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Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Candice Lemon-Scott

New Frontier, 2019 

102pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925594522

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. So  when they rescue a frightened-looking pelican covered in fuel, they know something terrible has happened. Why is the sea full of petrol? And where does it come from? As they start investigating, they end up getting into big trouble. 

The recent election campaign and student protests show that the environment and its future is the key issue in the minds of our young people, and the concern extends to even our youngest students who are well aware of concepts such as climate change, pollution, and recycling. So this new series, with its sequel Microbat Mayhem due on June 1st, will appeal to newly independent readers who have an interest in the world around them and a focus on how they can help make it better.

Drawing on her own interest in wildlife and participating in two koala rescues, the author has created a series that is real, contemporary and allows young readers to imagine themselves in the roles of the Eco Rangers and perhaps even inspire them to take action.

Wilam

Wilam

Wilam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilam – A Birrarung Story

Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly

Lisa Kennedy

Black Dog Books, 2019

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

9781925381764

As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen. Wilam – home.

In this stunning new picture book, Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly joins award-winning picture book duo Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth; from its pre-history to the present day. Using many of the words of the Woiwurrung language for places and things, the reader is taken on a journey that not only embraces this much-maligned river but also draws the reader into the journey as they use Lisa Kennedy’s beautiful artworks to interpret the text. This makes for a remarkable sensory experience as you are engrossed in the beauty and diversity of the river.

2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this.  Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. 

A must-have.

 

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

Megan Gullis & Matthew Oldham

Stephanie Fizer Coleman

Usborne, 2019

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

9781474936620

As our youngest students mature, they have more and more questions about the world around them as they endeavour to understand their place in it. As their world widens and they meet more and more people from more and more places, they begin to realise that this planet is bigger than their home town and the questions start to come. 

In this new release from one of the masters of non fiction for young readers, the child is taken on a journey around the planet discovering its amazing places and features. Starting with its place in the solar system, they visit continents, isolated islands, steamy jungles, fiery volcanoes , dusty deserts, coral reefs and a host of other phenomena that shape not just the planet but the lives of those who live there. 

Beautifully illustrated with simple explanations that will not only answer their questions but also inspire them to find out more, it is like a mini-encyclopedia of the planet but on a young reader’s scale that can be read alone by independent readers or shared by an adult.  As usual, Usborne have complemented the text with a page of Quicklinks to take young explorers on even more journeys.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

A Quiet Girl

A Quiet Girl

A Quiet Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quiet Girl

Peter Carnavas

UQP, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9780702260025

Mary is one of those children who treads lightly on this planet, preferring to look and listen and learn its wonders and secrets rather than be an in-your-face master of it. But when she tries to share her discoveries her voice is too quiet for most people to hear, and even though she tries to speak up she is still not heard.  And so she withdraws more and more into herself, becoming more and more invisible to the world, even her parents.  And then one day one of her little bird friends comes to the window and suddenly her mother discovers that she has no idea where Mary is.  She begins to look, shouting and calling and soon the whole neighbourhood is looking for Mary. Will they be able to find her?  What must they do if they want to discover where she is?

Peter Carnavas is a master at crafting stories out of very ordinary situations, turning the gentle and everyday around so the pack a powerful punch. A Quiet Girl is no exception and he reminds us of those more introverted souls we know, who really do have much to say and share but just are not heard over the raucous, busy, noisy world that seems to be today’s norm.  (No wonder there are so many successful television programs about escaping to the country!)  Rather than be constantly on the chase for the “next big thing”, to be over the fence on the greener grass, or being the Joneses that other strive to keep up with, perhaps there is more calm, peace and pleasure in living life at a gentler pace; being the meandering stream rather than the rushing river.

Mary can teach us all lessons about listening, looking, thinking and appreciating and how it is often as important to be an observant bystander as much as an active participant.  And she can also teach us lessons about embracing and encouraging those who are not as bold as we are, but rather than urging them to join our noisy world we should visit theirs. She can also teach us about being true to ourselves and who we are, believing in our strengths and talents and being resilient enough to withstand the criticism and demands of those more outgoing, and understanding that being loud doesn’t mean being more confident. 

