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The Night of the Hiding Moon

The Night of the Hiding Moon

The Night of the Hiding Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night of the Hiding Moon

Emma Allen

Sher Rill Ng

NLA Publishing, 2020

4099., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279583

‘Late one night, Felix heard a thousand giants march across the sky and the round, silver moon went into hiding.’

Alone in his room, Felix is frightened – he imagines he can hear giants gathering on the rooftop. As a wild storm thunders through the night, Felix turns to his trusty torch, creating strong, brave shadow creatures who can keep him company and protect him from the ferocity of the wind and rain.

One by one, frolicking creatures crowd Felix’s bedroom. With his shadow friends impatient to play in the night, Felix must decide whether to stay, alone, or venture out shoulder to shoulder with his friends and confront his fears.’

Storms can be terrifying for young people (and not-so) and how well I remember being told that lightning was just the angels having a fireworks party and thunder, the clouds banging together – explanations I shared with both my son and my grandchildren when they crept into my bed seeking comfort. So Felix’s fear is understandable and will resonate with young readers and perhaps offer them some reassurance. It offers an opportunity to not only investigate the origins of storms but also to play around with shadows and discover how they are caused.

But being from the NLA, this story has the added bonus of extra pages and these one focus on the art of telling stories with shadows, particularly shadow puppets.  There are even instructions for making your own and patterns that can be used. In these times of schools not necessarily being in physical spaces, this is one that could be recommended to parents (it’s available for purchase online) to offer lots of creativity and fun as well as learning. 

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

National Geographic Kids, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781426335297

They are the things we see and use every day and which are so familiar we take little notice of them -cameras. mobile phones, rulers,  toilets and even common customs like shaking hands, table manners and saying gesundheit. But each has a backstory about its invention or development and in this intriguing little book from NatGeo Kids, each is explained.  With hand-shaking now discouraged, what are the origins of this practice anyway? With toilet paper now a nightly news item, what is the story behind its development and the invention of the toilet?  

Using its customary bold, colourful design, with stunning photos, and jam-packed with awesome facts, there are 10 chapters each with related inventions to keep young minds entertained and educated for a long time.  Perhaps, if students are no longer in the physical space known as school, it could serve as a role model for their own investigation of something common. Perhaps a future edition might have concepts such as social distancing and self-isolation – what do these mean, what do they look like and why were they imposed?

While the book answers many questions, it has the potential to pose so many more, each of which could be a research topic for kids needing something to do, and with self-choice essential it will engage them while putting into practice all those information literacy skills! 

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury 2020 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408899298

Many of our students now know the name of Greta Thunberg,  but do they know the names of the women on whose shoulders she stands?  With its very visual, colourful layout, this is one of a series from a creator whose own name is synonymous with women who changed the world, and introduces just a handful of the women who have made it their mission to respect and protect the planet.

Young readers are introduced to people such as  Isatou Ceesay  whose recycling of plastic waste into beautiful objects became the beginning of the ban on single-use plastics;. Jane Goodall’s whose work with chimpanzsees is legendary; Anita Roddick and The Body Shop who highlighted the need for fair trade and cruelty-free products;  Wangari Maathai who recognised the dangers of devastating deforestation and planted seeds of change and the two Aboriginal women Eileen Kampakuta Brown and Eileen Wani Wingfield who led the campaign to stop the building of a nuclear waste dump near their desert home of Woomera in South Australia. 

Offering inspiration and evidence that even small things can lead to large outcomes with the most ordinary people doing extraordinary things, it also challenges the reader to consider how they will speak up for the planet. Perhaps these women will become as well-known as today’s activists, but what is more important than their names is the work they did and why we, as a planet, are so much better for that.

