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Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Mark Kurlansky

Jia Liu

Bloomsbury, 2020 

176pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781547600854

The drought and the bushfires have certainly taken their toll on the wildlife of this country and the devastating effect on the environment is nightly news.  But while the trees are slowly recovering there are some species that never will, species that we seldom give a lot of thought to in the way that koalas and kangaroos capture our attention.  For just as their habitat has been destroyed so has that of the insect world, although theirs is an ongoing worldwide invisible demise.

While there is acknowledgement that the planet’s life-givers, bees are disappearing, they aren’t the only species at risk. Populations of fireflies, butterflies, and ladybugs have all been declining in recent years, too. This middle grade nonfiction explains the growth, spread, and recent declines of each of these four types of insects. Exploring human causes to natural occurrences Mark Kurlansky shows just how much bugs matter to our world. While it might be a natural instinct to swat a fly or a mosquito and deliberately eliminate those that carry disease, each life contributes to another life and in this book the author explores that interdependence and why it needs to be preserved. 

An interesting perspective and insight into the insect world that shines a new light onto a world we don’t often think about. 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Stephanie Owen Reeder

NLA, 2020

132pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279521

December 1914, times are tough, war has broken out in Europe and 15 year old Will Hutchinson joins his father, two mates and six camels on and expedition to the South Australian desert outback to search for gold. But water rather than gold becomes their main concern as the harsh conditions become real, and in desperation the men leave Will to babysit the pack camels while they search for water.

But Will is not content to just sit and wait and so he too, goes off to find water. But he finds so much more – the opal fields of Coober Pedy owe their discovery to his courage, cool head and self-belief.

This is the fifth in the Heritage Heroes series that tells  the “true stories from Australia’s past featuring ordinary children and young people who have achieved amazing things against the odds”. As well as the narrative itself, Will’s story is interspersed with double-page spreads about the topics in each chapter such as riding the Ghan, the Afghans, the camels and surviving in the desert, all of which draw on the full resources from the National Library of Australia  to bring them to life and give them authenticity. There are also pages about the future of Will and the three men (Will came to a tragic end at 21), maps and details about the stories behind the story so readers can explore further.  Thus as well as an entertaining read for independent readers about a real person they can relate to, there is also a glimpse into a past that few know about. There is a reason that the main street of Coober Pedy is called Hutchison Street and the memorials that stand beside the Stuart Highway in South Australia and at Glengyle Station in Queensland.    Teachers’ notes will be available .

This is a series well worth highlighting in your collection so our young students not only learn the intriguing stories of this country’s past but can also be inspired by ordinary kids doing extraordinary things so perhaps they too can become a hero of the future. 

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Matt Whyman

Richard Jones

HarperCollins, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780008180317

This is the official children’s book version of the Netflix documentary series Our Planet. Endorsed by the World Wildlife Foundation and with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough , it is an authoritative exploration of our planet’s natural world using both illustrations and  photographs from the series itself. 

While each habitat is treated separately, nevertheless this is a story of interconnection and hope, so much so that Sir David Attenborough suggests that the children who read it will be “among the next characters who can, if they wish, tell the most extraordinary story of all – how human beings in the twenty-first century came to their senses and started to protect Planet Earth'”

So many of our students have access to services like Netflix now  and may well have seen the documentaries so this is a great opportunity to explore how film and print can work together. 

Nullaboo Hullabaloo

Nullaboo Hullabaloo

Nullaboo Hullabaloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nullaboo Hullabaloo

Fleur Ferris

Puffin, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143787143

“In faraway Nullaboo, Gemma Hart’s day isn’t going well. Her family might be evicted from their farm, and her science competition topic is march flies. How can she possibly win against perfect Nina, who gets to study butterflies?

But wait, that’s not a feather in Gemma’s special bug catcher . . . it’s a fairy!

Janomi the fairy isn’t supposed to talk to humans, but desperately needs help. Her grandfather has been captured by the silver spiders. Gemma agrees to help Janomi, and to keep the fairies’ existence a secret. But her bug catcher has recorded their conversation – and Nina finds it.

