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This Book is Full of Holes

This Book is Full of Holes

This Book is Full of Holes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Book is Full of Holes

Nora Nickum

Robert Meganck

CSIRO Publishing, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

 9781486318407

What is a hole?

Is it the place in your sock where your toe peeks through?  Is it the hollow in a gum tree where Mother Galah raises her babies? Or is it the gap in a rock formed over millennia by wave action and which now fascinates as those waves create a spectacular fountain?  Perhaps it is that mysterious place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out.

This book tells us a hole is “a hollow place. An empty space. A part of something where there is nothing at all”. And then goes on to explore and explain a wide range of holes, each with a particular purpose or story to tell in one of the quirkiest but most fascinating books that I have read in a long time.  In the past I’ve engaged students with a unit I called “Why Do I Have Seven Holes in my Head?” but never have I given a hole more than a passing thought, apart from something to mend, walk around or put something in (like tea in the hole in the cup).  Accompanied by illustrations that will make the reader LOL, not only does it explore holes in everything from the everyday to the extraordinary, it also looks at the word in our language, opening up all sorts of places and phrases to investigate.

Present and promote it to the kid who thinks a little differently, whose curiosity is never satisfied, who is looking for something absurd that becomes absorbing and you will be giving them entertainment (and education) for a long time to come. Superb.

Seed to Sky

Seed to Sky

Seed to Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed to Sky

Pamela Freeman

Liz Anelli

Walker Books, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760653750

Come to the oldest forest on Earth,…

On the oldest continent…

Where the oldest trees reach high into the sky…

And begin a journey into 00 years ago, before European settlement and the Daintree Rainforest was much larger and very different to what it is now.

In this latest on the brilliant Nature Storybooks series, which combines lyrical text with factual information amidst stunning real-life illustrations, the reader is taken on an exploration of how a seed becomes a sapling over hundreds of years and is introduced to the diversity and generations of insects, butterflies, bird, lizards, snakes and an abundance of native wildlife that will bear witness to the rise of the magnificent Bull Kauri pine…

Australia is a continent of diverse landscapes and landshapes, each with its unique flora and fauna and while the extensive teachers’ notes will lead you through an investigation of the Daintree itself, they could also serve as a model for investigating a similar situation in the students’ environment.  What vegetation is indigenous to the local area and what creatures might have witnessed its development?

When it comes to narrative non fiction that engages as it explains, this series is one of the benchmarks and this addition is no different.  

How to Measure the Ocean

How to Measure the Ocean

How to Measure the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Measure the Ocean

Inda Ahmad Zahri

A & U Children’s, 2024

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

9781761180361

Take a young child to the beach for the first time and they are likely to be overwhelmed by the size of the ocean in front of them.  And it wouldn’t be unusual to have them ask, “How big is the ocean?”

And that’s the case for the children in this story as they try to use the traditional tools of string, scales and a bucket to find its size, weight and volume because those are the sorts of dimensions they are familiar with investigating.  But in this eye-catching book with its colourful illustrations, the reader is introduced to a range of other ways to measure from the simple counting of the oceans of the world (including the half-oceans, almost-oceans, once-oceans and oceans-in-between)  to measuring its depth to how it changes with time, temperature, terrain, the pull of the moon, the path of the wind…

But the purpose of the book isn’t just to collate a set of facts and figures about the ocean – as the author explains in a note at the back, it’s also about learning about solving other problems, looking for a formula or set of rules that can be used over and over, and learning to swap the word “ocean” for other things , even intangibles like emotions, creativity, courage, friendship…

Although it is recommended for the 4-8 years age group, it really has potential to be used with many age groups, depending on the focus. It could be used to encourage students to pose their own questions about the ocean and search for formulae or methods that might explain the answer; the maths curriculum to  have them examine something like the tidal charts and work out how they are worked out;  or it could be used in the mindfulness program because, if the ocean is vast, boundless, infinite, what else might be? 

Definitely one for the NCACL Picture Books for Older Readers database.

Everyone Starts Small

Everyone Starts Small

Everyone Starts Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone Starts Small

Liz Garton Scanlon

Dominique Ramsey

Candlewick Press, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536226157

Sun grows beams
and Grass grows blades
and Cloud cannot contain herself.

Spring rains change Water from a tumbling creek to a roaring river and bring Tree nutrients it needs to stretch toward the sky. As Sun’s rays intensify, the sprouts and fruits and insects of the forest grow and bloom and develop, all working together in harmony. Even Fire, whose work causes Tree to ache from the inside, brings opportunity for the next generation of flora and fauna. This poetic tribute to our planet’s resilience, accompanied by its striking illustrations is a resonant story of life, death, and regeneration and demonstrates to young readers the interdependence of the elements of Nature and how without one, or too much of one, our planet cannot survive, let alone thrive.