There could even be a broader message here as Australia heads towards a federal election – who are the quiet voices with concerns and considerations who are being drowned out by the big voices and the big bucks? Will those quiet voices still be there when the noise dies down?

The teachers’ notes offer some questions and activities that may help you explore this book and its concepts with your students, particularly as we strive to help them become more mindful. 

 

 

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian Children’s, 2019

136pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780734418852

Start with one blue whale and finish with 100 fairy flies and in between meet and learn about 98 other amazing creatures in this incredible counting book originally created “to inspire children to learn more about the natural world” and to have them “enjoy, question, investigate and wonder.” 

Each featured creature (little ones can practise their counting skills to make sure the illustrator has drawn the right number) is accompanied by a collection of single-sentence facts. Some of the creatures like the zebras and lions will be familiar but who has heard of a gerenuk or a capybara?

In 2017 Cossins’ book A-Z of Endangered Animals was an Honour Book in the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards and this new book has just as much attention to detail and accuracy as it does appeal for the reader. As well as fascinate, it will inspire the budding zoologist and broaden the child’s knowledge of the diversity of this planet’s inhabitants and the critical role they play in its survival.  

Tad

Tad

Tad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tad

Benji Davies

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008212797

Tad was the smallest tadpole in the pond – so small she had to wiggle her tail twice as fast as her brothers and sisters to keep up – but that didn’t deter her from being brave.  Even though the others warned her about Big Blub, a great, big, nasty fish who was as old as the mud he lived in at the bottom of the pond, she wasn’t afraid  because she not only refused to believe in him but also made sure she kept to the shallow, sunny parts of the pond or hid carefully so he couldn’t find her – just in case he was real. But as the days went on, Tad’s sisters and brothers seem to be dwindling in numbers until at last she was the only one left.  And here comes Big Blub.  He is REAL.  What will she do?

Benji Davies has created a beautiful story that not only introduces young readers to the life cycle of frogs – a common topic in early biology curricula – but also to the concept of growing and changing and being brave enough to take the next step, generally.  With its stunning illustrations, it is full of opportunities and ideas to talk about, consolidating that special bond between reader and child and the stories they share.

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Juliet M Sampson

Karen Erasmus

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804218

Mrs Marino’s beautiful garden fascinates Grace and while she likes the veggie patch and the fish pond, it is the flowerbeds she loves best. And her favourite job is feeding the parrots their seeds, so when she comments that Polly likes a particular sort of seed and wonders what it is, Mrs Marino helps her investigate.  Firstly, she teaches Grace how to plant the seed properly and then helps her tend it till it grows.  But what sort of seed has she planted and what is the unique magic the particular species has?

Growing things always fascinates young people and this is a delightful story that will encourage them to try planting some seeds for themselves. The success of school kitchen gardens where students plant, nourish, harvest and eat the produce has been well-documented so any stories like this one that inspire them to go outside and get their hands dirty has got to be good.  There are teachers’ notes to assist both teacher and parent but the wonder of watching something grow is reward in itself.  The science side of things is obvious, but then there is always this to start a whole new exploration…

 

One Tree

One Tree

One Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Tree

Christopher Cheng

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143786733

Long, long ago Grandfather lived high on a hill in a one-room house with nine other people, a dog and a goldfish. He loved his mountain home. “Better than an Emperor’s palace “, he would say, and when he went to the village market he could always see his home perched beside the tallest tree on the mountain.  At night, Grandfather would tell stories and everyone gathered around to hear them because his stories were the best.

But time passes and Grandfather is old and now he lives in his grandson’s apartment in the city, a busy, noisy, crowded city that has swallowed up the fields, killed the trees and silenced the birds. No longer does he tell stories – he just stares at the fading painting of his mountain and a visit to the markets is one of haste rather than leisure, of fie de lah rather than conversation, where all the buildings look the same and there is no way they can spot their apartment. 

But one day the little boy sees a little plant with two pale leaves growing through a crack in the path, and knowing that it will soon be crushed by the hundreds of rushing feet, he rescues it and despite his grandfather’s pessimism about its future, the little boy nourishes it and it flourishes – and slowly something amazing begins to happen…

If you pick up a book by Christopher Cheng , you know you are going to get an outstanding story, one that will have a profound effect on you. In my opinion, One Tree is as impressive as his iconic One Child  (now 21 years old) with its powerful message about the power of one and the change that can happen because just one child believes. 