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Jennifer Bell

Alice Lickens

Walker Books, 2020

184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781406388459

Daughter of world famous botanists who were killed on a flower-collecting expedition in Australia, 8-year-old Agnes now lives with her uncle who doesn’t understand her and certainly doesn’t understand her need or demand for a pet.  For although she now lives in a flat on the 26th floor of an apartment block in a big grey city, she has her parents’ love for the outdoors and being with the creatures in the local park is her favourite thing to do. So when she discovers a mysterious creature on her bed – one who informs her he is an elephant shrew, Rhynchocyn petersi,  Attie (short for “Attenborough”) a field agent for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Atlantic forest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? 

This is a new series for newly independent readers who have an interest in the environment and its preservation, as they can put themselves in the story as they venture into foreign places on important missions.  Avid readers are always looking for new series while those who are more reluctant will appreciate the short chapters and many illustrations. Both will enjoy having a meaty, meaningful story to engross them as they transition from set basal readers to novels.

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2020 

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760651138

In this sequel to Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja,  Fish Kid is holidaying at Ningaloo and keen to show his friend Emely not only the reef but also his secret superhero-like powers. But things don’t go according to plan and he is torn between obeying his parents and using his powers or becoming shark bait.

With Bodhi’s parents being underwater specialists – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer  – discovering what is under the surface is just what the family does, and the author has carefully woven all sorts of interesting information about the creatures there into the story so that is as educational as it is entertaining.  Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). 

This is a series that will appeal to newly independent readers still needing a bit of textural support and with each episode featuring a different part of the oceanic world and its inhabitants, the scope for unique and interesting adventures is broad. There is already a new addition in the pipeline. 

 

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House on the Mountain

Ella Holcombe

David Cox

Allen & Unwin,2019

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

9781760636968

 

There is a fire coming, and we need to move quickly. Mum and Dad start packing bags, grabbing woollen blankets, the first-aid kit, torches, and then the photo albums. Dad puts Ruby on her lead and ties her up near the back door. My chest feels hollow, like a birdcage.

At first, it was just another hot day as  summer days can be in Victoria, with the heat lingering well into the night. But this hot day turns out to be like no other… For this is February 7, 2009 – a day that is forever etched in Australia’s history as Black Saturday. Over 400 fires took 173 lives and left thousands homeless.  

And sadly, it could have been any one of a number of deadly days of this past summer as fires again tore through the landscape, on a much larger scale devastating homes and lives in every state on an unprecedented scale.  In this particular story, the author draws on much of her personal experience of 10 years ago to tell of the fear, the anguish, the devastation, the unknown but she has changed the ending of one of family tragedy – she knows that story too well – to one of hope and continuity and renewal. 

But this could be the story of so many of our students this year – those who have witnessed the fires first-hand, those who have had to evacuate, those for whom there is no home to go back to; those for whom life is going to be topsy-turvy and very different for a long time to come.  But while it is a bleak story to begin with, one that will stir memories for many, it is that message of connection and continuity, that one day (that might seem too far away just yet) their children may play on land they once called home that can offer succour and strength to try one more day.  And it may be the catalyst for some to open up about their experiences and begin to share and process what they can.

Even if students have not been able to return to their own schools, nevertheless it is the routines of school that are the constants in students’ lives right now so anything we, as teachers, can read, understand and do to support them is so important. Used sensitively at this time, this could be an important part of the help we offer. 

 

Jelly-Boy

Jelly-Boy

Jelly-Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jelly-Boy

Nicole Godwin

Christopher Nielsen

Walker, 2020

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

9781760651237

The little jellyfish has fallen in love with a big and strong jellyfish, and even though her family didn’t like him because they had seen his type before and declared them dangerous, the little jellyfish is besotted and can’t let go.  But Jelly-Boy is not what she thinks.  Her family is right and while trouble continues to find him, she follows.  Will she escape his clutches before it is too late?

Nicole Godwin, author of both Ella and Billie, has made it her mission to be the voice for those creatures who don’t have their own, and in this new release she has taken on the cause of our ocean creatures and the pollution of their habitat, particularly by plastic bags. Even being caught in the propeller of a boat’s motor does not destroy Jelly-Boy as he floats on carried by the currents and in one dramatic double-page spread the reader is shown just how lethal these items can be.  In a fact page we learn that each year over 1 000 000 seabirds and 100 000 sea creatures die from eating them or becoming entangled in them.