With a media frenzy taking over Nullaboo, a secret government agency barges in to take control, and suddenly the fairy colony is under an even bigger threat. Gemma and her kooky family, school and resourceful neighbours must take matters into their own hands in an against-all-odds bid to save the last fairy colony on Earth.”

This is a novel for those readers who are independent readers but who still love stories about fairies or for the parent looking for an engaging read-aloud for the bedtime story. With its focus on the environment and a community working together to preserve it, it is a timely tale in these days where even our younger students are aware of terms like “global warming” and “climate change”.  Regardless of our beliefs when it comes to the crunch we can put aside our egos and differences and work together. A meaty read that will entertain as well as provoke thought. 

 

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Home To Country

Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare, 2020

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

9781760501921

The saying “there’s no place like home” has never been expressed so poignantly as in this new book from leading indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft who always creates a visual feast accompanied by lyrical text. The young girl is coming home across the old wrinkled hills, through the palette of “leaf green, red rust, yellow ochre, deep blue and crimson”  to draw in the breath of the valley, listen to the bird orchestra, slip into crystal clear waters and be held in the embrace of her ancestors. 

“This is peace” and even with its bright colours and traditional busy patterns, that is exactly the feeling that is evoked by the gentle words as they envelop the reader. With the tumultuous summer we are experiencing with such weather extremes and the insatiable fire dragon, this is the book that we and our children need so we can retreat to somewhere safe and know that there is the evidence that Mother Nature will prevail if we would only listen to those who have cared for the land for generations. In her dedication she urges her “three warriors” to keep rallying for change so that “all children can have hope for the future” and know that the fire-ravaged, desecrated landscape that they are seeing right now can heal.

A timely release as we seek to comfort those for whom everything currently seems bleak and black and silent so they know that there can and will be colour and noise and life again soon. 

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner

Don't Read This Book Before Dinner

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner

Anna Claybourne 

National Geographic Kids, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781426334511

“If you love to be grossed out, grab a seat at the table to revel in some of the most repulsive and downright disgusting true stories from around the globe.

From wretched rodents and beastly bugs to putrid plants and muck-filled moats, step right in to find out more about the icky, sticky world around you. Gloriously gross stories of decaying delicacies, foul fashion, horrible history, awful animals, and more are paired with eye-popping pictures, fun facts, and hilarious quizzes in this fun book. Topics go way beyond food to include art, plants, animals, fashion, pop culture, medicine, the human body, and beyond. It’s a hot mess to digest, but it’s sure to leave kids disgusted and delighted…”

Using an appealing double-page spread format to explore all things gross, Nat Geo Kids  is designed to appeal to the 6-12 year olds keen to find out more about their world and what is in it.  

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

This particular edition is one that is likely to appeal to young boys and while there are those adults who don’t think this sort of thing is “real reading” (in the same way comics were disdained in their day), in my opinion anything that encourages them to hone their literacy skills is to be commended, particularly when it has the quality that you know is associated with Nat Geo Kids.  To add to the experience and spread their horizons wider, there is also the Australian version of their website which has unique topical local content such as What is a Bushfire?

There are often queries to TL networks about what are the best magazine subscriptions to continue as popularity tends to wane, and for the primary school age group, Nat Geo Kids is always near the top of the list proving it has stood the test of time as an investment.  With such a focus on the environment well beyond the curriculum, it just make sense to make it available to our students.

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals

Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s, 2019

130pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780734419019

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then ugly must be too and so natural history illustrator Sami Bayly has collected the creatures for this compendium to celebrate her passion for all things weird and wonderful.  

There are more than 60 unusual creatures to explore through scientific illustrations and facts and figures, some of which will be familiar but many not-so.  With information about what each looks like, what it eats, where it lives and its conservation status, as well as a collection of fun facts, readers are introduced to creatures such as the hellbender, the maleo, the sarcastic fringehead and the black rain frog. Just the names are intriguing.

