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Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

Sally M. Walker

Matthew Trueman

Candlewick Press, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536203561

one minuscule speck
grows into the universe
a mind-boggling birth

Defined as a traditional Japanese three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count which often focuses on images from nature, haiku emphasises simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression making it an effective way to get students to focus on the essence of an object and then use succinct, descriptive vocabulary to portray it so every word has to work hard. 

In this stunning union of poetry, art and science, haiku is used to explore the universe through a lunar eclipse, beyond the orbiting planets, and into glowing galaxies and twinkling constellations out to Ultima Thule, the most extreme limit of the journey which “longs for a visitor with coal and a carrot”, and all accompanied by the most imaginative illustrations that are almost photo-like so that not only does the reader learn about the vast beauty of space but they are left in wonder and awe of its magnificence. The minimal text structure of haiku means just the nucleus of the phenomenon is offered as a teaser, leaving the reader with a tempting taste to learn more…

the Eagle landed

one giant leap for mankind

footprints in the dust

Some of this is offered in the comprehensive, well-researched final pages which explore such topics as constellations and astronomers, the birth of the universe, stars, the solar system, moons and eclipses, asteroids, meteors, and comets, but the whole offers an opportunity for students to engage in their own interest-driven investigation with the challenge of summarising their findings in their own haiku and artwork. 

The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stuff of Stars

Marion Dane Bauer

Ekua Holmes

Candlewick Press, 2022

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781536223583

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us.

In a poetic text, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies.

A seamless blend of science and art, this 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner reveals the composition of our world and beyond—and how we are all the stuff of stars.

Sometimes you just have to use the publisher’s blurb because there are no better words or ways to describe a book.  

But as well as the beauty of this book itself, it also offers an opportunity to compare and contrast how the same phenomenon  can be viewed through different lenses and portrayed in very different ways, sparking not only a discussion about different literary devices but also how one’s purpose and platform can colour and construe our perceptions of the same event, and the implications for that in everyday life. 

 

The Astronaughties

The Astronaughties

The Astronaughties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Astronaughties:  Moon Mayhem

Andrew Cranna

Walker, 2022

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760653378

It’s 2120 and  the Moon has been transformed into the ultimate super-cool intergalactic amusement park. The Astronaughties, the children of some of the park’s designers, get a chance to visit the Lunar Park before it officially opens. But when they arrive, they discover their parents are missing. Now their mission is to find them, defeat the baddies and free a trapped alien. Accidentally strapped inside a 400 megaton thermonuclear rocket, the three children, one pet octopug and their robot minder are on a one-way collision course to the moon.

Told by the children’s nanny who has his hands full dealing with them, this is for younger readers who like science fiction, are looking for something a bit silly and definitely not serious, but  who have the ability to follow a story in monochromatic graphic novel format.  

In a recent Lego Masters episode, the task was to build a window to the future.  Could this be it? Let students dream with their eyes open by challenging them to design their own attraction for a lunar-based amusement park. What would they need to know about the moon for it to be successful? A new slant on an old research topic. 

The Mysteries of the Universe

The Mysteries of the Universe

The Mysteries of the Universe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mysteries of the Universe

Will Gater

Angela Rizza & Daniel Long

DK, 2020

224pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241412473

With the intense interest in science fiction lately, both in literature and film. our young readers are probably more knowledgeable about the mysteries of the universe than any previous generation of a similar age.  Yet, for every answer they discover, there is always another question because there is so much more than meets the eye.  “Why is the sky blue?” is just the beginning…

In the past, civilisations created stories about that lay beyond that thin veil that is the Earth’s atmosphere to explain the changes that were observed, but in the 400 years since Galileo Galilei first used the telescope to systematically study the night sky more and more of its mysteries have been revealed and even explained.  And in this book newly independent readers can dip and delve to discover more about what interests them. From planets and asteroids to black holes and galaxies and beyond, there are explanations and illustrations of 100 different phenomena, both common like the changing shape of the moon and the not-so like the ancient snowman known as Arrokoth, a 2014 discovery by the Hubble Space Telescope. The narrative is targeted at those who want to know the basics so they have a solid platform on which to go further and the graphics are photographs and clear diagrams as true-to-real as possible.

 

So many of our students are fascinated by what is beyond our planet and imagine themselves as astronauts in the future, that this is a must-have in any school or family library so questions can be answered when they are asked. 

