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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. 

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

Sam Cotton

Puffin, 2022

256pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9780143778547

On a sunny Sydney wharf, Stacey and Stanley watch enviously as customers feed on as many hot salty chippies as they want. Fed up with having to scab for scraps with all the other seagulls, they seek out legendary chippy thief Steve-O to help them pull off the ultimate heist . . .

But first they’ll have to get past a seagull-hating chippy chef, deal with some bully bin chickens, and convince the World’s Best Chippy Chaser to overcome his dark past and join the team.

There would be few children in Australia who were unfamiliar with seagulls – even those who live far from the sea.  And anyone who has ever had hot chips at the beach knows that that is like a mating call to these birds, who, incidentally, have been my favourites since I was a tiny tacker.  Add their familiarity to a creator who is already well-known on social media and this becomes an instant must-read for young readers who like silliness, fun and graphic novels,.  Told by Grandgull, it is likely to have readers as enthralled as those listening to the story. particularly young lads who are transitioning from instructional readers and finding novels daunting.

No one who reads this will view seagulls and their passion for hot chips in the same way again. 

 

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remarkably Ruby

Terri Libenson

HarperCollins, 2022

384pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

 9780063139183

Ruby is moving to middle school, a whole new environment with a whole lot of new people to meet.  Which for some, will be an exciting opportunity, but very daunting for one who doesn’t have “the greatest social skills” , whose not into dances, social media or sports, and who is as tall as their money tree. 

More for the upper end of this readership, nevertheless it is a story that will resonate with many who find themselves having to change schools, and its first-person voice, diary-like entries and a format resembling a graphic novel make it accessible to any independent reader.

It is the 6th in the Emmie and Friends series, written to help young girls navigate those tricky tween years by showing them that the problems and issues they face are common and there are ways to work their way through them.  So while some may not resonate so much with Ruby (although many will),  there are others in the series that will definitely speak to them, making it a series that needs to be in the library’s collection as our young girls seek books about those just like themselves, with the same insecurities, confusion and peer pressure.

 

 

 

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Imogen Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg

Bloomsbury, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781526625700

Imagine you made something that was so beautiful and powerful that everyone wanted to take it for themselves. And then you had to watch them destroy it. Would you fight for it?

Meet Gaia, the ancient Greek goddess who created the Earth and the universe that stretched beyond it. She raised trees from their roots to the sky, sent waterfalls tumbling over cliffs and created the tides that sloshed on the shore. She gifted her creation to animals and mortals, and watched as they made it their home.

But she also created a force she couldn’t control: the ambition of gods. Gaia watched as the gods fought brutal wars and manipulated mortals such as Hercules and Achilles, disturbing peace on Earth. Storms raged, fires blazed and people, animals and plants suffered. Gaia begged the gods to look after her creation, but no one listened.

But Gaia never gave up fighting for a better world. This is her story.

From the sisters who gave us the remarkable Madame Curie and her Daughters, and Athena: the Story of a Goddess comes another journey into Greek mythology with this modern take on the story of Gaia, told by the Fates, -Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos – in a graphic narrative that is designed for independent readers.  With a poignant environmental message that the pursuit of power damages our natural world, and we all have to work together to protect it, it is a relevant today as it was during the time of the Ancient Greeks 3000 years ago.  

But not only does it offer an introduction to Greek mythology that forms such a strong platform of our beliefs and values, it can also be a companion to those books that you might have been using to investigate the origins of this planet. For every civilisation has its creation myths which make for intriguing studies in themselves, let alone comparing and contrasting the lore with the science. 

Fascinating.

Lightfall (series)

Lightfall (series)

Lightfall (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightfall (series)

The Girl & the Galdurian

 9780062990464

Shadow of the Bird

9780062990501

Tim Probert

HarperCollins, 2021=22

256pp., graphic novel, RRP $A19.99

Welcome to Irpa, a world in which humans live and work alongside animals, where the sun no longer shines, and an ancient, forgotten terror is stirring.

When the sun was extinguished 500 years earlier, the Galdurians invented and built floating Lights to ward off the overwhelming darkness, and now, though the Galdurians are believed to be extinct, the Lights shine on.  

