What is space? Where does space really begin? Why is Jupiter stripy? What is a light year? How are rockets launched?
There are few parents of young, curious children who have not been confronted with questions like these as their offspring begin to realise that there is a world even larger than the one immediately around them and they want to find out more.
So here is the answer – a new publication by DK that uses children’s questions and an inquiry approach to provide the answers. Using extraordinary photos and clear diagrams supported by child-size bites of text over 200 common questions about space have been answered at a level that the child will understand. Yet there is enough information for the really curious to want to investigate further. For example, in 2007 tiny animals called tardigrades survived for 10 days in space outside a spacecraft – but what is a tardigrade? (You can find out here.) There are even quick quizzes that encourage them to read the text closely, including picture captions, critical information literacy skills.
DK have a sound and deserved reputation for bringing non fiction to young readers in a way they can access and engage with and this new addition is no exception. Ideal for the eyebrow-raising questions for parents who can get themselves off the hook by suggesting they use the book to find out together, yet tantalising enough for those with a need to know more.
Imagine having curly hair that has spirals and squiggles and swirls and curls that are too bouncy and loopy and knotty and fuzzy and frizzy… so hard to handle it makes you dizzy!!!
Now imagine all the crazy-daisy ways you might try to straighten it. You could brush it for hours; get your friends to stretch it; you could put big books on it or even tie balloons to it! Maybe stick it down with sticky tape or even give yourself a bucket bath…
Or you might learn to live with it and love it, especially if you met someone with dead straight hair who would love to have your curls…
This is a superbly illustrated, funny, story-in-rhyme that will resonate with every girl who wants what she hasn’t got. Whether it’s straight hair, long legs, no freckles, there is always something we wish we could change.
Even though its target audience is very young readers, this would be the perfect kickstart for a discussion about body image, body-shaming, self-acceptance, loving who we are on the inside and all those sorts of issues that start to plague young girls. An important addition to your collection relating to mental health and mindfulness.
Anyone who has spent time with little people, particularly boys, will know that they often gravitate to the non fiction collections of the school library where they can get a THICK book (very important) and then pore over the pictures for hours at a time. If the pictures and diagrams are of high quality then they can absorb a lot of information from them even if they can’t manage the text yet.
In this new publication from non fiction experts DK the editors have mastered combining stunning illustrations with just the right amount of text to support the beginning reader, often only one sentence and using vocabulary that is appropriate to the age group whilst not “talking down.” Divided into four sections – All About Animals; Amazing Animals; Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals – it begins with a clear explanation of what animals are, differentiating them from plants, and then moves on to those of land, sea and air.
Using lots of colour, a clear, clean font of a good size, labels, speech bubbles and other literary devices, the young reader is taken on a journey through the animal kingdom that they will return to again and again, all the while honing their reading skills as they want to know more than just the pictures can tell them. At the back they are introduced to the concept of a glossary which explains the meaning of some of the more unusual words they might encounter like amphibian and exoskeleton, as well as an index that will help them find just what they are looking for.
With more and more research emerging about the need for children to develop basic literacy skills using print if they are to use and interpret online information efficiently and effectively,this is a must-have addition in both the school and home libraries.
Australia is full of the most amazing animals on the planet! What animal has six thumbs? What animal produces square poo? What animal is made up of 95 per cent water and is highly venomous?
There have been many books, including alphabet books, published about Australian fauna over the years that one wonders what a new one could add to the collection. Renowned author and illustrator Frané Lessac has found the answer in this fabulous new publication described as a FACTASTIC tour of our unique wildlife.
While the familiar candidates like the kangaroo and koala are there, she has also included many not so well-known creatures like the Irukandji Jellyfish, the Hopping Mouse, the Ulysses Butterfly and the Velvet Gecko. Beautifully setting each in its own natural environment with a brief introductory caption, she has also scattered bite-sized facts about each for those who want to know more.
A peek inside…
Stunning in its presentation, thorough in its research this is a must-have modern approach to a perennial topic that can not only assist young children in their search for knowledge about this country’s amazing fauna but also offers a model for how they could present their own information when they do their own investigations. After all, it is one that is done in the early childhood years in almost every school so why not challenge the class to develop their own factastic tour?
On the very day that he took his first steps out of his mother’s pouch, the little kangaroo is separated from her as two large black marauding dogs race through the clearing, scattering them to shelter. The joey cannot keep up with his mum so he hides, found hours later by the O’Melon family who live in a valley in the rainforest and who care for injured and orphaned native creatures. They all him Paddy O’Melon, their Irish kangaroo.