This is a unique book, something totally different to add to the 591 section and to introduce to your budding natural historians. I suspect it will become one of those that groups of boys, particularly, will pore over in that group reading experience which is so essential to their literacy development.

You can learn more about the creation of the book and the selections within  here and here while comprehensive teachers’ resources are available here.

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

Take Heart, Take Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Heart, Take Action

Beci Orpin

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734419866

As the devastating bushfires continue and the calls for climate change action get louder, this is a timely book that offers a range of suggestions of things that individuals can do to make a positive impact.  Just as climate change is not an overnight phenomenon, so too its solution is long term but this series of slogans presented as simple posters can offer a start.  Backing up the posters are two pages that offer suggestions for how each can be achieved by even our youngest readers, so that each can feel they can make a contribution and be part of the global community while acting locally.  As well, each poster could be the springboard for individuals or partners to dig deeper and investigate how the action will help and how it can be achieved within the school or the local community.  

So often our students are presented with the problems of the world but no guidance about how they might be solved.  The final message in this book is to “Have Hope” and given it is solution-driven, that becomes possible. 

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

No Place for an Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Place for an Octopus

Claire Zorn

UQP, 2019

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

978070226260 

At that special time when the ocean pauses its ceaseless movement, a little one goes for a walk to explore the mysterious water worlds in the cracks and crannies in the rocks that have been left behind by the retreating tide. Rockpools reveal all sorts of secrets and there, hiding behind the seaweed is an octopus!

Long. curly arms/legs, suction caps and a blobby head, perhaps a little afraid and definitely looking lonely,hungry, wet and cold. Imagine the fun it could have if the little took it home, fed it, bathed, it, made it comfy and snug, an interesting friend that could play games or even ride the roller-coaster…  Or could it?

With its intriguing front cover and stunning illustrations, the author’s first foray into illustration, indeed picture books, this is a story that will resonate with every child, indeed adult, who has wandered among the rockpools and been mesmerised by the life within them, and determined to take a creature home with them.  How many show-and-share sessions have we seen starfish and shells and other creatures carefully preserved in buckets of sea water, but so far away from their home they can never see it again? The message that the rockpool is the perfect place for the octopus, and all the other rockpool creatures, is very strong, despite the adventures we humans might think it would like.  Thus, this is a timely story to share and discuss as summer holidays loom and visits to the beach and rockpools are anticipated. No matter the temptation we need to take only photographs, leave only footprints whether that is the rockpool or the desert.  

Zorn says, “I wanted to engage with the child’s love of the absurd by placing the octopus in all sorts of silly scenarios…[but] I also sought to create an exercise in empathy where the child is able to identify the octopus’s feelings about the situation it finds itself in.”  She succeeded.

Teachers’ notes are available.

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa's Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Australian Underwater Adventure

Peppa Pig

Ladybird, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241405024

When Peppa wins a colouring competition, nobody can believe the prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! Peppa and her family head to Australia to explore the wonders of the reef with Kylie Kangaroo and marine biologist Mummy Kangaroo. There are so many incredible creatures to find in their underwater adventure.

With its usual mix of entertainment and education, this is another brilliantly coloured addition to the Peppa Pig series that is so appealing to our youngest readers. Years ago I was somewhat sceptical about these sorts of books that were clearly spin-offs from movies and television but after seeing the joy of a little boy who suddenly discovered The Wiggles among the titles on the shelves of Kmart and demanding that his mother buy it for him (if she didn’t, I would have) I realised their power and importance in discovering the joy of reading. 

To discover favourite and familiar characters in books not only sets up expectations and anticipation but also encourages the child to bring what they already know to the text, to test what they expect and what happens against that prior knowledge and understand that books can be better because you can enjoy them at your own pace, flick back and forth and return to them time and again is a critical step in the learning journey.

Creators and publishers have also realised this and the quality of the stories has increased exponentially so it’s worth capitalising on the appeal and giving our little ones a headstart.  Being a successful reader is as much about having a positive attitude as it is about the skills involved.