Archives

How Was That Built?

How Was That Built?

How Was That Built?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Was That Built?

Roma Agrawal

Katie Hickey

Bloomsbury, 2021

80pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781526603654

From the time our earliest ancestors sought shelter in caves and discovered their limitations, humans have been building structures, each seemingly grander than its predecessors as challenges such as height, length, shape, and strength are overcome and physical impediments such as being underwater, underground, on ice and even in space are conquered.

There is something comfortable and comforting in being enclosed -perhaps it stems from the confines of the womb – and from the early childhood days of making a cubby with a sheet over chairs (itself having evolved to purchased indoor tents) to building towers from toothpicks and peas to bridges “strong enough to hold a toy car” from paper, our junior engineers have evolved to become those making the creations that dominate the modern landscape. While some, like the pyramids , Stonehenge and other ancient temples  have endured across centuries, this book focuses on more modern structures which have solved the problems like how to build high, long, strong and so forth, explaining with explanations and illustrations how the obstacle has been overcome in both general and specific circumstances. 

For example, in the section How to Build Across, the mechanics and physics of various bridge designs are demonstrated and then the construction of Te Matau Ā Pohe, a bridge across the Hatea River at Whangarei, New Zealand that needs to be able to lift quickly to allow essential boat traffic to pass, is explored, showing how the engineers drew on the Māori legend of Maui fishing the North Island from the sea with his hen matai, a magical fish hook, to create the lift mechanism.

Although more for those in Year 5/6+, this is an intriguing book for readers who want to take the basic “design, make, appraise” of STEM to its next level or who have a fascination with structures and aspirations to be structural engineers themselves.  For those just intrigued by big buildings, it is equally fascinating as they learn the whys, whats and hows of their favourites. 

Drover

Drover

Drover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drover

Neridah McMullin

Sarah Anthony

Walker Books, 2021

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

9781760652081

In 1889, A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson in his tribute to the iconic Clancy of the Overflow, wrote…

In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving “down the Cooper” where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And in this stunning book those pleasures are brought to life by the lyrical text and the evocative illustrations as the reader joins Drover on the trail as the herd of bullocks are moved over the vast interior of this country.  Even though each day seems to be a repeat of the routine of the one before it, the ever-changing land and sky scapes make each unique and enjoyable, even though they are bone-weary and saddle-sore and a tiny bandicoot spooks the flighty Shifty so the whole herd stampedes. 

But there is a twist in this tale – for it is only once they have wheeled the bullocks into Dajarra to the thrill of the gathered crowd, after thousands of kilometres and six months on the trail that the identity of “Drover” is revealed to be Edna Jessop, a real-life character and Australia’s first female boss drover who took this herd from WA to Queensland in 1950 after her father fell ill.  

Droving cattle is not just a part of this country’s history, but also its present as during recent droughts many farmers have been forced to send their stock out onto the long paddock,  the term given to the travelling stock routes that traverse outback Australia. Many has been the time when we have slowed to pass the herds as they graze the verges of the highway, drovers and dogs on high alert as the traffic passes within metres.  So as well as celebrating the remarkable story of Edna Jessop, it also opens up another avenue of exploration to explain where we have come from, perhaps even inspiring them to plan a family journey to discover those pleasures that Paterson, Clancy and Edna all experienced.   

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s, 2021

128pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780734420046

Natural history illustrator Sami Bayly, the mastermind behind two of the most intriguing non fiction titles that have got young boys, particularly, reading recently – The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly  Animals has produced another outstanding offering that will have readers as intrigued as its predecessors did and the phenomenon of young lads grouped together poring over the pages during lunchtimes in the library will return.

Bayly has collected stories of 60 peculiar pairs – plant and animal species that rely on each other for their survival – and over half of them call Australia home.  Whether parasitic or symbiotic; teeny -tiny like the Heath’s Tick and the Mountain Pygmy Possum or large like the Ocean Sunfish and the Laysan Albatross; land-bound like the Stinking Corpse Lily and the Liana Vine or water-dwelling like the Spotted Handfish and Sea Squirt; plant-plant, animal-animal or plant-animal Bayly has brought together a fascinating group of creatures whose relationships need to explored. 

