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Eat My Dust!

Eat My Dust!

Eat My Dust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat My Dust!

Neridah McMullin

Lucia Masciullo

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760654191

It is 1928 and despite proving their capabilities during World War I,  most men still believed a woman’s place  to be “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen”. Many who had stepped in to fulfil the roles and occupations traditionally taken by men had been relegated back to domestic duties, yet there were many who defied the prevailing practices and attitudes and chose to follow their dreams.  

Among them were Kathleen Elizabeth Howell and Jean Ochiltree Robertson whose passion was driving and who, in 1927, had completed the perilous trip between Melbourne and Darwin mapping their journey and the mileages as they went from Melbourne to Mount Gambier and Adelaide before heading north through the Central Desert to Oodnadatta and Alice Springs and up through to Darwin, sending their research back to their sponsors, the Shell Oil Company, who used the information to produce their first map of the route to central Australia.

Even though they were well-known in the motoring circles of the time, were experienced in both motor mechanics and driving in the desert, in 1928 when they took on the the west-east speed record from Perth to Melbourne (having already driven from Melbourne to Perth) and beating it by five hours, it was the derision and discrimination of the men that proved to be a greater hurdle. Each place they stopped for fuel or food, they were met by those who felt that such a journey was not the realm of women. To which they tended to respond, “Eat my dust!”  Thus, told as narrative non fiction, this new book provides both an introduction to two little-known heroines who paved the way for women to drive today, and highlights those attitudes offering an insight into how difficult it was to be female in a male environment and the opportunity to investigate the transition of women’s achievements and influence over the last century.

With the 2023 CBCA Book Week theme of Read. Grow. Inspire still fresh in our minds, this is another story that allows young readers to meet the pioneers who followed their dreams, inspired others and  made something “abnormal” normal for today’s generations. 

 

 

Being a Cat

Being a Cat

Being a Cat/ Being a Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a Cat: A Tail of Curiosity

9780063067929

Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness

9780063067912

Maria Gianferrari

Pete Oswald

HarperCollins, 2023

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

Little people, like big people, love their pets and often try to be like them, so these two books are perfect for encouraging them to examine their cats and dogs to really get to know them.

With minimal text and quirky, funny illustrations, they can get up close and personal and then, explore the traits in more detail in the final pages.

Something very different for the animal lovers in your domain. 

Butterflies Be Gone

Butterflies Be Gone

Butterflies Be Gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies Be Gone: Yoga Therapy for Fear and Anxiety

Loraine Rushton & Adele Vincent

Andrew McIntosh

Little Steps, 2023

40pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781922833655

When Jesse wakes up with butterflies in his tummy, he feels anxious about his day. But as he begins to move his body in special yoga poses, he is able to work through different emotions. Soon his body feels better and his imagination takes off!

It’s rare for a children’s storybook to come with a disclaimer that “the authors take no responsibility for any injury or illness resulting or appearing to result from doing the yoga in this book…” but that aside, this is still one worth having because so many of our children suffer from anxiety and if following some simple exercise patterns helps alleviate that, then it’s worth trying.  Giving the exercises such as lying on your back and then scrunching into a tight ball to let the butterflies out, a context so the reader is exposed to 18 different techniques that may be useful in times of stress. And even though it is called “yoga therapy”, many of them are the sorts of movements that might form part of a phys ed stretching session so they would be useful in the classroom setting when a change of routine is needed, benefitting more than just those feeling anxious. With simple illustrations of each pose offered at the end and their catchy names, children will enjoy participating in these without feeling that they are being singled out – everyone is involved but some will need them more than others.  

Nevertheless, given the prevalence of anxiety – whether it’s butterflies in the tummy to a debilitating medical condition – all children (and adults) can benefit from having a few strategies on hand to release it beyond taking a few deep breaths.  There really is nothing quite as magical as being so relaxed that you can hear your heart and the rhythm of love and life that it is beating.   

Meet the Weather

Meet the Weather

Meet the Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Weather

Caryl Hart

Bethan Woollvin

Bloomsbury, 2023

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

9781526639813

Join the children in their hot air balloon as they journey through the skies to encounter all sorts of weather and learn a little more about it.  

