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Which Egg?

Which Egg?

Which Egg?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Egg?

Roxane Gajadhar

Rob Foote

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678584

When a huge wind blows the eggs of Stork, Parrot and Crocodile off their nests so they all end up in a jumble,  who knows which egg is which? Luckily, they have the sense and patience to wait for the eggs to hatch, and sure enough they are able to tell which baby belongs to which parent.

 Even though the theme of whose egg is whose is familiar, nevertheless it sets up all sorts of investigations for young children to follow.  Stork, Crocodile and Parrot each mentions a particular characteristic that their baby will have to enable them to identify them so not only could the child predict what that might be, but they could also think about what might be the significant indicator for other creatures they know, such as a zebra having stripes, and maybe setting up a parent-child matching game.  This could lead to them looking at themselves and their parents and seeing what of which they share.

More broadly they could start to develop their research skills by investigating which creatures hatch from eggs – clearly it’s not just birds. Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones was always my go-to text for this  and the children were always fascinated with what they learned, often leading into questions about their own origins.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same and which is becoming one of my favourite series for young readers because of the places they can go because of their reading.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Very First Encyclopedia

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Very First Encyclopedia

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Very First Encyclopedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Very First Encyclopedia

DK, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241586426

Even though families may no longer invest hundreds of dollars into impressive looking encyclopedia sets when their children are little, nevertheless it is handy to have a general reference book that can give deeper information to answer their interminable questions in language they can understand than any click-and-collect site.  And if that book features a well-loved book character like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, so much the better because they learn as much about the power of print as they do about the topic they seek.  

They learn that this is a resource they can go to time and time again and it is always there; that they have the power to navigate it and read it for themselves when they are ready; and that what they see remains constant with no distracting eye candy trying to sell them something or push a point of view. 

Each chapter focuses on a different theme, with a new topic every time you turn the page. Bite-size chunks of information are complemented by captivating illustrations by the World of Eric Carle, eye-catching photography, and simple how-it-works diagrams, while pull-out images and facts provide extra nuggets of interest. Young learners can find out all about light and sound, the planets in the Solar System, how plants grow, and much, much more in this one-of-a-kind introduction to subjects that they are interested in, offering enough information to satisfy their immediate curiosity, which is the purpose of encyclopedias, and providing the springboard for them to explore further if they wish.  

This would be the perfect gift that will far outlive almost any of the towel sets and nappy caddies and so forth that are usually given to new mothers, and will have a much more profound influence on the child.  One to treasure and to keep. 

 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

Sam Hume

DK Publishing, 2022

224pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241546321

It is no secret that I have long been a fan of the non fiction produced by DK Publishing as a source for non fiction for young readers, and this latest one in a series which includes Nature’s TreasuresDinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life, and The Mysteries of the Universe is no exception. 

This time the reader is taken an enthralling journey through the aquatic world that spans  the deepest, widest ocean to the tiniest puddle. Each page, with its stunning illustrations and easily accessible text introduces amazing animals, ingenious plants, and much more  within the categories of deep ocean, shallow seas, wetlands, rivers lakes and ponds, covering s diversity of watery habitats that each houses its unique lifeforms, some familiar, many not-so. It also includes a timeline of life moving from water to land, as conversely, land back to water, while the index is in the form of a visual guide that allows the browser to follow up on what piques their interest visually.

It is a fascinating dip-and -delve book that offers an entree that will satisfy the taste buds of the generally curious while encouraging those with a deeper interest to go in search of the main course. DK editors know what young readers are interested in and they know how to present it so that the imagination is captured while the information is shared and that’s a winning combination, in my opinion.                             

Animal Migrations

Animal Migrations

Animal Migrations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Migrations – Flying, Walking, Swimming

Diane Jackson Hill

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

80pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486315413 

Every year hundreds of thousands of animals trek across kilometres of land, traverse entire oceans or fly from one end of the planet to the other, and then back again. 

While drawings from the Stone Age period show hoofed animals travelling across the African savannah and  the Ancient Greeks were aware that the local birdlife disappeared and reappeared at certain times, today’s scientists are still asking questions and learning the answers as these annual journeys take place centuries on.  But why do they do this?  Where do they go? How do they find their way? How do they last the distance? How do they survive extreme weather and hungry predators? How do they navigate a landscape that includes rivers, mountains, oceans, cities and towns? 

These are the sorts of questions that our budding naturalists ask and which are answered in this new publication in an accessible layout that has lots of photos and other illustrations as well as text that is written to meet the needs of the intended audience without being too babyish or scientific. It explores the migrations of mammals, birds, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans and aquatic microorganisms, as well as their effect on our world, and how we can help these migrating animals.

With all the supports expected of a quality non fiction text, including a glossary, index and suggestions for further investigations this will be a valuable addition to any school library.

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. 

Backyard Buddies

Backyard Buddies

Backyard Buddies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Buddies

Andy Geppert

Lothian, 2022

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

9780734421470

There are lots of creatures and critters that live in our backyards that fascinate our young readers – things like butterflies, spiders, blue-tongue lizards and even pet rocks.  So this “somewhat factual introduction to the hoppy, crawly, wriggly, buzzy,[and] fluttery ” that little ones are likely to see will be a welcome addition to help answer their questions.  

Beginning with the front endpage offering a contents list that relies on the reader recognising the shape of the creature they want to investigate (encouraging visual acuity), each has its own double-page spread that has lots of pictures including visual cues about when to see it and whether it is safe to touch or not as well as an easily readable description.

Butterflies are like moths – just fancier.

They fly around during the daytime to show off their pretty, colourful wings. This is probably why moths prefer to only come out at night.

