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What’s That There?

What's That There?

What’s That There?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s That There?

Ros Moriarty

Balarinji

Allen & Unwin, 2017 

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

9781760297817

Australia is more than a landscape of endless red plains and grey-green gum trees, and in this vividly illustrated book younger readers are encouraged to look more closely at the landscape around them.

Using a predictable text pattern of both question and answer and repetition, the reader is invited to examine the bird’s-eye view of the landscape and engage with the illustrations to identify what it is the bird sees.

What’s that there?

“That’s the rushing river’s curly bend,” cries the sea eagle perched on a swaying, knotted branch. “There, look!”

And in stunning pictures, based on traditional Aboriginal designs and created by Balarinji established by the author and her husband, the astute young reader can indeed pick out the river winding through and the sea eagle from its on-high perch.  Or the hawk soaring over the “cliff face sharp with sun-scorched stones glinting”. Or “the dry, cracked billabong sleeping”  that the stick-bug clinging to the peeling tree bark sees.

As well as being a celebration of the country and its creatures, the poetic text and the stunning illustrations introduce landscapes that may be familiar but but are unseen as we race through life, not pausing to see things through artistic or linguistic eyes, Not only does it encourage us to slow down and think about what we are seeing, it also offers a different perspective.  What do the tops of the grey-green bush look like to the magpies, currawongs and crimson rosellas that are always flying over and around my house? What do they make of the dun coloured, drought-affected grasses that stretch between the trees? 

Understanding and using the bird’s-eye view perspective where things are seen from above, often an unfamiliar angle for our little ones, is a difficult concept to grasp and yet it is an essential skill of mapping and “unplugged coding” so this book is an intriguing way of introducing them to that concept, perhaps even challenging them to try their hand at interpreting their own surroundings from such a perspective. 

 For those who want to explore a different aspect, there is a translation of the English into the Yanyuwa language (spoken in families in Borroloola , NT) at the end which not only allows the young readers of those families to see and read stories in their own language as part of the author’s Indi Kindi initiative but also demonstrates that not everyone speaks English as their first language offering the opportunity to explore the languages spoken by classmates and families and celebrate the value of that first language.  

For a seemingly simple, 24 page book there is so much packed into this, it is a must-have in your collection.

More artwork created by Balarinji

More artwork created by Balarinji

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids

John Miller

Chris Fornell Scott

Quarry Books, 2018

144pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99

9781631594830

Apparently, 74 million people play Minecraft each month, one of those is Miss 12 who is now hooked on coding, and many of whom are in schools where the game is being used in many scenarios as part of the everyday learning experience.  For some time, the teacher librarian networks I belong to have been peppered with queries about how it can best be used and so a book that specifically focuses on its use in the science, technology, maths and engineering strands will be of great value to teachers whose students are clamouring for these sorts of experiences but whose personal knowledge and skills of the game are not as developed as those of those they teach.

Beginning with a thorough explanation of what Minecraft is, how it works, how it can be used and played and purchased so that parents and teachers understand its value both in school and beyond – the book’s focus is ‘to connect the Minecraft player(s) in their life with STEM learning…to help bridge the gap between game-play and engaging STEM concepts” –  it moves on to six themed quests, each of which presents four labs, which, in turn, have two parts – an out-of-game activity that requires hands-on exploration and an in-game building and crafting activity.

Quest 1: Pistons, Rails, and Redstone
Quest 2: Construction Zone
Quest 3: The Sky is Not Your Limit
Quest 4: Rocks, Minerals, and Gems
Quest 5: Cycles in Science
Quest 6: Engineering Challenge

In terms of the quality of content, Miss 12 would probably be a better reviewer than I, but in her absence, this review by a Minecraft expert suggests that it is “outstanding” and gives a comprehensive tour of the contents and layout.  The credentials of the authors also convince me of its authority. However, as a non-Minecraft person who wears a teacher’s hat, it would seem to me to be the perfect tool to not only capture an audience who prefer gaming to reading but also to use its user-friendliness to explore things not necessarily intellectually or physically in the teacher’s toolbox.  Added to that is this article which shows that onscreen adventures are leading children to discover their origins in print.  

I’m beginning to see what all the conversations have been about and why there is such excitement about this game that demands so much more of the student than pressing buttons or manipulating levers.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

We Wear Pants

We Wear Pants

We Wear Pants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Wear Pants

Katie Abey

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408893609

When animals wear clothing you get some hilarious results and when you combine the visuals with speech bubble comments, the result is a crazy, funny book about the different types of clothes we wear and the importance of getting dressed. There are 35 main characters that appear on every spread so children will learn to find their favourites, as well as looking out for hilarious guest animal appearances all wearing a variety of clothing items.