Deep in the heart of the planet stands the Salty Pig’s House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea, studying, foraging and making potions together for the people of their once-prosperous world, and, as keepers of the Endless Flame, living a quiet and peaceful life. 

All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it’s the Pig Wizard. And so these two unlikely friends get swept up in an epic quest to save their world from falling into eternal darkness.

When they arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found—all that’s left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard’s safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light.

Will these two unexpected friends find the beloved Pig Wizard and prevent eternal darkness from blanketing their world Or has Irpa truly seen its last sunrise?

In the second in this new series, Bea and Cad continue their quest to stop Kest, the mythic bird who stole the sun. After a battle that nearly cost them their lives, they awaken in the hidden settlement of the Arsai, mysterious creatures who can glimpse into the future. The Arsai’s vision paints a dire picture for their planet, as the bird Kest Ke Belenus—now awoken from a restless slumber—threatens to destroy all the Lights of Irpa. Desperate for a solution, Bea and Cad seek out the help of a water spirit known as Lorgon, whose ancient wisdom may help them find a way to take down Kest and save Irpa from utter destruction.

But when their time with Lorgon presents more questions than answers, Bea and Cad must decide what’s more important . . . stopping Kest or uncovering the truth.

Both episodes end on a cliff-hanger leaving the reader to wait for the next installment, making this an engaging series for those who enjoy this sort of story in graphic novel format.  Probert has built a whole new world with intriguing characters that young independent readers will relate to as they face the sorts of dilemmas and decisions that the reader does, but in a parallel setting that adds an extra dimension, yet remains familiar so the leap isn’t too great for their imaginations.   

 

Cranky Chicken

Cranky Chicken

Cranky Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cranky Chicken

9780734420954

Cranky Chicken Party Animals

9780734420985 

Katherine Battersby

Lothian, 2021-2022

104pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

 

In the first book, the reader is introduced to Cranky Chicken. Everything about Chicken is cranky. Cranky eyes, cranky eyebrows, super-sharp cranky beak, even cranky scratchy feet. And everything makes Chicken cranky. The sun is too bright, the dirt is too dirty…

By why is Cranky Chicken so angry? Could she be lonely? So what happens when a very cheerful worm named Speedy, who just wants to be friends, comes along? Could it be the end of the worm or a new start for Cranky Chicken?

In the second episode , Cranky Chicken is super hungry and the crank-O-meter is on high. What can Speedy the worm do to help? How about … a yummy snack? A day at the beach? An unsurprising party? It’s party time for Cranky and Speedy, two Best Feathered Friends!

This is a new series about mismatched friends who bring joy, companionship and a new perspective to each other’s lives for newly independent readers who are dipping their toes into the graphic novel format and are able to follow a story that is based on speech between the characters rather than having lots of extra descriptive test or illustration.  The action is carried in the conversation and captions in separate but connected stories that demonstrate that there are many ways to be a friend, particularly accepting each other for who they are as they are what is offered as friendship for all that it is. 

Garlic and the Vampire

Garlic and the Vampire

Garlic and the Vampire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic and the Vampire

Bree Paulsen

HarperCollins, 2022

160pp., graphic novel, RRP $A16.99

9780062995087

Garlic feels as though she’s always doing something wrong. Again, she is late for market day different vegetables selling themselves to the humans in an old-fashioned rural village. Originally created by the kindly but powerful Witch Agnes to be “mute little helpers”, she  has enjoyed their growth into independent contributors to the community. At least with Carrot by her side and the kindly Witch Agnes encouraging her, Garlic is happy to just tend her garden, where it’s nice and safe.. So when the vegetables notice smoke trailing from the chimneys of a nearby castle, Agnes uses her magic to investigate and discovers that a vampire has moved in.

Because of the belief that garlic drives away vampires,  and in spite of her fear and self-doubt, Garlic is tasked with slaying the bloodsucker. Celery goes with her reluctantly, payback for his willingness to sacrifice her for the mission. So, with everyone counting on her, Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes…

Although the theme of believing in yourself in this story is a common refrain, everything else about it is new and refreshing. Vampire lore and information about witchcraft are woven throughout the story, offering an introduction to the premises which underlie many other stories with these sorts of characters,  and Witch Agnes’ wisdom often speaks directly to the audience drawing them into it rather than being passive observers. 

