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Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760650810

New to the realm of supportive novels for newly independent readers is this title from graphic designer cum author Kylie Howarth. 

Using the popular superhero theme as its foundation, this is a series with a difference because as well as being entertaining, it also teaches those young readers about the ocean environment and its inhabitants.  Bodhi’s parents are right into the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and they travel the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface. But Bodhi isn’t into this world as much as they are, preferring dry land but then he discovers he has magical powers…

Each book is set in a different oceanic environment where Fish Kid befriends an amazing marine creature. As he bonds with his new animal friend, he discovers a new fish power. Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). In this, his family are in the Galapagos Islands and he finds himself stuck on the boat with the captain’s daughter Emely, who likes to play pranks on him, although the innocent looking green smoothie with its secret ingredients would make even the reader have the same reaction as Bodhi. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

Although I haven’t dived the Galapagos Islands, this book took me right back to my experiences on the Great Barrier Reef and for that, this is one destined for Miss 8 so she can share the wonder her grandmother, grandfather and father still have.  Perhaps she, too, will be tempted like Bodhi.

 

Hey Baby!

Hey Baby!

Hey Baby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Baby!

Stephanie Warren Drimmer

National Geographic Kids, 2019

192pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781426329319

“In every corner of the Earth-from the Arctic to Australia, from ocean depths to mountain tops, from dry deserts to lush rain forests – tiny tots are learning to find their way in a big beautiful world.” 

But these are not human babies – they are animals of all shapes and sizes and each has its own life story, some more complex and demanding more attention than a human baby. Using the most stunning photos, this is a collection of pictures, poems, stories, folktales and information from Nature’s nursery that will introduce young readers to the diverse creatures of this planet. Grouped according to habitat such as mountains and plains, forest and streams, oceans and seas, each creature has a short fact box giving the name of the young, its home and its food as well as other information, and each section also has a Tot Lot which is a group of eight creatures with not quite so much detail but adding to the wonder of the variety of fauna that shares this planet with us.  Many have a story or even a classic poem to accompany them, such as The Legend of the Pink Dolphin or The Duck and the Kangaroo by Edward Lear to further engage the young reader as this is a book to be shared or read by an independent reader.

An investment in a child’s learning. 

 

 

How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet

How to Save the Whole Stinkin' Planet

How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet

Lee Constable

James Hart

Puffin, 2019

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

9781760890261

It is clear from recent global actions by young students that the environmental state of the planet is one of their greatest concerns and with World Environment Day  being the recent focus of many school activities, this is a timely publication that demonstrates that even our youngest students have the power to do something and make a difference. 

Its focus is on waste disposal and its mission is “to save the whole stinkin’ planet by getting [readers] skilled up and clues in on all things waste” and for them to spread this message widely and so the book guides them through each stage of how to do this as they become Waste Warriors complete with name, ID and a Garbology Lab Book. Filled with a mix of facts, statistics and strategies, the text speaks directly to the reader encouraging and supporting them with practical ways they can deal with waste in their lives so they can make a difference on a personal scale. Having the reader understand what happens to the things they dispose of and that landfill is for storing waste not treating it with the real possibility that one day it will be full, is powerful knowledge that motivates them to doing better. Starting with focused personal questions about  the last thing they threw away and what happened to it, it builds up to getting the community involved and knowledgeable.

Many schools have a Green Team who try to ensure that the school’s environment is the best it can be, and this is the ideal handbook for them to follow to tackle one of a school’s biggest problems – the production of waste. While many recycle paper and even have compost bins, it is having the knowledge and understanding of why this is done and what happens if it isn’t that becomes empowering and greater results are likely.

A school library should have many copies of this book in its collection and in the hands of a dedicated team who can guide the school and broader community’s journey towards a better, cleaner future. While climate change and air pollution are big picture concepts for which immediate change is hard to see, waste management is something we can all tackle and see the results of our efforts. Perhaps the cost imposed by council of removing the waste from the school could be investigated and as this drops, the savings could go towards something the school needs such as playground equipment; or for those who choose not to use plastic bottle recycling rewards for themselves, the school could have a collection point with the money going towards that overall goal.

