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Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny the Shark

Surviving the Wild 3

Remy Lai

Allen & Unwin, 2022

112pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9781761065460

Usually Sunny the whitetip shark is a fierce predator, cruising the ocean with a shoal of pilot fish friends, looking for food. However, when she mistakes a plastic ring for food and it gets wrapped around her fins making  it tricky to hunt her life is in danger.   

For despite their willingness to help her, even following whale songs to try and find food while being terrified of the presence of any boat, Sunny is cranky and snappy – emotions provoked by fear rather than anger. So will she be able to break free by herself, and find food before winter sets in, or will she need to accept her friends’ help?

This is the third in this new graphic novel series  designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it.  The new NSW English syllabus, particularly, requires students to be able to “to express opinions about texts and issues… both objectively and subjectively”, so as well as empathising with Sunny whose problems may be similar to those they are facing,  they also learn about the perils of things like pollution, the dangers of plastics for wildlife and why we all need to be responsible consumers as well as disposers. Being in the shoes of the main character – this one inspired by a true story about another shark, Destiny, who was found in similar circumstances – helps them be more engaged and understand the situation better, hopefully inspiring them to become not only more aware but more active in environmental protection. 

Hallmarks of quality literature include having characters and a plot which are engaging and interesting for the students, offering layers and levels of complexity that are revealed with multiple readings and which enrich discussion and challenge perceptions, thinking and attitudes.  Add to this the appeal of a graphic novel format and this is another winner for this talented creator. 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

Sam Hume

DK Publishing, 2022

224pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241546321

It is no secret that I have long been a fan of the non fiction produced by DK Publishing as a source for non fiction for young readers, and this latest one in a series which includes Nature’s TreasuresDinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life, and The Mysteries of the Universe is no exception. 

This time the reader is taken an enthralling journey through the aquatic world that spans  the deepest, widest ocean to the tiniest puddle. Each page, with its stunning illustrations and easily accessible text introduces amazing animals, ingenious plants, and much more  within the categories of deep ocean, shallow seas, wetlands, rivers lakes and ponds, covering s diversity of watery habitats that each houses its unique lifeforms, some familiar, many not-so. It also includes a timeline of life moving from water to land, as conversely, land back to water, while the index is in the form of a visual guide that allows the browser to follow up on what piques their interest visually.

It is a fascinating dip-and -delve book that offers an entree that will satisfy the taste buds of the generally curious while encouraging those with a deeper interest to go in search of the main course. DK editors know what young readers are interested in and they know how to present it so that the imagination is captured while the information is shared and that’s a winning combination, in my opinion.                             

Stardiving

Stardiving

Stardiving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stardiving

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2022

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

9781922696021

In the sunlit waters, baby Fluke is content to swim languidly among the rest of the sperm whale pod, occasionally rising to the surface to breathe. But as he does so, he is joined by a pod of dolphins who leap and cavort far above the surface, teasing him to join them.

“Come up and see the sky”, they say to which Fluke says he can see the sun.  “The sun’s great, but have you seen the stars?” 

And Fluke begins to wonder and daydream…until he is given some advice from Cachalot, the great bull whale, that sends him on a journey of discovery that teaches him more than he can have imagined.

Put Andrew Plant’s name on the cover of a book and I’m there! Whether it’s The Poppy, Sparkor any of the others that I’ve read and reviewed over the years, I know I will be in for a beautifully illustrated, lyrically written story that will reach deep. Of them all, Stardiving  has gone the deepest as Fluke learns as much about himself as he does about the stars that are in his own environment, without even having to learn to leap and leave his natural habitat.  As Fluke discovers the stars that twinkle and shine far below in the ocean’s depths, a place where the dolphins can’t ever go, he begins to understand what Cachalot means when he says, “You are not even yourself yet. Why do you want to be something else?”  That, like the ocean, he has hidden depths yet to explore…

Plant’s stunning illustrations take the reader into an unknown world, one inaccessible to most humans. one that even television images from deep-diving submersibles can’t portray accurately as the calm and serenity and the being-in-the-moment-ness has to be experienced; yet one that, for all its mystery, is as deserving and needy of preservation as the shallower waters above because what happens on top impacts what happens beneath.  Just as our personal experiences shape who we are, as they did for Fluke – a theme to explore in itself – so too is the ocean an integrated, holistic environment.  And while Plant doesn’t touch on pollution, habitat destruction and so forth, it is there in his dedication, reminding the reader that this story has as many layers as the ocean itself.

To all the eco-warriors who faced down the whalers; to the scientists who study and advocate for our oceans; to the kids who fight the scourge of plastic…

Extensive teachers’ notes which include an introduction to the creatures that Fluke sees, enable this book to become a journey of discovery for the reader as much as it was for the baby whale. 

