If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals












If The World Were 100 Animals

Miranda Smith

Aaron Cushley

Red Shed, 2022

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


“The total number of individual animals on Earth is believed by some to be 20 000 000 000 000 000 000 or 20 quintillion or 20 billion billion.”

That’s a number that only someone like Elon Musk can visualise so this clever book makes it manageable by reducing it to just 100 animals, and dividing them into vertebrates (just 6) and invertebrates (94).  Then, like its counterpart If the World were 100 People, it uses double page spreads to investigate the characteristics of those 100 with questions such as what makes invertebrates different to invertebrates,  did you hatch from an egg and which animals are the most deadly to humans. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

It’s layout with plenty of illustrations and info-filled captions make it both visually appealing and readily accessible to younger readers so they not only learn a lot but can have intriguing facts to roll out during dinnertime conversation. Fancy being able to drop a fact such as “Of all the animal species that have  lived on this planet, only 10 are still living. Ninety are extinct,”  into the chat to start a lively discussion about conservation.  Particularly relevant when it is feared that by 2050 – less than 90 years away – more than 1 000 000 species of animal that inhabit our planet today will be extinct including the polar bear, rhinoceros and gorilla because of climate change, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. 

So what are the big questions we need to ask ourselves and what action do we need to take? This is an important book that reduces the issues to a scale that the child, who will be the adult in 2050,  can cope with and understand and perhaps drive the actions that are critical.  















Clare Atkins

Harrison Vial

UQP, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


In a world where climate change has finally won, something strange washes up on the eggs’ island and  they are scared. Although it looks like them, it is different and they are afraid.   What if it hatches? What if there are more of them? Most of the eggs hope the newcomer will float back to where it came from, but in case it doesn’t they roll it to the tip of the island and build a wall around it.  

But Little Egg is not afraid and climbs to the top of the wall, its shadow providing a welcome speck of shade for the stranger. And strange things begin to happen…

This is a unique picture book, one of those special ones that looks like it is for the very young but which has issues and a message that span a much wider age group.  Is it about the ultimate impact of climate change, or the fear of strangers in our midst? Racism? Having to move and being shunned rather than accepted? Rejection? Belonging? Friendship and compassion? Or all of these?  Despite its seemingly juvenile appearance, this is one that has many thought=provoking layers that raise more questions than answers , yet all the while engaging the reader as they want to know what happens!

Comprehensive teachers’ notes will help you explore the issues with students, leading to all sorts of explorations, including the historic building of walls to keep people out (or in.), perhaps even leading to reading stories such as The Trojan Horse.  Is Little Egg a modern version of that? There’s a compare, contrast and consider activity right there!

















Catherine Barr

Christiane Engel

Otter-Berry, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Water is life! Freshwater bubbles, flows and floods with the most wonderful life on Earth – and all of us rely on it to stay alive. Yet, despite about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface being water-covered,  the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water, freshwater is becoming increasingly rare because of pollution and climate change. Although the recent rains and floods in eastern Australia might suggest otherwise, it is becoming more and more difficult for people and animals to find the clean freshwater they need to survive. 

This book tells the story of freshwater around the world including the history of water, how the water cycle works, the different kinds of water and the amazing variety of wildlife that freshwater is home to. It investigates what happens to water because of climate change and global heating; the importance of clean water for health; the worldwide problem of water pollution and the devastating impact of water shortage on children’s lives and education.

Using a picture book presentation with accessible text and lively illustrations, this is designed to introduce younger readers to the need to be more thoughtful about their water use and perhaps instil lifelong habits early.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With its subtitle Protect Freshwater to Save Life on Earth, the reader is challenged to become more aware of this precious, essential resource and to take action, to use water wisely and protect freshwater to save our planet. Like so many things, thinking locally and acting personally can have a huge impact globally if we all collaborate and co-operate.

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth












One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

Nicola Davies

Jenni Desmond

Walker Books, 2022

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


It is one minute to midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, April 21 and as the clock strikes midnight there, the reader begins an amazing journey around the world to see what is happening in other places at this precise time, whether that be having breakfast or even afternoon tea.

But this is not the more common snapshot of what people are doing at a specific time. but a glimpse at what the natural wildlife are up to, the threats they face and in some cases, what’s being done to mitigate them.  We travel to the polar bears in the Arctic; to sea turtles in India struggling to the sea after they’ve just hatched;  to kangaroos fighting both the climate and each other in Mutawintji National Park in NSW; and so on around the world as different species respond to the time zone of their environment.

