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Vanishing

Vanishing

Vanishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanishing

Mike Lucas

Jennifer Harrison

Midnight Sun, 2018 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781925227444

Once, creatures of all shapes and sizes wandered this empty land. They had horns and wings, scales and feathers. They lived in vibrant forests, desert plains and icy tundras. But where are they now?

This is an evocative picture book, lyrically written and sublimely illustrated, that introduces young children to a host of the creatures that have inhabited this planet over the millennia but which have now disappeared, often because of the impact of humans on their habitat or a desire to own what they offered.  But this book goes further than the extinction of its creatures for it warns that humans with their cities and all that they consume will also disappear.

“The humans learned about their past.  But they didn’t learn  enough from it.” 

But there is also hope that perhaps once the humans have gone, the creatures will emerge again. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The recent criticism against the students who chose to display their anger through a national strike about the inaction of governments and corporates towards climate change really angered me. Rather than asking themselves why the students felt compelled to take this action, those self-styled “social commentators” and politicians just demonstrated their ignorance about what our students are concerned about, what they are learning in schools through curricula that they, the politicians, have put in place, and the emphasis placed on transferring what has been learned into action. As well as ignorance, they also showed their arrogance in thinking that they know better and are the only ones with “solutions” to fix things.  

The publication of Vanishing at this time is very timely and it should be an essential element of any study focusing on sustainability of the landscape so that, regardless of their age, they can “learn  enough from it”.  Enough for them to continue asking questions, to examine their own beliefs and practices, to encourage others to think about the then as well as the now, to take the action they did and to maintain it until the changes are stopped if not reversed, and to not give into a future of doom and gloom.  To show those who were of a similar mindset when they were students, that there are more important things than those that they now worship, particularly in a country that is among those with the worst rate of animal species extinction in the world.

A comparison of the front and back end-pages should be enough to pique the interest but further teaching notes are available here.

The Awesome Book of Space

The Awesome Book of Space

The Awesome Book of Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Awesome Book of Space

Adam Frost

Bloomsbury, 2018 

112pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408896501

Did you know that if you were an ancient Egyptian then your understanding of the sun’s journey across the sky would focus on a giant dung beetle called  Khepri who dug the sun out of the underworld in the East at dawn, rolled it across the sky and then pushed it back into the underworld in the evening? But if you were an Aztec you would know that there had been four suns before this one, which is called Tonatiuh, and without human sacrifices, it would refuse to move across the sky and all the crops would fail.

On the other hand, did you know that just one space suit (used on the ISS only about 25 times each) costs 40 times more than the top-of-the-line Rolls Royce car; or what would happen if you fell into a black hole?

These are the sorts of things covered in this intriguing book about space that is perfect for young readers who like to dig and delve and have their information presented in a graphic format rather than lots of text making it  accessible to readers at all levels of development.  Ranging across the sort of subjects that young readers like to ask questions about or surprise their parents with at the dinner table, this book answers questions like 

  • How many pairs of pants you’d need to pack to live in a space station for a year?
  • What the weather is like on Neptune?
  • How many tonnes of litter humans have left on the moon?

Written in the conversational tone of Splat the Fake Fact, young readers are invited to guess or research the answers to some of the articles such as which of a range of creatures has not made it into space, so that it becomes an interactive experience rather than just a passive reading one.  And with the range of topics covered, it offers a taster for everyone providing the boost to do some further research if the imagination is gripped, not just about space itself but also physics, geology, and a host of STEM topics. Just how many explanations did earlier civilisations have for the sun’s journey across the sky and how do they compare with what we know to be the case now that science has solved its mystery? 

Not only would this be a valuable addition to a library collection to inspire space enthusiasts, but it’s also the right size and price for popping in the Christmas stocking.   

 

LEGO Super Heroes Visual Dictionary

LEGO Super Heroes Visual Dictionary

LEGO Super Heroes Visual Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGO Super Heroes Visual Dictionary

Elizabeth Dowsett & Arie Kaplan

DK, 2018

128pp., hbk., RRP $A35.00

9780241320037

Since 2006 when it first released its Batman-themed sets, LEGO, a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, have offered fans construction sets related to the popular superheroes so they can learn to read and follow instructions and develop their fine motor skills as they make the intricate models from the movies, then use their imagination to build new stories and adventures with their creations.

