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The Tale of the Whale

The Tale of the Whale

The Tale of the Whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tale of the Whale

Karen Swann

Padmacandra

UQP, 2021

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

9780702263262

‘Where land becomes sky

and the sky becomes sea,

I first saw the whale and

the whale first saw me …’

Imagine going for a ride on the back of a humpback whale and seeing all the sights beneath the waves – mountains and valleys carpeted in colour and full of intriguing creatures. “An ocean in motion, a bright, busy land..”

But this is no romantic joyride – the whale has a reason for taking the child (and the reader) on this journey. Because when its tummy rumbles and he opens his mouth wide, and half of the ocean is swallowed inside, it is not packed with krill and other whale delights but with rubbish, particularly plastics, thoughtlessly tossed away by humans and now inside his tummy where he tries to digest it in vain.  That then causes the child to look with new eyes at the creatures he had seen – the turtle tangled in a plastic bag; the seagull with the six-pack ring around its neck… the sea is really just plastic soup.

Even though our students are becoming more and more aware of the issue of plastic being disposed in the ocean through stories such as these and teachers using them to raise awareness in carefully constructed units, the problem continues to grow causing phenomena like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. However, solutions begin with awareness and this lyrical and sensitively illustrated story is a must-have addition to your collection that supports these investigations. If just one child teaches their adult to think before they throw, then that is a win. 

Teachers’ notes supporting the environmental aspects of the story are available.

  

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

The Natural History Museum

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

64pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781486315161

If you’re as old as the dinosaurs themselves, and even if you’re not, if you have had anything to do with young children you will know that the fascination for dinosaurs is universal and endless.  I wish I had the proverbial dollar for every time I have been told that a child is obsessed with dinosaurs and asked what did I have that was new.

So this new publication from CSIRO Publishing which targets those just beginning to discover these creatures and who have so many questions about them is perfect.  Tackling 50 most commonly asked questions such as ‘Which dinosaurs had the biggest teeth?’ and ‘Why did some dinosaurs have such short arms /’, both question and answers are in straight-forward language, give just the right amount of information and are accompanied by clear, colourful illustrations ensuring the young reader’s inquisitiveness is satisfied while demonstrating the power of books to seek the information we want. 

Many of our youngest readers will be experts on this subject before they come to school and even though according to formal tests they can’t yet read, they will have cut their teeth on this subject and know more about reading (and dinosaurs) than we give them credit for.  So this could serve as an excellent model to let this group create their own Q&A book to not only show off their own knowledge but to learn from their peers, empowering them in a way that few formal lessons could do.  It could offer a pathway into the information literacy process for them – what do I already know, what do I want to know, where can I find out, how can I share what I’ve discovered – and inspire them to investigate further. 

Bee Detectives

Bee Detectives

Bee Detectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Detectives

Vanessa Ryan-Rendall

Brenna Quinlan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486313396

When Olivia and Hamish are woken by the scream of a chainsaw coming from their local park and see what looks like a cloud of smoke rising, they are very concerned that there is a fire.  But they soon discover that what they thought was smoke is a cloud of insects disturbed when their tree home fell.

With the help of the specialist Bee Team, they learn that the insects are Native Social Stingless Bees and because the hive contains the bees’ babies it needs to be rescued.  That evening, when the last of the bees is safely in the temporary hive, Hamish and Olivia are invited to take it into their backyard so they can learn about these bees and how they are essential to the well-being of the environment.  The children take on the challenge and they, and the reader, learn not only about the bees’ importance but also about the many other native bees that live in the garden, usually unnoticed.

While the plight of bees globally is gradually being recognised as becoming critical, most young readers associate them with the fluffy black and yellow bumblebees of their storybooks, not realising that Australia alone has over 1700 species of native bees, each of which needs protection.  With a special section giving the reader more information about these species, particularly those mentioned in the story, and tips on how to attract them to the suburban garden, this is an important publication to help young students develop their awareness of the role bees have and understand how they can promote their well-being. Using a story format accompanied by charming illustrations that also put the bees under a magnifying glass so they can be more than squiggles on a page means that this has the potential to be used as a springboard to an intriguing investigation as students start to identify the various species and search for them in their own surroundings.  As well as extensive teaching notes to assist this, students might also consider establishing a bee hotel to encourage the bees to stay.

