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Song of the River

Song of the River

Song of the River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the River

Joy Cowley

Kimberly Andrews

Gecko Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781776572533

High in the mountains where he lives, Cam tells his grandfather that he wishes he could see the sea and his grandfather promises to take him there “one day.”

But as winter turns to spring and the snows begin to melt, Cam watches a trickle of water running through the pine trees, water that splashed and sang in the voice of the snow, 
Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.” And unable to resist its song, Cam follows it and begins a journey that broadens his horizons in so many ways.

The beautiful, lyrical words of one of New Zealand’s premier authors for children, Joy Cowley and the stunning, detailed, muted illustrations of Kimberly Andrews which echo both the high country of New Zealand and the Canada of her childhood come together in what is indeed a song of the river.  With a text that builds much like the river itself, rises to a crescendo and then returns to its original melody like a piece of music, this is indeed an aptly named story both in content and style. It lends itself to all sorts of mapping activities, more than just the physical journey of the trickle to the sea. Even exploring why the author named it “Song of the River” rather than “Story of the River” will open up the beauty of the language and the build-up of the journey.

With a landscape very different from those of the illustrations, and much of the country in one of the worst drought’s ever, this is an ideal book to begin an investigation of Australia’s rivers and compare their origins and uses to those of the river in the story.  A search of the NDLRN using Scootle will bring up a number of units of work focusing on the Murray-Darling Basin such as A Sense of Place (TLF ID R11374) (written by me for Year 3-4 but which could be adapted for both age and situation) that could be the perfect companions to maximise the impact of this book.

 

Meerkat Splash

Meerkat Splash

Meerkat Splash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meerkat Splash

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143792895

Digging down, down into the meerkat burrow, Meerkat Red discovers it is bathtime for the meerkats and he joins in what quickly becomes a riotous time for meerkats of every hue – blue, green black, orange , brown … even Rainbow Meerkat joins in the fun!

Action-packed with lots of humour, this is a story-in-rhyme that not only teaches young readers about colours but also inclusivity.  No matter what its colour, each meerkat is welcome to come and join the bathtime fun before bedtime as they live in harmony in the beautiful burrow mapped out on the endpapers. 

Meerkats have enjoyed a popularity since we were introduced to Timon in the 1994 release of The Lion King, and now rebooted with the current version, as well as the popular Meerkat Manor and so our youngest readers are familiar with their cheeky antics and they will not be disappointed with this new incarnation. Lots of fun!

Rabbit’s Hop: A Tiger & Friends book

Rabbit's Hop

Rabbit’s Hop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit’s Hop

Alex Rance

Shane  McG

Allen & Unwin, 2019 

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

9781760524449

Jack Rabbit loved Rabbit Island. He loved his friends and family and all the little rabbits. He loved being the best at hopping and chomping and (nearly the best) at zigzagging. As he taught the little rabbits to hop and chomp and zigzag, he encouraged them to be kind, work hard and enjoy themselves, a mantra that he finds himself putting into practice as he makes his way from his comfort zone of Rabbit Island to the unknown of Big Island at the invitation of his cousin Roo.

This is an entertaining tale that encourages young readers to have the confidence to take risks and explore a world wider than the one they know. A sequel to Tiger’s Roar it continues the positive message of self-belief, unselfishness and perseverance that young readers need to hear and see in practice.  And to add a twist, a series of letters from the key characters on the final page sets up the series for its next episode.  

Just a happy, charming series about friendships and our dependence on one another to be our best selves.

 

Duck Duck Moose

Duck Duck Moose

Duck Duck Moose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duck Duck Moose

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2019 

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

9781760634704

Two ducks with attitude are making their way through the forest when suddenly they encounter Moose…

To tell the rest of the story would not only spoil it but would also just be my interpretation of the sparse text juxtaposed against the fabulous illustrations which contain all the action and expressions, the problem and its solution.

