Archives

Extreme Planet: Journey Through The Amazon

Extreme Planet: Journey Through The Amazon

Extreme Planet: Journey Through The Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extreme Planet: Journey Through The Amazon

Rob Lloyd Jones

Wazza Pink

Usborne, 2024

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

9781805312185

This is a board book with just 16 pages, but in those 16 pages the reader is taken on the most remarkable journey along a river that is the world’s largest drainage system and which, because of the forests through which it flows, has been called “the lungs of the earth”. 

Through remarkable illustrations that leap off the page and a lift-the-flap format that make it interactive and thus more engaging, the reader is introduced to the Amazon’s flora and fauna in the canopy, along the river, in the jungle and on the ground as well as some of the peoples who have lived there for over 10 000 years. 

But this is not a mere travel guide and neither does it tell the entire story for there is so much more to be discovered.  Its purpose is to begin raising awareness of this remarkable, crucial landscape that is critical to the health of the planet. but as we are told, “While you’re read this book thousands more trees have been cut down [and] at this rate, the Amazon rainforest will be gone.” And so will its ability to counteract some of the pollution that is pumped into the planet’s atmosphere each day.

Part of the Extreme Planet series which includes Journey to the Earth’s Core, in which young readers are introduced to some of the amazing habitats of Earth and their inhabitants, in a way that is accessible to them through both format and text, it inspires a desire to know more as the narrative directly embraces the reader as their boots “squelch on the rotting woods and fallen leaves” and insects scurry through the gloom because so little sunlight reaches the forest floor. But beware – bright and colourful as they may be, some are deadly… Use this link to see for yourself.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

And for those who do want to know more, there are the usual Quicklinks which are such a unique and integral part of this publisher’s presentations. Perhaps students could use what they learn and the format of the book to develop a wall display to help raise the awareness of their peers. 

One thing is for certain – by the time they have read this book, the word “Amazon” will be so much more than a large online shopping mall.  

How to Save the Whole Blinkin’ Planet

How to Save the Whole Blinkin' Planet

How to Save the Whole Blinkin’ Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Save the Whole Blinkin’ Planet: A Renewable Energy Adventure!

Lee Constable

Aška

Puffin, 2024

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761340826

As once again the news is dominated by political parties sprouting their particular ideologies about which energy source – renewables or nuclear – is going to be the way forward to meet the target of Net Zero by 2050 if we are to save the planet, this book reaches out to those who will be most affected to show them what they can do now, in the here and now, to make a difference.  

Speaking directly to the young independent reader, it starts by explaining how dependent the world is on electricity and how the traditional ways of generating this are leading to pollution, greenhouse gases and climate change.  The reader is invited to be an imagineer – an engineer who “likes to use powers of imagination, creativity and problem-solving to come up with wild and wonderful ideas and inventions that [will] make the whole blinkin’ world run as smoothly and safely as possible” = and join Captain Kilowatt to learn more about the problem, its causes and possible solutions with a variety of interactive devices that not only get them directly involved but also give them the science so they can make informed decisions and choices. 

Its style and format make it an engaging read that emphasises the need for the reader to be an active participant in understanding and solving the issues, with questions, quizzes and QR codes to scan to develop and consolidate knowledge. It’s a companion to How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet and like that, offers our kids practical ideas that will help them make a difference, perhaps even contribute to the discussions so that they are more than just political catchphrases with an underlying motive that has little to do with actually protecting the planet. 

Superhero Animals

Superhero Animals

Superhero Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superhero Animals

Chris Packham

Anders Frang

Farshore. 2024

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

9780755504657

What links whales, earthworms, dogs and wasps?  How does whale poo make the underwater world go round? Why are tiny ants so mighty? What makes bats heroes of the night? 

Each of the 9 000 000 species of animal, plant and fungi that humans share this planet with has a special role in ensuring that the world’s ecosystems keep working and stay healthy. whether that’s pollinating plants, fertilising the oceans or cleaning the soil or the myriad of other tasks that they work together to do.  And in this new addition to the Little Experts series, readers are introduced to some of these superhero creatures on which we all rely. 

In the introduction, the reader is reminded that they can make a difference – one person, in one community, on our one planet, so while some creatures , like the tiger shark and the vulture seem quite exotic and out of our everyday realm,  others like bees, wasps, bats and frogs are much more familiar and for these, there are challenges to take up to understand them better, protect them and share what we know so others do too. 

 Little Experts is a series designed to introduce 6-9 year olds to the world around them by having experts in the field share their knowledge in easily accessible explanations accompanied by rich illustrations, , and even though they, themselves, may not recognise the names of the experts who are mostly UK based,  nevertheless having titles about everyday things that our little ones are curious about and pitched at their level can only be a positive addition to  non fiction collections. 

 

Seed to Sky

Seed to Sky

Seed to Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed to Sky

Pamela Freeman

Liz Anelli

Walker Books, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760653750

Come to the oldest forest on Earth,…

On the oldest continent…

Where the oldest trees reach high into the sky…

And begin a journey into 00 years ago, before European settlement and the Daintree Rainforest was much larger and very different to what it is now.

