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Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny the Shark

Surviving the Wild 3

Remy Lai

Allen & Unwin, 2022

112pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9781761065460

Usually Sunny the whitetip shark is a fierce predator, cruising the ocean with a shoal of pilot fish friends, looking for food. However, when she mistakes a plastic ring for food and it gets wrapped around her fins making  it tricky to hunt her life is in danger.   

For despite their willingness to help her, even following whale songs to try and find food while being terrified of the presence of any boat, Sunny is cranky and snappy – emotions provoked by fear rather than anger. So will she be able to break free by herself, and find food before winter sets in, or will she need to accept her friends’ help?

This is the third in this new graphic novel series  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 Sunny whose problems may be similar to those they are facing,  they also learn about the perils of things like pollution, the dangers of plastics for wildlife and why we all need to be responsible consumers as well as disposers. Being in the shoes of the main character – this one inspired by a true story about another shark, Destiny, who was found in similar circumstances – 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. 

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.  Add to this the appeal of a graphic novel format and this is another winner for this talented creator. 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”! 

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer

Rohan Cleave

Julian Teh

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486314478

Far out west, on the grassy plains straddling the borders of New South Wales and Victoria, lives a little bird, the only one of its kind in the world.  With no other relatives in its family tree, and itself moving closer to extinction because its habitat is diminishing as the land is farmed, and threats like foxes and other predators constantly endangering them, it is one of the world’s rarest and most threatened species.

But on this, National Threatened Species Day (recognised on September 7 because that’s the anniversary of the death in Hobart Zoo in 1936 of the last thylacine), it is time to shine a spotlight on this little creature to make it, and its plight, more widely known.  Although the scientists have been able to start a captive-breeding program, which includes using a feather duster in an unusual way, the birds lead such secretive lives it is not an easy task.

Told in a facts-rich narrative with life-like illustrations, with further information at the back as well as teachers’ notes, this is another opportunity to highlight another seriously endangered creature that is not as well-known as others. Even if the plains wanderer is not in our particular neighbourhood, other species are and students can be encouraged to consider their ecological footprint and what they can do to help so that their awareness is raised and they realise that even an individual can make a difference so Australia’s pitiful record of species loss can be stemmed. 

Now is the time to introduce our students not only to this little bird – adults are just 15-19cm high and weigh 40-95 grams- but to other unique Australian species through books like Amazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity , A Shorebird Flying Adventure, Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths, One Potoroo  and Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish so that other species don’t go the way of the thylacine. 

Ella and the Useless Day

Ella and the Useless Day

Ella and the Useless Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and the Useless Day

Meg McKinlay

Karen Blair

Walker Books, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760653095

When Dad takes a tumble in Ella’s room because it is so full, just like the rest of the house, it is clearly time for a clean-out.  And so, together, they search, scramble, sort, poke, pick and pile all the useless stuff they find into the trailer to take it to the tip, where useless things go.

But is it really useless?  Or is their truth in the old adage that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Because by the time they get to the tip, all that is left in the trailer is  a bag of fabric scraps and they even find the most delightful use for that.

Meg McKinlay can always be relied on to tell an entertaining story, always unique, and this is no different.  With its subtle message of sustainability at a time when spring cleaning and all sorts of sort-out, clean-out resolutions seem to grip us, this is a timely release to encourage us to think about what can be reused, repurposed or recycled instead of going to the growing mountains of landfill.  But really, what can be done with a rusty tricycle, a blanket full of holes, an ugly suit or a cracked fish bowl?  Or any of the other items community members claim as Ella and her dad make their way to the tip?  Young readers could have lots of fun predicting the new life each object might have, and then enjoy Karen Blair’s final vignettes of just what their new owners did with them.

Perhaps this is the perfect book, the perfect time and the perfect opportunity for children to clean out their bedrooms and have a community swap-and-save sale to build awareness of the need to be less of a throwaway society, to offer their things a new life in a new home and to be an example to the grown-ups in their lives.  