 

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

The Best Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Mum

Penny Harrison

Sharon Davey

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781922326225

Everyone else seems to have the BEST mum – mums who can make fancy dress costumes, roller-skate; sing and dance, float like a fairy, even make rare, exotic sweets – but the little girl’s mum is a duffer at all of those sorts of things. But in the end it doesn’t matter because when it comes to cuddles and hugs, nothing can beat the love that comes with them.

So often we look at our mums, compare them to other mums and find them wanting.  Recent events have made me reflect on my childhood and think about how it was my best friend’s mum who taught me to knit (something I’ve picked up again to rebuild my arm and finger muscles) and to bake the best ginger fluff sponges, khaki cakes and banana cakes  (even though I’m not renowned as a cook of any type). But Helen’s mum was a stay-at-home mum, typical of the era, whilst mine was out breaking ground as she pioneered the way for female journalists in the world, particularly New Zealand and Australia.  Like this little girl’s mum she loved me deeply and whilst she didn’t show it by making me fancy dress costumes or roller-skating through the streets of Invercargill she showed it in a zillion other ways, ways that have shaped me all my life, and when it came to bedtime she gave the best cuddles too!

As the annual celebration of mothers comes around again, this is the perfect book and the perfect time to focus on all those things that mothers do daily to show and share their love each in their own unique, individual way.  The rhyming text and the bright, bold illustrations add to the joy of this time whilst validating those thoughts we have about others’ mums yet being so grateful for the one we have. 

Bear and Rat

Bear and Rat

Bear and Rat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear and Rat

Christopher Cheng

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760896287

Bear and Rat are the very best of friends, there for each other no matter what.  But even though Bear has proven his devotion to his friend, Rat is feeling concerned about the future.

“Bear,” said Rat, “I’ve been wondering. Will we always hold hands like this, even when we are old and wrinkly…and tottering up this hill?”

“Of course we will,” said Bear. “As long as you hold mine when my fur turns grey and starts to fall out.”

But something is clearly troubling Rat because despite all Bear’s reassurance she still feels unsettled and unsure, until she finally asks, “What if I have to leave and go somewhere you can’t come?” And Bear offers her the perfect answer, one that comforts and assures her that no matter what, they will be together one way or another forever.

This has been one of the most difficult books for me to read and review because even though it is the most delicate love story, it is based on a real story and sadly, because the author and his wife have been friends of mine for years, I knew its truth and its outcome.  Also, having experienced my own Bear and Rat episodes twice in 18 months, it was all the more poignant, and to be honest, it took me some time to put on my big girl pants and read it. 

But often our children need the sort of reassurance that Rat does – that regardless of what they do or say or experience, someone will be there for them through everything because real love is unconditional and enduring. Chris has captured this special, incredible relationship perfectly because he has lived it and Stephen’s illustrations with their gentle palette and lines are the perfect accompaniment, suggesting he too, knows what it is to love in this way.  And as a reader, with tissues in hand, so do I. 

A remarkable picture book that shows that regardless of what else we might have, to have that sort of love of another is everything.  

Meet the Oceans

Meet the Oceans

Meet the Oceans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Oceans

Caryl Hart

Bethan Woollvin

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781526603630

In Meet the Planets,  young readers  were 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. This time, they are invited on board a submarine to travel the oceans and seas of the world to meet the creatures that live in them. From the icy reaches of the Arctic Ocean to the warmth of the Coral Sea, the diversity of life is explored with a strong theme of conservation as the children learn that any water they send down the plughole eventually reaches the ocean and the life within it. 

Bold bright pictures and a strong rhyming text carry the story and the journey along ensuring readers stay engaged as they are introduced to the water that covers 70% of the planet. A great introduction to what is beneath the surface that will come to mind each time little ones stand on the seashore and gaze.  

The Little Pirate Queen

The Little Pirate Queen

The Little Pirate Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Pirate Queen

Sally Anne Garland

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781921928833

Every week Lucy boards her rickety raft and sets sail looking for Far Away Island, a mysterious place that no one had ever reached before and therefore no one knew what treasures might be found there. During the journeys Lucy has to constantly mend the little craft and she and it have been through some rough seas lately and as her friends cruise past her in their more sea-worthy craft, she wishes she had a shiny new yacht. 

