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Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppy, the Punk Turtle

Aleesah Darlinson

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760899233

 In the Mary River in South-East Queensland lives a creature found nowhere else in the world- one only identified in 1994 and already facing extinction. The Mary River turtle, Elusor macrurus,  is a new genus and species of freshwater turtle affectionately known as the punk turtle because the slow-moving water of the river allows green algae to grow all over it. 

 

But that’s not Poppy’s only unique feature – as well as breathing normally on the water’s surface, she can also breathe through her bottom! Plip! Plop! Parp!  However, despite her ancestors being in the river for millions of years Poppy and her relations now face many threats, mostly from the impact of humans and these are explored for young readers in the second in this series that investigates lesser-known endangered species. Combining the author’s ability to pitch the text perfectly for the intended audience with the same big, bright, bold illustration style of Coco, the Fish with Hands, young readers have a story that entertains and educates them. Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike.

Perfect for those like my little friend Xander who is fascinated by the world around him, prefers non fiction over fiction and has almost mastered reading independently.   And for his parents who will share it with him and spur his quest to learn more. As it did for me!. 

What If, Pig?

What If, Pig?

What If, Pig?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What If, Pig?

Linzie Hunter

HarperCollins, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780008409470

Mouse has never had a friend quite like Pig. Pig is so incredibly kind, endlessly thoughtful and fabulously fun, that he is the best friend anyone could ever have. But Pig also has a big secret… he’s a tremendous worrier!

So when he decides to throw a party for all his friends the concern kicks in and he worries about everything from a lion eating the invitations to his guests comparing this party to others.  In fact, he worries so much that he decides to call it off.

Luckily, Mouse is attuned to Pig’s mental health and suggests a walk so they can talk things over before he makes a final decision…

Anxiety about the what ifs are becoming a real part of the psyche of so many of our students these days because adults seem to be attaching such high stakes to the smallest things. And with lockdown in many places stretching out seemingly endlessly the lack of that interaction with their peers that normally provides some perspective and balance is lacking and so molehills become mountains very quickly.  So sharing stories like this in which we are assured that “things don’t stay grey for very long” is an essential part of helping our little ones cope and develop strategies for when the what ifs seem to take over. 

As well as the positive story which is charming in itself, the quirky illustrations and visual tricks with the text really make this book stand out, offering an introduction to the ways illustrators and designers can add so much to words on a page.  It demonstrates the differences in style between artists -compare this pig to one from Three Little Pigs for example and talk about the similarities and differences yet the legitimacy of each style.  This is the age when children become super-critical of their own artwork, and if it doesn’t look like the real thing or what they envisage, many dismiss their efforts, tell themselves they “can’t draw” and this self-talk destroys  their creativity.

So, all in all, this is a must-have for so many reasons. 

If the World Were 100 People

If the World Were 100 People

If the World Were 100 People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the World Were 100 People

Jackie McCann

Aaron Cushley

Red Shed, 2021

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

9780755503537

 

Over time there have been a number of books that reduce the world’s population to 100 people so that little ones can understand how things compare.

Imagining a number like 8 billion is tricky but reducing it to a village where 100 people live – each person representing around 80 million people in the real world and then exploring the similarities and differences through specific questions  makes it easier to understand. Are they all grown-ups? Are there more males or females? How many have black hair or blue eyes? What languages do they speak? Who can read and write? How many have access to the internet or have enough food to eat? Does everyone have access to electricity or clean water?

Using double-page spreads, clever illustrations and graphic design elements, the global village is reduced to manageable proportions making it easier to see the things we have in common, and the things that make us different. There is also a challenge to consider the world in 2050 when they will be the decision-makers and how they can contribute to making the world more equitable.

But as well as the social and humanitarian aspects of the book, it is also an excellent way to talk about data collection, interpretation and presentation, offering the perfect pathway into learning about the various types of graphs, their purposes and formats. Students could also survey their class to see how it compares to the village by calculating the class number as a percentage of the 100 villagers, asking the questions and comparing the numbers.  A purposeful and meaningful way to bring real life into their maths lessons.

A valuable addition to any teacher’s toolbox and a fascinating examination for any child interested in their world and its statistics.

