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The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shark Caller

Zillah Bethel

Usborne, 2021

368pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781474966849

Blue Wing is desperate to become a shark caller like her waspapi Siringen. 

“I want to be able to call the sharks. Teach me the magic and show me the ways,” she begs him for the hundredth thousandth taim but he refuses, telling her she knows why he will not. 

Instead she must befriend infuriating newcomer Maple, who arrives unexpectedly on Blue Wing’s island. At first, the girls are too angry to share their secrets and become friends. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, they must journey together to the bottom of the ocean to brave the deadliest shark of them all… and it’s not a great white.

Papua New Guinea is just as a mysterious land now as it was when I lived there 50 years ago, steeped in history, legends and traditions going back to the earliest civilisations and when the author moved from there to the UK (and had to wear three jumpers even in summer) she was peppered with so many questions about her life there that she wrote this book to help answer them.  And in doing so, she has woven an intriguing tale of adventure, friendship, forgiveness and bravery with such a real-life background that I was taken back to the days when I was there with all sorts of memories that I thought were forgotten, including the pidgin phrases.  

Even though physically it is at the upper end of the readership for this blog, competent independent readers of all ages will immerse themselves in the story which, even though it has such a diverse backdrop, still has a universal theme threaded through it. For those interested in finding out more there are the usual Usborne Quicklinks, as well as a most informative note from the author and some questions for book clubs that delve deeper.  One for those who are ready to venture into something a little different.  

Mertales (series)

Mertales (series)

Mertales (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mertales (series)

The Best Friend Promise

9781760526528

The Daring Reef Rescue

9781760526566

Rebecca Timms

Albert Street Books, 2021

120pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Newly independent readers will love this new series about mermaids and sea creatures that is written to encourage them to keep reading.  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 creatures but who want some substance to their stories.

With the second due in September, the series with its focus on friendship and female characters  with a can-do attitude will be a welcome addition to the school library’s offerings when students are finally able to return to school. In the meantime. parents might like something to continue the excitement of Book Week to keep their girls reading.

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. 

 

 

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

Gina M. Newton

Rachel Tribout

CSIRO Publishing, 2020

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

 9781486311842

Where the Derwent River spreads out to meet the Tasman Sea on the southeastern coast of Tasmania lives Handstand,  a spotted handfish and one of just 1000 left of a species that the dinosaurs would have recognised.  A species of anglerfish, Handstand lures prey using a fleshy growth on her head, which acts like a fishing rod and lure, even including a “light” that attracts the worms and crustaceans on the deep sea floor. But even more amazing is that she has hands – pectoral fins that have adapted to allow her to walk along the seabed because without a swim bladder, she can’t swim. 

This is just some of the information contained in this remarkable book, told by Handstand herself, and introducing this highly endangered species to young readers.  Being one of the first marine fish species to be listed on the IUCN Red List , and one of just 14 species from the hundreds that used to be in the oceans (all of which are Australian). not only does Handstand raise awareness of her species for those looking to investigate a not-so-familiar endangered species, but she conveys a strong message of the need to protect and conserve both the marine environment and those that live within it. 

Presented in a way that engages the reader with Handstand’s story entwined and embedded with facts and accompanied by biologically-correct illustrations which have a childlike appeal, this book has been shortlisted for both the CBCA Even Pownall Award for Information Books for 2021 and the Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature: Non fiction 2021, both accolades that are richly deserved because not only is the spotlight thrown on the future of the spotted handfish , but there is also a raised awareness of the needs of and threats to the ocean environment generally. If climate change, chemical pollution, rubbish, fishing nets and invaders like the Northern Pacific Seastar are threatening this tiny creature, then others must be at risk too. 

Extensive teachers’ notes are available and the book uses a variety of graphic techniques that students could adopt and adapt to bring their own reports to life, making it a book that as well as deserving its award nominations, definitely deserves a place in the library’s collection. 

 

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the Heart Is

Irma Gold

Susannah Crispe

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820874

In 2011, a Magellanic penguin, washed up on an island village beach just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, near Joao’s home.  Joao rescued him, cleaned him up and cared for him for months knowing that he would have to set him free eventually.  But for that first year they did almost everything together, until there came a time when even Dindim felt the call of the wild and knew he had to leave…

This is the beautiful story of that rescue, the friendship  and the remarkable events that followed, even after Dindim left for the cold waters of his native Patagonia. With its gentle text and pictures, it celebrates friendship and the power of the words, “If you love something, set it free.”

Teachers’ notes for K-2 are available to help young readers understand the broader aspects of Dindim’s plight.

 

 

 

 

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Barrier Reef

Helen Scales

Lisk Feng

Flying Eye Books, 2021

88pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781912497812

Covering nearly 400,000 square kilometres, the incredible ecosystem that is the Great Barrier Reef is not only one of the natural wonders of the world, but is the only one large enough to be distinguishable from outer space. And given its location in the Coral Sea just off the coast of Queensland, it is one that every Australian child knows about from a young age.

Thus this new release from Flying Eye Books, a publisher which specialises in non fiction for younger, independent readers will be a great addition to the collection as it explores this enchanting place, its animal inhabitants, and the peoples who have embraced it as a centerpiece of their cultures. Readers learn about how the reef came to be, its place in the world, and  most importantly, what we can all do to help ensure that the Great Barrier Reef will be around for future generations to discover!  Dramatic, biologically correct illustrations accompany easily accessible text making it the perfect companion for Everest, the other in this series about the world’s natural phenomena.  

