Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet












Lift-the-Flap Looking After Our Planet

Katie Daynes

Ilaria Faccioli

Usborne, 2020 

16pp., board book., RRP $A19.99


The salvation of the planet and particularly, those things that individuals can do to work towards that, has certainly been the hot topic in publishing over the last year or so.  And now Usborne have added to the mix with another one of their amazing lift-the-flap books.

 This one gives a good overview of why we need to protect the planet, what has been causing it to deteriorate, specific issues that changes in human behaviour can address and an action plan that suggest small changes that make big differences But don’t be misled by the lift-the-flap format because this is more a book for independent readers who have some concepts about the environment and its sustainability. Although the facts are straightforward as they introduce the various concepts, plentiful and illustrated in an engaging ways, the reader still has to be mature enough to understand them.

In addition, the format offers a model for students to build their own resource. Encourage them to pose a question about a topic that interests them, seek and verify the answer and then present it in a lift-the-flap type format for others to discover. To assist with this and give greater insight into the various concepts, Usborne has provided its usual Quicklinks  making this an essential resource on this topic. 














Claire Saxby

Jess Racklyeft

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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


It is the final freeze of the bitter Antarctic winter, the aurora borealis dances across the sky in a wonderland of wispy colour and movement, and, as morning looms in the pale light an iceberg shears off the face of a glacier and sets sail in those cold waters.  But this is not an empty place, nor a quiet place – for in the water below, the skies above and even on the berg itself, there is life.  Life that is dependent on other life, as the eternal cycle of food and prey plays out.

This is the most stunning book complete with huge foldout pages that brings the frozen world of the southern continent to life in a way seldom seen.  To the daughter of the first female journalist to ever visit the ice back in 1968, it is not an unknown world but to many of our students it will be and they will be astonished at the abundance of life and the connections between the species that exist. In this country of increasingly hot summers where climate change is leaving its mark on the scorched,, burnt landscape, it is hard to imagine how in such a cold climate even small changes can have any impact let alone a significant one.  But as the year turns, the “ocean, sky, snow and ice minute greens and giant blues dance a delicate dance” life blossoms and fades in an intricate, harmonic melody that embraces all. What happens there impacts here.

Saxby’s poetic text and Racklyeft’s illustrations are matched in a dance as integral to each other as the life surrounding the iceberg bringing a new world of wonderment to young readers, one that will open eyes and minds and hearts in a way that will inspire them to know it and protect it in the same way my mum did since her childhood when she stood on the wharf at Bluff and watched the explorers’ ship sail South. 

You know that it if has Claire Saxby’s name on it, it will be extraordinary and this is no different.


Leafy Critters

Leafy Critters

Leafy Critters












Leafy Critters

Yvonne Lacet

Blue Dot, 2020

36pp., hbk., RRP $A16.95


The limitless shapes, colours and textures of leaves is explored as an art medium in this almost wordless picture book to inspire young creators to try their hand.  The reader is encouraged to examine the components of the pictures that have been created so instead of seeing just green leaves in the environment, they start to realise that each tree has a myriad of colours and that the shapes can suggest all manner of things that can go together to make a whole.

As summer wanders on and some trees have already begun to change colour because rainfall is still scarce, this is the ideal time to take littlies outside to observe, gather, collect and create their own artworks using the free materials on offer from Mother Nature.

These creations help them search for the finer detail in the whole and examine the parts and their unique elements so as well as taking a closer look at their surroundings, they are also developing their visual acuity which is such an essential early reading skill as they distinguish letter shapes and search illustrations for clues to the text. 

Einstein declared that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

What better way to start a new school year than with such an open-ended imaginative project that will appeal to all ages. 

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything











A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

Bill Bryson

Puffin, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A32.99


This is the latest edition of a book first published in 2003 and is Bill Bryson’s attempt to help newly independent readers understand something about everything from” a journey from the centre of the planet to the dawn of the dinosaurs, and everything in between.”

Written in accessible text that has a modern layout and many illustrations by by Daniel Long, Dawn Cooper, Jesús Sotés, and Katie Ponder, it is the ideal starting point for the curious child who wants to know why and how of how the physical world works. A dip-and-delve book it offers explanations that treat the reader as a serious learner but in a style that encourages them to explore their chosen topic further, as well as offering the serendipity of opening a page and discovering something completely new.

