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Through the Animal Kingdom: An Amazing Exploration of Animals and their Homes

Through the Animal Kingdom

Through the Animal Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Animal Kingdom: An Amazing Exploration of Animals and their Homes

Derek Harvey

Charlotte Pepper

DK., 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780241355442

From the Arctic tundra through the Rocky Mountains, the Galapagos Islands and south to the Antarctic with many stops in between, this new publication from DK takes the reader on a narrative non-fiction journey of some of the world’s most distinctive habitats and introduces some of the creatures that inhabit them. Covering continents, seasons and time zones, newly independent readers can learn about a variety of creatures, some familiar and some not-so. Track a bald eagle as
it soars majestically over the Rocky Mountains, follow migrating wildebeests across the Serengeti as they attempt a dangerous river crossing under the watchful eyes of hungry predators, or trace the tracks of the solitary amur leopard – the rarest cat on Earth – as it silently stalks its prey through the icy forests of the Siberian wilderness.

Written by a naturalist to capture and engage young readers who are beginning their journey into research, it has lots of information in accessible language and format accompanied by a host of life-like illustrations, offering an introductory platform that could lead to more specialised research.  As with most works from this publisher, there are devices like the Animal Gallery and a comprehensive index to support the reader, making them one of my favourite go-to publishers for print non fiction.

As perfect for the library collection as it is for the Christmas stocking.

 

Brain-fizzing Facts: Awesome Science Questions Answered

Brain-fizzing Facts:  Awesome Science Questions Answered

Brain-fizzing Facts: Awesome Science Questions Answered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brain-fizzing Facts: Awesome Science Questions Answered

Dr Emily Grossman

Alice Bowsher

Bloomsbury, 2019

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408899175

Children make sense of their world by asking questions, often starting with “why”.  This was the case for the author as a young child and in this collection she has gathered together some of the wacky questions that little ones ask such as “Why is your elbow called your funny bone? How could you escape the grip of a crocodile’s jaw? Which animal can breathe through its bottom? And how do these things all link together? “

But the difference with this book from others that are just a Q & A, is that the reader is urged to try to answer themselves before they read the answers, and if they can’t explain it, then try to select from the information provided.  And, all the while, they are being reassured that getting it wrong is not a problem -in fact the most important scientific discoveries come from wrong answers and investigations into why is it so. Heavily illustrated with cartoon-like characters and bite-size chunks of information that speak directly to the audience, the presentation will appeal to both genders who are curious independent readers wanting to know more. 

While young children have no trouble asking endless questions, once they start school something happens and they see their role as one of only answering those posed by others.  So the emphasis on asking questions and even providing space for the reader to do just that is welcome, as we try to teach students to be both critical and creative thinkers.  

One for the Christmas stocking, or even better as the foundation for a STEM display in the new year as students are encouraged to develop their information literacy skills  in meaningful research, authentic to their interests and needs.

Forgotten Fairy Tales of Brave and Brilliant Girls

Forgotten fairy tales of brave and brilliant girls

Forgotten fairy tales of brave and brilliant girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgotten Fairy Tales of Brave and Brilliant Girls

Lesley Sims (editor)

Usborne, 2019

208pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781474966429

Ask a young child for the title of a fairy tale and you are likely to be told Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel or Rapunzel or whatever the Disney princess-du-jour is. But in fact, there are many more fairy tales than those that were collected and written down by the great storytellers like the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen. Fairy tales were told orally for many generations before they were preserved in print, each being shared a little differently by the teller according to time, place and circumstance, but each having a fundamental truth at its core. 

For whatever reason, the tales that were collected and written share common characteristics of strong men and weak women who needed to be rescued by the male’s prowess and those in which the females were the leading protagonists were almost lost to time. The story of their discovery and recovery is almost as fascinating as the stories themselves, and shows the slowly changing attitudes towards women and their place in society. Food for discussion and debate right there!

In the meantime, this remains a collection of very readable and beautifully illustrated fairy tales that deserve to be as well-known as their more famous counterparts. Perhaps the next Disney heroine will arise from this anthology. Regardless, stories about brave and brilliant girls are always good for the soul.

