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Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cicada Sing Song

Pat Simmons

Katrin Dreiling

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

 9781922358462

After spending so many years underground as nymphs, the warm winds have brought the cicadas to the surface and they are ready to get together to make their music, the loudest insects on the planer and the sound of summer evenings in Australia for so many.  

Yellow Monday, Black Prince, Green Grocer, Orange Drummer, Brown Bunyip, Floury Baker, Razor Grinder… all the males are pumping out their own particular song  to try to attract a mate and begin the cycle again. Even their rock star names suggest something special- which other insects have such tags? 

Written in rhyme, this is a fascinating book that brings the songs of the cicadas to life in what to some humans is just a cacophony because it  can be up to 120 dB at close range (approaching the pain threshold of the human ear), or so high in pitch that the noise is beyond the range of our hearing but which is unique to each species so that they only attract the females of the same species.

So as well as being entertaining it is also educational and combined with a book such as Searching for Cicadas could open up a whole new world of investigation for the young reader as they not only discover new things about this ubiquitous creature but perhaps the world of music too.  Which is their favourite genre? And if they were a cicada, what would their name be?

Yoshi and the Ocean

Yoshi and the Ocean

Yoshi and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoshi and the Ocean

Lindsay Moore

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9780063060982

 

In 1997, a young loggerhead sea turtle was rescued from the ocean after an injury to her shell. The fishermen who rescued her named her Yoshi and took her to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. She was rehabilitated there and grew stronger—and larger!—every day. She also became one of the most popular exhibits at the aquarium.

But Yoshi was changing – she was becoming restless and the call of the ocean and her faraway home became stronger and stronger. After twenty years in captivity, Yoshi was released back into the ocean, fitted with a tracking device. And so began a journey that was full of danger, beauty, adventure, mystery, discovery and surprise. Over 987 days and 24 862 miles (almost 40 000 km) , she navigated the Atlantic and Indian Oceans  back to the Shark Bay region of Western Australia! 

In 2019, Lindsay Moore told us of the journey of Sea Bear, the remarkable journey of a female polar bear, and now, amongst the gloom and doom messages of climate change and environmental disasters, comes another heart-warming, hope-giving story of the magic and mystery of Mother Nature.  Yoshi’s story is told in both lyrical text and exquisite watercolour paintings, with the lightest touches  on topics such as conservation, oceanography, natural selection, the food chain, currents, and geography. But it becomes more than just the story of a remarkable journey with maps, information and even how the satellites tracked her included in the final pages.  On October 28, 2020 Yoshi sent her last transmission and her amazing journey is summarised on this blog post , complete with photographs and links to other posts that not only tell Yoshi’s story in greater detail, but also those of others released from the sanctuary.

Yoshi was “a fantastic ocean ambassador” while at the aquarium and her journey captivated so many more than just those able to see her “in person”, and although her whereabouts are not known now, her carers and scientists believe she is at last at home. Another amazing story of animal migration

If you have young, or not-so-young, readers with any sort of interest in turtles, or just the ocean and its incredible creatures, this is a must-have in any collection.  Inspire them to learn more, do more, and start their own life-changing journey!

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If The World Were 100 Animals

Miranda Smith

Aaron Cushley

Red Shed, 2022

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

 9780008524371

“The total number of individual animals on Earth is believed by some to be 20 000 000 000 000 000 000 or 20 quintillion or 20 billion billion.”

That’s a number that only someone like Elon Musk can visualise so this clever book makes it manageable by reducing it to just 100 animals, and dividing them into vertebrates (just 6) and invertebrates (94).  Then, like its counterpart If the World were 100 People, it uses double page spreads to investigate the characteristics of those 100 with questions such as what makes invertebrates different to invertebrates,  did you hatch from an egg and which animals are the most deadly to humans. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

It’s layout with plenty of illustrations and info-filled captions make it both visually appealing and readily accessible to younger readers so they not only learn a lot but can have intriguing facts to roll out during dinnertime conversation. Fancy being able to drop a fact such as “Of all the animal species that have  lived on this planet, only 10 are still living. Ninety are extinct,”  into the chat to start a lively discussion about conservation.  Particularly relevant when it is feared that by 2050 – less than 90 years away – more than 1 000 000 species of animal that inhabit our planet today will be extinct including the polar bear, rhinoceros and gorilla because of climate change, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. 

