Bear in Space

Bear in Space

Bear in Space










Bear in Space

Deborah Abela

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Walker Books, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99


Bear is different. While all his friends were noisy and busy and never seemed to stop, Bear preferred his own company and the quietness and solitude of his books – particularly his books about space.  Because even though the other bears sometimes laughed at him and called him names, Bear was absorbing all he could learn about the mysterious place beyond the planet because he had plans…

This is a charming story for early readers that has so many layers.  Firstly, it is a tribute to those children who are more introverted, who are happy and complete in their own space and who single-mindedly pursue their dreams, prompting discussions about how there are all sorts of people in the world who may have different values and dreams to us. But it also shows how those dreams can be enriched and enhanced when they are shared with like-minded souls and friends, changing perceptions of relationships and how the world works.  It also has lots of facts about space embedded into it so as well as sharing Bear’s adventures, the reader also learns a little on the journey.

This is one of those perfect pictures books where the text and illustrations are seamless and one would be so much less if the other weren’t there.  Even though both themes of being a loner and having dreams of space travel have been visited in children’s stories before, this is a stand-out because of the story’s layers and that integration of words and pictures that entertain and educate at the same time. A marriage of imagination and information.

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles

Puffin Littles


















Puffin Littles





The Solar System



9781760897024 (Sept 2020)


9781760897680 (Sept 2020)

The Ocean

9781760897666 (Sept 2020)

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for 80 years, Puffin introduces our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in this new series of non fiction titles, the perfect size for little hands. In them, he talks directly to the reader sharing information in manageable chunks in a layout that not only appeals but also supports their reading skills and their interests.

Little Cook: Snacks focuses on the fundamentals of cooking and preparing food; Little Environmentalist: Composting teaches them about composting and recycling to make a difference while Little Scientist: The Solar System takes them on a journey around the planets. Planned for September are three more which explore the ocean, robotics and the ANZACs. 

Not all children like to read fiction and so this series caters for both the newly independent reader and those who are almost there using its narrative style voiced by that iconic character to offer more than just a book of facts and figures. The contents page to help them navigate to a specific page and the glossary to build and explain vocabulary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned.

Young readers will appreciate this series because there has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal. 


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


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


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


On the Moon 


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


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


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


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


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


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.