In this latest on the brilliant Nature Storybooks series, which combines lyrical text with factual information amidst stunning real-life illustrations, the reader is taken on an exploration of how a seed becomes a sapling over hundreds of years and is introduced to the diversity and generations of insects, butterflies, bird, lizards, snakes and an abundance of native wildlife that will bear witness to the rise of the magnificent Bull Kauri pine…

Australia is a continent of diverse landscapes and landshapes, each with its unique flora and fauna and while the extensive teachers’ notes will lead you through an investigation of the Daintree itself, they could also serve as a model for investigating a similar situation in the students’ environment.  What vegetation is indigenous to the local area and what creatures might have witnessed its development?

When it comes to narrative non fiction that engages as it explains, this series is one of the benchmarks and this addition is no different.  

The Last Zookeeper

The Last Zookeeper

The Last Zookeeper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Zookeeper

Aaron Becker

Walker Books, 2024

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

9781529517873

In a not-so-futuristic time, the Earth has flooded and the waters continue to rise. The only signs of humankind are the waterlogged structures they left behind. Peeking out from the deluge are the remnants of a zoo, home to rare and endangered animals like elephants. giraffes, tigers, pandas  and rhinoceroses, who have hung on and clung on despite everything. Tender-hearted NOA is a huge construction robot who has found a new mission as the caretaker of the zoo’s beleaguered inhabitants, and despite towering above them, they trust him.  Bracing for the next storm, NOA builds an ark from the wreckage around him and together they go in search of new land, only to almost perish as that anticipated storm hits while they are at sea.  But then something miraculous arrives, and NOA not only discovers sanctuary for those he has saved, but something even more profound…

 Described by the publisher as a “luminous sci-fi parable for our changing world”, the only words in this masterpiece are a quote from primatologist and anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall,..

Only if we understand, can we care.

Only if we care, will we help.

Only if we help, shall all be saved.

But within the illustrations is a powerful story that is a parallel to the biblical story and which offers so many riches to explore, particularly by those who are so well aware of the need to protect and preserve the environment and the prospect of the impact of climate change.  So while younger readers may interpret this as a futuristic retelling of Noah and his ark, more sophisticated readers will bring all their own existing knowledge and experiences to tell their own tale as they examine the details embedded in the illustrations creating a unique, very personal story unimpeded by the text of another.  And while it may seem to be a story of gloom and doom that could be depressing, there is a twist that references the other biblical story of the Garden of Eden that offers hope that perhaps not all is lost in the post-apocalyptic world… 

Reviews of this amazing work abound and each suggests a new aspect, element or interpretation that could be explored including discovering Becker’s other work, The Tree and the River, which is a “time-lapse portrait of humankind – and our impact on the natural world”, making both of these core texts for older readers who, having asked what-if now want to consider what-next. So while most are touting it as suitable for ages 4-7, to me this is one for older readers who have an understanding of the current environmental uncertainty and who can bring that, as well as their knowledge of the biblical stories and the universal human need for hope to the table so they can really appreciate the beauty and value of Becker’s work.  

Everyone Starts Small

Everyone Starts Small

Everyone Starts Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone Starts Small

Liz Garton Scanlon

Dominique Ramsey

Candlewick Press, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536226157

Sun grows beams
and Grass grows blades
and Cloud cannot contain herself.

Spring rains change Water from a tumbling creek to a roaring river and bring Tree nutrients it needs to stretch toward the sky. As Sun’s rays intensify, the sprouts and fruits and insects of the forest grow and bloom and develop, all working together in harmony. Even Fire, whose work causes Tree to ache from the inside, brings opportunity for the next generation of flora and fauna. This poetic tribute to our planet’s resilience, accompanied by its striking illustrations is a resonant story of life, death, and regeneration and demonstrates to young readers the interdependence of the elements of Nature and how without one, or too much of one, our planet cannot survive, let alone thrive.

It echoes the old Aesop fable of The North Wind and the Sun although the theme of this is not competition but the symbiosis of the elements, despite Tree warning that “it is not a race”.  As well as building a greater awareness of the world around them, it introduces young readers to the concept of life cycles and possibly sparking investigations of the connections between creatures and their habitats and what they can do to help such as making a bee motel.

For those more mature readers, the personification could be a metaphor for their own lives, a reassurance that despite all they might experience as they grow and mature into independence, like Tree, they have the resilience and wherewithal to cope with whatever they encounter no matter how bleak the immediate future might seem.  Despite the devastation of Fire and the harshness of Winter, following the devastation, the Earth renews itself, and new lives arise again, rife with fabulous potential – just as they can. 

Tree

Tree

Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree

Claire Saxby

Jess Racklyeft

A & U Children, 2024

28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781761069505

On a misty mountain morning, just like the one outside my window this morning, the tree stands tall in the forest, high above those that surround it , “older than those who find it, younger than the land it grows from.”