The book has a built-in ribbon bookmark and serendipitously mine fell open on the entry about the Canberra Grassland Earless Dragon and the Garden Wolf Spider. One of the reasons we bought a home where we did in Canberra was its proximity to the proposed Gungahlin shopping centre, making access to facilities more convenient as we aged.  But then the site was discovered to be the only habitat of the Earless Dragon in Australia and so the whole precinct was moved to preserve its home.  Like all the other entries in the book, its relationship with the spider is explained as well as other facts and figures that just make for a fascinating read in language that is accessible to all. We learn new terms like mutualism and commensalism )which describe the type of relationship) -the sorts of words youngsters like to offer at the dinner table to baffle their elders – as well as critical information such as the environmental status. As usual, the illustrations are very realistic , each pair having a full colour double-page spread. 

While my review copy will be going to the same little lad as I gave the others to because they have been the springboard to his becoming an independent reader within months of beginning, he will have to wait until I’ve finished reading about pairs that I didn’t even know existed let alone that I wanted to know more about them!

Look for this one in the shortlists and winners’ circles. 

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

Andrew Kelly

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2021

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

 9781742036281

For generations the little penguins have left their island home to hunt for the shoals of small fish in the rich waters of the bay and the mouth of the river.  And when they have had their fill they risk their lives navigating the rip   and the shipping to go back to their burrows on their island home.  The island has all they need to build their burrows but it is getting crowded and the young males are finding it tricky to find a place that is safe and that will attract a young female. But there is nowhere suitable to build a burrow on the bay.

And then changes start to happen to their feeding grounds – huge machinery is dumping rocks into the sea to build a breakwater to protect the boats and the beach, and over time the sand and silt build up in the cracks and crevices. Sometimes the penguins rest on the rocks but they always return home.  Until one day, one little penguin decides to stay…

Much is written about the impact on wildlife when humans change the landscape and it’s usually negative so to read a positive story is unusual.  For this is the story of how the penguin colony at St Kilda, Victoria emerged and is continuing to grow. While they still have to deal with the hazards of dogs, cats, ferrets, stoats, human vandals, plastic pollution, boat strikes, boat propellers, oil spills, the fragmentation and loss of habitat and climate change, nevertheless because of the conservation practices in place they have shown that it is possible for native wildlife to live side by side with humans. Using just one little penguin as its focus personalises the story and brings it into the realm of the young reader, so they are more able to relate to it and understand the situation.  

Told by the Yarra Riverkeeper and beautifully illustrated this is an uplifting story that shows that the relationship between humans and the natural world can be a positive one, as well as demonstrating how that world adapts to deal with issues such as overcrowding. But charming as it is as a standalone story, it is one that has enormous potential to be a springboard into further investigations both of the penguins (with comprehensive teachers’ notes) and then human impact generally.  If you “can’t stop progress” how can it be managed through environmental impact studies, local support groups and so forth?  Is there a development happening in the readers’ community that might be having a wider impact than is immediately visible?  The opportunity to “act locally, think globally” is very apparent and this book can fulfil the purpose of the author. “Let us walk gently together.”

The What on Earth Institute of Wonder

The What on Earth Institute of Wonder

The What on Earth Institute of Wonder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The What on Earth Institute of Wonder

Lisa Nicol

Puffin, 2021

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781761041556

In the dead of night, the full moon blazing and with their mum double-dosed on sleepy-time tea, 12 year-old Sal (who can talk to birds and animals) and 8 year-old Roy (who’s ready for the apocalypse) quietly climb into a 1975 VW Kombi campervan already filled with an adolescent African elephant and driven by 14 year-old Bartholomew (who is yet to get his drivers’ licence),  This unusual crew, accompanied by Hector the kakapo, set off on a strange expedition which the reader is warned about in the prologue, deep into the Animal Kingdom.  

