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Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant Ideas By Wonderful Women

Aitziber Lope

Luciano Lozano

Wide Eyed Editions, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781786037046

As the daytime temperatures drop and you enjoy the warmth of your car heater during the morning commute, are you aware that you can thank a woman for the privilege?

Or if you have a baby and bless the convenience of disposable nappies that it was a woman who invented the first prototype? Or if you have used technology involving wifi, bluetooth and GPS today, then that is also the idea of a woman beginning during World War II as a secret communication system between actress Hedy Lamarr and American composer George Antheil.

This intriguing book brings together “15 incredible inventions from inspiring women” , pioneered decades ago and now household items taken for granted.

Small, no-frills text giving just enough information to outline the what, why, where and when is set against large illustrations making this an ideal book for the emerging reader who wants to know the basic story behind such everyday items, not only setting them up to want to know more about these particular inventions but also setting them wondering about the story behind so many other things.  They say “necessity is the mother of invention” but how many of those inventors were actually mothers? 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With STEM subjects having such a focus in current curricula, to discover that so many of the things we use daily without thought were the invention of women with a need and an imagination must surely continue to inspire our girls who sadly, still seem to think that they are venturing into a man’s world.

One to share, promote and celebrate.

 

One Tree

One Tree

One Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Tree

Christopher Cheng

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2019

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

9780143786733

Long, long ago Grandfather lived high on a hill in a one-room house with nine other people, a dog and a goldfish. He loved his mountain home. “Better than an Emperor’s palace “, he would say, and when he went to the village market he could always see his home perched beside the tallest tree on the mountain.  At night, Grandfather would tell stories and everyone gathered around to hear them because his stories were the best.

But time passes and Grandfather is old and now he lives in his grandson’s apartment in the city, a busy, noisy, crowded city that has swallowed up the fields, killed the trees and silenced the birds. No longer does he tell stories – he just stares at the fading painting of his mountain and a visit to the markets is one of haste rather than leisure, of fie de lah rather than conversation, where all the buildings look the same and there is no way they can spot their apartment. 

But one day the little boy sees a little plant with two pale leaves growing through a crack in the path, and knowing that it will soon be crushed by the hundreds of rushing feet, he rescues it and despite his grandfather’s pessimism about its future, the little boy nourishes it and it flourishes – and slowly something amazing begins to happen…

If you pick up a book by Christopher Cheng , you know you are going to get an outstanding story, one that will have a profound effect on you. In my opinion, One Tree is as impressive as his iconic One Child  (now 21 years old) with its powerful message about the power of one and the change that can happen because just one child believes. 

And true to form, Bruce Whatley who says he would “get bored if I stuck to one or two [illustration styles}” has illustrated this book in a completely new style, one that complements the text perfectly. “For One Tree I wanted to do something new yet it had to have a traditional feel. I have fond memories of doing Linocuts in college, carving into soft ochre layers, taking away the space between the lines. Then rolling ink onto it and printing the result. Such a great medium. Not having the time or space and being mobile for most of the time I decided to create the technique using Photoshop on my portable Wacom Cintiq tablet and my Mac. I constructed 3 layers in Photoshop, an off white base layer, a dark ochre middle layer, (these colours echoed the lino and were purely for nostalgic reasons) and a top transparent layer where I copied my pencil roughs. I then used the eraser tool with a stylus pen on the ochre layer to ‘gouge’ out the space between the lines. What was left I converted to a black textured line and added the colours on the layer beneath.” Books Illustrated

Like all quality picture books, this is one that spreads itself across all age groups, inspires the reader to act on what they have read and is a pleasure to read, review and recommend. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

I'm not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not (Very) Afraid of the Dark

Anna Milbourne

Daniel Riebey

Usborne, 2019

24pp., hbk. RRP $A19.99

9781474940726

During the daytime I’m not afraid of the dark. In the daytime the Dark is small and tucks itself under things almost as if it’s hiding.  But it’s different as the day draws to a close and the Dark starts to stretch out and starts to cover EVERYTHING. It’s not too scary when the lights are on even though there are corners where the Dark lurks, but once the lights are off…

And when Dad suggests a camping trip that means being outside in the Dark where the noises are unknown, well that’s a whole new level of scared…

Fear of the dark is a common phenomenon, particularly for little ones who don’t yet understand the concept of Earth’s rotation and night and day and thus it is also a common theme in stories for them. What sets this one apart though is the way that the Dark is personified and explored using engaging language that expresses the child’s thoughts so well.  Instead of referring to “shadows”, the little boy says it “tucks itself under things almost as if it’s hiding.” and illustrations that show those same shadows getting longer and longer.  But the standout feature is the use of cutouts throughout the book that cleverly highlight  the text -“the feeling inside me gets bigger too-like a hole I could fall into” as well as offering a peek into what’s coming.  Even the very last page has some that provide the perfect ending.

