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The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Missing Piece

Jordan Stephens

Beth Suzanna

Bloomsbury, 2022

92pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781526618139

Sunny loves jigsaw puzzles – the bigger the better. When she completes one, she gets a warm, happy honeybee buzz and it’s a feeling she chases time after time, constantly looking for another puzzle to complete, like a drug addict seeking another fix.  One day, her Gran gives her a ONE-THOUSAND-PIECE puzzle. Piece after piece, all by herself, she puts together the picture, until … DISASTER! The final piece is missing. Sunny may be small, but she is very determined –and when Gran says that the puzzle had been lent to the family next door,  Sunny she sets off to find the missing piece but finds so much more in the meantime. 

Many educators predicted that children returning to school after COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation would face a range of well-being issues from missing the critical socialisation aspects that are the core of the school experience, and principals and teachers around the world are indeed, reporting anxiety, depression and changed behaviours.  Experts, such as those of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute have examined the phenomenon and, in conjunction with state education authorities , have identified and put in place a range of strategies to help children relearn the skills and attitudes necessary to cope with getting along with other children in groups that are more than just family members. 

So while this may seem like just another story about a child learning that they are more than they imagined, that their self-worth is not dependent on their being able to excel at one thing, and their self-esteem being shattered if they “fail”,  at this time it could have a vital role to play as we each and all try to support those who have not come through the past three years as resiliently as we would have liked.  Although Sunny’s isolation from her neighbourhood friends is unexplained, it is immaterial – it is her courage to knock on doors to find that vital piece, a goal larger than anything that may have prevented her from reaching out before, that drives her and she is able to rediscover much she had lost.   

While sharing stories such as this is just one part of the healing process, nevertheless it can be helpful particularly if followed by a discussion about why her Gran did what she did, why Sunny might not have seen her friends or been willing to play with them and so on – all addressing individual’s concerns but at arm’s length so no one feels exposed but they can feel comforted and perhaps more confident. 

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

Peregrines in the City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrines in the City

Andrew Kelly & Sue Lawson

Dean A. Jones

Wild Dog, 2022

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

9781742036519

Since 1991, from August to November, a pair of peregrine falcons has nested on the ledges of the building at 367 Collins Street, Melbourne, the current pair have been there since 2017.

In this new release, the story of one couple is told from the time they prepare their nest, lay and incubate their eggs, and care for the eyases until their first flight. With stunning, accurate  illustrations that are like photographs, it describes how these birds have adapted to life in the ever-growing city as it encroaches on to the wild countryside.  While it uses easily accessible text for young readers, it also respects their intelligence by using the correct terminology such as “tiercel” (male) and ‘eyas’ (a baby that has not yet flown) as well as other phrases that acknowledge that these are raptors, birds of prey, and there is a life cycle being carried out.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes designed to help students understand what is happening are linked to a YouTube channel, but even better is a YouTube search for “367 Collins falcons 2022” which brings up live videos of the current pair with their nest of four eggs, which includes a live stream. There are four eggs this season, laid on August 30 so due to hatch in mid-October.

 

The timing of the release of this book is perfect for young readers to be introduced to a species that often fascinates them because of the bird being a raptor and the fastest in the world, and with both print and video, it is a perfect way of showing what is happening as it happens while offering the extra information that static print can provide.  As you watch a train pass below the Yarra River far below, the female is carefully snuggling in to ensure all four eggs are protected and warm, oblivious to it being Grand Final Day … A real case of “watch this space”! 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Anthology of Aquatic Life

Sam Hume

DK Publishing, 2022

224pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241546321

It is no secret that I have long been a fan of the non fiction produced by DK Publishing as a source for non fiction for young readers, and this latest one in a series which includes Nature’s TreasuresDinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Life, and The Mysteries of the Universe is no exception. 

This time the reader is taken an enthralling journey through the aquatic world that spans  the deepest, widest ocean to the tiniest puddle. Each page, with its stunning illustrations and easily accessible text introduces amazing animals, ingenious plants, and much more  within the categories of deep ocean, shallow seas, wetlands, rivers lakes and ponds, covering s diversity of watery habitats that each houses its unique lifeforms, some familiar, many not-so. It also includes a timeline of life moving from water to land, as conversely, land back to water, while the index is in the form of a visual guide that allows the browser to follow up on what piques their interest visually.

It is a fascinating dip-and -delve book that offers an entree that will satisfy the taste buds of the generally curious while encouraging those with a deeper interest to go in search of the main course. DK editors know what young readers are interested in and they know how to present it so that the imagination is captured while the information is shared and that’s a winning combination, in my opinion.                             

