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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?

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tatty Mouse Rockstar

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2022

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 9781922326553

Tatty Mouse wants to play in her brother’s band, but given they already have a guitarist, a saxophonist and a singer, she has to find a place.  Known as the ‘mend-it, make-it mouse”, and so, after consulting a book she decides on maracas and drums and sets to, using everyday objects from her home to make her own musical instruments.

The board book format lends itself perfectly to a lift-the-flap experience for our youngest readers as they follow Tatty Mouse’s instructions, perhaps making their own versions as they do because everything she uses is readily available.  

Catch A Star continues to recognise the need for even our youngest readers to have engaging stories that are sturdy enough in their own hands so they can mimic the reading of those who read to them, a critical step in becoming a reader, and this is no exception. The text is simple but the story can be followed without being able to read it because the pictures are colourful and clearly amplify what the words say, while the lift-the-flap and the invitation to do so adds to the engagement.  Above all, this format shows little ones the value of the constancy of print – rather than being a fleeting image on a screen, it is one they can return to again and again, not just to enjoy Tatty’s inventiveness but also to explore their own. 

 

Let’s Build a Backyard

Let's Build a Backyard

Let’s Build a Backyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Build a Backyard

Mike Lucas

Daron Parton

Lothian, 2022

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

9780734421289 

Chug! Chug! Chug! That’s the sound of the tipper truck.

Bang! Bang! Bang!  That’s the sound of the nails being hammered into the fence.

Sing! Sing! Sing! That’s the sound of the birds in the big tree that offers shelter and shade to countless living things and which must be protected.

In this charming companion to Let’s Build A House, Dad and his daughter are back again, this time building the backyard from bringing in quality topsoil to building a bee motel to planting the vege patch, installing a frog pond and planting bright flowers that feed on stinky chicken poo.  Using simple rhyming sequences and repetitive text, Mike Lucas and Daron Parton have once again combined to bring the complex task of creating a backyard haven for the family and wildlife alike into the realm of our youngest readers.  The bond between father and daughter is just as strong as she helps him with all the tasks – imagine the fun of being allowed to control the bobcat – with the final spread showing them sharing the joy of their labour together, suggesting that there is no mother in the story, a situation many will relate to.

As well as introducing young readers to all the tasks involved in creating a backyard and the order in which they must be done, the story opens up the opportunity for students to dream with their eyes open and plan their own backyard.  What features should it have so that it is perfect for playing and relaxing while still being a safe haven for the local wildlife and environmentally sustainable?  Teach them about bird’s-eye-view maps and drawing to scale so things fit. Big concepts for little children but made thoroughly accessible through this must-have book. (And if the prospect of a backyard is not feasible, how could the school playground be improved in a similar way? )

 

Built by Animals

Built by Animals

Built by Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built by Animals

Christiane Dorion

Yeji Yun

Wide Eyed, 2022

77pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780711265684

In my region, one of Australia’s greatest construction ventures, the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme, which has been described as “one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world, the Snowy Scheme consists of nine power stations, 16 major dams, 80 kilometres of aqueducts and 145 kilometres of interconnected tunnels” was constructed in post-war Australia and now its expansion is well underway.  As they bore through 27km of earth to connect Tantangara to Talbingo one wonders how they can do this successfully both holding the water back in the dams in the first place and then join them without the tunnels collapsing.  Perhaps, as they did their designs, the architects and engineers looked to Mother Nature, specifically the dam-building techniques of beavers and the underground architecture of ants for ideas and solutions.

Perhaps they were inspired by a book such as this which looks closely at the best architects, designers and builders of the animal and plant worlds and how they build amazing structures  how they create super-strong materials and find clever ways to keep warm or cool, all with very limited tools.  Divided into five sections – construction, materials, shapes, energy, and water – a representative of each species not only explains what, how and why they do what they do but shows how this is being translated into human-made structures so that our buildings of the future are more efficient and more environmentally friendly.  Whether it’s the white, curved, shell of the desert snail giving insight into cooling without air-conditioning or the way the shimmering feathers of the peacock’s tail reflect light, or even the Australian thorny devil’s unique drinking habits, each double page spread is introduced by a new creature telling their own story to the reader in simple, direct language that just makes for fascinating but easy-to-understand reading.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

This is the latest of a number of books by this author including Invented by Animals  that would not only complement the theme of this year’s reviews of how the world began and developed, but also any STEM curriculum focus as Dorion sees her role as “inspiring children to explore the complex systems of the world we live in and to take positive actions towards a sustainable future.” By allowing the creatures themselves to give the explanations not only does she reach the reader but offers a new way of approaching what could be a not-so-fascinating topic.  Certainly, until I picked up Built By Animals I never drew any sort of correlation between what is happening less than 100km away with the ants who build their burrows in the driveway!

