Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff










Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

National Geographic Kids, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99


They are the things we see and use every day and which are so familiar we take little notice of them -cameras. mobile phones, rulers,  toilets and even common customs like shaking hands, table manners and saying gesundheit. But each has a backstory about its invention or development and in this intriguing little book from NatGeo Kids, each is explained.  With hand-shaking now discouraged, what are the origins of this practice anyway? With toilet paper now a nightly news item, what is the story behind its development and the invention of the toilet?  

Using its customary bold, colourful design, with stunning photos, and jam-packed with awesome facts, there are 10 chapters each with related inventions to keep young minds entertained and educated for a long time.  Perhaps, if students are no longer in the physical space known as school, it could serve as a role model for their own investigation of something common. Perhaps a future edition might have concepts such as social distancing and self-isolation – what do these mean, what do they look like and why were they imposed?

While the book answers many questions, it has the potential to pose so many more, each of which could be a research topic for kids needing something to do, and with self-choice essential it will engage them while putting into practice all those information literacy skills! 


Space on Earth

Space on Earth

Space on Earth









Space on Earth

Dr Sheila Kanani

Alma Books 2019

1287pp., pbk., RRP $19.99


The 50th anniversary of man stepping on the moon and the declaration by President Trump that they will be back there by 2024 with NASA’s Project Artemis has again ignited the debate about the cost of space exploration and whether the money could be better spent back here on this planet. 

So the publication of this new book from Dr Sheila Kanani, a British astronomer with a particular interest in Saturn, is very timely because it examines how the discoveries in space have been translated back into everyday objects on Earth.  It is full of amazing facts about everyday innovations, from drills and dustbusters to bike helmets,  that have been inspired by space travel and includes sections on the people who brought them to us,

Divided into three sections – technology, health and fashion – it examines objects as diverse as baby blankets, artificial limbs and skiwear, examining how their development is related to space exploration as well as a short piece about the scientist who imagineered the development.

Intriguing and offering much food for thought that could spark further investigations. 

William Bee’s Wonderful World Of Trains, Boats And Planes

William Bee's Wonderful World Of Trains, Boats And Planes

William Bee’s Wonderful World Of Trains, Boats And Planes











William Bee’s Wonderful World Of Trains, Boats And Planes

William Bee

Pavilion, 2019

48pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


“Once upon a time , the only way for people to get around was by walking, or on the back of a horse, or in some sort of contraption that was pulled by a horse. And then along came…”

Young readers who are fascinated by transport can join the lovable William Bee as he and his dog and a collection of traffic cones wander through the world and history of trains, boats and planes. Part true and part imaginary , his adventures are based on actual facts and these are woven into the narrative to make an engaging story that educates and entertains. With its humour and bright detailed illustrations, young readers have much to pore over and discover and perhaps even be inspired to design their own craft. 

This is one of a series of three – William Bee’s Wonderful World of Trucks and William Bee’s Wonderful World Of Tractors And Farm Machines that would sit very well within a unit on transport and travel.


Up to Something

Up to Something

Up to Something









Up to Something

Katrina McKelvey

Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books, 2019

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


A sign on the door of the hardware store catches Billy’s eye – it’s for a great billycart race.! It doesn’t matter that Billy doesn’t have a billycart because he has heard his Dad banging, drilling and sawing in his shed so many times that he is excited about what they could build together.

He is even more excited when his Dad agrees and they begin work together.  But excitement turns to disappointment when his dad appoints him as his “special helper” fetching and carrying the tools and materials, rather than using them. And even though he gets promoted to “assistant” because it sounds more important, the duties don’t change and Billy is soon bored with menial tasks like sweeping his dad gets him to do.  He had dreams of them working side by side building something magnificent together. But as he sweeps he has an idea and while Dad is busy measuring and sawing, Billy is doing the same…

Billy’s story is that of so many youngsters – wanting to get in and be like their dads but being assigned to the sidelines – that it will resonate with young readers who are more interested in making and doing than watching. Lonergan’s gentle illustrations that are so rich in detail echo the relationship between Billy and his dad offering a story that could be a lesson for dads about not underestimating the talents and skills of their offspring.

From a STEM perspective there is plenty of scope to explore creating plans for billycarts, but if readers look carefully at the elements of Billy’s cart they might be encouraged to look at everyday objects differently.  What else could a laundry basket or an old pair of roller skates become? Lots of scope for creative thinking embedded in a story that is just a joy to read in itself.

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women











Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Aitziber Lope

Luciano Lozano

Wide Eyed Editions, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99


As the daytime temperatures drop and you enjoy the warmth of your car heater during the morning commute, are you aware that you can thank a woman for the privilege?

Or if you have a baby and bless the convenience of disposable nappies that it was a woman who invented the first prototype? Or if you have used technology involving wifi, bluetooth and GPS today, then that is also the idea of a woman beginning during World War II as a secret communication system between actress Hedy Lamarr and American composer George Antheil.

This intriguing book brings together “15 incredible inventions from inspiring women” , pioneered decades ago and now household items taken for granted.

Small, no-frills text giving just enough information to outline the what, why, where and when is set against large illustrations making this an ideal book for the emerging reader who wants to know the basic story behind such everyday items, not only setting them up to want to know more about these particular inventions but also setting them wondering about the story behind so many other things.  They say “necessity is the mother of invention” but how many of those inventors were actually mothers? 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With STEM subjects having such a focus in current curricula, to discover that so many of the things we use daily without thought were the invention of women with a need and an imagination must surely continue to inspire our girls who sadly, still seem to think that they are venturing into a man’s world.

One to share, promote and celebrate.