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Little Horses

Little Horses

Little Horses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Horses

Deborah Kelly

Jenni Goodman

Wombat Books, 2024

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

9781761111310

Out in the bay, where sailboats glide

Little horses drift and glide

Changing colours so predators pass

In gardens of sponge and coral and grass

In the calm peaceful waters, disturbed only by the rise and fall of the tide, little seahorses spend their lives swaying with the movement of the water, occasionally spotted by sharp-eyed scuba divers who are lucky to see them amongst the seaweed. They give birth and raise their young in a way that only seahorses do, continuing a cycle that is generations old.

But then a storm hits the bay and the seahorses are swept away from their home by the tumbling, crashing waves to a barren place where there are no sponges, coral and grass until…

Inspired by true events when severe storms hit Port Stephens, NSW between 2010 and 2013 and almost wiped out the fragile population of White’s Seahorses (hippocampus whitei) – so much so that it was declared endangered on the IUCN list – this story tells the story of how scuba diver David Haraski spotted two seahorses beginning to build a new home on an old lobster pot that had also been swept away bit which was starting to sprout new corals and sponges. With the adage, “If we build it, they will come” in mind, in 2018 Haraski  built and placed the first seahorse hotel onto the Port Stephens seabed – and it worked.  Haraski the tried his concept in Sydney Harbour where there were other endangered populations and now these seahorses hotels are springing up around the world, including a dedicated breeding program at Sydney Sea Life.

This is such a positive spin on how humans are working to save the environment and its creatures that it deserves a place in any library collection to support the environment and sustainability curriculum. The gentle rhyme has a rhythm that mimics the wave movement, building to a crescendo when the storm hits, and all set against eye-catching artwork that is so lifelike.  There are notes about both the seahorses themselves and the seahorse hotels to add context and whet the appetite to know more and explore further.

With summer beach holiday memories still fresh in the mind, this is the ideal time to encourage students to think what lies below the yellow sands, beneath the rockpool calm and beyond the sparkling waters and used together with Beach Song and Voice of the Sea, there is the trifecta of storybooks to form the basis of the investigation.

 

 

 

Meet the Dinosaurs

Meet the Dinosaurs

Meet the Dinosaurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Dinosaurs

Caryl Hart

Bethan Woollvin

Bloomsbury, 2024

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

9781526639837

A new school year and a new batch of little ones eager to learn more about these creatures that roamed the planet so long ago but which continue to fascinate.

A new addition to the Meet the... series,  which includes introductions to the planets, the oceans, and the weather, young scientists will enjoy the bright pictures and bouncing rhymes as they meet a range of dinosaurs from the huge Brontosaurus and amazing Diplodocus to the speedy Velociraptor and scary T-Rex.   On the other hand, those with more knowledge and experience could use the pages as models to create their own entry for their favourite dinosaur creating both a display and an extra resource for the collection.  

Like its predecessors,  it offers information at the child’s level of understanding in a style and format that is appealing without being overwhelming – perhaps sparking an enduring interest that leads to who knows where. 

Your Brain Is a Lump of Goo

Your Brain Is a Lump of Goo

Your Brain Is a Lump of Goo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Brain Is a Lump of Goo

Idan Ben-Barak

Christopher Nielsen

A & U Children’s, 2024

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

9781761180156

Sitting safely inside your skull, behind your eyes so you can’t see it is a pineapple-sized lump of goo – your brain. And while everyone else also has a brain, and theirs does many of the things yours does, yours is unique and is the part of you that makes you, you. 

Idan Ben-Barak has a unique way of introducing young readers to the various parts of their body – Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You – as well as other topics like the origins of life on Earth and microbes amongst others and this is no exception. Using a mix of clever illustrations, well-chosen language and layout young readers learn about some of the things their brain does and why it is the most essential part of them so they need to protect -cue lesson on the importance of wearing a helmet- and the new suggested protocols for concussion in sports.  The continuing reference to the pineapple adds humour and, all in all, this is a very readable, very accessible introduction to this vital organ, and even moreso if your curriculum has a focus on teaching students about how they learn.

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

Jackie Hosking

Lesley Vamos

Walker Books, 2023

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

9781760654948

Having completed their Amazing Australian Road Trip, now the family is off on a camping adventure because Aunty wants to paint “a fantastical beast”.

“It eats like a fish and swims in the lakes, has fur like a dog and venom like snakes, with a bill like a duck, it also lays eggs, has a tail like a paddle and walks on four legs.”