Milo’s Monster

Milo's Monster

Milo’s Monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milo’s Monster

Tom Percival

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526613011

Milo loves spending time with his best friend, Jay. But when a new girl called Suzi moves in next door, Milo starts to feel left out. The jealous feeling gets stronger and stronger – until suddenly, a GREEN-EYED MONSTER pops up beside him! Soon, the monster is poisoning Milo’s thoughts. It won’t leave him alone!
Can Milo find a way to free himself from the monster and repair his friendship?

Once again, Tom Percival has tackled a tricky emotional issue in this Big Bright Feelings series that helps young readers understand their responses to certain situations and how to deal with them.  The series which includes Tilda Tries AgainPerfectly NormanRuby’s Worry,  Ravi’s Roar, and Meesha Makes Friends ,  examines the big feelings that are a natural part of a child’s life, feelings that they might not yet be able to articulate and don’t have the strategies to deal with, in this case jealousy.  It offers affirmation that the feelings are normal and common, which, in itself, helps the child confront and control them. Using a story format depersonalises the situation so no one has to disclose what they don’t want to, and by portraying the green-eyed monster as an actual thing rather than an abstract idea, demonstrates that it can be conquered and vanquished.

A perfect conversation starter for early childhood readers.  

Swoop

Swoop

Swoop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swoop

Nicole Godwin

Susannah Crispe

CSIRO Publishing, 2022 

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

 9781486315697

Father Magpie has just one job – and it is one that he takes very seriously and does diligently.  And that job is to protect the eggs that Mother Magpie is sitting on.  Every person who passes near the nest is seen as a potential robber and thus he swoops them, just to let them know they are trespassing on precious territory,  Regardless of any protection or disguises they might employ, he is on patrol… Until some ignorant boys think that they know better…

Coupled with explanatory notes at the end and thorough teaching ideas which cover science, English, ethics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, this is a book that must be shared with every young student so they understand why magpies swoop, and that they are just like human parents in their desire to keep their babies safe.  By telling the story from Father Magpie’s perspective, young readers learn to understand and empathise with this annual phenomenon (which is happening now) and help them realise that there is a reason behind the behaviour,  that it is only for a short time and that animals must be allowed to do what comes naturally, even if it impinges on the lives of humans. They might also learn that magpies are smart, they recognise familiar, friendly faces on their territory and that they are very family-oriented, raising their young right through until the next nesting season.  

One of our greatest joys is watching our Mother and Father Magpie through the seasons, greeted with a beautiful chorus whenever we put scrap food out. particularly in winter when natural food is scarce here, and knowing they know that neither we nor our elderly dog are threats so we can go outside without fear. 

It seems amazing that it has taken so long for such a book to be written about such a common occurrence, but now it has we have a duty to share it. 

The Very Hard Book

The Very Hard Book

The Very Hard Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Hard Book

Idan Ben-Barak

Philip Bunting

A&U Children’s, 2022

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

9781760526221

Can you make up a joke that makes you laugh? Sit in an empty room?  Or be somewhere else for a minute?

At first, this book with its short sentences, large font and intriguingly ‘simple’ pictures looks like one of those fun ones that engage young children in the joy of reading through the power of the absurd,  And, indeed, it is just that – but a closer look, as well as the diagram on the final endpaper, show that it is so much more.

Because once again, the author of the very popular Do Not Lick This Book has put his scientific brain to work to create an introduction to the world beyond the words, this time about thinking about thinking. The act of thinking about thinking is known as metacognition and forms the basis of all critical thought. It is also a concept that comes easily to children whose inquisitive nature makes them able to engage in abstract questions and open-ended thinking without the constraints, learning and lenses that the adult brain automatically imposes.

Bunting, who teamed up with Ben-Barak to create We Go Way Back has very cleverly used characters that resemble dendrites , the brain cell’s message receptors, to further emphasise the confusion and complexity of the tasks that seem so simple on the surface.  

Some years ago when science made it possible for specialists to really start delving into how people learn, and people like Bob Sylwester, Renate and Geoffrey Caine  Eric Jensen and Robin Fogarty  began to interpret what this looked like in the classroom providing the foundations for the pedagogies we now use, students were encouraged to think about their thinking, to know how their brains worked and apply that to their learning.  And they were engaged and fascinated as they learned about “the magic trees of the mind” . Even though this might not be such a focus now, nevertheless this would be an excellent introduction to get them to start thinking about thinking and stretching and growing their brains beyond the screen and someone else’s imagination. 

For surely, if our students are to become critical thinkers, they must first know how and why they think and the influences that play on that. 

 

My Baba is the Best

My Baba is the Best

My Baba is the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Baba is the Best

Bachar Houli

Debby Rahmalia

Puffin, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761046568

As Fathers Day approaches, this is a book to share to celebrate the special bond between fathers and daughters, and the fun times they share. 

