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Dugong Magic

Dugong Magic

Dugong Magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dugong Magic

Deborah Kelly

Lisa Stewart

Lothian Children’s, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780734419965 |

In the warm waters of a shallow bay, a dugong calf is born…and as she learns to swim and eat and pull up the seagrasses of her diet, she learns the stories of long ago, the legends of mermaids. She learns the dangers of reef predators and what to do when they are near, but nothing can teach her about the dangers posed by the humans who treat her home as their personal playground…

With illustrations and a colour palette as soft and gentle as the underwater world. this is a wonderful introduction to one of our least-known creatures that is so mysterious and in need of protection.  As well as the fact page at the end, it has a strong environmental message, offering a new topic on which to kickstart an investigation into our impact on the environment with comprehensive teachers’ notes available to assist with this.  With winter knocking on the door, this might not be the time we are thinking about the ocean and its creatures, but that just means there is more time to think and act before next summer.  Maybe the dugongs will be able to tell their young of the stories and legends, because of the consideration of our young, and maybe dugongs won’t be just part of the stories and legends we tell.

Old Enough to Save the Planet

Old Enough to Save the Planet

Old Enough to Save the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Enough to Save the Planet

Loll Kirby

Adelina Lirius

Magic Cat, 2020

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

9781916180529

Before this virus sent the world off on a different track, climate change was the global issue receiving the most attention, exacerbated by the worst bushfire season in history.  Our kids were concerned and worried about the future of the planet and themselves within it, yet feeling somewhat powerless about what they could do to change the course.  In this new publication, we meet 12 children from around the globe who have identified an issue and then worked to redress it. 

Each double-page spread features a child like 9-year-old Eunita from Kenya whose mission is to save the bees and with a minimum of text her work is depicted in pictures, demonstrating how simple some things can be to do locally while having a global impact.

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

This is accompanied by some suggestions that even our youngest readers can adopt such as walking or using public transport, mending things instead of throwing them away, or even just buying less stuff – things that are within their control and which can make a difference. There are also suggestions for how they can make their voices heard, and given that the planet has had a bit of a breather with this virus and has healed a little with less pollution, now is the time to maintain that impetus. 

For some months now, and more to come, our little ones have been directed by adults with few freedoms to give them any sense of control, but this book shows that even while we are in such constraints and restraints, it’s possible to do something. Perhaps their home-project could be to plant a tub of flowers that will be ready to welcome the bees back when Spring comes again – just as Eunita did. At the very least, as they watch the progress they will be reassured that Spring will come again.

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Up the Mountain 

9781925594942

At the Fair

9781925594959

Hilary Robinson

Many Stanley

Catch A Star, 2020

20pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

These are the latest additions to this series which focuses on the young reader focusing on each double-page spread to find Gregory Goose. As well as developing their visual acuity as they hone their skills searching for him, by having each story in a specific setting that may already be familiar to the child or is likely to become more familiar as their reading journey progresses. site-specific vocabulary is developed so they learn about the sorts of things they would expect to see in each venue.  This is a critical aspect of early reading development because it helps them broaden their horizons but also focuses their attention on the setting, bringing to mind likely possibilities of what unknown words could be.

For example, while not many Australian youngsters will have had personal experience of what mountain life is like, by using the first-letter cue of “s’ (“get your mouth ready for…”) and using the pictures and the knowledge they have gained from books like these, they are more likely to transfer what they know to a new situation and be able to use the context to identify words like snow, snowmen, snowballs, skis, sled, and slope. 

With their bright, clear illustrations that have lots going on, this is a series that will draw children back to it many times as they discover something new each time, and each time developing their feeling of mastery over this format and skill known as reading. 

What seems like a simple hide-and-seek book actually has a vital place in those early reading behaviours and building concepts about print. 

 

 

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing with Wings

Trace Balla

Allen & Unwin, 2020

80pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781760296957

Mira and her mother are moving from their home near the sea to the goldfields of the Bendigo area, somewhere very foreign to Mira and she has no idea what to expect.  Her life is being turned upside down and she writes a farewell letter to her favourite tea-tree, beginning her recording of this new adventure which is scary but also a teeeeeny bit exciting. “Just a bit. It’s sort of like not knowing what’s on the next page and wanting to turn it to see what happens.”

Like Miri, Trace Balla loves to observe nature by sketching it and so, inspired by a story she saw about a refugee Syrian girl in an Australian detention centre whose future was equally uncertain, she has taken Miri on this journey of having her life upended and gradually discovering this new place, one that takes her back to her indigenous roots of the Dja Dja Wurrung people until she finally finds her home.

