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Pollination

Pollination

Pollination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollination – How Does My Garden Grow?

Chris Cheng

Danny Snell

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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

9781486313235

When you live high up in an apartment in the city, it can be easy to take things like your food and clothing for granted, but take a trip to your grandparents in the suburbs and your eyes can be opened and your thinking changed entirely!

For even though young city kids might now know that bees are important, in this intriguing book they learn not only of the bees’ critical role in the survival of the planet as they flit from flower to flower, but also all the other pollinators who carry the precious gold dust – appropriate that it is gold, in the scheme of things – from plant to plant, not only providing food for humans but also for their own kind so that the cycle can continue on.  So, just as pollination itself is essential to the survival of the world’s ecosystems, so it is essential that we protect the pollinators.  As the child learns, something as simple as placing a bright-coloured flower in a pot on a balcony can contribute.

Linked to the Science strand of the Australian Curriculum, particularly the Biological Sciences understanding that “Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves ” as well as being used in conjunction with Bee Detectives,  Plantastic,The Butterfly and the Ants     and Wonderful Wasps, this is an excellent foundation for helping our youngest readers understand a concept that many adults wouldn’t believe they could even pronounce!

Extra notes and some suggestions at the end of the story offer further information as well as some ideas for the best plants to put in a “Pollinators Paradise” if the school were to go down the path of creating a special, year-round garden to attract and protect the local pollinators.  Imagine the investigations that would spark…

 

Koko and the Coconut

Koko and the Coconut

Koko and the Coconut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koko and the Coconut

Turia Pitt

Celestine Vaite

Emilie Tavaerli

Puffin, 2023

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

9781760892944

It’s a big day for Koko for not only does he have to leave the shell that has been his home since he was born because he now has a tough shell of his own, but he must also crack a coconut by himself if he is to feed himself and survive. But to reach the coconut there is an enormous palm tree to climb, and then, once he has the coconut on the ground there is the task of opening it. Even though all his friends are cheering him on, it does seem like an insurmountable task so will he succeed?

Based on the life stories of Birgus latro, the large terrestrial crabs of her native Tahiti, Turia Pitt has crafted a story of determination, perseverance and resilience – all those qualities that adults associate with her own story of survival. But for young readers, it is also an inspirational story as they tackle big challenges in their own lives, such as starting school. Like Koko, it is the next must-do part of their growing up, and like Koko, all their family and friends are encouraging them on the way, expecting them to succeed even if there are setbacks.  But most importantly, like Koko, they have to believe in themselves, know that they will succeed and be willing and courageous enough to take the next step, just as Koko climbed the palm tree continually telling himself he could do it.

Koko is the story’s narrator which immediately puts the reader in Koko’s “shoes”, while the stunning illustrations with their clever use of perspective echo the enormity of the task ahead so they are invested in the story from the get-go.

At this time of the year our young ones are hearing all sorts of stories about starting school and overcoming their fears, so this is one to add to that collection because of its parallels with that experience and its positive message.  As a story it is a stand-alone but astute adults will help the young listener dig deeper, helping them to understand that stories can have lots of layers of meaning. The message of believing in yourself is powerful and one our children need to hear so often.  

The Octopus’s Trick

The Octopus’s Trick

The Octopus’s Trick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Octopus’s Trick

Alexia Jankowski

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678768

Ollie is an octopus, and he might be smarter than you!
When Lucy and her friends decide to test how brainy Ollie the octopus really is by seeing if he can get prawns out of a sealed glass jar and photographing the action, they get a surprise when he steals the camera itself.  Can they get the precious footage back?

Told in rhyme, this is a story based on the author’s childhood snorkelling off the beach at Cottesloe, WA when an octopus actually stole their GoPro camera. Others have had similar experiences including one from NSW resulting in a photograph that won the 2020  Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The intelligence of these creatures has been recognised for some time and when one named Paul predicted the winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup interest in them as a species soared, so this is a great introduction to investigate more about these clever creatures so we can understand and protect them better -they’re so much more than the monsters of the deep that fiction taints them. 

 

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

Cicada Sing Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cicada Sing Song

Pat Simmons

Katrin Dreiling

Little Steps, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

 9781922358462

After spending so many years underground as nymphs, the warm winds have brought the cicadas to the surface and they are ready to get together to make their music, the loudest insects on the planer and the sound of summer evenings in Australia for so many.  

Yellow Monday, Black Prince, Green Grocer, Orange Drummer, Brown Bunyip, Floury Baker, Razor Grinder… all the males are pumping out their own particular song  to try to attract a mate and begin the cycle again. Even their rock star names suggest something special- which other insects have such tags? 