Despite its quirkiness, there is much the independent reader will relate to in this story including being in single-parent families where the remaining parent is barely coping; the small-minded community members of a small town whose slogan is “Don’t Get Your Hopes Up”; the feeling that animals are more trust-worthy and reliable than adults; and the desire to save the entire animal kingdom from the ravages humans inflict on it.

Nicol has a proven record of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary through her amazing imagination and her desire to empower the children who are her heroes through books like Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth and Dr Boogaloo and the Girl who Lost her Laughter  but still embodying those critical themes of family, friendship, self-belief and loyalty throughout.

Whether this is a read-alone or a read-together, it will appeal to those ready to take flight on an extraordinary adventure, accept strange things really do happen and just enjoy the ride. 

World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World-whizzing Facts: Awesome Earth Questions Answered

Dr Emily Grossman

Alice Bowsher

Bloomsbury, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526602435

Just because kids get older doesn’t mean their questions about the world around them stop and in this new book, a sequel to Brain-fizzing Facts: Awesome Science Questions Answered  TV science expert Dr Emily Grossman answers incredible and important questions about our natural world such as why some animals do square-shaped poos and which direction a dog is likely to face while weeing,  as well as serious stuff like what climate change and wildlife loss are actually doing to our planet and what can be done to help.

Covering a diverse range of key science topics, from human biology and animals and plants to the weather and space, Dr Emily shows readers why Earth is so weird and wonderfully great yet still faces its biggest challenge.   Through clear, sensitive explanations, and a format that will engage the most reluctant reader, the reader can find out what is actually happening to our Earth and what this means for both humans and wildlife – and how they, as individuals, can make changes that will help. 

Like its predecessor, this is designed to inspire the scientist in the reader and encourage them to go beyond the information provided to investigate and discover deeper answers for themselves. 

Everything Under the Sun

Everything Under the Sun

Everything Under the Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Under the Sun

Molly Oldfield

Ladybird, 2021

256pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241433461

Subtitled A curious question for every day of the year this remarkable book that started life as a podcast based on questions submitted by children, contains 366 curious questions such as How much bamboo can a giant panda eat?  Do aliens exist?  What we would do if we didn’t have a prime minister?  Why do hammerhead sharks have such strange-shaped heads?

Subdivided into questions for each month of the year it not only offers answers to the questions that kids ask that invariably stump the adults around them, but it gives the child all sorts of information that can be dropped into the dinner-table conversation to take it on a new path.  It is also one that groups will pore over as they try to outdo each other with their new knowledge.

But my favourite part is the scope it offers for developing information literacy.  It could either be used as a stimulus offering teachers a ready-made question to be investigated and answered by students and their answers compared to that in the book or it could be a model for students to ask and answer their own questions to develop their own month of curious questions.  That way they have purpose for learning, can seek help with the particular part of the information literacy process they actually need, can answer the question “how did you find out?” so they can reflect on their learning, and then share both their product and their process by creating a display for the library that includes this book, encyclopedia and other reference and non fiction titles. 

If the information literacy process is new to you click here and choose ‘present’ to learn more. 

 

Scientists Who Changed the World: Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scientists Who Changed the World: Stephen Hawking

Anita Groy

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820720

Stephen Hawking advanced our understanding of the universe more than any other scientist of his day. He spent his entire career chasing the idea of the “Theory of Everything: to explain the entire universe relating to the Big Bang Theory. His book A Brief History of Time was designed to explain physics to the general public, not just scientists, and this made him one of the most famous scientists in the world. 

This new additions to this series about the scientists on whose shoulders today’s generation stands is timely, Apart from anything else, it demonstrates there are almost as many fields of science as there are people investigating and that they all started as ordinary kids, just like the readers. 

Using accessible text, colour illustrations and an appealing layout, young readers are introduced to Hawking , his discoveries and his their early life and how that influenced the path he took. But when I think of Hawking, the image I see is him in his wheelchair having been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease at 21, and speaking by controlling a computer with his cheek after he lost the ability to speak.  That alone, as a model of resilience, of one who never gave up, whose body may have failed but his brain didn’t, is a reason to share his story with our students. 