 This visual guide to the minifigures, vehicles and sets of the Superhero world offers lots of background information about the characters culminating in a behind-the-scenes chapter which features concept art and an interview with the LEGO DC Super Heroes creative team.

Like its predecessors that have been linked to popular movies and characters, this is a book that will have young fans poring over it, talking about what they are discovering, wanting to learn more and reading to do so- engaging in all those behaviours that show that print offers them something and that reading for pleasure is a worthwhile thing to do.  Guaranteed to hook young reluctant readers, appeal to more independent fans and even offer suggestions for the Christmas stocking as each model has details of its release date, set number, and the number of pieces and minifigures that come with it. There is even a Yellow Lantern Batman included!

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

Crafty Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafty Science

Jane Bull 

DK, 2018

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

9780241353455

Whether the little fingers of our youngest readers are making a sun clock, weaving paper, floating boats to escape sharks or concocting chocolate chunk cookies, as well as the fun there is also science involved.  Whether the final product works  because of energy, temperature, strength, aerodynamics, or the combination of molecules, simple science is behind many of the common craft activities that children love to create.

So in this new release from DK, Jane Bull has taken some of these popular projects and explored not only the steps involved in making something from start to finish, but has also explained the science behind each one.  

From making a beautiful ice lantern that could grace the Christmas table, to a balloon that doesn’t pop to investigating how beans know which way is up, there are 20 different activities that will young minds occupied and, in some cases, mesmerised, as they are fascinated by the “magic” while they learn to follow procedural texts.  Guaranteed to engage is the popular grass-head figure made by putting some grass or wheat seeds into a piece of stocking or kitchen wipe, filling it with potting mix and securing it tightly before putting it wick down into a jar of water.  Draw a face with permanent markers and place on the classroom window-sill.  Your young scientists will make a beeline for theirs each morning to see if it has started to sprout hair, and having competitions to see whose will grow the longest!  (Can you tell I’ve done this once or twice or more in my 45 years in schools?)

Learning science through play from an early age using easy-to-find materials opens up so much of the world for the young child, and with a simple equipment list, clear step-by-step instructions, lots of photographs and the simple science explanations this is a book that should be in every school collection, available on the makerspace table and also in Christmas stockings for a child’s personal library this year. 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Coding 2! Build Five Computer Games Using HTML and JavaScript

David Whitney

Duncan Beedie

Walker Books, 2018

224pp., pbk, RRP $A16.99

9781406382495

Thirty years ago, I proudly showed off my first home computer to visitors – a Microbee-in-a-Box – because it was such a novelty to have such a thing in a home.  With its amber screen, mini floppy disks and text-only technology it was a step up from my friend’s BBC model that ran on cassette tapes, but such a long way from the devices and their capabilities that our students are so familiar with now. 

With 1988 classroom lessons focusing on manipulating a robot turtle around a pre-determined path with the only programming being done as students recorded the path it took on paper using  basic Logo language, to creating webpages using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver which required a basic knowledge of raw html, to trying (unsuccessfully) to make a cow jump over the moon using Macromedia Flash, the Web 2.0 world of drag and drop was not only a blessing for me but opened up the world of creating information as well as consuming it for anyone with a computing device. 

Now coding is an official part of the Australian Curriculum, the behind-the-scenes world of the computer screen is coming alive for even our youngest students. There are  even coding competitions for kids (Miss 12 is an enthusiastic participant) and thousands of youngsters are intent on creating the next Minecraft or Fortnite. So this new book which teaches them to create five new games using HTML and Javascript so their games will run in a web browser will be a welcome addition to their libraries, as well as that of teachers tasked with teaching this topic.  So much more engaging to have an authentic project so that new knowledge is embedded in context.  

