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Touch the Moon

Touch the Moon

Touch the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch the Moon

Phil Cummings

Coral Tulloch

 A&U Children’s, 2019

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

9781760523657

July 21, 1969 seemed like a pretty ordinary winter’s day in much of Australia and elsewhere.  Smoke drifted from chimneys, ice clung to the windscreens of cars, breakfast was served, dogs waited to be walked… But there was something different about this day. In the days before breakfast television was the norm, televisions were turned on and tuned in to an event happening a quarter of a million miles away and the whole world was focused on it.  Man was about to touch the moon!

But as life slowed in anticipation, something else began to happen.  For the first time in the tiny town of Peterborough, 200 km north of Adelaide, snowflakes began to fall. The dilemma between watching world history, indeed space history, being made and playing in snow for the first time ever was such a tough decision to make.  Which will win?

As we lead up to the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, this is the author’s autobiographical account of a momentous day in history, both for the world and for him. He was torn between going out to play in the snow or watching the events unfolding on television but even if it hadn’t snowed in Peterborough it was still such a momentous day that there would be few who were alive then and are alive now who can not remember where they were and what they witnessed.  And that is the purpose of his writing the story – for older generations to “share with children their experiences and memories and encourage children to ponder and be excited by the endless possibilities in their future.” 

Beautifully written and superbly illustrated the story inspires the reader to think about what a whole new world would look like for them. Would it be seeing snow, the ocean, the city or the desert for the first time? Would it be imagining what the world would be like on the centenary of the anniversary in 2069? Would it be having a brother or sister or being disease-free or something else they longed for that would be life-changing? Have they already experienced such a change? So much scope for talking and writing and dreaming, pondering and wondering just as Cummings wanted!

 

Moonwalkers

Moonwalkers

Moonwalkers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonwalkers

Mark Greenwood

Terry Denton

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143793557

July 21, 1969 and like so many Australian children, Billy stared at the moon in amazement through his telescope wondering if it was really possible for man to land on the moon. Nearby, in a sheep paddock , a much larger telescope was also trained skywards as Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on board, made its historic voyage.  

For the three days between launch and landing Billy taught his little sister and brother all about how to be astronauts, building models, making spacesuits, using the bath to experience lunar gravity and recreating the Command Module in their bedroom. And as that large telescope in the field nearby beamed live pictures of the landing, the whole family sat transfixed in front of their television and watched and wondered. 

Man’s first landing on the moon was one of those momentous occasions in history when those who were alive can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing, and all collectively wondering whether the astronauts would make it back to Earth safely.  Greenwood and Denton have taken this event and woven the facts and details into a stunning story that will not only bring back memories for many but also introduce the emotions and intricacies of the event to new generations who take space exploration for granted, perhaps even having it on their to-do list. Using their own memories as the basis for the story- it was near Denton’s birthday and he was convinced it was some sort of special birthday present – they have created a story that shows the power of imagination coming true as generations of children throughout the centuries have looked at the moon and wondered “what if…?” What dreams will this story inspire?

A great story in itself, it is also the perfect springboard to investigating the event as the 50th anniversary approaches and there is also an activity pack to accompany it. 

I Went Trick-or-Treating

I Went Trick-or-Treating

I Went Trick-or-Treating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Went Trick-or-Treating

Paul Howard

Bloomsbury, 2018

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

97814088922886

I went trick-or-treating and I scared… a naughty, warty toad, a sliding, gliding ghost, a howling, growling wolf and some super silly skeletons…

When a brother and sister go trick-or-treating, they compete to see who can scare the creepiest creatures. As they try to remember each hair-raising encounter, everything escalates – until they get the biggest fright of all! 

Young children love the rhythm of repetitive, cumulative text and the challenge of trying to remember all the items in a list, so this is the perfect book for those who enjoy Hallowe’en and the custom of trick or treating. If participation is the sign of an engaged audience then this will be right up there. Along with the well-chosen language that rhymes and slips off the tongue because of its alliteration, the bright bold pictures are just perfect for the age group and the sibling rivalry will resonate with most! even talking about what scares them will add to the experience.

