Archives

Wild Symphony

Wild Symphony

Wild Symphony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Symphony

Dan Brown

Susan Batori

Puffin, 2020

44pp., hbk., RRP $A44.99

9780241467916

Before he wrote classics like The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown wrote music. It was a secret sanctuary for him bringing peace and calm and solace. And in this wonderful, interactive book he has combined those two gifts into a remarkable story for children that offers messages of affirmation and guidance. It is a place for them to seek that same peace and calm and solace.

Led by Maestro Mouse, the reader is taken on a journey of the animal kingdom and invited to learn something from each one that helps them deal with life. At the same time by using a QR code or going to the website, and downloading the app, they can  tune into the music of the creatures. Along the way, Maestro Mouse has left surprises  — a hiding buzzy bee, jumbled letters that spell out clues, and even a coded message to solve – making this a book that has many layers and which begs to be explored again and again.

 

 

Little Lon

Little Lon

Little Lon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lon

Andrew Kelly

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742035970

In the heart of Melbourne is a narrow street running between Spring Street and Spencer Street known as Little Lonsdale Street. In an area originally built from gold rush money, “Little Lon” was a dark, dingy place hidden from the elegant homes, shops and hotels of the main streets surrounding it, but it was home to many, and even if they were poor and not so flash as their nearby neighbours, immigrants newly arrived and those down on their luck, it was a thriving, energetic place, a melting pot of cultures and customs and colours that made it unique.

In this exquisitely illustrated book, the reader is taken back in time to that time when families created lives very different to today’s, where the only place to play was on the street so kids made friends with everyone; where Saturday night was a dip at the local pool to wash away the weekday grime; and on Sundays you dropped your roast and veg into a shop on the way to church and it was cooked ready for you to collect on your way home!

Drawing on the memories of one of the children, Marie Hayes, Andrew Kelly shows the 2020 reader a different life in a different time where everyone was accepted for her they were and valued for what they added to the community.  

Children’s lives have not always been rush, rush, rush, screen-driven hives of activity and this will be a valuable addition to that collection that takes them back in time to discover how things have changed and to consider whether it is a time to envy. Extensive teachers’ notes are available.

The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin

The Unwilling Twin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unwilling Twin

Freya Blackwood

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

9781460757536

Jules and George are the same in every way. It is quite impossible to tell them apart. They even have matching birthmarks on their bottoms. 

And like all twins, they do everything together including having a long, hot day at the beach.  But sometimes, even twins disagree…

This is a charming story for littlies that will help them believe in the fun and magic in books, for there is a twist to the story which they will delight in pointing out right from the start.  Eagle eyes might even spot it on the front cover!  Nevertheless, they will soon be immersed in it as they go to the beach with Jules and George and relive their own memories (or build their imaginations if going to the beach is just a dream.) The ending is LOL funny – Freya Blackwood hasn’t lost her ability to entertain with both words and pictures.

 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Under the Sea 1 2 3

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2020

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

 9781760652272

Surrounding Australia’s coast are thousands of kilometres of coral reefs, and within those reefs lives a vast variety of creatures.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, young children are invited to count some of them while learning about them at the same time. This is more than just a 1 2 3 counting book where the reader matches the numeral to the number of items on the page – it also offers tidbits of information that the adult can share with them encouraging both curiosity and awareness of the life beneath the waves.

Beginning with  one giant whale shark  and counting all the way to twelve tired seahorses, it could also become a sort of almanac that the child with an interest in the ocean’s creatures could complete over a lifetime, marking the creatures off as they discover them. Even as a scuba diver in times past, there are those like the dugongs and whale sharks I’m still waiting to cross off!!! But it has been an adventure of a lifetime in the making.

But even for those not inclined to go beneath the surface, nevertheless this is a fascinating introduction to that unique environment, a worthy companion to all the other fantastic books that Frané Lessac has gifted our little ones throughout her career.

Show Me The Money

Show Me The Money

Show Me The Money

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Me The Money

Sue Lawson

Karen Tayleur

Wild Dog, 2020

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

9781742035895

 

For hundreds of years goods and services have been exchanged for money, and “cash is king” was an oft-used slogan. But since the advent of ubiquitous digital devices and particularly the outbreak of the pandemic, how we now pay for those same goods and services has changed dramatically.  Payment has become almost invisible as we tap-and-go, use afterpay and seemingly go to a machine in a wall that dispenses money on the insertion of a card.  Will there soon come a day when our little people will never know the thrill of tinkling coins in their pocket or the smell and feel of a crisp new note? Already the excitement of finding a threepence or even a sixpence in the Christmas pudding seems to be a memory reserved for us oldies!