As well as offering our youngest readers an understanding that books can be about real things so their questions can be answered, thus introducing the concept of non fiction, like its predecessor Backyard Birdies , it could even inspire the young backyard naturalist to be more aware of their surroundings, perhaps starting a chart to record their observations and  beginning to develop their skills in data gathering, mapping and interpretation! To help parents and teachers encourage this exploration of the immediate environment, there are teachers’ notes that suggest activities that go beyond the pages to investigating life cycles, adaptation and even how humans interact with the creatures.  Even though they might have the ‘don’t touch” symbol, does that make them an enemy to be killed? Or does everything have a place? Scope for a range of ages… 

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.

The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

Jenny Jacoby

Vicky Barker

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

112pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99

9781486316632 

Not so long ago, the word ‘stem’ referred to the major vertical shoot of a plant that bears buds and shoots with leaves and with roots at its lower end to anchor it. (It had other meanings too, but that’s the one with which primary school kids were most familiar.)  Now though, in schools  it more commonly refers to the interdisciplinary approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, thus bringing these topics and their vocabulary into the realm of even our youngest students.

So words like ‘hypothesis’, ‘viscosity’ and even ‘yangchuanosaurus”  now roll off tongues as a matter of course, and concepts such as inertia, electromagnetism and bioluminescence sit alongside the more traditional ones of the primary classroom like photosynthesis, evaporation and metamorphosis. But sometimes such words are easier to say than understand so this encyclopedia explains 100 words that are common to young scientists, arranged in alphabetical order and each with its own page so there is space for illustrations and text so the meaning and the concept’s application is clear.  To make it even easier, there is a contents page, an both an index and glossary so navigation is simple if the reader is looking for a specific term.  

But as well as being a ready reference in itself, it just begs to be a model for students to build their own definitions and explanations.  Imagine the power of a Word Wall that has more than just vocabulary, one that is built and added to at point of need, written and illustrated by the students themselves. Maybe even extending the Word Wall to a display of working models so that as well as the science there are also the technology, engineering, and maths aspects that can be exploited.  And who wouldn’t want to watch an episode of Lego Masters and try to explain the STEM as well as the story? 

Books like this that actively engage readers in building on them are essential tools in the kits of teachers, libraries of schools and bookshelves of families.  This one is a must-have. 

 

The Butterfly and the Ants

The Butterfly and the Ants

The Butterfly and the Ants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Butterfly and the Ants

Kate McCabe

Nicole Berlach

CSIRO Publishing, 2022 

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

9781486313471 

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf…”

The opening sentence in one of the most popular children’s books ever written, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  

But do butterflies really grow up by eating apples and pears and chocolate cakes?  Or is there something more to their story?  

The Butterfly and the Ants tells the story of Blue, a member of the Lycaenidae species of butterfly that is found around the world – a species that comprises about 25% of the world’s butterflies but which is unique because it is dependent on the special relationship the eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises have with the ants that look after them. So while we are familiar with the basic life cycle of the butterfly, this adds not only another element but also a lot more detail about how that tiny egg emerges to be a beautiful gossamer-wing butterfly, usually with a touch of blue. 

It introduces the reader to the concept of symbiosis setting up the potential to investigate which other creatures live in such relationships and underlining the need for children to understand that even if they take or move just one thing from an environment, it can have far -reaching effects.  

This is a book for those who want to know more than the basics,  that explains the process in clear and accessible detail that respects their intelligence – as all those from CSIRO Publishing do. There are teachers’ notes available that not only have a focus on the science but also help expand vocabulary and encourage students to use the “real” language, as well as to be more observant.   Other elements support the information literacy process as they are encouraged to read the notes at the back, use the glossary and so on. 

Built by Animals

Built by Animals

Built by Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built by Animals

Christiane Dorion

Yeji Yun

Wide Eyed, 2022

77pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780711265684

In my region, one of Australia’s greatest construction ventures, the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme, which has been described as “one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world, the Snowy Scheme consists of nine power stations, 16 major dams, 80 kilometres of aqueducts and 145 kilometres of interconnected tunnels” was constructed in post-war Australia and now its expansion is well underway.  As they bore through 27km of earth to connect Tantangara to Talbingo one wonders how they can do this successfully both holding the water back in the dams in the first place and then join them without the tunnels collapsing.  Perhaps, as they did their designs, the architects and engineers looked to Mother Nature, specifically the dam-building techniques of beavers and the underground architecture of ants for ideas and solutions.

Perhaps they were inspired by a book such as this which looks closely at the best architects, designers and builders of the animal and plant worlds and how they build amazing structures  how they create super-strong materials and find clever ways to keep warm or cool, all with very limited tools.  Divided into five sections – construction, materials, shapes, energy, and water – a representative of each species not only explains what, how and why they do what they do but shows how this is being translated into human-made structures so that our buildings of the future are more efficient and more environmentally friendly.  Whether it’s the white, curved, shell of the desert snail giving insight into cooling without air-conditioning or the way the shimmering feathers of the peacock’s tail reflect light, or even the Australian thorny devil’s unique drinking habits, each double page spread is introduced by a new creature telling their own story to the reader in simple, direct language that just makes for fascinating but easy-to-understand reading.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

This is the latest of a number of books by this author including Invented by Animals  that would not only complement the theme of this year’s reviews of how the world began and developed, but also any STEM curriculum focus as Dorion sees her role as “inspiring children to explore the complex systems of the world we live in and to take positive actions towards a sustainable future.” By allowing the creatures themselves to give the explanations not only does she reach the reader but offers a new way of approaching what could be a not-so-fascinating topic.  Certainly, until I picked up Built By Animals I never drew any sort of correlation between what is happening less than 100km away with the ants who build their burrows in the driveway!

A must-have for all your curious builders, particularly those who frequent the Lego wall or the makerspace.