As the event continues to gather momentum in Australia, it is also an opportunity to look past “the Americanisation” and explore its origins dating back to pagan times then All Hallows Eve as the night before the Christian festival of All Saints Day. Each of the symbols in the story and those associated with this time of year has an interesting story behind it, so this is a chance to help our young readers pose questions and then try to discover the answers.  While some schools do not like students delving into the paranormal, this is a great opportunity to indulge in all the crafts that are associated with this topic as students seek different ways to display their new knowledge. So much more than candy and fancy dress!

Australia Remembers

Australia Remembers

Australia Remembers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Remembers

Allison Paterson

Big Sky, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925675788

As the centenary of the silencing of the guns of World War I approaches, and once again our attention turns to remembering Gallipoli, the Western Front and all those who have been part of our armed services in whatever capacity, this new book from the author of ANZAC Sons explores the concept of commemoration – what it is, how we do it and why it is so important.

There would be few towns in Australia that do not have a war memorial, one that becomes the focal point for commemorations on April 25 and November 11 each year. But many of our young students do not realise the significance of this place so this book which explains the background of conflict, the history and meaning of ANZAC Day, the significance of the elements of the ceremonies,  and the role of Australia service people in war and peace since they were first called to support the “mother country” in 1914 with simple accessible text, coloured photos, and an appealing layout will be a wonderful addition to your library’s collection.

With a Table of Contents, glossary, index and bibliography it is a wonderful model for those learning about using the cues and clues to find the information they want, but what set this book apart are the frequent quotes about its various topics that have been collected from children who are the age of its target audience, offering their own insights into what these events mean for them. There are also questions to ponder and activities to do, all in all making this a superb contribution to the collection that has been produced over the last few years to commemorate what was arguably, the making of this nation.

The Dam

The Dam

The Dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dam

David Almond

Levi Pinfold

Walker Studio, 2018

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

9781406304879

It looks like death will come to this valley as the dam is almost completed, and when it is and the waters rise, so much will be washed away, drowned and never seen again.  In tribute to all that have gone and for all that are still to come, the musician sings and his daughter plays her violin as they wander through the empty houses that were once homes. But even though the physical things may be gone or going, the music plays on, locked in the memories as new opportunities await.

Forty years ago when a great dam was built by the Kielder Water in Northumberland,  UK, the valley below slowly filled with water. But just before this, when the villagers had been moved out, two musicians went back to the abandoned valley. They tore down the boards over the houses, stepped inside and started to play – for this would be the last time that music would be heard in this place.  But while much of the natural landscape was lost, a new one was created, one which brought new activities and adventures and allowed for new memories to be created.

While this is the story of a dam in the UK, it could be the story of places in Australia like Adaminaby, moved in the 50s to allow for the creation of Lake Eucumbene, nine times larger than Sydney Harbour and part of the might Snowy Hydro scheme that changed Australia forever.  Yes the valley was drowned, and as droughts wrack this country, sometimes, as now, remnants of what was lost rise from the deep, but in its place is a haven for fishers, boaters and artists, and the influx of European refugees who came to help build it changed the shape of Australia forever.

It could be the story of parts of the South Island of New Zealand as dams like Benmore and Aviemore reshaped that landscape as the need for electricity grew; parts of Tasmania where building dams on Lake Pedder in the 60s and the proposed damming the Gordon below the Franklin River in the 70s shone the brightest spotlight on the environment and its conservation that this country had seen.

It could even be the story of those living near Badgery’s Creek where Sydney’s new airport is at last being constructed after 50 years of talk.  It could be the story of 1000 places where human needs have outweighed those of Mother Nature and “progress” moves inexorably onwards and outwards.  

