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Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Wild

Robert Vescio

Mel Armstrong

New Frontier, 2020

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

 9781921928789

Roman was in his happy place when he was free to explore the wild, following the grasshopper’s chirp or the seagull’s flight or exploring the hidden depths of the rockpool. He was tuned into the sights and sounds of nature but then he wonders if that is enough. What if he had someone to share his discoveries with?  And then he finds an unexpected surprise…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With its stunning illustrations by Mel Armstrong, once again Vescio has encouraged the young reader to step outside and view the everyday, the ordinary, the take-for-granted as a whole new world to explore. But as well as encouraging them to appreciate what Mother Nature lays out for us for free, there is the subtle reminder that there are some things that are even more important and which enrich and enhance the experience – the sharing of it all with a special friend. Because it is that human need for companionship and understanding and sharing that lifts the experience to something special and memorable. 

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

Usborne, 2020

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474981835

There has been a plethora of books about how individuals can save this planet recently and so adding another to the mix seems almost superfluous.

However, this one is for slightly older readers who have a broader perspective than just the regular reducing, reusing, recycling of household goods and changing personal practices.  It’s cover is intriguing with statements such as “recycled jeans can keep houses warm’ and “eating less beef saves water” so the reader is enticed to look inside to discover more.

And inside are even more intriguing tidbits set out in a colourful appealing way that make a provocative statement followed by an easily accessible explanation. How could plastic-eating bacteria help reduce waste? Can a river be given human rights? Could we generate all the power we need from the sun and the wind? How do woolly sweaters help penguins in peril? Would building a giant sunshade in space stop the world from overheating?

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The environment and its sustainability permeate our lives in a way that makes even the youngest reader aware of the consequences of their actions so books like these that open up new ideas such as joining a jeans library so fewer pairs have to be made or knowing that making one hamburger actually uses more water than a person drinks in three years are an integral part of our understanding and actions.  While each article offers its explanation, there is scope for an interested student to engage in a deeper investigation to explore, expand and explain the particular phenomenon.  

As well as all the usual supports for locating, selecting and using the information, there are also the popular Quicklinks that take the reader beyond the text to new knowledge.

My Summer with Grandad

My Summer with Grandad

My Summer with Grandad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Summer with Grandad

Tom Tinn-Disbury

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781922326140

Eric loves spending summers with his grandad and this summer is even more special because Eric is going to be able to go on the fishing boat and help Grandad catch fish.  However, fishing doesn’t turn out to be quite as easy as he imagined, and so Grandad gives him the important role of being the Chief Seagull Shoo-er.  And when a baby seagull gets  injured when it is caught in the fishing net, Eric finds himself becoming a very good carer, although letting Beaky go is going to be hard.

This is a charming story for young readers about the special bond between a child and their grandparent provoking memories about those special times they have shared together. There is a subtle message about the need for wild things to be allowed to be wild, but all in all, it’s a feel-good story about a boy and his grandfather.

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

Anne Morgan

Lois Bury

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9781486313952

Down in the seaweed and kelp forests of Australia’s southern coasts dwells a creature that looks like it has come straight from the pen of one of our children’s book illustrators.  With its colourful spots and bars, long snout and tail and dingly-dangly camouflage bits it revives any loss in the belief of dragons.  The little weedy sea dragon (and its cousins the leafy sea dragon and the ruby seadragon from WA) are among the fascinating creatures that live in this new world  of under the water and to have had the privilege of watching their graceful mating dance remains one of my most precious scuba-diving memories.

In this stunning book, not only is the reader introduced to this intriguing inhabitant of the ocean but also to the reason that these sorts of non fiction titles must remain an essential element of the school library collection.  “Everything” may be “available on the Internet” but who would know to investigate weedy sea dragons if you don’t know they exist? You don’t know what you don’t know.  Alongside Bury’s delicate illustrations, Anne Morgan has crafted a text as graceful as the dragons’ dance and accompanied it with further information that whets the appetite and supports the development of those critical information literacy skills. As well, there are extensive teaching notes  for Yr 2-6 that focus on Science, English and Media Arts, leading the reader to consider how individual characteristics help species survive and thrive.

