Archives

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. 

 

The Book of Stone

The Book of Stone

The Book of Stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Stone

Mark Greenwood

Coral Tulloch

Walker Books, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781760650872

They are such common, ordinary things – carefully but carelessly trodden over or picked up and thrown – but in this unique and stunning book,  Mark Greenwood shares his passion for stones with young readers as he shows that each has a story to tell. Whether its origins are deep within the heart of the earth or the outer reaches of space, each has its own shape, colour, pattern and texture, shaped by that story which will continue to be added to as it evolves. Even the simple act of throwing a stone into a river will change and continue its story.

Encased in a cover that resembles an engraved stone, and flanked by stunning endpapers that show the diversity of what are generally seen as a grey, amorphous mass, Coral Tulloch’s illustrations bring each stone and its story to life, perhaps encouraging the reader to look more closely, to wonder and reflect, to explore further. Where was the stone born? What has it been used for? Who has used it? How did it get here? What does it ell us about its past and that of the planet? What does it look like inside? Why? What magic do they foretell or keep?

Whenever I travel through our local countryside and see the huge granite boulders, remnants of ancient mountains long since eroded away by wind, weather and time, I get to put present events into perspective in the bigger scheme of things. And so it is with stones – they will endure long after the current drought, bushfires and personal circumstances pass, may even be shaped by those events but not extinguished by them and so I have deliberately chosen this to be the first review of the new year and the new decade. It offers a chance to reflect not just on the landscape and the environment but also our own lives, and perhaps begin a new chapter in the story.

 

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

Dr Seuss's Horse Museum

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Seuss’s Horse Museum

Dr Seuss

Andrew Joyner

Puffin, 2019

75pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780241425725

Throughout history, the horse has been the subject of paintings, sketches, sculptures  and other interpretations and each artist has viewed the same creature through a different lens.  Some have seen its outline, others its bulk; some have seen its lines, others its strength, and each has conveyed their perception in a different way. According to Ted Geisel (aka Dr Seuss), when an artist sees a horse, it is not viewed from a photographic point of view but what the horse means to them as a person, and that depends on their education, experience and the thousands of other influences that shape anyone’s view of the world, not just its horses. 

Twenty-one years after Geisel’s death, his wife found the manuscript that is the basis of this book illustrated by South Australian Andrew Joyner.  The actual timeline of the manuscript is unclear but it does reflect Geisel’s lifetime interest in art with rough pencil sketches and notes for the entire book, and this has now been interpreted by Joyner using his imagination and the actual art works that Geisel planned. Working through a range of art genres including Surrealism, Expressionism, Cubism and Abstraction, the young reader is not only taken on a journey through the interpretation of the horse but through art itself, offering an introduction to the various movements that have swept the world along making this a book for older readers as much as for younger. Accompanied by notes about the manuscript, Geisel’s own art and the featured works, the story is told in prose (as opposed to the usual rhyme) and speaks directly to the reader so it is entertaining as well as educational. 

It’s a great discussion starter as young artists think about what they see when they see a horse, as well as a springboard for getting out the tools and creating a personal interpretation. Something unique to add to the art curriculum.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for Cicadas

Lesley Gibbes

Judy Watson

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781922244420

It is one of the distinctive sounds of summer in Australia and Grandpa and Child are going in search of its creator – the cicada.  Packing up their tent and other supplies in the little wagon, they head off to Apex Reserve to wait and watch with the other families. At sunset the noise starts  – the male calling for a mate – and the hunt begins.  Last year they saw Green Grocers, Yellow Monday sand a Floury Baker.  Will they be lucky this year and find the elusive Black Prince?

Packed with facts both in the story and in the accompanying  information paragraphs, this is another in the stunning Nature Storybooks collection that teaches our young readers about our unique fauna within the context of a picture book story.  In this case it highlights one of those special relationships children have with adults, that when they themselves are an adult, they will look back on with fond memories and perhaps try to replicate them with their own offspring.  I know my memories of time spent with my grandfather have shaped my relationships with my granddaughters. 

As well as the information within the story, there is also a summary about the cicada and an index to take the reader back to the relevant pages so that even from a very young age, little ones can begin to understand the structure of non fiction and how to use it to learn more.