When students strike to bring attention to the state of the planet, there are many loud voices saying they should be in school “learning something” (as though they haven’t learned about the environment and democracy to be doing what they are doing) so by adopting a pro-active, aggressive waste management program they could not only demonstrate what they have learned but also teach others!

 

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

The Bug Collector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bug Collector

Alex G. Griffiths

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594539

George loves Sundays because that’s the day he goes on an excursion with his grandfather. Today they go to the Museum of Wildlife but instead of stopping to look at the dinosaurs, whales and other wondrous creatures, Grandad takes him to Insect World.  Immediately George is captivated and can think of nothing else on his way home.  He even dreams about them! Next day, he arms himself with a host of bug collecting equipment and once he gets the knack of catching them, it’s not long before he has his own collection all lined up in jars in his treehouse.  But Grandad is not as excited to see them as George anticipates.  In fact, he is the opposite – and George learns the role that bugs play in keeping the environment healthy and flourishing.  Clever Grandad also has a solution…

To many, bugs and minibeasts are things to be afraid of and are stomped on,  sprayed or otherwise disposed of without thought to their purpose or place in nature’s hierarchy.  Certainly, anything with eight legs or more can expect doom inside my house. But as George learns, they do have a vital role in the ecology and so this is an excellent book to introduce young readers to this and help them develop a healthy appreciation and respect for them from the get-go. 

Based on his own childhood memories of his relationship with his grandfather and their time together in the garden, this is one that can have wide appeal because no matter what sort of garden we have access to, even if it’s just a hoop of grass on the playground, it is amazing the diversity of wildlife that exists there and the learning that can springboard from that. Perhaps the playground will be transformed in the same way George’s garden was.  Then, if investigating minibeasts doesn’t appeal, there is always the relationship the child has with an older person, grandfather or other, and the memories they share and will share with their children.

Griffiths says that this is his first foray into actually creating the story to go with his illustrations and that he found it quite difficult, but the end result is so rich and so relatable for every young reader that he should be ecstatic about the result.  It’s certainly taken this grown-up to a happy, nostalgic place and hopefully I can provide my grandchildren with some memories too. 

   

 

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Gordon Winch

Stephen Pym

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594492

Holly the honeybee is the dancing star of her hive: she waggles, she wiggles, and she waggles again. But is there a secret message in Holly’s waggle dance? And could it help the bees survive through a long, hot summer?

The understanding of the importance of bees in our environment and their current plight, particularly during this drought, is becoming more and more widespread, and this is the most stunning book to help little children learn what about these creatures. While it focuses on Holly’s dance that leads the bees to the source of the nectar for their honey, it also offers an opportunity to talk about their critical role in the pollination of plants, without which we would have much less food to choose from. 

Adding to the reality of the book are the remarkable illustrations from Stephen Pym and you can read how much work went into designing Holly so she was an accurate yet appealing interpretation here.  The Australian bush is brought to life and readers may have fun identifying familiar species. 

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

To add to the authenticity, there is a page with more information about Holly so adults can easily answer the questions young readers will have. 

A must-have addition to any collection that focuses on the environment and its sustainability.

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco Rangers: Pelican in Peril

Candice Lemon-Scott

New Frontier, 2019 

102pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925594522

Best friends Ebony and Jay are the Eco Rangers,. They love helping others and looking after the environment  rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife through their local conservation centre. So  when they rescue a frightened-looking pelican covered in fuel, they know something terrible has happened. Why is the sea full of petrol? And where does it come from? As they start investigating, they end up getting into big trouble. 