 

Freaky, Funky Fish

Freaky, Funky Fish

Freaky, Funky Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freaky, Funky Fish

Debra Kempf Shumaker

Claire Powell

A & U Children, 2021

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

9781760526733

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, and within them live 15% of all the creatures that live on the planet including more than 32 000 species of fish.

Fish have fins and gills and tails. All fish swim and most have scales…

But not every fish is the same.  There are zappers, stingers, singers, shakers; dancers, and a whole host of others with strange characteristics that enable them to survive, and in this engaging book for curious, independent readers, Debra Kempf Shumaker has written an intriguing rhyming text which focuses on the traits of some of the weirdest fish that dwell there, rating each on the freaky/funky scale.  The slimy hagfish scores 5/5 on the freaky scale while the snotty parrotfish gets 5/5 om the funky scale.

However, this is so much more than a story that rhymes – from the front cover to the endpapers and every page in between, there are hundreds of illustrations of those fish and loads of information about them, all brought together in a most imaginative layout that not only engages the reader but satisfies their curiosity and encourages them to explore further. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Ideal for helping little ones explore the new worlds of beneath the waves. 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Aleesah Darlison

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899226

Deep in the estuary where the river meets the sea of the Derwent River in Tasmania lives one of the most endangered species in Australia – the tiny spotted handfish, so named because they use their “hands”  to walk along the sand and silt of the sea floor rather than using their fins to swim. So endangered that it is the first marine fish in the world to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  

It is Spring when we first meet Coco and it is a busy time for her because she needs to find a  sea squirt that will be safe to lay her eggs and she only has a few weeks in which to do so, find a mate and then guard them until they hatch.  And even then they are not safe because even though she can lay 80-250 eggs each year, there are still only about 3000 spotted handfish in the wild in the world – all in that remote river in Tasmania! Existing since the time of the dinosaurs, yet now threatened by invasive seastars, pollution and climate change, Coco and her babies have more than hungry fish to worry about.  

This is the first in a multi-book series that will introduce our youngest readers to some of Australia’s most vulnerable wildlife, particularly those that are scarcely known.  And with her usual gift for words, Aleesah Darlison has crafted a story that is full of information (and supported with fact boxes) while being entertaining in itself.  Coupled with illustrations that are visually appealing whilst still being biologically correct, this is a fascinating introduction not only to this little-known creature but also to the power of print in non fiction.  So many of our littlest readers are fascinated with the unusual world around them (talk to my friend’s little person about pangolins) yet there is not yet a lot that reaches down to their level of literacy so they can access it for themselves.  Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike. Given there is another book on the same subject shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for 2021 this will be an excellent addition to the collection to satisfy the curiosity of those clamouring to know more. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island

9781838935672

The Tindims and the Turtle Tangle

 9781838935696

The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles

9781838935719

The Tindims and the Floating Moon

9781838935733

Sally Gardner

Lydia Corry

Zephyr 2020-2021

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Since the days of the Vikings, the Tindims have lived on Rubbish Island, recycling debris salvaged from sunken pirate ships and galleons. They have always lived in secret, caring for the creatures of the sea and helping messages in bottles to find the right tides. But now as plastic threatens to overwhelm their island home, the Tindims make contact with children for the first time ever to show them how to turn rubbish into treasure…

Join Skittle, her furry pet Pinch, her parents, Admiral Bonnet, Mug, Jug, Brew, Captain Spoons,  Granny Gull and Barnacle Bow on  Rubbish Island where they seem to find a use for every piece of rubbish that the ‘Long Legs’ throw into the water. For years they have lived by their motto: ‘Rubbish today is treasure tomorrow’.  Wander through its warren of underwater rooms, including a toothbrush library and a hospital for sick fish, climb its terraces overlooking the sea and scale Rubbish Mountain. Set sail with them on their first ocean adventure as they show keen young human ecologists how to help protect our planet for the future.

With the current focus on the environment and its sustainability, this is the perfect series to share with newly independent young readers who are looking for an engaging read that relates to their world but with a little bit of magic and escapism thrown in.   Described as The Borrowers-on-Sea , these tiny creatures turn trash into treasure. The first in the series introduced the characters as they deal with the menace of plastic; the second  is about Ethel B Dina, who looks after the fish hospital and loves to sing, needs ten green, glass bottles to complete her musical Bottleramma. But she is surrounded by too many plastic bottles which do not make music.  The third continues the tale of the bottles and finds Barnacle Bell and Granny Shell in trouble  as the terrifyingly tall Bottle Mountain tumbles into the sea and they are left clinging on tightly as they float off over the waves; while the fourth, due in September 2021, features a glow-in-the-dark squid, drawn by the light of the moon, has wandered far from its friends on the ocean bed to the lake on Rubbish Island. The Tindims are puzzled by their new shiny lake, but with the help of Spokes, Barnacle Bow and a rather special invention, they discover the squid and try to help it on its way home again.

The series is modern ,focuses on a theme that is close to the heart and minds of its target audience, that of making this world a better place by thinking globally and acting locally. There are not a lot of things that our youngest readers have the power to improve or change, but being environmentally conscious is one of them so this book which inspires them to be more aware is certainly within their realm. As well as the usual supports for young readers transitioning to more complex novels,  it is printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader.