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What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

Sue Lawson 

Karen Tayleur

Wild Dog, 2022

44pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036267

“An invention is something created to solve a problem or make life easier. Inventions can start as a question: ‘I wonder if there’s a better way to do this?’  Or they can come about by chance…”

In this new book that focuses on things created or developed by Australians, young readers can discover the ingenuity of those who have contributed some of the most significant items to make the world a better place and which have endured over time. From the development of firestick farming , the yidaki (didgeridoo), woomera and eel traps of First Nations peoples to wifi, flashing cricket stumps and the mobile laundry for the homeless, the collection is divided into categories such as agricultures, medicine, technology, and communication with short easy-to-read summaries of the invention and all neatly brought together in a useful, colour-coded timeline at the end. As well as the readily-accessible text, there are lots of photos and the usual supports to help junior researchers navigate the contents. 

This is a timely release  when we are particularly encouraging students to dream with their eyes open and to let their imaginations soar, including those with a penchant for non fiction, making it one to highlight. 

Subbie and his mate

Subbie and his mate

Subbie and his mate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subbie and his mate

Corinne Fenton

Mark Wilson

Ford Street, 2022 

32pp., pbk, RRP $A16.95

9781925804980

When an ebony-black foal was born on s spring morning in 1988, no one knew that he would grow to be one of the most famous horses in Australia, right up there with Phar Lap.  That, despite becoming a household name after winning the 1992 Melbourne Cup, his greatest contribution would come in the years and years following as he and his constant companion raised millions of dollars for charity and brought comfort to children and the aged alike as they visited those in hospitals.

The story of the bond between Subzero and Graham Salisbury is written into Australian horse history in this moving story for young readers, and while they, and probably their parents, are too young to remember the horse, the power of the connection between an animal – horse, dog, cat, donkey… – will be recognisable in Fenton’s narrative and Wilson’s illustrations that reflect some of the classic images of this horse that remain in the memories of older folk.  

As the 30th anniversary of his Melbourne Cup win approaches, teachers’ notes will help expand the themes of this book and help the reader understand ‘what this horse and this man did –
know of the joy and happiness, the smiles they brought to the faces of the young and not so young, those sick kids they gifted special moments to carry with them forever. “

Pirate Queens

Pirate Queens

Pirate Queens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirate Queens

Leigh Lewis

Sara Gomez Woolley

NatGeo Kids, 2022

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

9781426371950

In 1995, September 19 each year was proclaimed International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Created as a bit of fun by two friends in the US, in Australia, at least, it has become a major fundraiser for Childhood Cancer Support with schools getting involved in a range of ways to support students and friends.  According to the Cancer Council, it is estimated that, on average, about 750 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia with leukaemia accounting for about 33% of cases, and brain cancers, 25% so it is likely that a school will be supporting a student through this –  if not yours, then nearby.

Thus, what might have been a frivolous suggestion more than 25 years ago, can now have a significant impact on those we know and this new book from NatGeo Kids can provide an opportunity to investigate the lives of some of the women who were just as fearsome as the more well-known males such as Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Captain Hook or even Jack Sparrow.  As is often the case with history, the past is viewed through a male lens because men were viewed as the gender capable of writing and reading, they became the scholars, and thus wrote the history books which were mostly written to please kings , generals or male politicians and so only portrayed the male perspective.  

Thus, even though there have been female pirates since the dawn of piracy, including Ching Shih (aka Zheng Yi Sao)  who tormented the South China Sea with her fleet of 70,000 raiders in the early 19th century, our children have grown up with male-dominated images and stereotypes.

Easy to read with lots of detailed illustrations, the author has trolled the few resources that do still exist and this collection of six stories of powerful female pirates who forged their own path is but a small part of the stories of other women whose stories have been lost or forgotten. Spanning the Caribbean, the Irish and North Seas, the Mediterranean and even the Pacific, this is a fascinating look into the lives of these women that had me more intrigued that I imagined and immediately I could see its place in a serious study of these seafarers who not only captivate young readers in folklore and fiction but who also were real and shaped history so that International Talk Like a Pirate Day could have a legitimate place in the curriculum and thus, its associated fund-raising boosted.

