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We Go Way Back

We Go Way Back

We Go Way Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Go Way Back

Idan Ben-Barak

Philip Bunting

A&U Children’s, 2021

36pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760526085

Sooner or later a young child will ask, “Where did I come from?” and this will be the perfect book to have on hand.  But it is not the “birds and the bees” talk that might be expected, but rather an attempt to simplify the scientific explanation for life on earth, starting with the big bang theory.

Using a mix of clever illustrations, well-chosen language and layout, the reader is taken on a journey that asks what is life and then travels back in time to the first elements found in the seas which joined together to form molecules and how things evolved from there culminating in a triple-page spread of life on Earth. But then the final endpages put it all in perspective!

Ben-Barak, who has degrees in microbiology and in the history and philosophy of science as well as one in library sciences, has a knack of using his knowledge to simplify science for children in a way that intrigues them and captures their imagination – Argh! There’s a Skeleton Inside You and Do Not Lick This Book – while Bunting had several books listed in the CBCA 2021 Picture Book of the Year Notables making this a powerful combination to introduce this tricky topic to young readers.   

Do You Love Dinosaurs?

Do You Love Dinosaurs?

Do You Love Dinosaurs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Love Dinosaurs?

Matt Robertson

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781526609533

Any experienced teacher or TL knows you can never have enough books about dinosaurs to satisfy the curiosity and cravings of young readers who are endlessly fascinated with them. It doesn’t matter that some had a deadly bite and others could run super fast or some had club-like tails and some were really smelly – dinosaurs continue to inspire wonder and for many, they are the pathway into reading as they seek to discover more and more.

From the ferocious hunters like Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex to the gentle giants like Diplodocus and Titanosaurus, the speedy Velociraptor to the armoured Ankylosaurus, this brightly illustrated book introduces young investigators to all the weird and wonderful things that made dinosaurs so intriguing.  They can learn about the dinosaurs that laid eggs the size of footballs; the   fossilised dinosaur poo as long as their arm and even the  dinosaur that could outrun a racehorse.

But no one book can contain all that is known about these creatures so this is the perfect opportunity to tap into the child’s knowledge and ask them to create a page about their favourite dinosaur to add to it.  What do they know that Matt Robertson hasn’t included? Can they design a page that is as interesting as his so others will be drawn to it and want to read it? Then build a display of their contributions to share and encourage even more reading and learning! Perfect for at-home or at-school learning and putting all that knowledge to a purpose. 

Big Quiz Book: 1001 Brain Busting Trivia Questions

Big Quiz Book:1001 Brain Busting Trivia Questions

Big Quiz Book: 1001 Brain Busting Trivia Questions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Quiz Book: 1001 Brain Busting Trivia Questions

National Geographic Kids, 2021

304pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008408961

Twenty years ago, while hanging out the washing, I had an idea for a quiz for students in Year 5 and 6 that would be about Australia and Australians and be made freely available online so students all over Australia could participate to develop their information literacy, their digital literacy and communication skills.  The Quizzard of Oz was a huge success both online and off when I eventually offered it on CD so schools weren’t tied to my timeframe of marking 150 quizzes each Monday night!  

When the name and concept were hijacked and patented by an app company, the quiz eventually morphed into Backpack Bear (because I didn’t have the means to fight a legal battle) and to this day, students are demonstrating their love of these sorts of trivia contests by eagerly competing.  

So this new publication from the ever-popular NatGeoKids  is the perfect addition to any teacher’s or family’s collection if they want to tap into this fascination.  Arranged in 9 categories (covering geography, history, creatures, science and technology, space, sport, music and the arts and food) there are 69 separate quizzes of multiple choice or true-false questions (including answers and a lot of fun facts) as well as a monster tie-breaker. While participants might guess at the answers, there is also scope to investigate them thoroughly and perhaps discover a whole lot more about the topic at the same time. 

Properly credited, the questions could become the basis of a new quiz set by a teacher to occupy students during this time of lockdown, encouraging both the student and their family to get involved in the research,  or for those what-do-I-do-when-I’m-finished? moments as an alternative to the ‘read a book” answer.  I know from my experience the hours it can take to build quizzes with questions so to have 1001 on tap would be very welcome.   And a link to the Nat Geo Kids’ website would be a bonus as there are even more quality activities there.  Suddenly, staying at home is looking very entertaining!

