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The Astronaut’s Cat

The Astronaut's Cat

The Astronaut’s Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Astronaut’s Cat

Tohby Riddle

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524944

The astronaut’s cat is an inside cat.
And she likes it like that.

But unlike other inside cats, the astronaut’s cat is on the moon, where it is so hot during the day a bowl of water would quickly boil, and so cold during the night it’s ten times colder than being in a fridge freezer!!  So each day Cat looks out the window at Astronaut working while she watches and snoozes and dreams of going outside to pounce and bounce lighter than a birthday balloon.  But when Earth rises on the inky black horizon she dreams of being back where there is colour and movement and shapes and forms and Mother Nature fills her with sights and sounds and scents…

When the masterful Mr Riddle created this book he would have had no idea that it was going to be released at a time when many of its readers were going to be cooped up inside, just like his cat. That being able to go outside and breathe fresh air and savour the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors would be as much a risk for them at this time as it is for Cat. That they would gaze through their windows and dream of earlier times… 

He probably thought that he was just creating a story about his cat Pom Pom who is just like the cat in the story – completely white, odd eyes and pink ears – and who, being an inside cat, spends her time gazing at the window outside.  While he has cleverly superimposed Pom Pom and Astronaut onto real backgrounds of the lunar landscape to help intensify the feelings of isolation and disconnectedness, here on Earth it is a deadly disease keeping people indoors rather than a hostile environment.  But unlike Cat we can connect so perhaps sharing this story could be the catalyst to connect our kids with the Through My Window activity. Have each one look out their window as Cat did, and draw or photograph what they see, including the sounds and the smells they are missing (good or not-so) and write an explanation to share with their friends. Maybe they could pop a teddy or something in the scene and challenge others to find it. 

Here’s what is outside my window this morning…

But here’s what I am missing…

 

A great way to think about how Cat might be feeling and the things we take for granted. As Joni Mitchell sand in Big Yellow Taxi, “You don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone…”

Meet the Planets

Meet the Planets

Meet the Planets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Planets

Caryl Hart

Bethan Woollvin

Bloomsbury, 2020 

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

9781408892985

Young readers are invited to join an aspiring young astronaut and her trusty dog to climb into a rocket and fly on a journey to meet the planets that they see in the night sky, beginning with the sun and going out to the dwarf planet Pluto in a series of informative rhymes and intriguing illustrations designed to make them appear friendly.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Useful as both an introduction to the solar system and perhaps to allay fears of the dark, this is a unique approach to help young readers learn about what’s out there in that night sky. Its bold palette and its humour (in both text and graphics) bring each planet to life –  Venus is the ‘goddess of beauty’; Jupiter the ‘king of the planets’,  Saturn is ‘your beautiful queen’ while the reader is called “lucky” to have Earth as there is no other like it – giving them a presence that makes them real rather than remote, and inspires an evening of sky-watching to see what can be seen.  Share this website to help inform their viewing.

 

 

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)

In the Jungle

9781925594874

On the Moon 

9781925594867

Hilary Robinson

Many Stanley

Catch A Star, 2019

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

Gregory Goose is very curious and this new series from Catch A Star encourages our youngest readers to examine each bright, detailed double-spread very carefully to find him in amongst the other creatures and characters. Apart from being an interactive activity for our youngest readers, it also helps develop their visual acuity, honing their eye for detail, an essential early reading skill as they learn to distinguish letters and words.

With the advent of handheld screens with so much activity and interactivity, young readers expect to be engaged with their entertainment rather than passive recipients, so books like this are an essential part of their library if they are to become independent readers – knowing that books and stories have something to offer them and can be fun and they can go back time and time again and discover something new without adult help builds a solid foundation of expectation and a sense of mastery that is crucial.  There is much more learning being done here than finding out about jungle creatures and space transport.

