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Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Environmentalist: Gardening

9781761041709

Little Historian: Dinosaurs

 9781761041716

Puffin, 2021

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Joining this popular series for young readers wanting to know more about their world, are two new titles.  Gardening joins its earlier companion Composting  to help young readers learn about plants, their needs and how they can care for them, while Dinosaurs is the latest in the Little Historian collection.

A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for over 80 years, Puffin has developed this series to introduce our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in the perfect size and format for little hands. Voiced by Puffin Little and speaking directly to the reader in a narrative style which ensures engagement, there is much to carry interest and open up new fields to explore.  The contents page and glossary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned. There has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal. 

Teacher librarians are reporting a real upsurge in young readers seeking non fiction written for their interests and abilities, particularly if they are collected together in one place in a series box,  and so collections like Puffin Little have a significant role to play in helping children understand that books have a role to play in their search for information and understanding of the world, ad  that not everything is available on the internet and certainly not at their level of understanding. Allen Lane, the founder of Puffin, began with a dream of establishing a publishing house to produce quality literature for children, beginning with four non fiction titles for children who had been evacuated to the country to keep them safe from German bombing and invasion.  Now, 81 years on, his dream is still being realised. 

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

Jackie Kerin

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2021

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

9781925804706

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries as more and more of the world was opened up by explorers like Captain James Cook, the botanists on board the ships were almost as important as the captains and the names of people like Sir Joseph Banks became just as famous as the adventurers themselves.  For as well as discovering the new lands, from them came new plants that could be eaten, used as medicines or for building things, offered delightful perfumes or provided shade.

But for every one of the plants that survived the long sea journey back to England, twenty others died as they were uprooted from their natural habitat and transported with little thought for their needs across windy, salty oceans.

From his home in a dirty, smoggy suburb of London where nothing seemed to survive the conditions, Dr Nathaniel Ward read about these exotic plants, their names and the adventures of those who sought to bring them to England, while, at the same time, those who had moved from England to other countries, particularly Australia, were desperately seeking the plants of home, something that would be familiar and help overcome the homesickness.  But one day when Dr Ward placed the pupa of a moth in a jar with some soil and sealed the lid, intending to watch it transform, he made a discovery that revolutionised the transportation and survival of plants forever as well as having a significant impact on the landscape of Australia.

Our library collections are often replete with books that salsify the curiosity of the animal lovers among our students yet somewhat lacking when it comes to those whose interest is in the plant world so this will be a welcome addition.  Despite being heavily based on fact, Kerin (author of Gold!)  tells the story in an entertaining manner and Suwannakit’s illustrations are both botanically correct and engaging making it an intriguing picture book that spans both fiction and non fiction.  If you yourself do not know of Dr Ward’s invention, read this and I promise you won’t look at a terrarium in the same way again and you will also have the basis for a series of fascinating science lessons.  Teachers’ notes are available.

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Catherine Clowes

Rachel Gyan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486313211

While books about Australia’s unique fauna abound for readers of all levels, there are fewer that focus on our unique flora and even less for younger readers who are just developing an interest in the plants the populate our landscape. 

In this new publication from CSIRO, 26 of our well-known and not-so plants are in the spotlight offering an introduction to things we see daily and those that are not so common yet still readily seen in local environments. Maps pf plant ecoregions enable readers to identify what they are most likely to see where they live.  Each double page spread has a similar format with some detailed information using accessible language that speaks directly to the reader ensuring challenging scientific concepts are easily understood such as  the exploration of plant classification (families, genera and species) through the analogy of mixed lollies;  an interesting fact that goes beyond the scientific nature of the plant; and an activity that encourages the reader to discover more about what they have just read and engage with the plant.  There are beautiful biologically accurate watercolour illustrations of each plant and its parts, while the whole has all the necessary elements to encourage easy navigation and information literacy skills.   Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available spanning a number of the Australian Curriculum areas, including a focus on the use of the plants by indigenous people.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If we are to have our students value our bushland then they must first know what there is to value (and there are pointers about how to explore it so that both explorer and environment stay safe) and so this is a must-have for any library collection and study that has the protection of our habitat at its heart. 

