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Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Shackleton's Endurance:  An Antarctic Survival Story

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Joanna Grochowicz

Allen & Unwin, 2021 

304pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760526092

After the race to the South Pole ended in December 1911, with Roald Amundsen‘s conquest and victory over Sir Robert Falcon Scott. the fascination with Antarctic exploration was not over. Irishman Ernest Shackleton, a member of Scott’s original expedition in 1901-1904, turned his attention to the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. 

Thus, in August 1914, Shackleton and his men set sail for Antarctica, where they plan to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. But in January 1915, his ship, the Endurance, becomes locked in pack ice, slowly being crushed before the shore parties could be landed and, later, sinking without a trace. With no help available, to survive, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men must undertake a trial even more extreme than their planned crossing of the frozen continent. Their aim is to make it home against tremendous odds, with only lifeboats to cross the heavy seas of the South Atlantic. And so the crew camped on the sea ice until it disintegrated, and eventually launched the lifeboats aiming for South Georgia Island, a stormy ocean voyage of 720 nautical miles (1,330 km). As well as the ice and the ocean their constant companions were hunger, exhaustion, and uncertainty but  Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills drive them on.

This is an extraordinary tale of leadership, courage and teamwork made all the more remarkable because it is a true story, and while at the upper end of the readership for this blog, a story that will entice and engage those who crave these sorts of real-life adventures.  Told using narrative non-fiction the reader becomes one of the characters experiencing the events as the meticulously researched historical facts are woven into a compelling story.

A companion to Into the White – Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey a journey which inspired my own mother throughout her life and led her to become the first female journalist to visit the ice , and Amundsen’s Way,  this is the third in this trilogy of tales from that Age of Antarctic Exploration that take the reader back into a world of curiosity and faith, courage, determination and resilience, well before technology made such exploits “safe”.  

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury, 2021 

192pp., pbk., RRP $a14.99

9781526615336

Women have been responsible for many of the world’s most groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Kate Pankhurst tells the stories of some incredible female scientists whose hard work and persistence changed our understanding of science, and transformed people’s ideas of what women can do.

As a child Mae Jemison imagined herself reaching for the stars and that’s exactly what she did: she became the first African-American woman to go into space. When Elizabeth Blackwell was told women weren’t allowed to be doctors, she didn’t take no for an answer. Tu Youyou spent months on a remote island during the Vietnam War to try and invent a treatment for malaria – and she did it. Other women whose stories are told include Marie Curie,  Janaki Ammal, Caroline Herschel, Katia Krafft, and Rosalind Franklin so readers are introduced to some new names as well as those more familiar.

Including comic strips, family trees, maps and more, Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories is a celebration of women who made some of the world’s most important scientific breakthroughs.

This is another in this series by Pankhurst , a descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, who looks at the impact of women in several apparently male-dominated fields, some of which are also available in picture book format. If our girls are to be inspired to reach great heights, it is empowering if they read of others who have done so and understand that perseverance and resilience are essential. 

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every Day

Puffin Books, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760896737

After the disastrous couple of years that have plagued Australia with droughts, bushfires and floods, and the impact on the environment that not only these have caused but also the healing that has happened because of global lockdowns, the health of the planet has never been in greater focus. 

Beginning with a poem that is a plea from Solli Raphael for each of us to be better and do better, this is a handbook of 50 ideas to enable to do just that as individuals.  But is more than the usual tips and tricks as it includes case studies from Australian kids, practical tips and easy activities that can involve your school, family and community that make a difference from using coffee grounds from cafés for compost to starting a school swap shop to recycle toys and books that have been outgrown. Some of the ideas are probably already familiar but there are some that are new and novel, helping each of us to understand that no one is too small to make a difference and we all need to keep learning and educating ourselves to be better. The case studies themselves are fascinating as they are Australian  stories and show the theory in practice so it’s not just somebody’s dream.

While not particularly flash and gaudy in its appearance – itself being a green publication – this is such a practical guide to help individuals make just small changes in their lifestyle that can have a huge impact.  Helping students start to view their world through a more protective lens so that it just becomes the norm is one of the most positive things teachers can offer for their positive future.

