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Gold!

Gold!

Gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold!

Jackie Kerin

Annie White

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.95

9781925804522

Victoria, Australia in the 1850s and the word of the discovery of gold is spreading around the world. Among the tens of thousands of everyday fold who flock to the goldfields are two young English brothers and another two from Canada.  They decide to team up but they soon discover that despite the rumours, the streets are not lined with gold and nor is it just lying around to be picked up.

Searching for gold is hard work for little reward as you battle the elements, the environment, the crowds, the thieves, the law -and Ma Kilduff’s advice doesn’t really make things easier.  Still they persevere until one day…

This is the “inside story” of the discovery of the first large nugget to be discovered in Victoria, the  Blanche Barkly, taking the reader through the harsh, hard life that the goldfields afforded yet was accepted because of gold fever.  However as well as the story itself, in the final few pages the reader is taken on a journey that provides even more detail beginning with the impact that the goldrush and subsequent discovery of the Blanche Barkly had on the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of the land., giving an interesting and original perspective that could be explored further in any curriculum studies of the topic.  Teaching notes are available but this lends itself to investigating  lines of inquiry such as…

  • How did the quest for gold impact the traditional owners of the land on which it took place?
  • How did it affect the environment?
  • Why did the government initially try to keep the discovery of gold a secret and did they make the right decision?
  • As the world’s second largest gold producer in 2020, what lessons have been learned  and what has changed  since the first discoveries? What differences would Ma Kilduff notice?
  • What has been the legacy of the goldrush 170 years on?

Alternatively, students could put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters from Ma Kilduff to Queen Victoria and research and retell the story from that personal perspective. Even just asking, “What did the author and illustrator need to know to produce this book?” would lead to some interesting investigations.

Hopefully the days of “This is Year 5 so it’s gold” and the meaningless study of facts and figures have disappeared so having s book as rich as this in offering different ways to learn about a critical part of Australia’s history is as precious as the metal itself. 

 

 

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear in Space

Deborah Abela

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781760651510

Bear is different. While all his friends were noisy and busy and never seemed to stop, Bear preferred his own company and the quietness and solitude of his books – particularly his books about space.  Because even though the other bears sometimes laughed at him and called him names, Bear was absorbing all he could learn about the mysterious place beyond the planet because he had plans…

This is a charming story for early readers that has so many layers.  Firstly, it is a tribute to those children who are more introverted, who are happy and complete in their own space and who single-mindedly pursue their dreams, prompting discussions about how there are all sorts of people in the world who may have different values and dreams to us. But it also shows how those dreams can be enriched and enhanced when they are shared with like-minded souls and friends, changing perceptions of relationships and how the world works.  It also has lots of facts about space embedded into it so as well as sharing Bear’s adventures, the reader also learns a little on the journey.

This is one of those perfect pictures books where the text and illustrations are seamless and one would be so much less if the other weren’t there.  Even though both themes of being a loner and having dreams of space travel have been visited in children’s stories before, this is a stand-out because of the story’s layers and that integration of words and pictures that entertain and educate at the same time. A marriage of imagination and information.

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781922265074

On a trip to Sydney before being sent to boarding school in Brisbane, country girl Carly Mills visits the sights and sites of Sydney’s past with her new friend Dora. At Customs House they are refused admission because the exhibits are being changed. but when Carly picks up two shawls that drop off a trolley she is told to keep them as they are probably being discarded.

But what she doesn’t realise is that hers has a magic of its own when she puts it on- it transports her back in time to meet some of the influential women in  history.

In the first in this new series she is taken back to 1841 to the days of Caroline Chisholm and her work with new immigrant women and girls giving them a safe haven in the Female Immigrants’ Home and getting suitable employment. In others she meets Dr Lilian Cooper, Dame Nellie Melba, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Miles Franklin.

Written for newly-independent readers, the series is a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women who have shaped the world bringing history alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. A companion series to Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy, this has great potential to introduce young readers to important people of the past in a way that will engage and educate at the same time.

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. 

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

Roma the Road Train's First Road Trip

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

Debbie Camps

David Clare

Little Steps, 2020

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

9781925839524

The road from Darwin to Alice Springs is almost 1500 km long and travels through some of Australia’s most scenic but inhospitable country.  Getting freight between the two centres can be arduous and hazardous even for the huge road trains that make the trip regularly.

This story about Roma the road train’s first journey takes young readers through that  outback country showing off not only the countryside but also the life of the driver who makes it, one typical of the men and women who do it frequently as they earn their living.  Driver and truck become one as the journey unfolds, the driver attuned to every nuance of the motor, every sensation felt through the steering wheel and then every night time sound as he curls up in the bunk behind the cab.

If you have young students, boys or girls, who have a hankering to be a truckie, or are just wanting to demonstrate another different lifestyle found in this vast country, then the road train drivers, the distances they travel, the country they travel through and the sort of freight they carry offer that. 

