We Are One: How the World Adds Up

We Are One: How the World Adds Up

We Are One: How the World Adds Up













We Are One: How the World Adds Up

Susan Hood

Linda Yan

Candlewick, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


This is another one of those rare books for which the publisher’s blurb describes it best…

One can be one thing all on its own—one star, one stream, one stick, one stone.

But those on their toes, those using their smarts, know one can be more than the sum of its parts. 

Consider the two slices of bread that make up one sandwich, or the three lines of poetry that form one haiku, or even the ten years that form one decade. From one to ten, from sandwiches to centuries, every part is necessary to the whole.

In this fascinating concept book, a simple rhyming narration aimed at younger children is complemented by informational panels about subjects like the four compass points, the five acts in Shakespeare, the seven colors of a rainbow, or the nine innings in baseball. Award-winning author Susan Hood and debut children’s book illustrator Linda Yan offer a mind-expanding look at early math concepts such as part/whole relationships, fractions, and addition—while underlying themes of cooperation, peace, and kindness make this beautiful volume one to be enjoyed by anyone at any age.”

This celebration of numbers illustrates how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, while every part is critical to the whole! From one to ten, around us are things that cannot be without every part: seven days make a week, six sides make a snowflake, five acts make a Shakespeare play, and so on.  It is a perfect demonstration of the meaning of synergy – the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects – which is an abstract term usually too large for little minds but the repetition of the little girl in each of the illustrations and showing how she is directly connected to each of the examples give it a real-world application that is easily understood.  

As well as the informational panels at the base of each page, there is a comprehensive list of sources and resources that give more information about each of the concepts as well as some especially for kids that offer explanations of some of them like the seasons and the braille season.  There is also a comprehensive list of other things that occur in groups of a specific number offering an opportunity for the reader to create their own page, such as the  eight reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh, or the eight phases of the moon. The emphasis is always on how many work together to make one.

If I were still in a school this would definitely be the starting point for my maths program for the year to show the children how they are surrounded by numbers and other mathematical concepts, setting up an investigation that will resonate with them and provide purpose and focus for the year’s learning. 




Earth is Big

Earth is Big

Earth is Big











Earth is Big

Steve Tomecek

Marcos Farina

What On Earth Books, 2021 

48pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


Even though Earth is our home and for most of our history it was the only place we knew existed.  But once scientists began to study outer space, they discovered that our planet is just one of many in the universe and despite it seeming big to us, it is really very tiny compared to the rest of space.

Nevertheless, our planet is quite different from the rest of the known worlds in the solar system because over billions of years different processes have moulded and shaped it like no other. And to understand it better those scientists began to compare it with the rest of the universe resulting in this informative, very readable book that introduces us to our big, small, heavy, light, cold, hot, wet, dry, fast, slow, round, jagged planet as well as the language and tools of measurement in a most meaningful way.

Using easy-to-read diagrams, charts, timelines and other infographics, comparisons connect together a broad range of familiar subjects  including animals, space, rocks and minerals to STEAM topics such as physics, chemistry, mathematics and measurement helping the reader understand concepts like how big is big and how old is old so they begin to grasp how important  measurement  is to our perception of things and how comparison permeates nearly everything we do.  For example, soap bubbles are some of the roundest objects in the universe or that when it comes to population, humans are vastly outnumbered by chickens!

This is an important stand-alone book for any teacher wanting to show the importance and application of measurement to our everyday lives but it is also a really valuable adjunct if you are following the Ancient Worlds  , BANG! The Story of How Life on Earth Began  investigative series. Again it offers students information and opportunities to explore and explain, show and share those areas that fascinate them most. It has all the critical elements of a quality information book including a glossary, index, links to other sources and so on as well as offering a model of how to present what could be dry, boring facts and figures in an engaging way. 


Twelve Little Festive Frogs





Twelve Little Festive Frogs

Twelve Little Festive Frogs











Twelve Little Festive Frogs

Hilary Robinson

Mandy Stanley

Catch A Star, 2021 

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

The twelve little frogs who taught our young readers the initial poses of yoga are back in their version of the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas.  

However, their interpretation involves a giant game of pass the parcel in the woodlands, one that can go on and on even after the first 12 days! Like the song, and its predecessor, this is a counting book with lots of opportunities to predict what might come next as well as counting those who are already there. 

While it is set in the snowy regions of the northern hemisphere, it is an opportunity to talk about why what the frogs do is so different to our little ones’ experiences and perhaps even create an Australian version which would give it a wider audience and a meaningful activity for those last wind-down days!

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


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



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



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


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


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


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


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..