 

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Look Inside a Coral Reef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Minna Lacey

Sam Brewster

Usborne, 2022

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

9781474998918

Despite it being in board book format, this is one for anyone with a new interest in coral reefs, their formation, inhabitants and the secrets they hold.  The board book format allows it to have a sturdy lift-the-flap feature encouraging readers to explore further and learn more as each phenomenon is explained in a little more depth beneath the flap.

 


And for those who want to know even more, there are the usual Quicklinks that accompany most of the books from this publisher, including games and activities. 

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Markus Motum

Walker, 2022

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

9781529502831

January, 1992, and far out in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a ferocious storm, a shipping container slips silently off the deck of a cargo ship and gradually sinks to the bottom of the sea. Unlike many of these containers which sink and remain forever on the seabed, this one has been damaged by the storm and it it goes to its watery grave, it releases its cargo – thousands and thousands of plastic ducks, frogs, turtles and beavers – and they are left to travel the world’s seas, taken by wind and current.

Based on true events, this innovative story tracks the journey of one of those 28 000 little ducks as it travels on ocean currents to meet sea life and discovers the rubbish from humans that endangers our oceans., highlighting the growing problem of plastic pollution. Trapped in the vast wasteland that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the little duck thinks it is doomed but another storm frees it and it eventually washes up on a beach where someone is actually doing something to address the problem…

With 40% of plastic that is produced designed for single use only, and an estimated 8 000 000 tonnes of it finding its way into the oceans each year, some scientists are estimating that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.  While recent, and upcoming bans on the sale of single-use plastic items will hopefully contribute to diminishing these statistics, stories like these that bring the problem into the lives of our students so they are aware of it from an early age are essential.  As well as explaining how the oceans’ currents enable these “plastic islands” to form, there are suggestions to enable individuals to make a difference such as recycling or organising a beach cleanup, but it might also spark discussions about what could be done at the class or school level, such as a toy swap or a Nude Food Week, especially if before-after comparisons are done as part of a maths challenge.  

Team this with others like Oceans of Plastic The Plastic Throne and Toy Mountain    so that even our youngest can start to make a difference.  

   

The Great Southern Reef

The Great Southern Reef

The Great Southern Reef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Southern Reef

Paul Venzo & Prue Francis

Cate James 

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315314 

Most Australians, even our youngest and newest, are familiar with the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system comprising more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands which stretches over 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the only living thing on earth visible from space. But even longer and more accessible to most is the Great Southern Reef , a fringe of interconnected underwater systems that span 8000km from the NSW/Queensland border, around Tasmania and its islands, along our great southern coastline and up to Kalbarri in Western Australia.  

First defined as an entity just six years ago in 2016, it has already been identified by Mission Blue  as a Hope Spot, a biodiversity hotspot critical to the health of the world’s ocean environments, particularly because of its forests of giant kelp, Ecklonia radiata, that offer shelter and food for more than 4000 species of invertebrates, countless fish species such as the weedy sea dragon, the WA rock lobster and the blacktip abalone, and many seaweeds, most unique to the reef, which offer carbon storage to offset climate change as well as potential for a plastic-free world of the future. 

But despite 70% of us living within 50km of it, its existence is little known and so this beautifully illustrated, informative book is an essential step in teaching our young students (and hopefully the adults in their lives) not only about its existence and inhabitants but also its importance.  After a storm thrashes the coastline, Frankie and Sam join Professor Seaweed in a walk along the beach to see what has been washed up overnight.  Together they find many things and not only does Professor Seaweed explain what they are but she also demonstrates the need to leave the beach as we find it, to be careful when delving into rockpools, and the significance of the saying, “Take only photographs, leave only footprints. Kill nothing but time.” However, she does encourage the children (and the reader) to collect any rubbish that will also have been washed up as their contribution to helping the beach and its creatures stay pristine and healthy.

Even for those of us who do not live within that 50km of the reef, or the ocean, it is a destination that naturally attracts millions every year, so this is the perfect book to introduce our children to the existence of the reef itself and their role in protecting it.  Teachers notes  linked to the Australian Curriculum are available to help you do this. 

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Voyage of Whale and Calf

Vanessa Pirotta

Samantha Metcalfe

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486315109

In the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef,  Whale prepares to give birth to her first baby.  In the 12 months since she first got pregnant, she’s swum thousands of kilometres from the freezing waters of Antarctica – a return journey she will make when Calf is big enough.  The baby is born tail first, weighing as much as a small car, tiny compared to its mum who is as big as a bus but ginormous compared to a human baby.

This is just the start of a remarkable annual migration as as the Antarctic winter starts to lose its grip, both mother and baby head south to the rich feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean.

Written by a wildlife scientist with particular expertise in collecting whale snot, this is an intriguing tale of where and why these magnificent creatures are going as they enchant us with their majestic antics of breaching and tail-slapping as they move up and down the Humpback Highways of both our east and west coasts.

