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Rónán and the Mermaid: A Tale of Old Ireland

Rónán and the Mermaid: A Tale of Old Ireland

Rónán and the Mermaid: A Tale of Old Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rónán and the Mermaid: A Tale of Old Ireland

Marianne McShane

Jordi Solano

Walker Books, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781406394320

Long ago, on the eastern coast of Ireland, a monk from the Abbey of Bangor was collecting driftwood along the shore when he found a boy washed up amid a circle of seals. At first the boy could barely move or speak. But when he regained his strength, he recalled being brought ashore by a lady with long golden hair who sang him to safety and gave him a silver ring. The monks knew the legend of a mermaid who had wandered the coast for three hundred years. Could it possibly have been her?

Inspired by a story told in medieval chronicles of Irish history, seanchaí, Marianne McShane has woven a captivating tale of an orphan, an unlikely rescuer and a lifelong debt that takes the reader back into the hazy past of Ireland where myths, legend and religion are so intermingled they are all but inseparable, creating a new story that may, one day, itself become part of the legend.  The mood of myth and mystery is enhanced but Jordi Solano’s illustrations that have a sombre but warm palette and soft lines that imitate the blurring of old and new. 

An intriguing story that offers an alternative story about mermaids for those who adore these beings. 

 

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Renee Treml

Allen & Unwin, 2022

288pp., graphic novel., RRP $A14.99

9781761065729

Sherlock Bones, a talkative tawny frogmouth skeleton,  his companion Watts, a mute, stuffed Indian ringneck parrot and Grace, a sassy raccoon return in the third in this series, with a new mystery to solve in their natural history museum home.  This time there is a new exhibition called “The Art and Science Alliance” and the rumour is that the painting of the ancient Greek hydra – an enormous snake-like monster with nine heads – comes alive at night, hissing and Sherlock and his cohorts are determined to find the truth. 

Once again Treml has drawn on her degree in environmental science and passionate love of natural history to craft an intriguing story that informs as much as it entertains. Using the technique of Bones telling the story as a conversation with the reader, interspersed with lots of humour mostly consisting of puns better classified as ‘dad jokes’, she has crafted a graphic novel for young readers who have the skills to follow a story in this format. 

This story opens up lots of different avenues for the interested reader to follow from the relationship between art and science (an initial discussion between Sherlock and Grace) to the intrigue of Greek mythology while being an engaging story in its own right.   

 

 

Greek Myths

Greek Myths

Greek Myths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Myths

Jean Menzies

Katie Ponder

DK, 2020

160pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241397459

Even though the ancient Greek civilisation stretched across the Mediterranean, all parts share the same gods and heroes, their way of understanding the world around them and explaining to those less educated how things worked. The gods and goddesses who forged the Earth and set rules for all others to follow were such an integral part of their lives that they were integrated into daily life through their stories, their arts and even referenced in their law.  To this day, thousands of years since they ruled the known world at the time, these stories are known and their heroes recognised. 

In this impressive, weighty tome whose physical appearance belies its accessibility to its target audience of young independent readers, the stories are retold in modern easy-to-understand language accompanied by lots of illustrations.  They are organised under headings of The Beginning, The Olympian Gods, Humans and the Gods, and Heroes and there is also a section that explains more about the role of the myths in Greek life.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As with all DK publications for young readers, there are the usual supports for young readers such as an easy-to-navigate contents page, glossary and index, but, importantly, for this one, there is also a pronunciation guide so little tongues can master those tricky names.  Imagine not only being able to say “tyrannosaurus rex” but also ‘Chimaera’ and ‘Eurydice’ and even ‘Penelope’ (which was what I was to be called except my mum knew people couldn’t pronounce it!)   Perfect for dropping at the family dinner table and all because the child found this amazing book in the school library collection!

If your curriculum includes a unit focusing on superheroes, this is a must-have… how do today’s heroes match up and will they still be around in 1000 years? 

Arthur: The Always King

Arthur: The Always King

Arthur: The Always King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur: The Always King

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Chris Riddell

Walker, 2022

240pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9781406378436

Some time in the late 5th to early 6th century. an obscure Celtic leader called Arthur fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons but it would seem, that anything about him beyond that is open to conjecture among historians as the debate rages on the legitimacy of the historical treatises that document his deeds.

However, despite that, hundreds and hundreds of stories and poems have been written about him, covering each stage of his life from his magical conception at Tintagel, his childhood with older brother Kay in the west of England, his pulling of Excalibur, the sword from the stone, being crowned king of England at age 15 and his formation of the Knights of the Round Table.  And although these appear to be just the inventions of medieval writers, they are as popular today as they were 800 years ago. 

In this extensive collection of the stories focusing on Arthur, author Kevin Crossley -Holland says he has shaped it ‘to tell one story illustrating each stage of Arthur’s dream of a Golden Age such as the world had never seen before, and the idea behind it.” So all the familiar names and characters  like Sir Lancelot, Sir Kay, Sir Galahad, Guinevere and Merlin are featured in these eleven stories as once again, Arthur’s life at Camelot is played out for another generation, each with a “strong moral sense of what’s right, what’s wrong, and how we’re all part of it.” 

