If Our World Were 100 Days

If Our World Were 100 Days

If Our World Were 100 Days











If Our World Were 100 Days

Jackie McCann

Aaron Cushley

Farshore, 2023

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


If the last 10 000 years of human development were condensed into 100 days, it is hard to realise that it would be only 54 days ago that the first formal writing system was created and only six hours ago that the first text message was sent!

Time, particularly history, is one of the hardest concepts for little people to grasp because their lack of maturity keeps them in the here and now, and thus the concept of 10 000 years is impossible to understand.  But in this new book that uses the format of condensing things in 100 elements such as animal species or  groups of people, the numbers, proportions and statistics become more manageable.

Like its predecessors, it uses double-page spreads, clever illustrations and graphic design elements to chart the timeline of significant developments in humankind such as population growth, the evolution of the wheel, even the creation of cures for a headache. It includes a timeline that summarises the major events and discoveries included as well as inviting the reader to contemplate whether the progress has been entirely beneficial and where the world might be in 100 days from now, offering scope for the science fiction fans to let their imaginations loose.  Older readers might like to investigate the Doomsday Clock, its meaning and implications.

As well as offering students the opportunity to explore and explain the development of something that they, themselves,  are interested in and presenting their findings in a similar format, it is also an excellent way to talk about data collection, interpretation and presentation, and the use of visuals to convey complex ideas, all important aspects of being information literate, while, at the same time, helping them understand that elusive concept of time.  


Count the Stars

Count the Stars

Count the Stars











Count the Stars

Raewyn Caisley

Gabriel Evans

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Everywhere in her everyday world, Maddie finds mathematics.  Whether it’s seeing the parallel lines of sunshine pouring through her bedroom blinds in to morning, counting daisy petals in the garden, or finding the patterns in the pathway, she adores maths.  But among her friends, it would seem she was alone – when her friends came to play they found fascination in other things like decorating the cupcakes rather than measuring and making them.  Her preoccupation impinges on her relationships with her classmates, making her feel out of kilter with them, as though she were some kind of weird and she doesn’t even notice that there might be others with a similar fascination, until…

This is an absolutely intriguing story with lots of layers that will resonate with so many readers, not just discovering the ubiquity of maths in our lives, and maybe building a maths trail around the school. While the author has chosen to make maths the focus of Maddie’s passion, there are bigger issues that can be explored through the story such as celebrating a love of learning; making and maintaining friendships; finding and following your passion and owning it or, conversely, feeling separated from our friends because they don’t love something as we do; even exploring whether friends can like and do different things and still be friends.

Having gone from someone who saved the Year 6 final excursion by being the only person to get 100% in the end-of-year maths exam, to be completely bewildered by the complexities of algebra and trigonometry at high school and getting a bare minimum pass in the School Certificate exam, to becoming a maths consultant and writing a number of teacher resource books on integrating it across the curriculum, I can relate very closely to Maddie as she finds the maths in everything fascinating and understands why it is referred to as the “Queen of Sciences”.  So while I could write a book or several (actually have) about how the maths in this story could be the springboard to the year’s curriculum, starting with the endpapers, it also opens the opportunity for readers to share their passions and what is involved in achieving their big dreams.  And that could lead to investigating how their heroes achieved their dreams, or building Genius Hour into the timetable, or…

But for all the Maddies who love maths, perhaps they could ponder this… if Maddie can figure out a way to count the daisy petals in the garden, how could she count the stars?  


One Day By the Numbers

One Day By the Numbers

One Day By the Numbers











One Day By the Numbers

Steve Jenkins

Clarion, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


What happens around in the world in twenty-four hours? This is another  amazing book of infographics from author-illustrator Steve Jenkins as he shares lots of amazing facts and  figures, summarised in pictures, charts and graphs in this new book perfect for curious kids.

Some of you may have seen the photos I shared of an intrigued young friend who started reading at 3.30pm and was still going at 7.30pm when I gave him 100 Things to Know About the Unknown recently, and this is definitely another one that will keep him entranced, as it will all our other young readers who have a penchant for non fiction and being enticed down rabbit holes as they strive to find out more about what has captured them.

