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Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

Leigh Hobbs

A&U Children’s, 2023

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

9781760878276

Mr Chicken has been everywhere – Paris, London, Rome, and all over Australia.  But now, tired of being at home swamped by boring, everyday household chores, he is ready for a new adventure. And as he looks out at the night sky he knows just where he wants to go – Mars.  So, with the help of his friend Boris the rocket builder, within a week he is off. 

Undaunted by a myriad of complex levers, lights, switches and gauges, he uses his trusty guidebook to safely navigate his way past asteroids and other space travellers, and after a brief visit to a space station for lunch, he gets to his destination.  But will the inhabitants welcome him or…??? Will he return safely to Earth for another adventure in the future? 

For more than 10 years, the adventures of Mr Chicken have delighted young readers and led to all sorts of engaging, intriguing learning experiences  – read some ideas in the linked reviews – and this one is no different.  Imagine being here one day and on Mars in seven! 

When Mr Chicken asked Boris to build him a rocket, he says he wants “all the comforts of home” so that could set the designers in the class planning and drawing to show just what its interior might look like, and while Hobbs has had fun with naming all the gidgets and gadgets the linguists could not only work out what they are for but suggest new ones (with labels) for the class models. Those with a penchant for space travel could investigate the history of its exploration, the astronomers could identify, explore and explain asteroids, planets, stars and even Mars itself, while the practical thinkers could investigate what is currently happening in travel to Mars.  The writers could dream up Mr Chicken’s next adventure to another planet and the illustrators could bring that to life.

And all the while, everyone is enjoying this new adventure with this intrepid explorer as he enriches their learning and lives in a way that few ever do.  

 

The Sideways Orbit of Evie Hart

The Sideways Orbit of Evie Hart

The Sideways Orbit of Evie Hart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sideways Orbit of Evie Hart

Samera Kamaleddine

HarperCollins, 2023

288pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9781460762653

Evie Hart likes rules and routines. A lot. But as she embarks on her very last year of primary school, it feels like all the rules around her are being broken and the routines are definitely being upset, starting with mum not eating dinner with the family any more. 

Then she discovers her mum, a journalist, is the author of the horoscope page for the local newspaper, and because it has her photo, her friends and their families know too, and they don’t hold back letting Evie know they think her mum writes and tells lies.  To make things worse, she learns her beloved stepdad Lee is moving to Dubbo for at least a year, perhaps splitting the family in two forever! So when Evie’s class starts learning about the Earth’s place in the universe, it makes Evie think about her own place in the world and where she belongs. 

But the more Evie learns about the sky and the stars, guided both by her kind, compassionate and knowledgeable teacher Miss Owen and her mother’s insights, the more she learns that changes in the world can’t always be controlled. And maybe that’s not a bad thing as she starts to make sense of and map out her own life as a more confident person.

Even though the title is The Sideways Orbit… there are many parallels to the lives of the readers that this book will appeal to, and so it will resonate with them as they make that sometimes tricky transition from tween to teen and young adult. While so much of her life so far has focused on the here and now, as she becomes more independent, bigger questions raise their heads – questions whose answers seem bigger and more complex than the universe – and Evie, like her readers, has to learn to navigate these in the context and boundaries of their own lives. And that doesn’t even include puberty!  Straddling the reality of the day-today while contemplating the huge world of what-ifs and what-could-bes that is opening before her, including high school on the horizon, can be overwhelming but there is comfort in knowing that there is a path forward and a way through.  So even if you feel like you’re going sideways in an endless spin, there is hope…

Many who write for and work with very young children talk about helping them understand and navigate “big feelings”. This story helps those who are at a different transition navigate theirs. 

The Secret Science Society In Space

The Secret Science Society In Space

The Secret Science Society In Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Science Society In Space

Kathy Hoopman & Josie Montano

Ann-Marie Finn

Wombat, 2023

101pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781761110092

Mona likes to moan.  Kiki is a worry-wart.  Bart loves following rules.  And Zane HATES following rules. When the four of them are put into The Secret Science Society together, they have to find a way to work that suits all their particular idiosyncrasies.  And their task is to  come up with a prize-winning experiment.  

This is the second in this series  that will appeal to those independent young readers who like to combine science and reading, while being able to appreciate and value the fact that sometimes it takes some very diverse characters and thinking to achieve something spectacular and even the wildest ideas should be considered. 

