Archives

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

The Perfect Leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Leaf

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2018 

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

9781925736007

In the centre of the local town there are huge trees, planted generations ago and now the source of the most stunning leaf show in autumn that children and adults alike love to swoosh through, making them scatter, building piles to fall into and have some great free fun on Mother Nature.  

And so it is with Elly and Mai on this “cold-sun sort of day, this wind-in-the-branches day.  Both are in the park and they meet as they kick their way through the rustling, crunching piles, each searching for that perfect leaf and eventually finding something even more special.  Is there a perfect leaf to be found?  Is it yellow as butter or red as a summer apple? Delicate as gold or crimson velvet? Like a warm flame on a winter’s day of rain or like the sun on your face on a day so cold that your breath steams like a dragon’s? Does it matter if there is a tear, a mark or a hole or do they all have a special magic?

The language, the pictures, the colours of this story make the fun of playing in autumn leaves that we all remember burst from the page in a joyous celebration of childhood delight.  Young readers will readily relate to Elly and Mai and their special quest while adult readers will have a smile of reminiscence. Apart from the riot of colour, Andrew has also hidden lots of little woodland dwellers in the shapes and shadows pictures – you can find the list in the teachers’ notes  – so the reader is encouraged to not only look at the details in the picture but also to look more closely at the natural world that surrounds them so that something like a pile of autumn leaves becomes a full sensory experience.  Perhaps they, too, will find the magic as Elly and Mai did. 

Each time I receive a book with Andrew Plant’s name on it (The Poppy, Spark and Glitch) I look forward  to something special – and this is no different. A wonderful kickstart to asking “Why do the leaves change colour?” and all the STEM activities associated with that.

Blast Off!

Blast Off!

Blast Off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blast Off!

Shelly Unwin

Ben Wood

Random House Australia, 2018

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

9780143785040

Eight planets in the solar system.

spinning round and round.

Let’s climb aboard our rocket ship

and zoom off planet-bound.

Young readers can join two intrepid astronauts and their dog on this rollicking adventure around the solar system full of fun and laughter as well as facts.

Expecting to be able to fry up some bacon and eggs and make woofles, they discover “Mercury is mega-hot and closest to the sun.  You couldn’t visit Mercury, the heat would burn your bum.”

Combining clever, engaging text-in-rhyme with illustrations that add so much more to the adventure, as well as a chart at the bottom to show where each planet is in the scheme of things, this is a clever introduction to the solar system that will introduce our youngest readers to what is out there and whet their appetite to find out more. The journey back from Neptune contains more ‘formal’ facts about each planet including a brief explanation about why Pluto is no longer included as a planet.

A fun way to take a journey out of this world.

 

Papa Sky

Papa Sky

Papa Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papa Sky

Jane Jolly

Sally Heinrich

MidnightSun, 2017

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

9781925227291

Way up high in the cloud forests where the earth meets the sky, Papa Sky is having fun taking handfuls of clouds, shaping them into beautiful sculptures and then, with a puff, sending them east and west across the lands.  All day he is does it. making amazing lifelike images to drift across the big blue for cloud-dreamers to watch and imagine. 

But that night he is so tired that while he is sleeping a wind blows him down, down, down through the forest where he lands with a thump and a bump startling the inquisitive creatures below.  But while they are fascinated by their unexpected visitor, they know that he must return to his home for “Without him, we are nothing.” And so, from the smallest, and the quietest to the most secretive they work together to try to get Papa Sky back where he belongs.  Can they do it?  Will be once again be the maker of cloud-shapes and fabulous figures?

From the first endpaper to the last, this is a beautiful story stunningly illustrated with a palette as gentle as the text making it a seamless match of words and pictures that is unique. High over some of the worlds tropical and subtropical regions where there is persistent moisture that continually rises in the heat, rainforest canopies mingle with the clouds making for a mysterious setting just waiting for someone with the imagination of Jane Jolly and the talent of Sally Heinrich to weave something magical, almost a modern legend that could be shared with children when they ask where the clouds come from and start to see the ever-changing shapes. 

Australia has its own cloud forests beyond Cairns, as does New Zealand so students could investigate what creatures would be there to help Papa Sky if he had fallen there, and, using the back endpaper as a model, present their discoveries. A new way to studying the perennial “creatures of the rainforest” topic! Or perhaps pose the question, “If Papa Sky doesn’t make the clouds, where do they come from?” and male a mural on cloud-shaped paper of the suggestions and then investigate and create an explanation. Or maybe just take them outside on a “partly cloudy” day and let them experience the joy of just lying back and watching the clouds and wondering

This book deserves its place among the CBCA Notables for 2018.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lego Animal Atlas

Lego Animal Atlas

Lego Animal Atlas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lego Animal Atlas

Rona Skene

DK, 2018

78pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241316573

No matter which part of the planet you live in, there will be fascinating and unique creatures to see and learn about.  From the blue-ringed octopus of Australia to guanaco of South America to the addax of Africa each continent and each habitat within that continent is populated with wildlife, familiar and not-so. In this new book from master children’s publishers DK< young readers are not only introduced  to these creatures but are also provided with the Lego blocks to start constructing some of them.