 

Space Detectives (series)

Space Detectives (series)

Space Detectives (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Detectives

9781526603180

Extra Weird Creatures

9781526603203

Mark Powers

Dapo Adeola

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world’s first orbiting city, Starville , a gigantic space station sailing silently as it orbits Earth and home to over a million humans and aliens. This single city,  brimming with skyscrapers, parks and even an artificial sea is enclosed by a huge, strong glass dome  like a vast snow globe, and is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights.

However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery -they had solved many back home on Earth – and when they discover the space station is overrun with cosmic chaos! Boys have two heads, dogs have three tails and even aliens who normally have six arms are growing extra ones!  What is going on? Can Connor and Ethan get to the bottom of this intergalactic mystery?

This is the second in this  series  for young, newly independent readers who like the idea of a mystery mixed with science fiction so anything can happen. With the third episode, Cosmic Pet Puzzle,  coming in August 2022, the beginning of the new school year is the perfect time to entice those emerging readers into continuing their reading with series written and formatted just for them.  This is one to recommend. 

 

I Wish I Had a Wookiee

I Wish I Had a Wookiee

I Wish I Had a Wookiee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wish I Had a Wookiee

Ian Doescher

Tim Bugden

Quirk Books, 2021

128pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781594749629

The timing of writing this review is one of those serendipitous moments that seem to happen every now and then.  

Looking at my growing pile of review books I closed my eyes and selected one at random and pulled out one I had looked at and rejected a few times because, not being a Star Wars fan, I had no idea what it was about.  That was until a conversation around the breakfast table this morning when talk turned to favourite series and my family, being who they are, each had Star Wars at the top of their lists and Miss 10 declared she would like an AT-AT! “My response was, “Whatever that is…” and so I was informed.

So when this literally was a chance selection from the pile and the blurb says that, “In these pages you’ll meet a ten-year-old [the same age as my wishful thinker] who dreams of playing fetch with an AT-AT…” I knew it was meant to be.

But still being in the dark about such an alien world even though I am surrounded by its greatest fans, I will have to rely on the publisher’s blurb for the precis… “Inspired by the beloved world of Star Wars, and in the tradition of She; Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, this collection of over 75 whimsical and original poems is a celebration of childhood, creativity, imagination, and the early years of Star Wars fandom.

In “My Pet AT-AT,” a ten-year-old dreams of playing hide and seek and fetch with an AT-AT. In “Dad’s Luke Skywalker Figurine,” a child opens their dad’s untouched action figure but, instead of getting into trouble, helps their dad re-discover his own sense of play. In “T-16 Dreams,” a little girl imagines herself flying through the galaxy, the Empire hot on her trail, to help with her real-world fear of flying.

Set in the hearts and minds of young children who love Star Wars, and filled with the characters you know and love, I Wish I Had a Wookiee is the perfect gift for the young Star Wars fan—and the young at heart”

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Each poem is accompanied by a quirky illustration but as well as drawing on the familiar characters for the focus, many touch on issues important and relevant to the age group so they are more than just ditties.  For example, A Galaxy of Families begins…

Stan’s mom and dad adopted Stan

And loved him totally

Like Bail and Breha welcomed Leia

To their family. 

It continues with other less-than-traditional relationships highlighting the diverse nature of family units these days, each one resonating with a reader somewhere.

But the greatest recommendation is that from Miss 10, currently curled up reading the poems, having abandoned her phone’s screen and enjoying poetry for the first time.  Usually, you take statements such as “the perfect gift” as publisher’s hype but in this case, it’s true.  I could have given her nothing better. 

 

The Supernatural Survival Guide

The Supernatural Survival Guide

The Supernatural Survival Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Supernatural Survival Guide

George Ivanoff

Puffin, 2021

176pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9781761043635

All Hallows Eve, that special night dating back to the 0th century Celtic festival of Samhain when its celebrants believe that the barriers between the physical and spirit worlds blur, allowing more interaction between humans and the inhabitants of the Otherworld. It was held on October 31 to mark the end of summer and the beginning of the long dark winter, particularly in those northern regions of what is now the United Kingdom and bonfires were lit to entice the sun to remember to come back.  It was the final night that the souls of those who had died could roam before ascending to heaven or descending to hell.

As time passed, civilisations rose and disappeared and beliefs and festivals waxed and waned,  the time known as Hallowe’en and all the traditions of witches and ghosts, and masks, costumes and jack-o-lanterns to scare them off has evolved.  So the release of this book, which attempts to make the paranormal more normal is timely.  Drawing on his personal long-term fascination with “the supernatural, the paranormal, the mysterious, the unknown the unexplained and the downright weird” and taking on the role of a child caught between a dad who believes that things like UFOs, ghosts and the yeti are true – “the truth is out there” – and a more practical, pragmatic mum who has a sensible explanation for noises in the night and strange sky shapes; Ivanoff has investigated the more common phenomena and offers a scientific explanation or debunks them.  “The truth is in here!”