It echoes the old Aesop fable of The North Wind and the Sun although the theme of this is not competition but the symbiosis of the elements, despite Tree warning that “it is not a race”.  As well as building a greater awareness of the world around them, it introduces young readers to the concept of life cycles and possibly sparking investigations of the connections between creatures and their habitats and what they can do to help such as making a bee motel.

For those more mature readers, the personification could be a metaphor for their own lives, a reassurance that despite all they might experience as they grow and mature into independence, like Tree, they have the resilience and wherewithal to cope with whatever they encounter no matter how bleak the immediate future might seem.  Despite the devastation of Fire and the harshness of Winter, following the devastation, the Earth renews itself, and new lives arise again, rife with fabulous potential – just as they can. 

The Great Australian Science Book

The Great Australian Science Book

The Great Australian Science Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Australian Science Book

Prof. Luke O’Neill

Linda Fährlin

CSIRO Publishing, 2024

96pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486316595

“Science is a small word for a really big thing”.   And it starts with a question like “how far away is the sun and why is it so hot” and then continues with an idea that might provide the answer, an experiment to see if the idea might be possible and then a theory that explains what we were wondering about in the first place.  Then the theory is tested and tested and tested, maybe challenged and changed until it is confirmed and an answer revealed.  

For some younger students, the concept of science might be overwhelming but as they make their way through this book specifically written for the Australian and New Zealand market, and addressed directly at the reader, they will realise that they too can think like a scientist and start to make sense of their world.  Covering topics spanning The Universe, Planet Earth, The Human Body, and The Very Small as well as a timeline of major discoveries it answers many of the questions that vex young minds in manageable chunks using accessible language and lots of illustrations. It includes  how Australia has made huge contributions to science and offers a few experiments for the reader to undertake as they learn to think like a scientist.

There are any number of books introducing young readers to these basic topics that capture their curiosity, but because this one emphasises that need to be a creative and critical thinker (and even sums those steps up in a graphic)  it is unique.  There are teachers’ notes available to use the book as the basis for a science program but it is probably more useful as a dip-and-delve book for the individual to follow their curiosity and their questions arise. 

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

One Little Dung Beetle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Little Dung Beetle

Rhiân Williams

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog, 2024

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

9781742036656

Australia is rich with fascinating beetles that all have a job to do. Using counting rhymes, young readers are introduced to some of these unique species and identifying the roles that each type of beetle plays in the environment including the dung beetle, the once-iconic Christmas beetle and some with the most remarkable colouring.  

With stunning endpapers, and accurate anatomical illustrations throughout, this offers an insight into the prevalence of beetles in the landscape and the critical role they perform in keeping it healthy and vibrant.  Teachers notes  offer further resources and links to investigate further, including the world of entomology, while also guiding young readers through the process of distinguishing a non fiction title from a fictional one, and how to use the cues and clues to prepare themselves for getting the most from it.

But while its format might suggest an early childhood audience, there is also scope for older readers to springboard their own investigations – why was the dung beetle introduced to Australia and were all introduced species as successful? Why do some have such remarkable colouring?  Why have all the Christmas beetles disappeared to the extent there is now a national count?  

Even if the reader is a little young to appreciate all the information, much of it embedded in the illustrations, they will enjoy practising their counting skills as they try to find all the beetles as well as the number of holes nibbled in the title number.  The pictures also include other creatures so there is also the opportunity to investigate the concepts of “more” and “less” and other early maths basics. 

With its focus topic which will encourage little ones to look at their environment with fresh eyes as well as its format, this is one that offers so much more than first meets the eye.  Give it with the gift of a magnifying glass and see the joy and wonder explode. 

 

Astronomy for Curious Kids

Astronomy for Curious Kids

Astronomy for Curious Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astronomy for Curious Kids

Giles Sparrow

Nik Neves

CSIRO Publishing, 2024

12833., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9781486318384

Ever since humans first walked the Earth, they have marvelled at the night sky and wondered and imagined, dreamt and explained. And even though science has moved us along significantly from the ancient stories of why there is night and day, how the sun travels across the sky, and all the other myths and legends associated with the things we can see when darkness falls, our children are still asking the same questions…

Where did everything come from?

Is there life on other planets?

How do stars shine?

Why does it get dark at night?

How big is the universe?