From its roots that gather food and the tiny, feathery threads that connect it to other trees to the tips of it top leaves that reach for the sun and give dappled shade from it, the tree brims with life – both its own and those who seek shelter and food from it.

Known as “the forest giant” as they can soar to a height of more than 100 metres, and sometimes living up to 300 years old, this is the story of a mountain ashEucalyptus regnans – native to the forests of Tasmania and Victoria, born from a seed the size of a pinhead but uniquely designed to be able to push its way through the ash of a bushfire and begin its rapid growth that helps regenerate the scorched land below. 

Just like Iceberg this is another incredible offering from this team of author and illustrator, one that brings to life the life of something so ordinary yet extraordinary  in words and pictures (including an amazing three-page spread) in a way that should be used as a role model for students tasked with research-and-report writing.  Compare “In the layered litter, a a scaly thrush flicks. A lyrebird scritch-scratches. Slaters curl, beetles burrow and centipedes scurry.” to  something like “At the bottom of the tree lots of birds and animals live among the dropped leaves and twigs.” It is the lyricism of Saxby’s language that shines through in all her books and in this case, Racklyeft’s watercolour illustrations put the reader right in with those little inhabitants.

But whether the tree is a magnificent mountain ash, or a humble backyard specimen, this is one that will spark awareness of the value that any tree adds to both the landscape and life itself, and thus needs protection rather than destruction. 

 

The Crayons Love Our Planet

The Crayons Love Our Planet

The Crayons Love Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crayons Love Our Planet

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2024

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

9780008560898

Our planet is a colourful place…white ice caps, green trees, blue oceans and skies, brown soil . . . and more! And each crayon is delighted to share their part in keeping it colourful, especially Beige who pops up constantly to highlight his contribution,  like a little toddler desperate not to be overlooked.

This is a funny addition to this series for young readers, as they are encouraged to look at the world around them and its colours and begin to develop an appreciation for their environment and their responsibility towards it. It opens up opportunities for some elementary data collection as natural elements and objects are classified according to colour as well as art appreciation as they discover the myriads of tints, tones and shades of the hues of the colour wheel represented in Nature.

As well as being lovable characters in themselves, the Crayons always have adventures and experiences that can lead to greater learning, and this one is just as promising as all the others. in the series. 

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Little Dung Beetle

Rhiân Williams

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2024

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

9781742036656

Australia is rich with fascinating beetles that all have a job to do. Using counting rhymes, young readers are introduced to some of these unique species and identifying the roles that each type of beetle plays in the environment including the dung beetle, the once-iconic Christmas beetle and some with the most remarkable colouring.  

With stunning endpapers, and accurate anatomical illustrations throughout, this offers an insight into the prevalence of beetles in the landscape and the critical role they perform in keeping it healthy and vibrant.  Teachers notes  offer further resources and links to investigate further, including the world of entomology, while also guiding young readers through the process of distinguishing a non fiction title from a fictional one, and how to use the cues and clues to prepare themselves for getting the most from it.

But while its format might suggest an early childhood audience, there is also scope for older readers to springboard their own investigations – why was the dung beetle introduced to Australia and were all introduced species as successful? Why do some have such remarkable colouring?  Why have all the Christmas beetles disappeared to the extent there is now a national count?  

Even if the reader is a little young to appreciate all the information, much of it embedded in the illustrations, they will enjoy practising their counting skills as they try to find all the beetles as well as the number of holes nibbled in the title number.  The pictures also include other creatures so there is also the opportunity to investigate the concepts of “more” and “less” and other early maths basics. 

With its focus topic which will encourage little ones to look at their environment with fresh eyes as well as its format, this is one that offers so much more than first meets the eye.  Give it with the gift of a magnifying glass and see the joy and wonder explode. 

 

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Curious Creatures Talking Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Zoë Armstrong

Anja Sušanj

Flying Eye, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781838740351

Communicating and connecting with others is a critical part of human behaviour and essential for their well-being, whether it be through the spoken word, body language or other means like sounding a siren or wearing a school uniform.  But the animal world is just as “talkative” whether it be through sound, movement, colour or smell and in this book , the third in this series,  young readers are introduced to some of the ways animals communicate and why and how they do it.

Curious Creatures series

Curious Creatures series

There are spiders that dance, whales that sing and lemurs that communicate with seriously smelly stink fights!  Australia has its own entries including the tiny peacock spider that displays a colourful fan as part of its mating routine, and the satin bowerbird with its propensity for all things blue (and the focus of the 2024 National Simultaneous Storytime.

Throughout, there is a link to how the animals’ behaviour is similar to that of humans, such as the wearing of bright clothes to attract attention much as the peacock spider does, and there is an underlying message of trying to understand what they are “saying” so we become more empathetic and protective of them.

Absolutely fascinating, particularly for those who are interested in the animal kingdom already, and worth seeking out the others in the series.