Perfect for the budding scientist in your life. 


Dr Karl’s Surfing Safari through Science

Dr Karl's Surfing Safari through Science

Dr Karl’s Surfing Safari through Science











Dr Karl’s Surfing Safari through Science

Karl Kruszelnicki

ABC Books, 2020

192pp., pbk., RRP $A35.00


“The year 2020 has reminded us that science is a bit like a wave. By that , I mean, that science is a dynamic process that ebbs and flows, rather than being something set in stone…. science is NOT a collection of facts- that’s what you have an encyclopaedia for.  Instead science is a process of discovering facts through curious exploration and then using them to understand the Universe around us…Science is an ongoing process,  It’s self-correcting- which, let me emphasise, is a strength not a weakness,,, That might sound confusing at first, but scientists are flexible and willing to look at results and tweak the advice accordingly…”

So like its predecessor Dr Karl’s Random Road Trip Through Sciencethe familiar Dr Karl takes a journey through a broad range of subjects in which the scientific thinking has changed over time or there is a greater understanding of the why because of new thinking and developments. 

Aimed at older, independent readers there is a more in-depth look at some of the more unusual phenomena from what it means to be winded to vegan diets to the 5G network, as he explores all sorts of topics assisted by an augmented reality app which has a hologram of Dr Karl offering a more in-depth introduction and then buttons to explore even further information. 

Mist students are familiar with Dr Karl and know he not only talks sense but he speaks in a language that is easily accessible to them – you don’t have to be a scientist to understand what he says.  So this book, which stands alone without the technology but is definitely enriched by it, is one for both the novice and the more experienced with an interest in the world around them.

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3










Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2020

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


Surrounding Australia’s coast are thousands of kilometres of coral reefs, and within those reefs lives a vast variety of creatures.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, young children are invited to count some of them while learning about them at the same time. This is more than just a 1 2 3 counting book where the reader matches the numeral to the number of items on the page – it also offers tidbits of information that the adult can share with them encouraging both curiosity and awareness of the life beneath the waves.

Beginning with  one giant whale shark  and counting all the way to twelve tired seahorses, it could also become a sort of almanac that the child with an interest in the ocean’s creatures could complete over a lifetime, marking the creatures off as they discover them. Even as a scuba diver in times past, there are those like the dugongs and whale sharks I’m still waiting to cross off!!! But it has been an adventure of a lifetime in the making.

But even for those not inclined to go beneath the surface, nevertheless this is a fascinating introduction to that unique environment, a worthy companion to all the other fantastic books that Frané Lessac has gifted our little ones throughout her career.

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather












Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Tania McCartney

NLA, 2020

68pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


According to my Facebook memories, 12 months ago it was snowing heavily here in the Snowy Mountains while there were 95 bushfires raging in the north of NSW, and we, ourselves, were evacuated just a few weeks later because of fires that had ignited here. The talk and news were constantly about the “worst drought in memory”, the heat and the continual and spreading threat of those fires.  And just as we thought that it would never end and we were doomed to breathing smoke-laden air forever, the rains came and places devastated by flames were now threatened with floods!

Regardless of the time of year, the weather in Australia is always a reliable topic of conversation and now two of my favourite creators have teamed together to offer an explanation for the phenomena for our younger readers.  Beginning with an explanation of whatever is weather, their combined writing and drawing talents have been used to explore the various elements of the weather, particularly in Australia so there is a greater understanding of the why, where, when and how of that which has such a bearing on our lives so that it is more than listening to the brief forecast on television or the BOM site. or being fascinated by the rain radars.  Living in the bush as I do, my favourite pages were Bush Forecasting that explain some of the behaviours and characteristics that we have come to notice and learn as the weather changes. Black cockatoos are always a welcome sign here.

Both Stephanie and Tania have drawn deeply on the resources of the National Library of Australia (luckily for them, it’s in their neighbourhood) and being a NLA publication the support materials for further exploration are very detailed. Even moreso though, is the module written to support the book as part of the NLA’s digital classroom   Aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography), and Science for Year 4, 5 and 6 students, it adopts an inquiry-based learning approach to develop students’ understanding of geographical and scientific processes relating to weather, environments, people and systems.