Wrapped in a pillowcase pouch and bottle-fed a special milk mixture, Paddy not only survives but thrives. He spends more and more time in the garden as he grows meeting and making friends with the other creatures that the O’Melons have rescued. Eventually, all his time is spent outdoors and the family tell him that when he is old enough he can return to the wild and live with his own kind. But just what is his “own kind”? When he introduces himself as Paddy O’Melon the Irish kangaroo, he is met with sniggers and giggles and no one is able to help him. The best advice he can get is to find the cassowary who knows everything and everyone…
This is a charming story with echoes of Are You My Mother? but with much more depth and interest. Written by a highly regarded naturalist, who has since passed away, it not only introduces the reader to the unfamiliar and unique creatures of Far North Queensland but carries a lot of information about them in both the text and the stunning illustrations, but never intruding into the story of Paddy’s quest.
While many are familiar with kangaroos and wallabies, few know about their cousins the pademelons who inhabit the northern rainforests In an effort to spread the word about the species of her home region, Cooper has deliberately included the more unusual and suggests that readers can go here for more information about them. There are also Teachers’ Notes available and royalties are being donated to further the conservation of the area.
Apart from just being a good story, this book also introduces us to more of Australia’s wonderful wildlife, perhaps setting up an investigation that compares and contrasts those of the FNQ region to those in the students’ region.
To little people, homes must seem to work like magic. They flick a switch and the light comes on; they turn the tap and water comes out; turn a knob and the cooktop comes to life. But is it magic? Or is there something else behind it?
In the cleverly illustrated book that seems to talk directly to the young reader. and which is written to support early science curricula, the origins of electricity, water and gas are explained with clear diagrams and simple explanations. Then how each works in the home is also shown and although it takes away the “magic” it leaves children with a better understanding of their energy sources and hopefully an understanding how precious these resources are and they need to be conserved.
A great introductory book about energy that connects the child to the subject through the use of familiar items and processes, paving the way for further investigations and perhaps experimentation.
And if you really want to grab their attention, share this 50s classic… and see if they can now work how that light DOES go on!
Decades ago DK Publishing revolutionised the presentation of non fiction to young readers with bright photographs, information in manageable, well-labelled chunks and the clever use of white space so that the reader was not overwhelmed. Their Eyewitness series became a staple of primary school library collections. Now they have a launched a new series for the younger reader, using their familiar format but adding many more features so the newly independent reader can access information at their level.
Beginning with a durable paperback cover which folds out to be a quiz with answers and essential information relevant to the topic such as areas of study, a timeline or a phylogenetic tree, it then offers a page where the reader can jot down the things they have already identified that they want to find out thus supporting the inquiry method of investigation from the get-go. Then, as is customary with DK books, there are the usual contents, glossary and index pages which encourage and enable young readers to use the clues to get to what they want and in between are double-page spreads of basic information and glossy photographs and diagrams, all clearly labelled. So as well as being an ideal way of exploring print to find information they also serve as a model for students to present their findings if their searches have been assignment based rather than just curiosity.
To top it there is an easy-to-navigate website that offers more information and activities as well as support for teachers and parents. Like the books it is also a teaching tool for helping young children learn to use a website for information, one designed for their level and more authoritative and targeted than Wikipedia.
Despite the misguided opinion of some, there is a lot of research and reasons that primary school libraries, particularly, need to have a robust, attractive, up-to-date non fiction collection and this new series demonstrates the value of not only catering to those who prefer to read non fiction but also those wanting to find out more NOW! As well, the series is attractively priced so that parents can purchase individual volumes to accompany particular interests or investigations that their child is pursuing.
Miss 6 is fascinated with the human body and snaffled my review copy as soon as she saw it, not only asking and answering questions for herself but also learning vital lessons about using such resources. Now she is exploring those for information as often as those for her imagination. It won’t be hard to fill her Christmas stocking!
When Little Koala climbs up the branch for dinner he gets a nasty surprise when instead of feeding him, his mother’s pouch is closed and she gives him a cuff around the ear. He is no longer welcome as she is pregnant again and it is time for him to become independent. Koalas not only live solitary lives but they are also territorial so the search for his own home among the gum trees is not easy. When he thinks he has found a safe place to sleep he is woken by a thunderous roar and pushed out of the tree by another older male but he must find another resting place quickly because he is unsafe on land.
Bushfire-ravaged country, storms, snakes and food options limited make finding a new home challenging – is there a safe place for him?
