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An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

Jackie Hosking

Lesley Vamos

Walker Books, 2023

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

9781760654948

Having completed their Amazing Australian Road Trip, now the family is off on a camping adventure because Aunty wants to paint “a fantastical beast”.

“It eats like a fish and swims in the lakes, has fur like a dog and venom like snakes, with a bill like a duck, it also lays eggs, has a tail like a paddle and walks on four legs.”

With the 4WD loaded to the hilt and beyond, they head to country to find this amazing creature, finally setting up camp and starting to relax. And although there is lots of wildlife to discover, each with one of the attributes that Aunty has described, none has them all.  What could she be looking for?

As with its predecessor, this is a story that rollicks along in rhyme accompanied by eye-catching illustrations full of detail and humour including the mysterious animal hiding on each page waiting for the eagle-eye to spot…  While many readers will be familiar with camping, and understand the terminology as well as recognising the creatures that the family spot, for those for whom the Australian bush is a mystery there are lots of explanations of unfamiliar words as well as information about the various animals. And, also like its predecessor, it offers a lot of potential for investigation, not the least of which is the meaning and purpose of a glossary.

As summer holidays fade into the distance, this is one that will bring back so many memories for children who spent their time camping “out bush” as they giggle their way through familiar scenes and adventures – although I was a bit concerned that the copperhead snake that inhabits the cool climate region I live in is active at night – and begin to look forward to the next one. 

Loving this series which brings our country to life in such a fun way. 

 

The Very Big Sum

The Very Big Sum

The Very Big Sum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Big Sum

Adrian Dudek

Naya Lazareva

Little Steps, 2023

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

9781922678928

It’s a glorious summer’s day and Teddy and Mabel really want to be outside playing, but instead they are stuck inside helping their mum clean the house.  Despite the fact they helped make the mess, like all kids, they are whingeing about having to help when the outdoors beckons.

So their mum agrees that they can go outside WHEN they have found the sum of all the numbers from one to 100. (And, being a smart mum she has removed the batteries from the calculator much to the children’s chagrin.)  And so begins a challenge that could be replicated in any family or classroom as the children are challenged to think beyond the obvious way to do things. Can they find the solution before it is too dark to play?

This could be an excellent starting point for getting students to think creatively, particularly in looking for patterns in and between numbers and having them explain their reasoning.  How many times did kids come up with something I wasn’t expecting, but their logic was sound? Or flawed so they had to retrace their steps?)  For those who like this sort of thing, it could be the springboard for getting them to investigate established patterns like Fibonacci or even inventing their own patterns like next-in-the-sequence for their peers to solve.

Looking for sequences and patterns is not an end in itself though, because it can be a really useful skill when analysing data and findings in research – a critical part of the information literacy process.  In fact, the information literacy process can be applied to almost any mathematical problem starting with “What do I know?  What do I need to find out? Where can I find that information? …  So what began as the familiar grumps of kids being asked to help around the house can actually become something so much more. 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

Prof Zoya Agnis

Alexander Utkin

Flying Eye, 2023

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

99781838741174

“Deep in the cold mountains of a distant land, there was once a magnificent kingdom of dragons. The songs of dragon families echoed across its peaks, and priceless treasures were hoarded in its caves. But what happened to this kingdom?” 

From stories like The Paper Bag Princess to the drama of Smaug’s arrival in the opening scenes of The Hobbit, both before and beyond, dragons have been a common entry to the world of fantasy for our young readers, sparking the imagination to go on wondrous adventures. For some, just being engrossed in the particular story is enough, but for others, there is a desire to know more and for them, this book is the answer.

It contains everything a curious mind wants to know to become an expert Drackenosopher just like the esteemed author, Zoya Agnis.  Through clever illustrations and readily accessible text, they can learn to identify the different dragon families, name the most fearsome dragon slayers, the bravest of Drackenosophy scholars and everything else there is to know about the beautiful dragons that we share our planet with.

About 20 years ago, there was another series of books like this (this series also includes The Secret Lives of Mermaids  and The Secret Lives of Unicorns) and it became the perfect vehicle for transitioning young readers into the world of non fiction as we took a topic they were fascinated by and started exploring information books.  In fact they came up with the slogan, Fiction = Imagination; Non Fiction = Information, something I have used in many instances since then. This would serve the same purpose. 

