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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…

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Atinuke

Mouni Feddag

Walker, 2019

80pp., hbk.,  RRP $A29.99

9781406376586

No continent’s political borders seem to be as fluid as those of Africa and so this new publication is an introduction to all 55 countries on the African continent.  It captures Africa’s unique mix of the modern and the traditional, as its geography, its peoples, its animals, its history, its resources and its cultural diversity are explored in accessible text and colourful illustrations.

The book divides Africa into five sections: South, East, West, Central and North, each with its own introduction. This is followed by a page per country,which provides the merest taste of the riches of each that can be explored further if desired. The richest king, the tallest sand dunes and the biggest waterfall on the planet are all here, alongside drummers, cocoa growers, inventors, balancing stones, salt lakes, high-tech cities and nomads who use GPS! 

With so many classes now including students of African origin, this is a wonderful way to begin exploring their background, showing them that they are represented in the library’s collection and have a unique heritage to share – as the author says, Africa is the birthplace of the world’s population. It could be a great adjunct to an EALD program using the child’s home country to introduce meaningful reading and information literacy skills.

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.)

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children's Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Children’s Picture Atlas [Third Edition]

Collins Maps

Steve Evans

Collins/Times, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9780008320324

In all my years of teaching (nearly half a century!) either as a classroom-based teacher or a teacher librarian, it has never ceased to amaze me how little ones are fascinated by maps and atlases and they pore over them for hours, dreaming dreams and making plans for the future.  I remember as a youngster spending endless hours with an atlas mapping out a route around the world that would take me to every capital city, and surprisingly (not) that atlas is now among my treasured possessions inherited from my wanderlust mum, (along with an amazing dictionary that got just as much attention!)

So there is no doubt that this new atlas for young children will have the same sort of fascination for your young readers. 

Designed to take children on a journey of discovery around the countries of the world, it begins with intriguing endpapers of the world’s wildlife and then plots a contents journey around the continents that is perfect for its target audience.  Funky, colourful illustrations  depict a range of themes of the iconic features of countries, building up a hankering to see these in real life when they are older.  Minimal text provides basic information and there are the usual non fiction features like an index to help them navigate their way through the book as well as around the world.

Guaranteed to provide hours of engagement and entertainment! 

The Encyclopedia of Animals

The Encyclopedia of Animals

The Encyclopedia of Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Encyclopedia of Animals

Tim Harris

Chartwell Crestine, 2019

304pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780785836469

Discover the lifestyles, habitats, and behaviours of the animal kingdom in this new Encyclopedia of Animals written for independent readers who want to find out more.

Each page of this comprehensive guide is packed with amazingly detailed scientific artworks, full-colour photographs and text, captions and key fact boxes highlighting features of the animal’s anatomy, diet, and genus of familiar and not-so creatures of this planet.  Map icons illustrate the animal’s distribution around the world

Rather than being alphabetical order like a traditional encyclopedia, this one is divided by class and family with each section clarifying the distinguishing traits of the animals, so to find a particular species the young reader has to use the contents and the index pages and each section has a coloured tab for easy reference, all  contributing to their understanding about how non fiction texts are arranged and navigated easily.  

This is more than a beginner’s guide to the animal kingdom but the layout and language make it very accessible to young readers who are discovering the importance and permanence of print resources.

Living In Space

Living In Space

Living In Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living In Space

Lucy Bowman & Abigail Wheatley

Rafael Mayani

Usborne, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99

 9781474921831

With the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon approaching on July 20; the loss of the Mars Rover  after 15 years; and the Chinese landing a probe on the dark side of the moon space happenings are taking a prominent place in news bulletins this year and young minds start to think about what life in space might be like – something that is a distinct possibility for them.

Living In Space is from the Usborne Beginners series, a collection that is ideal for young readers to explore topics of interest as they are written in accessible language with lots of photographs and illustrations and supported by all the key cues and clues to support their independence in information literacy such as a contents page, index and glossary.  In it, they can learn about what it is like to work, eat and sleep in space with enough information to satisfy their initial curiosity and this, in turn, is supported by links to specifically chosen websites that will tell them more.  And if they want to learn about other aspects of space, they can search the Usborne Quicklinks site for “space” and find books and links to whatever they are curious about.

Up-to-date, easy-to-access and an in-demand topic make this a valuable addition to a collection that will get a lot of focus this year. 

 

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK First Reference Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK First Reference Dictionary

DK, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143794981

I love this time of the year – the madness that is Christmas is over, the new school year is becoming real and it’s time to reflect on just where Miss 7 and Miss 12 are at with their learning, and how much they have accomplished in the past 12 months.

This year, Miss 12 begins the whole new adventure of high school while Miss 7 moves into Year 3, already an independent reader and wanting to start writing her own stories.  She has a big imagination and big dreams just like May Gibbs so this new Australian dictionary from DK is going to be the perfect addition to her desk.  As part of the generation that believes having a broad vocabulary and using and spelling it correctly is critical for engaging the audience and getting the message across, I believe dictionaries are an essential part of the writer’s toolkit and this one is perfect for the budding storyteller.

With more than 4,000 words and definitions, and featuring a full alphabet on every page to make finding words easy, colourful photographs that bring words to life, and helpful information on word families, spelling and writing, this essential dictionary for Australian children is the perfect reference book, both for home and at school. Each entry provides the part of speech and the word’s plural while the definition is in everyday English so that it is accessible to the user.  It acknowledges that the user has moved on from junior picture dictionaries so there is not a picture for every entry, allowing space for exploring the words that children of this age use. 