And as the total solar eclipse on April 8 draws closer, even though it will be mostly visible across North America and not be visible from Australia, nevertheless there will be a heightened interest and news bulletins build.  Thus the release of this book for young independent readers is very timely as it provides the answers to many of the questions that will be raised.  Beginning with a chapter about hoe to watch the stars and the safest and most effective way to do so, it explains why the sky changes,  how to find certain objects at particular times and even being able to identify what you can see without using a n app or a smartphone.  And so begins a journey that offers brief but complete explanations of many of the phenomena providing readers with a solid understanding of the basics, that can then help them understand not only what they are seeing but also any study of indigenous astronomy they might engage in, as part of the curriculum, perhaps even sparking a deeper interest and further investigations.

Like any CSIRO publication, this is authoritative, tailored perfectly to its target audience and a valuable addition to your non fiction collection. 

 

 

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Curious Creatures Talking Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious Creatures Talking Together

Zoë Armstrong

Anja Sušanj

Flying Eye, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781838740351

Communicating and connecting with others is a critical part of human behaviour and essential for their well-being, whether it be through the spoken word, body language or other means like sounding a siren or wearing a school uniform.  But the animal world is just as “talkative” whether it be through sound, movement, colour or smell and in this book , the third in this series,  young readers are introduced to some of the ways animals communicate and why and how they do it.

Curious Creatures series

Curious Creatures series

There are spiders that dance, whales that sing and lemurs that communicate with seriously smelly stink fights!  Australia has its own entries including the tiny peacock spider that displays a colourful fan as part of its mating routine, and the satin bowerbird with its propensity for all things blue (and the focus of the 2024 National Simultaneous Storytime.

Throughout, there is a link to how the animals’ behaviour is similar to that of humans, such as the wearing of bright clothes to attract attention much as the peacock spider does, and there is an underlying message of trying to understand what they are “saying” so we become more empathetic and protective of them.

Absolutely fascinating, particularly for those who are interested in the animal kingdom already, and worth seeking out the others in the series. 

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Nicola Davies

Emily Sutton

Walker Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406399998

These days young children are very aware of the importance of plants and bees, the  deadly potential of climate change and the concept of “green” being more than just a colour in the paint palette. But what is the connection between them?

It is all explained in this beautifully illustrated picture book. In accessible text, the young reader learns that a tree isn’t just a tree standing green and shady but that it is really busy purifying the air through photosynthesis as it does, and from there they are led naturally through a timeline of the development of plants on the planet, the impact of using the remains of the ancient forests as fossil fuels, and the interaction and interdependence of plants on the planet’s health and function, as they begin to understand why “GREEN is the most important colour in the world.”

This really is the most remarkable book that explains really complex concepts in such a simple way that it should be the starting point for any study into the environment and why we need to protect what we have.  It is the basic WHY of all the what, where, who, how and all the other questions that students have that will provide context and purpose for any investigation, encapsulating and explaining such a  big idea in a way that just gives sense to so much else. No matter what the topic under investigation, if it is about the natural world, it will stem back to plants and their health and prevalence.  

Research shows that the eye distinguishes more shades of green than any other colour and certainly the view from my window has more hues than I could count, but it never ceases to suggest a sense of calm and peace, which is why so many medical facilities are painted in shades of green. This book is the beginning of understanding why this is so, and why it is so important to our lives and well-being. 

A must-have in any collection.

The Beehive

The Beehive

The Beehive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beehive

Megan Daley

Max Hamilton

Walker Books, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760655228

Even though Willow hurries to school every day, today is a very special day. Today was the day that Tom the groundskeeper was going to divide the hive of native bees living in the hollow of an old tree, and Willow was going to be able to take half of it home to begin a new hive…

Part of the brilliant Nature Storybooks collection, and written by Megan Daley, a name familiar to any teacher librarian who has been around for a while, this is a book that is a must-have in any library collection, but particularly those where the protection and conservation of the environment is high on the agenda, and even moreso if the students are developing a bee-friendly garden.

Alongside the story of Willow’s growing interest and excitement, is the informative parallel text introducing young readers to Australia’s native bee species – there are over 2000 of them – not only explaining their habits and habitats but demonstrating just how important they are in the natural scheme of things.  While there have been a number of books awakening young readers (and not-so- to the importance and plight of bees, this has a unique local focus that stimulates the imagination into what could be happening in the school playground or the home backyard with some input from an expert – of which there are a growing number. While Willow is lucky to have the help of Tom and her stepdad, both of whom know what they’re doing, it is not hard to find help from experienced keepers, even in the heart of the city. There are apiarists’ associations in every state and territory.

And given Megan’s professional life, and in keeping with others in the series, there is both an index and a glossary included so young readers can begin to learn the cues and clues for navigating non fiction resources so they can find the information they want.

When it comes to narrative non fiction and sparking interest in the world around them, this series is in my top five favourites and this particular addition just adds to their repertoire and reputation.