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Wombat

Wombat

Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wombat

Christopher Cheng

Liz Duthie

Walker Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760651374

Even though they can be destructive, ornery and bite the unwary really hard, wombats still rank high among children’s favourite Australian animals. So this new addition to the Nature Storybook series,  released today,  will be a welcome addition to the collection.

Given the bushfires of last summer and now the floods of this autumn, the plight of Australia’s native creatures has never been so precarious or prominent as young readers begin to understand the impact of these natural disasters on habitat and food supplies.  Therefore, this story about the life of a wombat, looking at the interesting way these animals build their homes, look after their family and protect themselves from predators is very timely. From the day breaking as she snuggles down in her burrow where the tree roots mesh to marking her territory as she is a solitary creature, to having to defend herself and her little jellybean-like baby against the dingo, Cheng has crafted the most compelling story, accompanied not only by stunning illustrations from Duthie but also lots of wombat facts as imagination and information sit comfortably side by side in this narrative non fiction format that makes so much available to our young readers. 

Chris Cheng is at his best when he meshes his meticulous research with his way with words and this sits very well along Python, his other contribution to this series and his many others stories for children, my personal, long-term, yet-to-be-beaten favourite being One Child

A must-have for any collection that meets the needs of any children with a liking for or an interest in these unique creatures.  

And if you would like to get your students started on writing faction, beginning with a wombat focus, then From Fact to Faction(e:update 011, 2012) written by me is available to Primary English Teachers’ Association Australia members.

 

Peep Inside How a Recycling Truck Works

Peep Inside How a Recycling Truck Works

Peep Inside How a Recycling Truck Works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peep Inside How a Recycling Truck Works

Lara Bryan

Giavana Medeiros

Usborne, 2021

14pp., board book, RRP $A14.99

9781474986083

From rubbish into the bin to recycled products in the playground, this little lift-the-flap book tracks the journey of recycling, providing the perfect introduction to this practice which is a normal part of everyday life now. 

Joining the 16 other books in this series, Usborne continues to bring quality non fiction to even our youngest readers offering them a book that is sturdy and small enough for little hands as well as a format that is engaging and fun.  Anyone who knows the power and persistence of a young person’s questions will welcome being able to share this title, and the others, with them so they have the answers they seek from a clear and authoritative source written with them in mind so they learn the value of information in print .  Perfect for preschoolers as it acknowledges those who prefer non fiction even at that age..

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

Sandra Morris

Walker Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781925381801

“Earth is divided into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere by an imaginary line called the Equator.  One of the most important differences between the two hemispheres is the timing of seasons. Because of the hemispheres’ different angles and distances relating to the sun over the course of the year, their seasons – and their weather patterns – occur at different times.  In both hemispheres, animals deal with the changing seasons in various ways. Whichever hemisphere they live in, they need to be able to read the signs of the changing seasons to survive.”

But with climate change, many of those signs are changing and human activities are also having a massive impact, so more and more species are at risk as they are not adapting as fast as the changes.  This beautiful non-fiction picture book contrasts, month-by-month, some of the world’s most-loved Northern and Southern Hemisphere animals and the ways the climates in those regions affect the way they breed, feed, adapt, hide and survive. Using an element common to both focus creatures, such as camouflage, building a home, being armoured and migration. two are in the spotlight for each month showing how they deal with what they have always had and what they are now facing. 

It is an intriguing introduction to the environment and the continuing impact of climate change that will leave young readers with a greater understanding of how even the smallest action can have a huge effect.

From the detailed end papers which  have a clearly labelled world map showing the hemispheres, continents, countries, oceans and the animals mentioned in the book, including several from Australia and New Zealand to the supporting pages featuring a comprehensive glossary, index, further reading suggestions as well as  information on how individual readers can help, this is a must-have for any library collection and any unit of work that focuses on sustainability of the environment, animal adaptation and climate change, adding so much more to the reader’s understanding of the topic rather than the traditional “all you need to know about…”.

Look for this one in awards’ lists over the year.

 

 

 

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Catherine Clowes

Rachel Gyan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486313211

While books about Australia’s unique fauna abound for readers of all levels, there are fewer that focus on our unique flora and even less for younger readers who are just developing an interest in the plants the populate our landscape. 