Captions encourage them to search for various items, particularly the eccentric monkey who just does not conform. The diversity of activities involving spotting, choosing, counting and decision-making ensures the child engages with the illustrations, such a critical part of early reading behaviour.

One that will become a favourite as there is something new to discover with each visit.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be Good at Science, Technology, and Engineering

DK Children’s, 2018

320pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241227862

As soon as our little ones begin their formal education in preschool (or its equivalent) they start to engage with STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – as they participate in all sorts of activities that have one of these critical areas as their foundation.  And, as is normal with inquisitive minds, questions beget answers which just pose more questions so in this one volume, DK have tried to address the key areas of early science and not only provide some answers but also offer things to try that will open up new worlds.

Beginning with an introductory section which looks at how science works and how to work scientifically by making an observation, forming an hypotheses, carrying out an experiment, collecting data, analysing the results and then repeating the experiment to test the validity of the results it then takes readers through the main facets of science -life, matter, energy, forces, and Earth & Space. Using the typical DK layout of small pieces of information, clarity of language in the explanation and  hundreds of easily-understood diagrams which serve as models for how students can showcase their own work,, this becomes a ready reference book for budding young scientists that will support learning, answer questions and inspire more.  

As usual, there is an informative glossary for those needing a quick explanation and a comprehensive index so desired topics are found easily. 

Perfect for both the home and school libraries. 

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let's Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Rhonda Gowler Greene

Daniel Kirk

Bloomsbury, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780802735096

Need to get from here to there?

We can take you – anywhere!

On land or track, in air or sea,

we’re transportation – A to Z.

A cast of quirky animals takes readers for a fun ride on all sorts of vehicles – some familiar, some not-so – in this rollicking rhyme about things that go.  Rather than the typical alphabet book of matching letters and pictures, this one has a rhyme full of information about each vehicle that is presented by the vehicle itself.  Each vehicle is ‘driven’ by a creature whose name starts with the same letter as the transport – the koala and kangaroo are in charge of the kayak – so young readers will have fun, and perhaps be challenged by, naming the drivers (and passengers) while also finding other items beginning with the same letter in the illustrations.  The endpapers are a treat offering the entire alphabet on a large truck so little ones can test their knowledge while the last page is a surprise!

They can begin early classification activities by sorting the vehicles into land, sea or air or even by the way they are propelled. perhaps suggesting others that are not featured in the book.  Or they might start with the creatures they know and make suggestions about the mode of transport they would be in charge of.

Despite its slightly American bias (which most young readers just accept anyway), this is an enjoyable read that will have early readers returning to again and again as not only is there something new to find each time which encourages attention to the detail in the pictures, but it allows them to read it for themselves without an adult present – a critical aspect of early reading behaviour that instils confidence and an expectation of success. 

A book that offers so much more than it first appears – if you have early readers or those learning English as another language, it would be a worthwhile investment.

There’s a Dragon in Your Book

There's a Dragon In Your Book

There’s a Dragon In Your Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a Dragon In Your Book

Tom Fletcher

Greg Abbott

Puffin, 2018 

32pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9780141376127

OH LOOK!

There’s an egg in your book!

It looks ready to hatch.

Whatever you do, don’t turn the page…

With such an intriguing introduction of course you are going to page – I can’t believe you did that! – and suddenly there is a dragon in your book.  A baby dragon who, when her nose is tickled at the author’s invitation, sneezes and sets fire to the book!  Oh no!  How are we going to get the fire out?

This is the most charming, fun, interactive book for little people that I’ve seen for a while.  The conversation between the author and the reader immediately invites the child to interact, use their imagination and just delight in this story that celebrates everything that is fun and enjoyable about books and reading, reinforcing their understanding that reading is something pleasurable to do.  

The saying on one of my Storybook Cushions is “Dragons breathe fire and magic into stories” and this one certainly does – but in the nicest way with child-friendly illustrations that depict a happy baby dragon that will not frighten little listeners before bed. 

Interactive, imaginative and fun – what more do little people need in a story?