But this is not a morbid book, despite its dramatic, monochromatic sombre palette, vignettes of things lost like fleeting memories and the haunting text which is like music itself.  While it is a memorial to those who have gone before it is also a promise that there will be new life, new different memories  waiting to be made and celebrated just as the change in colours and mood of the illustrations indicate. 

Change throughout our lives in inevitable – some visible and dramatic, others not-so and more subtle – but each alters the path that we have planned or dreamed of.  While this book might be overtly about a true story of the Northumberland wilds, it is a conversation starter for all those who are facing life-changing circumstances, physical or emotional.  The musician and his daughter chose to remember through a musical tribute but were also ready to embrace the new landscape, illustrating that it is how we deal with and embrace that over which we have no control that shapes us.  “That which doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger” has never been more apt. 

Something for Fleur

Something for Fleur

Something for Fleur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something for Fleur

Catherine Pelosi

Caitlin Murray

Lothian Children’s, 2018

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

9780734418098

Fleur the Flamingo has a birthday coming up and her friend Bo is teasing her with the clues about her present by sending her letters.  The first clue is that it is very big – could that mean there will be ice-cream mountains or ten-tiered cakes?  The second clue is that it is very strong.  Could that mean superheroes with soaring wings or body builders to carry things? The third clue has Fleur baffled – it is a little bit wobbly! So maybe multi-coloured swimming fishes or belly dancers to polish dishes.

But on her birthday there was nothing in the letterbox and no parcel on her doorstep! So she waited and waited and waited and then…

Storybooks that you can hear yourself reading and imagine the children responding to, are the very best IMO.  And that is the case with this one.  We could have so much fun trying to imagine what Fleur’s present might be and gradually eliminating suggestions as we combine the clues.

Rhyme, rhythm, and a touch of intrigue – wonderful!

Sorry Day

Sorry Day

Sorry Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry Day

Coral Vass

Dub Leffler

NLA Publishing, 2018

34pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279033

Standing amidst the large crowd gathered on the slopes of Parliament House in Canberra is light-haired, fair-skinned Maggie clutching her Aboriginal mother’s hand waiting for the most important speech from a politician for generations.  It is February 13, 2008 and, on behalf of a more enlightened nation,  the newly-elected Prime Minister is about to deliver the long-awaited apology to all Australia’s indigenous peoples for their losses in past times when it was thought that their children would be better off if they were taken to live with and be raised by white families – the Stolen Generations.

In a time ‘long ago and not-so-long-ago’ children were taken from their parents, their ‘sorrow echoing across the land’. 

Intertwined with Maggie’s story of anticipation and sudden loss as she falls among the legs of the crowd, is that of her mother, a young girl in different times when the roar of a truck and the thud of boots was a signal to hide before the white men came to take them.

“Screams echoed across the land as they scrambled to escape, sliding in the mud with every step.”

But, in the final fold-out flap the stories merge as Kevin Rudd proclaims,For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.  To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry… We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.”  

And at last, hope glimmers.

The recognition of the treatment of Australia’s indigenous peoples was a central focus of the 2007 election campaign for it had been 40 years since the referendum to acknowledge and include  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as citizens of Australia, and ten years since the historic Bringing Them Home report  was tabled in Federal Parliament. 

While many of an older generation will remember where they were on the day of the speech, our younger generations may not understand its significance seeing it as just another day paid homage during the school year. So to have such a beautifully written story with such evocative illustrations to explain its importance – perhaps akin to ANZAC Day in the shaping of our nation – is superb and a must-have in every school library collection, particularly as there are two pages of explanation and illustrations drawing on the collection of the National Library of Australia  to complete it. 

In a few, well-chosen words and sublimely constructed sentences, Coral Vass has written an evocative story that not only expresses the heartbreak of those whose children were taken but also the fear of the children as Maggie is briefly separated from her mother.  Accompanied by unforgettable illustrations that capture the landscape, the emotions and the tension of both Maggie and her mother’s stories, this is a unique story that enables all of us to understand the importance of May 26 each year.

Teachers notes are available