Older students might investigate the qualities of leaders and leadership and whether rule by fear is the most successful way, while perhaps the next pirate a younger child draws might even be female!

 

Tangki Tjuta – Donkeys

Tangki Tjuta - Donkeys

Tangki Tjuta – Donkeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tangki Tjuta – Donkeys

Tjanpi Desert Weavers

A & U Children’s, 2022

32pp.,  hbk.,  RRP $A24.99

9781761180149

Long, long ago, we didn’t have donkeys. We didn’t have a lot of the things we have today. We didn’t know donkeys existed.
Our people used to walk with their camels and donkeys from Areyonga to Ernabella. They brought their donkeys here, and left them.

Donkeys were first introduced to Australia from Africa in 1866 to work as pack animals, and  this unique story, told in both Pitjantjatjara and English, describes how donkeys came to be a rich part of life for one Aboriginal community in north-western South Australia.

However, it is the artwork that sets this story apart because the photographed sculptures have been created by seventeen artists of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, a social enterprise of Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council  which supports 400+ women to create fibre art across the central and western desert regions of Australia. They have been made from minarri, wangunu and intiyanu,  desert grasses collected from their Lands, which have been together around wire frames with string, wool or raffia. One of the donkeys was made from buffel grass, which was introduced by Piranpa (white people) and has become a weed. Tjanpi means desert grass in the Western Desert language.

For those who wish to explore the technique themselves, there is a tutorial on the Weavers’ website.

But the final few sentences could also open up a much wider investigation – that of the problem of feral donkeys, and indeed, other feral animals….

These days we all have houses, and we have cars and we wear clothes,  We have let the donkeys go now.  They are free to roam around. 

Released to coincide with NAIDOC Week, it has also been produced as an animated movie which won the Yoram Gross Award and inaugural AFTRS Craft Award at the Sydney Film Festival

Tangki Trailer from Tjanpi Desert Weavers on Vimeo.

 

The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stuff of Stars

Marion Dane Bauer

Ekua Holmes

Candlewick Press, 2022

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781536223583

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us.

In a poetic text, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies.

A seamless blend of science and art, this 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner reveals the composition of our world and beyond—and how we are all the stuff of stars.

Sometimes you just have to use the publisher’s blurb because there are no better words or ways to describe a book.  

But as well as the beauty of this book itself, it also offers an opportunity to compare and contrast how the same phenomenon  can be viewed through different lenses and portrayed in very different ways, sparking not only a discussion about different literary devices but also how one’s purpose and platform can colour and construe our perceptions of the same event, and the implications for that in everyday life. 

 

Get Me Out of Here!

Get Me Out of Here!

Get Me Out of Here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Me Out of Here!

Foolish and Fearless Convict Escapes

Pauline Deeves

Brent Wilson

A & U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760526993

The publisher’s blurb for this fascinating book reads … “

Full of crims, crooks and rascally runaways, this fun and light-hearted non-fiction title is a colourful celebration of our convict past Meet the convicts behind Australia’s most rascally, dastardly prison escapes. Gifted geniuses or total goofballs? You be the judge! Featuring Moondyne Joe, Mary Bryant, and a guy who put on a kangaroo skin and hopped away (literally), this fun and engaging collection brings our country’s early colonial past to life.”

And, indeed, it is a ‘fun and engaging’ read for older students who want to know the stories behind the stories of some of those whose names have become a familiar part of our history, 

But, IMO, the ‘fun and engaging’ is found in the stories surrounding the stories behind the stories, which reflect that author’s experience as a teacher librarian and an understanding of not only how students like to read but what they want to know.  