What more could you want?

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book











The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian Children’s, 2020

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


There may be only 26 letters in the alphabet but in this 64 page book there are more than 400 featured as Jennifer Cossins, creator of The Ultimate Animal Counting Book, introduces young readers to some of the creatures that inhabit this planet.  

Some are familiar and some not-so, but each is labelled and many have a sentence or two offering unique information about them which curious readers may wish to explore further. For example, unlike other big cats, snow leopards cannot roar. I wonder why! 



A peek inside....

A peek inside….

This is a dip-and-delve book that just calls for the reader to try to list as many creatures as they know starting with a particular letter before they turn to page to find what Cossins has included (or not)!  Who knew that there were at least 14 that started with Q?  My tally stopped at four – quetzal, quail, quoll and a quokka!

This is the perfect companion to her other offerings, including A-Z of Endangered Animals which was an Honour Book in the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards in 2017 and one that will have young readers poring over the pages as they discover new creatures to add to their knowledge bank. 



Tree Beings

Tree Beings

Tree Beings











Tree Beings

Raymond Huber

Sandra Severgnini

EK Books, 2020

96pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


Look closely at the cover of this book.  Look closely at the bark of the tree and the gaps and spaces in between the branches and roots.  For there you will start to discover the purpose of this book, its importance to the planet and why so many people are passionate about their preservation, particularly those whose stories are told within. 

More than 30% of the planet is covered with forest providing clean air, pure water, shelter and employment for both people and animals but the rate of deforestation and degradation is alarming and changing the planet irrevocably.  With a foreword by Dr Jane Goodall , and a focus on four big ideas…

  • Trees give life to the planet.
  • Trees can help save us from climate change.
  • Trees are like beings.
  • Trees need our help and protection.

our children will learn about the value of trees and how essential they are to the healthy life and biodiversity of the planet. As well as understanding how trees give the Earth life, how they ‘talk’ and why they are our best allies in the fight to slow down climate change, readers will meet some of those who have devoted their lives to bringing attention to the plight of the forests and their preservation, the eccentric British professor who travelled the world for seventy years telling people how trees can save us. Written for independent readers in a style that draws them in and keeps them reading, and beautifully illustrated with diagrams, vignettes, close-ups all botanically correct, this is a stunning book that will be eye-opening to many. Trees are so much more than a home for a bird.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

And for those who want more, there is this clip from Gardening Australia that opens up even more understanding.

In a world where students are so aware of climate change, where they have seen the destruction of our bush from the Summer of Fire, where “environment” and “sustainability” are words that even our youngest know and understand and want to act on, this is a book for all ages that will offer yet another avenue of awareness that will allow them to make a difference. Maybe they will be inspired like the 9-year-old-boy who has a plan to plant a trillion trees to save the planet and start their own project!



Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Combat Wombat to the Rescue










Combat Wombat to the Rescue

Gina Newton

Tiffanee Daley

Ford Street, 2020

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


Combat Wombat, Wildlife Warrior of the Bush is fast asleep when he is woken by the other creatures, wanting to play. But there is no time to play because Combat Wombat’s super-sensitive nose, ears and paws have picked up some unmistakable signals – there is a bushfire on its way.  Quickly organising  his friends to be in charge of certain elements of safety, Combat Wombat leads them to Billabong Island where they will be safe.  Even though there are significant obstacles on the way he uses his special talents to overcome these until he gets to the river’s edge.  All the others can get across the water, but wombats are not built for leaping, flying or swimming.  Can he trust Bingo Dingo to get him there safely?

This is a story for younger readers that puts the plight of wildlife during a bushfire firmly in focus, particularly relevant given the events of last summer.  By using their special talents and working together, the creatures keep themselves safe, a lesson that goes beyond this particular situation. Much of the story is told in the artwork which is unique and Tiffanee Daley has shared her technique in this video.

Teachers’ notes offer a variety of ideas about how to use this book in the classroom with little ones but I believe they will enjoy it just for its own sake. I did.