Koala is a perfect book for not only teaching young readers about one of our iconic faunal symbols but also introducing them to the concept of non fiction. Like Python ,it crosses the boundaries between imagination and information by bringing real life to life through story. Even though the story of Koala only took place in Saxby’s imagination, it is so well-researched and accurately portrayed by Vivas’s lifelike illustrations that it could have happened, and, as we read, we get both information and insight into these extraordinary creatures. Vivas has portrayed the key physical attributes of the koala accurately so its need for two thumbs and strong sharp claws are evident but she has also given him emotions as he is kicked out and faces going it alone. As well as the details embedded in the story there are also additional facts included in a different font so the distinction between story and information is clear and this is referred to in the simplified index, itself a great teaching tool.
Young children always have questions about their world and this concept of “faction” is the perfect way to help them learn more before they are able to read independently. Finding non fiction that is accessible to young readers and answers questions as well as generating more is difficult in early childhood, but this certainly meets all the criteria to spark a range of investigations, not the least of which could be comparing the koala’s age of independence with that of the child as well as a variety of family structures.
An important addition to any primary library collection.
George is having a very bad day – an I can’t, I won’t, I don’t kind of day as he grumbles and shouts and stomps. His mum tells him there is a big bad mood around him but George can’t see it and when he goes searching for it with no luck he gets even crankier. Then suddenly, The Big Bad Mood is standing right in front of him! Rough and smelly, it takes George by the hand and off they go to create mischief and mayhem.
At first it is fun but eventually…
Young children, and those around them, are no strangers to temper tantrums born of frustration as they push the boundaries of independence, but sometimes the stars are just not aligned and we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But right from the get-go we learn that expressing our displeasure through shouting and stomping is not acceptable and so there can be an expectation that we should be happy and cheerful all the time, never giving into whatever is making us feel less so. Yet there can be no rainbows without rain and our lives are full of the ups and downs that give us light and shade so this is a wonderful kickstart to a discussion with little ones about whether it is ever OK to be angry and moody, and if so, how to deal with it.
As George goes about his day with The Big Bad Mood, he slowly begins to realise the impact his mood and behaviour are having on those around him and his attitude starts to change and then his actions follow suit. Little ones need to understand that being cranky is part of everyday life and it’s not a sin or a personality defect but it’s how they deal with the anger and frustration that shapes who they are, not just in the moment but long term as the responses we have become ingrained habits. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
Often young people don’t have the vocabulary and the language skills to be able to articulate their frustration and that leads to even more tension but by having Olga Demidova’s illustrations that make the invisible visible they realise that bad moods are real, can be tangible and can be dealt with. Equally important is acknowledging the feelings of those who have been affected by their attitude and actions and the power of saying sorry and trying to do better. Even though the target audience of this book are still too young to be able to step back and look at what is causing their mood objectively, nevertheless the patterns of their behaviour are being laid down so discussions about why they get cross and what they can do about it, as George did, are vital.
A perfect addition to your mindfulness collection!
Ava does not like wearing her spectacles at school so she finds it difficult to see the board and read her books. Her teacher understands this and knows she has to help Ava feel okay with wearing them so she begins to talk to Ava. “If only Little Red Riding Hood had put on her glasses the day she went to visit her grandmother…she would have seen the big teeth and big eyes.”
Ava stops crying and Mrs Cook continues, gradually getting Ava to understand that wearing glasses is helpful and a good thing, not a badge of shame.
Every now and then you pick up a story that really resonates with you and Ava was me 60 years ago, right down to the red hair tied up in bunches. It’s as though illustrator Angela Perrini had been looking at my family photo albums (although we didn’t have coloured photos way back then!) And then six years ago, it was my granddaughter who was Ava and in the intervening time, hundreds of other kids too. No one likes to be different when they are little and wearing glasses seems like a huge placard that tells others you are not 100% perfect and that somehow you are less than the other children in your class. As a teacher of 45 years, I’ve seen it over and over although luckily there is much greater acceptance these days. Oh, to have had a teacher as understanding and as smart as Mrs Cook.
This is a book that not only belongs in any collection for young readers but which should be actively promoted to both teachers and parents as a strategy for getting little ones to be comfortable with wearing their glasses rather than ashamed. While Mrs Cook sticks to well-known stories and rhymes where 20/20 vision would have been helpful there would be plenty of incidents, real and imaginary, that teachers and parents could draw on to play the what-if game.
So many children will see this book as a mirror and learn to love reading even more as they read about themselves, while others will see it as a window and begin to understand how self-conscious Ava and others feel and how they can be more empathetic. They might even explore other “disabilities” and the sorts of ways that science and technology can now assist in overcoming them comparing the advances to the days when no such help was available and life became a misery.