 

All About Diversity

All About Diversity

All About Diversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Diversity

Felicity Brooks

Mar Ferrero

Usborne, 2021

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

9781474986649

“Being different from each other is called DIVERSITY”  and this entertaining book explores a range of ways people can be different such as what they look like, where they live, the sorts of families they live in, the foods they eat and the way they spend their time.  Using a two-page spread , lots of illustrations accessible text and speech bubbles, its design encourages the young reader to explore each vignette and learn something new each time. There is also a glossary to explain some of the trickier words as well as notes for the grown-ups that explain why promoting diversity and inclusion is critical for the healthy well-being of our children.

 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

Although this is a topic that early childhood teachers focus on each year this books gives a real focus and explanation to those aspects that their students are most aware of, making it an excellent foundation for an ongoing unit of work.  Inspired by the stimuli provided, children could create their own class pages featuring themselves and their lives making it a powerful resource for both social and language development. 

Look Inside Maths

Look Inside Maths

Look Inside Maths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Inside Maths

Rosie Dickins

Bernedetta Giaufret & Enrica Rusinà

Usborne, 2021

14pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9781474986304

Almost 40 years ago in a school where literacy and maths classes were streamed from Kindy onwards (an argument for another day) I was assigned a maths group deemed at the lower end of the spectrum and expected to teach them in a way that had already failed them for two years, killing not only their interest in maths but their belief in their being able to master the subject.  And so a new approach was needed. For the kids’ sake I was prepared to wear the wrath of the PTB who were determined that the be-all and end-all was an English text book series that even to me, spoke in riddles. Having had great success with a whole-language classroom, I decided to try a whole-maths classroom and for an hour a day while they were with me, my Year 2 students were immersed in maths that related to their everyday lives so they could see that it had purpose, meaning and relevance for them.  From this grew my first book, Maths About Me and later a sequel, Maths About My Year.  

Maths About Me

Maths About Me

By the end of that year my students could see why maths was important to them, how it drove so many aspects of their lives and their and their belief in their ability to conquer its abstraction reinstated. 

So to be asked to review a book that takes a similar approach by demonstrating through bright, busy illustrations and hundreds of flaps to lift and explore, the ubiquity of maths – numbers, shapes, measurement, processes and even a challenge to put what has been learned into practice was such a treat.  Even though it is in board book format, that is to ensure the durability of the lift-the-flap design and it has a place in any early childhood collection.  In fact, it could be used as a model for older students who might like to create their own page of how maths is embedded in their lives. 

There are those who believe that if you have a calculator you have all you need to solve maths problems (just like there are those who believe that all information is available on the internet) but it is that deep understanding of and engagement with the processes and the way they are embedded in everyday life that is the critical element of success.  If we can get our youngest students appreciating this through books like these, attitudes will change and competency soar. 

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Beryl Young

Sakika Kikuchi

Greystone Books, 2021

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

9781771645737 

As the “humpback highway” gathers momentum and more and more of our young readers have the privilege of seeing these majestic creatures, this is a timely release of the story of a humpback whale and her calf and how they bond and learn, grow and change and how that process parallels the development of the child. Both baby and calf have mothers who keep them safe and nurture them, while other natural-instinct behaviours also mirror each other such as blowing bubbles and blowing a plume, shouting and singing and frolicking in water.

Beautifully illustrated, this is a charming story of two not normally viewed together, answering the child’s questions as well as offering a new wondrous perspective of these magnificent mammals. 

 

 

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nestling Cockatoos: The Story of Squeak and Squawk

Angela Robertson-Buchanan

Wild Dog Books, 2021

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

9781742036076

When their tree-home was cut down leaving two baby sulphur-crested cockatoos alone because their parents flew away in fear, wildlife rangers rescued them and raised them until they were able to be independent.  Anyone who has heard the screech of these common birds of the bush will understand how well their names Squeak and Squawk suit them, and will enjoy following this photographic journey of their survival from just two weeks old.

Written for young readers,  this is a beautiful book written and photographed by a wildlife carer and  includes just enough information to give the intended audience what they need to know about these majestic birds. Teacher’s notes   encourage young readers to think about why young creatures need human help and what can be done to help them.

A great introduction not only to sulphur-crested cockatoos but also to how books can provide us with information and open new worlds. 

Pranklab: Practical science pranks you and your victim can learn from

Pranklab: Practical science pranks you and your victim can learn from

Pranklab: Practical science pranks you and your victim can learn from

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pranklab: Practical science pranks you and your victim can learn from

Chris Ferrie, Byrne LaGinestra, Wade David Fairclough

Sourcebooks eXplore, 2021

224pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9781728223742

It is school holidays, many children are stuck inside because of COVID or the weather and it won’t be long before the “I’m bored!” refrain starts. 