With its straightforward introduction and each game/mission having its goals clearly articulated, users can begin at their particular ability level so that their development is based on a solid platform of understanding. With plenty of illustrations and instructions (a far cry from the confusing, monochromatic books I remember buying in the 80s and never mastering), this is a book both for beginners and the more-advanced as even the initial mission has suggestions for extensions.

Miss 12 will be delighted to see this in her Christmas stocking. 

 

Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book

Disney Ideas Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Ideas Book

Elizabeth Dowsett

DK, 2018

200pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241314210

Whether its 101 Dalmatians, Coco, The Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse or Tangled, every child has a favourite Disney movie, and in this super-sized activity book there are  projects to accompany more than 50 of them!

 Listed firstly by the type of project and then by the movie, young readers can easily find their favourite and soon find themselves making Elsa’s sparkly cape, Buzz Lightyear’s Wings, Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, Belle’s book garland or even doing the boogie with Baloo. Each activity is related to a character from the movie, has a list of the equipment needed, if any, and clear step-by-step instructions so that young readers can follow the steps independently.  There are templates, tips, tricks and explanations and the typical DK layout makes it accessible to all ages and abilities, although some may need adult assistance. 

Each activity provides a procedural text to follow, which could be used as a model for students to create their own, while others like the parachuting soldiers from Toy Story offer science to be explored and explained.

With so many activities, this one book could form the basis of your STEM and craft curriculum for the year, while being the perfect addition to the family entertainment library as the long summer holidays loom.  No computer screens required!

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

The Bee Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bee Book

Charlotte Milner

DK, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241305188

As Spring finally reaches even the coldest parts of Australia and the blossoms, wattles and daffodils finally emerge from their winter slumber, so too comes the sound of the bees – as welcome as the warbling of nesting magpies and the laughing of the returning kookaburras. 

Bees have been an essential and integral part of life on the planet for over 100 million years – even pre-dating the dinosaurs – and about 20 000 different species can be found all around the world. While some bees are large, others small., some can cook and the original name of the much-loved bumblebee was “dumbledore”, the most famous is the honey bee and this amazing new book focuses on this species as it explores all aspects of its life and why it is so important to the survival of humans. 

Packed with easily accessible information  and eye-catching illustrations, this is the ideal book to show young children how critical bees are within the environment as they, along with other insects, are responsible for about a third of everything we eat! As well as emphasising their importance, there is also a warning about their decline in numbers and the potential for catastrophe if that happens. There are suggestions for how we can assist their longevity, including building a simple bee motel (although I cheated and bought one) with more detailed instructions available here.

With Christmas approaching, and Miss 12 and Miss 7 growing beyond toys and stuff, this book and a copy of this year’s winner of the CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, How to Bee  because they seem like natural companions, as well as the bee motel will make a somewhat different gift, but one which will inspire them!

A must for school libraries and fascinating and informative for those with an interest in the environment.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

Shannon Hale & dean Hale

LeUyen Pham

Candlewick Press, 2018 

96pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9780763688271

On the outside, Princess Magnolia looks like the perfect princess – a pretty face, golden curls, sparkly tiara, glass slippers, and conventional-princess pink-on-pink ensemble – but she has a secret.   Her castle is near a hole in the ceiling of Monster Land and so she frequently has to fight and vanquish the monsters that sneak out, and when she does so she turns into her alter ego, the Princess in Black. Whenever her glitterstone ring sounds an alarm that a monster is near, she dons a black costume even though “princesses don’t wear black”, presses a switch to turn her sceptre into a staff and jumps onto Frimplepants her unicorn who becomes Blacky her fearless steed whenever its glitterstone horseshoe rings!

In this, the sixth episode in this popular series, Princess Magnolia is excited and nervous because she is going to the Interkingdom Science Fair to present her poster about seeds and plants. When she arrives, she sees that her friends are there too, each with their own entry. Princess Honeysuckle has made a mole habitat, Princess Sneezewort has built a blanket fort, and Tommy Wigtower has a talking volcano that’s saying “EAAAAT!” Wait, what? Surely there are no monsters here! But a surprise goo monster makes this a job for the Princess in Black…

Combining princesses and superheroes, short chapters and lavishly illustrated,  this is a popular series that young girls who are newly independent readers will like and look forward to as it offers protagonists who are resilient, resourceful, and inclusive. 