Humpback Highways

Humpback Highways

Brought back from the brink of extinction after relentless unchecked whaling, this is an intriguing introduction to these creatures that will inspire young readers to want to know more  so that they become more than just seasonal tourist attractions. Both the information pages and the extensive teaching notes offer the opportunity to investigate further, both the life and life cycle of the humpback but also the other marine creatures it shares those icy waters with.  Because it is the annual migration of the whales that particularly puts them in our spotlight, there is also scope to investigate where, why and how other creatures migrate. particularly such great distances or even to find out why a person would devote their professional life to investigating whale snot!

As usual, CSIRO Publishing have given us another superb read, one that asks more questions than it answers, and to the curious mind of the child, that is a perfect book!

 

Swim, Shark, Swim

Swim, Shark, Swim

Swim, Shark, Swim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swim, Shark, Swim

Dom Conlon

Anastasia Izlesou

CSIRO Publishing, 2022 

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

9781486316045

The sun shines down on the West Australian ocean, highlighting the shape of a blacktip reef shark just below the surface.  But when a boat drops a net the shark knows he has to “open a tunnel of bubbles and swim, Shark, SWIM.”

And off he goes, on a trip around the world searching for the place he calls home, meeting other sharks and sea creatures during the journey, some friendly and others, not-so. 

While blacktips do not normally migrate as this one does, it offers an opportunity for readers to meet various species of sharks around the world, sharks which , as the apex predators, keep the ocean waters in balance by helping maintain the diversity rather than the dominance of one creature. With lyrical text and arresting illustrations, young readers can learn to respect the creatures of the deep and unknown rather than fearing them because their only knowledge is sensational news stories, scary movies and sinister music.  Building knowledge through information rather than imagination develops understanding much more effectively. 

Accompanied by comprehensive teachers’ notes for Years 2-5 that will build an even greater understanding of the planet’s different marine habitats, their inhabitants and their particular characteristics, this is a book that celebrates the natural world and encourages students to delve deeper than the surface.  Makes me wish I was still allowed to dive – so many of my hours have passed well below the sun’s sparkle and I miss it.

 

 

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Mermaids

Prof Anuk Tola

Anja Sušanj

Flying Eye Books, 2020

34pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

 9781911171874

At the School of Merology (SoM), Professor Anuk Tola (aka Anja Sušanj has been studying the lives, habits and habitats of merpeople for many years in an attempt to be able to communicate with them and those studies have revealed that

  • The word “mermaid” is a misnomer because there is more than just one gender, their societies are large and varied, and each is a unique individual
  • Merpeople are “a highly complex, curious, social, fierce, intelligent and incredibly secretive” species and what little is known has taken hundreds of years to glean
  • Because the ocean is changing so are the merpeople and they and the merologists (those who study merpeople) have to find new ways to work together. 

In the meantime, she has gathered all that is currently known into this highly informative book, a companion to The Secret Lives of Dragons   and  The Secret Lives of Unicorns. Beginning with a section entitled  “What is a merperson?” the reader is introduced to the species, visits the various kingdoms in the world’s oceans and learns about their beliefs, language and so forth. But perhaps the most important section is the final one which examines how and why the oceans are changing , how that is affecting them and what we, as humans, can do to protect both them and their environment. 

Mermaids (and unicorns) continue to be a source of fascination for many, particularly young girls, and this is a really imaginative way to introduce them to the concept of ocean conservation as well as non fiction generally, . To build a complete world in this way, albeit one based on a fantasy, is a clever way to make the reader stop and think about what might live between the waves and pause before they chuck their plastic bag in the water or let their balloons go into the sky.  Somehow it gives a whole new slant on this year’s CBCA Book week theme, “Dreaming with eyes open…”

 

MerTales 3: The Great Treasure Hunt

MerTales 3: The Great Treasure Hunt

MerTales 3: The Great Treasure Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MerTales 3: The Great Treasure Hunt

Rebecca Timmis

Albert Street Books, 2022

136pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760526573

It’s the day of the Great Treasure Hunt and everyone is joining in! Coral is excited to lead her team of best friends to the treasure first. But soon they discover that there is a bigger mystery to solve…  Who is the mer-sterious Count Frumplesquid, and what does he really want in Cockleshell Cove?  Can Coral and her crew work together to uncover the truth and keep the precious treasure safe?

This is the third in this series designed for newly-independent readers who love to read about mermaids and all the other creatures that inhabit that watery world, particularly as many will be fresh from coastal holidays and may even have spotted one of these elusive creatures.

With all the supports needed for those transitioning to more complex novels including short chapters and lots of illustrations, the adventures of the mermaids of Cockleshell Cove will delight those who are fascinated by these mystical beings but who want some substance to their stories. As a new school year approaches and a new batch of readers invades the library looking for something new to feed their passim, this is a series worth promoting.