Fact or fiction? This is a line-crosser that is quite simply, brilliant.  Loved it (even though I’m not a fan of anything with more than four legs.)

Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

Argh! There's a Skeleton Inside You!

Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You!

Idan Ben-Barak

Julian Frost

A & U Children’s, 2019

32pp., hbk.,  RRP $A19.99

9781760631635

Quog the armless blob and Oort the gas cloud are on their way to Kevin’s party in their spaceship but they have run into some strife which they are having trouble fixing.  Being amorphous, neither of them have the means to open the spaceship door and so the reader is invited to help them.  Quog is fascinated by the reader’s hands which are first used to open the spaceship door, and then examines them more closely as other tasks are complete, discovering bones, muscles and nerves. As she investigates the purpose of each through the simple explanations offered, she grows her own so that she and Oort can get on their way to the party, once again.

This is another ingenious story from the creators of Do not lick this book to help our youngest readers understand how their body works.  Rather than examining the whole skeleton, just focusing on the hand, the body part that is helping repair the spaceship, the reader can interact with the text very easily without being overwhelmed.  By placing their hand on the picture and allowing Oort to look at it through x-ray type eyes, the bones, muscles and nerves are revealed and their function explained making it very interactive and engaging.  There is a more in-depth explanation about how to grow hands at the end of the book, but it’s what Quog does with her new hands that is the most appealing.

The original concept,  bright illustrations,  and cartoon-like format make this a book that will draw young readers back to it again and again as they learn more and want to know even more than that, perhaps taking them to other body books about their body parts and how they work. Non fiction for littlies at its best. (And just for fun, check out the origins of Oort‘s name! What about Quog?)

Frost, the illustrator, says  he uses his hands to “draw and write and make silly sculptures” while Ben-Barak uses his “to write, hug, scratch itchy bits and poke things to see what happens.”  What do you do with yours?

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760650810

New to the realm of supportive novels for newly independent readers is this title from graphic designer cum author Kylie Howarth. 

Using the popular superhero theme as its foundation, this is a series with a difference because as well as being entertaining, it also teaches those young readers about the ocean environment and its inhabitants.  Bodhi’s parents are right into the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and they travel the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface. But Bodhi isn’t into this world as much as they are, preferring dry land but then he discovers he has magical powers…

Each book is set in a different oceanic environment where Fish Kid befriends an amazing marine creature. As he bonds with his new animal friend, he discovers a new fish power. Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). In this, his family are in the Galapagos Islands and he finds himself stuck on the boat with the captain’s daughter Emely, who likes to play pranks on him, although the innocent looking green smoothie with its secret ingredients would make even the reader have the same reaction as Bodhi. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

Although I haven’t dived the Galapagos Islands, this book took me right back to my experiences on the Great Barrier Reef and for that, this is one destined for Miss 8 so she can share the wonder her grandmother, grandfather and father still have.  Perhaps she, too, will be tempted like Bodhi.

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin's brilliant career began

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Libby Hathorn

Phil Lesnie

Lothian Children’s, 2019

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

9780734417879

Imp is a wild child, roaming the paddocks of the farm where Miss Franklin is employed as governess to the Davis children. Disdained by them as a “real naughty girl” they have been warned by their mother to keep away from her, although Florrie has struck up a friendship of sorts, and dismissive of learning to read and write as a “waste of time”, nevertheless she continues to hang around the schoolhouse and gradually a trust builds between her and Miss Franklin.

Miss Franklin, who had taken the job to help her family out of financial difficulties, has bigger dreams than being a governess, and when she eventually confesses these to Imp, Imp gives her some advice that changes her path and her life forever.

Written about Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career,  and namesake of two major literary prizes, this not only shines a light on the author’s early life but demonstrates how famous people start out as very ordinary and it can be just chance that sets them on their path to fulfil their dreams. And while most of us have dreams, sometimes it’s the most unlikely thing that gives us the impetus to pursue them and the courage and determination to make them come true.  Even though Imp’s dream was nowhere near as grand as that of Miss Franklin, she too was able to take the first steps towards achieving it. The endpapers tell her story! So as much as Libby Hathorn and Phil Lesnie have captured Miss Franklin’s story, it is also an encouragement to anyone to take and chance and chase what they want.