Crafty Science

Crafty Science

Crafty Science










Crafty Science

Jane Bull 

DK, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Whether the little fingers of our youngest readers are making a sun clock, weaving paper, floating boats to escape sharks or concocting chocolate chunk cookies, as well as the fun there is also science involved.  Whether the final product works  because of energy, temperature, strength, aerodynamics, or the combination of molecules, simple science is behind many of the common craft activities that children love to create.

So in this new release from DK, Jane Bull has taken some of these popular projects and explored not only the steps involved in making something from start to finish, but has also explained the science behind each one.  

From making a beautiful ice lantern that could grace the Christmas table, to a balloon that doesn’t pop to investigating how beans know which way is up, there are 20 different activities that will young minds occupied and, in some cases, mesmerised, as they are fascinated by the “magic” while they learn to follow procedural texts.  Guaranteed to engage is the popular grass-head figure made by putting some grass or wheat seeds into a piece of stocking or kitchen wipe, filling it with potting mix and securing it tightly before putting it wick down into a jar of water.  Draw a face with permanent markers and place on the classroom window-sill.  Your young scientists will make a beeline for theirs each morning to see if it has started to sprout hair, and having competitions to see whose will grow the longest!  (Can you tell I’ve done this once or twice or more in my 45 years in schools?)

Learning science through play from an early age using easy-to-find materials opens up so much of the world for the young child, and with a simple equipment list, clear step-by-step instructions, lots of photographs and the simple science explanations this is a book that should be in every school collection, available on the makerspace table and also in Christmas stockings for a child’s personal library this year. 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript










Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

David Whitney

Duncan Beedie

Walker Books, 2018

224pp., pbk, RRP $A16.99


Thirty years ago, I proudly showed off my first home computer to visitors – a Microbee-in-a-Box – because it was such a novelty to have such a thing in a home.  With its amber screen, mini floppy disks and text-only technology it was a step up from my friend’s BBC model that ran on cassette tapes, but such a long way from the devices and their capabilities that our students are so familiar with now. 

With 1988 classroom lessons focusing on manipulating a robot turtle around a pre-determined path with the only programming being done as students recorded the path it took on paper using  basic Logo language, to creating webpages using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver which required a basic knowledge of raw html, to trying (unsuccessfully) to make a cow jump over the moon using Macromedia Flash, the Web 2.0 world of drag and drop was not only a blessing for me but opened up the world of creating information as well as consuming it for anyone with a computing device. 

Now coding is an official part of the Australian Curriculum, the behind-the-scenes world of the computer screen is coming alive for even our youngest students. There are  even coding competitions for kids (Miss 12 is an enthusiastic participant) and thousands of youngsters are intent on creating the next Minecraft or Fortnite. So this new book which teaches them to create five new games using HTML and Javascript so their games will run in a web browser will be a welcome addition to their libraries, as well as that of teachers tasked with teaching this topic.  So much more engaging to have an authentic project so that new knowledge is embedded in context.  

With its straightforward introduction and each game/mission having its goals clearly articulated, users can begin at their particular ability level so that their development is based on a solid platform of understanding. With plenty of illustrations and instructions (a far cry from the confusing, monochromatic books I remember buying in the 80s and never mastering), this is a book both for beginners and the more-advanced as even the initial mission has suggestions for extensions.

Miss 12 will be delighted to see this in her Christmas stocking. 


Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book









Disney Ideas Book

Elizabeth Dowsett

DK, 2018

200pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99


Whether its 101 Dalmatians, Coco, The Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse or Tangled, every child has a favourite Disney movie, and in this super-sized activity book there are  projects to accompany more than 50 of them!

 Listed firstly by the type of project and then by the movie, young readers can easily find their favourite and soon find themselves making Elsa’s sparkly cape, Buzz Lightyear’s Wings, Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, Belle’s book garland or even doing the boogie with Baloo. Each activity is related to a character from the movie, has a list of the equipment needed, if any, and clear step-by-step instructions so that young readers can follow the steps independently.  There are templates, tips, tricks and explanations and the typical DK layout makes it accessible to all ages and abilities, although some may need adult assistance. 

Each activity provides a procedural text to follow, which could be used as a model for students to create their own, while others like the parachuting soldiers from Toy Story offer science to be explored and explained.

With so many activities, this one book could form the basis of your STEM and craft curriculum for the year, while being the perfect addition to the family entertainment library as the long summer holidays loom.  No computer screens required!

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes










One Shoe Two Shoes

Caryl Hart

Edward Underwood

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


One shoe
Two shoes
Red shoes
Blue shoes

Wet shoe
Dry shoe
Old shoes
New shoes

Shoes, shoes and more shoes . . . this book is bursting with them. From party shoes and flip-flops to cowboy boots and clogs, there’s a pair here to suit everyone. There’s even a shoe house for a little mouse!

Reminiscent of Ffrida Wolfe’s poem Choosing Shoes this story follows a dog out for a walk with its master noticing all the different types of shoes and then switches to its discovery of a family of mice who have made their home in a shoe! Its bouncy rhyme and rhythm will appeal to young listeners as they are introduced to colours, patterns and numbers in an engaging way.  

Great for preschoolers who will chant along with you and can have fun exploring colours and patterns by matching the shoes in the family’s wardrobes!.