A must-have for all your curious builders, particularly those who frequent the Lego wall or the makerspace.

A Lighthouse Story

A Lighthouse Story

A Lighthouse Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lighthouse Story

Holly James

Laura Chamberlain

Bloomsbury, 2022 

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

9781526624123

“On bright summer days, Eva visits her Grandad…

But this is no ordinary trip because it begins with a boat ride on a small boat to a rocky island because Eva’s grandad is a lighthouse keeper.  Eva loves her Grandad but she loves lighthouses almost as much as she bombards him with millions of questions about the what, why, where, who and how of these structures that seem to have their own mystical appeal.  

And so interspersed with the story of Eva and Grandad sharing the daily routine of maintaining the lighthouse, the reader is given all sorts of facts about them – who knew that even  their external paint pattern was so significant – their purpose, their location, their upkeep, their range, as well as cloud formations, stars in the night sky and the wildlife that surrounds the lighthouse. There is even the remarkable story of Grace Darling, the legendary lighthouse keeper’s daughter who rescued so many. 

Give me a book with a lighthouse on the cover and I can’t resist – I’m straight back to my childhood at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand where I grew up with the local lighthouse sweeping its reassuring beam over my bed in its rhythmic pattern each night, and on clear nights, the distant Dog Island lighthouse too.  So although my grandad wasn’t the lighthouse keeper, so much of Eva’s story brought back the best memories. 

 

Apart from me though,  this is a book that will resonate with so many who are familiar with lighthouses as there are over 350 of them dotted around our coastline. While there are no longer any manned, nevertheless they still hold an appeal and Eva’s  journey back into another time will help those who are fascinated by them, not only understand their function better but also have an even deeper respect for those who looked after them, and, through their efforts. so many others.  

The perfect companion to  The Lighthouse Keeper series – another favourite!  

Mila & Ivy

Mila & Ivy

Mila & Ivy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mila & Ivy

Katrina McKelvey

Jasmine Berry

Wombat Books, 2022

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

9781761110801

The fun that can be had with a cardboard box is only limited by the imagination and sisters Mila and Ivy have plenty of that. Mila is a cardboard design engineer and as well as the usual stacks, cars, tunnels and hats, she takes things further to build robots, zoos , roller coasters and the best time machine ever.  Currently she is designing and constructing a cupcake catapult Ivy but things change when Ivy destroys their project, making cardboard confetti instead. Mila is devastated and wants nothing more to do with Ivy. Mila continues to engineer – alone. But something is missing. Maybe Ivy was making cardboard confetti for a reason. So how do sisters rebuild their relationship while engineering their next ultimate cardboard creation?

Building on the theme of girls can do anything, and reminding them that no field of endeavour is off-limits because of gender, readers can have fun dreaming of something spectacular they could make with a cardboard box and then draw up plans, gather materials, experiment and document their work as they build not only learning a lot about the design process but also how to deal with their frustration when things don’t work out and developing patience and resilience as they solve the problems.  Perhaps there is a better solution than making cardboard confetti.

It is also a story of the inevitable clashes in the sister-sister relationship that opens the door to discussions about the reader’s relationships with their siblings, the range of emotions including frustration, heartbreak, stubbornness, and determination as they eventually reconcile and understand that such ups and downs are normal.  That no matter how pesky little sisters can be (says the grandmother of two, five years apart) that there is always a special bond and as they grow up, the age difference becomes less. 

One that will resonate with so many… 

 

 

Construction

Construction

Construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Construction

Sally Sutton

Brian Lovelock

Walker, 2015

22pp., board book, RRP $A16.99

 9781925126358

Big machines fascinate little kids and this sequel to Roadworks and Demolition fills the bill perfectly as it follows the process of constructing a building using repetitive text and onomatopoeia which just invite the reader to join in.

Fill the holes. Fill the holes. Let the concrete drop. Spread it fast before it sets… sloosh, slosh slop.

But the best part is the final reveal of the building that is being constructed – one that opens doors for everyone!

Little people love stories and they learn to talk and read by listening to them and then reading them for themselves, especially those in board book format that withstand little hands.  It is a critical part of the development of early reading behaviours and to have one that will inspire them to seek out even more to read, is just perfect!