So what are the big questions we need to ask ourselves and what action do we need to take? This is an important book that reduces the issues to a scale that the child, who will be the adult in 2050,  can cope with and understand and perhaps drive the actions that are critical.  

 

 

Wonderful Wasps

Wonderful Wasps

Wonderful Wasps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Wasps

Katrina Germein

Suzanne Houghton

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315734

The first line asks, “What do you know about wasps?” My answer can be summed up in two sentences …They sting. I avoid them because of a childhood allergic reaction that almost killed me.”

Who knew that there are so many other species apart from the “we’re everywhere” European wasps?  That there are over 12 000 “we-have-always-been-here” species found in Australia and they are as critical to our survival because of the work they do as their cousins, the bees

Beginning with a visual introduction on the endpapers, this beautifully illustrated book introduces the reader  to some of the native wasps that thrive in our native gardens and bushlands, the work they do  in sustaining both the flora and fauna while maintaining a healthy respect and difference for a creature that can sting and sting again, although unlike the common European wasp, many indigenous species are not aggressive unless provoked.  

As summer comes on, and our bushland springs to life with its floral beauty, the wasps will be active again and so this is a beautiful book for younger readers to start to learn more, both from the factual information in the final pages and from the activities suggested in the thorough teaching notes.  While there has been an emphasis on protecting and nurturing bees in the environment lately with gardens being established and even bee hotels installed, perhaps it  is time to expand the focus and consider what could be done to ensure the preservation of our wasp species as well.  Among them, Katrina Germein, Suzanne Houghton and CSIRO Publishing have provided the perfect starting point.  (And I know a lot more than when I started!) 

Amazing Animal Journeys

Amazing Animal Journeys

Amazing Animal Journeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Animal Journeys

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian, 2022

58pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734421432 

Each year we watch in wonder as whales transverse the humpback highways , but who knew that the humble monarch butterfly (the North American species) is on a journey that takes four or five generations to complete?

The monarch’s is just one of the amazing journeys shared in this new book that  focuses on 25 animal species from Australia and around the world including that of the Arctic tern which has the longest migration of all birds, flying from the Arctic to Antarctica and back each year, and that of the wildebeest in east Africa which is so vast it can be seen from outer space?

Once again, Jennifer Cossins has given young readers a fascinating insight into the natural world, an insight which includes  The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book The Ultimate Animal Counting BookA-Z of Endangered Animals and Book of Curious Birds . The endpapers offer a map of some of the journeys that are covered, demonstrating that the natural world is constantly on the move, and each double page spread introduces the migratory journey of a creature from tiny to enormous, some familiar but many not so.  It includes the New Zealand longfin eels that travels upstream navigating waterfalls and dams with its unique climbing abilities, as well as the bogong moth which uses the Earth’s magnetic fields and the light of the moon and stars to navigate deep into the Snowy Mountains of NSW, although, as the author outlines, that journey is becoming more difficult with a wider impact on other wildlife. 

The more we know about the creatures with whom we share this planet, the more we are likely to be aware of their needs and necessities and thus, hopefully, begin to tread with a lighter step.  Through her works that are so interesting and readable for young readers, Jennifer Cossins is making a significant contribution to that awareness.  

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How We Came to Be: Surprising Sea Creatures

Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s, 2022

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

9780734421364

Just as Earth’s atmosphere has five major zones –  troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere – so do it’s oceans-sunlight, twilight, midnight, the abyss, and the trenches – and within each live very different creatures, each adapted to the particular light, depth and temperature of the water they live in.  

