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Helping Our Planet

Helping Our Planet

Helping Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Our Planet

Jane Bingham

Usborne, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781474982764

As our students become more independent they start to hear the message about the plight of the planet more loudly and realise that even though they are still young, there is much they can do as individuals to contribute to the solution rather than the problem.

Focusing on issues such as saving energy, reducing waste, cutting down on plastic, water conservation, shopping and travelling thoughtfully and caring for the planet’s plants and creatures., this book presents more in-depth information that respects the reader’s growing maturity and understanding.  It includes a section on how they can make their voice heard so others take notice so rather than just becoming aware of the issue, they understand that they can also take action on a broader scale. 

By this age, students will also have a feeling for which particular area attracts them the most, so the accompanying Quicklinks  also offer a way forward for greater awareness an action. 

With information in manageable chunks alongside lots of illustrations, this is one for those who are ready to take their journey to the next step.  

Mama Ocean

Mama Ocean

Mama Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Ocean

Jane Jolly

Sally Heinrich

Midnight Sun, 2020

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

9781925227659

On the surface the ocean was a silver mirror, but deep below, Mama Ocean rose from the seabed and called her children to her for she was sad, distressed and unwell. To cheer her up all the creatures brought her gifts of the amazing things they had found swirling in the currents – bags, straws, bottles, cans. toys, nets, all manner of things that were shiny and bright. But nothing helped Mama Ocean to cheer up and start feeling well again.  As she gasped for breath, the creatures realised that all the finery they thought was pretty was fake and it was what was killing her.  And they hatched a plan, one that had extraordinary consequences…

This is the companion story to Papa Sky, and it is equally as powerful and poignant with its message about the plight of the planet. Visually stunning with so much of the message conveyed in the illustrations, the reader cannot fail to understand what Jolly and Heinrich are trying to say and portray. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If COVID-19 was the circuit breaker that the planet needed then it is stop-you-in-your-tracks stories like this that will hopefully persuade all of us to look at the ocean through a new lens, not as something sparkling that stretches forever and thus just a vast dumping ground, but something that is vital to the health of the planet and its inhabitants, whether we live by the sea or not.  Teaching notes are available.

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

Puffin Books, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760896737

After the disastrous couple of years that have plagued Australia with droughts, bushfires and floods, and the impact on the environment that not only these have caused but also the healing that has happened because of global lockdowns, the health of the planet has never been in greater focus. 

Beginning with a poem that is a plea from Solli Raphael for each of us to be better and do better, this is a handbook of 50 ideas to enable to do just that as individuals.  But is more than the usual tips and tricks as it includes case studies from Australian kids, practical tips and easy activities that can involve your school, family and community that make a difference from using coffee grounds from cafés for compost to starting a school swap shop to recycle toys and books that have been outgrown. Some of the ideas are probably already familiar but there are some that are new and novel, helping each of us to understand that no one is too small to make a difference and we all need to keep learning and educating ourselves to be better. The case studies themselves are fascinating as they are Australian  stories and show the theory in practice so it’s not just somebody’s dream.

While not particularly flash and gaudy in its appearance – itself being a green publication – this is such a practical guide to help individuals make just small changes in their lifestyle that can have a huge impact.  Helping students start to view their world through a more protective lens so that it just becomes the norm is one of the most positive things teachers can offer for their positive future.

The Blue Giant

The Blue Giant

The Blue Giant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blue Giant

Katie Cottle

Pavilion, 2020

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

9781843654513

Meera and her mother are planning on a day at the seaside, something they’ve done before often.  But this time they are greeted by a large blue giant who beckons them to follow him beneath the waves and see the problems of the ocean creatures that have been caused by human laziness and degradation. Both learn valuable lessons and although they do their best, it is a job too big for one, so it’s time to call on family and friends for help. 

As warmer days approach and the lure of the beach becomes stronger, this is a poignant and timely picture book that introduces children to the issues of pollution, waste management and the oceans, with suggestions of lifestyle changes to help the world become a better, cleaner place. As the worldwide lockdown because of the pandemic has provided the planet with a brief breathing space and shown that it can heal given help and time, perhaps this story will help students start to see their favourite place through a new lens as they consider what they can do (or not) to contribute to the health of this vital resource.  

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie's Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Charlotte Barka

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760891763

Edie has settled into her new school and is starting to make friends, despite her somewhat catastrophic early attempts to treat the process like a science experiment.  Her love of science and concern for the environment is as strong as ever – even though it causes the ire of her family when she turns the hot water off if their showers exceed four minutes – and she and her friend Annie B are looking forward to presenting their work at the upcoming Eco Fair. 

But then a new student arrives, one who also loves science and who is determined to be the best.  Dean Starlight sabotages Edie’s work, but when he sends her an apology card with a hidden nasty message  Edie declares war…

This is the second in this series for independent readers who enjoy school stories, science and characters they can relate to.  Each is an individual and each has flaws, as do we all, but there is a sense that they are real and Edie’s continued positivity is refreshing in a world that seems to carry only bad news these days.  As with the first book, there are line drawings to break up the text and Edie’s experiments are all provided in case a reader might be inspired.  There is also the possibility that the reader will learn something about human nature too, and be more insightful and compassionate when those around them don’t behave as they expect or desire.  Dean has a backstory that drives his behaviour, as do we all. 