This book is one of six in the 2019 DK Australia First Reference series, which also includes Visual Guide to Grammar and Punctuation, First Maths GlossaryFirst Science Encyclopedia and First How Things Work Encyclopedia., all of which will be important additions to Miss 7’s bookshelf this year as well as being extremely useful in any library collection as they could be the central focus of teaching this age group the value of reference tools and how to identify the cues and clues to use them.   Alphabetical order is an essential skill that reaches well beyond understanding how a dictionary works, but the dictionary is the ideal place to master it. 

The Awesome Book of Space

The Awesome Book of Space

The Awesome Book of Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Awesome Book of Space

Adam Frost

Bloomsbury, 2018 

112pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408896501

Did you know that if you were an ancient Egyptian then your understanding of the sun’s journey across the sky would focus on a giant dung beetle called  Khepri who dug the sun out of the underworld in the East at dawn, rolled it across the sky and then pushed it back into the underworld in the evening? But if you were an Aztec you would know that there had been four suns before this one, which is called Tonatiuh, and without human sacrifices, it would refuse to move across the sky and all the crops would fail.

On the other hand, did you know that just one space suit (used on the ISS only about 25 times each) costs 40 times more than the top-of-the-line Rolls Royce car; or what would happen if you fell into a black hole?

These are the sorts of things covered in this intriguing book about space that is perfect for young readers who like to dig and delve and have their information presented in a graphic format rather than lots of text making it  accessible to readers at all levels of development.  Ranging across the sort of subjects that young readers like to ask questions about or surprise their parents with at the dinner table, this book answers questions like 

  • How many pairs of pants you’d need to pack to live in a space station for a year?
  • What the weather is like on Neptune?
  • How many tonnes of litter humans have left on the moon?

Written in the conversational tone of Splat the Fake Fact, young readers are invited to guess or research the answers to some of the articles such as which of a range of creatures has not made it into space, so that it becomes an interactive experience rather than just a passive reading one.  And with the range of topics covered, it offers a taster for everyone providing the boost to do some further research if the imagination is gripped, not just about space itself but also physics, geology, and a host of STEM topics. Just how many explanations did earlier civilisations have for the sun’s journey across the sky and how do they compare with what we know to be the case now that science has solved its mystery? 

Not only would this be a valuable addition to a library collection to inspire space enthusiasts, but it’s also the right size and price for popping in the Christmas stocking.   

 

Meet the Fingerlings

Meet the Fingerlings

Meet the Fingerlings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Fingerlings

Rosie Peet

DK, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A12.99

9780241370803

The Fingerlings are a lively gang of monkey, sloth, and unicorn friends who love to hang out together and this book introduces very young readers to Boris the energetic monkey who loves to play the drums, Marge the brainy sloth and Gigi the bubbly unicorn who is always the life and soul of the party as well as  Bella the monkey who loves to jump and climbs and  Kingsley the sloth whose favourite sport is surfing!

At first glance, this is just another book that is a tie-in to a set of popular commercial characters, and to some extent it is, but with the expected DK twist of educating as well as entertaining, it is more than that.  Each character has their own page with basic information about them in easily accessible language but the book also has a quiz at the end to test the children’s knowledge of what they have read and an index so they can find the answers quickly if they are unsure.  While not a fan of quizzing kids on what they’ve read as though they somehow have to prove they have read and understood things, nevertheless this is a fun format to introduce the concept that books can contain information and that it can be found by using specific cues and clues, thus laying down the foundations of information literacy.  

Even if it is viewed as a clever marketing tool to popularise characters soon to hit Australian preschoolers, books that tie screen to print are always popular as young would-be readers recognise familiar things and with the bonus of some simple guidelines to help them with those first research skills, this deserves a place in the early childhood collection- just as we provide books about Star Wars and superheroes for our older readers. 

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafty Science

Jane Bull 

DK, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780241353455

Whether the little fingers of our youngest readers are making a sun clock, weaving paper, floating boats to escape sharks or concocting chocolate chunk cookies, as well as the fun there is also science involved.  Whether the final product works  because of energy, temperature, strength, aerodynamics, or the combination of molecules, simple science is behind many of the common craft activities that children love to create.

So in this new release from DK, Jane Bull has taken some of these popular projects and explored not only the steps involved in making something from start to finish, but has also explained the science behind each one.  

From making a beautiful ice lantern that could grace the Christmas table, to a balloon that doesn’t pop to investigating how beans know which way is up, there are 20 different activities that will young minds occupied and, in some cases, mesmerised, as they are fascinated by the “magic” while they learn to follow procedural texts.  Guaranteed to engage is the popular grass-head figure made by putting some grass or wheat seeds into a piece of stocking or kitchen wipe, filling it with potting mix and securing it tightly before putting it wick down into a jar of water.  Draw a face with permanent markers and place on the classroom window-sill.  Your young scientists will make a beeline for theirs each morning to see if it has started to sprout hair, and having competitions to see whose will grow the longest!  (Can you tell I’ve done this once or twice or more in my 45 years in schools?)

Learning science through play from an early age using easy-to-find materials opens up so much of the world for the young child, and with a simple equipment list, clear step-by-step instructions, lots of photographs and the simple science explanations this is a book that should be in every school collection, available on the makerspace table and also in Christmas stockings for a child’s personal library this year.