Whenever I make a storybook cushion or a journal or author kit featuring a dragon, I know I will only have it for a short time, such is the popularity of these fantastic beasts. Adults and children snap them up immediately, such is the fascination with and popularity of this creature.  So this is the perfect book to be the centrepiece of a display and promotion featuring fantasy promising to take readers on magical adventures as well as for The Year of the Dragon. A must-have if you have fantasy lovers amongst your readers. 

Chico the Schnauzer

Chico the Schnauzer

Chico the Schnauzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chico the Schnauzer

Taryn Brumfitt

Puffin, 2024

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761343988

Chico the Schnauzer has a very distinctive appearance with his salt-and-pepper coat, cheeky eyebrows, fabulous moustache, and really big beard.  He loves anything that starts with ch, particularly Chelsea and Charlie and when they go to work in the morning, he likes to stand at the gate and say hello to all his friends.  But one day, when the gate is left open, he ventures through it and goes to play with them all.  Susie the Sausage Dog, Penelope the Poodle and Digby the Dalmatian and all the others invite him to play with them and Chico is amazed at how different they are and how well they can do certain things – many of which he finds a bit tricky.  

But instead of envying them their skills, he is proud of what he can do and shares his talents with them.  At the end of the day, he is tired but happy because he knows that everyone is different and that he has his special talents too.

Author of Embrace Your Body,  and 2023 Australian of the Year, Taryn Brumfitt has been recognised around the world for her efforts in getting people, especially young ones to not only accept who they are and what they look like but to celebrate it, and this book follows that theme.  Chico admires what his doggy pals can do but also shows his strengths as well.  It’s a message our young readers need to hear over and over it seems, as anxiety levels continue to grow as expectations seem to compound.  They are invited to reflect on what their ‘AH-MAZING’ bodies can do and share this. Perhaps an opportunity for a photo display of each class member’s unique skills as part of the the customary getting-to-know-us activities for the new school year. 

The Squirrel and the Lost Treasure

The Squirrel and the Lost Treasure

The Squirrel and the Lost Treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Squirrel and the Lost Treasure

Coralie Bickford-Smith

Particular Books, 2023

64pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241541975

As autumn turns to winter in the woods, and leaves and acorns fall, the young squirrel watches others scrabble to collect them, murmuring about a secret place in the centre of the forest where no trees grow at all.  As night falls she sees a solitary acorn lying in the leaves and gathering it quickly, she clutches it all night determined not to let it go ever.  When dawn broke she heads for the centre of the forest where there are no trees  no birdsong, and no other squirrels to steal her precious prize.  And there she buries it safe from the cold and snow to come.

After the long winter finally passes and Spring comes again, the squirrel hurries to find her treasure – but where is it?  And why has everything changed?

The creator of this “fable about growth, new life and finding hope in unexpected places” describes herself as “a designer of fine things, mostly books” and her talent is very obvious not only in the lyrical, almost poetic text of this book but also its presentation. Author-illustrator of this as well as  The Fox and the Star (2015) – the first picture book to win the Waterstones Book of the Year award – The Bird and the Worm (2017), The Song of the Tree (2020) and the designer of many more, particularly the Clothbound Classics series from Penguin, she has a distinctive style which turns a seemingly-simple story into something so much more, harking back to a style of bygone times.

This has a place in any library collection as much for its presentation as its contents offering goodies as rich as the acorn the little squirrel buried. 

 

 

Who has the biggest Mouth?

Who has the biggest Mouth?

Who has the biggest Mouth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who has the biggest Mouth?

Judy Cannon

Verena Heirich

Little Steps, 2023

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

9781922678096

On a trip to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa the children are looking for the creature with the biggest mouth.  While they discover lots of interesting and unique information about a number of individual species, do they find the one with the biggest mouth?

Young readers will have fun predicting who they think is the winning candidate as they share this book and they may be surprised by their discoveries.  If the reserve list for the latest Guinness Book of Records is any indication, little ones are fascinated by these sorts of extremes and so this could be the start of an individual or group display of investigating who, in the animal kingdom, has the biggest, longest, heaviest, smallest whatever encouraging young naturalists to delve deeply into the 500s collection to read and interpret with purpose while learning about measurement, comparison and adaptation.