Like its predecessors  Meet the Planets and Meet the Oceans , this is one for younger readers who are just beginning to notice the phenomenon of changing weather patterns and starting to ask why it’s windy or sunny or who might be frightened by the lightning and thunder.  Written in rhyme with bold illustrations,  this respects the child’s intelligence by offering them the basic facts in a format that takes them on a journey of learning as well as discovery so they have a basic understanding of the science that will either satisfy their curiosity for now, or lead them to seek more information.  

This is a series of non fiction titles that most definitely has a place in the school library collection as it offers information at the child’s level of understanding in a style and format that is appealing without being overwhelming.  Given acknowledgement of the date and the weather forms part of the morning routine of any Kindergarten classroom, this is a great introduction that takes the learner beyond the basic observations and may even invoke a discussion about the impact of the weather on their daily lives beginning a basic understanding of cause and effect. 

 

Banjo, the Woylie with Bounce

Banjo, the Woylie with Bounce

Banjo, the Woylie with Bounce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banjo, the Woylie with Bounce

Aleesah Darlison

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2022

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

9781760899257

For most of his short life, Banjo the woylie has stayed safe with his mum in her pouch or her nest but as he gets a little older, he ventures out at night in search of food for this little woylie likes two things above all others – mushrooms and bouncing! But there are those like foxes and feral cats who like woylies just as much and when one startles Banjo, he bounces off … only to find himself far from home and his mum with no more bounce left in him.  And it seems worse is yet to come because he is tempted by the sweet smell of fresh fruit and finds himself caught in a trap!

Before Europeans settled Australia, the woylie, also known as the brush-tailed bettong was found over much of Southern Australia but now they are classified nationally as endangered and even presumed extinct in New South Wales., mostly due to predation by foxes and feral cats.  So this addition to the Endangered Animal Series which focuses on our lesser-known indigenous creatures that are threatened, at the very least, and which includes Poppy, the Punk Turtle  and Coco, the fish with hands and Rusty the Rainbow Bird, highlights the plight of these tiny creatures  bringing their stories to younger audiences who are just beginning to understand that there is a wider world around them.

As with the others, this one also features bright, bold illustrations which  catch the eye immediately and a story written in simple but accurate vocabulary which respects the young reader’s intelligence, and which is supported by fact boxes that offer more information. Perfect for those with an interest in the natural world and who are looking to find out more. 

At the same time, its format is also the perfect model for older students to base a story and an investigation of another little-known creature of their own.  Start by asking , “What would Aleesah Darlison and Mel Mathews have needed to know before they could begin one of these books?”  An opportunity for meaningful research as well as those who prefer writing fiction and those who prefer writing non fiction and those who prefer illustrating to collaborate. 

 

 

Alight: A Story of Fire and Nature

Alight: A Story of Fire and Nature

Alight: A Story of Fire and Nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alight: A Story of Fire and Nature

Sam Lloyd

Samantha Metcalfe

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486315444

Any of our students who experienced the devastation of the fire dragon that swallowed so much of this country during the summer of 2019-2020 is unlikely to want to pick up this book at first, because they don’t need the memories and they certainly do not believe that any good can come of such destruction.

But, perhaps this is the very book they need to help their healing process because it will help them understand that from what appears to be the death of the countryside, new life is being generated- in some cases, in species that have waited many years for just such an event. 

Fire is a natural part of the Australian bush – a recurring phenomenon of the landscape.  Since its creation lightning strikes have started fires, and for thousands and thousands of years, First Nations people have managed the environment through its judicious use, and the result is an eco-system that has adapted to cope either through developing survival strategies or recovery strategies. While this is all explained for mature, independent readers in the final pages of this new book from CSIRO Publishing,  it is the gentle story that forms the bulk of the book that is just perfect for helping younger readers understand the dependence of fire to maintain a healthy, diverse landscape that nurtures and supports a wide variety of flora and fauna.