Described as “the definitive retelling of the legends of King Arthur” this is a lavishly illustrated book that is suitable for both independent readers, and those wishing to share both the stories and their insight into medieval life that they offer. There is a reason that there have been so many tales that have sprung up about King Arthur, and they they have endured for centuries – this is an opportunity to continue both the legend and the legacy. 

 

The Secret Lives of Unicorns

The Secret Lives of Unicorns

The Secret Lives of Unicorns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Unicorns

Dr Temisa Seraphini

Sophie Robin

Flying Eye, 2021 

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

 9781838740504

Every parent, or grandparent, of a young girl up to about 9 will be aware of the fascination that unicorns continue to hold, their mystique never waning. Thus this is the perfect book for those who want to find out more about who and what they really are, where they live and the various species of them.  For not all unicorns are the same with short hair and rainbow manes.

This exposé by the equally mysterious Dr Temisa Seraphina (who may or may not be the expert behind The Secret Lives of Dragons  and The Secret Lives of Mermaidsreveals everything about this magical creature from its origins and evolution to the truth about the myths and tall tales.  It shows how they are so rarely seen these days because the world is no longer what it used to be, and encourages today’s believers to think about the present day environment and what they might be able to do to improve it so unicorns can once again roam as freely as they used to.

As with the others in the series, taking a fantasy subject and treating in a factual way, just as any non fiction text on any other species, is an intriguing way of not only feeding the child’s thirst for knowledge about the particular creature but also to the concept of non fiction itself, bridging the gap between imagination and information in an absorbing way.  

About 20 years ago, a collection of books known as the Ology series which focused on a range of fantasy and not-so creatures in a similar way, began appearing, offering the newly independent readers of the time an insight into the lives and times of creatures like dragons, wizards, ghosts and others and it was the lucky looker who found one on the shelves. I predict this new series (and hopefully there are more) will be just as popular when this new generation is introduced to it, and what better way to transition from fiction to non fiction, both as reader and teacher.  

 

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

Prof Anuk Tola

Anja Sušanj

Flying Eye Books, 2020

34pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

 9781911171874

At the School of Merology (SoM), Professor Anuk Tola (aka Anja Sušanj has been studying the lives, habits and habitats of merpeople for many years in an attempt to be able to communicate with them and those studies have revealed that

  • The word “mermaid” is a misnomer because there is more than just one gender, their societies are large and varied, and each is a unique individual
  • Merpeople are “a highly complex, curious, social, fierce, intelligent and incredibly secretive” species and what little is known has taken hundreds of years to glean
  • Because the ocean is changing so are the merpeople and they and the merologists (those who study merpeople) have to find new ways to work together. 

In the meantime, she has gathered all that is currently known into this highly informative book, a companion to The Secret Lives of Dragons   and  The Secret Lives of Unicorns. Beginning with a section entitled  “What is a merperson?” the reader is introduced to the species, visits the various kingdoms in the world’s oceans and learns about their beliefs, language and so forth. But perhaps the most important section is the final one which examines how and why the oceans are changing , how that is affecting them and what we, as humans, can do to protect both them and their environment. 

Mermaids (and unicorns) continue to be a source of fascination for many, particularly young girls, and this is a really imaginative way to introduce them to the concept of ocean conservation as well as non fiction generally, . To build a complete world in this way, albeit one based on a fantasy, is a clever way to make the reader stop and think about what might live between the waves and pause before they chuck their plastic bag in the water or let their balloons go into the sky.  Somehow it gives a whole new slant on this year’s CBCA Book week theme, “Dreaming with eyes open…”

 

The Supernatural Survival Guide

The Supernatural Survival Guide

The Supernatural Survival Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Supernatural Survival Guide

George Ivanoff

Puffin, 2021

176pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9781761043635

All Hallows Eve, that special night dating back to the 0th century Celtic festival of Samhain when its celebrants believe that the barriers between the physical and spirit worlds blur, allowing more interaction between humans and the inhabitants of the Otherworld. It was held on October 31 to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the long dark winter, particularly in those northern regions of what is now the United Kingdom and bonfires were lit to entice the sun to remember to come back.  It was the final night that the souls of those who had died could roam before ascending to heaven or descending to hell.

As time passed, civilisations rose and disappeared and beliefs and festivals waxed and waned,  the time known as Hallowe’en and all the traditions of witches and ghosts, and masks, costumes and jack-o-lanterns to scare them off has evolved.  So the release of this book, which attempts to make the paranormal more normal is timely.  Drawing on his personal long-term fascination with “the supernatural, the paranormal, the mysterious, the unknown the unexplained and the downright weird” and taking on the role of a child caught between a dad who believes that things like UFOs, ghosts and the yeti are true – “the truth is out there” – and a more practical, pragmatic mum who has a sensible explanation for noises in the night and strange sky shapes; Ivanoff has investigated the more common phenomena and offers a scientific explanation or debunks them.  “The truth is in here!”