My baba has a big beard and a big smile. He gives the best hugs and never sits still.
Gardening, jogging, fishing, watching movies or going camping . . . Baba and I do lots of things together.

My baba is the best. I love my baba!

And while you might think there are many such books available, this one is written by Bachar Houli, not only triple AFL Premiership player for Richmond and All-Australian on-field, but also the  first devout Muslim to play the game at that level.  So this is a unique opportunity for our Muslim students to see themselves in such a story, demonstrating that their relationships with their dads is pretty much the same as all kids, whilst acknowledging the subtle differences like the special bedtime prayer.  

Time and time again we hear those who are not from the dominant mainstream WASP community say that they despaired because they never saw anyone like them represented in books or on television – Dylan Alcott addressed it directly in his acceptance speech for Australian of the Year, 2022 –  “I used to hate having a disability. I hated it so much. I hated being different and, you know, I didn’t want to be here anymore. I really didn’t… Whenever I turned on the TV or the radio or the newspaper, I never saw anybody like me.”- and while this is gradually being addressed , how delighted young readers will be to see their family reflected in something so special. 

While we all have more in common than difference, it is the difference that seems to get the attention so by sharing such as this even our youngest readers can start to understand the threads that bind us are so much stronger.  Our relationships with our dads are the same no matter who we are, what we look like, what we do or what we believe in. 

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snakes Awake

Jarrod Paine

Shannon Boland

Ford Street, 2022 

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

9781925804928

Pip and her mum love to explore the bush, particularly in summer when so many creatures have woken from their winter slumbers and are out and about.  Pip’s favourite creatures are snakes, especially the red-belly black snake, but there are lots of things to know and do so she and her mum stay safe while they are exploring.

Written for younger readers so they too can heed Pip’s advice, this is a timely book to share as the weather warms up and families and animals are more active. As well as the story, it includes easy-to-read charts for both staying safe and first aid should there be the need.  Above all, it shows that while we must take care in the bush, just as we do at the beach, there is much to see and admire if we are prepared to wear our “special nature goggles”. 

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Big Idea? Australian Inventions That Changed The World

Sue Lawson 

Karen Tayleur

Wild Dog, 2022

44pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781742036267

“An invention is something created to solve a problem or make life easier. Inventions can start as a question: ‘I wonder if there’s a better way to do this?’  Or they can come about by chance…”

In this new book that focuses on things created or developed by Australians, young readers can discover the ingenuity of those who have contributed some of the most significant items to make the world a better place and which have endured over time. From the development of firestick farming , the yidaki (didgeridoo), woomera and eel traps of First Nations peoples to wifi, flashing cricket stumps and the mobile laundry for the homeless, the collection is divided into categories such as agricultures, medicine, technology, and communication with short easy-to-read summaries of the invention and all neatly brought together in a useful, colour-coded timeline at the end. As well as the readily-accessible text, there are lots of photos and the usual supports to help junior researchers navigate the contents. 

This is a timely release  when we are particularly encouraging students to dream with their eyes open and to let their imaginations soar, including those with a penchant for non fiction, making it one to highlight. 

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Flipper and Finnegan - The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Sophie Cunningham

Anil Tortop

Albert Street, 2022

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761180071

Flipper and Finnegan are two of the Little Penguins that live on a Phillip Island, fishing in the surrounding ocean by day and bringing delight and joy to the thousands of visitors who travel to see their evening parade as they waddle up to their burrows.

But one day, when Flipper comes up for air she gets covered in something that is black and smelly and sticky – and Finnegan is nowhere to be seen…

And, if you’re a rescuer how can you keep so many penguins warm and safe so they don’t die of hypothermia or ingesting the oil on their feathers, while you painstakingly clean them one by one?

Based on the true story of a 2001 oil spill in Port Phillip Bay that affected the Little Penguins, this is a heart-warming story of how a nation pulled together to save the colony by knitting little sweaters to protect them while they waited their turn.  In all, 438 Little Penguins were affected by that oil spill and of those, 96% were successfully saved with the help of penguin jumpers, rehabilitated at the Wildlife Clinic and released back into the wild.

From the team who created Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire, young readers can again learn of the perils – natural and manmade – that threaten our precious wildlife and while the disasters might be unavoidable, there is something that can be done to mitigate their impact.  By focusing on just two penguins and telling their story as an example of the other 436 penguins affected, their plight becomes more real and immediate and the reader connects with it more readily.  

While the penguin jumper project has been running for over 20 years, there are many that aren’t really suitable for putting on the penguins and so these are sold on penguin toys to raise funds for wildlife conservation on Phillip Island. Since 2012 the sale of these jumpers has raised $287,700 , going towards the  protection and preservation of the colony.  

A charming tory that will help raise awareness of the impact of humans on the landscape and to encourage our young readers to take only photographs and leave only (carefully placed) footprints.