 

 

 

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

Fauna: Australia's Most Curious Creatures

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures

Tania McCartney

NLA Publishing, 2019 

56pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279545

Eyes, legs,  tails and tongues peek out at you from the cover of this new book from Tania McCartney, beckoning you to open it and discover who they belong to. The intrigue is repeated on the endpages, enticing the reader to search for the whole that matches the snippet as they are introduced to a variety of Australia’s unique indigenous creatures. Given that Australia is home to more animal species than any other developed country, and 87% of the mammals, 45% of the birdlife, 93% of the reptiles and 94% of the amphibians are only found on this landmass, it would be impossible to highlight every single indigenous creature so McCartney has made a judicious selection of familiar and not-so so that there is a well-rounded introduction to tempt the reader to discover more.

From those that are already extinct through to those of least concern, each creature is identified with its conservation status as well as a range of interesting, easily-accessible facts and illustrations, several of which show McCartney’s quirky humour. With an animal family tree that helps show how the puzzle pieces fit together, two indices and a comprehensive glossary this is something more than just “a tourist’s guide to…” offering budding naturalists who are independent readers something that is written for their level and also has enough information to satisfy and spark their curiosity  including breeding and feeding habits, physical characteristics, habitat and other unique features that will leave them wanting to discover more, while trying to match those vignettes to their owners. 

Usually books about this topic can be dry and cold, but the combination of text and illustration that is so uniquely McCartney make this warm and engaging and one to treasure. She has called is “a labour of love” and that shines through.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Collection

Alice-Miranda collection

Alice-Miranda collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda 3 in 1

640pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894962

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever- the official movie script

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760896867

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Activity Book

16pp., pbk., RRP $A6.99

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Journal

160pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760896874

 

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2019

When we were first introduced to Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, a young student at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies,  nearly 10 years ago, she became an instant here for many newly-independent readers who were looking for a heroine they could relate to and her popularity has continued to grow with not only many books in the series, but diaries, journals, her own website and blog, and now a movie .  

To celebrate its release on November 14, The publishers have organised a series of events as well as the official movie script, an activity book, a journal and a compendium of the first three stories in the series.  Not only will these appeal to Alice-Miranda’s established legion of fans, it is the perfect time to reboot the series as a new generation of young readers come through.  Perfect for recommending to parents as a collection for the Christmas stocking. 

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of Us: A history of Southeast Asia

Jackie French & Virginia Hooker

Mark Wilson

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9781460750025

Just over 25 years ago, then-Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered a speech in which he told Australians “our destiny [is] as a nation in Asia and the Pacific” much to the horror of those who saw us as irrevocably tied to Britain and causing shockwaves which reverberated across all facets of the nation. Now, in November 2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison has committed to being part of RCEP, the world’s largest trade deal centering on the key Asian nations. Yet, in this new book written by Australia’s leading writer of historical fiction for young people and social historian Emeritus Professor Virginia Hooker, our ties to Asia go back 200 000 000 years when we are part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland and homo sapiens walk out of Africa, travel around and through the lands now known as Asia and eventually establishing the first known indigenous populations in Lake Mungo, NSW 40 000 years ago. Our connections to our neighbours are so much more and so much older than speeches of political leaders seeking new economic directions.

And it is those connections which set this beautifully illustrated book apart, making it unique in the cacophony of books about the history of the region. Accompanying the timeline of major events that have shaped the geographical, political and economic landscapes, French introduces the social perspective through superbly evocative poems telling the stories of two children of each era making this a personal story that shows the thread of connectivity of the people down through the ages.

From the rock art of Timor-Leste …”We carved a face upon the rock to say, “I’m here. I’m me.”‘ to the modern day “Kita semma, all of us, we stride towards tomorrow” the common bonds of seeking identity, dignity, recognition and connection are woven into something unique, beautiful and personal.  It is not a litany of transient, petty power-seeking but a story of the determination and resilience of humans culminating in a collection of ways that the reader can continue the journey forwards. 

IMO, with its emphasis on our connectivity despite our diversity, this book should be at the core of your resources for the Asia and Australia cross-curriculum priority for all ages and stages. either as an introduction or a springboard. It seems to capture all the essential elements of understanding that that CCP embodies.

Teachers’ notes are available. and don’t be surprised to see it in all the awards’ lists in 2020.