 

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden: The Story of the Movie

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Linda Chapman

HarperCollins, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 9780008340070

First published in 1911, The Secret Garden is the story of Mary, a  sickly, neglected, unloved and unwanted 10-year-old girl whose care has been mostly left to the servants who care for her English family in colonial India. After her parents die in a cholera epidemic, she is sent back to England into the care of her unknown uncle Archibald Craven  at his isolated mansion Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. 

At first, Mary is rude and obnoxious, disliking everything about her new circumstances but eventually she warms to Martha Sowerby who tells her about her aunt, the late Lilias Craven and how she would spend hours in a private walled garden growing roses. After his wife died in an accident in the garden,  Mr Craven locked the garden and buried the key.

Mary becomes interested in finding the secret garden herself and once she discovers the key, her life begins to change…

This version is based on the screenplay of  2020 movie which has finally been released and which many students will have seen.  Telling the core of the original story it evokes a magical world that encourages self-discovery and change and perhaps an interest in reading the original.  A stunning way to introduce a new generation to a classic. 

Tulip and Brutus

Tulip and Brutus

Tulip and Brutus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip and Brutus

Liz Ledden

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804348

Tulip and her ladybug friends live amongst the flowers while Brutus and his stinkbug friends live up in a tree.  They never play together. They are so very different that it would be hard to think they could ever be friends. But after a day of heavy rain, their habitats become merged and they realise they have to work together to protect themselves.  As they do, they begin to understand they have more in common than they realise, and each discovers new joys to explore.

The theme of unlikely friendships is not new in children’s literature, but this one is brought to life by the scintillating, action-packed illustrations of Andrew Plant (Pippa, The Perfect Leaf; Glitch,  Spark, and The Poppy) . With a mix of imagination and real-world, Ledden and Plant have combined to create a story that will appeal to young readers, bug-lovers and haters alike, and help them understand that being different and diverse is natural but that there is much to learn and enjoy through trying new things.

 

 

The Gift

The Gift

The Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift

Michael Speechley

Puffin Books, 2019

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

9780143788980

Across the road from Rosie’s house is an old dilapidated house with an unloved garden that most people thought was deserted.  But Rosie knew someone lived there, even though she had never actually seen anyone.  Once, she’d seen a shadow in the old attic window and occasionally a hand would  reach through the door and grab the groceries that were delivered and she convinced herself there was an old woman living there, one who might be mean and cranky but could also be just lonely. Like Rosie was lonely sometimes when she missed her mum and the things they did together.  

Rosie decided she would give the old woman a gift – but what? She thought long and hard and her mum’s words echoed in her ears – If you look long and hard enough, you’ll see the beauty in everything. That gave her an idea and she went across the street and finally crept up the wonky steps and placed her gift at the front door.

But why would she leave her neighbour a great big prickly weed. roots and all, and tied with a ribbon? And how will her neighbour receive such a gift?

This is the second book from Michael Speechley, – his first, The All New Must Have Orange 430 was an Honours Books in the 2019 CBCA Picture Book of the Year – and it is as intriguing as his first, with its different and poignant storyline.  Sadly, too many of our students have lost a loved one but this story shows how reaching out with a simple act of kindness to someone else can help us manage, if not heal, our own grief . Illustrated using a colour palette that reflects Rosie’s mood and feelings as the story progresses, and with an ending that doesn’t need words to suggest what is happening,   this is something special that might well join its predecessor in the awards lists for 2020.

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?

Gordon Winch

Patrick Shirvington

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594560

In 2017, Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington presented our youngest readers with an introduction to some of this country’s native fauna and flora in the hauntingly beautiful Can You Find Me?Now they have teamed up again to delve closely into what might be living in the garden with this new counting book that is as stunning as the first.

Beginning with some of the larger creatures such as the blue-tongued lizard and kookaburras, young readers are enticed to look more and more closely at the illustrations to discover just what might be hiding amongst the trees, bushes, flowers and leaves, culminating in a challenge to find all of them in the final spread. As well as the introduction to iconic creatures and enabling the reader to practise their counting skills, like the first book, it  encourages them to look more closely at their environment and see it with new eyes, to appreciate it more and perhaps even preserve it more carefully.

A counting book that does so much more than help little ones count.  

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holly the Honeybee Dancing Star

Gordon Winch

Stephen Pym

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594492

Holly the honeybee is the dancing star of her hive: she waggles, she wiggles, and she waggles again. But is there a secret message in Holly’s waggle dance? And could it help the bees survive through a long, hot summer?

