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Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest

Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler

Emma Long

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760525958

When a walk through the forest becomes an opportunity to learn about the secrets of what grows and lives there, and to tell and hear the stories of its past peoples, you never know how long you will be, what you will hear or what you will see.  For this forest in Kakadu in the Northern Territory contains more riches than a pirate’s treasure trove with its plant life, insects, birds and creatures, their inter-connections and the stories they bring with them. Old man Kapirigi says, “You gotta watch those birds”, (the djuwe or northern bower bird} “they’ll steal your bones out of the cave when you die.”

Combining their knowledge of and passion for the land and its stories, the authors have created a text that carries the reader along with its narrative while being laden with the most remarkable information, embedding the Kundjeyhml language in so naturally that the English equivalents seem so bland and boring in comparison. And Emma Long’s line and watercolour drawings that span full page spreads down to tiny vignettes are just sublime, highlighting just how busy even a tiny leaf can be if we take the time to look and listen. Rather than using conventional speech indicators, an avatar depicts the speaker as they point out something or tell a story and the whole just becomes an engaging read and learning experience that makes you want to go out to really embrace and inhale the nearest bit of garden you can find.  Just because we can’t get to Kakadu right now doesn’t mean we can’t learn the lessons of observation, appreciation and conservation that this book offers. There is so much more than we usually see to discover – a new world that fits in perfectly with this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lucas’s first book, Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, published over 15 years ago led the way to opening up this land to our young readers so they could begin to understand its ancient stories and those who shared them and this stunning book continues the tradition. Look for it in the CBCA 2022 Eve Pownall Notables because it certainly deserves a place there. 

 

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish

Gina M. Newton

Rachel Tribout

CSIRO Publishing, 2020

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

 9781486311842

Where the Derwent River spreads out to meet the Tasman Sea on the southeastern coast of Tasmania lives Handstand,  a spotted handfish and one of just 1000 left of a species that the dinosaurs would have recognised.  A species of anglerfish, Handstand lures prey using a fleshy growth on her head, which acts like a fishing rod and lure, even including a “light” that attracts the worms and crustaceans on the deep sea floor. But even more amazing is that she has hands – pectoral fins that have adapted to allow her to walk along the seabed because without a swim bladder, she can’t swim. 

This is just some of the information contained in this remarkable book, told by Handstand herself, and introducing this highly endangered species to young readers.  Being one of the first marine fish species to be listed on the IUCN Red List , and one of just 14 species from the hundreds that used to be in the oceans (all of which are Australian). not only does Handstand raise awareness of her species for those looking to investigate a not-so-familiar endangered species, but she conveys a strong message of the need to protect and conserve both the marine environment and those that live within it. 

Presented in a way that engages the reader with Handstand’s story entwined and embedded with facts and accompanied by biologically-correct illustrations which have a childlike appeal, this book has been shortlisted for both the CBCA Even Pownall Award for Information Books for 2021 and the Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature: Non fiction 2021, both accolades that are richly deserved because not only is the spotlight thrown on the future of the spotted handfish , but there is also a raised awareness of the needs of and threats to the ocean environment generally. If climate change, chemical pollution, rubbish, fishing nets and invaders like the Northern Pacific Seastar are threatening this tiny creature, then others must be at risk too. 

Extensive teachers’ notes are available and the book uses a variety of graphic techniques that students could adopt and adapt to bring their own reports to life, making it a book that as well as deserving its award nominations, definitely deserves a place in the library’s collection. 

 

My First Book of Aussie Animals

My First Book of Aussie Animals

My First Book of Aussie Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Book of Aussie Animals

Gordon Winch

Stephen Pym

Catch A Star, 2021 

16pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9781922326232

Right from the get-go, our youngest littlies learn to recognise the iconic Australian wildlife – I’m currently making a library bag for Mr Almost-2 with an Aussie animal theme – and so this little board book from the creator of Can You Find Me? is perfect for not only consolidating their knowledge but also beginning their reading journey.  With its sturdy board book format,  lift-the-flap interactivity and repetitive, rhyming text they can discover the platypus, echidna, koala, kangaroo and possum in their familiar habitats while also being introduced to some less familiar creatures that share that same environment.

Not only does this approach start to develop those early reading behaviours that are the foundation of mastering print, but it also encourages them to look more closely at the trees and bushes around them and understand that even if they aren’t a home for something familiar, they are a home for something. And if they look carefully, they might just discover what that something is.  