Lots of Things to Know About Space

Lots of Things to Know About Space

Lots of Things to Know About Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of Things to Know About Space

Laura Cowan

Alyssa Gonzalez

Usborne, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474997263

Every time a child looks to the sky, whether it be day or night, they wonder and ask questions.  

What is the sun?

How many stars are there?

Are we alone?

And so there is a large collection of books available to help them investigate the answers to their questions, and this new one from Usborne is a worthy addition to the collection. Using catchy subject headings like “The Universe Awards” and “How to garden on the Moon”, and using funky diagrams and illustrations with minimal text to explain them, it answers all the regular questions and a few more.   There’s even  peek into the future where the concepts that propel sailing ships might be applied to space ships!

As always with Usborne publications, the subject is explored in a novel way that makes for engaging yet educational reading and is supported by Quicklinks for those who want to know even more because their curiosity has been sparked.  

City of Light

City of Light

City of Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of Light

Julia Lawrinson

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog Books, 2023 

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

9781742036304

February 20, 1962 and astronaut John Glenn is about to become the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth in a spaceship.  From his viewpoint he will be able to see big things, huge things, giant things like the Pyramids, the Amazon, and the Grand Canyon. But how will he see a little boy and a little girl in a little street, in a suburb in a small city like Perth?  There is a way – and he did!

This is a story based on the true story of how Perth turned its lights on to say hello to John Glenn and capture the excitement of one of the first forays into space by humans. It tells of a simpler time when life was very different and such events were huge news, and how the idea of two small children captured the imagination and brought a community together.  

For those of us who remember a time when the world really was a smaller place without television, let alone the internet and a 24/7 news cycle, life was very different and apart from exploring the enormity of this event in itself, readers are also taken back to that time through both the illustrations and the text – the time that their grandparents were children and could have been those kids in the story.  Teachers’ notes offer lots of ideas to compare and contrast the times including imagining how they might signal a spacecraft passing overhead in 2023.   Would  they run around the neighbourhood in an era of phones and text and email? A purposeful way of examining how a specific timeframe and context shape the storytelling.  

But as well as being an account of a real event, it is also a story of hope. Because amid the constant bombardment of overwhelming commentary of climate change, plastic pollution, the cost-of-living and more immediate disasters like the earthquake in Türkiye-Syria, our young readers need to know that they can have ideas and do things that will change big things, even in a small way.  But that small way can grow into something that becomes momentous.  

Lots of potential for lots of exploration of so many topics

 

 

 

 

The Trip

The Trip

The Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trip

Paul Beavis 

Little Steps, 2022

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

9781922678621

When a little girl and her dog take a trip into outer space in their hot air balloon, they are quite comfortable until they see footsteps in the surface that are not theirs… Are they afraid or do they get together for a picnic?

 This is a deceptively simple book about the nature of inclusiveness because the story is told solely through the use of pronouns – me, you, us, mine, yours, ours,  and so on – and the reader really has to interpret the illustrations to tell the story making it perfect for encouraging those connections between text and picture that are critical early reading behaviours.  It also means they can tell the story using their own language as they expand on the illustrations to explain what is happening , particularly if the astute adult sharing it with them guides their reading with targeted questions to draw out the events. and thus enabling the child to return to the story independently when they wish, helping them to understand that they do have power over print and they can  read. They also learn that print stays constant – they can return to it again and again whenever they wish and take as much time as they like to absorb and tell the story.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same. 

 

 

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Meanwhile Back on Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9780008555450

“In all the cosmos, this one place in our solar system is where all of the people have lived for the whole time we’ve been people. We have always thought that Earth is so big that it’s best to divide it into smaller bits/ It seems we humans have always fought each other over space.”

And so, taking the well-known quote from Edgar Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 14 in February 1971, who said, ” From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that…” as inspiration, Oliver Jeffers has created  this intriguing book in which a father takes his two children on a thrilling out-of-this-world adventure into space and invites them to look back at Earth and the conflicts that have taken place since the beginning of time.  

Calculating time using the speed that most people drive at (37mph or 60kph),  he drives the children to the various planets and then takes them back a similar amount of time in Earth’s history to show the conflict that was occurring at the time. So driving to the Moon would take a year and then a left turn would be a 78 year drive to Venus which would take them back to the middle of the 20th century and World War II. Each destination is tied to something catastrophic happening on Earth. 

