Archives

The Lost Library

The Lost Library

The Lost Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Library

Jess McGeachin

Puffin. 2020

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

9781760892715

Oliver has just moved house and is surprised to find a book left behind in his new cupboard, one that is inscribed “Please return to The Lost Library.”  Being a book lover he knows he needs to do that, but where is this Lost Library? His family is too busy to help but his new friend Rosie knows who to ask and so they head to the local library to talk to the librarian. 

Before Rosie has a chance to ask, Oliver slips the book in the Returns chute and suddenly the floor opens up beneath them! Suddenly they find themselves hurtling down into the hidden depths of The Lost Library and all sorts of adventures as they try to find their way back again.  It’s amazing where your imagination, a good friend and the power of stories can take you…

This is another enchanting and different story from the author of Fly that will be read over and over as a new layer is revealed each time. 

Gold!

Gold!

Gold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold!

Jackie Kerin

Annie White

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $a24.95

9781925804522

Victoria, Australia in the 1850s and the word of the discovery of gold is spreading around the world. Among the tens of thousands of everyday fold who flock to the goldfields are two young English brothers and another two from Canada.  They decide to team up but they soon discover that despite the rumours, the streets are not lined with gold and nor is it just lying around to be picked up.

Searching for gold is hard work for little reward as you battle the elements, the environment, the crowds, the thieves, the law -and Ma Kilduff’s advice doesn’t really make things easier.  Still they persevere until one day…

This is the “inside story” of the discovery of the first large nugget to be discovered in Victoria, the  Blanche Barkly, taking the reader through the harsh, hard life that the goldfields afforded yet was accepted because of gold fever.  However as well as the story itself, in the final few pages the reader is taken on a journey that provides even more detail beginning with the impact that the goldrush and subsequent discovery of the Blanche Barkly had on the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of the land., giving an interesting and original perspective that could be explored further in any curriculum studies of the topic.  Teaching notes are available but this lends itself to investigating  lines of inquiry such as…

  • How did the quest for gold impact the traditional owners of the land on which it took place?
  • How did it affect the environment?
  • Why did the government initially try to keep the discovery of gold a secret and did they make the right decision?
  • As the world’s second largest gold producer in 2020, what lessons have been learned  and what has changed  since the first discoveries? What differences would Ma Kilduff notice?
  • What has been the legacy of the goldrush 170 years on?

Alternatively, students could put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters from Ma Kilduff to Queen Victoria and research and retell the story from that personal perspective. Even just asking, “What did the author and illustrator need to know to produce this book?” would lead to some interesting investigations.

Hopefully the days of “This is Year 5 so it’s gold” and the meaningless study of facts and figures have disappeared so having s book as rich as this in offering different ways to learn about a critical part of Australia’s history is as precious as the metal itself. 

 

 

The Goody

The Goody

The Goody

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goody

Lauren Child

Orchard Books, 2020

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

9781408347584

Chirton Krauss is a good child – the very goodest. He does everything he is told, when he is told. He even does good things without being told. He eats his broccoli,  cleans the rabbit hutch without whingeing, he goes to bed on time and he never, ever sticks his finger up his nose. His parents are so impressed with his behaviour that they gave him a badge with Goody on it.  Chirton’s motto is”If people have decided you are good, don’t disappoint them by being bad”.

Meanwhile, his sister Myrtle is just the opposite.  Her motto is “If people have decided you are bad, do not disappoint them by being good” and she goes about living up to their expectations by doing as she pleases. On the outside, it doesn’t seem to bother her that she is not invited to parties, because the pay-off is not having to eat your broccoli, not having to clean the rabbit hutch and being able to stay up all hours because the babysitter has given up fighting with you about bedtime.

But one day, Chirton discovers the benefits of Myrtle’s philosophy and things start to change…

Lauren Child is well-known and well-recognised for writing children’s books that have an edge to them and this is no different.  Accompanying the storyline is an independent commentary in  red text, aimed squarely at the reader and challenging them to think more deeply about the story. Indeed, it should spark discussion about whether one should follow Chirton’s example or Myrtle’s or whether there might be a middle road…

Little ones do not often chooses a story because of the author – their reading experience is not broad enough for that yet – but Lauren Child is one whose work is well-known even by our youngest readers and this one will be snapped up as soon as they discover that it is a new one from the creator of the infamous Charles and Lola. 

Aunty’s Wedding

Aunty's Wedding

Aunty’s Wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty’s Wedding

Miranda Tapsell $ Joshua Tyler

Samantha Fry

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760524838

In the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, it is time to get dressed for Aunty’s wedding.  But in this hot, humid climate it is not a time for long white dresses, high-heeled shoes and other fancy finery  – although Uncle, the groom, does dress “like a penguin”.  No, this is a time for a light, pretty hat, a wurrijinga in the hair or on the shirt, and a japalingini and pamijini for the bride…  But what is a wedding and why do we have them?

Beautifully illustrated with the meaning of the unfamiliar words made very clear, this is a story that not only celebrates Aunty’s wedding but also makes us think about the rites and rituals of other weddings the reader might have attended or seen.  Is Aunty any less married because her wedding ceremony is different or is Maningawu’s explanation of it being about love and two people publicly promising to care for each other forever at the core of all marriages and the rest of it just added extras?  What a stunning way to introduce an exploration into the ceremonies of the different cultures represented in the school. A worthy addition to the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection now available through the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.

We Love You, Magoo

We Love You, Magoo

We Love You, Magoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Love You, Magoo

Briony Stewart

Puffin, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760896904

From the very front cover, the family says they love their dog Magoo but he’s beginning to wonder.  No matter how hard he tries to be like them, with them and do the things they do, he quickly finds out there is one rule for people and another for dogs.  It’s a bit like being a little person – one rule for you and another for the grown-ups.