To begin, each person’s story is told as a narrative, some in the first person, and as well as their story, there is also a short explanation of what happened to them after their exploits – whether their escape was successful,  they were caught and punished or…  There are also two pages of Fun Facts after each chapter that expand on the circumstances of the time. For example Mary Bryant ‘s story is followed by information about female convicts and alerts the reader to other stories that could be followed, while others include explanations of vocabulary and other tidbits that add colour and interest. There are the usual glossary and index as well as suggestions for further research that offer other child-friendly books to explore.

Each chapter is set on bold background colours with lots of cartoon-like illustrations that will appeal widely.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

All in all, this is an intriguing book that will add insight and understanding into our past in a way that is not the usual dry recounts full of facts and figures.

Women Who Led the Way

The Women Who Led the Way

Women Who Led the Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Who Led the Way

Mick Manning

Brita Granstrom

Otter-Barry Books, 2022

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

9781913074432

“From Aud the Deep-Minded, an early voyager to Iceland, and Sacagawea who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition across the USA, to Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space and Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest, this book shows the incredible courage, determination and power of women explorers over the last 1200 years. These women have led the way exploring lands, oceans, mountains, skies and space, but have also made pioneering discoveries in the fields of science, nature, archaeology, ecology and more. The lives of these women, told as personal stories, are an inspiration to us all.”

As I looked back over the increasing number of reviews for books that showcase women who have changed the world in some way, none of them have focused on female explorers breaking through that traditionally male domain peppered with names like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Abel Tasman, James Cook, Robert Falcon Scott and Edmund Hillary. (Even the Australian Museum’s Trailblazer collection is predominantly men.)

In fact, when I looked through the contents page, there were only three names of more than 30 that were familiar, yet here are the stories of women who broke new ground in so many areas including being the first to cycle round the world, the first black woman into space,  the first to look into space and discover eight comets…  One wonders why they are not household names like their male counterparts.

However, apart from a brief mention of Nancy Bird Walton, there were no Australian names suggesting that perhaps there have been so many women to choose from that Australia’s heroes were overshadowed.  Where are Kay Cottee, Jessica Watson, Emily Creaghe, Lady Jane Franklin, Jade Hameister, Robyn Davidson,.. even my own mum, Dorothy Braxton, the first female journalist to travel to Antarctica and the first female to set foot on some of its hallowed places in 1968 (although, to be fair, she was a Kiwi through and through)?

Dorothy Braxton, Scott's Cross. Antarctica, 1968

Dorothy Braxton, Scott’s Memorial. Antarctica, 1968

So, as well as learning about these trailblazers, the book needs an Australian companion so we can set students the challenge of not only researching someone suitable and retelling their story in the same format as the book – brief personal accounts and which include an inspirational quote – but also pitching for their contribution to be included. Obviously, such a book can only have limited entries so students would have to argue why the contribution of their selection changed the world while the rest of the class would take on the role of the editor choosing.

Alternatively, it could be ties to this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Dreaming With Eyes Open and students could write about why, in the future, they would be included in such a collection.  What will be their legacy? 

Books like this, apart from always introducing the reader to new heroes, open up so many more possibilities that can make each of us an explorer in our own way.  

 

We Are Australians

We Are Australians

We Are Australians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Australians

Duncan Smith & Nicole Godwin

Jandamarra Cadd

Wild Dog Books, 2022

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

9781742036328

“We are Australians.  We are citizens of our family, classroom, school, community, church, street, suburb, team, town, state, country, world.”

“As citizens of Australia, we have rights, And we have responsibilities.”

There, in those few stark words alone, is so much food for thought and discussion with our students, particularly as we head into another federal election. What does it mean to be a ‘citizen’?  And what are the “rights” and “responsibilities”? But team those words with the illustrations which accompany them and there is a whole new dimension to consider. 

Rather than the focus being on individual rights and responsibilities, what do those words mean when it comes to the bigger picture – the looking after each other, the caring for the land? And not just for those who have gone through the formal citizenship ceremony, but also for those born here? And not just for now, but also into the future?