The recent election campaign and student protests show that the environment and its future is the key issue in the minds of our young people, and the concern extends to even our youngest students who are well aware of concepts such as climate change, pollution, and recycling. So this new series, with its sequel Microbat Mayhemfocusing on the rescue of some tiny bats due on June 1st, will appeal to newly independent readers who have an interest in the world around them and a focus on how they can help make it better.

Drawing on her own interest in wildlife and participating in two koala rescues, the author has created a series that is real, contemporary and allows young readers to imagine themselves in the roles of the Eco Rangers and perhaps even inspire them to take action.

The Encyclopedia of Animals

The Encyclopedia of Animals

The Encyclopedia of Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Encyclopedia of Animals

Tim Harris

Chartwell Crestine, 2019

304pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780785836469

Discover the lifestyles, habitats, and behaviours of the animal kingdom in this new Encyclopedia of Animals written for independent readers who want to find out more.

Each page of this comprehensive guide is packed with amazingly detailed scientific artworks, full-colour photographs and text, captions and key fact boxes highlighting features of the animal’s anatomy, diet, and genus of familiar and not-so creatures of this planet.  Map icons illustrate the animal’s distribution around the world

Rather than being alphabetical order like a traditional encyclopedia, this one is divided by class and family with each section clarifying the distinguishing traits of the animals, so to find a particular species the young reader has to use the contents and the index pages and each section has a coloured tab for easy reference, all  contributing to their understanding about how non fiction texts are arranged and navigated easily.  

This is more than a beginner’s guide to the animal kingdom but the layout and language make it very accessible to young readers who are discovering the importance and permanence of print resources.

Wilam

Wilam

Wilam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilam – A Birrarung Story

Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly

Lisa Kennedy

Black Dog Books, 2019

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

9781925381764

As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen. Wilam – home.

In this stunning new picture book, Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly joins award-winning picture book duo Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra river, from its source to its mouth; from its pre-history to the present day. Using many of the words of the Woiwurrung language for places and things, the reader is taken on a journey that not only embraces this much-maligned river but also draws the reader into the journey as they use Lisa Kennedy’s beautiful artworks to interpret the text. This makes for a remarkable sensory experience as you are engrossed in the beauty and diversity of the river.

2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this.  Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. 

A must-have.

 

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Usborne Book of Planet Earth

Megan Gullis & Matthew Oldham

Stephanie Fizer Coleman

Usborne, 2019

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

9781474936620

As our youngest students mature, they have more and more questions about the world around them as they endeavour to understand their place in it. As their world widens and they meet more and more people from more and more places, they begin to realise that this planet is bigger than their home town and the questions start to come. 

In this new release from one of the masters of non fiction for young readers, the child is taken on a journey around the planet discovering its amazing places and features. Starting with its place in the solar system, they visit continents, isolated islands, steamy jungles, fiery volcanoes , dusty deserts, coral reefs and a host of other phenomena that shape not just the planet but the lives of those who live there. 

Beautifully illustrated with simple explanations that will not only answer their questions but also inspire them to find out more, it is like a mini-encyclopedia of the planet but on a young reader’s scale that can be read alone by independent readers or shared by an adult.  As usual, Usborne have complemented the text with a page of Quicklinks to take young explorers on even more journeys.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Animal Counting Book

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian Children’s, 2019

136pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780734418852

Start with one blue whale and finish with 100 fairy flies and in between meet and learn about 98 other amazing creatures in this incredible counting book originally created “to inspire children to learn more about the natural world” and to have them “enjoy, question, investigate and wonder.” 

Each featured creature (little ones can practise their counting skills to make sure the illustrator has drawn the right number) is accompanied by a collection of single-sentence facts. Some of the creatures like the zebras and lions will be familiar but who has heard of a gerenuk or a capybara?

In 2017 Cossins’ book A-Z of Endangered Animals was an Honour Book in the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards and this new book has just as much attention to detail and accuracy as it does appeal for the reader. As well as fascinate, it will inspire the budding zoologist and broaden the child’s knowledge of the diversity of this planet’s inhabitants and the critical role they play in its survival.