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

Chloe's Lunar New Year

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe’s Lunar New Year

Lily LaMotte

Michelle Lee

HarperCollins. 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780063076518

It’s almost Lunar New Year, and Chloe can’t wait to celebrate! But first, Chloe and her family must prepare for the new year. They buy new shoes, lay out good-luck oranges in a bowl, decorate the red envelope, and make a crispy turnip cake. Everyone comes together to cook a fantastic feast, saving a plate for A-má, no longer with them, of course. Chloe enjoys the festive celebration and yummy food, but most of all, she loves spending time with her family.

As many of our students start to prepare for their most important annual celebration, just as with the traditions of Christmas there are core elements that all observe, but this story focuses on the traditional things that form part of the Taiwanese version of the celebration, particularly the reunion dinner. There are many dishes, each with a special significance for individual members of the family and it is this coming together and sharing this special time that flows through this story.

The upcoming year is the Year of the Dragon, and while this opens up all sorts of possibilities to investigate, perhaps this story will encourage an exploration of how each of our Asian neighbours celebrate, especially the different emphases on various elements and the food that is shared.   Students could share their stories, acknowledging their culture and customs and feeling that they are continuing those traditions by teaching others about them.  A search of SCIS shows very few picture books about this important celebration that are readily available in Australia, so maybe this is an opportunity to collect the students’ stories and create a new resource for the collection. 

Peggy and Molly

Peggy and Molly

Peggy and Molly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peggy and Molly

Juliette Wells

Ebury Australia, 2023

128pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99

9781761344503

In September 2020 Molly the magpie fledgling was rescued by Peggy the Staffordshire terrier’s owners and nursed back to health, and the two creatures formed a bond that made them inseparable. There was a surprise when Molly eventually revealed that he was a male, but nevertheless, he was a family member and when Peggy had pups he formed just as close a bon with Ruby, the only female in the litter. 

This little book, full of photographs of the trio, celebrates their connections and is captioned to encourage the reader to be “kind, humble and happy”.

There is a little more about their story on their webpage, with regular updates for those who have access to Facebook, including a video of Molly barking just like her friends.

 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

The Deep EndReal Facts About the Ocean

The Deep End
Real Facts About the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

Drew Sheneman

HarperCollins, 2023

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

9780063224551

Despite the wild weather that has plagued Australia’s east coast recently, many will have enjoyed a beachside holiday and some will have wondered about what actually lives in that deeper water out beyond the breaking waves.

So they will enjoy this exploration and explanation told in a mixture of regular text and cartoon illustrations as Brownbeard the pirate, his first mate Alan the parrot and a knowledgeable scientist take them on a journey that spans the development of the discovery of the deep from those who first dived to find food to the development of modern sonar and submersibles, the things they found and saw and the legends that they sparked.  There is an introduction to some of those mysterious creatures that can survive the incredible pressure of being kilometres below the surface, as well as the cold and the permanent darkness.  But as well as the humour there is also a serious side as it is revealed that on a recent trip to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of the ocean on the planet, a plastic bag was discovered floating in the depths and the darkness, raising awareness that despite its size and still being relatively unexplored, the ocean is in danger. 

This is a unique way of piquing the interest of curious readers, all of which is factually accurate, and sparking a desire to learn more through more conventional presentations. 

 

 

Giovanni

Giovanni

Giovanni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giovanni

Crystal Corocher

Margeaux Davis

Wombat Books, 2023

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

9781761111235

In 1881, four-year-old Giovanni and his family and local villagers leave the Veneto region of Italy bound for Australia having been promised “paradise” only to find that they are in the hands of a people smuggler with a rickety boat, little food and no real concern for their safety, let alone comfort.  Eventually stranded on a beach in Noumea, they were in despair of ever reaching Australia dying in huge numbers from bad food, mosquitoes, undrinkable water and back-breaking work in the monsoon season. 

But hearing of their plight, Sir Henry Parkes, the “father of Federation” but then colonial secretary of NSW sent a boat to rescue them and 22 families eventually settled on the NSW north coast in what was to become known as New Italy and the start of the Italian migration to Australia that continues today.

Told by the great-granddaughter of Giovanni, with a concurrent Italian translation by Jada Valpato,  this is a story meticulously researched that tells of an almost-forgotten part of Australia’s migration history, making it one for both younger and older readers, particularly those of Italian heritage.  Coupled with links to resources such as the New Italy Museum, this is definitely one for the collection for both your Italian families as well as any study of Australia’s immigration history.