Archives

Brown Bears

Brown Bears

Brown Bears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Bears

Dr Nick Crumpton

Colleen Larmour

Walker Books, 2024

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

9781529508727

Spring has arrived in Alaska, and a brown bear is waking up. She was alone when she fell asleep at the start of winter; now she is climbing out of her den with two cubs. Follow them as they discover how to survive in the wilderness, from climbing trees to catching salmon, as their mother teaches the cubs how to be bears. There is a saying about not getting between a mother and her cubs, and the confrontation between a male and the mother demonstrates this, showing that a mother’s protection of her offspring extends into the animal world as well as the human. The perfect choice for a Mother’s Day review as young readers can reflect on the other parallels between human and animal mothers!

While this story is set in Alaska, zoologist-author Nick Crumpton explains that because this species is not fussy about its diet, they are able to live in many countries, although exclusively in the northern hemisphere, opening opportunities to explore the differences in climate, seasons, habitats and inhabitants of those regions compared to Australia,  

This is another in the brilliant Nature Storybooks series that personalises the stories of particular creatures by focusing on one member of the species while providing more general facts separate to the narrative.  It is a successful technique that engages young readers because it brings the information into the child’s realm rather than being a series of disconnected facts and figures, and thus provides a solid bridge between fiction and non fiction.  

Seed to Sky

Seed to Sky

Seed to Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed to Sky

Pamela Freeman

Liz Anelli

Walker Books, 2024

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

9781760653750

Come to the oldest forest on Earth,…

On the oldest continent…

Where the oldest trees reach high into the sky…

And begin a journey into 00 years ago, before European settlement and the Daintree Rainforest was much larger and very different to what it is now.

In this latest on the brilliant Nature Storybooks series, which combines lyrical text with factual information amidst stunning real-life illustrations, the reader is taken on an exploration of how a seed becomes a sapling over hundreds of years and is introduced to the diversity and generations of insects, butterflies, bird, lizards, snakes and an abundance of native wildlife that will bear witness to the rise of the magnificent Bull Kauri pine…

Australia is a continent of diverse landscapes and landshapes, each with its unique flora and fauna and while the extensive teachers’ notes will lead you through an investigation of the Daintree itself, they could also serve as a model for investigating a similar situation in the students’ environment.  What vegetation is indigenous to the local area and what creatures might have witnessed its development?

When it comes to narrative non fiction that engages as it explains, this series is one of the benchmarks and this addition is no different.  

Everyone Starts Small

Everyone Starts Small

Everyone Starts Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone Starts Small

Liz Garton Scanlon

Dominique Ramsey

Candlewick Press, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536226157

Sun grows beams
and Grass grows blades
and Cloud cannot contain herself.

Spring rains change Water from a tumbling creek to a roaring river and bring Tree nutrients it needs to stretch toward the sky. As Sun’s rays intensify, the sprouts and fruits and insects of the forest grow and bloom and develop, all working together in harmony. Even Fire, whose work causes Tree to ache from the inside, brings opportunity for the next generation of flora and fauna. This poetic tribute to our planet’s resilience, accompanied by its striking illustrations is a resonant story of life, death, and regeneration and demonstrates to young readers the interdependence of the elements of Nature and how without one, or too much of one, our planet cannot survive, let alone thrive.

It echoes the old Aesop fable of The North Wind and the Sun although the theme of this is not competition but the symbiosis of the elements, despite Tree warning that “it is not a race”.  As well as building a greater awareness of the world around them, it introduces young readers to the concept of life cycles and possibly sparking investigations of the connections between creatures and their habitats and what they can do to help such as making a bee motel.

For those more mature readers, the personification could be a metaphor for their own lives, a reassurance that despite all they might experience as they grow and mature into independence, like Tree, they have the resilience and wherewithal to cope with whatever they encounter no matter how bleak the immediate future might seem.  Despite the devastation of Fire and the harshness of Winter, following the devastation, the Earth renews itself, and new lives arise again, rife with fabulous potential – just as they can. 

Tree

Tree

Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree

Claire Saxby

Jess Racklyeft

A & U Children, 2024

28pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781761069505

On a misty mountain morning, just like the one outside my window this morning, the tree stands tall in the forest, high above those that surround it , “older than those who find it, younger than the land it grows from.”

From its roots that gather food and the tiny, feathery threads that connect it to other trees to the tips of it top leaves that reach for the sun and give dappled shade from it, the tree brims with life – both its own and those who seek shelter and food from it.