With the 4WD loaded to the hilt and beyond, they head to country to find this amazing creature, finally setting up camp and starting to relax. And although there is lots of wildlife to discover, each with one of the attributes that Aunty has described, none has them all.  What could she be looking for?

As with its predecessor, this is a story that rollicks along in rhyme accompanied by eye-catching illustrations full of detail and humour including the mysterious animal hiding on each page waiting for the eagle-eye to spot…  While many readers will be familiar with camping, and understand the terminology as well as recognising the creatures that the family spot, for those for whom the Australian bush is a mystery there are lots of explanations of unfamiliar words as well as information about the various animals. And, also like its predecessor, it offers a lot of potential for investigation, not the least of which is the meaning and purpose of a glossary.

As summer holidays fade into the distance, this is one that will bring back so many memories for children who spent their time camping “out bush” as they giggle their way through familiar scenes and adventures – although I was a bit concerned that the copperhead snake that inhabits the cool climate region I live in is active at night – and begin to look forward to the next one. 

Loving this series which brings our country to life in such a fun way. 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

Prof Zoya Agnis

Alexander Utkin

Flying Eye, 2023

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

99781838741174

“Deep in the cold mountains of a distant land, there was once a magnificent kingdom of dragons. The songs of dragon families echoed across its peaks, and priceless treasures were hoarded in its caves. But what happened to this kingdom?” 

From stories like The Paper Bag Princess to the drama of Smaug’s arrival in the opening scenes of The Hobbit, both before and beyond, dragons have been a common entry to the world of fantasy for our young readers, sparking the imagination to go on wondrous adventures. For some, just being engrossed in the particular story is enough, but for others, there is a desire to know more and for them, this book is the answer.

It contains everything a curious mind wants to know to become an expert Drackenosopher just like the esteemed author, Zoya Agnis.  Through clever illustrations and readily accessible text, they can learn to identify the different dragon families, name the most fearsome dragon slayers, the bravest of Drackenosophy scholars and everything else there is to know about the beautiful dragons that we share our planet with.

About 20 years ago, there was another series of books like this (this series also includes The Secret Lives of Mermaids  and The Secret Lives of Unicorns) and it became the perfect vehicle for transitioning young readers into the world of non fiction as we took a topic they were fascinated by and started exploring information books.  In fact they came up with the slogan, Fiction = Imagination; Non Fiction = Information, something I have used in many instances since then. This would serve the same purpose. 

Whenever I make a storybook cushion or a journal or author kit featuring a dragon, I know I will only have it for a short time, such is the popularity of these fantastic beasts. Adults and children snap them up immediately, such is the fascination with and popularity of this creature.  So this is the perfect book to be the centrepiece of a display and promotion featuring fantasy promising to take readers on magical adventures as well as for The Year of the Dragon. A must-have if you have fantasy lovers amongst your readers. 

Who has the biggest Mouth?

Who has the biggest Mouth?

Who has the biggest Mouth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who has the biggest Mouth?

Judy Cannon

Verena Heirich

Little Steps, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678096

On a trip to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa the children are looking for the creature with the biggest mouth.  While they discover lots of interesting and unique information about a number of individual species, do they find the one with the biggest mouth?

Young readers will have fun predicting who they think is the winning candidate as they share this book and they may be surprised by their discoveries.  If the reserve list for the latest Guinness Book of Records is any indication, little ones are fascinated by these sorts of extremes and so this could be the start of an individual or group display of investigating who, in the animal kingdom, has the biggest, longest, heaviest, smallest whatever encouraging young naturalists to delve deeply into the 500s collection to read and interpret with purpose while learning about measurement, comparison and adaptation.

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

Chloe's Lunar New Year

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

Lily LaMotte

Michelle Lee

HarperCollins. 2024

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

9780063076518

It’s almost Lunar New Year, and Chloe can’t wait to celebrate! But first, Chloe and her family must prepare for the new year. They buy new shoes, lay out good-luck oranges in a bowl, decorate the red envelope, and make a crispy turnip cake. Everyone comes together to cook a fantastic feast, saving a plate for A-má, no longer with them, of course. Chloe enjoys the festive celebration and yummy food, but most of all, she loves spending time with her family.

