australian coast, nothing can prepare her for the ferocity of Cyclone Veronica when she finds herself home alone and needing to protect their property and the animals she loves. She is used to cyclone build-ups, but the noise and energy of the wild rain squalls keep her awake half the night. What if the cyclone hits before Mum gets back? As wild winds batter the coast, Mia knows she must keep calm. The animals need her but when her friend Nick arrives, pleading for help, and her favourite horse is injured, will Mia be able to withstand the greatest challenge of her life? As the storm intensifies, can she save her beloved animals? 

This is the latest in this series that offers fictionalised accounts of world events that help our older, independent readers not only understand what happened but allows them to process it.  By giving each story a central character such as Lyla who endured the devastating Christchurch earthquake in 2011, the story becomes one of courage, resilience and hope rather than an historical recount with meaningless facts and figures. It offers the ‘colour and detail’ to the stark monochrome sketches of news reports, websites and other information-only sources.  

Like its predecessors, Mia  is a well-written, well-researched blend of imagination and information that above all, tells a story of one girl’s experience and shows that it is OK to be scared and fearful, but that natural human resilience can prevail.  But because it will resonate with many in one way or another , if you have a system that places trigger warnings in your books, this may be one to consider.  There could also be an argument that in this time of such extensive flooding and loss, this is not the time for such a book but it might be the vehicle that offers the light at the end of the tunnel for those enduring such hardship to strive for. 

While we would all like to protect our kids from the disasters of modern times, natural or otherwise, that can be an impossible task as the world now comes to them in the palm of their hands, but stories like this can offer insight, understanding and a feeling that they too, can come through the other side – often shaped by it but also more resilient and courageous because of it. 

Nice Garry (series)

Nice Garry (series)

Nice Garry (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice Garry (series)

Bowled Over 

9781460761342

In A Spin

9781460761359

Michael Wagner, Nathan Lyon

David Williams

HarperCollins, 2022

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

On the eve of the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, this is a new series featuring renowned spin bowler Nathan Lyon that is going to appeal to young cricket loving readers. While Lyon himself will be in the commentary box this year (although he is determined to be good enough again to make it into the Australian T20 side), nevertheless the comments of “Nice, Garry” will be heard on the cricket pitch in other formats as the season wears on.

Inspired by the talent and passion Australian Test cricketing great Nathan Lyon has for the game, nicknamed Garry after AFL star Garry Lyon, this is the story of an ordinary kid with an extraordinary gift, but the talented 10-year-old discovers that sometimes gifts like his can present new, unexpected challenges that have to be faced.  

Following in the format of other sports series which focus on leading lights in a variety of codes, readers not only learn about their heroes and tips and tricks of the games they play, but also what it takes to be both a leader and a team member and that sometimes being really good at a particular thing is not always enough.  There are responsibilities that come with the rewards.

As well as being one to hand to the aspiring young cricketers, it is also one to hand to the reluctant reader who has to read it and decide whether it is a series worth purchasing for the library’s collection.  Among all the other series available, what will make this one stand out and appeal to many, making it a worthwhile investment?  

 

Two Puggles

Two Puggles

Two Puggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Puggles

Michelle Guzel

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2022

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

9781922696168

When Spike and Ducky hatched they looked exactly the same, but as they began to grow, Spike got spiky and Ducky didn’t.  And that’s not all that changes.  How can “two brothers from the same mother” be so different?

This is an intriguing story about two of Australia’s unique creatures – the echidna and the platypus – who actually have more in common than it looks.  With overtones of both Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the ugly duckling and Eastman’s Are You My Mother?, it introduces the two monotremes in an entertaining way while also offering lots of information about them so little ones can learn.  Accompanied by Andrew Plant’s (I’m-a-fan) realistic illustrations that that embed the twist in the plot that makes you think, it is a delightful story of friendship, co-operation and using your unique talents for the common good.

And just for your Monday morning entertainment…

A Is for Australian Reefs

A Is for Australian Reefs

A Is for Australian Reefs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Is for Australian Reefs

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760652258

Like fortress walls, Australia is ringed by a series of reefs – among them, the Great Barrier Reef, The Great Southern Reef, Ninglaoo Reed and Montgomery Reef.  The reefs themselves are diverse formations and within them is the greatest diversity of life waiting to be explored.  So in this stunning new book, Frané Lessac takes the young reader on an alphabetical journey to meet some of those inhabitants. 

As with her other books such as A is for Australian Animals, this is a factastic tour  combining an overarching statements with more detailed information placed among her original illustrations, making it not only visually appealing but also easily accessible to readers of varying abilities.  So while we can get an overview of what a mollusc is, we then mean individuals like the giant clam, the cuttlefish, and the giant triton which eats the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish. 

As one holiday period finishes and another looms, and Australians are travelling in their own backyards more and more, this is one to share so that children will not only be more aware of what’s in the waters they are likely to swim in, but be more inclined to protect them. 

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination

Coral Vass

Nicky Johnston

EK Books, 2022

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

It is the backdrop to the lives of so many, draws millions of visitors from around the world, and yet is so familiar now that many don’t even see it.

Who would have thought that such a magnificent structure could grow from a little boy playing with sailboats, watching swans land on water, collecting seashells and flowers, even playing with his breakfast orange peel?  And yet it did and in this beautiful retelling of the young life of  Jørn Utzon, the reader learns not only of the beginnings of one of the world’s most recognisable buildings but the power of the imagination, and the importance of letting dreams lead us into amazing places.

Where might today’s discovery take a young person in years to come? Even if it is a wet, indoors day, what might they build from “rubbish” that could become the start of something magnificent?  In 50 years, will a nation be celebrating their dreams as they are about to celebrate Jørn’s?  

Sensitively written and illustrated in a way that doesn’t reveal the mystery to the end, this is a book that not only celebrates a little life that has big dreams that come true, but inspires the reader to drift away and imagine… If Jørn could begin a building with orange peels, could they make a city floodproof by playing in their porridge and milk?

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockpooling With Pup

Kevin Brophy

Jules Ober

Ford Street, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922696137

There is a fascinating world waiting to be discovered in the pools left in the rocks by the retreating tide – creatures and plant that are so dependent on that regular movement of water to survive that they can live nowhere else.  But it takes a keen eye to spot them, and when Mia and her pup go exploring they see more than they expected because while they find a blue-ringed octopus, where are her rings?

Once again, Jules Ober has put her amazing modelling skills to use setting miniatures of Mia and Pup against incredible photographs of that fascinating world, which, when married with the text, introduce the reader to the many creatures that they might not otherwise know. 

It is no secret that I grew up by the beach at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand – next stop Antarctica – and the only rules we had were to come home when it got dark or when the tide was on the flood. So I spent my childhood leaping amongst the rockpools, queen of all I could see, and something I still do whenever I get the chance, and so this book really resonated with me.  So many memories.  

My happy place

My happy place

Many of our students will have done the same thing in recent weeks as school holidays will have seen them at the beach even though the water is a little cool to swim, and this is the perfect book to help them not only recall those happy times but also learn a little about what they saw. 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”!