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The Lazy Lizard

The Lazy Lizard

The Lazy Lizard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lazy Lizard

Tamara Floriani

Paula Formosa

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922833976

One summer’s day in the bush, a lazy lizard finds himself caught in the path of a bushfire! He knows he has to run but is he faster than the flames?

As summer slowly takes hold across the country, the memories of the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020 are rekindled as people watch both sky and weather forecast anxiously. Many will drive through the devastated areas that are slowly recovering and their thoughts will turn to the wildlife that was lost during that time daring to imagine that it will once return to what it was.  This story, written in rhyme, reminds us that the impact on those that live in the bush was as destructive as it was for the humans, and for a much longer time as they wait for their habitat to restore itself, if it ever will.

During that time there were reports of animals seeking shelter in wombat burrows, normal “relationships” forgotten as they huddled together to survive, and this is another story that is based on that.  Young readers will become aware of just how careful they have to be in the bush and surrounds because who knows what might be living just where they are going to put their foot or break that branch as they begin to understand that there are more creatures there than the iconic ones they know and can see. 

Yoshi and the Ocean

Yoshi and the Ocean

Yoshi and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoshi and the Ocean

Lindsay Moore

HarperCollins, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780063060982

 

In 1997, a young loggerhead sea turtle was rescued from the ocean after an injury to her shell. The fishermen who rescued her named her Yoshi and took her to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. She was rehabilitated there and grew stronger—and larger!—every day. She also became one of the most popular exhibits at the aquarium.

But Yoshi was changing – she was becoming restless and the call of the ocean and her faraway home became stronger and stronger. After twenty years in captivity, Yoshi was released back into the ocean, fitted with a tracking device. And so began a journey that was full of danger, beauty, adventure, mystery, discovery and surprise. Over 987 days and 24 862 miles (almost 40 000 km) , she navigated the Atlantic and Indian Oceans  back to the Shark Bay region of Western Australia! 

In 2019, Lindsay Moore told us of the journey of Sea Bear, the remarkable journey of a female polar bear, and now, amongst the gloom and doom messages of climate change and environmental disasters, comes another heart-warming, hope-giving story of the magic and mystery of Mother Nature.  Yoshi’s story is told in both lyrical text and exquisite watercolour paintings, with the lightest touches  on topics such as conservation, oceanography, natural selection, the food chain, currents, and geography. But it becomes more than just the story of a remarkable journey with maps, information and even how the satellites tracked her included in the final pages.  On October 28, 2020 Yoshi sent her last transmission and her amazing journey is summarised on this blog post , complete with photographs and links to other posts that not only tell Yoshi’s story in greater detail, but also those of others released from the sanctuary.

Yoshi was “a fantastic ocean ambassador” while at the aquarium and her journey captivated so many more than just those able to see her “in person”, and although her whereabouts are not known now, her carers and scientists believe she is at last at home. Another amazing story of animal migration

If you have young, or not-so-young, readers with any sort of interest in turtles, or just the ocean and its incredible creatures, this is a must-have in any collection.  Inspire them to learn more, do more, and start their own life-changing journey!

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If The World Were 100 Animals

Miranda Smith

Aaron Cushley

Red Shed, 2022

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

 9780008524371

“The total number of individual animals on Earth is believed by some to be 20 000 000 000 000 000 000 or 20 quintillion or 20 billion billion.”

That’s a number that only someone like Elon Musk can visualise so this clever book makes it manageable by reducing it to just 100 animals, and dividing them into vertebrates (just 6) and invertebrates (94).  Then, like its counterpart If the World were 100 People, it uses double page spreads to investigate the characteristics of those 100 with questions such as what makes invertebrates different to invertebrates,  did you hatch from an egg and which animals are the most deadly to humans. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

It’s layout with plenty of illustrations and info-filled captions make it both visually appealing and readily accessible to younger readers so they not only learn a lot but can have intriguing facts to roll out during dinnertime conversation. Fancy being able to drop a fact such as “Of all the animal species that have  lived on this planet, only 10 are still living. Ninety are extinct,”  into the chat to start a lively discussion about conservation.  Particularly relevant when it is feared that by 2050 – less than 90 years away – more than 1 000 000 species of animal that inhabit our planet today will be extinct including the polar bear, rhinoceros and gorilla because of climate change, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. 