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Hiawyn Oram

David Wyatt

Walker Studio, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781406377705

Theoretical physicist, Professor Dawn D. Gable Ph.D., MRI, MInsiP, deals only in facts and shuns the world of stories and imagination.  So when she is interrupted on her birthday by her niece and nephew whom she hasn’t seen for years and doesn’t even recognise, she is not pleased. Even moreso when they present her with a gift from her brother, and she tosses the unwanted present aside. But as midnight draws close, she finds herself being drawn to it as if by an unseen force, and tearing off the wrapping she discovers a book, a childhood favourite called Lost in the Imagination, written and illustrated by “dreamers, fantasists and folklorists”, and which took her and her brother to amazing worlds when they were young, but which she has no time for now.

Tossing the book on the fire, she is surprised that it does not burn – and the strange magic begins. 

This is the journal of that magic, as led by the strange creature Hyllvar, descendant of Nidhogg, the ancient Norse dragon, who emerges from the flames, Prof Gable realises she is alone, bereft of new ideas and inspiration and in need of a challenge…

Superbly crafted and beautifully illustrated, both the professor and the reader are taken on a journey to explore a city of robots, the ancient city of Kor, the miniature world of Lilliput and flying island of Laputa, a mountainous home of mythical beasts, the primeval island of Buyan, Atlantis, Valhalla and more. From cover to cover this is a mystical and magical book that even non-fantasists like me are drawn into in a way that I was drawn into both Middle earth and Hogwarts. It is captivating and a must for all those whose imaginations know no bounds and who delight in exploring the mythical places of the ancients, the literary creations of minds long gone but whose fantasies linger.  Miss 8 and Miss 13 are going to love this and perhaps venture into more classical tales of fantasy as their imaginations will be piqued to read more. In fact, Grandma might make up a package of the stories that go with the worlds just to entice them!

Super Nova

Super Nova

Super Nova

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Nova

Krys Saclier

Rebecca Timmis

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804300

Nova’s brother thinks his little sister gets away with everything as she has all the family bluffed about being the perfect child.  Whether it’s dad’s raspberry muffins disappearing, Nan’s knitting wool getting knotted or Harry’s chemistry set vanishing, Nova never gets the blame – but he does.  However, when he sets out to prove that she is at the heart of all the mischief he makes an amazing discovery and ends up with a decision to make.  Will he keep her secret?

With a very real “Nova and brother” relationship close to me, this is such a great portrayal of how wily little sisters can be and how dimples and a smile can fool the most astute.  There will be many big brothers (and sisters) who will relate to this scenario, although not necessarily the situation, and who will delight in the outcome. Lots of opportunity for them to talk about their personal experiences when they have been blamed for EVERYTHING! The title is a clever play on words that could spark some discussion and the illustrations work well with the text, cleverly pulling the reader through the story to find out just what is going on. 

Another one to consolidate young readers’ understanding that there is much fun to be had in stories and books.

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

Helen Martin & Judith Simpson

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2019

26pp., big book, RRP $A39.99

9780733340062

As soon as they are old enough to notice the difference between day and night, perhaps even before that when they first ask “Why is the sky blue?”, little people have questions about space.  This book with its rhyming text, provides the first introduction to that mysterious world beyond our planet.

Designed to help little ones become more observant, such as looking at the changing phases of the moon, it also encourages their imagination as they think about what it might be like to land on the moon.

Now in big book format so it can be shared with groups it is perfect for preschoolers with questions! 

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Kids First Board Book: Space

National Geographic Kids, 2019

24pp., board book,RRP $A14.99

9781426333149

Little people have endless questions about their world, once they begin to explore it, and the world of the night sky is particularly fascinating.  So this latest publication from Nat Geo Kids which explores the basics of the solar system with amazing photographs, super-simple facts, and lively, age-appropriate language is perfect to introduce the very youngest to what is out there and spark both  their curiosity and imagination.

So often the board book format is restricted to learning the alphabet, colours and counting or to simple stories, so to have non fiction available in a way that it will stand up to little hands is a bonus. Let them learn that they can learn from books as well as the screen.

