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Scientists Who Changed the World: Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientists Who Changed the World: Stephen Hawking

Anita Groy

EK Books, 2021

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925820720

Stephen Hawking advanced our understanding of the universe more than any other scientist of his day. He spent his entire career chasing the idea of the “Theory of Everything: to explain the entire universe relating to the Big Bang Theory. His book A Brief History of Time was designed to explain physics to the general public, not just scientists, and this made him one of the most famous scientists in the world. 

This new additions to this series about the scientists on whose shoulders today’s generation stands is timely, Apart from anything else, it demonstrates there are almost as many fields of science as there are people investigating and that they all started as ordinary kids, just like the readers. 

Using accessible text, colour illustrations and an appealing layout, young readers are introduced to Hawking , his discoveries and his their early life and how that influenced the path he took. But when I think of Hawking, the image I see is him in his wheelchair having been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease at 21, and speaking by controlling a computer with his cheek after he lost the ability to speak.  That alone, as a model of resilience, of one who never gave up, whose body may have failed but his brain didn’t, is a reason to share his story with our students. 

When other teacher librarians ask for suggestions for biographies of contemporary people that are interesting and accessible for primary students, this series is always mentioned.  So it’s one to have in your collection as the fascination with science grows exponentially at a time when we are so dependent on it. 

 

Today’s Sun

Today's Sun

Today’s Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Sun

Greg Dreisse

Puffin, 2021

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781760898335

 

Dawn, the sun is yawning and it’s time to munch like “a hungry, fluffy possum.” As it rises over the horizon it is time to laugh like “a happy kookaburra.’ And as it warms, cools. fades and sleeps, there are times to hop like a kangaroo, run like an emu, snuggle like a koala, slumber like a wombat…

Using just black, white and a myriad of patterns, Greg Dreisse takes the young reader through a magical journey of the day, not only introducing them to some of Australia’s iconic wildlife but also encouraging them to note the passage of the sun and the passing of time.  There is a time for everything. And when today is done, there will be another one tomorrow.

September 15 is International Dot Day, the day celebrating creativity, courage and collaboration, inspired by The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe. 

This is the perfect book to encourage children of all ages to explore their creativity, to start their own illustration to add to the book starting by making a mark.  Just looking at the cover and exploring the number of ways Dreisse has made a dot by changing its size and fill could inspire a beginning and then a closer examination of the patterns used in the illustrations throughout will open up so many possibilities. 

Even though this is a board book with a target audience of the very young, it could be used with older students to investigate the origins, traditions and protocols of the dot artworks of First Australians, while others could explore the use of pattern to build movement, texture, and mood which the monochromatic scheme really emphasises.

A rich addition to any collection, regardless of its format and what it appears to be on the surface. 

If the World Were 100 People

If the World Were 100 People

If the World Were 100 People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the World Were 100 People

Jackie McCann

Aaron Cushley

Red Shed, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780755503537

 

Over time there have been a number of books that reduce the world’s population to 100 people so that little ones can understand how things compare.

Imagining a number like 8 billion is tricky but reducing it to a village where 100 people live – each person representing around 80 million people in the real world and then exploring the similarities and differences through specific questions  makes it easier to understand. Are they all grown-ups? Are there more males or females? How many have black hair or blue eyes? What languages do they speak? Who can read and write? How many have access to the internet or have enough food to eat? Does everyone have access to electricity or clean water?

Using double-page spreads, clever illustrations and graphic design elements, the global village is reduced to manageable proportions making it easier to see the things we have in common, and the things that make us different. There is also a challenge to consider the world in 2050 when they will be the decision-makers and how they can contribute to making the world more equitable.

But as well as the social and humanitarian aspects of the book, it is also an excellent way to talk about data collection, interpretation and presentation, offering the perfect pathway into learning about the various types of graphs, their purposes and formats. Students could also survey their class to see how it compares to the village by calculating the class number as a percentage of the 100 villagers, asking the questions and comparing the numbers.  A purposeful and meaningful way to bring real life into their maths lessons.