In this new publication from CSIRO, 26 of our well-known and not-so plants are in the spotlight offering an introduction to things we see daily and those that are not so common yet still readily seen in local environments. Maps pf plant ecoregions enable readers to identify what they are most likely to see where they live.  Each double page spread has a similar format with some detailed information using accessible language that speaks directly to the reader ensuring challenging scientific concepts are easily understood such as  the exploration of plant classification (families, genera and species) through the analogy of mixed lollies;  an interesting fact that goes beyond the scientific nature of the plant; and an activity that encourages the reader to discover more about what they have just read and engage with the plant.  There are beautiful biologically accurate watercolour illustrations of each plant and its parts, while the whole has all the necessary elements to encourage easy navigation and information literacy skills.   Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available spanning a number of the Australian Curriculum areas, including a focus on the use of the plants by indigenous people.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If we are to have our students value our bushland then they must first know what there is to value (and there are pointers about how to explore it so that both explorer and environment stay safe) and so this is a must-have for any library collection and study that has the protection of our habitat at its heart. 

 

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Things to Know about Saving the Planet

Usborne, 2020

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474981835

There has been a plethora of books about how individuals can save this planet recently and so adding another to the mix seems almost superfluous.

However, this one is for slightly older readers who have a broader perspective than just the regular reducing, reusing, recycling of household goods and changing personal practices.  It’s cover is intriguing with statements such as “recycled jeans can keep houses warm’ and “eating less beef saves water” so the reader is enticed to look inside to discover more.

And inside are even more intriguing tidbits set out in a colourful appealing way that make a provocative statement followed by an easily accessible explanation. How could plastic-eating bacteria help reduce waste? Can a river be given human rights? Could we generate all the power we need from the sun and the wind? How do woolly sweaters help penguins in peril? Would building a giant sunshade in space stop the world from overheating?

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The environment and its sustainability permeate our lives in a way that makes even the youngest reader aware of the consequences of their actions so books like these that open up new ideas such as joining a jeans library so fewer pairs have to be made or knowing that making one hamburger actually uses more water than a person drinks in three years are an integral part of our understanding and actions.  While each article offers its explanation, there is scope for an interested student to engage in a deeper investigation to explore, expand and explain the particular phenomenon.  

As well as all the usual supports for locating, selecting and using the information, there are also the popular Quicklinks that take the reader beyond the text to new knowledge.

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of the Weedy Sea Dragon

Anne Morgan

Lois Bury

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9781486313952

Down in the seaweed and kelp forests of Australia’s southern coasts dwells a creature that looks like it has come straight from the pen of one of our children’s book illustrators.  With its colourful spots and bars, long snout and tail and dingly-dangly camouflage bits it revives any loss in the belief of dragons.  The little weedy sea dragon (and its cousins the leafy sea dragon and the ruby seadragon from WA) are among the fascinating creatures that live in this new world  of under the water and to have had the privilege of watching their graceful mating dance remains one of my most precious scuba-diving memories.

In this stunning book, not only is the reader introduced to this intriguing inhabitant of the ocean but also to the reason that these sorts of non fiction titles must remain an essential element of the school library collection.  “Everything” may be “available on the Internet” but who would know to investigate weedy sea dragons if you don’t know they exist? You don’t know what you don’t know.  Alongside Bury’s delicate illustrations, Anne Morgan has crafted a text as graceful as the dragons’ dance and accompanied it with further information that whets the appetite and supports the development of those critical information literacy skills. As well, there are extensive teaching notes  for Yr 2-6 that focus on Science, English and Media Arts, leading the reader to consider how individual characteristics help species survive and thrive.

A must-have that will lead young non fiction readers into their own new world. If there are dragons in the oceans, what else might be there?

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Katie Daynes

Ilaria Faccioli

Usborne, 2020 

16pp., board book., RRP $A19.99

 9781474968942

The salvation of the planet and particularly, those things that individuals can do to work towards that, has certainly been the hot topic in publishing over the last year or so.  And now Usborne have added to the mix with another one of their amazing lift-the-flap books.

 This one gives a good overview of why we need to protect the planet, what has been causing it to deteriorate, specific issues that changes in human behaviour can address and an action plan that suggest small changes that make big differences But don’t be misled by the lift-the-flap format because this is more a book for independent readers who have some concepts about the environment and its sustainability. Although the facts are straightforward as they introduce the various concepts, plentiful and illustrated in an engaging ways, the reader still has to be mature enough to understand them.

In addition, the format offers a model for students to build their own resource. Encourage them to pose a question about a topic that interests them, seek and verify the answer and then present it in a lift-the-flap type format for others to discover. To assist with this and give greater insight into the various concepts, Usborne has provided its usual Quicklinks  making this an essential resource on this topic. 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Tania McCartney

NLA, 2020

68pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279637

According to my Facebook memories, 12 months ago it was snowing heavily here in the Snowy Mountains while there were 95 bushfires raging in the north of NSW, and we, ourselves, were evacuated just a few weeks later because of fires that had ignited here. The talk and news were constantly about the “worst drought in memory”, the heat and the continual and spreading threat of those fires.  And just as we thought that it would never end and we were doomed to breathing smoke-laden air forever, the rains came and places devastated by flames were now threatened with floods!