Space on Earth

Space on Earth

Space on Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space on Earth

Dr Sheila Kanani

Alma Books 2019

1287pp., pbk., RRP $19.99

9781846884559

The 50th anniversary of man stepping on the moon and the declaration by President Trump that they will be back there by 2024 with NASA’s Project Artemis has again ignited the debate about the cost of space exploration and whether the money could be better spent back here on this planet. 

So the publication of this new book from Dr Sheila Kanani, a British astronomer with a particular interest in Saturn, is very timely because it examines how the discoveries in space have been translated back into everyday objects on Earth.  It is full of amazing facts about everyday innovations, from drills and dustbusters to bike helmets,  that have been inspired by space travel and includes sections on the people who brought them to us,

Divided into three sections – technology, health and fashion – it examines objects as diverse as baby blankets, artificial limbs and skiwear, examining how their development is related to space exploration as well as a short piece about the scientist who imagineered the development.

Intriguing and offering much food for thought that could spark further investigations. 

Touch the Moon

Touch the Moon

Touch the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch the Moon

Phil Cummings

Coral Tulloch

 A&U Children’s, 2019

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

9781760523657

July 21, 1969 seemed like a pretty ordinary winter’s day in much of Australia and elsewhere.  Smoke drifted from chimneys, ice clung to the windscreens of cars, breakfast was served, dogs waited to be walked… But there was something different about this day. In the days before breakfast television was the norm, televisions were turned on and tuned in to an event happening a quarter of a million miles away and the whole world was focused on it.  Man was about to touch the moon!

But as life slowed in anticipation, something else began to happen.  For the first time in the tiny town of Peterborough, 200 km north of Adelaide, snowflakes began to fall. The dilemma between watching world history, indeed space history, being made and playing in snow for the first time ever was such a tough decision to make.  Which will win?

As we lead up to the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, this is the author’s autobiographical account of a momentous day in history, both for the world and for him. He was torn between going out to play in the snow or watching the events unfolding on television but even if it hadn’t snowed in Peterborough it was still such a momentous day that there would be few who were alive then and are alive now who can not remember where they were and what they witnessed.  And that is the purpose of his writing the story – for older generations to “share with children their experiences and memories and encourage children to ponder and be excited by the endless possibilities in their future.” 

Beautifully written and superbly illustrated the story inspires the reader to think about what a whole new world would look like for them. Would it be seeing snow, the ocean, the city or the desert for the first time? Would it be imagining what the world would be like on the centenary of the anniversary in 2069? Would it be having a brother or sister or being disease-free or something else they longed for that would be life-changing? Have they already experienced such a change? So much scope for talking and writing and dreaming, pondering and wondering just as Cummings wanted!

 

Moonwalkers

Moonwalkers

Moonwalkers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonwalkers

Mark Greenwood

Terry Denton

Puffin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143793557

July 21, 1969 and like so many Australian children, Billy stared at the moon in amazement through his telescope wondering if it was really possible for man to land on the moon. Nearby, in a sheep paddock , a much larger telescope was also trained skywards as Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on board, made its historic voyage.  

For the three days between launch and landing Billy taught his little sister and brother all about how to be astronauts, building models, making spacesuits, using the bath to experience lunar gravity and recreating the Command Module in their bedroom. And as that large telescope in the field nearby beamed live pictures of the landing, the whole family sat transfixed in front of their television and watched and wondered. 

Man’s first landing on the moon was one of those momentous occasions in history when those who were alive can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing, and all collectively wondering whether the astronauts would make it back to Earth safely.  Greenwood and Denton have taken this event and woven the facts and details into a stunning story that will not only bring back memories for many but also introduce the emotions and intricacies of the event to new generations who take space exploration for granted, perhaps even having it on their to-do list. Using their own memories as the basis for the story- it was near Denton’s birthday and he was convinced it was some sort of special birthday present – they have created a story that shows the power of imagination coming true as generations of children throughout the centuries have looked at the moon and wondered “what if…?” What dreams will this story inspire?

A great story in itself, it is also the perfect springboard to investigating the event as the 50th anniversary approaches and there is also an activity pack to accompany it.