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The Imagineer

The Imagineer

The Imagineer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Imagineer

Christopher Cheng

Lucia Masciullo

NLA, 2021

34pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279682

Penny was an imagineer – one of those clever people who can create in their head and then craft with their hands. All day long she would look at the everyday things around her and imagine how they could be used in a different way, like turning an umbrella upside-down to catch the rain and use its unique shape to funnel the water into a mug with a tap.  She was always pulling things apart and then twisting and turning, screwing, taping tying until they were back together again -sometimes as they were but usually not. 

Her imagination knew no limits as she sketched and planned but sadly the little apartment where she lived was not as large.  However, Grandpa lived in a much larger house, one where he had lived for a very long time and the rooms were packed!  When Penny first visited, she was in seventh heaven. The treasures to be explored… And then she discovered the shed!

Between them, Christopher Cheng and Lucia Masciullo have used their imaginations and their incredible skills with words and pictures to craft a thoroughly entertaining tale that is rich in all those elements that make the very best stories for children – I had to check there were only 34 pages because there was just so much packed in even though the text is just the right amount.  The final foldout page is just adorable and young readers will spend hours just poring over its possibilities, lighting their own imaginations.  

And because it is a publication from the National Library of Australia, there are vignettes of the tools that are mentioned in the story with brief explanations of what they are and how or why they were used (because even the grown-ups sharing the story won’t be old enough to remember let alone used them, unlike me who still has some of them) . It is such a clever way of taking youngsters back to Old Worlds so they can see how things have evolved over time and allow them to speculate on how their own imaginations might develop them further.

To use Chris’s own words, this is a “most wonderful, phantasmagorical, increibleacious, stupendorific” read.

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

Jackie Kerin

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804706

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries as more and more of the world was opened up by explorers like Captain James Cook, the botanists on board the ships were almost as important as the captains and the names of people like Sir Joseph Banks became just as famous as the adventurers themselves.  For as well as discovering the new lands, from them came new plants that could be eaten, used as medicines or for building things, offered delightful perfumes or provided shade.

But for every one of the plants that survived the long sea journey back to England, twenty others died as they were uprooted from their natural habitat and transported with little thought for their needs across windy, salty oceans.

From his home in a dirty, smoggy suburb of London where nothing seemed to survive the conditions, Dr Nathaniel Ward read about these exotic plants, their names and the adventures of those who sought to bring them to England, while, at the same time, those who had moved from England to other countries, particularly Australia, were desperately seeking the plants of home, something that would be familiar and help overcome the homesickness.  But one day when Dr Ward placed the pupa of a moth in a jar with some soil and sealed the lid, intending to watch it transform, he made a discovery that revolutionised the transportation and survival of plants forever as well as having a significant impact on the landscape of Australia.

Our library collections are often replete with books that salsify the curiosity of the animal lovers among our students yet somewhat lacking when it comes to those whose interest is in the plant world so this will be a welcome addition.  Despite being heavily based on fact, Kerin (author of Gold!)  tells the story in an entertaining manner and Suwannakit’s illustrations are both botanically correct and engaging making it an intriguing picture book that spans both fiction and non fiction.  If you yourself do not know of Dr Ward’s invention, read this and I promise you won’t look at a terrarium in the same way again and you will also have the basis for a series of fascinating science lessons.  Teachers’ notes are available.

Timeline Science and Technology

Timeline Science and Technology

Timeline Science and Technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timeline Science and Technology

Peter Goes

Gecko Press, 2020

80pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781776573004

There is no doubt that the technology and tools available to us on a daily basis shape the way we live – it’s only 10 years since the iPad was introduced – and this large format book with it easy text and whimsical illustrations takes us on a journey from the Old Stone Age to the present day sharing how man changed his way of life.  Luckily, in early times change wasn’t so fast and so each double spread has been devoted to an era but as things evolve, the spreads are reduced to covering  a decade. So the tools of wood and bone of the Paleolithic Age gradually evolve to the tools that will probe the universe in the future.

This is a succinct timeline of development that will whet the appetite of the young historian, the young scientist and the young computer enthusiast or anyone with an interest in how we got to where we are. It is a dip-and-delve book that probably raises more questions than it answers, but that’s a good thing because it will send readers off on new paths of investigation and exploration as they seek to know more about whatever catches their interest.

More than worth the purchase price. 

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Inventors Go Green: Inventing for a Better Planet

Katherine Mengardon

Dominic Wilcox

Collins, 2020

152pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008382896

Little Inventors is a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously. Their mission is to give children across the world the opportunity to develop and showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills, build their confidence, curiosity and resilience to become caring citizens of our planet, all invaluable attributes that will support them as adults in their everyday life and chosen career paths.

The organisation is designed specifically to encourage and support children to invent things and they do this by

  • creating free resources for organisations, teachers and parents to encourage children to think up and draw great invention ideas, working with partners to run challenges, events and workshops
  • challenging skilled experts and makers to work with children to turn their ideas into reality, from the practical to the fantastical, no limits.
  • showcasing children’s inventions online and in books and exhibitions to inspire tomorrow’s inventors, scientists, makers and problem-solvers to believe in their ability to make a difference.

As well as offering children the chance to take part in mini-challenges, the organisers also offer them the opportunity to upload their own ideas to the website.  Little Inventors Go Green is the latest in a series of books (including The Little Inventors’ Handbook) which features information and ideas that will inspire young inventors to consider how they can make this planet a better, greener place for its inhabitants.  While there have been any number of books focusing on climate change and how even our youngest students can take action to help fix it, this one uses the children’s own ideas rather than those created by adults. 

Using diagrams and minimal text that is accessible and speaks directly to the reader motivating them to put their thinking caps on to address whichever problem resonates with them, its format oozes energy and an urge to get involved in doing something. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With the support available from the website and an enthusiastic teacher offering guidance this is a book, and a series, that could easily morph into a lunchtime club attracting kids who like to explore their curiosity, who like to ask questions such as what if…, what could…, how would…, who have lots of ideas whizzing around their head which they just need an outlet for, and who enjoy the company of like-minded thinkers.

 

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

 9781426335297

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

9781846884559

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

 9781843654155

“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

9781925335705

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

9781786037046

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.