The understanding of the importance of bees in our environment and their current plight, particularly during this drought, is becoming more and more widespread, and this is the most stunning book to help little children learn what about these creatures. While it focuses on Holly’s dance that leads the bees to the source of the nectar for their honey, it also offers an opportunity to talk about their critical role in the pollination of plants, without which we would have much less food to choose from. 

Adding to the reality of the book are the remarkable illustrations from Stephen Pym and you can read how much work went into designing Holly so she was an accurate yet appealing interpretation here.  The Australian bush is brought to life and readers may have fun identifying familiar species. 

 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

To add to the authenticity, there is a page with more information about Holly so adults can easily answer the questions young readers will have. 

A must-have addition to any collection that focuses on the environment and its sustainability.

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Grace’s Mystery Seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace’s Mystery Seed

Juliet M Sampson

Karen Erasmus

Ford Street, 2019

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

9781925804218

Mrs Marino’s beautiful garden fascinates Grace and while she likes the veggie patch and the fish pond, it is the flowerbeds she loves best. And her favourite job is feeding the parrots their seeds, so when she comments that Polly likes a particular sort of seed and wonders what it is, Mrs Marino helps her investigate.  Firstly, she teaches Grace how to plant the seed properly and then helps her tend it till it grows.  But what sort of seed has she planted and what is the unique magic the particular species has?

Growing things always fascinates young people and this is a delightful story that will encourage them to try planting some seeds for themselves. The success of school kitchen gardens where students plant, nourish, harvest and eat the produce has been well-documented so any stories like this one that inspire them to go outside and get their hands dirty has got to be good.  There are teachers’ notes to assist both teacher and parent but the wonder of watching something grow is reward in itself.  The science side of things is obvious, but then there is always this to start a whole new exploration…

 

One Tree

One Tree

One Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Tree

Christopher Cheng

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143786733

Long, long ago Grandfather lived high on a hill in a one-room house with nine other people, a dog and a goldfish. He loved his mountain home. “Better than an Emperor’s palace “, he would say, and when he went to the village market he could always see his home perched beside the tallest tree on the mountain.  At night, Grandfather would tell stories and everyone gathered around to hear them because his stories were the best.

But time passes and Grandfather is old and now he lives in his grandson’s apartment in the city, a busy, noisy, crowded city that has swallowed up the fields, killed the trees and silenced the birds. No longer does he tell stories – he just stares at the fading painting of his mountain and a visit to the markets is one of haste rather than leisure, of fie de lah rather than conversation, where all the buildings look the same and there is no way they can spot their apartment. 

But one day the little boy sees a little plant with two pale leaves growing through a crack in the path, and knowing that it will soon be crushed by the hundreds of rushing feet, he rescues it and despite his grandfather’s pessimism about its future, the little boy nourishes it and it flourishes – and slowly something amazing begins to happen…

If you pick up a book by Christopher Cheng , you know you are going to get an outstanding story, one that will have a profound effect on you. In my opinion, One Tree is as impressive as his iconic One Child  (now 21 years old) with its powerful message about the power of one and the change that can happen because just one child believes. 

And true to form, Bruce Whatley who says he would “get bored if I stuck to one or two [illustration styles}” has illustrated this book in a completely new style, one that complements the text perfectly. “For One Tree I wanted to do something new yet it had to have a traditional feel. I have fond memories of doing Linocuts in college, carving into soft ochre layers, taking away the space between the lines. Then rolling ink onto it and printing the result. Such a great medium. Not having the time or space and being mobile for most of the time I decided to create the technique using Photoshop on my portable Wacom Cintiq tablet and my Mac. I constructed 3 layers in Photoshop, an off white base layer, a dark ochre middle layer, (these colours echoed the lino and were purely for nostalgic reasons) and a top transparent layer where I copied my pencil roughs. I then used the eraser tool with a stylus pen on the ochre layer to ‘gouge’ out the space between the lines. What was left I converted to a black textured line and added the colours on the layer beneath.” Books Illustrated

Like all quality picture books, this is one that spreads itself across all age groups, inspires the reader to act on what they have read and is a pleasure to read, review and recommend. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…