This is one of those books that is perfect for encouraging littlies to read both the words and the pictures and tell their own story, and even though Australian children might not be familiar with a moose there is no mistaking what it is and its impact on the ducks.  With the endpapers being an integral part of the story, it really does encourage interaction with the whole book and provides so much scope for language development, not just reading.

So, as well as being perfect for littlies, it is also rich enough in its story for being one for those who are learning English as a new language to also engage with.  Apart from interpreting the story itself, there is scope to talk about the expressions and emotions, so perfectly portrayed in the illustrations and which are universal.  

A true picture book where every element is interdependent and the key link between them is the reader and their imagination. 

When Billy Was a Dog

When Billy Was a Dog

When Billy Was a Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Billy Was a Dog

Kirsty Murray

Karen Blair

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760631826

Billy loves dogs and he really, really wants a dog. He adores Mrs Banerjee-next-door’s little dog, Fluff, but even though he promises to wash it and walk it, feed it and clean up its messes if he one of his own, his parents are not sure.  And so he hatches a plan.  If he cannot have a dog, he will be one.

To his parent’s surprise (and embarrassment) he copies all the things he knows that Fluff does, even eating his breakfast from a bowl on the floor, and when his mum and Mrs Banarjee go to the cafe, he waits on the floor alongside Fluff.  He even curls up in Fluff’s basket with her and sleeps, until Fluff begins to make funny noises and Mrs Banerjee sends him home.  He is confused but…

Many young readers will see themselves in Billy – desperately wanting a dog or a pet of some sort but not getting one.  But while many might think that pester-power is the answer, Billy’s novel solution offers the foundation for an interesting story that will appeal widely.  Being a pet-owner requires a lot of responsibility as many advertisement from places like the RSPCA  remind us particularly around Christmas time, but there could be discussion about whether Billy’s solution is actually the best one.  How else could he have shown that he was mature enough to understand what is involved and that he is responsible enough to take it seriously?

Being responsible for a pet is a huge undertaking but there are many other things that young readers want to do or have that are beyond the realm of their maturity.  So this story opens up the pathway for discussions about those sorts of things and the best responses that could become strategies.  With Book Week rapidly approaching and many schools holding book fairs, this is a great way to open up conversations about how students might be able to purchase what they want without the usual whingeing and moaning and tantrum throwing!

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Dogs with Amazing Jobs

Laura Greaves

Puffin, 2019

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143796879

Dogs have been living with and helping humans for around fifteen thousand years. All those years ago dogs were either hunters or guardians, but these days, dogs can do all kinds of amazing jobs. Often our first thoughts about working dogs are those who are assistance dogs or those on farms working with cattle or sheep, perhaps even Oddball who protected a penguin sanctuary from fox attacks,  but in this collection the stories of over 30 dogs are told, each one different and unique.  There is Bailey the border collie became the Assistant Director of Seagulls at the Australian National Maritime Museum;  Caesar, the footy mascot for the Western Bulldogs;  Mr Walker who became a canine ambassador at a Melbourne hotel and Molly Polly, the Aussie silky terrier, who  saves lives.

Written for independent readers, each “biography” features a fact file that the reader can use to determine if this is a dog they want to read about today, and for those like Oscar  who have their own online presence , there are links to follow to find out more. While many of the dogs are Australian-based, the author has also included stories of dogs from other places like the Akaroa Dolphin dogs in New Zealand and Rowdy who is a vitiligo ambassador in the US. 

This is definitely a dip-and-delve book that will not only appeal to dog lovers, but perhaps also to reluctant readers who are still developing their skills because the chapters are short, it is non fiction and the subject is a universal one. Perhaps they could even add a chapter about a special dog they know.

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Everest

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Alexandra Stewart

Joe Todd-Stanton

Bloomsbury, 2019

64pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9781526600769

Prior to the lunar landing 50 years ago, climbing to the top of Everest was seen as perhaps the greatest physical feat that had been achieved.

In the late morning of May 29th 1953, the sun was shining brightly on the roof of the world, a gentle breeze was blowing and two men were there to witness it for the first time ever … Their names were Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and the roof of the world was Everest.