Dugong Magic

Dugong Magic

Dugong Magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dugong Magic

Deborah Kelly

Lisa Stewart

Lothian Children’s, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780734419965 |

In the warm waters of a shallow bay, a dugong calf is born…and as she learns to swim and eat and pull up the seagrasses of her diet, she learns the stories of long ago, the legends of mermaids. She learns the dangers of reef predators and what to do when they are near, but nothing can teach her about the dangers posed by the humans who treat her home as their personal playground…

With illustrations and a colour palette as soft and gentle as the underwater world. this is a wonderful introduction to one of our least-known creatures that is so mysterious and in need of protection.  As well as the fact page at the end, it has a strong environmental message, offering a new topic on which to kickstart an investigation into our impact on the environment with comprehensive teachers’ notes available to assist with this.  With winter knocking on the door, this might not be the time we are thinking about the ocean and its creatures, but that just means there is more time to think and act before next summer.  Maybe the dugongs will be able to tell their young of the stories and legends, because of the consideration of our young, and maybe dugongs won’t be just part of the stories and legends we tell.

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2020 

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760651138

In this sequel to Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja,  Fish Kid is holidaying at Ningaloo and keen to show his friend Emely not only the reef but also his secret superhero-like powers. But things don’t go according to plan and he is torn between obeying his parents and using his powers or becoming shark bait.

With Bodhi’s parents being underwater specialists – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer  – discovering what is under the surface is just what the family does, and the author has carefully woven all sorts of interesting information about the creatures there into the story so that is as educational as it is entertaining.  Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). 

This is a series that will appeal to newly independent readers still needing a bit of textural support and with each episode featuring a different part of the oceanic world and its inhabitants, the scope for unique and interesting adventures is broad. There is already a new addition in the pipeline. 

 

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

Mark Carthew

Dave Atze

Ford St, 2020

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

9781925804416

In the Amazonian jungle,
you’ll find monkeys, rats and shrews . . .
pumas, sloths and marmosets.

Which ones would you choose?

Two children go for a walk in the dingly dangly maze of the Dingle Dangle Jungle and encounter a whole variety of creatures with an amazing range of characteristics.  There are those that are short, long, speckled, stripy, diurnal, nocturnal, with fangs or talons or both… and the fascinating thing is that they are all actual creatures.  (Each one is identified in the notes at the back,) 

With its clever rhyme and rhythm and engaging, detailed illustrations that reveal something new each read, this is a get-to-know-your-animals book with a difference, and not least because of its setting in the Amazon rather than the more familiar Africa so the young reader becomes aware of the diversity of creatures on this planet.  Because the emphasis is on how each type of creature is unique, it is a great introduction for little ones to think about why they are all different.  How and why have they adapted to meet the needs of their environment and circumstances? Why do “some have funny noses, and some have curly tails, [while] some have long or sticky tongues or strong, sharp claws or nails”?  In addition, the teachers’ notes are very comprehensive with suggestions and resources to explore all sorts of environmental issues , making this one of those perfect picture books that spans the age groups.  

 

Mr Archimedes’ Bath

Mr Archimedes' Bath

Mr Archimedes’ Bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Archimedes’ Bath

Pamela Allen

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

9781460758960

Forty years ago, even very young children knew who the Greek mathematician Archimedes was as they explored the physics of water displacement alongside him as he tried to work out who was responsible for making the bath overflow when he and his animal friends got in. Is it Kangaroo, Goat or Wombat?  Surely it can’t be Archimedes himself????

In this celebratory anniversary release of this favourite children’s classic, a whole new generation of children can explore the same phenomenon with new teaching notes written by me!  Work science and maths into your program to demonstrate how the information literacy process is embedded  across the curriculum and set up your students for a load of fun as they replicate Mr Archimedes’ investigations!!!  And introduce them to a classic story at the same time, one they will be wanting to share in another 40 years.

 

Roo Knows Blue

Roo Knows Blue

Roo Knows Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roo Knows Blue

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2020

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

9780143790327

As Little Roo hops along she notices all the colours of the outback but as yet she thinks they are all blue. It’s her friend Possum who helps her learn about red and yellow and all the other colours that make up the palette of this vast country.

If I see Renée Treml’s name on any book (and there have been a few now) then I know I am picking up something special for our youngest readers that will be superbly illustrated and an engaging read.  Roo Knows Blue could have been written about Miss Now Nearly 9  who also thought every colour was blue when she was a teeny one (and whose favourite colour is still any hue of blue) and so that brought back lots of lovely memories for this ageing grandmother. But it also shows that a country that we might mentally picture as being predominantly red and grey-green is alive with a rainbow of colour if we just take the time to look more closely. Imagine sharing this and then going outside to do a colour search!  Making a colour chart and then trying to find things to match, just as Little Roo did. What memories!

The language, rhyme and rhythm of the text will appeal to both reader and listener and make predictions easy while the illustrations support all that is going on, making it an excellent choice for developing those essential concepts about print that  are the foundations of literacy development.