Known as “the forest giant” as they can soar to a height of more than 100 metres, and sometimes living up to 300 years old, this is the story of a mountain ashEucalyptus regnans – native to the forests of Tasmania and Victoria, born from a seed the size of a pinhead but uniquely designed to be able to push its way through the ash of a bushfire and begin its rapid growth that helps regenerate the scorched land below. 

Just like Iceberg this is another incredible offering from this team of author and illustrator, one that brings to life the life of something so ordinary yet extraordinary  in words and pictures (including an amazing three-page spread) in a way that should be used as a role model for students tasked with research-and-report writing.  Compare “In the layered litter, a a scaly thrush flicks. A lyrebird scritch-scratches. Slaters curl, beetles burrow and centipedes scurry.” to  something like “At the bottom of the tree lots of birds and animals live among the dropped leaves and twigs.” It is the lyricism of Saxby’s language that shines through in all her books and in this case, Racklyeft’s watercolour illustrations put the reader right in with those little inhabitants.

But whether the tree is a magnificent mountain ash, or a humble backyard specimen, this is one that will spark awareness of the value that any tree adds to both the landscape and life itself, and thus needs protection rather than destruction. 

 

Giraffe Math

Giraffe Math

Giraffe Math

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giraffe Math

Stephen R. Swinburne

Geraldo Valério

Little, Brown Young Readers US, 2023

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

9780316346771

Twiga the giraffe introduces young readers to fascinating facts about giraffes and their relationship to other creatures-all by using math concepts such as measurements, graphs, shapes, word problems, and more.

This interactive picture book explores these spectacular animals through a STEM lens as everything from their speed and size to their intricate camouflage patterns (which act as internal air conditioning) and other body characteristics are featured. It’s an in-depth look at the animal kingdom’s most beloved gentle giants.

Animals have cycles of popularity and where, not so long ago, it was all about dolphins and elephants, now giraffes are enjoying the limelight.  So those in their fan club are not going to be too bothered by all the facts and figures in this book being in imperial measurements, because there is so much more information embedded in the text.  That said, for the young Australian reader, a lot of it will seem to be in a foreign language as they grapple with terms like feet and inches, ounces and pounds, and although there is a conversion chart provided, nevertheless such things can be hard to visualise for the inexperienced, even with the many illustrations offered as comparisons )although they are not necessarily done to scale.).   For older readers, it can be an opportunity to learn about different systems of measurements, both current and past, as well as doing the calculations involved in converting imperial to metric, although an online  measurement converter does it online in a flash. 

Despite the shortcomings on the mathematics side, this is still a worthwhile book for those with a fascination for the species and who are keen to learn more about these creatures with their strange ossicones (different between male and female) and their pizza-sized hooves.  

 

The Crayons Love Our Planet

The Crayons Love Our Planet

The Crayons Love Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crayons Love Our Planet

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2024

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

9780008560898

Our planet is a colourful place…white ice caps, green trees, blue oceans and skies, brown soil . . . and more! And each crayon is delighted to share their part in keeping it colourful, especially Beige who pops up constantly to highlight his contribution,  like a little toddler desperate not to be overlooked.

This is a funny addition to this series for young readers, as they are encouraged to look at the world around them and its colours and begin to develop an appreciation for their environment and their responsibility towards it. It opens up opportunities for some elementary data collection as natural elements and objects are classified according to colour as well as art appreciation as they discover the myriads of tints, tones and shades of the hues of the colour wheel represented in Nature.

As well as being lovable characters in themselves, the Crayons always have adventures and experiences that can lead to greater learning, and this one is just as promising as all the others. in the series. 

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Little Dung Beetle

Rhiân Williams

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2024

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

9781742036656

Australia is rich with fascinating beetles that all have a job to do. Using counting rhymes, young readers are introduced to some of these unique species and identifying the roles that each type of beetle plays in the environment including the dung beetle, the once-iconic Christmas beetle and some with the most remarkable colouring.  

With stunning endpapers, and accurate anatomical illustrations throughout, this offers an insight into the prevalence of beetles in the landscape and the critical role they perform in keeping it healthy and vibrant.  Teachers notes  offer further resources and links to investigate further, including the world of entomology, while also guiding young readers through the process of distinguishing a non fiction title from a fictional one, and how to use the cues and clues to prepare themselves for getting the most from it.

But while its format might suggest an early childhood audience, there is also scope for older readers to springboard their own investigations – why was the dung beetle introduced to Australia and were all introduced species as successful? Why do some have such remarkable colouring?  Why have all the Christmas beetles disappeared to the extent there is now a national count?  