For those who want to use this as a teaching tool to compare the stereotypical view of princesses with the new emerging picture there are some useful teaching notes available

  

Boats: Fast & Slow

Boats: Fast & Slow

Boats: Fast & Slow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boats: Fast & Slow

Iris Volant

Jarom Vogel

Flying Eye, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $27.99

9781911171522

A boat is defined as “any vessel that is able to carry people across water” regardless of their size, propulsion, or the water body they are used on.  Since the earliest days of human history, particularly since people settled rather than roamed, boats have had a significant role in the exploration and development of this planet. 

From early rafts of woven reeds and animal skins to canoes carved from logs to the introduction of steam power and with a few stops to explore famous boats like the HMS Beagle and the Titanic, this book introduces young readers to this mode of transportation, highlighting how important it is to everyday life.  Extensively illustrated with short, informative passages of text, young readers can follow the journey of development and begin to consider what Australia, an island continent, might have been like without the invention of floating safely on water.  As they read about the role of boats, they will also learn that there are other significant names apart from those of Endeavour and The First Fleet, perhaps sparking their own investigations into all things nautical including boating sports, lighthouses, shipwrecks, military craft through the ages and so on.  Those with a scientific bent might like to investigate how those huge ocean liners can stay afloat.

Like its predecessor, Horses Wild and Tame, this is a dip and delve book designed to introduce young readers to the importance of some things in the development of civilisation that they might not have thought about or have taken for granted. It is what I call a pebble-in-the-pond book because its core subject can spark the reader into exploring an entire circle of different aspects of the topic leading to diverse and different discoveries depending on their particular interest.  Using a focus question such as Why have boats been important to human development? it is perfect for getting young students to learn to pose their own questions to answer while developing information literacy skills that have context and meaning for them personally and covering every facet of the curriculum. 

A worthwhile addition to the library’s collection or for any child fascinated by water craft, what they can do, and the people associated with them.

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book - 60th Anniversary Edition

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The LEGO Book – 60th Anniversary Edition

Daniel Lipkowitz

DK, 2018

280pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241314227

In 1932 and facing the Great Depression which was engulfing the world, Danish master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen closed his carpentry business and turned his attention to making wooden toys for children. Fifteen years later, after World War II and all its development with technology and materials, particularly plastic, Kristiansen purchased an expensive plastic injection-moulding machine and his wooden toys were now made of plastic. Using a name that is a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, the LEGO group was established and by 1954, the idea of building bricks that locked together firmly so they were stable but which also came apart easily was launched with the Town Plan range of construction sets.  Finally, in January 1658 the block was perfected, the patent lodged and the rest, as they say, is history. 

And it is the history of that block from its evolution as a plan for a toy that could be used to build virtually anything to that realisation that is the focus of this fascinating new release, marking the 60th anniversary of the building block as we know it. 

Driven by the belief that children and their development mean everything and that this must pervade everything that is created, and based on the principles that the system must

  • provide unlimited play opportunities
  • be for girls and boys
  • inspire enthusiasm in all ages’
  • be able to be played with all year round
  • provide endless hours of healthy, quiet and safe play
  • inspire imagination, creativity and development
  • be topical and provide add-on value for preceding products

those initial town construction sets have evolved into a world of designs and models that span buildings, characters, transportation, books, movies, furniture, fabric, licensed merchandise, even theme parks! That journey is traced in full colour photographs, easily-accessible text and the signature DK layout making this a dig-and-delve must-have in any LEGO fan’s collection or any library whose clients are LEGO fans.  Every page has something to pore over, wonder at and learn, making it perfect as a shared conversation book so important to emerging readers.

Something particularly special for the Santa Sack for any age!

If your foot has ever found Lego in the night and you hate it, this might restore your faith…