A valuable addition to any teacher’s toolbox and a fascinating examination for any child interested in their world and its statistics.

 

Look Inside Maths

Look Inside Maths

Look Inside Maths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Inside Maths

Rosie Dickins

Bernedetta Giaufret & Enrica Rusinà

Usborne, 2021

14pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9781474986304

Almost 40 years ago in a school where literacy and maths classes were streamed from Kindy onwards (an argument for another day) I was assigned a maths group deemed at the lower end of the spectrum and expected to teach them in a way that had already failed them for two years, killing not only their interest in maths but their belief in their being able to master the subject.  And so a new approach was needed. For the kids’ sake I was prepared to wear the wrath of the PTB who were determined that the be-all and end-all was an English text book series that even to me, spoke in riddles. Having had great success with a whole-language classroom, I decided to try a whole-maths classroom and for an hour a day while they were with me, my Year 2 students were immersed in maths that related to their everyday lives so they could see that it had purpose, meaning and relevance for them.  From this grew my first book, Maths About Me and later a sequel, Maths About My Year.  

Maths About Me

Maths About Me

By the end of that year my students could see why maths was important to them, how it drove so many aspects of their lives and their and their belief in their ability to conquer its abstraction reinstated. 

So to be asked to review a book that takes a similar approach by demonstrating through bright, busy illustrations and hundreds of flaps to lift and explore, the ubiquity of maths – numbers, shapes, measurement, processes and even a challenge to put what has been learned into practice was such a treat.  Even though it is in board book format, that is to ensure the durability of the lift-the-flap design and it has a place in any early childhood collection.  In fact, it could be used as a model for older students who might like to create their own page of how maths is embedded in their lives. 

There are those who believe that if you have a calculator you have all you need to solve maths problems (just like there are those who believe that all information is available on the internet) but it is that deep understanding of and engagement with the processes and the way they are embedded in everyday life that is the critical element of success.  If we can get our youngest students appreciating this through books like these, attitudes will change and competency soar. 

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Denis Knight & Cristy Burne

Lothian Children’s, 2021

250pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9780734420190 

Wednesday Weeks never wanted to be a sorcerer’s apprentice. She’d rather study science than magic. But when her cloak-wearing, staff-wielding grandpa is captured by a power-hungry goblin king, Wednesday must find a way to embrace her magical heritage and rescue him from the dreaded Tower of Shadows.

Luckily, she’s not alone. Her best friend Alfie is a prime-number fan and robotics expert who’s all-in on Wednesday’s epic plan involving parallel universes, swords of power, and a wise-cracking talking skull.

But it’s going to take more than science, magic, and the world’s cutest robot to take down this bad guy. Because the goblin king is playing for the ultimate prize – and Wednesday and Alfie just walked into his trap…

In a world of magic, can science save the day?

Independent readers who love a story that combines magic and science with great adventure will adore this new series that does just that.  Drawing on the skills of Knight who loves science fiction and fantasy, and Burne who loves science and who has a mission to ” blend STEM and creativity to enthuse, engage and empower” this is a story featuring a smart, feisty female and her best friend who find themselves having to use real-life science to save themselves from the predicament they get into as they travel the Nine Realms, inspiring the reader to perhaps take a greater interest themselves.  This is made possible with the addition of a few activities included at the end of the book and with several more in the teachers’ resources, it is an ideal story to promote to your science and maths enthusiasts. 

Described as being perfect for those who love  Nevermoor, Artemis Fowl and The Witching Hours, the even better news is that Wednesday Weeks and the Crown of Destiny, the second in the series, will be out in September, so not long to wait.  

Let’s Build a House

Let's Build a House

Let’s Build a House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Build a House

Mike Lucas

Daron Parton

Lothian, 2021

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

9780734420329

There are many steps in building a house and it’s important that they be done in the right order.

In this charming story-in-rhyme by Mike Lucas (he who always writes such fabulous Book Week theme poems) young readers not only begin to understand how a house is built and the vocabulary associated with it,  but they can join in the rhymes and provide appropriate actions as they do.  It’s perfect for exploring and consolidating the concept of sequencing and learning the language of order – first, second, third, next, before, after, last and so on. 

