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Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morphing Murphy

Robert Favretto

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804324

Murphy the tadpole likes his life just the way it is – swimming in his weedy pond, slurping up algae and rotting water plants.  In fact he wouldn’t change a thing.  But then things do begin to change – two bumps appear next to his tail and no matter what he does he can’t get rid of them.  But as they develop into legs he finds his life is that much better and so he’s happy with the new Murphy.  Until things begin to change again… and again. And the twist in the ending is unexpected and delightful. 

With its soft palette and expressive illustrations,  this is a charming book for young readers that shows the development of a tadpole into a frog, while, at the same time, gently exploring how unexpected changes in life can become positives rather than negatives. While Murphy was at first fearful of the changes happening to him, with no control over them he has to accept them and get on with it. Perhaps some of our students are experiencing change through a new school or other life-changing event, especially given the fires and floods of this summer, and finding it confronting and need some guidance to search for and find the silver lining.  

More than just another book of many about the transformation of frogs. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Mark Kurlansky

Jia Liu

Bloomsbury, 2020 

176pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781547600854

The drought and the bushfires have certainly taken their toll on the wildlife of this country and the devastating effect on the environment is nightly news.  But while the trees are slowly recovering there are some species that never will, species that we seldom give a lot of thought to in the way that koalas and kangaroos capture our attention.  For just as their habitat has been destroyed so has that of the insect world, although theirs is an ongoing worldwide invisible demise.

While there is acknowledgement that the planet’s life-givers, bees are disappearing, they aren’t the only species at risk. Populations of fireflies, butterflies, and ladybugs have all been declining in recent years, too. This middle grade nonfiction explains the growth, spread, and recent declines of each of these four types of insects. Exploring human causes to natural occurrences Mark Kurlansky shows just how much bugs matter to our world. While it might be a natural instinct to swat a fly or a mosquito and deliberately eliminate those that carry disease, each life contributes to another life and in this book the author explores that interdependence and why it needs to be preserved. 

An interesting perspective and insight into the insect world that shines a new light onto a world we don’t often think about. 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Stephanie Owen Reeder

NLA, 2020

132pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279521

December 1914, times are tough, war has broken out in Europe and 15 year old Will Hutchinson joins his father, two mates and six camels on and expedition to the South Australian desert outback to search for gold. But water rather than gold becomes their main concern as the harsh conditions become real, and in desperation the men leave Will to babysit the pack camels while they search for water.

But Will is not content to just sit and wait and so he too, goes off to find water. But he finds so much more – the opal fields of Coober Pedy owe their discovery to his courage, cool head and self-belief.

This is the fifth in the Heritage Heroes series that tells  the “true stories from Australia’s past featuring ordinary children and young people who have achieved amazing things against the odds”. As well as the narrative itself, Will’s story is interspersed with double-page spreads about the topics in each chapter such as riding the Ghan, the Afghans, the camels and surviving in the desert, all of which draw on the full resources from the National Library of Australia  to bring them to life and give them authenticity. There are also pages about the future of Will and the three men (Will came to a tragic end at 21), maps and details about the stories behind the story so readers can explore further.  Thus as well as an entertaining read for independent readers about a real person they can relate to, there is also a glimpse into a past that few know about. There is a reason that the main street of Coober Pedy is called Hutchison Street and the memorials that stand beside the Stuart Highway in South Australia and at Glengyle Station in Queensland.    Teachers’ notes will be available .

This is a series well worth highlighting in your collection so our young students not only learn the intriguing stories of this country’s past but can also be inspired by ordinary kids doing extraordinary things so perhaps they too can become a hero of the future. 

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A is for Ant

Kate Slater

DK, 2020

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9780241435922

There has been something of a revolution in board books over recent times. Our youngest readers are now getting interesting stories rather than one-word concept books and now publishers like DK are acknowledging that even at this early age, some are choosing non fiction as their preference. A is for Ant  is the first book in a new alphabet series, each of which looks at a particular animal that begins with that letter as well as features about the creature that reinforce the letter while illustrations bring the world of ants to life, as toddlers learn about ant hills, antennae and more.   Filled with simple, fun facts, A is for Ant provides lots to talk about as they learn how ants work together, what they eat, and where they live. It is cleverly designed to encourage early learners to repeat the fun a-words.

With the competition from screens of all sorts, convincing little ones that books are worthwhile even if they do appear static can be tricky but books such as this which demonstrate they do have something to interest them are a great starting point. Maybe, given the ubiquity of ants, it is time to invest in a magnifying glass to go on an ant hunt and discover more about these creatures, while older siblings could suggest more ‘a’ words to go with those already included. 

 

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Matt Whyman

Richard Jones

HarperCollins, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780008180317

This is the official children’s book version of the Netflix documentary series Our Planet. Endorsed by the World Wildlife Foundation and with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough , it is an authoritative exploration of our planet’s natural world using both illustrations and  photographs from the series itself. 

While each habitat is treated separately, nevertheless this is a story of interconnection and hope, so much so that Sir David Attenborough suggests that the children who read it will be “among the next characters who can, if they wish, tell the most extraordinary story of all – how human beings in the twenty-first century came to their senses and started to protect Planet Earth'”

So many of our students have access to services like Netflix now  and may well have seen the documentaries so this is a great opportunity to explore how film and print can work together. 

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

Coming Home To Country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Home To Country

Bronwyn Bancroft

Little Hare, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760501921

The saying “there’s no place like home” has never been expressed so poignantly as in this new book from leading indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft who always creates a visual feast accompanied by lyrical text. The young girl is coming home across the old wrinkled hills, through the palette of “leaf green, red rust, yellow ochre, deep blue and crimson”  to draw in the breath of the valley, listen to the bird orchestra, slip into crystal clear waters and be held in the embrace of her ancestors. 