Much of Australia’s history and heritage is told in our currency and this wonderful book collects it up and packages it in an accessible read for young independent readers who want and need to know more about this thing that makes the world go round, that seems to be the driving force behind every decision that governs their lives right down to how well their school library is resourced. Going back to the days before European arrival when First Nations followed trade routes along sacred paths and songlines where knowledge and stories were traded as much as goods and goodies,  the story of Australia’s currency has been traced through to the recent introduction of New Generation banknotes that are almost indestructible and counterfeit-proof, providing a solid foundation for  a fascinating investigation of this essential part of our lives.  

Using the resources of the Royal Australian Mint , this book uses clear, sharp illustrations of our notes and coins which are clearly labelled to explain their different features and icons as well as the stories of some of those featured on them.  There are defined rules for the production of our banknotes and those who can be featured on them so this book also serves as a springboard for students to design a range of new notes, investigating and justifying their design choices.  

An understanding of money, how it is earned and spent, budgeted and used is an essential life skill that we can and must teach children from an early age, even if it seems like our transactions for goods and services are seamless and almost magical these days. Using this book as an introduction and a springboard to all sorts of investigations would be a logical starting point.

 

 

How To Make A Bird

How To Make A Bird

How To Make A Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Make A Bird

Meg McKinlay

Matt Ottley

Walker, 2020

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

9781925381894

“To make a bird you will need a lot of very tiny bones.  They will be smaller than you imagine, some so tiny they are barely there, And they will be hollow, these hundreds of bones – so light that when they rest in your palm you will hardly feel them.”

So begins a haunting, almost ethereal, picture book that takes the reader through the process of how a bird is made – particularly timely for me as I watch our resident Father and Mother Magpie patiently raise this season’s twins.  Like them, the girl is also patient and extremely careful as she patiently adds all the other elements like the feathers (saving the longest for the wings and the tail) and a heart that will beat sure and steady to carry the bird across oceans and continents at the end of a long winter, eyes, beak , claws and a song to sing.  But just the physical stuff is not enough – it is having the courage to let go of what you have made so it can find its place in the world that is the final piece of the jigsaw.

This is a stunning book, beautifully illustrated in a soft, calming palette that emphasises the care and the patience needed to create anything, and it could be an allegory for any creative process.  First you have to have the mechanical, physical elements and the know-how of how they fit together, but it is having the faith to let others see and test your creation and offer feedback that takes it from being an object to something more. Just as the little girl sets her bird free to explore the wild blue yonder so that it can truly reach its potential as a bird, so have McKinlay and Ottley set their creations off into the unknown to be explored, accepted, appreciated or not.  Just as we encourage our kids to take what they know and be brave enough to transform it and test it in new situations.   Just as we raise our own children and our students the best we know how, we have to give them that ultimate freedom of independence and making their own way in the world.  Are we able to relinquish our control and just let go?

This is a story that can work on many levels for many ages.  It can help a little person understand how birds can defy gravity and fly even when they cannot  but it can also work on that allegorical level of knowing you have done all you can and taking that leap of faith. Comprehensive teachers’ notes demonstrate how it can be used across the ages, stages and curriculum.

It would not surprise me to see this among the award winners in the future. 

Wreck This Picture Book

Wreck This Picture Book

Wreck This Picture Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wreck This Picture Book

Keri Smith

Puffin, 2020

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

 9780241449455

Wreck This Picture Book seems like an odd title for a book, conjuring up images of scissors, crayons and sticky fingers working their worst. But rather it is an invitation to the reader to not treat a book as a holy grail to be placed under glass or left on the shelf untouched.

“A book becomes more beautiful and alive when it is explored regularly” changing each time the reader reads it because the reader themselves, has changed.  Yesterday’s read might have been in a peaceful calm place with the reader in a tranquil mood; today’s read the exact opposite. To be totally engaged with the story requires being totally engaged with the container it is in so we are encouraged to use all our senses to explore the book from listening to the sounds it makes to taking a deep sniff of its unique smell to leaving a secret message for the next reader.  Because it is what we bring to a book – our beliefs, attitudes, understandings and emotions – that bring it alive for us and make it memorable, or not. 