As many of our students start to prepare for their most important annual celebration, just as with the traditions of Christmas there are core elements that all observe, but this story focuses on the traditional things that form part of the Taiwanese version of the celebration, particularly the reunion dinner. There are many dishes, each with a special significance for individual members of the family and it is this coming together and sharing this special time that flows through this story.

The upcoming year is the Year of the Dragon, and while this opens up all sorts of possibilities to investigate, perhaps this story will encourage an exploration of how each of our Asian neighbours celebrate, especially the different emphases on various elements and the food that is shared.   Students could share their stories, acknowledging their culture and customs and feeling that they are continuing those traditions by teaching others about them.  A search of SCIS shows very few picture books about this important celebration that are readily available in Australia, so maybe this is an opportunity to collect the students’ stories and create a new resource for the collection. 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

The Deep EndReal Facts About the Ocean

The Deep End
Real Facts About the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

Drew Sheneman

HarperCollins, 2023

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

9780063224551

Despite the wild weather that has plagued Australia’s east coast recently, many will have enjoyed a beachside holiday and some will have wondered about what actually lives in that deeper water out beyond the breaking waves.

So they will enjoy this exploration and explanation told in a mixture of regular text and cartoon illustrations as Brownbeard the pirate, his first mate Alan the parrot and a knowledgeable scientist take them on a journey that spans the development of the discovery of the deep from those who first dived to find food to the development of modern sonar and submersibles, the things they found and saw and the legends that they sparked.  There is an introduction to some of those mysterious creatures that can survive the incredible pressure of being kilometres below the surface, as well as the cold and the permanent darkness.  But as well as the humour there is also a serious side as it is revealed that on a recent trip to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of the ocean on the planet, a plastic bag was discovered floating in the depths and the darkness, raising awareness that despite its size and still being relatively unexplored, the ocean is in danger. 

This is a unique way of piquing the interest of curious readers, all of which is factually accurate, and sparking a desire to learn more through more conventional presentations. 

 

 

Giovanni

Giovanni

Giovanni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giovanni

Crystal Corocher

Margeaux Davis

Wombat Books, 2023

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

9781761111235

In 1881, four-year-old Giovanni and his family and local villagers leave the Veneto region of Italy bound for Australia having been promised “paradise” only to find that they are in the hands of a people smuggler with a rickety boat, little food and no real concern for their safety, let alone comfort.  Eventually stranded on a beach in Noumea, they were in despair of ever reaching Australia dying in huge numbers from bad food, mosquitoes, undrinkable water and back-breaking work in the monsoon season. 

But hearing of their plight, Sir Henry Parkes, the “father of Federation” but then colonial secretary of NSW sent a boat to rescue them and 22 families eventually settled on the NSW north coast in what was to become known as New Italy and the start of the Italian migration to Australia that continues today.

Told by the great-granddaughter of Giovanni, with a concurrent Italian translation by Jada Valpato,  this is a story meticulously researched that tells of an almost-forgotten part of Australia’s migration history, making it one for both younger and older readers, particularly those of Italian heritage.  Coupled with links to resources such as the New Italy Museum, this is definitely one for the collection for both your Italian families as well as any study of Australia’s immigration history. 

 

Where are all the Christmas Beetles?

 

 

 

Where are all the Christmas Beetles?

Where are all the Christmas Beetles?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where are all the Christmas Beetles?

Suzanne Houghton

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486317905

Once upon a time, not so long ago, our kids looked forward to summer barbecues because it meant they were going to be bombarded by those shimmering green and gold beetles with the sharp little feet that clung to skin and clothes.  And rather than being afraid or squealing in surprise, they knew they were Santa’s special messengers and if they whispered what they wanted for Christmas, the beetle would take the request straight back to Santa. 

But now those kids want to share that Christmas ritual with their kids and there are fewer and fewer beetles to be seen!  There are no tell-tale dead patches in the grass where the grubs have eaten the roots,  they aren’t high in the gum trees either and they’re not even buzzing around the street lamps like they used to do.  Where have they all gone?  

In this beautifully illustrated book that brought back so many memories of Christmases past, the author/illustrator speculates on what might have happened to them.  Could it be the changing weather? The drought? The floods? The loss of habitat?  Scientists don’t know for sure yet and have initiated the Christmas Beetle Count for sightings and photos to be shared but before students get involved in that there are really useful notes at the back of the book as well as teachers’ notes that can help them become junior scientists and help solve the mystery.

After all, what’s Christmas in Australia without Christmas beetles and how will Santa ever know just what to leave underneath the tree?