Like others on this theme, there is much that both parent and teacher can explore with the child as the book is shared – the concept of darkness and how it is created and needed, emotions and fears and how these can be addressed, the stars and other bodies in the night sky … 

All in all, a great story beautifully told and brilliantly illustrated that offers both comfort and learning.

Circle

Circle

Circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circle

Mac Barnett

Jon Klassen

Walker Books, 2019

4899., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9781406384222

Triangle and Square are visiting Circle, who lives at the waterfall. When they play hide-and-seek, Circle tells the friends the one rule: not to go behind the falling water. But after she closes her eyes to count to ten, of course that’s exactly where Triangle goes. Will Circle find Triangle? And what OTHER shapes might be lurking back there?

This is the third in this trilogy which started with Triangle  and continued with Square., and it is just as engaging as its predecessors.  As well as Barnett’s text, Klassen’s almost monochromatic illustrations carry the action with much of it being conveyed through the eyes alone. As with the other two, there is a subtle message in the story – this time, after running out from behind the waterfall because they are scared of the unknown shape, Circle ponders about whether the unknown really is scary.  In addition, the reader is invited to imagine just which shape the two may have been talking to, opening up the scope to explore other common 2D shapes and perhaps even craft their own stories about them.

This is an intriguing trilogy, unlike anything done before which deserves a place in any home or school library because it is timeless and will cross the generations.

The King Who Banned The Dark

The King Who Banned The Dark

The King Who Banned The Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King Who Banned The Dark

Emily Haworth-Booth

Pavilion, 2018

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

 9781843653974

As a small boy, the prince was afraid of the dark and so be vowed that when he became king he would banish the dark.  And, despite the people’s protests, that’s what he did. Employing a popular political tactic of spreading disinformation so that the people thought the dark was a bad thing and demanded it be banned, he “succumbed” to their wishes and the ban was put in place. He had a huge artificial sun hung above the palace so that the night was as light as the day,  and light inspectors were employed to report and punish anyone who turned lights off in their houses.

At first the people thought it was a great idea and celebrated the light, but then their opinions began to change…

As well as being an engaging read for young readers that could have them investigating night and day and how life needs the dark to continue its cycle,  it could offer them an opportunity to talk about their nighttime fears, perhaps discovering that they are not alone with them and finding some strategies to deal with them. Would the prince have been better to find another way to ward off his fear of the dark? What sorts of things could he do?

It could also provoke a lot of discussion with older students about current political practices, acting in haste on a tide of popular opinion and the collective power we, in democracies, have to make change.  There could also be philosophical discussions about how we need dark to appreciate the light, rain to appreciate rainbows and so forth, focusing on the need for ups and downs in our lives and that like the night, the downs will pass and the ups will come again and we will value them all the more.

The predominantly yellow, black and white colour palette is perfect for spotlighting the messages of the story, whether literal or figurative, and given the depth of the story, one that spans many age groups.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The Green Giant

The Green Giant

The Green Giant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Green Giant

Katie Cottle

Pavilion, 2019

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

 9781843654001

Every summer, Bea left her home in the city to stay with her grandad in the country. Iris, her dog, always went along with her. Bea is adventurous and she has explored everywhere in Grandad’s garden apart from one place – the small and rusty old greenhouse. So one day she decides to take a look inside. On the outside the greenhouse may be small, but inside it is huge – packed with plants, and a little creepy. Bea has a distinct impression that someone, or something, is watching her. Then a shadow falls, and standing over her is… … a giant. A giant made entirely of plants and greenery. Bea is scared, but the giant reassures her and explains that he has escaped from the grey city. Bea and the giant become friends, but can they do anything to make the grey old city, and the world, a greener place?

With huge concrete and glass buildings dominating today’s cityscapes rather than the trees of yesteryear,  the constant urbanisation of our planet is putting it at risk and so this is a timely tale that helps our young readers focus on their immediate environment and how they might be able to “think global, act local.” Even though they, themselves, might live in one of those ginormous apartment blocks with little green to be seen, perhaps there is scope for a school garden or perhaps even a garden on their home balcony. Wherever there is space for a pot, and access to light and water, there is space for a plant.

This is an ideal book to introduce the concept of our dependence on plants, their needs and life cycles and those of the creatures that are not only sustained by them but, in turn, sustain them too.  With another summer of devastating fire and flood almost passed, now is the time to think about what the land needs most to recover.

Living In Space

Living In Space

Living In Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living In Space

Lucy Bowman & Abigail Wheatley

Rafael Mayani

Usborne, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99

 9781474921831

With the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon approaching on July 20; the loss of the Mars Rover  after 15 years; and the Chinese landing a probe on the dark side of the moon space happenings are taking a prominent place in news bulletins this year and young minds start to think about what life in space might be like – something that is a distinct possibility for them.