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Super Sporty Girls

Super Sporty Girls

Super Sporty Girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sporty Girls

Puffin Books, 2020

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

9781760896058

The publication date of this book was timed to capture the inspiration for sport that would be generated by the 2020 Olympics, but, as we know, even bigger world events have overtaken that one and they have been postponed.  Nevertheless, the timing is still appropriate as we emerge from the more rigid parameters of lockdown and people are itching to get back outside, connect with others and  get moving.

Using the format of a young girl wanting to get involved in something but not sure what and musing on what she likes to do and how that could marry with a sport, the reader is introduced to 18 of Australia’s young, contemporary sportswomen who are at the top of their game and providing inspiration for young girls. Apart from the household names like Ash Barty and Sam Kerr, there are others who are not so well known yet, including Paralympians. individuals and team-players.

The world after Covid-19 is predicted to be very different, perhaps one where the value of movement, exercise and fresh air will not be taken for granted and we will find our young girls with a thirst for activity, adventure, friendships, and developing new skills that could take them down new paths well beyond their dreams. 

Old Enough to Save the Planet

Old Enough to Save the Planet

Old Enough to Save the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Enough to Save the Planet

Loll Kirby

Adelina Lirius

Magic Cat, 2020

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

9781916180529

Before this virus sent the world off on a different track, climate change was the global issue receiving the most attention, exacerbated by the worst bushfire season in history.  Our kids were concerned and worried about the future of the planet and themselves within it, yet feeling somewhat powerless about what they could do to change the course.  In this new publication, we meet 12 children from around the globe who have identified an issue and then worked to redress it. 

Each double-page spread features a child like 9-year-old Eunita from Kenya whose mission is to save the bees and with a minimum of text her work is depicted in pictures, demonstrating how simple some things can be to do locally while having a global impact.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

This is accompanied by some suggestions that even our youngest readers can adopt such as walking or using public transport, mending things instead of throwing them away, or even just buying less stuff – things that are within their control and which can make a difference. There are also suggestions for how they can make their voices heard, and given that the planet has had a bit of a breather with this virus and has healed a little with less pollution, now is the time to maintain that impetus. 

For some months now, and more to come, our little ones have been directed by adults with few freedoms to give them any sense of control, but this book shows that even while we are in such constraints and restraints, it’s possible to do something. Perhaps their home-project could be to plant a tub of flowers that will be ready to welcome the bees back when Spring comes again – just as Eunita did. At the very least, as they watch the progress they will be reassured that Spring will come again.

Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World

Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World

Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World

David Hill

Phoebe Morris

Picture Puffin, 2020

32pp., hbk.,  RRP $A19.99

9780143774518

In 2017 Jacinda Ardern was elected Prime Minister of New Zealand,  an event that history has shown doesn’t really rate headlines in Australia. But this Kiwi PM is now as well-known here as her Australian counterpart and even when she pops into a cheese shop on a private holiday in Queensland it makes news. 


Sadly, it has been a series of tragedies that have propelled her onto the world stage but nevertheless, through those catastrophes young people have seen what a real leader looks like and can inspire, encouraging them to become involved in the broader spectrum of their own lives. This illustrated story of her life from her high school days when she was compelled to help her classmates who were too poor to afford shoes, to her desire to be a clown and then a scientist, tells a story of a young woman driven by compassion and empathy and a need to make others’ lives better and the world a healthier place to live. 

Written to engage a primary school audience so they too can understand and believe that nobody is too young to start changing the world, this is the latest in a new series about inspirational New Zealanders that includes Hero of the Sea; Dinosaur Hunter; Sky High; First to the Top and Speed King. As well as introducing our younger readers to Ardern, a contemporary name they are probably familiar with and opening up conversations about the qualities of leaders, Taking the Lead also provides entry into biographies and their characteristics as a genre. Perhaps they could even consider someone who inspires them and write their biography. 

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

288pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760896034

Can one tiny girl change a very big school? Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is waving goodbye to her weeping parents and starting her first day at boarding school. But something is wrong at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies.