A series to spread the word about. 

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles

Puffin Littles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puffin Littles

Snacks

9781760897000

Composting

9781760897017

The Solar System

9781760897031

The ANZACs 

9781760897024 (Sept 2020)

Robotics

9781760897680 (Sept 2020)

The Ocean

9781760897666 (Sept 2020)

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 

A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for 80 years, Puffin introduces our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in this new series of non fiction titles, the perfect size for little hands. In them, he talks directly to the reader sharing information in manageable chunks in a layout that not only appeals but also supports their reading skills and their interests.

Little Cook: Snacks focuses on the fundamentals of cooking and preparing food; Little Environmentalist: Composting teaches them about composting and recycling to make a difference while Little Scientist: The Solar System takes them on a journey around the planets. Planned for September are three more which explore the ocean, robotics and the ANZACs. 

Not all children like to read fiction and so this series caters for both the newly independent reader and those who are almost there using its narrative style voiced by that iconic character to offer more than just a book of facts and figures. The contents page to help them navigate to a specific page and the glossary to build and explain vocabulary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned.

Young readers will appreciate this series because there has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal. 

 

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

Matthew Cunningham

Sarah Wilkins

Puffin, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9780143774495

Like all children her age, Abigail often has BIG questions about the world around her as she strives to makes sense of it.  And those questions can consume her until she gets an answer.  Today, as she gets ready to jump in the puddles made by the incessant rain, her big questions is about where the rain comes from.  And, again like all children her age, she isn’t satisfied with the first answer she gets from her mum – that it comes from the clouds – and she has to delve deeper, wanting to know how the water gets into the clouds.  

So using a lot of imagination mixed in with information, her mum tells her of a little drop of water who always wanted to fly and gently and gradually Abigail comes to understand the water cycle.

Investigating where the rain comes from was always an intriguing investigation as my classes explored the science, the maths, the language and even the story of Noah’s Ark and tho have had this book as an introduction would have added another layer.  Putting that big question which always started a unit into such an engaging story, giving the children the opportunity to reflect on what they know and believe to be the answer so that their imaginations are captured and they are invested in the investigation brings those big questions down to their level. 

Tagged with “a curious girl explores BIG ideas” , this is the second in this series – the first explores the birth of the sun– in which Abigail wants answers and her family members help her discover them in a way that combines the facts of science with the magic of story.  The final picture in Abigail and the Restless Raindrop hints at what her next big question will be and young readers can have fun predicting what it is as they wait for the next instalment. 

The Giant and the Sea

The Giant and the Sea

The Giant and the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Giant and the Sea

Trent Jamieson

Rovina Cai

Lothian Children’s, 2020

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

 9780734418876

There was once a giant who stood on the shore of the sea. She looked out across the water the water, because that is what she had promised to do long, long ago.

On the shore there was a young girl who would often come and sing and while the giant never moved or spoke, she listened. Then one day, she warned the girl that the people in the city had a machine that was causing the sea to rise. If the machine were not turned off, the people would all drown. The girl tried to warn the people but they would not listen.  They loved their machine and could not imagine that it would ever do them harm, until….

In the style of Armin Greder and Shaun Tan, this is a picture book that has a powerful message that in these days of climate change conversations, even our younger readers will grasp. Even though the little girl remains nameless, each of them could see themselves as being her as they try to make the adults in their world listen to their fears. While the palette of the illustrations is dark and moody reflecting the tone of the story, there is also a thread of hope when the giant returns and rescues those that heard the girl – not all the ears were deaf.

The ending is poignant and bittersweet but it reinforces the power of children’s voices at a time when the adults seem to have lost their way.

The best picture books are those that span all age groups with a meaning and message that speaks to each, and this is one of those. 

Teachers’ resources with salient discussion points particularly for older students are available to help you make the most of it with your students because it is one that will linger in the mind long after it has been shared. 

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

Candice Lemon-Scott

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781925594904

Best friends Ebony and Jay are the Eco Rangers,. They love helping others and looking after the environment  rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife through their local conservation centre. And in this third episode in the series, there’s been a devastating wildfire in the bushland and Ebony and Jay are doing their best to find injured animals. As they rescue a cute little possum with burned paws, they also discover that some people have been camping in the area that was devastated by the fire. What were they doing there? This is a mystery that Ebony and Jay just have to solve.

This is a story that is going to resonate with many of our newly-independent readers who have just endured the most horrific summer and been confronted with the vision of rescued animals from every state. So while the focus for Ebony and Jay is on the possum and what the campers were up to, readers can reassure themselves that like Mira, many animals were saved and their rehabilitation is progressing. 

The fires have put a spotlight on the impact of fire on the animals and so this series is timely for younger readers wanting to know more about the bush and its creatures, perhaps even becoming Eco Rangers themselves.  There are tips at the back for guidance and with Pelican in Peril  shortlisted for the Wilderness Society’s 2020 Environment Award for Children’s Literature , perhaps there will be more in the series. to encourage both reading and conservation.