“This is peace” and even with its bright colours and traditional busy patterns, that is exactly the feeling that is evoked by the gentle words as they envelop the reader. With the tumultuous summer we are experiencing with such weather extremes and the insatiable fire dragon, this is the book that we and our children need so we can retreat to somewhere safe and know that there is the evidence that Mother Nature will prevail if we would only listen to those who have cared for the land for generations. In her dedication she urges her “three warriors” to keep rallying for change so that “all children can have hope for the future” and know that the fire-ravaged, desecrated landscape that they are seeing right now can heal.

A timely release as we seek to comfort those for whom everything currently seems bleak and black and silent so they know that there can and will be colour and noise and life again soon. 

Roo Knows Blue

Roo Knows Blue

Roo Knows Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roo Knows Blue

Renée Treml

Puffin, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143790327

As Little Roo hops along she notices all the colours of the outback but as yet she thinks they are all blue. It’s her friend Possum who helps her learn about red and yellow and all the other colours that make up the palette of this vast country.

If I see Renée Treml’s name on any book (and there have been a few now) then I know I am picking up something special for our youngest readers that will be superbly illustrated and an engaging read.  Roo Knows Blue could have been written about Miss Now Nearly 9  who also thought every colour was blue when she was a teeny one (and whose favourite colour is still any hue of blue) and so that brought back lots of lovely memories for this ageing grandmother. But it also shows that a country that we might mentally picture as being predominantly red and grey-green is alive with a rainbow of colour if we just take the time to look more closely. Imagine sharing this and then going outside to do a colour search!  Making a colour chart and then trying to find things to match, just as Little Roo did. What memories!

The language, rhyme and rhythm of the text will appeal to both reader and listener and make predictions easy while the illustrations support all that is going on, making it an excellent choice for developing those essential concepts about print that  are the foundations of literacy development. 

 

Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way

Under the Milky Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Milky Way

Frané Lessac

Candlewick Press, 2020

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

9781536200959

In 2018 acclaimed Australian author Frané Lessac showed Australian children how we were all united under the Southern Cross constellation regardless of where we lived in this vast continent. Now, she has broadened the concept to the Milky Way galaxy and shows how the people of North America are united in a similar way.  Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow — each portrayed through vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada. To cap it off there are pages which explain the concept of galaxies, the Milky Way and how to find The Big Dipper and the North Star, iconic sights of the Northern hemisphere night sky.

A stunning book that has just an important place in the Australian school library’s collection as it does in those of North America because it begs an investigation into night and day, the night sky of the two hemispheres and how, regardless of our differences and different activitie,s we are all united under the one overarching star system.

 

Cat Science Unleashed

Cat Science Unleashed

Cat Science Unleashed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Science Unleashed

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

Matthew Rakola 

National Geographic Kids, 2019

80pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781426334412

 This is part of the NatGeo Kids Hands-On Science series and complements their website aimed at 6-12 year olds.  But rather than just facts and figures about cats that can be found in any book about them, this encourages the reader to participate in  22 safe and cat-friendly activities that let  them work alongside their cat to discover what makes it tick.

They can learn the effects of catnip  and why it can see so well in the dark; how it balances so well and always land on its feet as wells as toys to make.  Each activity is paired with step-by-step instructions, clear and interesting scientific explanations, and cool photographs shot specifically for this book. Hands-on activities and fun information for budding scientists prompt further learning and offer a behind-the-scenes look at current feline research.

Using a magazine format with lots of photos and diagrams as well as information in accessible chunks, it is divided into four chapters, each accompanied by relevant explanations and activities. There is also a glossary, an index, and other extra information to help students build their information literacy skills as they learn to navigate non fiction texts. 

There are often queries to TL networks about what are the best magazine subscriptions to continue as popularity tends to wane, and for the primary school age group, Nat Geo Kids is always near the top of the list proving it has stood the test of time as an investment.  With such a focus on the environment well beyond the curriculum, it just make sense to make it available to our students.

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner

Don't Read This Book Before Dinner

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner

Anna Claybourne 

National Geographic Kids, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781426334511

“If you love to be grossed out, grab a seat at the table to revel in some of the most repulsive and downright disgusting true stories from around the globe.

From wretched rodents and beastly bugs to putrid plants and muck-filled moats, step right in to find out more about the icky, sticky world around you. Gloriously gross stories of decaying delicacies, foul fashion, horrible history, awful animals, and more are paired with eye-popping pictures, fun facts, and hilarious quizzes in this fun book. Topics go way beyond food to include art, plants, animals, fashion, pop culture, medicine, the human body, and beyond. It’s a hot mess to digest, but it’s sure to leave kids disgusted and delighted…”

Using an appealing double-page spread format to explore all things gross, Nat Geo Kids  is designed to appeal to the 6-12 year olds keen to find out more about their world and what is in it.  

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

This particular edition is one that is likely to appeal to young boys and while there are those adults who don’t think this sort of thing is “real reading” (in the same way comics were disdained in their day), in my opinion anything that encourages them to hone their literacy skills is to be commended, particularly when it has the quality that you know is associated with Nat Geo Kids.  To add to the experience and spread their horizons wider, there is also the Australian version of their website which has unique topical local content such as What is a Bushfire?

There are often queries to TL networks about what are the best magazine subscriptions to continue as popularity tends to wane, and for the primary school age group, Nat Geo Kids is always near the top of the list proving it has stood the test of time as an investment.  With such a focus on the environment well beyond the curriculum, it just make sense to make it available to our students.