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Drover

Drover

Drover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drover

Neridah McMullin

Sarah Anthony

Walker Books, 2021

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

9781760652081

In 1889, A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson in his tribute to the iconic Clancy of the Overflow, wrote…

In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving “down the Cooper” where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And in this stunning book those pleasures are brought to life by the lyrical text and the evocative illustrations as the reader joins Drover on the trail as the herd of bullocks are moved over the vast interior of this country.  Even though each day seems to be a repeat of the routine of the one before it, the ever-changing land and sky scapes make each unique and enjoyable, even though they are bone-weary and saddle-sore and a tiny bandicoot spooks the flighty Shifty so the whole herd stampedes. 

But there is a twist in this tale – for it is only once they have wheeled the bullocks into Dajarra to the thrill of the gathered crowd, after thousands of kilometres and six months on the trail that the identity of “Drover” is revealed to be Edna Jessop, a real-life character and Australia’s first female boss drover who took this herd from WA to Queensland in 1950 after her father fell ill.  

Droving cattle is not just a part of this country’s history, but also its present as during recent droughts many farmers have been forced to send their stock out onto the long paddock,  the term given to the travelling stock routes that traverse outback Australia. Many has been the time when we have slowed to pass the herds as they graze the verges of the highway, drovers and dogs on high alert as the traffic passes within metres.  So as well as celebrating the remarkable story of Edna Jessop, it also opens up another avenue of exploration to explain where we have come from, perhaps even inspiring them to plan a family journey to discover those pleasures that Paterson, Clancy and Edna all experienced.   

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

Andrew Kelly

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2021

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

 9781742036281

For generations the little penguins have left their island home to hunt for the shoals of small fish in the rich waters of the bay and the mouth of the river.  And when they have had their fill they risk their lives navigating the rip   and the shipping to go back to their burrows on their island home.  The island has all they need to build their burrows but it is getting crowded and the young males are finding it tricky to find a place that is safe and that will attract a young female. But there is nowhere suitable to build a burrow on the bay.

And then changes start to happen to their feeding grounds – huge machinery is dumping rocks into the sea to build a breakwater to protect the boats and the beach, and over time the sand and silt build up in the cracks and crevices. Sometimes the penguins rest on the rocks but they always return home.  Until one day, one little penguin decides to stay…

Much is written about the impact on wildlife when humans change the landscape and it’s usually negative so to read a positive story is unusual.  For this is the story of how the penguin colony at St Kilda, Victoria emerged and is continuing to grow. While they still have to deal with the hazards of dogs, cats, ferrets, stoats, human vandals, plastic pollution, boat strikes, boat propellers, oil spills, the fragmentation and loss of habitat and climate change, nevertheless because of the conservation practices in place they have shown that it is possible for native wildlife to live side by side with humans. Using just one little penguin as its focus personalises the story and brings it into the realm of the young reader, so they are more able to relate to it and understand the situation.  

Told by the Yarra Riverkeeper and beautifully illustrated this is an uplifting story that shows that the relationship between humans and the natural world can be a positive one, as well as demonstrating how that world adapts to deal with issues such as overcrowding. But charming as it is as a standalone story, it is one that has enormous potential to be a springboard into further investigations both of the penguins (with comprehensive teachers’ notes) and then human impact generally.  If you “can’t stop progress” how can it be managed through environmental impact studies, local support groups and so forth?  Is there a development happening in the readers’ community that might be having a wider impact than is immediately visible?  The opportunity to “act locally, think globally” is very apparent and this book can fulfil the purpose of the author. “Let us walk gently together.”

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Ready for School

Jane Porter

Carolina Rabei

Walker, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781529502343

It’s time to go to big school but what will it be like?  How will the day be filled?  What are the expectations?

Using a double-page spread for topics such as getting ready, how to get there, what will happen and even why we go to school, this book follows six children as they begin this new adventure in their lives. The text speaks directly to the child and there are plenty of illustrations to help them imagine this new adventure they are about to embrace.

Even though it is an English production, both the anxiety that children feel and the activities of the new entrants’ classroom are universal and so this translates to the Australian situation well, including a page for the children to talk about the concerns they have..  

With big school getting larger on the horizon for our little ones but visits to those early childhood classes limited in some states, this is an opportunity for parents to start preparing their child for what can be expected and if there are online orientations, for classroom teacher to use it as a way to guide their viewers through the first days.  They might not be able to show their own classes in action but this is a suitable substitute. 

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Aleesah Darlinson

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899233

 In the Mary River in South-East Queensland lives a creature found nowhere else in the world- one only identified in 1994 and already facing extinction. The Mary River turtle, Elusor macrurus,  is a new genus and species of freshwater turtle affectionately known as the punk turtle because the slow-moving water of the river allows green algae to grow all over it. 

 

But that’s not Poppy’s only unique feature – as well as breathing normally on the water’s surface, she can also breathe through her bottom! Plip! Plop! Parp!  However, despite her ancestors being in the river for millions of years Poppy and her relations now face many threats, mostly from the impact of humans and these are explored for young readers in the second in this series that investigates lesser-known endangered species. Combining the author’s ability to pitch the text perfectly for the intended audience with the same big, bright, bold illustration style of Coco, the Fish with Hands, young readers have a story that entertains and educates them. Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike.

Perfect for those like my little friend Xander who is fascinated by the world around him, prefers non fiction over fiction and has almost mastered reading independently.   And for his parents who will share it with him and spur his quest to learn more. As it did for me!. 