In this case, the fire is deliberately lit by experts in a planned burn, and its impact on plants like the Old Eucalypt, the Wallum Banksia, and the beautiful Christmas Bells as well as the Wallum Sedge Frog and the teeny antechinus is followed over the year as they shelter, survive and then thrive for having the flames go through, albeit at a more gentle, cooler pace than a raging fire dragon..  As usual, the text is perfectly pitched for the age group, the sensitive, positive approach is spot on and the illustrations not only life like but also in a soft palette and medium that will be unlikely to stir memories and anxiety.

As well as the explanation of the need for fire in the landscape there is also a comprehensive glossary that will extend the reader’s vocabulary as well as their understanding.  As they look at the environment that is emerging as it recovers like the gum trees with their woolly leggings (technically known as epicormic sprouting) they will know that life will go on and Mother Nature is always in control. 

The Yawn Book

The Yawn Book

The Yawn Book

 

The Yawn Book

Diana Kim

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9780358525936

Yawning: Everyone does it. But no one knows why. The one thing for certain about this book is that you will yawn while it is being read.  

Scientists have studied when we yawn – it starts at about 12-14 weeks in the womb –  and how often but they still don’t know why.  Is it because our brains need extra oxygen, or because we are changing from one state of mind to another, or because it cools the brain by bringing cold air into our bodies?  And why is the act so contagious? 

While the big question remains unanswered despite the brightest minds trying, there are many other questions that are explored and explained in this fascinating non fiction book for young readers which combines accessible text with appealing artwork.  Did you know that mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish yawn but insects don’t? What’s the common element between those creatures that do? Does that has something to do with it?  Maybe it will be a reader who discovers the answer! 

It is books like these that provide the strongest evidence and justification for having a robust print non fiction collection in the primary school library at least.  It even has a formal ‘sources cited’ bibliography for further exploration, although none of those would be in a school library – the author has done the research and distilled the information into child-friendly language and explanation.  

One to pair with Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book for some fun-filled fact-finding!

Harriet’s Hungry Worms

Harriet’s Hungry Worms

Harriet’s Hungry Worms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harriet’s Hungry Worms

Samantha Smith

Melissa Johns

EK Books, 2023

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

9781922539472|

At Harriet’s place it’s her brother Fred’s job to walk Walter the dog, and her sister Sa;;y’s job to look after the chooks.  Harriet’s job was to take care of the nine-hundred-and-eighty-three worms that live in in the big green box in a shady corner of the garden.  Each day she fed them different scraps and waste that the family generated but after a whole week it seemed that they did nothing but eat and wriggle.  And then Harriet spotted the tap at the back of the big green box and discovered something quite magical…

There have been some outstanding books helping our young readers understand how they, themselves, can contribute to looking after the environment released recently, and this is one of them.  Back in the days of the dinosaurs when I was at school the only thing we learned about worms was that they were hermaphrodites  (something I can still recall all these years on) but nothing about how essential they are to keeping the planet healthy and balanced, even helping to reduce methane gas production which is such a contributor to climate change.  By writing an engaging story that will appeal to young readers as it takes the reader through worms’ menu through the days of the week (a much healthier version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar) with a nod to alliteration as well as some essential worm facts and their foodie likes and dislikes, this is narrative non fiction that will inspire our children to investigate having their own worm farm either at home or at school, as well as understanding the concept of composting and generally giving Mother Nature a helping hand. 

Ready-made farms are readily available and many councils offer rebates on their initial cost, although it is easy enough to build one, while there is plenty of advice and information available to ensure the farm is healthy and active. Teachers’ notes linked to the Australian Curriculum also offer insight and information to help not only appreciate the story but also inspire the students to be more pro-active about being involved so they too, can feel they are contributing,  

Logan’s Big Move

Logan's Big Move

Logan’s Big Move

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Logan’s Big Move

Logan Martin & Jess Black

Shane McG

Puffin, 2023

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

9780143778240

It’s tricky moving to a new place and knowing no one but the local skatepark offers a way to get to know the locals, and so Logan and his brother head there as soon as they’ve helped with the unpacking.  While his brother is inspired by the tricks of the skaters it is the BMX riders who attract Logan’s attention and he decides he’s wants to be just like them.  But even though he gets a coach, learns what to do, practises hard until he thinks he is ready to join his new friends at the park, he discovers there are a few more lessons to learn, including a really important one…

Inspired by the true story of Australia’s BMX freestyle Olympic gold medalist and 2021 Sports Dad of the Year, Logan Martin, this is a story that will appeal to young readers as the characters are all anthropomorphic with Logan himself portrayed as a lion, so that is a stand-alone story without knowing the backstory, but also those who have become fans of the athlete himself as he showed during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 why BMX freestyle is a legitimate Olympic sport. 