The perfect evidence for why we need a vibrant non fiction collection.

The perfect evidence for why we need a vibrant non fiction collection.

In this latest addition to the By the Numbers series, readers can explore what happens around the world with humans, animals, and even microorganisms in just twenty-four hours. From how much humans eat and how far migrating animals travel in day to how often lightning strikes. readers travel beyond the clock and into what twenty-four hours looks like on a massive scale. As Europe’s wildfires make headline news, we can learn that not only are these fires growing more frequent and more intense, but the equivalent of 125 000 soccer fields is burned by them every day!! And, at the other end of the scale, 16 000 Olympic swimming pools could be filled by the ice melting from glaciers and the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets every day.  

As well as being a model for the presentation of information that students could emulate, this is such an intriguing series it will keep the Xanders of this world engaged for hours, providing even more evidence of the importance of having a vibrant, current and promoted non fiction print collection.  Who knows what might catch their eye and capture their curiosity?

One Little Duck

One Little Duck

One Little Duck











One Little Duck

Katrina Germein

Danny Snell

HarperCollins, 2023

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


Five little ducks went out one day… and came home when they were called by their mother, “Quack Quack Quack Quack”.

But now there is only one little duck left at home and even though Mother Duck is happy for her last one to go over the hills and far away, she strikes trouble when it is time to call him home and she can’t remember how to quack!  So she tries Moo Moo Moo Moo instead -with s surprising result. Little Duck comes back for tea but with a friend in tow.  And so the pattern continues. Each evening , as she tries to find her quack, the roll at the tea table grows in length and diversity but she remains unflappable, just getting out a bigger cooking pot and more dishes and cutlery each time.  Until one night…

Young readers can have heaps of fun with this one, not only appreciating the rhyme and rhythm and building vocabulary and spelling patterns,  but also predicting and suggesting which friend might come home with Little Duck this time. And what might Mother Duck be cooking that they would all enjoy? They could even examine the camping picture and identify who is not there, focusing their suggestions on animals likely to be found on a farm. and how that creature might feel about being left out. Perhaps they could use the established pattern to add some more verses. Counting and sequencing activities as well as learning the ordinal numbers and positional words add extra possibilities but this would also work well with English as an Additional Language learners particularly if it were used in conjunction with similar stories like Old MacDonald had a Farm.  What a wonderful opportunity to create a mural to label all the creatures with words from lots of languages!!!

The Truth Detective

The Truth Detective

The Truth Detective











The Truth Detective: How to make sense of a world that doesn’t add up

Tim Harford

Ollie Mann

Wren & Rook, 2023

192pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99


In this evolving digital world where global connections are instantaneous and your money, even your identity, can be stolen with a few clicks of a mouse in any corner of it, more and more we need to teach our students to be critical thinkers and the Australian Curriculum strand of Critical and Creative Thinking has never been more important.  

But with Australians alone losing more than $3 100 000 000 to scammers in one year, it seems it hard enough to teach the adults let alone young ones who are only just emerging from childhood and its acceptance of all that is told to them, who are only just being mature enough to view things from another’s perspective or put themselves in another’s shoes, who are just learning to think logically and analyse according to what they already know and believe.  Young people who are perhaps experiencing the freedom of fewer restrictions on their digital footprint and for whom the timeless message of “stranger danger” is relegated to not talking to people they don’t know in the park and seem to be okay with posting personal information and photos on unknown, unmonitored platforms for the brief gratification of some likes from strangers.

So this is a timely book that needs to be in school and home libraries and shared and discussed.  Not because it teaches about being safe online, although that would be a desirable outcome, but because it gives the reader the tools and tips, strategies and skills to be critical thinkers. To not necessarily take everything at face value but to ask the core questions such as 

  • Does this idea make sense?
  • Does this story conflict with something I already know to be true?
  • Does this fact come from a trust worthy source?
  • Does the person telling me this seem friendly and confident?
  • Do I want this idea to be true?
  • Does this story make me feel something like fear or joy?
  • Is this a cool story?
  • What evidence supports this?
  • What evidence is missing?
  • What does the evidence teach us?