Beginning with building instructions for a mini giraffe, panda, penguin and kangaroo for which the blocks are provided, suggestions are then made for making body parts like noses, eyes, teeth and beaks using the reader’s own collection of bricks. And if the reader doesn’t have them, they are encouraged to use their imaginations to substitute what they do have.   There are tips on how and what to build with the emphasis on the fun of building rather than a perfect product. 

Readers are then introduced to the world’s major habitats and continents and the unique species of each.  As well as the clear photos and tips and tricks that will inspire building there is also a ‘model map’ with  a colour-coded key designating the different bricks used for each habitat.  So as well as making the unique creatures of Australasia, for instance, these can also be placed on a map base to show where they are found. 

Of course it wouldn’t be DK without lots of tidbits of interesting information about the creatures backed up with a comprehensive glossary and index which support the child’s information literacy development.  Learning is definitely fun! Because there are no step by step instructions for making the creatures apart from those for the giraffe, panda, penguin and kangaroo, just the clear photos and some suggestions for the trickier bits, challenging children to create their own instructions for a particular model using step-by-step photos using those initial instructions as an example would provide an authentic learning experience that would definitely stretch their skills, demonstrate their knowledge and be fun!

This would be a wonderful addition to those with makerspaces but because of the small parts provided it is only suitable for those over 6. 

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lego Star Wars Choose Your Path

Simon Hugo

DK, 2018

125pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241313824

What more fitting book to review for May the 4th than one with a Star Wars theme? Even though it is not released till May 28, there is no harm in building up anticipation for something new and different that is going to encourage even the most reluctant of readers to explore.

With the book comes protocol droid U-3PO, a small toy suitable for those 6+, who accompanies the adventures, gives advice and maybe even leads the adventurer astray. The reader chooses one of three quests- Hunt the Sith, Fight the Empire or Defeat the First Order – and then sets off to achieve it while meeting favourite characters and creatures, travelling in awesome vehicles as they move from planet to planet, all the while remaining in charge of the journey as they select the route according to the choices on offer.  

Along the way there are photos, facts and figures and information about a range of incredible Lego models that can be purchased – Star Wars fans like my son are so easy to buy for! –  as well as challenges to build new, original models.

The power of choose-you-own-adventure has long been proven as an inducement to read and discover, so to combine it with both Star Wars and Lego is just genius.  Perfect for that collaborative reading that young boys who are verging on independence love and need, or for any Star Wars fan. 

The Bacteria Book

The Bacteria Book

The Bacteria Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bacteria Book

Steve Mould

DK, 2018

72pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780241316580

As winter approaches and with it, the cold and flu season with all its accompanying warnings of washing your hands, sneezing into your elbow and staying home if you’re sick, the timing of the publication of this new release from DK is perfect.  While we are so conscious of not spreading disease, just what are these baddies that are so tiny that we can’t see them but fear them anyway? And are they all bad?

Steve Mould (!) takes young readers into the world of microbiology and introduces the bacteria, viruses, and other germs and microbes that are all around, and how they keep us and our world running.

Bacteria and their microbial mates viruses, fungi, algae, and protozoa are the most important living organisms on Earth, and 99 per cent of them are helpful, not harmful. Without bacteria, there would be no bread or cheese, and our bodies wouldn’t be able to work how we need them to. Using the iconic DK style of photos, captions, small blocks of text, a glossary for the big words and an index to discover a particular interest, young readers can discover this almost-invisible world through explanations which use the technical language but in a way that young readers can easily grasp the meaning.  

From discovering bacteria’s superpowers – they are magnetic, electric, sticky and and able to dissolve other creatures – to learning that half of all people have little creatures that live in their eyelashes and walk around on their eyelids at night, this is a book that will fascinate young minds and may even initiate some dinner conversation!

Perfect for raising awareness and understanding, Display it with a microscope and other paraphernalia and listen to the conversations begin!

 

Big Book of Stars and Planets

Big Book of Stars and Planets

Big Book of Stars and Planets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Book of Stars and Planets

Emily Bone

Fabiano Florin

Usborne, 2016

16pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781474921022

From the time they are able to understand the concept of day and night and be able to stay up late enough to view the night sky, young children are fascinated with it.  Now, as daylight saving time is over and darkness descends closer to their bedtime, little ones have a greater opportunity to look at the stars and wonder and ask questions.  So this publication from Usborne, who, IMO, is one of the top two producers for non fiction for young readers, would be a timely addition to either the personal or the school library.

With four gigantic folds outs which little ones adore, it provides an introduction to the worlds beyond our own explaining in simple captions accompanying a multitude of life-like diagrams the basics of the solar system, the sun, gigantic galaxies, the constellations and space exploration.  Accompanied by the usual quicklinks to answer the questions of the more curious, it is the ideal introductory text for younger readers.