And true to form, Bruce Whatley who says he would “get bored if I stuck to one or two [illustration styles}” has illustrated this book in a completely new style, one that complements the text perfectly. “For One Tree I wanted to do something new yet it had to have a traditional feel. I have fond memories of doing Linocuts in college, carving into soft ochre layers, taking away the space between the lines. Then rolling ink onto it and printing the result. Such a great medium. Not having the time or space and being mobile for most of the time I decided to create the technique using Photoshop on my portable Wacom Cintiq tablet and my Mac. I constructed 3 layers in Photoshop, an off white base layer, a dark ochre middle layer, (these colours echoed the lino and were purely for nostalgic reasons) and a top transparent layer where I copied my pencil roughs. I then used the eraser tool with a stylus pen on the ochre layer to ‘gouge’ out the space between the lines. What was left I converted to a black textured line and added the colours on the layer beneath.” Books Illustrated

Like all quality picture books, this is one that spreads itself across all age groups, inspires the reader to act on what they have read and is a pleasure to read, review and recommend. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Sea Bear: a journey for survival 

Sea Bear

Sea Bear: a journey for survival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Bear: a journey for survival 

Lindsay Moore

Greenwillow Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062791283

Imagine you are a polar bear.

Your coat is thick. Your teeth are sharp.

Your front paws are paddles, your back paws are rudders, and you can swim for miles.

Your home has always been the sea and the ice.

A sea bear, far north in the Arctic, hunts and naps and raises her young. She moves with the ice, swimming, running, stalking seals, resting. She follows the rhythm of the sea and the seasons.

But what happens when those rhythms change? What happens when there is no ice?

Told from the perspective of a female bear, the reader is taken on a journey of the Arctic seasons starting in spring when the ice is thick and the baby seals numerous, through to summer when the water warms and the ice melts, making it too thin to stand on and the seals more wary and quicker. Smelling land on the offshore breeze, the bear starts to swim to shore for food but it is a long arduous and perilous journey filled with lots of other creatures of the cold seas.  But above all, polar bears are patient and so she continues knowing that the world will turn, the time will pass and winter will come again. Courage, determination, resilience – even in the animal kingdom.

As well as the evocative text, it is the illustrations which make this book a stand-out.   Using a palette of a myriad of blues, the reader is treated to all the moods and times of this wonderland -starry night skies, ocean depths and shallows, the aurora borealis, the breaking ice pack and isolate seashore. While it could be a story of any sea bear, using the first person builds a connection with the reader so we are invested in her survival as well as that of all her kind. Her companions of the deep become less threatening as they pass by each other as Moore’s illustrations reflect her Master of Science in Medical and Scientific Illustration.

A page of information about sea ice and polar bears and another introducing the creatures she passes on her journey to shore add to the value of this book which shines a light on the plight of Arctic (and Antarctic) creatures as global warming continues and the amount of sea ice declines each year

A valuable addition to your environment and sustainability collection.

 

Queen Celine

Queen Celine

Queen Celine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Celine

Matt Shanks

Walker Books, 2019

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

 9781760650346

Celine Beaufort was an ordinary girl. She did ordinary things, on ordinary days, in ordinary ways. But every now and then, Celine was a Queen, Of a kingdom by the sea.” And while it was difficult to pick just one, Celine had found the perfect rock pool with stunning clear water, a host of creatures but all seemingly threatened by a flock of hungry seagulls.  So to preserve the perfection, Celine scared the birds away and then proceeded to keep her pool pristine and perfect by building a wall that kept the inhabitants in and the intruders, including the tides, out.  But the results were not as she intended… Does she see the error of her actions and fix them, or is she blind to all but her own aspirations?

This beautifully illustrated book has a strong environmental message about maintaining the balance so that things can survive and thrive as dependent on change as they are on stability, as on each other as they are on new blood.  But given the political events in the world at the moment, it could also be used with older students as an allegory for exclusivity and inclusivity as well as what leadership really means.  Another excellent example of showing that picture books just aren’t for beginning readers!