The message in this story is very clear – by reviewing, reducing, reusing and recycling our use of plastics, each one of us, including the young readers that this is intended to teach, can make a difference to help prevent great islands of plastic waste that can be seen from space from forming in our oceans. By writing the story from the perspective of a love-struck jellyfish so it entertains as well as educates,  Godwin raises awareness without being didactic and Nielsen’s illustrations are perfect because the reader seems to be in on Jelly-Boy’s ‘secret” identity before the main character! You can hear them willing her to know and understand the danger before she is entangled in it herself.

A must-have   addition to any unit focusing on the environment, its threats and sustainability – such a hot topic that even our little ones understand it from a young age.

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dingle Dangle Jungle

Mark Carthew

Dave Atze

Ford St, 2020

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

9781925804416

In the Amazonian jungle,
you’ll find monkeys, rats and shrews . . .
pumas, sloths and marmosets.

Which ones would you choose?

Two children go for a walk in the dingly dangly maze of the Dingle Dangle Jungle and encounter a whole variety of creatures with an amazing range of characteristics.  There are those that are short, long, speckled, stripy, diurnal, nocturnal, with fangs or talons or both… and the fascinating thing is that they are all actual creatures.  (Each one is identified in the notes at the back,) 

With its clever rhyme and rhythm and engaging, detailed illustrations that reveal something new each read, this is a get-to-know-your-animals book with a difference, and not least because of its setting in the Amazon rather than the more familiar Africa so the young reader becomes aware of the diversity of creatures on this planet.  Because the emphasis is on how each type of creature is unique, it is a great introduction for little ones to think about why they are all different.  How and why have they adapted to meet the needs of their environment and circumstances? Why do “some have funny noses, and some have curly tails, [while] some have long or sticky tongues or strong, sharp claws or nails”?  In addition, the teachers’ notes are very comprehensive with suggestions and resources to explore all sorts of environmental issues , making this one of those perfect picture books that spans the age groups.  

 

The Bat Book

The Bat Book

The Bat Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bat Book

Charlotte Milner

DK Publishing, 2020

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241410691

Many years ago when I was wearing my classroom teacher’s hat rather than one of my teacher librarian hats , I taught a little boy who had great difficulties in fitting into classroom routines and learning, making friends and managing his choices.  We were just learning about the autism spectrum in those days and while we and he could have done a lot differently now, at the time he was just a challenging child whose behaviour could set up the tone of the class for the whole day depending on whether he was in an aggressive/frustrated, active or passive phase.  To the onlooker literacy wasn’t high on his agenda but what he knew about bats and the way he devoured anything in print or film about them showed a knowledge and skill that was usually hidden.  Given this was the early days of being able to record television programs on VCRs at home, most of his understanding came through books and I soon learned to tailor his program so that as far as possible bats were included somewhere! (He not only taught me about bats but made a profound difference to my professional practice.)

So this book would have been a most marvellous resource for him (and me) as it explores the habitats and habits of bats all over the world, making these nocturnal creatures visible. Using accessible text in straight-forward paragraphs, accompanied by lots of lifelike illustrations and the characteristic DK layout, the reader is introduced to these flying mammals with lots of questions answered such as why they have to hang upside down, their preferred diet and how they find their food given the old saying of “as blind as a bat.” But as well as the basic facts much of the book is devoted to why they are important to the environment and ecosystems and what we can do to preserve the various species as they are threatened with a range of factors such as pesticides killing their primary food source. There are ideas for helping preserve and even enhance their populations.

A companion to The Bee Book , this is perfect for shining a spotlight on a misunderstood and maligned species that Simon would have adored. (He might even have been able to write it, way back then!) 

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.