There are indeed riches galore in this seemingly simple, beautifully illustrated book. 

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Barrier Reef

Helen Scales

Lisk Feng

Flying Eye Books, 2021

88pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781912497812

Covering nearly 400,000 square kilometres, the incredible ecosystem that is the Great Barrier Reef is not only one of the natural wonders of the world, but is the only one large enough to be distinguishable from outer space. And given its location in the Coral Sea just off the coast of Queensland, it is one that every Australian child knows about from a young age.

Thus this new release from Flying Eye Books, a publisher which specialises in non fiction for younger, independent readers will be a great addition to the collection as it explores this enchanting place, its animal inhabitants, and the peoples who have embraced it as a centerpiece of their cultures. Readers learn about how the reef came to be, its place in the world, and  most importantly, what we can all do to help ensure that the Great Barrier Reef will be around for future generations to discover!  Dramatic, biologically correct illustrations accompany easily accessible text making it the perfect companion for Everest, the other in this series about the world’s natural phenomena.  

 

Amazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity

Amazed! CSIRO's A to Z of Biodiversity

Amazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazed! CSIRO’s A to Z of Biodiversity

Andrea Wild

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

112pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486313976

Australia is a most diverse continent with a huge variety of natural wonders from its regular bushfires to jumping spiders to zombie worms and in this fascinating book designed for curious young independent readers over 100 are examined and explored. Inspired by the specimens and stories from the CSIRO’s National Research Collections Australia (which is home to more than 15 000 000 natural history specimens), photographs, diagrams and easily accessible text offer the budding young scientist an introduction to the tiniest microscopic organisms to those much larger, from the familiar like joeys to the one-off magpie nest made of coathangers.  

With its alphabetical layout, contents page, and glossary it is easy to navigate and there are comprehensive teachers’ notes which guide the reader to discover how and why species get their scientific names to pressing and preserving their own plant specimens.

This is a marvellous dip-and-delve book that both teacher and student will find fascinating as they find something to accompany or satisfy their curiosity. A whole new world of discovery awaits.

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories

Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury, 2021 

192pp., pbk., RRP $a14.99

9781526615336

Women have been responsible for many of the world’s most groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Kate Pankhurst tells the stories of some incredible female scientists whose hard work and persistence changed our understanding of science, and transformed people’s ideas of what women can do.

As a child Mae Jemison imagined herself reaching for the stars and that’s exactly what she did: she became the first African-American woman to go into space. When Elizabeth Blackwell was told women weren’t allowed to be doctors, she didn’t take no for an answer. Tu Youyou spent months on a remote island during the Vietnam War to try and invent a treatment for malaria – and she did it. Other women whose stories are told include Marie Curie,  Janaki Ammal, Caroline Herschel, Katia Krafft, and Rosalind Franklin so readers are introduced to some new names as well as those more familiar.

Including comic strips, family trees, maps and more, Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories is a celebration of women who made some of the world’s most important scientific breakthroughs.

This is another in this series by Pankhurst , a descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, who looks at the impact of women in several apparently male-dominated fields, some of which are also available in picture book format. If our girls are to be inspired to reach great heights, it is empowering if they read of others who have done so and understand that perseverance and resilience are essential. 

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward

Jackie Kerin

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2021

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

9781925804706

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries as more and more of the world was opened up by explorers like Captain James Cook, the botanists on board the ships were almost as important as the captains and the names of people like Sir Joseph Banks became just as famous as the adventurers themselves.  For as well as discovering the new lands, from them came new plants that could be eaten, used as medicines or for building things, offered delightful perfumes or provided shade.

But for every one of the plants that survived the long sea journey back to England, twenty others died as they were uprooted from their natural habitat and transported with little thought for their needs across windy, salty oceans.

From his home in a dirty, smoggy suburb of London where nothing seemed to survive the conditions, Dr Nathaniel Ward read about these exotic plants, their names and the adventures of those who sought to bring them to England, while, at the same time, those who had moved from England to other countries, particularly Australia, were desperately seeking the plants of home, something that would be familiar and help overcome the homesickness.  But one day when Dr Ward placed the pupa of a moth in a jar with some soil and sealed the lid, intending to watch it transform, he made a discovery that revolutionised the transportation and survival of plants forever as well as having a significant impact on the landscape of Australia.