Written in rhyme, this is a fascinating book that brings the songs of the cicadas to life in what to some humans is just a cacophony because it  can be up to 120 dB at close range (approaching the pain threshold of the human ear), or so high in pitch that the noise is beyond the range of our hearing but which is unique to each species so that they only attract the females of the same species.

So as well as being entertaining it is also educational and combined with a book such as Searching for Cicadas could open up a whole new world of investigation for the young reader as they not only discover new things about this ubiquitous creature but perhaps the world of music too.  Which is their favourite genre? And if they were a cicada, what would their name be?

Yoshi and the Ocean

Yoshi and the Ocean

Yoshi and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoshi and the Ocean

Lindsay Moore

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9780063060982

 

In 1997, a young loggerhead sea turtle was rescued from the ocean after an injury to her shell. The fishermen who rescued her named her Yoshi and took her to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. She was rehabilitated there and grew stronger—and larger!—every day. She also became one of the most popular exhibits at the aquarium.

But Yoshi was changing – she was becoming restless and the call of the ocean and her faraway home became stronger and stronger. After twenty years in captivity, Yoshi was released back into the ocean, fitted with a tracking device. And so began a journey that was full of danger, beauty, adventure, mystery, discovery and surprise. Over 987 days and 24 862 miles (almost 40 000 km) , she navigated the Atlantic and Indian Oceans  back to the Shark Bay region of Western Australia! 

In 2019, Lindsay Moore told us of the journey of Sea Bear, the remarkable journey of a female polar bear, and now, amongst the gloom and doom messages of climate change and environmental disasters, comes another heart-warming, hope-giving story of the magic and mystery of Mother Nature.  Yoshi’s story is told in both lyrical text and exquisite watercolour paintings, with the lightest touches  on topics such as conservation, oceanography, natural selection, the food chain, currents, and geography. But it becomes more than just the story of a remarkable journey with maps, information and even how the satellites tracked her included in the final pages.  On October 28, 2020 Yoshi sent her last transmission and her amazing journey is summarised on this blog post , complete with photographs and links to other posts that not only tell Yoshi’s story in greater detail, but also those of others released from the sanctuary.

Yoshi was “a fantastic ocean ambassador” while at the aquarium and her journey captivated so many more than just those able to see her “in person”, and although her whereabouts are not known now, her carers and scientists believe she is at last at home. Another amazing story of animal migration

If you have young, or not-so-young, readers with any sort of interest in turtles, or just the ocean and its incredible creatures, this is a must-have in any collection.  Inspire them to learn more, do more, and start their own life-changing journey!

Which Egg?

Which Egg?

Which Egg?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Egg?

Roxane Gajadhar

Rob Foote

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9781922678584

When a huge wind blows the eggs of Stork, Parrot and Crocodile off their nests so they all end up in a jumble,  who knows which egg is which? Luckily, they have the sense and patience to wait for the eggs to hatch, and sure enough they are able to tell which baby belongs to which parent.

 Even though the theme of whose egg is whose is familiar, nevertheless it sets up all sorts of investigations for young children to follow.  Stork, Crocodile and Parrot each mentions a particular characteristic that their baby will have to enable them to identify them so not only could the child predict what that might be, but they could also think about what might be the significant indicator for other creatures they know, such as a zebra having stripes, and maybe setting up a parent-child matching game.  This could lead to them looking at themselves and their parents and seeing what of which they share.

More broadly they could start to develop their research skills by investigating which creatures hatch from eggs – clearly it’s not just birds. Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones was always my go-to text for this  and the children were always fascinated with what they learned, often leading into questions about their own origins.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same and which is becoming one of my favourite series for young readers because of the places they can go because of their reading.

The Sun and the Mayfly

The Sun and the Mayfly

The Sun and the Mayfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun and the Mayfly

Tang Tang

Zhang Xiao

Little Steps, 2022

44pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922678041

As Little Mayfly is born in the depths of the lake, moving upwards through the water she greets the sun who is rising over a new day. 

“Hello”, she says, ” you are amazing. You light up this world as soon as you wake up. Who are you?” 

Sun tells her but when it learns that Little Mayfly only lives for one day and when it’s journey is over so will be her life, it has no words because it knows just how brief a day is.  But to Little  Mayfly, a day is a lifetime and there is so much to see and do, and even though she learns that she is going to miss out on things like the tadpole turning to a frog and the flowers booming., she remains cheerful and optimistic, determined to make the most of the time she does have.

Tagged as “an uplifting story about the power of positivity and making the most of every day” this is an enchanting story from a leading Chinese author that not only introduces young readers to the passage of time and encourages them to make the most of their time, it also helps them start to see the world through a different lens – an abstract concept that is tricky for little ones.  It is like that saying that not stepping on the ant makes a huge difference to the ant, if not the walker.  If we only have one day, do we spend it in despair or delight?

