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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. 

Let’s Go! On a Submarine

Let's Go! On a Submarine

Let’s Go! On a Submarine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go! On a Submarine

Rosalyn Albert

Natalia Moore

Catch A Star, 2021 

16pp., board book., 2021

9781922326270

‘Let’s go on a submarine
And cruise beneath the sea.
Discovering strange creatures
Who swim so fast and free.’

This is a new addition to the Let’s Go series, this one taking our youngest readers under the ocean on a yellow submarine to discover some of the wonders that are usually hidden beneath the waves. 

The series focuses on two children enjoying rides on a variety of transport. Familiar topics, catchy rhymes and colourful illustrations not only make for an enjoyable read that they will be able to retell themselves endlessly, but also promote what can be expected from story books. It also helps build vocabulary as not all will be familiar with  farm life or riding a train or a ferry, and those like this that take them under the sea or travelling in space on a rocket introduce them to otherwise out-of-reach worlds. Thus, when they encounter other books with those sorts of settings, they are able to bring their existing knowledge to the page, predict what they will see and what might happen so the story makes sense, as well as being in a better position to get their mouth ready for unknown words.

We should never underestimate the role that these sorts of readers have in our children’s literacy as they develop those early concepts about print, and by using sturdy, durable board books we can start that process earlier and earlier. This is just one of a number of series from this publisher that is bringing quality stories to our youngest readers ensuring they develop those vital concepts about print that must be in place long before they embark on trying to master the skills if they are to make connections between what’s in their brain and what’s on the page. 

In the meantime, the adults who share this with their little ones will enjoy the  memories of that other yellow submarine  that it brings back, rather than the current controversy of they said, we said…

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.  

Great White Shark

Great White Shark

Great White Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great White Shark

Claire Saxby

Cindy Lane

Walker Books, 2021

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

9781760651848

Open the cover of this latest in the Nature Storybooks series, and there, swimming right at you, is a great white shark. 

But those piercing eyes and sharp white teeth are not looking for you.

The great white shark swims on. Her tail sways side-to-side; her fins keep her balanced. She travels the fast lane where she can, cruising invisible seaways towards warmer waters as her pup grow inside her and where they will thrive in where there are plenty of fish.

Claire Saxby’s name is synonymous with this series, known for crafting intriguing stories based on meticulous research that personify the focus creature so it comes alive for the reader. And given the emotions that this apex predator evokes whenever its name is spoken, this is going to attract and captivate a wide range of young readers. When she catches a young fur seal and an unwary turtle. it is viewed as her needing a feed to sustain herself and her babies rather than an act of cruelty or menace – it is the cycle of life. 

As the story unfolds to the birth of the young who must immediately fend for themselves because their mother swims on in her relentless quest, leaving on the endpages as she came, it is accompanied, as usual, by short pieces of information that explain her behaviour in factual terms and these are brought together at the end is a brief piece about great white sharks in general. 

The illustrations are stunning, particularly the depiction of the water and its colours and moods and I was immediately reminded of the beginning of The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp whose autistic mind knows that “the top can be green or blue depending on the sky, that the waves crash white but in the depths where no sunlight reaches it is black as the darkest night”.  Illustrator Cindy Lane says she “loves to make her own paints with materials she finds in nature, and collects waters from all over the world to use in her paintings. Seawaters from across Australia were used in Great White Shark” and while this is  her first picture book, hopefully there will be many more.

Sharks of all kinds fascinate young readers and this one is going to be a favourite so enriching its exploration with the teachers’ notes  is a must.

 

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.