Using real life examples, the author shows the reader how to analyse the situation using the data and asking the right questions using an entertaining formula and format that is very readable. For example, he demonstrates how a magician’s trick of tossing a regular coin and getting ten heads in a row is more about the missing evidence rather than a lucky streak; how the famous “fairies at the bottom of the garden” photographs that fooled even the experts of the time were clearly fake; even how Florence Nightingale who started a revolution with a pie chart.

So, even though as teachers and teacher librarians we can teach our students to be sceptical, to ask certain questions and test websites and so forth for accuracy, authority, currency, objectivity and relevance, such concepts and skills are often taught in isolation and the power of this book is that actual events are put under the microscope and through logical analysis the truth is revealed. If “information is the best weapon” then we must give students the tools to test the information – and this book does this so well by encouraging the collection, analysis and comparison of data  giving context to all those maths lessons about statistics and probability and so forth, such as determining if there is actually a connection between playing a “violent video game” and “violent behaviour”. so the examples are right in the student’s world. 

The publisher’s blurb asks questions such as  Did you know that a toy spaceship can teach you about inflation and that a pooping cow can show you how to invest your pocket money? but, wearing my educator’s hat, there are much more important lessons to be learned from this book and that’s why, IMO, it’s a must in the teacher’s toolbox .

When I’m Big

When I'm Big

When I’m Big











When I’m Big

Karen Blair

Puffin, 2023

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


Everyone keeps telling me
I’m going to be a big girl soon,

but I wonder . . . Just how BIG will I be?

Often parents tell their children of the impending arrival of a new sibling, that they will be a “big brother” or “big sister” and this charming story explores what happens when the little girl takes this literally, as children so often do.  To her, “big” only means “large” and she has grave concerns that she might become so big she won’t fit in the bath or her bed, and instead of her toy giraffe she will only be able to play with the real ones at the zoo!

For younger readers, particularly those who are likely to be experiencing not only the introduction of a new baby to their lives, but all the anxieties about the impact that accompany that, this book is a conversation starter about the changes they can expect and how they will be an important and integral part of them. Little ones worry that the new arrival will usurp them in their parents’ affections and they need reassurance as well as examples of how they will be a vital part of the new situation.

But it can also be a starter for helping them understand how they have grown and changed already, reflecting on what they have learned and achieved so they start to realise that “big” can mean a lot of things.  A. A. Milne’s classic poem, The End is the perfect accompaniment as is this poem from Sounds of Numbers by Bill Martin Jr. (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston; First Edition (January 1, 1966) which could lead to all sorts of writing and maths activities.

My name is Tommy

I am not very big

I am not as big as a goat

A goat is bigger than I am

I am not as big as a horse

A horse is bigger than I am.

I am not as big as a n elephant

An elephant is bigger than I am

I am not as big as a whale

A whale is bigger than I am.

I am not as big as a dinosaur

A dinosaur is the biggest thing I know. 

Sometimes you pick up a book that has the power to take you well beyond its pages – and this is one of those.

Ten Blocks to the Big Wok

Ten Blocks to the Big Wok

Ten Blocks to the Big Wok











Ten Blocks to the Big Wok

Ying-Hwa Hu

UQP, 2023

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


It’s ten blocks through Chinatown to the Big Wok, Mia and Uncle Eddie’s favourite restaurant. On the walk there, Mia counts all the interesting things she sees – one giant panda, two lion statues, three toy turtles…. But will she remember how many dumplings to get for Grandmama?

This is a joyful journey that not only has the anticipation of some delicious food at its destination, but also highlights all the things that we can see if we take the time to look and don’t whizz past in the car.  Added to the symbols and words for counting to 10 in Mandarin is the little kitten who joins them as they step out of the house -and gets his reward!  Little ones will enjoy finding him in each of the stunning illustrations. Not only will there be many who will delight in seeing themselves in this story, but the author has included notes about each of the things that Mia and Uncle Eddie see and their place in Chinese culture,so all readers will learn something.

There is also a chart that shows the Mandarin symbols, words and their pronunciation for one to ten which could inspire creating similar charts for all the other languages spoken in the classroom, perhaps even an investigation into the story of numbers, in itself a fascinating study that links research and mathematics. For those just beginning to learn to count, go on a maths walk around the school or neighbourhood and take photos of the groups of items discovered to create your own “ten blocks” story. Add captions that emphasise the numbers, numerals and words. 

Questions and Answers about Money

Questions and Answers about Money

Questions and Answers about Money











Questions and Answers about Money

Lara Bryan

Marie-Eve Tremblay

Usborne, 2023

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


At a time when a kids’ book about money, Barefoot Kidssells more copies in its first week than the controversial memoir of a popular prince, the release and review of this new title from the ever-reliable Usborne would seem very relevant.

In its lift-the-flap, question-and-answer format it introduces readers to all sorts of aspects of this daily essential from its early history to earning, managing and spending it. In an era where click-and-buy is so accessible, even to our children, understanding more than the recognition of coins and notes is essential and so this has been written in consultation with a British expert so that children can start to build a solid foundation for future money management.

As is usual with Usborne publications, it comes with pre-selected Quicklinks so readers can take their investigations further and as a precursor to Scott Pape’s Barefoot Kids, it is a winner.  An essential part of  the library’s collection to support the maths curriculum.


Mathematics for Beginners

Mathematics for Beginners

Mathematics for Beginners










Mathematics for Beginners

Sarah Hull

Tom Mumbray

Paul Boston

Usborne, 2022

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Ask your students what they believe maths to be and you will get answers such as ‘numbers’, “measuring”. “counting”… and probably emotions like “hard”, “boring”, “waste-of-time”.  There are more groans and moans than jumps for joy.

 But mathematics is known as the “queen of all sciences” and the word itself comes from the Ancient Greek meaning “that which is learned” or “what you can know.”  And, indeed, it takes but a short investigation to see that maths concepts pervade every aspect of our lives and that is the focus of this book  for those who have mastered the basics of counting and calculating, to demonstrate the application and extension of those skills in solving almost every problem we have, from the mundane such as knowing the using a bus timetable to  extending our knowledge into areas we are yet to explore to solving mysteries that have confounded generations. 

Over the 50+ years I’ve spent in education, many of them helping young children understand the basic concepts through several maths-focused books, I know the key to success is showing them that what they are learning is relevant to their lives and something they will use again and again, and that is also the focus of this book.  So as well as looking at what statistics and probability are, it shows how they can be used to predict which sports teams will win.  By understanding shapes and scale, Lego models become more adventurous.  By understanding pi we can share the pie equally…

With the usual appealing layout and reader-friendly language we associate with Usborne publications, this is one that will take those with an interest deep into the realm of possibilities and, as usual, there are also the Quicklinks which fascinate further.

Five Little Penguins

Five Little Penguins

Five Little Penguins











Five Little Penguins

Lily Murray

Holly Surplice

Templar, 2022

24pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99


Five little penguins went out one day
Over the hills and far away.
Mamma Penguin said “Hurry back to me!”
How many penguins can you see?

Combine a familiar ditty with rhyme, rhythm and repetition, add in bright, appealing illustrations and include the interactivity of a lift-the-flap format and you have the perfect recipe for a book that is going to engage our youngest readers.  Not only will they be taken to a winter wonderland where there is so much to see as Mamma Penguin and her chicks waddle through a frosty forest, skate down an icy river and toboggan down snowy slopes meeting all kinds of festive animals playing in the snow but because both the environment and the creatures are not those they are used to seeing, there is all sorts of scope for discussion and building vocabulary.

Most importantly though, this is one that they can return to again and again independently empowering their independence and consolidating their belief and expectation they they, too, can be “real readers”.