 

I Wonder

I Wonder

I Wonder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wonder

Allison Paterson

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2021

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

9781922488466

The little boat loves being towed along the frothy edge of the waves and bobbing in the rock pool. But one day he is left behind and for weeks he lies alone in the sand dunes. Then one day a potato chip packet is blown into him and he thinks he has found company at last.  But a seagull declares the packet as rubbish, the wind picks it up and blows it into the sea and the little boat wonders if it is rubbish too. Over time it is joined by a takeaway cup and a plastic bag who add ‘litter’ and ‘waste’ to its vocabulary before they, too are blown into the sea. Gradually the little boat becomes surrounded by debris as it falls apart as abandoned as the things that surround it. 

Until one day a little boy comes along…

Inspired by an early morning walk on the beach and the litter that was left on the foreshore after a community family event the evening before. the author  simply wondered ‘why? ‘ and so this story of a forgotten toy grew as a focal point for young readers to think about what happens to the garbage that is left behind on the beach. There are no beach elves that come to clean it up so where does it end up?  And what could be done to prevent it being there in the first place? 

The issue of the amount of plastic, particularly, that ends up in our oceans and landfill is gaining greater awareness so this is a timely story that starts to build that awareness in young people and offers them a few tips as to what they can do with teachers’ notes (linked to the Australian Curriculum) available to assist this. With warmer weather coming and visits to the beach on the horizon, there is lots of scope for children to learn how small steps impact on the greater good (another timely lesson right now) and even if they can’t go on on a rubbish-collection walk there is plenty of scope to detail alternatives to plastics. 

Stories like this with illustrations that cleverly bring even a potato chip packet to life and which have extra details which enrich and enhance the text (check out the fishing line around the seagull’s leg),  are a powerful way to deliver important messages to our youngest readers so they can start their good habits early, learn that small things can lead to bigger things (positive or negative) within the realms of enjoyable entertainment. 

Seahorses Are Sold Out

Seahorses Are Sold Out

Seahorses Are Sold Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seahorses Are Sold Out

Constanze Spengler

Katya Gehrmann

Gecko Press, 2021

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776573868

Mika’s father works from home and he’s very busy! He can never find time for the promised swimming trip. So Dad allows Mika to choose a pet from the store while he finishes the project—something quiet like a mouse. But when the mouse gets lost, Mika goes back to the pet shop to buy a puppy to sniff it out and keep watch over it.  But when the puppy does a puddle in the bathroom because it doesn’t understand how to use the toilet, she goes back to get a seal who will oversee the proper use of the bathroom.  But when the seal wants to swim and the mouse can’t…  Sadly the seahorses have sold out.

And all the while the too-busy father doesn’t notice until finally he finishes the job he is working on.

This story of a single dad trying to balance child care and working from home will resonate with many at the moment, while that of the child wanting a pet for company will be familiar to many children.  And the extravagance of Mika’s solution will make them laugh.  But if the seahorses weren’t sold out what care would they need? Would they make the perfect pet that Dad wants?  Perhaps an opportunity to investigate these amazing little creatures.   

 

 

The Bark Book

The Bark Book

The Bark Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bark Book

Victoria Mackinlay

Beth Harvey

ABC Books, 2021

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

Being a dog can be lonely if you’re stuck inside while everyone else is at school or work.  But when your owner comes through the door and you know that that means time for a walk outside, then the adventures are innumerable and the excitement immeasurable.  And there is a bark for every part of the journey, even when you’re stuck because you chased a skink.

Combining minimal but clever text with equally clever illustrations (check the tree’s expression embedded in the bark when the dogs wees on it), this is a story that every dog owner who has walked their pooch will relate to.  And the young reader will get just as much joy from the read as the dog gets from its walk.  It is one that needs to be shared together because the words and pictures are so dependent on each other, and each time it is shared there will be something new to discover!

Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur

Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur

Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur

Katrina Sharman

Nick Sharratt

Bloomsbury, 2021 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526603395

Rumble, rumble, dinosaur!
Wake up dinos near and far

Using the familiar tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, our youngest readers will delight in this book about dinosaurs created just for them. They can share the adventures of  a whole host of different dinosaurs throughout the course of one exciting day in the jungle … from the friendly brontosaurus to swooping pterodactyls, the gigantic stegosaurus, and of course the FEARSOME T. Rex – all heading for the dino feast.  But then, at the end of the day, just like little children, they must all rest.

The rhyme and rhythm are the perfect complement to the bright bold illustrations which offer an introduction to these creatures that endlessly fascinates children of all generations, enticing them to join in with noise and movement and get the most out of it. 

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

Backyard Birdies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Birdies

Andy Geppert

Lothian Children’s, 2021 

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

9780734420695

Can your children tell the difference between a beach chicken (seagull) and a bin chicken (white ibis) ?