Even if the reader is a little young to appreciate all the information, much of it embedded in the illustrations, they will enjoy practising their counting skills as they try to find all the beetles as well as the number of holes nibbled in the title number.  The pictures also include other creatures so there is also the opportunity to investigate the concepts of “more” and “less” and other early maths basics. 

With its focus topic which will encourage little ones to look at their environment with fresh eyes as well as its format, this is one that offers so much more than first meets the eye.  Give it with the gift of a magnifying glass and see the joy and wonder explode. 

 

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Curious Creatures Talking Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Zoë Armstrong

Anja Sušanj

Flying Eye, 2024

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

9781838740351

Communicating and connecting with others is a critical part of human behaviour and essential for their well-being, whether it be through the spoken word, body language or other means like sounding a siren or wearing a school uniform.  But the animal world is just as “talkative” whether it be through sound, movement, colour or smell and in this book , the third in this series,  young readers are introduced to some of the ways animals communicate and why and how they do it.

Curious Creatures series

Curious Creatures series

There are spiders that dance, whales that sing and lemurs that communicate with seriously smelly stink fights!  Australia has its own entries including the tiny peacock spider that displays a colourful fan as part of its mating routine, and the satin bowerbird with its propensity for all things blue (and the focus of the 2024 National Simultaneous Storytime.

Throughout, there is a link to how the animals’ behaviour is similar to that of humans, such as the wearing of bright clothes to attract attention much as the peacock spider does, and there is an underlying message of trying to understand what they are “saying” so we become more empathetic and protective of them.

Absolutely fascinating, particularly for those who are interested in the animal kingdom already, and worth seeking out the others in the series. 

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Nicola Davies

Emily Sutton

Walker Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406399998

These days young children are very aware of the importance of plants and bees, the  deadly potential of climate change and the concept of “green” being more than just a colour in the paint palette. But what is the connection between them?

It is all explained in this beautifully illustrated picture book. In accessible text, the young reader learns that a tree isn’t just a tree standing green and shady but that it is really busy purifying the air through photosynthesis as it does, and from there they are led naturally through a timeline of the development of plants on the planet, the impact of using the remains of the ancient forests as fossil fuels, and the interaction and interdependence of plants on the planet’s health and function, as they begin to understand why “GREEN is the most important colour in the world.”

This really is the most remarkable book that explains really complex concepts in such a simple way that it should be the starting point for any study into the environment and why we need to protect what we have.  It is the basic WHY of all the what, where, who, how and all the other questions that students have that will provide context and purpose for any investigation, encapsulating and explaining such a  big idea in a way that just gives sense to so much else. No matter what the topic under investigation, if it is about the natural world, it will stem back to plants and their health and prevalence.  

Research shows that the eye distinguishes more shades of green than any other colour and certainly the view from my window has more hues than I could count, but it never ceases to suggest a sense of calm and peace, which is why so many medical facilities are painted in shades of green. This book is the beginning of understanding why this is so, and why it is so important to our lives and well-being. 

A must-have in any collection.

The Beehive

The Beehive

The Beehive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beehive

Megan Daley

Max Hamilton

Walker Books, 2024

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

9781760655228

Even though Willow hurries to school every day, today is a very special day. Today was the day that Tom the groundskeeper was going to divide the hive of native bees living in the hollow of an old tree, and Willow was going to be able to take half of it home to begin a new hive…

Part of the brilliant Nature Storybooks collection, and written by Megan Daley, a name familiar to any teacher librarian who has been around for a while, this is a book that is a must-have in any library collection, but particularly those where the protection and conservation of the environment is high on the agenda, and even moreso if the students are developing a bee-friendly garden.

Alongside the story of Willow’s growing interest and excitement, is the informative parallel text introducing young readers to Australia’s native bee species – there are over 2000 of them – not only explaining their habits and habitats but demonstrating just how important they are in the natural scheme of things.  While there have been a number of books awakening young readers (and not-so- to the importance and plight of bees, this has a unique local focus that stimulates the imagination into what could be happening in the school playground or the home backyard with some input from an expert – of which there are a growing number. While Willow is lucky to have the help of Tom and her stepdad, both of whom know what they’re doing, it is not hard to find help from experienced keepers, even in the heart of the city. There are apiarists’ associations in every state and territory.

And given Megan’s professional life, and in keeping with others in the series, there is both an index and a glossary included so young readers can begin to learn the cues and clues for navigating non fiction resources so they can find the information they want.

When it comes to narrative non fiction and sparking interest in the world around them, this series is in my top five favourites and this particular addition just adds to their repertoire and reputation.