Regardless of the time of year, the weather in Australia is always a reliable topic of conversation and now two of my favourite creators have teamed together to offer an explanation for the phenomena for our younger readers.  Beginning with an explanation of whatever is weather, their combined writing and drawing talents have been used to explore the various elements of the weather, particularly in Australia so there is a greater understanding of the why, where, when and how of that which has such a bearing on our lives so that it is more than listening to the brief forecast on television or the BOM site. or being fascinated by the rain radars.  Living in the bush as I do, my favourite pages were Bush Forecasting that explain some of the behaviours and characteristics that we have come to notice and learn as the weather changes. Black cockatoos are always a welcome sign here.

Both Stephanie and Tania have drawn deeply on the resources of the National Library of Australia (luckily for them, it’s in their neighbourhood) and being a NLA publication the support materials for further exploration are very detailed. Even moreso though, is the module written to support the book as part of the NLA’s digital classroom   Aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography), and Science for Year 4, 5 and 6 students, it adopts an inquiry-based learning approach to develop students’ understanding of geographical and scientific processes relating to weather, environments, people and systems.

What more could you want?

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ANZACs 

9781760897024

Robotics

9781760897680 

The Ocean

9781760897666 

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 

A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for 80 years, Puffin introduces our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in this new series of non fiction titles, the perfect size and format for little hands. Voiced by Puffin Little and speaking directly to the reader in a narrative style which ensures engagement, there is much to carry interest and open up new fields to explore.  The contents page and glossary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned.

Joining the first collection of three are Little Explorer Ocean,  Little Scientist Robotics and Little Historian The ANZACs offering  a variety of topics to tempt a diverse range of interests for those who prefer non fiction and are looking for something that will satisfy their curiosity but not overwhelm with detail. They are ideal for answering those questions that are a step beyond initial curiosity offering enough information using accessible language that respects their existing knowledge and skills. Young readers will appreciate this series because there has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal. 

When Allen Lane first established Puffin 80 years ago with a dream of establishing a publishing house devoted to children’s literature, he began by publishing four non fiction titles for children who had been evacuated to the country to keep them safe from German bombing and invasion – War on Land, War at Sea, War in the Air and On the Farm – so it seems fitting that the dream has turned full circle and this anniversary year has been marked by this no-frills non fiction series for little ones. 

 

 

Gold!

Gold!

Gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold!

Jackie Kerin

Annie White

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.95

9781925804522

Victoria, Australia in the 1850s and the word of the discovery of gold is spreading around the world. Among the tens of thousands of everyday fold who flock to the goldfields are two young English brothers and another two from Canada.  They decide to team up but they soon discover that despite the rumours, the streets are not lined with gold and nor is it just lying around to be picked up.

Searching for gold is hard work for little reward as you battle the elements, the environment, the crowds, the thieves, the law -and Ma Kilduff’s advice doesn’t really make things easier.  Still they persevere until one day…

This is the “inside story” of the discovery of the first large nugget to be discovered in Victoria, the  Blanche Barkly, taking the reader through the harsh, hard life that the goldfields afforded yet was accepted because of gold fever.  However as well as the story itself, in the final few pages the reader is taken on a journey that provides even more detail beginning with the impact that the goldrush and subsequent discovery of the Blanche Barkly had on the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of the land., giving an interesting and original perspective that could be explored further in any curriculum studies of the topic.  Teaching notes are available but this lends itself to investigating  lines of inquiry such as…

  • How did the quest for gold impact the traditional owners of the land on which it took place?
  • How did it affect the environment?
  • Why did the government initially try to keep the discovery of gold a secret and did they make the right decision?
  • As the world’s second largest gold producer in 2020, what lessons have been learned  and what has changed  since the first discoveries? What differences would Ma Kilduff notice?
  • What has been the legacy of the goldrush 170 years on?

Alternatively, students could put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters from Ma Kilduff to Queen Victoria and research and retell the story from that personal perspective. Even just asking, “What did the author and illustrator need to know to produce this book?” would lead to some interesting investigations.

Hopefully the days of “This is Year 5 so it’s gold” and the meaningless study of facts and figures have disappeared so having s book as rich as this in offering different ways to learn about a critical part of Australia’s history is as precious as the metal itself.