What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What's at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

Tania Cox

Jedda Robaard

Lothian Childrens. 2018 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780734418012

 

When a young child discovers a piece of rope lying on the ground, she pulls it with all her might but cannot release it.  Even when the monkey offers its help and they pull together, it does not reveal its end. Kangaroo and Gorilla come to help without success and it is only when Hippo adds his enormous weight that the secret is revealed as the rope finally gives and they all end up in a tangle on top of each other.  But is what they find what they are expecting? Or want?

Delicately illustrated with gentle watercolours. this is a charming book for early childhood about curiosity and co-operation which opens up the world of stories to young readers. The predominant use of questions means they will have fun predicting what could be at the end of the rope, something so enormous it defies such huge effort, as well as suggesting who will be the next to say, “Would you like some help to see?” as each creature is larger than the one before. The concept of enlisting others to work together to help solve a problem is strong and no doubt the children will share instances of when they have worked with others to reach a solution beyond them as individuals, as well as the feelings of frustration and crankiness when they can’t sort it for themselves.  An opportunity to talk about resilience and perseverance, perhaps.

The overhead perspective of what the rope might be attached to will encourage them to look closely at the picture, reinforcing not only the relationship between text and pictures in quality picture books, but also the need to look for cues and clues in the details.  More experienced readers might even investigate the use of perspective in pictures so that a story’s message is enriched and enhanced. 

And with the ending left hanging, so to speak, they might like to imagine what happens next.  Engaging with texts such as this which demand the child’s involvement and encourage them to predict based on both the context and the illustrations is such a vital foundation of early reading behaviour, teaching the child they can be an active participant in the story rather than just a passive viewer and thus enhancing their enjoyment.

Seemingly simple on the surface this is rich in rewards and possibilities with comprehensive teachers’ notes available.

In-Between Things

In-Between Things

In-Between Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In-Between Things

Priscilla Tey

Candlewick Press, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780763689834

In between the covers of this book is a rollicking story about a cat and a dog who explore all the things in between things in the house. 

The cat is between that table that’s green and the chair with the tear sitting right over there,

The dog is between the floor and the cat (and does not enjoy being in the middle like that!)

As well as exploring all sorts of physical things like the glass of the fishbowl between keeping the fish wet and us dry,  there are all sorts of hybrids like mixed colours, spoons and forks called sporks, skirts and shorts that make skorts,  and dancing with a jig and a wiggle makes a jiggle that makes everyone giggle! 

As well as learning the language of position which is such an important maths concept, young readers will delight in examining the highly detailed illustrations for more examples of in-between while at the same time enjoying the rhyme and rhythm of a story that takes an everyday concept and turns it into a story.

 

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Is It The Way You Giggle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It The Way You Giggle?

Nicola Connelly

Annie White

New Frontier, 2018

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

9781925594102

What makes you special?

Is it the way you look or something that you can do?

Is it the way you giggle or the way you wiggle?

This is a new take on a perennial topic that will encourage little people to think about what it is that makes them special.  With the entire text being in question format as though the author is speaking directly to the reader, it provokes thought about those things that are unique to us that make us stand out, going beyond the obvious of the colour of the skin, eyes and hair and starting to look at the inner person-their personality, their expertise  and their mannerisms.  Even those with low self-esteem will be able to contribute something and perhaps get a little lift that there is something special about them.  

Annie White’s charming illustrations in watercolour and pencil show that even within one family of four kids from the same parents and exposed to the same sorts of things, there is huge diversity amongst them which is accepted, appreciated and celebrated within the family. 

Extensive teachers’ notes offer new ideas about using this book with early childhood children but as a parent-child read-along, it’s a great opportunity for a chat about how the child and other family members are special and even what makes the family itself unique.

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl's 1 2 3

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roald Dahl’s 1 2 3

Roald Dahl

Quentin Blake

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9780241330364

What happens when you mix the master storytelling of Roald Dahl, iconic bright illustrations by Quentin Blake and the time-proven format of a counting book?  You get a fantastic book for very young readers that introduces them to an author/illustrator combination that will delight them for years.

Using The Enormous Crocodile as its base, young children will delight in seeing all the other chiddlers gather to play in the park while at the same time, in true pantomime style, wanting to yell out at warn them about what they can see hiding in the bushes.  Counting books are plentiful, those that tell a story not-so, and those which build to a climax that is only resolved by a cunning lift-the-flap conclusion, rare.  This book ticks so many essential boxes in helping our youngest readers continue their reading journey with confidence and independence  knowing that the BEST books tell a story.  Miss 3 adored it and will be a Dahl/Blake fan for life, just like Miss Almost-12!