Our library collections are often replete with books that salsify the curiosity of the animal lovers among our students yet somewhat lacking when it comes to those whose interest is in the plant world so this will be a welcome addition.  Despite being heavily based on fact, Kerin (author of Gold!)  tells the story in an entertaining manner and Suwannakit’s illustrations are both botanically correct and engaging making it an intriguing picture book that spans both fiction and non fiction.  If you yourself do not know of Dr Ward’s invention, read this and I promise you won’t look at a terrarium in the same way again and you will also have the basis for a series of fascinating science lessons.  Teachers’ notes are available.

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Questions & Answers

The Natural History Museum

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486315161

If you’re as old as the dinosaurs themselves, and even if you’re not, if you have had anything to do with young children you will know that the fascination for dinosaurs is universal and endless.  I wish I had the proverbial dollar for every time I have been told that a child is obsessed with dinosaurs and asked what did I have that was new.

So this new publication from CSIRO Publishing which targets those just beginning to discover these creatures and who have so many questions about them is perfect.  Tackling 50 most commonly asked questions such as ‘Which dinosaurs had the biggest teeth?’ and ‘Why did some dinosaurs have such short arms /’, both question and answers are in straight-forward language, give just the right amount of information and are accompanied by clear, colourful illustrations ensuring the young reader’s inquisitiveness is satisfied while demonstrating the power of books to seek the information we want. 

Many of our youngest readers will be experts on this subject before they come to school and even though according to formal tests they can’t yet read, they will have cut their teeth on this subject and know more about reading (and dinosaurs) than we give them credit for.  So this could serve as an excellent model to let this group create their own Q&A book to not only show off their own knowledge but to learn from their peers, empowering them in a way that few formal lessons could do.  It could offer a pathway into the information literacy process for them – what do I already know, what do I want to know, where can I find out, how can I share what I’ve discovered – and inspire them to investigate further. 

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Matters: Loving Our Planet

Carole Wilkinson

Hilary Cresp

Wild Dog, 2021

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

 9781742036014

From a very young age these days, children learn that we must look after our environment and that even the smallest things if done by a lot of people can have an impact. Having experienced devastating drought, fires and floods just in the last three years, they hear the words “climate change” often but don’t necessarily understand what they mean or what causes it, so this book which is especially for younger readers is a great introduction to explaining what is happening and why. Just as their individual actions can have a positive impact, they can also be negative 

So helping them understand this and offering them some more tools and strategies to help their personal contribution to a better future can be empowering so that their concerns for the future can be reduced. 

Wilkinson’s Matthew Flinders – Adventures on Leaky Ships  is shortlisted for the 2021 CBCA’s Eve Pownall Award for information books offering testament to the quality of her research and writing, and with extensive teaching notes available, this is a go-to when teachers and students are looking for a resource to help them understand this phenomenon.   

 

Bee Detectives

Bee Detectives

Bee Detectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bee Detectives

Vanessa Ryan-Rendall

Brenna Quinlan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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

9781486313396

When Olivia and Hamish are woken by the scream of a chainsaw coming from their local park and see what looks like a cloud of smoke rising, they are very concerned that there is a fire.  But they soon discover that what they thought was smoke is a cloud of insects disturbed when their tree home fell.

With the help of the specialist Bee Team, they learn that the insects are Native Social Stingless Bees and because the hive contains the bees’ babies it needs to be rescued.  That evening, when the last of the bees is safely in the temporary hive, Hamish and Olivia are invited to take it into their backyard so they can learn about these bees and how they are essential to the well-being of the environment.  The children take on the challenge and they, and the reader, learn not only about the bees’ importance but also about the many other native bees that live in the garden, usually unnoticed.

While the plight of bees globally is gradually being recognised as becoming critical, most young readers associate them with the fluffy black and yellow bumblebees of their storybooks, not realising that Australia alone has over 1700 species of native bees, each of which needs protection.  With a special section giving the reader more information about these species, particularly those mentioned in the story, and tips on how to attract them to the suburban garden, this is an important publication to help young students develop their awareness of the role bees have and understand how they can promote their well-being. Using a story format accompanied by charming illustrations that also put the bees under a magnifying glass so they can be more than squiggles on a page means that this has the potential to be used as a springboard to an intriguing investigation as students start to identify the various species and search for them in their own surroundings.  As well as extensive teaching notes to assist this, students might also consider establishing a bee hotel to encourage the bees to stay.