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Hiawyn Oram

David Wyatt

Walker Studio, 2019

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

9781406377705

Theoretical physicist, Professor Dawn D. Gable Ph.D., MRI, MInsiP, deals only in facts and shuns the world of stories and imagination.  So when she is interrupted on her birthday by her niece and nephew whom she hasn’t seen for years and doesn’t even recognise, she is not pleased. Even moreso when they present her with a gift from her brother, and she tosses the unwanted present aside. But as midnight draws close, she finds herself being drawn to it as if by an unseen force, and tearing off the wrapping she discovers a book, a childhood favourite called Lost in the Imagination, written and illustrated by “dreamers, fantasists and folklorists”, and which took her and her brother to amazing worlds when they were young, but which she has no time for now.

Tossing the book on the fire, she is surprised that it does not burn – and the strange magic begins. 

This is the journal of that magic, as led by the strange creature Hyllvar, descendant of Nidhogg, the ancient Norse dragon, who emerges from the flames, Prof Gable realises she is alone, bereft of new ideas and inspiration and in need of a challenge…

Superbly crafted and beautifully illustrated, both the professor and the reader are taken on a journey to explore a city of robots, the ancient city of Kor, the miniature world of Lilliput and flying island of Laputa, a mountainous home of mythical beasts, the primeval island of Buyan, Atlantis, Valhalla and more. From cover to cover this is a mystical and magical book that even non-fantasists like me are drawn into in a way that I was drawn into both Middle earth and Hogwarts. It is captivating and a must for all those whose imaginations know no bounds and who delight in exploring the mythical places of the ancients, the literary creations of minds long gone but whose fantasies linger.  Miss 8 and Miss 13 are going to love this and perhaps venture into more classical tales of fantasy as their imaginations will be piqued to read more. In fact, Grandma might make up a package of the stories that go with the worlds just to entice them!

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday

Jo Simmons

Nathan Reed

Bloomsbury, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526606587

Tom is really looking forward to his birthday- he has had to wait a whole year while all the others in his class have had theirs and he is the last to do so. It is also his Lucky Birthday – 11 on the 11th – and so it is sure to be extra special with amazing activities and lots of presents.  But then disasters begin to befall the family – the Curse of the Tooth Fairy according to his little sister Meg – and his parents are so swamped they cancel his birthday.  How can this be?  And with the invitations designed and delivered already!!  

But then Tom draws on his resistingance, and with the help of his friends decides to throw himself the best party ever!  What could go wrong?

Written in the first person so the reader is constantly viewing the circumstances through Tom’s eyes and empathising, this is an engaging read for the newly-independent reader. Peppered with cartoon-like illustrations and Dad’s peculiar expressions, it is funny without resorting to toilet humour and a seriously hilarious but concerning twist at the end, this is one to promote to the boys who are looking for something quirky and fun.

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas Of Amazing Birds

Matt Sewell

Pavilion, 2019

160pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781843654063

It is generally accepted that there are about 10 000 species of birds on this planet, using the traditional classification methods and avid bird-watcher Matt Sewell has selected those he considers to be the “most beautiful, strange, scary, speedy and enchanting” from around the globe  in this collection.

He has sorted them according to continental region and each is introduced through a bright watercolour illustration and a few paragraphs of easily accessible text. Along with the usual facts, he also adds in some other interesting stuff – for example, while the ostrich’s egg might be the largest in the world, in comparison to its body size it’s eggs are the smallest!

Suitable for independent readers, this would appeal to those who have an interest in the avian world or those who are curious about finding out more.

You can have  sneak peek here.

 

The Adventures of Anders

The Adventures of Anders

The Adventures of Anders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Anders

Gregory Mackay

Allen & Unwin, 2019

456pp., graphic novel., RRP $A19.99

9781760632076

School holidays are about to begin and the class is introduced to Bernie the elephant who will be joining them in the new term. Anders the squirrel and his friend Eden befriend Bernie and so begins the first of their adventures – three altogether, collected into one volume. – as they  discover an unknown comet, explore an extinct volcano and find their way through a castle maze as they try to complete the over-holiday homework task set by their teacher. Who has homework in the holidays? 

There is a growing body of evidence of the value of graphic novels to support young readers and with the returned upsurge in popularity of Marvel and Dc Comics and associated events like Comic Con, the stigma previously attached to the format has pretty much disappeared and it is regarded as a genuine part of literature.  So if this is your first venture into this genre either as a reader or a purchaser why not start with an award winner? Individually, the stories have been have been shortlisted for the Angouleme Festival, the most prestigious comics awards in Europe, acknowledging the best comics published across the world. Anders and the Comet was also the winner of Australia’s Silver Ledger Award.