Over the last two years, our students would have heard the phrase “for the greater good” often, particularly in relation to the safety procedures related to COVID-19, but what do they mean when it comes to living with each other despite our diverse heritages and histories, so that the present does have a future? What do we, as individuals, need to know, understand, do, appreciate and value about our own culture and that of others so that we can contribute to move forward positively, collectively? In particular, what do we need to know, acknowledge and embrace about those who have gone before, who have lived here for thousands of generations so we can connect and continue their legacy so we leave our children a deep attachment to the country they walk on that is more than the comings and goings of political parties, politicians and policies? For all that we have heard the voices of those with the power to access the microphone, whose voices have been silenced? And now that those who were once silent are now being heard, what are they saying that we must listen to?  What do they know that we must learn if we are to survive as a cohesive whole? 

From the vivid cover illustration of a young face vibrantly sporting a rainbow of colours to the more grizzled, aged face in its traditional hues, Jandamarra Cadd’s illustrations add a depth to the text that goes beyond his blending of contemporary portraiture with traditional techniques, suggesting that ultimately the way forward has to become a blend of the two – those First Nations peoples who have been here for 50 000  years and those “who’ve come across the seas”. The timeline at the end of the book suggests that there is a merging of the journeys but what more can be done to make them fully intertwined in the future?

This is a stunning and provocative book that has a place in every classroom to promote and grow that concept of “the greater good’ – from Kinder Kids making new friends and learning what it means to be a citizen “of the classroom” to those facing voting and having to consider the national, and even global aspects of both their rights and responsibilities.  

 

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Life Of Invention

Leonardo Da Vinci's Life Of Invention

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Life Of Invention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Life Of Invention

Jake Williams

Pavilion, 2022

96pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781843654988

Whether you’re looking into art, architecture, engineering, mathematics, music or just about anything else, the name of Leonardo da Vinci keeps cropping up. Born in 1452 in a small town in Tuscany Italy, more than 550 years later his inventions and discoveries live on being the foundations of many of the things we take for granted.  Known now as a polymath – someone whose knowledge spans many different areas and subjects – he was responsible for so much more than the Mona Lisa

This new book written to introduce the man , his talent, skill and world to young readers who are as curious as he was, is a fascinating read that follows his life, his discoveries and their continuing impact in a way that is easily accessible and full of illustrations. Through his passion for sketching and note-taking that left a legacy of “wild ideas, futuristic inventions, fearsome creatures and beautiful works of art”, the author has pulled together an authoritative, engaging biography not just of the man but his contribution to his society and ours.

Playing At The Border

Playing At The Border

Playing At The Border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing At The Border

Joanna Ho

Teresa Martinez

HarperCollins US, 2022

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

9780062994547

“Feet planted on the soil of one nation, eyes gazing at the shores of another, Yo-Yo Ma played a solo accompanied by an orchestra of wind and water.” 

On April 13.2019, on the  US banks of the Rio Grande he played a piece of music hundreds of years old to an audience on the opposite banks in Mexico to show that building bridges is so much better than building walls.  

But this is more than just a story of one man playing a cello alone to be heard by a few – this is the story of a renowned cellist, himself a blend of cultures as he was born to Chinese parents in France and raised in the US. Because his fingers were too small for a double bass, as a little child he chose the cello – and its particular blend of international origins is woven into both the story and the music.  And from its strings comes the music dancing ‘over rocks and rivers and walls into the sky”, born in Germany 300 years before, lost,  then found in Spain, and renewed in the US to unite those who had once been one but who were now separated…

Connecting cultures and countries through music was Yo-Yo Ma’s ambition when he began the Bach Project in 2018, reviving the rare cello solos which “create the sound of harmonising melodies on one instrument” there was as much symbolism as there was entertainment on that day in 2019 when the people of two nations momentarily joined together again, in defiance of the rhetoric and actions of the then POTUS. And in Johanna Ho‘s text, which is as lyrical as the music itself, we discover that there were many more than just two nations involved in making it happen.