The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book - 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition










The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

Daniel Lipkowitz

DK, 2018

280pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99


In 1932 and facing the Great Depression which was engulfing the world, Danish master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen closed his carpentry business and turned his attention to making wooden toys for children. Fifteen years later, after World War II and all its development with technology and materials, particularly plastic, Kristiansen purchased an expensive plastic injection-moulding machine and his wooden toys were now made of plastic. Using a name that is a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, the LEGO group was established and by 1954, the idea of building bricks that locked together firmly so they were stable but which also came apart easily was launched with the Town Plan range of construction sets.  Finally, in January 1658 the block was perfected, the patent lodged and the rest, as they say, is history. 

And it is the history of that block from its evolution as a plan for a toy that could be used to build virtually anything to that realisation that is the focus of this fascinating new release, marking the 60th anniversary of the building block as we know it. 

Driven by the belief that children and their development mean everything and that this must pervade everything that is created, and based on the principles that the system must

  • provide unlimited play opportunities
  • be for girls and boys
  • inspire enthusiasm in all ages’
  • be able to be played with all year round
  • provide endless hours of healthy, quiet and safe play
  • inspire imagination, creativity and development
  • be topical and provide add-on value for preceding products

those initial town construction sets have evolved into a world of designs and models that span buildings, characters, transportation, books, movies, furniture, fabric, licensed merchandise, even theme parks! That journey is traced in full colour photographs, easily-accessible text and the signature DK layout making this a dig-and-delve must-have in any LEGO fan’s collection or any library whose clients are LEGO fans.  Every page has something to pore over, wonder at and learn, making it perfect as a shared conversation book so important to emerging readers.

Something particularly special for the Santa Sack for any age!

If your foot has ever found Lego in the night and you hate it, this might restore your faith…

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture












Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture

Antonia Pesenti

Little Hare, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


For the most part, our children are surrounded by buildings – manmade structures that are carefully designed and constructed to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.  In this book, with the help of a little snail who carries is building on his back, young readers are encouraged to take a closer look at the features of these buildings and discover numbers, colours and shapes. 

Using 18 well-known buildings from around the world such as the Tate Modern in London, St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and the Seattle Central Library, the various features are pointed out using a minimum of words – those that have been used are explained using colour or shape or numbers – as the visual elements of each are the most important. Very young readers can use these clues to find the parts of the building that matches them while starting to build the basic maths concepts. 

In the late 1980s maths trails were a much-loved phenomenon to help students understand the concepts of number and shape as they were encouraged to find examples of each in their environment as they followed a set of clues.  They loved the investigative nature of the quest, being in the outdoors and the challenge of completing their task before another team.  Students from Kindy to Year 6 could be found exploring their environment, eagerly talking numbers, shapes, measurement and other maths concepts So this book would be the ideal precursor to revitalising that activity. Older students could use it as a model for developing their own maths trail around the school or local area.

For those who have an emphasis on STEM its application is broad – creating models of the buildings featured or being challenged to construct buildings that feature four red towers that are pyramids (for example).  A double-page spread at the end identifies all the featured buildings so others might like to map the locations of the buildings and plan a journey to visit them, costing it for future reference.

Sometimes the seemingly simplest  of books offer the greatest wealth of ideas – and this is up there.  If nothing else, the book demonstrates that we are surrounded by mathematics – it’s not just something confined to a slot in the school timetable.

What’s That There?

What's That There?

What’s That There?









What’s That There?

Ros Moriarty


Allen & Unwin, 2017 

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


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

Hello to You, Moon

Hello to You, Moon

Hello to You, Moon











Hello to You, Moon

Sally Morgan

Sonny & Biddy

Little Hare, 2017

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99   


When little people draw the curtains on the day, snuggle down and close their eyes, little do they know that a whole different world is waking up. 

From the fading of the light  through to the twinkling black and on until the dawning of the new day, as the constellations shift across the heavens and Moon completes its journey for another night, across the world nocturnal creatures are getting on with their lives, each paying homage to that timeless orb that will outlast and outlive them as it has done for generations of their forbears. From the kangaroo coughing at the moon at dusk in an Australian desert, to the jungles of Asia where sun-bears snuffle and grunt and to the still silence of the extra-long Antarctic night where penguins scurry and honk, the planet is populated by species that prefer the cool light of the moon to the bright heat of the sun. And while not all of them are strictly nocturnal, nevertheless all respond to the moon through movement and sound that little ones will like to mimic. 

Stunningly illustrated in the details, textures and colours of the night, and building as a counting story, author and illustrators have brought the after-dark to life introducing the youngest readers to the nocturnal world in a way that will make them want to learn more about what else is up and about while they sleep and why they choose dark over light.  It may also encourage curiosity about the Moon – why does it change shape; where does it go in the daytime; why can we sometimes see it in the day and not at night – but my favourite activity is to get them to listen to the sounds of night falling and imagine those things that are tucking themselves in for the night as they are and those things that are waking and greeting their new ‘day’.  

Formal  teaching notes are available.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

In-Between Things

In-Between Things

In-Between Things










In-Between Things

Priscilla Tey

Candlewick Press, 2018

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


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.


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


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!