This is the breathtaking story of how two very different yet equally determined men battled frost-biting temperatures, tumbling ice rocks, powerful winds and death-defying ridges to climb the world’s highest mountain. Join these two unlikely heroes on the most amazing of adventures and discover the impact of hundreds of men and women that helped Hillary and Tenzing achieve their goal. But triumphs can be marred with tragedy as not everyone who climbs Everest survives …

With a  foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, this  book combines fresh and contemporary illustrations by Joe Todd-Stanton with Alexandra Stewart’s captivating writing and has been published to concide with the celebrations of f Edmund Hillary‘s birth in New Zealand on January 20, 1919. This unique narrative tells the story of how Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made their mark on the world from birth right up to their final days and the impact they’ve had on Nepal today.

Perhaps because Sir Edmund became a friend of my mother’s and once took her down Aoraki (Mt Cook in New Zealand) on the back of a skidoo so she could be home in time for my birthday, Everest has always held a fascination for me. So to learn about the story behind the climb that made him a household name at a time when New Zealand was not, has been a most fascinating read.

Something to capture the imagination of those who like their superheroes to be real.

Monkey Time

Monkey Time

Monkey Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey Time

Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780062383020

It takes time to spin a web.

It takes time to climb a tree.

It takes time to hatch from an egg.

It takes time to eat a meal.

It takes time to bloom.

Monkey is trying to catch time.

Up, down, and all around Monkey goes.

Can Monkey catch a minute

Can you?

From the creator of  both Little i  and  Red, A Crayon’s Story  comes a new story that explores time, this time. Asleep in a tree with branches remarkably like a clock face, Monkey is taunted by Minute who challenges him to catch him as he races around the “clock”. And when, despite Monkey’s frantic effort, Minute beats him another Minute pops up with the same challenge. 

“We are lightning fast, and you are a slowpoke, Monkey.”

Fifty-nine times, Monkey chases the minutes until…

Time is a very abstract concept for young children and while they constantly hear about “Just a minute” and “Wait a minute” and so on, it is hard for them to know just how long a minute is. For anyone, even an adult, who is watching the clock a minute can whiz by or it can drag like a gammy leg, so it’s no wonder it’s a tricky concept for a little one to grasp.   However, by having fun with the book and challenging the child to see what can be accomplished in a minute using a one-minute egg-timer as a visual reference, it will start them on the journey towards understanding.  The addition of the strategy for breaking an hour up into blocks and the counting endpapers enhance  the power of the book, as do the descriptions of the rainforest creatures that appear in Monkey’s story. 

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

100 Ways to Make the World Better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Ways to Make the World Better

Lisa M. Gerry

National Geographic Kids. 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781426329975  

From something as manageable as forgiving someone or leaving a complimentary note in their locker to more complex ideas such as taking a First Aid class or letting your trash be someone else’s treasures, this is a small book full of big ideas about how to make the world a better place both physically and emotionally. 

With philosophy such as being the kind of friend you’d like to have and being inclusive, it covers personal issues that can help the individual be more calm, more mindful and more responsive to their world while also taking actions that can help shape the world into what they want it to be.   Ideas are presented as simple concepts with engaging graphics and photographs, and many are followed by detailed supporting information, including advice from Nat Geo explorers, interviews with experts and weird but true facts. readers can get a sense of their own power to make a difference and an understanding of what actions contribute to positive outcomes and how they can change things by themselves.

While journalling and personal challenges are becoming a popular way to have students focus on the positives and support their mental health, sometimes knowing where to start can be overwhelming so this could be used to guide that journey by having students set themselves the 100 tasks over the school year, and help them structure their progress that way as they work their way through them. They might also have spaces for another 20 ways they discover that are not mentioned in the book and these could be added to a class wall chart to inspire others to look more widely. 

While these sorts of books always inspire when you first pick them up, without accountability life can go back to routine quickly so offering ways to keep the ideas in focus and support the reader over time will not only help them, but also the adult offering that support. We can all make our world better. 

 

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.