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The Trouble with the Two-Headed Hydra

The Trouble with the Two-Headed Hydra

The Trouble with the Two-Headed Hydra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters (series)

The Trouble with the Two-Headed Hydra

Karen Foxlee

Freda Chu

Allen & Unwin, 2022

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760526634

Although a rather anxious child who prefers  to make lists so she can plan and manage her life because she doesn’t cope with change well, nevertheless Mary-Kate Martin has left the sanctuary of her grandmother’s home to travel the world with her mother whose life is spent on mystery-solving adventures such as why the Woolington Wyrm was causing such destruction in a quiet English village. 

This time, Mary-Kate and her mother are visiting Galinios, an idyllic Greek Island filled with history and surrounded by the shimmering Aegean Sea. An ancient mosaic has been unearthed at the local sardine processing plant and Professor Martin must investigate, leaving Mary-Kate to enjoy a few days of sunshine and antiquity.

But a message asking for help changes everything. A wrecked boat and smashed jetty have recently disrupted life on this tranquil island and point to a monster-sized mystery. Could the local legend of the Two-Headed Hydra be more than a story? If so, what could make this historically serene sea creature so angry?  Armed with her glitter pens and strawberry-scented notebook, Miss Mary-Kate Martin is determined to find answers. She might be scared of heights, but there is no problem too big for her to solve.

This is the second in this series for independent readers who like mystery, adventure and a touch of fantasy, and given that it is based on the creature of Greek mythology perhaps it will inspire deeper investigation, maybe even an entry into the class Monsters book inspired by yesterday’s review.  

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. 

 

Peg Leg Pedicure

Peg Leg Pedicure

Peg Leg Pedicure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peg Leg Pedicure

Eliza Ault-Connell

Aimee Chan

Angela Perrini

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922358424

Eva is so used to her mum having artificial legs because she had lost her real ones after a childhood illness, that she is quite taken aback when a school friend calls her mum “weird” because of them.  Eva sees her mum as strong and brave and busy just like all the other mums, one who makes light of her metal legs by pretending to be a pirate and who lets Eva give her old, more traditional peg-legs pedicures and paint the toes like rainbows.  

But rather than be cross with Rishab for upsetting Eva, her mum has the perfect solution – and so she shows the kids how being different in one way or another is what makes them extraordinary.

While stories about children being different are quite common for little ones, it is not often there is one about the parent, particularly one based on a true situation because co-author Eliza Ault-Connell, an Australian wheelchair track athlete who has competed at the Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships after losing her legs and most of her fingers but surviving meningococcal disease is Eva’s “mum”. 

Thus, by celebrating her “disability” – something that opened more doors for her than she could probably have imagined as an able-bodied person – young children can be inspired to make the most of what they have.  That that which sets them apart is what makes them unique and extraordinary. I can always remember my mum telling me as a young child in the 50s that with red hair, glasses and freckles I probably wouldn’t win a beauty contest but I had brains that would outstrip anyone and so that is what I used as I grew up and they lasted much longer than any pretty face might have.

This is an uplifting story that encourages our young readers to focus on what they perceive to be their weaknesses and then work out how they can use them to be brave and bold and smart, no matter what.   

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Mum

Zoē Foster Blake

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2022

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

 9780143779681

Ana and Louis are tired after a long day at school and kinder. They just want to watch TV . . . but Mum wants to play battle! She has a whole bunch of new moves to try out and there’s simply no stopping her.
‘Just FIVE minutes!’ pleads Mum. ‘Pleasepleaseplease?’
So the kids drag themselves off the couch. Mum PROMISES not to be too rough and that there will be absolutely NO TICKLING.
So Ana and Louis prepare to take on Battle Mum! Hopefully they can complete the game before Dad gets home . . . and wants to play too!

This is another hilarious story from Zoē Foster Blake in which she takes an everyday situation and turns it on its head.  Just as in Scaredy Bath and Back to Sleep, she has reversed the roles of the characters so this time, instead of it being the children who want five minutes more to indulge in some raucous, boisterous play, it is the mother.  Once again,  young readers who will see themselves and their nighttime antics in the actions of the parents- although whether that will actually change things is problematic because “just five minutes more” is genetically programmed into preschoolers in my experience.  

Inspired by her own children’s actions, the author strives to teach children “to empathise, how to respect others and themselves and deal with life events”, using the humour that comes with role reversal to temper the lessons and put imagination and entertainment at the forefront.  Accompanied by action-packed illustrations  this is a bedtime story that will more likely invoke more laughter and tickling than the regular sleep-inducing lullaby. Perhaps it is one for a little earlier…

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?  

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

Sue Lawson 

Karen Tayleur

Wild Dog, 2022

44pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036267

“An invention is something created to solve a problem or make life easier. Inventions can start as a question: ‘I wonder if there’s a better way to do this?’  Or they can come about by chance…”

In this new book that focuses on things created or developed by Australians, young readers can discover the ingenuity of those who have contributed some of the most significant items to make the world a better place and which have endured over time. From the development of firestick farming , the yidaki (didgeridoo), woomera and eel traps of First Nations peoples to wifi, flashing cricket stumps and the mobile laundry for the homeless, the collection is divided into categories such as agricultures, medicine, technology, and communication with short easy-to-read summaries of the invention and all neatly brought together in a useful, colour-coded timeline at the end. As well as the readily-accessible text, there are lots of photos and the usual supports to help junior researchers navigate the contents. 

This is a timely release  when we are particularly encouraging students to dream with their eyes open and to let their imaginations soar, including those with a penchant for non fiction, making it one to highlight.