Using the child-friendly format of The Australia Survival Guide and The Human Body Survival Guide he tackles topics like  Is the Loch Ness Monster real? Does Big Foot exist? Are there scientific reasons for hauntings? What is cryptozoology? What can explain UFO sightings by multiple witnesses? So young readers will be well-armed as the spooky season approaches.  (And given that The Australia Survival Guide was published just before the Black Summer of 2019-2020, this could prove particularly useful!

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Hiawyn Oram

David Wyatt

Walker Studio, 2019

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

9781406377705

Theoretical physicist, Professor Dawn D. Gable Ph.D., MRI, MInsiP, deals only in facts and shuns the world of stories and imagination.  So when she is interrupted on her birthday by her niece and nephew whom she hasn’t seen for years and doesn’t even recognise, she is not pleased. Even moreso when they present her with a gift from her brother, and she tosses the unwanted present aside. But as midnight draws close, she finds herself being drawn to it as if by an unseen force, and tearing off the wrapping she discovers a book, a childhood favourite called Lost in the Imagination, written and illustrated by “dreamers, fantasists and folklorists”, and which took her and her brother to amazing worlds when they were young, but which she has no time for now.

Tossing the book on the fire, she is surprised that it does not burn – and the strange magic begins. 

This is the journal of that magic, as led by the strange creature Hyllvar, descendant of Nidhogg, the ancient Norse dragon, who emerges from the flames, Prof Gable realises she is alone, bereft of new ideas and inspiration and in need of a challenge…

Superbly crafted and beautifully illustrated, both the professor and the reader are taken on a journey to explore a city of robots, the ancient city of Kor, the miniature world of Lilliput and flying island of Laputa, a mountainous home of mythical beasts, the primeval island of Buyan, Atlantis, Valhalla and more. From cover to cover this is a mystical and magical book that even non-fantasists like me are drawn into in a way that I was drawn into both Middle earth and Hogwarts. It is captivating and a must for all those whose imaginations know no bounds and who delight in exploring the mythical places of the ancients, the literary creations of minds long gone but whose fantasies linger.  Miss 8 and Miss 13 are going to love this and perhaps venture into more classical tales of fantasy as their imaginations will be piqued to read more. In fact, Grandma might make up a package of the stories that go with the worlds just to entice them!

Land of the Echidna People

Land of the Echidna People

Land of the Echidna People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the Echidna People

Percy Trezise

Mary Lavis

Angus & Robertson, 2019

32pp, hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781460756614

“Aboriginal oral history tells of hundreds of Dream Roads criss-crossing the Australian continent which were made by Ancestral Beings during their travels at the beginning of the Dreamtime. It also tells of a vast freshwater lake at the top of Australia and stories about ancestors like the Anta Moola sisters. There is also scientific evidence to suggest that 36 000 years ago there was a large freshwater lake at the top of Australia. Scientist called it the Lake of Carpentaria…and it was also known as Balanorga, the big water.”

The Journey of the Great Lake series tells the story of Jadianta, Lande and Jalmor, three children of the Kadimakara People who were caught in a storm and stranded across the great lake, Balanorga and their quest to return to their homeland as they journey around Balanorga, along the Dream Road of the Anta Moola sisters to find their way home.  The series, first published 20 years ago, comprises Home Of The Kadimakara People, Land of the Dingo People, Land of the Magpie Goose People ,  Land of the Emu People, Land of the Snake PeopleLand of the Kangaroo People, Land of the Brolga People  and the final in the series, Land of the Echidna People . 

Written at a time when there was very little indigenous literature for young readers  available, the series was and is a valuable addition to the resources supporting studies of Aboriginal cultures, providing young readers with an insight into the life and lands of northern Australia 30 000 years ago

 

 

 

Yahoo Creek An Australian Mystery

Yahoo Creek An Australian Mystery

Yahoo Creek An Australian Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yahoo Creek An Australian Mystery

Tohby Riddle

A & U Children’s, 2019

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

9781760631451

From time immemorial the stories passed through the generations of all cultures have included tales of creatures that appear to be a mixture of human and ape, large and hairy and always elusive. 

Throughout the first century or so of Australian settlement by Europeans, the pages of colonial newspapers were haunted by reports of a bewildering phenomenon: the mysterious yahoo or hairy man …

But what was it? 

Yahoo Creek breathes life into this little-known piece of Australian history – which, by many accounts, is a history still in the making. Using many newspaper extracts dating back to the early 1800s  both within the pages and on the endpapers, words by Ngiyampaa Elder Peter Williams who shares the perspective of the Aboriginal peoples who have been seeing these creatures for millennia, and his own haunting images using a palette of inky blues to add to the mood and the mystery, Tohby Riddle explores the ongoing mystery of yahoo encounters. 

Also known as a yowie, this is a book that sucks you in to read all the reports and begin to wonder whether this really is an imaginary creature – it achieves its purpose of beginning conversations about history, storytelling and truth.  

Intriguing, absorbing and utterly mystifying!