The date was chosen because at that time of the year there is something exciting happening in the animal kingdom around the world, and coincidentally it was Earth Day, celebrated since 1970 “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. and act as a call to action to acknowledge that “the clock has struck and it is time to make a difference together”. Accompanied by stunning illustrations, each of which includes the two little children who are taking us on the journey so that there is a storyline rather than just a time-lapse diary, the reader is introduced to creatures like the polar bear whose plight may be familiar as the warming planet melts their icy home to the not-so familiar owl monkeys of Ecuador whose habitat is being destroyed in the search for oil.  And while it might seem impossible for a young reader in Australia to help them, nevertheless there are things that each of us can do to  daily to make a difference. So books such as these  which raise awareness in interesting, fascinating ways are perfect for helping us to think globally and act locally.  

And there is always the sideline of investigating why it’s midnight in Greenwich but midday in Sydney!

Rainbow the Koala

Rainbow the Koala

Rainbow the Koala











Rainbow the Koala

Remy Lai

A&U Children’s, 2022

112pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


It is time for Rainbow the Koala to become more independent and so, after a year of being nurtured and comforted and provided for, he has to say goodbye to his mother and venture off on his own- find a new tree, seek his own food and generally be the adult he was destined to be.  But it’s not easy – for starters,  it’s not just a matter of climbing the nearest tree and calling it his.  It has to be the right species and unoccupied and with the way land is being cleared for humans and the drying landscape making them less nutritious,  there are not so many of the just-rights available.  Waterholes made by humans can be treacherous, dogs are not always the koala’s best friend and the smell of smoke on the air is a signal for alarm…

This is the first in a new graphic novel series called Surviving the Wild designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it.  The new NSW English syllabus, particularly, requires students to be able to “to express opinions about texts and issues… both objectively and subjectively”, so as well as empathising with Rainbow as they, too, face having to step out of their comfort zone to navigate the new world of school; meeting new people who, like Kookaburra, may not be as friendly as they expect, and having to solve problems for themselves, they also learn about the perils of things like habitat destruction, climate change, drought…  Being in the shoes of the main character, in this case a koala which automatically has inbuilt appeal,  helps them be more engaged and understand the situation better, hopefully inspiring them to become not only more aware but more active in environmental protection.  Inspired by the devastating bushfires of the 2019.2020 summer in which it’s estimated over one billion creatures were lost, there are extra pages explaining the origins of Rainbow’s predicament as well as ways that the reader can help by making simple, everyday changes. 

Hallmarks of quality literature include having characters and a plot which are engaging and interesting for the students, offering layers and levels of complexity that are revealed with multiple readings and which enrich discussion and challenge perceptions, thinking and attitudes.  This certainly does that and young readers will look forward to Star the Elephant which is already published and Sunny the Shark due in August. 





Tyenna: Through My Eyes - Australian Disaster Zones

Tyenna: Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Zones












Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Zones

Julie Hunt & Terry Whitebeach

A & U Children’s, 2022

208pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


They huddle low, nostrils burning from the smoke. A wave of despair flows over Tye. Nothing will survive this firestorm. The bush and everything she loves will be lost.

It’s the summer holidays, and Tye is staying at her grandparents’ lodge at Chancy’s Point in Tasmania’s beautiful Central Highlands. But her plans for fun with best friend Lily and working on her pencil pine conservation project are thwarted as fire threatens the community and the bush she loves – and when Tye discovers Bailey, a runaway boy hiding out, she is torn between secretly helping him and her loyalty to her grandparents.

As the fire comes closer and evacuation warnings abound, Tye is caught up in the battle of her life. Will she and Bailey survive? What will happen to her beloved pencil pines and the wildlife at risk? Can she and her close-knit community make a difference in a world threatened by climate change?

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, Tyenna is a well-written, well-researched blend of imagination and information that above all, tells a story of one girl’s experience -sadly one similar to that of  so many of our students who faced that dreadful Black Summer of 2019-2020 when the whole of the east coast of the country seem to be alight – and shows that it is OK to have been scared and fearful, but that natural human resilience can prevail. The first to focus on an Australian disaster (it will be joined by Mia later this year), it will resonate with many in one way or another and thus, if you have a system that places trigger warnings in your books, this may be one to consider.  

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, have come through the other side – often shaped by it but also more resilient and courageous because of it. 



It’s Up to Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People & Planet

It’s Up to Us

It’s Up to Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People & Planet












It’s Up to Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People & Planet

Christopher Lloyd

HRH The Prince of Wales

What On Earth Books, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99


On January 11.2021, The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative  announced the ‘Terra Carta’ – a charter that puts sustainability at the heart of the private sector. Terra Carta (Earth Charter) will provide a roadmap to 2030 for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future; one that will harness the power of Nature combined with the transformative power, innovation and resources of the private sector.