“Evolution is the process of a living thing changing over millions of years to survive better in their environment and ensure their species continues” and in this stunning book by Sami Bayly, known to many of our younger readers as the creator of The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly AnimalsThe Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature, we are taken on a voyage far below the sparkling surface to discover what lives there and why they are the way they are. 

In her special diving suit Sami takes the reader to the various layers, acting as a narrator interacting with the inhabitants in speech-bubble conversations while short fact boxes are scattered like bubbles to explain various phenomena that she encounters – sadly, including plastic bags in the very depths  of the darkness. 

In the first few weeks of this year, I reviewed a number of books  that focused on the origins of this planet and those that share it, and this is another to add to that collection.  With such an emphasis on environment and sustainability in our everyday lives,  if we are to have any hope of children growing up with a desire to protect what they have then they need to understand it and how it works – what they can’t see as well as what they can. Sami Bayly has made a significant contribution to both that collection and to that knowledge, and this is no exception – it’s a fascinating read even if the underwater world is not your scene.

(A category search of this blog for ‘environment and sustainability” will offer many suggestions to grow their knowledge).

 

 

Two Puggles

Two Puggles

Two Puggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Puggles

Michelle Guzel

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2022

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

9781922696168

When Spike and Ducky hatched they looked exactly the same, but as they began to grow, Spike got spiky and Ducky didn’t.  And that’s not all that changes.  How can “two brothers from the same mother” be so different?

This is an intriguing story about two of Australia’s unique creatures – the echidna and the platypus – who actually have more in common than it looks.  With overtones of both Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the ugly duckling and Eastman’s Are You My Mother?, it introduces the two monotremes in an entertaining way while also offering lots of information about them so little ones can learn.  Accompanied by Andrew Plant’s (I’m-a-fan) realistic illustrations that that embed the twist in the plot that makes you think, it is a delightful story of friendship, co-operation and using your unique talents for the common good.

And just for your Monday morning entertainment…

A Is for Australian Reefs

A Is for Australian Reefs

A Is for Australian Reefs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Is for Australian Reefs

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760652258

Like fortress walls, Australia is ringed by a series of reefs – among them, the Great Barrier Reef, The Great Southern Reef, Ninglaoo Reed and Montgomery Reef.  The reefs themselves are diverse formations and within them is the greatest diversity of life waiting to be explored.  So in this stunning new book, Frané Lessac takes the young reader on an alphabetical journey to meet some of those inhabitants. 

As with her other books such as A is for Australian Animals, this is a factastic tour  combining an overarching statements with more detailed information placed among her original illustrations, making it not only visually appealing but also easily accessible to readers of varying abilities.  So while we can get an overview of what a mollusc is, we then mean individuals like the giant clam, the cuttlefish, and the giant triton which eats the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish. 

As one holiday period finishes and another looms, and Australians are travelling in their own backyards more and more, this is one to share so that children will not only be more aware of what’s in the waters they are likely to swim in, but be more inclined to protect them. 

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

Rockpooling With Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockpooling With Pup

Kevin Brophy

Jules Ober

Ford Street, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.95

9781922696137

There is a fascinating world waiting to be discovered in the pools left in the rocks by the retreating tide – creatures and plant that are so dependent on that regular movement of water to survive that they can live nowhere else.  But it takes a keen eye to spot them, and when Mia and her pup go exploring they see more than they expected because while they find a blue-ringed octopus, where are her rings?

Once again, Jules Ober has put her amazing modelling skills to use setting miniatures of Mia and Pup against incredible photographs of that fascinating world, which, when married with the text, introduce the reader to the many creatures that they might not otherwise know. 

It is no secret that I grew up by the beach at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand – next stop Antarctica – and the only rules we had were to come home when it got dark or when the tide was on the flood. So I spent my childhood leaping amongst the rockpools, queen of all I could see, and something I still do whenever I get the chance, and so this book really resonated with me.  So many memories.  

My happy place

My happy place

Many of our students will have done the same thing in recent weeks as school holidays will have seen them at the beach even though the water is a little cool to swim, and this is the perfect book to help them not only recall those happy times but also learn a little about what they saw. 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”!