So this new book that features 25 experiments that disguise themselves as pranks will be the ideal solution because both the perpetrator and the victim can learn a lot about science in the process. Using everyday household items, kids can exploit the laws of physics, biology, and chemistry through entertaining (and perfectly safe) activities. Each prank is in a separate coloured section and includes easy-to-understand instructions, step-by-step diagrams, and diary-style illustrations. Additional notes in each prank explain the science behind the fun.

Each begins with a list that indicates the victim, the mess, danger and funniness levels, the degree of science involved and the materials required.  There are warning sfor any potential problems, clear instructions with easy-to-follow diagrams, as well as an explanation of the science and even the opportunity to learn and do more to extend knowledge and understanding, such as The Wet One examining why plastics can be problematic.  

Even though the authors are highly qualified scientists (Ferrie at the University of Technology, Sydney; LaGinestra and Fairclough both at Sydney high schools) they have brought both the science and language levels down to those in mid to upper primary offering a lot of learning and a lot of fun in the same package.  Recommend this to parents – who may at first hate you, but then will appreciate your dedication to their child’s scientific learning. 

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Shackleton's Endurance:  An Antarctic Survival Story

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Joanna Grochowicz

Allen & Unwin, 2021 

304pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760526092

After the race to the South Pole ended in December 1911, with Roald Amundsen‘s conquest and victory over Sir Robert Falcon Scott. the fascination with Antarctic exploration was not over. Irishman Ernest Shackleton, a member of Scott’s original expedition in 1901-1904, turned his attention to the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. 

Thus, in August 1914, Shackleton and his men set sail for Antarctica, where they plan to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. But in January 1915, his ship, the Endurance, becomes locked in pack ice, slowly being crushed before the shore parties could be landed and, later, sinking without a trace. With no help available, to survive, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men must undertake a trial even more extreme than their planned crossing of the frozen continent. Their aim is to make it home against tremendous odds, with only lifeboats to cross the heavy seas of the South Atlantic. And so the crew camped on the sea ice until it disintegrated, and eventually launched the lifeboats aiming for South Georgia Island, a stormy ocean voyage of 720 nautical miles (1,330 km). As well as the ice and the ocean their constant companions were hunger, exhaustion, and uncertainty but  Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills drive them on.

This is an extraordinary tale of leadership, courage and teamwork made all the more remarkable because it is a true story, and while at the upper end of the readership for this blog, a story that will entice and engage those who crave these sorts of real-life adventures.  Told using narrative non-fiction the reader becomes one of the characters experiencing the events as the meticulously researched historical facts are woven into a compelling story.

A companion to Into the White – Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey a journey which inspired my own mother throughout her life and led her to become the first female journalist to visit the ice , and Amundsen’s Way,  this is the third in this trilogy of tales from that Age of Antarctic Exploration that take the reader back into a world of curiosity and faith, courage, determination and resilience, well before technology made such exploits “safe”.  

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler

Emma Long

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760525958

When a walk through the forest becomes an opportunity to learn about the secrets of what grows and lives there, and to tell and hear the stories of its past peoples, you never know how long you will be, what you will hear or what you will see.  For this forest in Kakadu in the Northern Territory contains more riches than a pirate’s treasure trove with its plant life, insects, birds and creatures, their inter-connections and the stories they bring with them. Old man Kapirigi says, “You gotta watch those birds”, (the djuwe or northern bower bird} “they’ll steal your bones out of the cave when you die.”

Combining their knowledge of and passion for the land and its stories, the authors have created a text that carries the reader along with its narrative while being laden with the most remarkable information, embedding the Kundjeyhml language in so naturally that the English equivalents seem so bland and boring in comparison. And Emma Long’s line and watercolour drawings that span full page spreads down to tiny vignettes are just sublime, highlighting just how busy even a tiny leaf can be if we take the time to look and listen. Rather than using conventional speech indicators, an avatar depicts the speaker as they point out something or tell a story and the whole just becomes an engaging read and learning experience that makes you want to go out to really embrace and inhale the nearest bit of garden you can find.  Just because we can’t get to Kakadu right now doesn’t mean we can’t learn the lessons of observation, appreciation and conservation that this book offers. There is so much more than we usually see to discover – a new world that fits in perfectly with this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lucas’s first book, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, published over 15 years ago led the way to opening up this land to our young readers so they could begin to understand its ancient stories and those who shared them and this stunning book continues the tradition. Look for it in the CBCA 2022 Eve Pownall Notables because it certainly deserves a place there.