While this is not a complex read, cheerful rather than chilling, with a subtle message about believing in stereotypes and rumours, readers will still need to have the reading skills necessary to interpret a graphic novel, seamlessly integrating the illustrations with the plot because there are many passages where there is no speech.  That said, with its warm colours, and faces which are friendly rather than frightening, this is a gentle introduction into both the format and fantasy. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Renee Treml

Allen & Unwin, 2022

288pp., graphic novel., RRP $A14.99

9781761065729

Sherlock Bones, a talkative tawny frogmouth skeleton,  his companion Watts, a mute, stuffed Indian ringneck parrot and Grace, a sassy raccoon return in the third in this series, with a new mystery to solve in their natural history museum home.  This time there is a new exhibition called “The Art and Science Alliance” and the rumour is that the painting of the ancient Greek hydra – an enormous snake-like monster with nine heads – comes alive at night, hissing and Sherlock and his cohorts are determined to find the truth. 

Once again Treml has drawn on her degree in environmental science and passionate love of natural history to craft an intriguing story that informs as much as it entertains. Using the technique of Bones telling the story as a conversation with the reader, interspersed with lots of humour mostly consisting of puns better classified as ‘dad jokes’, she has crafted a graphic novel for young readers who have the skills to follow a story in this format. 

This story opens up lots of different avenues for the interested reader to follow from the relationship between art and science (an initial discussion between Sherlock and Grace) to the intrigue of Greek mythology while being an engaging story in its own right.   

 

 

The Astronaughties

The Astronaughties

The Astronaughties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Astronaughties:  Moon Mayhem

Andrew Cranna

Walker, 2022

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760653378

It’s 2120 and  the Moon has been transformed into the ultimate super-cool intergalactic amusement park. The Astronaughties, the children of some of the park’s designers, get a chance to visit the Lunar Park before it officially opens. But when they arrive, they discover their parents are missing. Now their mission is to find them, defeat the baddies and free a trapped alien. Accidentally strapped inside a 400 megaton thermonuclear rocket, the three children, one pet octopug and their robot minder are on a one-way collision course to the moon.

Told by the children’s nanny who has his hands full dealing with them, this is for younger readers who like science fiction, are looking for something a bit silly and definitely not serious, but  who have the ability to follow a story in monochromatic graphic novel format.  

In a recent Lego Masters episode, the task was to build a window to the future.  Could this be it? Let students dream with their eyes open by challenging them to design their own attraction for a lunar-based amusement park. What would they need to know about the moon for it to be successful? A new slant on an old research topic. 

Star the Elephant

Star the Elephant

Star the Elephant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star the Elephant

Surviving the Wild

Remy Lai

A & U Children’s, 2022

112pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9781760526849

There isn’t enough food left on the island to sustain Star’s Asian elephant family -no more teak tree bark, bamboo shoots, bananas or even palatable grasses because their natural jungle is being cleared for palm oil plantations. So Star’s herd has to split up to find other food sources if they are to survive at all, and Star finds himself swimming in the ocean under the stars for what seems like the longest time ever. But the world out there is so big!  Despite Aunty’s constant warnings about not going where his mum can’t see him,  soon Star finds himself lost and alone, facing giant “spiders “and a big, wild ocean and the scariest thing of all … humans! Will he ever be reunited with his family?

The second in a new graphic novel series called Surviving the Wild designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it, this story is loosely based on a true story when, in 1990, three bull elephants swam across the Johor Strait from Malaysia to Singapore, landing on an island where there was a military base and the soldiers tracked the elephants so they could be safely rehomed in a nearby sanctuary,  the focus of this story is the impact of deforestation on the natural inhabitants of these places, from creatures as large and as visible as the elephants and orangutans, to the not-so-obvious like the fiddler crabs.  Thus, even our youngest readers can become aware of the devastation that humans can inflict on the environment and, in their own small way, begin to make changes which can have far-reaching effects.  Even looking at the labels on the food their parents purchase and encouraging them to look for those without palm oil or with the symbols of either the Rainforest Alliance or Forest Stewardship Council can make a difference.

Teachers’ notes focusing on helping young readers read and interpret the graphic novel format are available.