 

 

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snakes Awake

Jarrod Paine

Shannon Boland

Ford Street, 2022 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804928

Pip and her mum love to explore the bush, particularly in summer when so many creatures have woken from their winter slumbers and are out and about.  Pip’s favourite creatures are snakes, especially the red-belly black snake, but there are lots of things to know and do so she and her mum stay safe while they are exploring.

Written for younger readers so they too can heed Pip’s advice, this is a timely book to share as the weather warms up and families and animals are more active. As well as the story, it includes easy-to-read charts for both staying safe and first aid should there be the need.  Above all, it shows that while we must take care in the bush, just as we do at the beach, there is much to see and admire if we are prepared to wear our “special nature goggles”. 

 

No Boundaries

No Boundaries

No Boundaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Boundaries

Clare Fiseler

Gabby Salazar

National Geographic Kids 2022

160pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781426371769

As we bid farewell to National Science Week and say hello to Children’s Book Week with its theme of “Dreaming with Eyes Open”, this collection of the stories of 25 female National Geographic explorers and scientists revealing their greatest successes, most epic failures, and astonishing adventures seems particularly appropriate to review on the cusp of these two celebrations in our schools.

This anthology celebrates lesser-known changemakers and outstanding women of diverse backgrounds, nationalities, and fields of study who are just beginning to make a name for themselves. Each profile is based on first-person interviews and comes paired with useful tips and relatable advice for budding explorers and scientists.  Each has a text box called Inspiration Station in which the scientist offers advice for those who already have the dream, while inspiring those who may be doubtful to chase their own dreams. Stunning photography and fascinating general interest information about the animals, places, and practices add drama and context.

Readers can track a volcanologist as she braves the elements atop an active volcano; travel alongside a mountaineer as she battles stereotypes and frostbite to conquer the famed Seven Summits;  join a conservationist on her passionate fight to save lions and dig with a paleontologist to uncover massive dinosaur fossils, bit by breathtaking bit, as well as a host of other women forging new paths in careers possibly unheard of. These heartfelt stories give readers an insider’s look at the amazing work female explorers at National Geographic and beyond are doing in the field to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.

No Boundaries sends a positive message to every girl who has ever dreamed or dared to go a little further. And although these explorers’ endeavours are quite adventurous, the lessons they share can inspire all girls, as well as boys, whatever their goals, skills, and interests, to dream with their eyes open.

 

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Flipper and Finnegan - The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Sophie Cunningham

Anil Tortop

Albert Street, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761180071

Flipper and Finnegan are two of the Little Penguins that live on a Phillip Island, fishing in the surrounding ocean by day and bringing delight and joy to the thousands of visitors who travel to see their evening parade as they waddle up to their burrows.

But one day, when Flipper comes up for air she gets covered in something that is black and smelly and sticky – and Finnegan is nowhere to be seen…

And, if you’re a rescuer how can you keep so many penguins warm and safe so they don’t die of hypothermia or ingesting the oil on their feathers, while you painstakingly clean them one by one?

Based on the true story of a 2001 oil spill in Port Phillip Bay that affected the Little Penguins, this is a heart-warming story of how a nation pulled together to save the colony by knitting little sweaters to protect them while they waited their turn.  In all, 438 Little Penguins were affected by that oil spill and of those, 96% were successfully saved with the help of penguin jumpers, rehabilitated at the Wildlife Clinic and released back into the wild.

From the team who created Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire, young readers can again learn of the perils – natural and manmade – that threaten our precious wildlife and while the disasters might be unavoidable, there is something that can be done to mitigate their impact.  By focusing on just two penguins and telling their story as an example of the other 436 penguins affected, their plight becomes more real and immediate and the reader connects with it more readily.  

While the penguin jumper project has been running for over 20 years, there are many that aren’t really suitable for putting on the penguins and so these are sold on penguin toys to raise funds for wildlife conservation on Phillip Island. Since 2012 the sale of these jumpers has raised $287,700 , going towards the  protection and preservation of the colony.  