But most of all it’s a love story between a father and daughter as they work together to make one of the most important things we need – shelter. 

Very different from both Vanishing and Olivia’s Voice , this is one to appeal to much younger readers especially if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they have learned or they have family members that they see in the illustrations!. 

Rajah Street

Rajah Street

Rajah Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rajah Street

Myo Kim 

Walker Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760651480

Junya lives on Rajah Street with his mum and dad and little-bit-older brother. He loves to sit at his window and watch the goings-on in Rajah Street as it gets busier and busier throughout the day, He sees the clouds passing overhead, kookaburras singing and skateboard riders zipping by and his mother patiently answers all his questions about them.  

But mostly he is looking for the garbage trucks because he loves them the most, and while he knows they come on Wednesdays, he is not sure when Wednesday is.  But he remembers things that have happened on other Wednesdays so when they happen again, he figures that today is his lucky day. And he is prepared to watch and wait.

Stepping into the world of the three-year-old, where fact seamlessly merges with fantasy, this is a delightful story that explores a child’s curiosity and imagination when it is teamed with observation and hope. The illustrations explore this mixture perfectly and young children will have no trouble recognising Junya’s world as similar to their own where anything is possible.

One to encourage our little ones to look through their window and explore all that they see, perhaps even to make their own story of the significant events that herald each day of the week so they begin to develop their perspective of time passing..

Learning to Count (series)

Learning to Count

Learning to Count

10 Naughty Numbats

9781922265616

10 Bush Babies

9781922265623

10 Lively Lorikeets

9781922265630

Grace Nolan

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2021

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

Learning to count, add and subtract is one of the key reasons little children believe they go to school and so this new collection of three readers endorsed by Australian Geographic will be a welcome addition to the resources to assist this . 

Focusing on 30 signature Australian creatures, each book encourages little ones to count, add or subtract as they use the rhyming text and charming illustrations for cues and clues.  Each illustration has a humorous twist to add to the fun of learning  and the concept for each page is clearly displayed as a conventional number story.  As well, there are extra activities at the end to reinforce the concepts and encourage the 1:1 matching and conservation of numbers that are the foundation skills of early maths.  

Never underestimate the power of these sorts of texts to encourage our little ones to learn much more than we ever set out to teach!

Maths Mutts – All About Time

Maths Mutts – All About Time

Maths Mutts – All About Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maths Mutts – All About Time

Charles Hope

Wild Dog Books, 2020

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

 9781742035994

“Time can be expressed as a moment or a measurement.”  It is something that rules our lives in so many ways, yet it can also be one of the most difficult concepts to teach because it is so abstract.

This picture book uses a range of busy dogs to lead a investigations into all sorts of aspects of time for newly independent readers, inviting them to participate in some activities and answer questions that will help them understand the concepts better.  It offers ideas for the reader to explore including the answers to questions such as What is time? How do we use it in our everyday lives? Is time the same all around the world? What are the different units of time, and what devices do we use to measure them?

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Even though it is so abstract, learning about time starts very early in a child’s life (think today, tomorrow, yesterday) and it is such an engrossing topic to cover embracing every curriculum area, not just maths.  So any resource that offers ideas and activities to help our students master it is a blessing. 

Mini Rabbit Must Help

Mini Rabbit Must Help

Mini Rabbit Must Help

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Rabbit Must Help

John Bond

HarperCollins, 2020

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

9780008264888

Mother Rabbit has written a very important letter to Granny Rabbit and Mini Rabbit offers to take it to the post box. His mother agrees he can do this but he has to be very careful and he also has to get to the post box before five o’clock because that is the last collection.  So Mini Rabbit packs some cake, some slime and a stick and sets off… What could possibly go wrong?

Not only is this a charming tale that will make young readers laugh at all the mishaps Mini Rabbit has, but they will also have fun predicting what might happen next.  It is also excellent for mapping the events of the story to help them understand sequencing and the language of time.  

A new series from a British creator that will become a favourite.