“Gold Coast’s Logan Martin started freestyle BMX at the age of 12 after following his brother, Nathan, to the Crestmead Skate Park. Spending most of his spare time there, Martin started showing real talent at the age of 15, entering competitions with his parents, Donna and Sean, taking him to the events and buying bikes and parts. Logan first travelled overseas in 2012, where he won the first international event he entered. Martin won the International Festival of Extreme Sports (FISE) World Series title in both 2015 and 2016, following those titles up by claiming the inaugural BMX Freestyle world title at the UCI Urban World Championships in China in 2017. A stellar 2019 followed, which saw Logan win dual X Games gold, the Urban Games gold, and a World Championship silver behind teammate Brandon Loupos. He also built a BMX ramp in the backyard of his home to prepare for his Olympic run during lockdown. At the 2020 and 2021 National Championships in Melbourne, Martin won gold, and added a second career rainbow jersey when he took out the 2021 UCI World Championships in France. The culmination of Logan’s career so far was claiming gold at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games.”

Not all the sporting heroes of our students are footballers or cricketers even though there is a dearth of accessible stories about those who make the heights in other fields so this is an important addition to the collection for those who know who Logan Martin is, and who are inspired to be like him, just as he had his own role models to aspire to. More mature readers might also like his autobiography Logan Martin: Journey to Gold opening the door to a whole new genre of non fiction for them.

 

 

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater

Coral Vass

Jess Racklyeft

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486316403

Once upon a time, the soft warbling melody of the regent honeyeater would “bounce of trees, skim across billabongs and echo through woodlands.” But, as “trees turned to towers, billabongs to buildings, and the woodlands to carparks…and forests turned to farms” many birds flew away, never to return. But when Regent felt the urge to sing the song to attract a mate that had been passed from father to son for generations, he couldn’t remember it.  And there was no one to remind him.  He searched the forest listening to the songs of others for a hint of the tune, he even tried out a few of them himself, but no one came…

How will the species survive if he can’t remember the tune, and have a son of his own in time…

Once found frequently in the woodlands of south-eastern Australia, the regent honeyeater  is now found only in three regions –   around Chiltern-Albury in north-east Victoria, and at Capertee Valley and the Bundarra-Barraba region in NSW – and is officially listed as “critically endangered” with an estimated overall population of just 350-400, probably less.  So this lyrical, beautifully illustrated story is another brilliant wake-up call for young readers not only about the impact of urban sprawl on this species in particular, but on our birdlife generally.  Accompanied by some basic facts and a timeline stretching back to First Nations peoples, young readers learn about the importance of bird-song in perpetuating a species and how the loss of potential mates can have devastating consequences. But all is not lost and there are programs in place to preserve and increase those that are left including a national plan  largely co=ordinated by Birdlife Australia.

As with all these publications for young readers, once again the plight of a likely-unknown species is brought to their attention, offering an insight not only into the diversity of Australia’s indigenous wildlife but also the threats they face and what even young individuals like them can do about it.  So even if this is not a species relevant to their particular region, little ones can investigate those that are and what it is that they might be able to do (or not) to ensure there is a future for them.

Both Coral and Jess have provided a unique approach for developing an awareness, if not an understanding, that is engaging, helping all of us to realise that those bird calls we hear every day but take for granted, have both meaning and purpose for the birds that sing them.  They are more than just melodies for our pleasure. 

Sightings of critically endangered regent honeyeater in NSW give conservationists hope  

ABC News, July 1, 2023