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Birdies

Andy Geppert

Lothian Children’s, 2021 

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

9780734420695

Can your children tell the difference between a beach chicken (seagull) and a bin chicken (white ibis) ?

Or a roof chicken (pigeon)  and a chicken chicken (chicken)?

In this introduction to the birds commonly seen in Australian backyards, including large inflatable flamingoes and swans, Andy Geppert mixes a few basic facts with a lot of humour to make for an enjoyable read for young children who will just be noticing the differences between the species.  Clever illustrations and funny text combine to make this the most unusual field guide but one which will pique little ones’ curiosity and have them trying to identify the birds that they see.   They could even make a chart and mark each one off as it is spotted from their window, beginning their skills in data gathering, mapping and interpretation!   It’s the simple things….

Mapping Sam

Mapping Sam

Mapping Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mapping Sam

Joyce Hesselberth

HarperCollins US, 2021

40pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780063043220

Each night after Sam the cat has made sure that the family are safely tucked in bed, she goes on a nighttime wander.  

But rather than this being a tale of what she does and who she meets while she is out, this story is the impetus for exploring how maps are used to “tell us how to get from here to there” and “tell us what is where”.  It is a unique introduction to the purpose of information illustrations like maps, charts and diagrams and how they can be used so that a picture does indeed, tell 1000 words. 

By using an inquisitive cat whose favourite place is atop what will be the highest building in the neighbourhood (shown through a birds-eye-view map) this is a clever story that engages the reader because they become invested in Sam’s explorations rather than being confronted by dry explanations. As Sam follows her customary path, wandering farther and farther away from home, readers encounter different kinds of maps illuminating different points of view and the various spots Sam visits. Finally, when Sam reaches her favourite place and confirms that all is well, she heads back home, climbs onto a cosy bed, and falls asleep.

Thus the reader comes away with having enjoyed a story as well as new knowledge, knowledge that is consolidated by two pages of background  information just to draw all the concepts together.

For those who think that maps are confined to using the sat nav or Google maps, this is an excellent introduction to the variation and purpose of maps and the importance of being able to read, interpret and perhaps even create our own.  They are so much more than the stereotype Boy Scout activity!

Teachers notes created by the author are available.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : The Lady with the Lamp

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : The Lady with the Lamp

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : The Lady with the Lamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : The Lady with the Lamp

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2021

120pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 9781922488220

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 this, the fourth in the series, Carly is in London on holiday and finds herself transported back to the mid-19th century where life and expectations for women were very different from modern times and she meets the iconic “lady with the lamp” Florence Nightingale recognised as being the founder of modern nursing, travelling with her to the battlefields of the Crimea.

Much has been written about Nightingale and her exploits and achievements over the years, but with nurses so much in the frontline of this new battle with COVID-19, this is a timely release that allows young independent readers to learn about the early beginnings of this profession and how far it has come because of the courage and determination of women like its subject. 

 This  series mixes fictional characters like Carly and real-life women who have shaped the world, thus bringing history alive in a more personal way. By becoming involved in the narrative, perhaps even putting themselves in Carly’s shoes, the reader understands how the lessons the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. Other in the series focus on Caroline Chisholm, Dr Lilian Cooper, and Dame Nellie Melba, with Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Miles Franklin to come.  

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the Heart Is

Irma Gold

Susannah Crispe

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820874

In 2011, a Magellanic penguin, washed up on an island village beach just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, near Joao’s home.  Joao rescued him, cleaned him up and cared for him for months knowing that he would have to set him free eventually.  But for that first year they did almost everything together, until there came a time when even Dindim felt the call of the wild and knew he had to leave…

This is the beautiful story of that rescue, the friendship  and the remarkable events that followed, even after Dindim left for the cold waters of his native Patagonia. With its gentle text and pictures, it celebrates friendship and the power of the words, “If you love something, set it free.”

Teachers’ notes for K-2 are available to help young readers understand the broader aspects of Dindim’s plight.

 

 

 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Aleesah Darlison

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899226

Deep in the estuary where the river meets the sea of the Derwent River in Tasmania lives one of the most endangered species in Australia – the tiny spotted handfish, so named because they use their “hands”  to walk along the sand and silt of the sea floor rather than using their fins to swim. So endangered that it is the first marine fish in the world to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  

It is Spring when we first meet Coco and it is a busy time for her because she needs to find a  sea squirt that will be safe to lay her eggs and she only has a few weeks in which to do so, find a mate and then guard them until they hatch.  And even then they are not safe because even though she can lay 80-250 eggs each year, there are still only about 3000 spotted handfish in the wild in the world – all in that remote river in Tasmania! Existing since the time of the dinosaurs, yet now threatened by invasive seastars, pollution and climate change, Coco and her babies have more than hungry fish to worry about.  

This is the first in a multi-book series that will introduce our youngest readers to some of Australia’s most vulnerable wildlife, particularly those that are scarcely known.  And with her usual gift for words, Aleesah Darlison has crafted a story that is full of information (and supported with fact boxes) while being entertaining in itself.  Coupled with illustrations that are visually appealing whilst still being biologically correct, this is a fascinating introduction not only to this little-known creature but also to the power of print in non fiction.  So many of our littlest readers are fascinated with the unusual world around them (talk to my friend’s little person about pangolins) yet there is not yet a lot that reaches down to their level of literacy so they can access it for themselves.  Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike. Given there is another book on the same subject shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for 2021 this will be an excellent addition to the collection to satisfy the curiosity of those clamouring to know more. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…