So what are the big questions we need to ask ourselves and what action do we need to take? This is an important book that reduces the issues to a scale that the child, who will be the adult in 2050,  can cope with and understand and perhaps drive the actions that are critical.  

 

 

Wonderful Wasps

Wonderful Wasps

Wonderful Wasps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Wasps

Katrina Germein

Suzanne Houghton

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315734

The first line asks, “What do you know about wasps?” My answer can be summed up in two sentences …They sting. I avoid them because of a childhood allergic reaction that almost killed me.”

Who knew that there are so many other species apart from the “we’re everywhere” European wasps?  That there are over 12 000 “we-have-always-been-here” species found in Australia and they are as critical to our survival because of the work they do as their cousins, the bees

Beginning with a visual introduction on the endpapers, this beautifully illustrated book introduces the reader  to some of the native wasps that thrive in our native gardens and bushlands, the work they do  in sustaining both the flora and fauna while maintaining a healthy respect and difference for a creature that can sting and sting again, although unlike the common European wasp, many indigenous species are not aggressive unless provoked.  

As summer comes on, and our bushland springs to life with its floral beauty, the wasps will be active again and so this is a beautiful book for younger readers to start to learn more, both from the factual information in the final pages and from the activities suggested in the thorough teaching notes.  While there has been an emphasis on protecting and nurturing bees in the environment lately with gardens being established and even bee hotels installed, perhaps it  is time to expand the focus and consider what could be done to ensure the preservation of our wasp species as well.  Among them, Katrina Germein, Suzanne Houghton and CSIRO Publishing have provided the perfect starting point.  (And I know a lot more than when I started!) 

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s, 2022

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

9780734421364

Just as Earth’s atmosphere has five major zones –  troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere – so do it’s oceans-sunlight, twilight, midnight, the abyss, and the trenches – and within each live very different creatures, each adapted to the particular light, depth and temperature of the water they live in.  

“Evolution is the process of a living thing changing over millions of years to survive better in their environment and ensure their species continues” and in this stunning book by Sami Bayly, known to many of our younger readers as the creator of The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly AnimalsThe Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature, we are taken on a voyage far below the sparkling surface to discover what lives there and why they are the way they are. 

In her special diving suit Sami takes the reader to the various layers, acting as a narrator interacting with the inhabitants in speech-bubble conversations while short fact boxes are scattered like bubbles to explain various phenomena that she encounters – sadly, including plastic bags in the very depths  of the darkness. 

In the first few weeks of this year, I reviewed a number of books  that focused on the origins of this planet and those that share it, and this is another to add to that collection.  With such an emphasis on environment and sustainability in our everyday lives,  if we are to have any hope of children growing up with a desire to protect what they have then they need to understand it and how it works – what they can’t see as well as what they can. Sami Bayly has made a significant contribution to both that collection and to that knowledge, and this is no exception – it’s a fascinating read even if the underwater world is not your scene.

(A category search of this blog for ‘environment and sustainability” will offer many suggestions to grow their knowledge).

 

 

Two Puggles

Two Puggles

Two Puggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Puggles

Michelle Guzel

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2022

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

9781922696168

When Spike and Ducky hatched they looked exactly the same, but as they began to grow, Spike got spiky and Ducky didn’t.  And that’s not all that changes.  How can “two brothers from the same mother” be so different?

This is an intriguing story about two of Australia’s unique creatures – the echidna and the platypus – who actually have more in common than it looks.  With overtones of both Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the ugly duckling and Eastman’s Are You My Mother?, it introduces the two monotremes in an entertaining way while also offering lots of information about them so little ones can learn.  Accompanied by Andrew Plant’s (I’m-a-fan) realistic illustrations that that embed the twist in the plot that makes you think, it is a delightful story of friendship, co-operation and using your unique talents for the common good.