Using the child-friendly format of The Australia Survival Guide and The Human Body Survival Guide he tackles topics like  Is the Loch Ness Monster real? Does Big Foot exist? Are there scientific reasons for hauntings? What is cryptozoology? What can explain UFO sightings by multiple witnesses? So young readers will be well-armed as the spooky season approaches.  (And given that The Australia Survival Guide was published just before the Black Summer of 2019-2020, this could prove particularly useful!

Space Detectives

Space Detectives

Space Detectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Detectives

Mark Powers

Dapo Adeola

Bloomsbury, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526603180

Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world’s first orbiting city, Starville , a gigantic space station sailing silently as it orbits Earth and home to over a million humans and aliens. This single city,  brimming with skyscrapers, parks and even an artificial sea is enclosed by a huge, strong glass dome  like a vast snow globe, and is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights.

However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery -they had solved many back home on Earth – and when they discover the space station is hurtling on a collision course with the moon they know they need to step in. This is a case for the SPACE DETECTIVES!

Can Connor and Ethan find the culprit and save Starville from its impending doom?

Fitting perfectly into this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds, this is a new series for young, newly independent readers who like the idea of a mystery mixed with science fiction so anything can happen.  And concluding with an epilogue that sets up their next adventure it promises to deliver for those who like to get to know their heroes better as the series unfolds. 

When someone recently asked for recommendations for series for this demographic to help them consolidate skills and grow their reading, all the old-familiars were suggested – many popular when I was in the library full-time 20 years ago- and while they remain quality reads, this is a new series that could be added to the list. It has all the right ingredients to engage those young lads looking for excitement and adventure. 

Funny Kid Prank Aliens

Funny Kid Prank Aliens

Funny Kid Prank Aliens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Kid Prank Aliens

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2021

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780733340611

Max is back in the 9th in this series that has become the favourite of so many young independent readers, especially boys.

Bored as during the school holidays despite the Mayor having organised a fun fair to entertain them, yet not wanting to join in the Clean Up Redhill movement Max decides that it would be much better to prank the people in the toilet queue at the un_Funfair. And because that is successful he dreams bigger and better, answering the Mayor’s call to “put Redhill on the map” by trying to convince the residents that aliens have invaded.

And one thing leads to another….

Stanton is very much in tune with what kids in those middle years like to read about, particularly characters that they can relate to and secretly wish to be.  The place that the edgy humour of Jennings, Gleitzman and Milne played in their parents’ childhood is now being filled by him with great success, demonstrating that good stories with lots of humour and over-the-top situations are always winners, particularly if they have a slightly serious side that anchors them in reality and adds depth to the story.

He now has his own YouTube channel that features lots about his writing and drawing, including this intro to Prank Aliens with the promise of much more to come including a sequel to The Odds

Young, independent readers will be rapt.

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the Moon

Wendy Wan-Long Shang

HarperCollins, 2021

208pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780063002432

 

Fueled with determination and a passion for science, a bright young girl named Fei Fei builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess. There she ends up on the adventure of a lifetime and discovers a whimsical land of fantastical creatures.

Based on the Netflix original animated film, this illustrated novel retells the story of Over the Moon and includes original concept art!

Directed by animation legend Glen Keane, and produced by Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou, Over the Moon is an exhilarating musical adventure about moving forward, embracing the unexpected, and the power of imagination.

Although I am unfamiliar with the screen version of this story, this novelisation offers an engaging tale of a modern young miss who likes both sides of the story – the one her mother used to tell her of the fantasy and the scientific explanation of the same phenomenon given by her father.  Does the moon change its shape because the Space Dog bites chunks from it until the Moon Goddess Chang-e makes him spit it out, or is there another explanation? There is a delicate balance that keeps the reader entertained as Fei Fei fulfils her quest, at the same time as offering the reader another, deeper layer to accompany the screen version.  

Just as very young readers like to connect with the print versions of their favourite screen characters, so too those who are older and independent.  The subtle nuances of the written word add substance to what might be lost in the whizbangery of the animation. 

This will be a great addition to those who have a focus on screen-print matches this year while offering a quality read to take our girls to new worlds. It also opens up the world of traditional tales that have carried the stories of generations over generations.