This book shows our readers that reading is not a passive activity that just involves decoding lines of text, but is one that requires involvement, reading between and beyond the lines not just along them and making connections and conversations.  It inspires you to think about how you read as well as what you read, and see that to-be-read pile as an opportunity for adventures a=plenty.

 

The Tree

The Tree

The Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree

Graeme Base

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760897048

This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree that has Cow’s favourite mooberries growing on its branches and Duck’s favourite mushquacks growling amongst its roots.  So Cow builds herself a castle high in the tree and pulls up the drawbridge so no one can get in, and Duck digs deep amongst the roots and secures his domain with a secret key.  They forget each other, each content in their own “fiefdom” and all appears well until one night a massive storm upends everything. Suddenly they rediscover each other and the jealousy and selfishness begins…

Whether it is a classic like Animalia or Uno’s Garden, a tale like The Last King of Angkor Wat or Moonfishor something for the younger readers like The Amazing Monster Detectoscope or Bumblebunnies, Graeme Base can be guaranteed to give the reader the most exquisitely illustrated story that has more layers than the bed in The Princess and the Pea!  This new story is no exception with so much to discover in the pictures and so much to discuss in the words., encapsulated in the final masterful illustration. For the tree is so much more than a home to a selfish cow and a greedy duck and the reader can spend hours getting lost in the worlds of it branches, trunk and roots, knowing that one cannot survive without the other and so it becomes a symbol for harmony, co-operation and sharing. But, sturdy and steadfast as it may seem, it is not indestructible .However, from its demise something just as precious emerges offering the one thing that keeps life going – hope for a better future.

Graeme Base has created such a fabulous body of work since he first gave us My Grandma Lives in Gooligulch   that, in my opinion, he is one of Australia’s master storytellers who deserves a very special place in our history of children’s literature. 

One for all ages.

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Tania McCartney

NLA, 2020

68pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279637

According to my Facebook memories, 12 months ago it was snowing heavily here in the Snowy Mountains while there were 95 bushfires raging in the north of NSW, and we, ourselves, were evacuated just a few weeks later because of fires that had ignited here. The talk and news were constantly about the “worst drought in memory”, the heat and the continual and spreading threat of those fires.  And just as we thought that it would never end and we were doomed to breathing smoke-laden air forever, the rains came and places devastated by flames were now threatened with floods!

Regardless of the time of year, the weather in Australia is always a reliable topic of conversation and now two of my favourite creators have teamed together to offer an explanation for the phenomena for our younger readers.  Beginning with an explanation of whatever is weather, their combined writing and drawing talents have been used to explore the various elements of the weather, particularly in Australia so there is a greater understanding of the why, where, when and how of that which has such a bearing on our lives so that it is more than listening to the brief forecast on television or the BOM site. or being fascinated by the rain radars.  Living in the bush as I do, my favourite pages were Bush Forecasting that explain some of the behaviours and characteristics that we have come to notice and learn as the weather changes. Black cockatoos are always a welcome sign here.

Both Stephanie and Tania have drawn deeply on the resources of the National Library of Australia (luckily for them, it’s in their neighbourhood) and being a NLA publication the support materials for further exploration are very detailed. Even moreso though, is the module written to support the book as part of the NLA’s digital classroom   Aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography), and Science for Year 4, 5 and 6 students, it adopts an inquiry-based learning approach to develop students’ understanding of geographical and scientific processes relating to weather, environments, people and systems.

What more could you want?

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian Children’s, 2020

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

978073442009

There may be only 26 letters in the alphabet but in this 64 page book there are more than 400 featured as Jennifer Cossins, creator of The Ultimate Animal Counting Book, introduces young readers to some of the creatures that inhabit this planet.  

Some are familiar and some not-so, but each is labelled and many have a sentence or two offering unique information about them which curious readers may wish to explore further. For example, unlike other big cats, snow leopards cannot roar. I wonder why! 

 

 

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

This is a dip-and-delve book that just calls for the reader to try to list as many creatures as they know starting with a particular letter before they turn to page to find what Cossins has included (or not)!  Who knew that there were at least 14 that started with Q?  My tally stopped at four – quetzal, quail, quoll and a quokka!

This is the perfect companion to her other offerings, including A-Z of Endangered Animals which was an Honour Book in the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards in 2017 and one that will have young readers poring over the pages as they discover new creatures to add to their knowledge bank.