Archives

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.

Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest

Bird Builds a Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Builds a Nest

Martin Jenkins

Richard Jones

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781406355130

It’s time for Bird to build a nest, but before she can begin she needs to find some food to give her the energy for the hard work ahead.  But the first worm she finds is very large and juicy, and no matter how hard she pulls, she is not strong enough to pull it from the ground because it is pulling back.  When she finally does get something in her tummy, she sets off to look for twigs – but some are too heavy or too long and she can’t carry them.  

And so the story continues until her nest is built with successes and failures as she goes – and each one explained in simple language to teach young readers the very basics of the physics of forces. Physics is a hard topic to understand because so much of it is invisible and requires the sort of abstract thinking that little ones are not able to do readily, so starting with a context such as this and using simple language is a brilliant idea.  The story is followed by an experiment using ping pong balls and modelling clay but no explanation is given to clarify the results.  

While the illustrations mirror the text to provide a greater understanding, they are in a muted, retro palette that may not catch the eye or interest of young readers.  Nevertheless, it’s worth sharing as part of the early childhood STEM curriculum simply because it makes the tricky concepts of force and pushing and pulling so explicit.  However, it might be worth having some props on hand so the children can try things for themselves as they learn that size and weight do matter. 

This is a companion to Fox in the Night which examines the phenomenon of light.  Putting physics into the everyday world of the young reader through stories about common events is a wonderful way to pique and satisfy their curiosity, encourage them to explore further and ask more questions and seek their answers. 

While not directly related to this book, there are several video clips available that will help explain the concepts as well as TLF resources  R10729 and L7879 available via Scootle

Bird to Bird

Bird to Bird

Bird to Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird to Bird

Clare Saxby

Wayne Harris

Black Dog, 2018

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

9781925381122

When a bird drops a seed to an English forest floor, who could imagine that that would be just the start of a journey that continued for generations across thousands of kilometers from its starting point?

A combination of minimal text from Clare Saxby, sublime illustrations from Wayne Harris and the reader’s imagination bring this story of nature, history, creativity and recycling together in a way that captures the imagination and inspires wonder. How could something as small as a seed have such a big future? That it could grow into a sapling then a tree which is harvested and become bunk beds on a convict ship bound for Australia.  And when that job was done its life was not over – it becomes a loom then a lean-to and then…

So often we explore life cycles with little people and we create a simple circle of birth>growth>reproduction>death, but we seldom explore much further.   Does the tomato that forms after pollination just drop to the ground or is it picked fresh and become part of a delicious recipe, or is it stored on a supermarket shelf picked over and not chosen, eventually becoming part of a compost heap?  Does a baby spider fly though the breezes to land far from its home-web and start a new colony or is it the victim of a foot or a can of bug spray?  Saxby has a much gentler conclusion for the seed her bird dropped but this story could spark a lot of investigation and imagination and new stories!

Teachers’ notes are available.

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Things That I LOVE about TREES

Chris Butterworth

Charlotte Voake

Walker Books, 2018

32pp., hbk.,  RRP $A24.99

9781406349405

There is much to love about trees – apart from their life-giving oxygen.  The In spring they are pretty with their new green leaves and buds like beads; in summer they are so shady and the sound of the wind in their leaves is like the swish of the sea; in autumn they are so colourful; and in winter when their branches are bare you can lean on the trunk and look up to the sky.

This early readers’ non fiction book traces a plum tree through its seasonal changes combining a narrative with facts about trees and beautiful water-colour illustrations.  Even though it is English, Australian trees follow a similar cycle and it is the perfect time to start an individual or class tree diary selecting a deciduous playground tree and using photographs and texts to trace its changes as the seasons change and learn not only what the changes happen and why but also to discover that their is beauty in all its aspects, even those bare winter branches.  The author has placed an emphasis on exploring how the changes can engage all the senses so this is also an opportunity to challenge students to engage theirs – to become more observant and notice detail, perhaps even to branch into creating similes and metaphors.

Comparisons could also be made with a eucalypt or other evergreen to discover if they really do stay the same throughout the year or whether, they too, have their own cycle of change including tracking the creatures that seek shelter in them, perhaps even setting up investigations into other life cycles and interdependence.  

Trees really are the perfect plants and there are so many things to love about them.

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

Helen Martin & Judith Simpson

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2012

26pp., board book, RRP $A14.99

9780733330513

As soon as they are old enough to notice the difference between day and night, perhaps even before that when they first ask “Why is the sky blue?”, little people have questions about space.  This board book with its rhyming text, provides the first introduction to that mysterious world beyond our planet.

Designed to help little ones become more observant, such as looking at the changing phases of the moon, it also encourages their imagination as they think about what it might be like to land on the moon.

Perfect for preschoolers with questions!

See Inside Space

See Inside Space

See Inside Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Inside Space

Katie Daynes

Peter Allen

Usborne, 2008

12pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9780746087596

The publisher’s blurb describes this best…”A flap book of astronomical proportions, packed with facts and information about the stars, planets and the universe. Fabulous double-page topics show our solar system, the Milky Way, how scientists think the universe was created and the latest space travel technology. Over 50 flaps reveal fascinating facts about the universe and there’s a little book of star maps tucked in a pocket at the back of the book. Includes internet links to websites with the latest space information, games and photos.”

But even though it is a flap book (in board book format to accommodate this and ensure its durability), this  is a book for older children who have an interest in topics like the Big Bang, the history of space discovery and space travel. While there have been advances in the 10 years since it was first published, nevertheless it serves as a sound introductory title to this fascinating place with its basic information (albeit in small font so readers need to be independent) and its myriad of flaps to lift and its stunning double page spreads that open out to reveal so much more. And if that is not enough, there is also the customary weblinks page to take those who want to know more on even greater adventures. 

This is one of those books that will encourage young readers, particularly boys, to collaborate and share their discoveries, an activity not well recognised yet for its importance and potential on the reading journey.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…