This is another intriguing graphic novel from the creator of Rivertime and  Rockhopping  that is just as extraordinary as those predecessors because of the levels and layers within the story. While  on the surface it seems like a personal recount of moving from one place to another, emphasised by the first-person narrative and hand-written font, there is also a bigger picture journey being told, that of anyone whose life is suddenly and permanently disrupted and having to find their place in a new landscape, whether that is physical, emotional or metaphorical. If they are lucky, they will land with wings and with the insight of someone like Trace Balla to guide them, they will learn to reflect on their experience and understand how it has shaped them just as much as the original catalyst.

A silver lining of this current situation of isolation is that we now have the time to read and appreciate this book in all its nuances, for we have each had our own journeys and this encourages us to revisit, review and reflect on them and their impact. It is just what we need at this time to get our lives back into perspective and see the whole rather than just the daily detail, yet, as Balla illustrates, it is the daily detail that builds up the whole. 

 

Why I Love The Earth

Why I Love The Earth

Why I Love The Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love The Earth

Daniel Howarth

HarperCollins, 2020

26pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008389109

Illustrator Daniel Howarth has taken the words of our littlest ones about why they love this planet and transformed them into charming, fun illustrations that will appeal and inspire.

Starting with Teacher Bunny showing her class a globe and giving her class a classic teaching strategy of completing a sentence, she says, “I love the Earth because…” 

Then all her students respond with a range of reasons in a series of double-page spreads that bring together aspects of the planet, familiar and not-so.

This would be a wonderful book to share with both parents and children at this time because it is just made for getting our youngest readers to respond with text and illustration, especially when we are trying to strike a balance with screen time. Some might even like to investigate some of the phenomena that are mentioned such as how old the Earth is or why it has so many colours.

It’s a great way to differentiate the curriculum as each follows something that fascinates them or has piqued their curiosity.

Another picture book that transcends its target age group and opens up worlds of possibilities. 

Extraordinary!

Extraordinary!

Extraordinary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary!

Penny Harrison

Katie Wilson

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781925594911

While we may all have had an extraordinary wish to skip through the stars, harness a unicorn or sail around Mars, this story encourages us to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.  To find what Mother Nature has provided; or the shared time with friends and family; or the sounds and smells of silence. 

Written in rhyme and illustrated with rich detail so there is as much to discover in the pictures as there is in the world around us,  this is a timely release at this time when we are all but confined to home.  Psychologists and others are telling us that more important than any formal schoolwork undertaken at this time are the relationships we build with our families and the memories we make as we pull together, so having such a beautiful book to share to help us focus on the ordinary and find the extraordinary is serendipitous. One to share under the conditions granted to schools at this time and to encourage students to share their extraordinary in the ordinary.  Keep them connected. What one finds, another may also discover.

Peppa Loves Our Planet

Peppa Loves Our Planet

Peppa Loves Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Loves Our Planet

Ladybird Books, 2020

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

9780241436721

Peppa and her friends are learning about caring for the planet at playgroup and Madame Gazelle asks them each to make a scrapbook that shows the everyday things they do at home to help the planet.  So from walking to school to recycling bottles to using scrap card for their scrapbooks, Peppa and George embrace the task enthusiastically learning that even little changes can make a difference.

This would be an excellent story to share with our youngest readers, particularly at this time when so many are not able to attend school because they, too, could create a Love Our Planet scrapbook and share photos and explanations of what they are doing each day.  Keeping students engaged in their learning could be tricky for parents who are not used to taking on the teacher’s role so having an authentic task such as this and featuring such well-known characters who are already role models will be most welcome.  And sharing new ideas can expand both the task and the learning.

Here’s today’s contribution to my scrapbook – providing our local crimson rosella population with water to drink and bathe in.

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Scribbly Gum Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scribbly Gum Secrets

Dannika Patterson

Megan Forward

Ford Street, 2020

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

9781925804485

It’s family time and mum’s choice of activity and she chooses a bushwalk. While the children would much rather stay inside with their screens, they reluctantly join her, dragging their feet all the way.  But as they leave the built-up area and into the bush, they start to notice things like the train of “itchy grubs” on the old post and the new baby flying fox.  But Charlie, the youngest, has noticed strange writing on a tree and he will not move on till someone reads it to him.  Has someone taken a marker and written all over the bark, or is there another explanation?

As schools shut down and children are required to stay at home with only themselves for company, this is a timely release that may give parents trying to teach them at home an idea for an excursion.  Looking closely at the things in the neighbourhood, taking photos, mapping the journey and identifying interesting everyday things that usually go unnoticed could offer a broad spectrum of learning as well as the exercise involved.  And some might even like to investigate the strange writing on the trees to give Charlie his answer… Does it hold secret messages?

The rhyming text and the beautifully detailed pictures which hold so much to be discovered make this a perfect book to introduce our children to things they might not have noticed and send them scurrying for answers.  

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!