Pique their interest by sharing this new video of moon exploration created from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which has been circling the moon since 2009 gathering information and images. Our knowledge about the moon has come a long way since the cow tripped over it!

How to be an engineer

How to be an engineer

How to be an engineer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be an engineer

Carol Vorderman

DK, 2018

144pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780241316672

 

“Being an engineer isn’t just about wearing a hard hat and looking important while holding a clipboard! It’s about looking at the world and trying to figure out how it works. “

“Engineering is all around us – our homes, clothes, phones, chairs – everything we see and use on a daily basis has been carefully designed for its purpose by specialist engineers”.

As the granddaughter of a civil engineer who built BIG projects like the island harbour at Bluff, New Zealand; the dam that holds back the waters of Lake Manapouri; and the runways of Mangere Airport in Auckland, I had always associated “engineering” with creating ginormous structures.  So it was great to have my understanding challenged and my attitude changed by this new book from DK which puts engineering into the everyday world of all of us.  Combining information about how everyday objects work, prominent engineers who have changed the world and lots of projects that can be made with common materials, it examines materials, strong structures, mighty machines, transport and  energy using the iconic DK format of accessible text, simplified explanations,  photographs and diagrams and attractive layout.

Testament to the impact of STEM in the curriculum and the development of makerspaces this book will have a wide appeal for young readers and is a must for those who are budding engineers.  (It might even help demystify physics!)

Stripes in the Forest

Stripes in the Forest

Stripes in the Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stripes in the Forest

Aleesah Darlinson

Shane McGrath

Big Sky, 2016

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

9781925275711

Stripes in the forest, stealth in the shadows.

The last female thylacine tracks through the forests of Tasmania, lands this top predator once owned and roamed at will.  But now she watches the strange creatures who are invading the land with their firesticks as they hunt and kill, not caring about the impact they are having on the environment and its creatures.  She finds a mate and pups are born, but life becomes ever more precarious.  Will she be the last of her kind?

The fate of the thylacine (aka the Tasmanian Tiger)  has been an enigma since the last one died in Hobart Zoo in 1936, just two months after protection was finally granted in a bid to save them from extinction.  Did the pups in this story survive?  Were there more to be born? Even today, there are questions being asked and talk of genetic resurrection.

Darlinson brings to light the possible story of the final female in this story for younger readers who want to know more about this intriguing creature while McGrath’s illustrations help them imagine a different Tasmania, one that is full of menace and fear as European settlement continues to encroach on the indigenous inhabitants.

While Australia has lost 27 mammal, seven frog and 24 bird species to extinction since the first European settlement in 1788, and another 506 species are considered endangered, vulnerable or threatened, the thylacine is the one that has captured the imagination and is the perfect introduction to investigating the concept of extinction and human impact on the environment. Unlike the dinosaurs which were wiped out by a natural disaster, extinction and endangerment is now linked directly to human habitation so using Stripes in the Forest as a starting point to ask why the men were intent on shooting every thylacine they saw and then investigating what happens to both fauna and flora when such an important part of the food chain is gone can be  a key part in creating awareness of the need to nurture our environment for our youngest readers.  A perfect example of using fiction to lead into an investigation that will go way beyond just the initial reading of the story.

Experience has shown that there is great interest in the thylacine but not a lot written for younger readers so this is a must-have for the collection.

Teachers’ notes fitting the Australian Curriculum can be found here

 

Sandcastle

Sandcastle

Sandcastle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandcastle

Philip Bunting

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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

9781760295387

Rae loves the beach and wants to build a sandcastle, one of those magnificent ones you see in books with towers, ramparts, a moat and even a dragon to guard it!  With the help of his grandfather, he does just that. But while they eat their fish and chips, the inexorable tide moves closer and closer and Rae is worried that the fortifications will not be enough to keep out the sea.  Sadly, they don’t but Rae learns an amazing lesson about the nature of things…

In the author’s dedication he says, “You, me, this book, your breakfast…we’re all made from tiny particles, stuff that has been around since the beginning of time.  We’re only borrowing these particles from the enormous universe that made them.  Once we’re done with them, the bits that make us will go on to lead many new existences on Earth, and beyond.” So while, on the surface, this could be just a pleasant story about a boy and his grandfather at the beach doing something and experiencing the consequences that so many young readers will resonate with, it could also be an introduction to lessons about matter and atoms and stuff, another one of those topics that little ones find tricky to understand because they can’t see the individual components.

But for me, I found beauty in the words as a way of helping a child cope with the grief of losing a family member or pet – that no matter how a disease might have crept through their body and ultimately stolen it, as the sea does a sandcastle, the person still exists as memories and that a little part of them lives on in each person they touched and influenced in some way.  Very philosophical for so early in the morning but a mark of a quality storyteller whose work can touch the reader in many, often unintended, ways.