Or a roof chicken (pigeon)  and a chicken chicken (chicken)?

In this introduction to the birds commonly seen in Australian backyards, including large inflatable flamingoes and swans, Andy Geppert mixes a few basic facts with a lot of humour to make for an enjoyable read for young children who will just be noticing the differences between the species.  Clever illustrations and funny text combine to make this the most unusual field guide but one which will pique little ones’ curiosity and have them trying to identify the birds that they see.   They could even make a chart and mark each one off as it is spotted from their window, beginning their skills in data gathering, mapping and interpretation!   It’s the simple things….

Mini Rabbit Come Home

Mini Rabbit Come Home

Mini Rabbit Come Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Rabbit Come Home

John Bond

HarperCollins, 2021

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

 9780008264932

Mini Rabbit is making a camp in the garden.
He can’t wait. It’s going to be the BEST DAY ever!

But there are still a few last things he needs to get – rope to hold the den down, wood for the campfire and marshmallows to toast on it. And it looks like it might rain. 

There are few things as much fun (or as scary) as sleeping out under the stars, particularly if it’s the first time.  So setting up camp in the backyard is always a good start – how well I remember the grandies spending the first night in their Christmas tent in the country-dark when the city-light was what they were used to!  So this new adventure with Mini Rabbit will resonate with a lot of little readers, including the ending.

So many of our little ones are confined to home at the moment so perhaps suggesting a backyard sleepout could give them something to plan for and look forward to.  Working out what they need, how they will build their den, making lists like Mother Rabbit and bringing it all together not only make for a great adventure but also offer lots of screen-free learning.  And if photos are shared with classmates…

Dr Margaret Merga has written an interesting article about how books can be a healing retreat during isolation – this one fulfils that concept both physically and metaphorically.

Frankie and the Fossil

Frankie and the Fossil

Frankie and the Fossil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankie and the Fossil

Jess McGeachin

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760898847

Frankie knows all there is to know about dinosaurs because not only is she fascinated by them but she has memorised all the labels at the Natural History Museum, a place she loves to visit.  

But one day she notices a new sign, one that says “Don’t feed the fossil”. Thinking that was unfair, she pulled a cheese sandwich from her pocket and sneakily gave it to the dinosaur. 

That single action leads to a whole new ‘career’ for Frankie as her knowledge about dinosaurs deepens to understanding…

In an earlier time, the significance of this book may well have passed me by but with so many schools currently in lockdown and students isolated at home. no plan to get them back to school because school staff have still not been identified as front-line workers (and where they have, vaccinations are stretched too thinly), and many surveys examining the effect of the lack of contact with others on children, particularly their mental health, this underlying message of this story  was crystal clear.  Both people and dinosaurs are herd creatures and lack of contact with others can and does have a long-term impact.  (My friend and I still laugh that going for our flu shots in 2020 (on her birthday) was the best outing we had in weeks! So now we make the most of our days as we can.)

So in these days of enforced confinement, how can we as teachers, promote our students connecting with each other?  Can we design collaborative projects? Can we develop a team game or challenge? Can we plan an online celebration like a dress-up for Book Week or an unbirthday party? Can the walk around the neighbourhood looking for teddies in windows be expanded to something more? What are the students’ suggestions? How can they connect with a family member, a neighbour, someone else they know so they can make that person’s life easier?  Classmates are the equivalent of the dinosaur’s herd and the teacher is the leader of that herd, so apart from setting lessons, what else can we do to promote connectivity and well-being so when our kids do return to school their resilience and enthusiasm for life is intact?  

When Jess McGeachin first started planning this story, she would have had no idea of what was to come and how timely its release would be.  But what a windfall that we can share the story (Penguin Random House, the parent publisher are permitting online readings) and then use it to help our students and help them help others.

Here are some ideas contributed by our peers that might kick-start your thinking…

Clare Bell suggests

  • Write a letter to a neighbour or a relative
  • Decorate a pebble for a school garden
  • Create a picture to be hung on the school fence as an art gallery

Elise Ellerman  suggests

  • An online book club (For ideas allowing readers to respond to any book see here. )
  • Celebrate birthdays … We prepare some party food and a bake a birthday cake. We then create birthday boxes with this food. Deliver the boxes (contactless) and then have a Zoom party with some games. Everyone shares in a piece of cake together (over Zoom).

This is a link to the power and healing of reading during this COVID=19 crisis.