Living In Space is from the Usborne Beginners series, a collection that is ideal for young readers to explore topics of interest as they are written in accessible language with lots of photographs and illustrations and supported by all the key cues and clues to support their independence in information literacy such as a contents page, index and glossary.  In it, they can learn about what it is like to work, eat and sleep in space with enough information to satisfy their initial curiosity and this, in turn, is supported by links to specifically chosen websites that will tell them more.  And if they want to learn about other aspects of space, they can search the Usborne Quicklinks site for “space” and find books and links to whatever they are curious about.

Up-to-date, easy-to-access and an in-demand topic make this a valuable addition to a collection that will get a lot of focus this year. 

 

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift-the-Flap Engineering

Rose Hall

Lee Cosgrove

Usborne, 2018

16pp., hbk, RRP $A19.99

9781474943659

“Engineering is not just about engines.  Engineering means designing, testing and making all kinds of useful things .  To do this, engineers use mathematics, science, and -above all- their imaginations.”

Engineers work in teams to solve puzzles, whether the puzzle is big or small.  They follow a series of steps including 

  • asking questions to ensure they understand the problem
  • imagining possible solutions  by letting their brains go wild 
  • making detailed designs of their ideas
  • making models to test their ideas
  • having  the final version built and checking it carefully.

Not so long ago primary students had “art and craft” lessons in which they usually followed a set of instructions to create a cookie-cutter model of something their teacher had decided would be appropriate for the current theme or unit of work.  Then, in the 80s with the launch of the National Profiles, technology became a recognised key learning area and the strand of “design, make and appraise” gave students more freedom to imagine solutions to set problems and actually trial their thoughts,  In those days, engineering was still viewed as a subject for university level.  But with the advance of computers and computing and inventions like the internet came a realisation that university was too late to start that sort of thinking and now we have a real focus on “STEM subjects” – science, maths, engineering and technology – and with it, a growing understanding of how integrated all the disciplines are.  They are no and can not be stand-alone slots in a timetable. And now, with the rise of “makerspaces”, even our youngest children are involved in engineering on a daily basis.

While this is a “lift-the-flap” book it is a sophisticated one like others in the Usborne collection, providing explanations and answers in an interactive format that engages the reader and offers easy-to understand text within a myriad of diagrams.  Things typically associated with engineering like aircraft, rockets and robots are explored but so are more everyday things like bicycles,    solar panels and sounds.

Highly recommended for your STEM collection. 

 

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Peter Macinnis

NLA Publishing, 2019

248pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99

9780642279347

Anyone who knows Peter Macinnis, either personally or through his writing, knows that he is passionate about connecting young children with science and this latest contribution to the education of our students sits perfectly alongside his Australian Backyard Explorer and Australian Backyard Naturalist

In it, Macinnis takes the reader on a journey from explaining what earth science is and the earliest beginnings of the planet to the current debate about climate change, stopping along the way to investigate and explain all sorts of things which affect the development, health and performance of the planet like how rain is formed, the various types of rocks that lie beneath our feet, the impact of the currents on life and a zillion other things like why humidity is a critical factor in bushfire season, all tailored to helping young scientists understand what is happening in their own backyard.  It’s not “out there”, it’s right in front of them.  

Using his incessantly curious mind, he ferrets out all sorts of unknown facts and curiosities and then writes about them in a way that makes them so easily readable by his young target audience while giving them all the information they need yet not overloading them with too much detail. He leaves the door open for further investigation from more specialised sources.  The book is richly illustrated with photos, many of his own, diagrams and charts and there are projects to undertake, sections that delve more deeply into a topic, and ‘ologists’ to investigate and inspire.  

But for all the facts and figures and photos, there shines through a deep and abiding respect for this planet and an acute awareness that we must do more to protect it, and it is through young people having the knowledge and understanding about how it works that is likely to make the most difference.  Even though it has a global perspective, readers are inspired to “think global, act local” and examine what it is they can do to make their part of the world a better place for all, such as making a frog pond and keeping a seasonal diary.

If you add one non fiction book to your collection  this year, then this should be it – and if you don’t have the previous two then track them down through the NLA Bookshop.

Teachers’ notes are now available.

Nominated for the 2019 Educational Publishing Awards from the Australian Publishers Association.

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Parade of Elephants

Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow, 2018

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

9780062668271

Here they come ….one, two, three, four, five.  A parade of elephants who like to march and march and march.  Round and round they go, up, down, under, over, in and out – they march all day.  Until bedtime when they lift their trunks and trumpet and scatter stars across the sky.

From the butterflies and sun on the front endpage to the moon and stars on the back, this is a charming story that will help little ones learn to count and understand positional words.  They will enjoy being elephants and finding their own places to march though, up, under, in and out and over. Perfect for our youngest readers who will be able to match the words and pictures learning valuable concepts about how print works, this is a charming bedtime story as well as an early maths book! Promote it to your early childhood teachers and parent body who are looking for something delightful but different.