A must-have that will lead young non fiction readers into their own new world. If there are dragons in the oceans, what else might be there?

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Katie Daynes

Ilaria Faccioli

Usborne, 2020 

16pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

 9781474968942

The salvation of the planet and particularly, those things that individuals can do to work towards that, has certainly been the hot topic in publishing over the last year or so.  And now Usborne have added to the mix with another one of their amazing lift-the-flap books.

 This one gives a good overview of why we need to protect the planet, what has been causing it to deteriorate, specific issues that changes in human behaviour can address and an action plan that suggest small changes that make big differences But don’t be misled by the lift-the-flap format because this is more a book for independent readers who have some concepts about the environment and its sustainability. Although the facts are straightforward as they introduce the various concepts, plentiful and illustrated in an engaging ways, the reader still has to be mature enough to understand them.

In addition, the format offers a model for students to build their own resource. Encourage them to pose a question about a topic that interests them, seek and verify the answer and then present it in a lift-the-flap type format for others to discover. To assist with this and give greater insight into the various concepts, Usborne has provided its usual Quicklinks  making this an essential resource on this topic. 

Iceberg

Iceberg

Iceberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceberg

Claire Saxby

Jess Racklyeft

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760526047

It is the final freeze of the bitter Antarctic winter, the aurora borealis dances across the sky in a wonderland of wispy colour and movement, and, as morning looms in the pale light an iceberg shears off the face of a glacier and sets sail in those cold waters.  But this is not an empty place, nor a quiet place – for in the water below, the skies above and even on the berg itself, there is life.  Life that is dependent on other life, as the eternal cycle of food and prey plays out.

This is the most stunning book complete with huge foldout pages that brings the frozen world of the southern continent to life in a way seldom seen.  To the daughter of the first female journalist to ever visit the ice back in 1968, it is not an unknown world but to many of our students it will be and they will be astonished at the abundance of life and the connections between the species that exist. In this country of increasingly hot summers where climate change is leaving its mark on the scorched,, burnt landscape, it is hard to imagine how in such a cold climate even small changes can have any impact let alone a significant one.  But as the year turns, the “ocean, sky, snow and ice minute greens and giant blues dance a delicate dance” life blossoms and fades in an intricate, harmonic melody that embraces all. What happens there impacts here.

Saxby’s poetic text and Racklyeft’s illustrations are matched in a dance as integral to each other as the life surrounding the iceberg bringing a new world of wonderment to young readers, one that will open eyes and minds and hearts in a way that will inspire them to know it and protect it in the same way my mum did since her childhood when she stood on the wharf at Bluff and watched the explorers’ ship sail South. 

You know that it if has Claire Saxby’s name on it, it will be extraordinary and this is no different.

 

Leafy Critters

Leafy Critters

Leafy Critters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leafy Critters

Yvonne Lacet

Blue Dot, 2020

36pp., hbk., RRP $A16.95

9781733121224

The limitless shapes, colours and textures of leaves is explored as an art medium in this almost wordless picture book to inspire young creators to try their hand.  The reader is encouraged to examine the components of the pictures that have been created so instead of seeing just green leaves in the environment, they start to realise that each tree has a myriad of colours and that the shapes can suggest all manner of things that can go together to make a whole.

As summer wanders on and some trees have already begun to change colour because rainfall is still scarce, this is the ideal time to take littlies outside to observe, gather, collect and create their own artworks using the free materials on offer from Mother Nature.

These creations help them search for the finer detail in the whole and examine the parts and their unique elements so as well as taking a closer look at their surroundings, they are also developing their visual acuity which is such an essential early reading skill as they distinguish letter shapes and search illustrations for clues to the text. 

Einstein declared that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

What better way to start a new school year than with such an open-ended imaginative project that will appeal to all ages. 

One Lone Swallow

One Lone Swallow

One Lone Swallow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Lone Swallow

Corinne Fenton

Owen Swan

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781922326195

Florence, Italy , around 1805 and as night falls a lone swallow leaves her babies and flies across the city, with the single sole purpose of finding her mate who has not returned.

But it is not the courage and determination of the swallow in her mission that is the hallmark of this story, but the beautiful, lyrical description of her journey accompanied by the exquisite, soft illustrations that are the perfect match. 