And just for your Monday morning entertainment…

A Is for Australian Reefs

A Is for Australian Reefs

A Is for Australian Reefs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Is for Australian Reefs

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760652258

Like fortress walls, Australia is ringed by a series of reefs – among them, the Great Barrier Reef, The Great Southern Reef, Ninglaoo Reed and Montgomery Reef.  The reefs themselves are diverse formations and within them is the greatest diversity of life waiting to be explored.  So in this stunning new book, Frané Lessac takes the young reader on an alphabetical journey to meet some of those inhabitants. 

As with her other books such as A is for Australian Animals, this is a factastic tour  combining an overarching statements with more detailed information placed among her original illustrations, making it not only visually appealing but also easily accessible to readers of varying abilities.  So while we can get an overview of what a mollusc is, we then mean individuals like the giant clam, the cuttlefish, and the giant triton which eats the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish. 

As one holiday period finishes and another looms, and Australians are travelling in their own backyards more and more, this is one to share so that children will not only be more aware of what’s in the waters they are likely to swim in, but be more inclined to protect them. 

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockpooling With Pup

Kevin Brophy

Jules Ober

Ford Street, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922696137

There is a fascinating world waiting to be discovered in the pools left in the rocks by the retreating tide – creatures and plant that are so dependent on that regular movement of water to survive that they can live nowhere else.  But it takes a keen eye to spot them, and when Mia and her pup go exploring they see more than they expected because while they find a blue-ringed octopus, where are her rings?

Once again, Jules Ober has put her amazing modelling skills to use setting miniatures of Mia and Pup against incredible photographs of that fascinating world, which, when married with the text, introduce the reader to the many creatures that they might not otherwise know. 

It is no secret that I grew up by the beach at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand – next stop Antarctica – and the only rules we had were to come home when it got dark or when the tide was on the flood. So I spent my childhood leaping amongst the rockpools, queen of all I could see, and something I still do whenever I get the chance, and so this book really resonated with me.  So many memories.  

My happy place

My happy place

Many of our students will have done the same thing in recent weeks as school holidays will have seen them at the beach even though the water is a little cool to swim, and this is the perfect book to help them not only recall those happy times but also learn a little about what they saw. 

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

Swifty - The Super-fast Parrot

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swifty – The Super-fast Parrot

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Astred Hicks

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315918

   

In a hollow in a Tasmanian blue gum in a Tasmanian forest, a female swift parrot lays three eggs, Even though all three hatch, only one survives the perils of the forest, and learns which nectar is the sweetest and which lerps are best. 

As the Tasmanian weather cools and winter looms, Swifty joins the few remaining parrots of her species to make the 250km flight across Bass Strait to the mainland territories of Victoria, NSW, ACT and south-east Queensland following the blossom trail.  One of only two species of parrot that migrates, Swifty’s journey takes her on a perilous 4000km round trip but even a return to Tasmania does not guarantee safety as she finds the hollow in her tree already taken and so she has to make yet another journey to one of the outlying islands to breed in safety. 

Once again. CSIRO Publishing has employed top-shelf writers and illustrators to bring young readers a story that introduces them to another of Australia’s critically endangered species, raising awareness and understanding that there are so many of these lesser-known creatures that need protection, safety and help as their habitat declines.  As well as offering tips for kids on how to spot one in their backyard, how to help protect them and how to help further, there are comprehensive teachers’ notes  to enable deeper study. 

Another one to add to your collection from this publisher dedicated to ensuring our young readers know the inhabitants of their environment, a collection that includes On the Trail of the Plains-Wanderer, SwoopAmazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity A Shorebird Flying AdventureTiny Possum and the Migrating MothsOne Potoroo  and Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

 

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.