Even though the reader longs for a happier miraculous ending as the sun gradually sinks in the west, the inevitable happens and so this is also an opportunity to introduce the concept of life cycles  the tadpole’s is illustrated in the story but in a joyful way – and so the focus becomes not the inescapable but what can be done in the time we have.  Definitely one for the mindfulness collection and to inspire positive  mental health. 

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Meanwhile Back on Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780008555450

“In all the cosmos, this one place in our solar system is where all of the people have lived for the whole time we’ve been people. We have always thought that Earth is so big that it’s best to divide it into smaller bits/ It seems we humans have always fought each other over space.”

And so, taking the well-known quote from Edgar Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 14 in February 1971, who said, ” From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that…” as inspiration, Oliver Jeffers has created  this intriguing book in which a father takes his two children on a thrilling out-of-this-world adventure into space and invites them to look back at Earth and the conflicts that have taken place since the beginning of time.  

Calculating time using the speed that most people drive at (37mph or 60kph),  he drives the children to the various planets and then takes them back a similar amount of time in Earth’s history to show the conflict that was occurring at the time. So driving to the Moon would take a year and then a left turn would be a 78 year drive to Venus which would take them back to the middle of the 20th century and World War II. Each destination is tied to something catastrophic happening on Earth. 

While this is an interesting way of looking at history, the ultimate futility of conflict and encouraging young readers to strive for peace in the future, the concept is quite abstract, almost esoteric and thus more suited to older readers who have the maturity and ability to look at things from beyond their realm of personal experience. Although the text appears simple, and Jeffers has added some wit to lighten the load, and a timeline on the endpapers encapsulates both the time and space aspects of the journey, this is one best shared in a situation where discussion and clarification can take place. 

 

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

If The World Were 100 Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If The World Were 100 Animals

Miranda Smith

Aaron Cushley

Red Shed, 2022

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

 9780008524371

“The total number of individual animals on Earth is believed by some to be 20 000 000 000 000 000 000 or 20 quintillion or 20 billion billion.”

That’s a number that only someone like Elon Musk can visualise so this clever book makes it manageable by reducing it to just 100 animals, and dividing them into vertebrates (just 6) and invertebrates (94).  Then, like its counterpart If the World were 100 People, it uses double page spreads to investigate the characteristics of those 100 with questions such as what makes invertebrates different to invertebrates,  did you hatch from an egg and which animals are the most deadly to humans. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

It’s layout with plenty of illustrations and info-filled captions make it both visually appealing and readily accessible to younger readers so they not only learn a lot but can have intriguing facts to roll out during dinnertime conversation. Fancy being able to drop a fact such as “Of all the animal species that have  lived on this planet, only 10 are still living. Ninety are extinct,”  into the chat to start a lively discussion about conservation.  Particularly relevant when it is feared that by 2050 – less than 90 years away – more than 1 000 000 species of animal that inhabit our planet today will be extinct including the polar bear, rhinoceros and gorilla because of climate change, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. 

So what are the big questions we need to ask ourselves and what action do we need to take? This is an important book that reduces the issues to a scale that the child, who will be the adult in 2050,  can cope with and understand and perhaps drive the actions that are critical.  

 

 

Amazing Animal Journeys

Amazing Animal Journeys

Amazing Animal Journeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Animal Journeys

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian, 2022

58pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9780734421432 

Each year we watch in wonder as whales transverse the humpback highways , but who knew that the humble monarch butterfly (the North American species) is on a journey that takes four or five generations to complete?

The monarch’s is just one of the amazing journeys shared in this new book that  focuses on 25 animal species from Australia and around the world including that of the Arctic tern which has the longest migration of all birds, flying from the Arctic to Antarctica and back each year, and that of the wildebeest in east Africa which is so vast it can be seen from outer space?

Once again, Jennifer Cossins has given young readers a fascinating insight into the natural world, an insight which includes  The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book The Ultimate Animal Counting BookA-Z of Endangered Animals and Book of Curious Birds . The endpapers offer a map of some of the journeys that are covered, demonstrating that the natural world is constantly on the move, and each double page spread introduces the migratory journey of a creature from tiny to enormous, some familiar but many not so.  It includes the New Zealand longfin eels that travels upstream navigating waterfalls and dams with its unique climbing abilities, as well as the bogong moth which uses the Earth’s magnetic fields and the light of the moon and stars to navigate deep into the Snowy Mountains of NSW, although, as the author outlines, that journey is becoming more difficult with a wider impact on other wildlife. 

The more we know about the creatures with whom we share this planet, the more we are likely to be aware of their needs and necessities and thus, hopefully, begin to tread with a lighter step.  Through her works that are so interesting and readable for young readers, Jennifer Cossins is making a significant contribution to that awareness.