For most of us, night comes in each day almost unnoticed in its regularity and sameness, unless there is a stunning sunset or storm to catch the eye. But in this simple story, Fenton and Swan, creators of other sensitive stories like Scrufflenut, turn the reader’s focus to the sights and sounds of nightfall, not just in Florence on this night but their own backyard. What are the sights, sounds, smells and colours that they hear as night falls across their home?  If they were like the swallow and could have a bird’s-eye view what would attract their attention as dusk and then night settles across the city? Is it a swift or lingering event?  Why? Would it be different if we were in a city, the bush, by the sea? Would it have been different in another time? Given this is set in 1805, what is noticeably missing if it were set today?  Perhaps this could inspire an individual, group or class poem focusing on how Fenton has made the ordinary extraordinary through her word choices and phrasing, and with illustrations that, like those of Swan, become an integral part of the tale told.

A perfect opportunity to encourage our students to take a close look at their environment and engage all their senses. 

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Steven Herrick

UQP, 2020

228pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780702263002

There are as many stories in 5D as there are students, each with a different perspective on the first day of the new school year and a new teacher. There’s Olivia and Dabir, Jordi, Zoe, Lily and Dylan, Max and Mr Bertolli the lollipop man, each very different but united by the commonality of school, each a thread that makes up the tapestry of the class. But only Olivia is allowed to ride her bike to school – until Miss Dillon suggests a bicycle bus to overcome their parents’ fears about traffic and other possibilities.  And  everything changes.

As they ride, they learn new things about themselves and each other, seeing the world through a different lens. Olivia can fix a puncture in two minutes and Max can ride on one wheel.  Lily wishes she wasn’t quite so wobbly and Jordi’s been waiting forever to ride on the road. Dylan has a speedy getaway from alley cats, Dabir’s glad to be part of a group and Zoe’s bike even has a name (Esmeralda). Everyone loves their new way of getting to school.

But there’s a narrow stretch on Fishers Road with no white line to separate the cyclists from the local traffic, so Zoe and Max decide they need to make it right (even if that means breaking a few rules).

This is a novel written in free verse by the master of this format that not only entertains and resonates, but introduces young readers to a different ways of telling a story. Each character tells their own story, with characters swapping in and out after a couple of pages, the next linked to its predecessor in some way and so the reader makes the connections and the continuity rather than imposed descriptions of setting and activity. 

The sun is shining
and today feels like an adventure,
only one I can go on
whenever I want
because I have a bicycle
and friends
and a city
just waiting to be explored.

The same could be said of this book – it’s an adventure only the reader can go on because it is what they bring to the words that brings them alive.

Teachers’ notes are available.

 

The Tree

The Tree

The Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree

Graeme Base

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760897048

This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree that has Cow’s favourite mooberries growing on its branches and Duck’s favourite mushquacks growling amongst its roots.  So Cow builds herself a castle high in the tree and pulls up the drawbridge so no one can get in, and Duck digs deep amongst the roots and secures his domain with a secret key.  They forget each other, each content in their own “fiefdom” and all appears well until one night a massive storm upends everything. Suddenly they rediscover each other and the jealousy and selfishness begins…

Whether it is a classic like Animalia or Uno’s Garden, a tale like The Last King of Angkor Wat or Moonfishor something for the younger readers like The Amazing Monster Detectoscope or Bumblebunnies, Graeme Base can be guaranteed to give the reader the most exquisitely illustrated story that has more layers than the bed in The Princess and the Pea!  This new story is no exception with so much to discover in the pictures and so much to discuss in the words., encapsulated in the final masterful illustration. For the tree is so much more than a home to a selfish cow and a greedy duck and the reader can spend hours getting lost in the worlds of it branches, trunk and roots, knowing that one cannot survive without the other and so it becomes a symbol for harmony, co-operation and sharing. But, sturdy and steadfast as it may seem, it is not indestructible .However, from its demise something just as precious emerges offering the one thing that keeps life going – hope for a better future.

Graeme Base has created such a fabulous body of work since he first gave us My Grandma Lives in Gooligulch   that, in my opinion, he is one of Australia’s master storytellers who deserves a very special place in our history of children’s literature. 

One for all ages.