A charming tory that will help raise awareness of the impact of humans on the landscape and to encourage our young readers to take only photographs and leave only (carefully placed) footprints. 

 

Backyard Buddies

Backyard Buddies

Backyard Buddies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Buddies

Andy Geppert

Lothian, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780734421470

There are lots of creatures and critters that live in our backyards that fascinate our young readers – things like butterflies, spiders, blue-tongue lizards and even pet rocks.  So this “somewhat factual introduction to the hoppy, crawly, wriggly, buzzy,[and] fluttery ” that little ones are likely to see will be a welcome addition to help answer their questions.  

Beginning with the front endpage offering a contents list that relies on the reader recognising the shape of the creature they want to investigate (encouraging visual acuity), each has its own double-page spread that has lots of pictures including visual cues about when to see it and whether it is safe to touch or not as well as an easily readable description.

Butterflies are like moths – just fancier.

They fly around during the daytime to show off their pretty, colourful wings. This is probably why moths prefer to only come out at night.

As well as offering our youngest readers an understanding that books can be about real things so their questions can be answered, thus introducing the concept of non fiction, like its predecessor Backyard Birdies , it could even inspire the young backyard naturalist to be more aware of their surroundings, perhaps starting a chart to record their observations and  beginning to develop their skills in data gathering, mapping and interpretation! To help parents and teachers encourage this exploration of the immediate environment, there are teachers’ notes that suggest activities that go beyond the pages to investigating life cycles, adaptation and even how humans interact with the creatures.  Even though they might have the ‘don’t touch” symbol, does that make them an enemy to be killed? Or does everything have a place? Scope for a range of ages… 

Egg

Egg

Egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg

Clare Atkins

Harrison Vial

UQP, 2022

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

9780702265594

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!

 

Stardiving

Stardiving

Stardiving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stardiving

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922696021

In the sunlit waters, baby Fluke is content to swim languidly among the rest of the sperm whale pod, occasionally rising to the surface to breathe. But as he does so, he is joined by a pod of dolphins who leap and cavort far above the surface, teasing him to join them.

“Come up and see the sky”, they say to which Fluke says he can see the sun.  “The sun’s great, but have you seen the stars?” 

And Fluke begins to wonder and daydream…until he is given some advice from Cachalot, the great bull whale, that sends him on a journey of discovery that teaches him more than he can have imagined.

Put Andrew Plant’s name on the cover of a book and I’m there! Whether it’s The Poppy, Sparkor any of the others that I’ve read and reviewed over the years, I know I will be in for a beautifully illustrated, lyrically written story that will reach deep. Of them all, Stardiving  has gone the deepest as Fluke learns as much about himself as he does about the stars that are in his own environment, without even having to learn to leap and leave his natural habitat.  As Fluke discovers the stars that twinkle and shine far below in the ocean’s depths, a place where the dolphins can’t ever go, he begins to understand what Cachalot means when he says, “You are not even yourself yet. Why do you want to be something else?”  That, like the ocean, he has hidden depths yet to explore…

Plant’s stunning illustrations take the reader into an unknown world, one inaccessible to most humans. one that even television images from deep-diving submersibles can’t portray accurately as the calm and serenity and the being-in-the-moment-ness has to be experienced; yet one that, for all its mystery, is as deserving and needy of preservation as the shallower waters above because what happens on top impacts what happens beneath.  Just as our personal experiences shape who we are, as they did for Fluke – a theme to explore in itself – so too is the ocean an integrated, holistic environment.  And while Plant doesn’t touch on pollution, habitat destruction and so forth, it is there in his dedication, reminding the reader that this story has as many layers as the ocean itself.

To all the eco-warriors who faced down the whalers; to the scientists who study and advocate for our oceans; to the kids who fight the scourge of plastic…

Extensive teachers’ notes which include an introduction to the creatures that Fluke sees, enable this book to become a journey of discovery for the reader as much as it was for the baby whale.