The headmistress, Miss Grimm, hasn’t been seen for ten years. The prize-winning flowers are gone. And a mysterious stranger is camping in the greenhouse. Alice-Miranda must complete a series of impossible tests. Can she really beat the meanest, most spoilt girl at school in a solo sailing mission?

Could she camp in the forest all on her own for five whole days and nights? Well, of course. This is Alice-Miranda, after all.

Wow! It’s hard to grasp that it is now 10 years since we were first introduced to the irrepressible Alice-Miranda and that she has gone on to have so many more adventures, a movie and even her own web presence.  Books about girls in boarding schools have been the backbone of the reading for many generations – how well I remember loving the books from Clare Mallory, my mum’s headmistress during her Columba College years and such an influence on her and ultimately me – and the Alice-Miranda series is very much a modern version of that vein. Alice-Miranda is very opinionated and has lots to say provoking food for thought on a range of issues in each episode.   Harvey has drawn on her own experience as a teacher in such a system and this series and Clementine Rose for younger readers have been favourites with Miss Nearly 9 and Miss Year 8 for years. Miss Year 8 is now nose-deep in the latest Kensy and Max adventure Freefall demonstrating Harvey’s ability to entertain and engage readers across the age groups.  In fact, in relation to Alice-Miranda, in a letter to her readers Harvey states that she wanted to create a story that she would have loved reading as a child never dreaming that her character would become so popular and a role model for other girls her age. 

To celebrate this milestone, Puffin have released this special hardback edition perfect for either starting independent young readers off on a whole new series of adventures, or for fans like Miss Year 8 to have as a collector’s item on their shelves. 

Top Koala

Top Koala

Top Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Koala

Jackie French

Matt Shanks

Angus&Robertson, 2019

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

 9781460754818

I am top of every tree!

Top is always best to be.

Having convinced us he is not a bear,  Koala is determined to show us that he is at the top of everything because “top” means “best” and that will always, absolutely be him. In this charming, rhyming tale French and Shanks unite again to take the reader on a journey around Australia’s iconic sights introducing our unique fauna as Koala is intent on achieving his goal to be the top of everyone and everything

But at what cost? Because as Koala shinnies to the top of trees, masts, poles and people he is oblivious to the reactions of those he steps on as he goes – their expression perfectly caught in Shanks’s illustrations and suggesting that Koala might get to the top but there might not be too many willing support him once he is there.  Sound familiar? 

With the devastation of our wildlife during this terrifying bushfire season making headlines around the world and the koala being the “poster child” for the campaigns, on the surface this is a lovely book to introduce our youngest readers to the diversity of our wildlife and the impact that nature and humans  can have on their habitats, but, as with all books written by this brilliant author, there is something deeper to discuss with our older students too.  What are the qualities of a true leader?

I had to wait for my copy of this book because it sold out immediately, and I was disappointed, But given the events of this summer I’m glad I had to wait because it now has a much more prominent and  poignant place in our children’s literature story. 

Queen Celine

Queen Celine

Queen Celine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Celine

Matt Shanks

Walker Books, 2019

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

 9781760650346

Celine Beaufort was an ordinary girl. She did ordinary things, on ordinary days, in ordinary ways. But every now and then, Celine was a Queen, Of a kingdom by the sea.” And while it was difficult to pick just one, Celine had found the perfect rock pool with stunning clear water, a host of creatures but all seemingly threatened by a flock of hungry seagulls.  So to preserve the perfection, Celine scared the birds away and then proceeded to keep her pool pristine and perfect by building a wall that kept the inhabitants in and the intruders, including the tides, out.  But the results were not as she intended… Does she see the error of her actions and fix them, or is she blind to all but her own aspirations?

This beautifully illustrated book has a strong environmental message about maintaining the balance so that things can survive and thrive as dependent on change as they are on stability, as on each other as they are on new blood.  But given the political events in the world at the moment, it could also be used with older students as an allegory for exclusivity and inclusivity as well as what leadership really means.  Another excellent example of showing that picture books just aren’t for beginning readers!