When other teacher librarians ask for suggestions for biographies of contemporary people that are interesting and accessible for primary students, this series is always mentioned.  So it’s one to have in your collection as the fascination with science grows exponentially at a time when we are so dependent on it. 

 

Today’s Sun

Today's Sun

Today’s Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Sun

Greg Dreisse

Puffin, 2021

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9781760898335

 

Dawn, the sun is yawning and it’s time to munch like “a hungry, fluffy possum.” As it rises over the horizon it is time to laugh like “a happy kookaburra.’ And as it warms, cools. fades and sleeps, there are times to hop like a kangaroo, run like an emu, snuggle like a koala, slumber like a wombat…

Using just black, white and a myriad of patterns, Greg Dreisse takes the young reader through a magical journey of the day, not only introducing them to some of Australia’s iconic wildlife but also encouraging them to note the passage of the sun and the passing of time.  There is a time for everything. And when today is done, there will be another one tomorrow.

September 15 is International Dot Day, the day celebrating creativity, courage and collaboration, inspired by The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe. 

This is the perfect book to encourage children of all ages to explore their creativity, to start their own illustration to add to the book starting by making a mark.  Just looking at the cover and exploring the number of ways Dreisse has made a dot by changing its size and fill could inspire a beginning and then a closer examination of the patterns used in the illustrations throughout will open up so many possibilities. 

Even though this is a board book with a target audience of the very young, it could be used with older students to investigate the origins, traditions and protocols of the dot artworks of First Australians, while others could explore the use of pattern to build movement, texture, and mood which the monochromatic scheme really emphasises.

A rich addition to any collection, regardless of its format and what it appears to be on the surface. 

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afloat in Venice

Tina Wilson

Matt Ottley

One Tentacle Publishing, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780648511960

Long ago when people were allowed to travel where and when they wanted, Monkey decided to take a holiday. First to be packed was his new camera and then everything else he was sure he would need.  Two days in a plane, a long boat ride and a lot of stairs saw him arrive in a city that seemed to grow straight out of the sea!  He was in Venice in Italy.

Almost as soon as he steps pout to explore the city, he meets Clarabella, a friendly cat who offers to show Monkey the sights of the city and they spend the day taking photos of all the iconic places.  But when Monkey drops his camera and it falls into a disappearing gondola, he discovers that there are more important things in his life…

This is a unique book and it is going to appeal to a broad audience, not just those who are familiar with Venice or who have dreams to go there.

Most striking are the  illustrative techniques. Monkey and his friends are soft toys, lovingly knitted by the author’s mother who has also provided the patterns on Monkey’s website, and they are pictured against stunning photographic images of Venice. After being given Monkey as a gift and sharing photos of him with her partner Matt Ottley while they were separated because of work. the author realised that  soft toys are a universal language among adults and children, particularly given the number that have their own Instagram accounts, and that this could be a unique way for readers to travel .when circumstances (not just COVID-19 restrictions) prevented it. Monkey’s adventures were born.

Monkey’s adventures reminded me of the fun we had with hosting exchange teddies back in the early days of the Internet when we could share their adventures in almost real time using the early digital cameras and creating webpages using raw html code. The places those toys could take us once people learned why we were photographing them against particular backdrops!  And what our students learned about the world and their place in it, the friendships made – Monkey and Clarabella epitomise those.

Enriching the experience enormously, partner/composer/illustrator Matt Ottley (winner of the 2021 CBCA Picture Book of the Year ) has composed a soundtrack to accompany the book so that all its nuances are experienced in full sensory mode. There are two tracks – one to accompany the child holding the book and listening to it being read to them;  the other a more extended version to take the whole experience into the world of those with visual disabilities who may have braille for the words but nothing for the pictures. The extended narration and music enable them to ‘see’ the whole thing. These are included with the book as a CD but for those without the equipment, it can be downloaded.

And there are more of Monkey’s adventures to be released in 2022.

This is going to be a stand-out read-aloud and read-alone in your collection because it is that wonderful combination of story and illustrations with characters and situations that its audience will relate to and all the added extras will make Monkey and his friends their friends too.