While this is an interesting way of looking at history, the ultimate futility of conflict and encouraging young readers to strive for peace in the future, the concept is quite abstract, almost esoteric and thus more suited to older readers who have the maturity and ability to look at things from beyond their realm of personal experience. Although the text appears simple, and Jeffers has added some wit to lighten the load, and a timeline on the endpapers encapsulates both the time and space aspects of the journey, this is one best shared in a situation where discussion and clarification can take place. 

 

The Moon

The Moon

The Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moon

Sanlyn Buxner

DK, 2022

80pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9780241529065

It seems incredible that it is more than 50 years since almost every eye on Earth was turned towards the moon as its surface was disturbed by the first human footsteps and that is it almost 50 years since the last mission when Apollo 17 landed in December, 1972.

Yet now, as then, and indeed for thousands of years, the fascination with our planet’s nearest neighbour remains – a regular nightly sight that appears and disappears almost magically and which has such an impact on our lives.  In this new guide written and illustrated for our younger readers, that ‘magic’ and influence and impact is explained in accessible language and lots of photographs and diagrams that that age group can readily understand as it covers  the Moon’s formation and geography, the lunar phases, a history of NASA’s Apollo missions, the Moon’s effect on Earth’s tides and nocturnal animals, its place in our mythology, recent scientific discoveries, and so much more. It includes up-to-date images from space agencies such as NASA and ESA, combined with bold illustrations, info panels, timelines, and diagrams that help demystify and explain the wonder of the Moon with all that we have learned since those first tentative footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

As interest in moon exploration grows again with NASA’s Project Artemis with plans to have humans back on the surface in 2025,  with the first major step hopefully being conducted on November 14, 2022, this is one that your budding young astronauts with their own, realistic aspirations of one day going there, will be demanding. 

 

 

 

How to Survive on Mars

How to Survive on Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Survive on Mars

Jasmina Lazendle-Galloway

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

120pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486314669

For the last couple of weeks, students have been “dreaming with their eyes open” – dreaming of what they would like to be, do and go, and, for some, that would include travelling into space, perhaps even living on another planet, like Mars.

But how to survive? With not enough air to breathe, sunlight to keep  warm, or any available food and water, life on Mars would be a challenge… but it just might be possible! In this stunning new release, the reader is taken on a journey to the Red Planet to discover natural wonders like ancient polar ice caps, the highest volcano in the solar system and a 45-kilometre-wide impact crater that was once a Martian lake. Led by astronomer and member of the National Space Society of Australia, scientists, engineers, archaeologists, ethicists and science-fiction writers have joined together to explore the planet, consider the challenges and offer solutions so those with an interest and the dream can dream on.

Photographs, activities and quizzes make it an inviting read even for those without the dream, as space tourism gathers momentum and the first crewed Mars Mission, which would include sending astronauts to Mars, orbiting Mars, and a return to Earth, is proposed for the 2030s, just as these readers will be thinking about planning gap years or family holidays. What a change from the pilgrimage to the UK of my generation!

 

 

Shine, Star, Shine

Shine, Star, Shine

Shine, Star, Shine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shine, Star, Shine

Dom Conlon

Anastasia Izlesou

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

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

9781486316823

Open your eyes.

Someone shook a fizzy universe and a festival of colour sprayed out.

It’s a nebula – gas and dust squeezed ’til it sparks and this is how our Star is born. ..

Our star’s called the Sun and without her there’s be no life on this planet called Earth…

Using lyrical text and stunning illustrations, young readers share the journey around the planet by a boy and his cat to see how all life is touched in some way by the sun.  Whether it’s ripening the wheat on farms in Idaho, or providing warmth for Australian children to romp in “whale-blue waters” each day the Sun enables and encourages life to grow in one way or another, as it shines through days, seasons, years, even lifetimes…  

There have been many books in library collections that have the sun as their focus for information, but few would be as poetic as this one. while still having so much information packed into it , including some facts that explain the use of some of Conlon’s terminology such as “planet-turner” because of the Sun’s gravitational pull on the planets of the solar system. Indeed, that in itself could spark an activity as students consider some of the things for which the sun is responsible or necessary and then devise their own vocabulary.

As well as the imaginative text, the illustrations carry their own story that could be told without reference to the words as they are so rich in both detail and imagery. 

Teachers’ notes exploring the science as well as the language are available.