But she keeps moving, imagining she is a brave Pirate Queen, and even though sometimes she doesn’t feel brave at all, she sails on.  Then, one day a huge storm hits and a giant wave washes away Lucy and the other children. Even though it is badly damaged her rickety raft is the only one to survive and Lucy discovers the meaning of the saying “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

Based on that quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, author and illustrator Sally Anne Garland has crafted a story to show children that the strategies and skills they learn when coping with tough times shape our ability to navigate our future – that if all we know is smooth sailing  then when a storm hits, we might not know what to do. It is a story about resilience and compassion. as well as drawing links between Lucy and pirates generally – for whatever reason, neither quite fits into society and therefore have to learn to adapt and survive, to be brave and bold and mask their vulnerability so they can keep something of themselves for themselves.

Whether read at its surface level of a little girl who turns out to be a brave Pirate Queen, or explored at the metaphorical level, this is a story that can be enjoyed by a wide age range who will see a little of Lucy in each of them. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Big Book of Festivals

The Big Book of Festivals

The Big Book of Festivals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Festivals

Marita Bullock & Joan-Maree Hargreaves

Liz Rowland

Lothian, 2021

56pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

 9780734419972

One of the most effective ways to promote and support inclusivity in our schools is to acknowledge and celebrate the festivals that are important in the lives of our students.  Having various groups develop a display and gather a collection of books about their country and their beliefs to share with their peers really says to them that they are important and valued within the school community.

In this new publication as well as the usual celebrations like Christmas, Diwali Eid Ul-Fitr and the lunar New Year,  there are lesser known ones such as Anastenaria, Matarki the Whirling Dervishes festival of Turkey and the Bunya Dreaming festival of our indigenous people. There are also festivals associated with each of the seasons, so the library could be the most vibrant place all year round. 

Each celebration has its own double-page spread with easily accessible information and illustrations offering opportunities to become involved in crazy celebrations and holy holidays, from graveside picnics to epic dance-offs, tomato-throwing frenzies, crying-baby competitions and the biggest bathing ritual on the planet. 

This is an important book to add to the collection so that those who celebrate the various festivities can read about themselves while opening a world beyond the usual for others. 

 

 

Let’s Build a House

Let's Build a House

Let’s Build a House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Build a House

Mike Lucas

Daron Parton

Lothian, 2021

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

9780734420329

There are many steps in building a house and it’s important that they be done in the right order.

In this charming story-in-rhyme by Mike Lucas (he who always writes such fabulous Book Week theme poems) young readers not only begin to understand how a house is built and the vocabulary associated with it,  but they can join in the rhymes and provide appropriate actions as they do.  It’s perfect for exploring and consolidating the concept of sequencing and learning the language of order – first, second, third, next, before, after, last and so on. 

But most of all it’s a love story between a father and daughter as they work together to make one of the most important things we need – shelter. 

Very different from both Vanishing and Olivia’s Voice , this is one to appeal to much younger readers especially if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they have learned or they have family members that they see in the illustrations!. 

Dandy and Dazza

Dandy and Dazza

Dandy and Dazza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dandy and Dazza

Mike Dumbleton

Brett Curzon

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781921928826

Dandy was a best-in-show sort of hound while Dazza was a rough-and-tumble sort of mongrel.  As dogs go, they couldn’t be more different.  One liked five-star food, the other old bones found in the rubbish bin;  one liked peace and quiet; the other barked and went crazy; one walked demurely to the park in a fur-lined coat and leg-warmers; the other pulled and strained at the leash covered in the mud and muck from rolling in puddles on the way… 

Could two such different temperaments ever get along?

From the title to the endpages to  the text itself, you just know that this is going to be a book of contrasts that brings so much fun to the reader. And it doesn’t disappoint.  How will two  such polar opposites be able to share the park together?  This is a story that will appeal to young readers, especially those with dogs because no doubt they will recognise their own pooches in the pictures and the antics.  The bright, brilliant  illustrations catch the eye and the roll-off-the-tongue text will make this a favourite while sparking discussions about how opposites attract and despite our differences, friendship is still possible..