This is an hilarious story that will resonate with all of us who have dogs and know just how much they want to be a part of our daily lives.  But it could also have a serious side because there is often a very good reason we don’t let our pets eat and do the same things we do, and so it can become a teaching tool as children become more responsible for the animals in their care. In fact, the Humane Society has even published a list of human foods that are poisonous to pets so that what seems like deprivation is actually what’s best for them.

Its text is simple and the rhyme. rhythm and repetition mean that even our youngest readers will be able to pick it up and tell themselves the story – such an empowering part of early reading behaviours.   

 

Ling Li’s Lantern

Ling Li's Lantern

Ling Li’s Lantern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ling Li’s Lantern

Steve Heron

Benjamin Johnston

Midnight Sun, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227673

Da Zhi often set his children challenges to help them become good, kind and honest and build their wisdom. But this challenge would prove to be the hardest yet – each was given the same amount of money and with it, they were to each fill an empty pagoda with anything they chose but they had to spend wisely.  

Jingming, the eldest, completed the task first, filling his pagoda with bamboo.  Miao , the middle child, filled his with duck feathers and down. Both pleased their father.  But on her way to market, Ling Li spent her coins on helping others in need so that she only had two left by the time she got there.  What could she buy with so little that would please her father as much as her brothers had?

Told in the voice of old didactic stories whose job was to teach the listeners, this is a beautifully illustrated story that might seem to have come from yesteryear but which has great application for today’s strange times.  Given the extraordinary events of 2020, if our students were set the same task as Ling Li and her brothers, what would they fill their pagoda with?  Books? Games? Toilet paper?  Even without their experiences of the last few months, it is unlikely they would have made the same choices as the brothers, so why did Jingming and Miao choose bamboo and duck down? Is Ling Li’s choice still relevant to this time and place.

While the theme of this story may be familiar, it’s refreshing to read this modern interpretation which demonstrates that some values are timeless and universal. 

Mama Ocean

Mama Ocean

Mama Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Ocean

Jane Jolly

Sally Heinrich

Midnight Sun, 2020

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227659

On the surface the ocean was a silver mirror, but deep below, Mama Ocean rose from the seabed and called her children to her for she was sad, distressed and unwell. To cheer her up all the creatures brought her gifts of the amazing things they had found swirling in the currents – bags, straws, bottles, cans. toys, nets, all manner of things that were shiny and bright. But nothing helped Mama Ocean to cheer up and start feeling well again.  As she gasped for breath, the creatures realised that all the finery they thought was pretty was fake and it was what was killing her.  And they hatched a plan, one that had extraordinary consequences…

This is the companion story to Papa Sky, and it is equally as powerful and poignant with its message about the plight of the planet. Visually stunning with so much of the message conveyed in the illustrations, the reader cannot fail to understand what Jolly and Heinrich are trying to say and portray. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If COVID-19 was the circuit breaker that the planet needed then it is stop-you-in-your-tracks stories like this that will hopefully persuade all of us to look at the ocean through a new lens, not as something sparkling that stretches forever and thus just a vast dumping ground, but something that is vital to the health of the planet and its inhabitants, whether we live by the sea or not.  Teaching notes are available.

Diamonds

Diamonds

Diamonds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamonds

Armin Greder

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760877040

A young girl watches her mother get ready for a night out, curious about the diamond earrings she is wearing.  Using a child’s logic and train of thought she asks about their origins, but her mother cuts the conversation short ostensibly because it is time for her to go but perhaps she doesn’t really want to delve too deeply into their story.  

When the young girl is put to bed by the maid, clearly of African descent, the story continues without words, tracing the journey of those diamonds from the African mine workers through the hands of various “brokers” each seemingly driven by the riches they will bring regardless of the poverty and plight of those whom they exploit until the earrings are presented to her mother by Winston.

Greder is well known for looking beyond the story to the story beneath and presenting this with a minimum of text but the most powerful illustrations, and this is no exception. What really does go on in the mysterious netherworld of international trade so that those with a lust for power and riches can satisfy their hunger?

This is a picture book for older readers that, like The Mediterranean and Australia to Z,  is confrontational but it is one way to raise awareness and start conversations.  The afterwords by Francesco Boille and Riccardo Noury are not only powerful but also add extra information and insight making this a unique must-have for any school curriculum and library collection that has a social justice focus.

You Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency

You Can't Call an Elephant in an Emergency

You Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781408880630

You can’t call an elephant in an emergency

He’ll blunder around and trumpet with glee

Then tangle the hoses and cause a flood

and laugh as the fire crew slips in the mud

Even our youngest readers are familiar with the term “first responders” now and while there hasn’t been a national campaign here to stand at our driveways and applaud them in tribute, perhaps, in this most trying year, it wouldn’t be amiss to do so. But in this hilarious book from the team that brought us You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Diggerand You Can’t Take an Elephant on a Bus,young people can learn about those who do help us in an emergency and how they can be contacted.

There are often news reports of young children having saved a life because they knew to dial 000 and so this is the perfect non-confrontational way to introduce and teach this information. As well as that, it could also be extended to learn how to avoid getting into tricky situations such as causing fires and staying out of floodwaters. Even though it’s primary purpose is to entertain by putting animals in ludicrous situations, nevertheless in the hands of a skilled teacher or parent, there is much more that can be gained from sharing this book. 

A must-have for anyone with health and safety on the curriculum.  

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

9781760651510

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.