This book, illustrated by 33 different artists from around the world, offers ” a beautiful, lyrical and thought-provoking voyage through Nature, the threats we face and an action plan for the future” based on that Terra Carta.  Developed in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation, a charity established by HRH The Prince of Wales to demonstrate how Nature can be put at the heart of human activities it is written in easily-accessible text which explains the importance of  each element- Nature, People and Planet – and why it is critical that they are in harmony.  It shows how the actions of humans have led to change in the environment, how natural habitats have become polluted and the evolution of climate change. It explains the role of carbon dioxide in that change, using language that anyone can understand, the consequences of the planer heating, and what everyone on the planer must agree to do if we are to keep the planet healthy and habitable. That it is up to us, as individuals and collectively, to act now.

If your students have been following the book trail that I have threaded through this year’s reviews that tracks the development of both planet and humans…

Our Country: Ancient Wonders

BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began

Australian Backyard Naturalist 

Earth is Big

We are One: How the World Adds Up

Australian Backyard Explorer

The History of Everywhere

The Amazing Meals of Martha Maloney

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Atlas of Amazing Migrations

Ouch! Tales of Gravity

The Same But Different

On the Origin of Species 

then this book is a natural addition because it not only has that planet in crisis but offers it a future through the children who now understand where we have come from to get where we are.  It includes the Terra Carta itself, including QR codes to scan to find out more, and while that, in itself, seems to be a commitment to be undertaken by the corporate world, nevertheless, it offers a roadmap for the children so they can consider the ways they can make a difference.  Combined with other books written especially for them about climate change, the environment and sustainability, they can, as a class, develop their own Terra Carta for the school and/or their families to follow.  There is nothing so overwhelming as a global issue, but also nothing so empowering as knowing that as an individual, you can make a difference.


Climate Action

Climate Action

Climate Action










Climate Action

Seymour Simon

HarperCollins, 2021

48pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


With the world’s leaders, governments and focus on climate change as the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is in full swing in Glasgow, Scotland, this will be a timely addition to your collection about this topic.

It provides an introduction not only to the dramatic effects of climate change, but to the solutions. It shows how our behaviour and actions have led us to this point, how the children  around the world are dealing with extreme storms, wildfires, and sea level rise, and demonstrates what scientists, youth activists, and ordinary citizens are doing to protect their communities.

Divided into eight sections for easy browsing and with over fifty photographs, captions, charts, and graphs, this nonfiction book is ideal to share in the classroom and to answer the questions of our children who are so concerned for their future. It also includes a glossary to supplement the text, author’s note, and index  making it easy to navigate and support the locating aspect of the information literacy process


World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered











World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

Dr Emily Grossman

Alice Bowsher

Bloomsbury, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Just because kids get older doesn’t mean their questions about the world around them stop and in this new book, a sequel to Brain-fizzing Facts: Awesome Science Questions Answered  TV science expert Dr Emily Grossman answers incredible and important questions about our natural world such as why some animals do square-shaped poos and which direction a dog is likely to face while weeing,  as well as serious stuff like what climate change and wildlife loss are actually doing to our planet and what can be done to help.

Covering a diverse range of key science topics, from human biology and animals and plants to the weather and space, Dr Emily shows readers why Earth is so weird and wonderfully great yet still faces its biggest challenge.   Through clear, sensitive explanations, and a format that will engage the most reluctant reader, the reader can find out what is actually happening to our Earth and what this means for both humans and wildlife – and how they, as individuals, can make changes that will help. 

Like its predecessor, this is designed to inspire the scientist in the reader and encourage them to go beyond the information provided to investigate and discover deeper answers for themselves. 

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet











Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

Carole Wilkinson

Hilary Cresp

Wild Dog, 2021

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


From a very young age these days, children learn that we must look after our environment and that even the smallest things if done by a lot of people can have an impact. Having experienced devastating drought, fires and floods just in the last three years, they hear the words “climate change” often but don’t necessarily understand what they mean or what causes it, so this book which is especially for younger readers is a great introduction to explaining what is happening and why. Just as their individual actions can have a positive impact, they can also be negative 

So helping them understand this and offering them some more tools and strategies to help their personal contribution to a better future can be empowering so that their concerns for the future can be reduced. 

Wilkinson’s Matthew Flinders – Adventures on Leaky Ships  is shortlisted for the 2021 CBCA’s Eve Pownall Award for information books offering testament to the quality of her research and writing, and with extensive teaching notes available, this is a go-to when teachers and students are looking for a resource to help them understand this phenomenon.