The Turtle and the Flood

The Turtle and the Flood

The Turtle and the Flood











The Turtle and the Flood

Jackie French

Danny Snell

HarperCollins, 2023

34pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Myrtle the Turtle loves by the creek, swimming in the waterholes and eating the little creatures in summer, and sleeping in the dry leaves under a log in winter.  If the creek dries up she buries herself in the silt and the sand to keep cool, and if it rains and the creek flows swiftly, she swims with her strong legs and claws.

However, every now and then she notices a slight change in the water level and the air pressure on the back of her neck, and she knows that that is the signal to move to higher ground. And so she begins to walk uphill…  Like the Fire Wombat, her long-evolved instincts, “more accurate than the weather bureau” tell her disaster is coming and it is time to act.  But Myrtle is not only saving herself from the impending flood – the other creatures of the bush know that if she is on the move then they must be too.

In a country of frequent fire and flood, our wildlife is often seen as the first and most frequent casualty as so many are estimated to perish.  And the statistics can cause great distress to many, particularly our little ones, so as well as telling the story of Myrtle and how her instincts and actions are the triggers for others to act too, this is a story of reassurance that not all is doomed during disasters. While those who know Jackie’s stories for little people most commonly think “wombats”, her home in south-eastern NSW is a haven for all wildlife, including Myrtle and her companions who live in the creek that usually meanders through the space but which can become menacing…

Used with Jackie's permission...

Used with Jackie’s permission…

But there is some peace of mind in knowing that many animals can sense rain, storms and floods well ahead of the event itself and do escape.

Once again, Jackie has used her knowledge, experience and observations of her surroundings to create a story of wonder and hope, and Danny’s illustrations bring that alive symbiotically. But while Myrtle’s story will offer comfort to younger readers, older readers might want to explore further… How do creatures like Myrtle sense the changes? Do humans have the same capacity?  Is the Bureau of Meteorology our only warning system? How do our First Nations people predict the weather and what can we learn from them?  Does the land need floods in a similar way to its need of fire? And then, on another tangent, how has the impact of humans on the environment increased or reduced the likelihood of the survival of native species during such events?  Do structures like roads and fences impede their escape?

I have often said that the best picture books operate on and across many levels, they are never an end in themselves.  This is one of those.  

Follow the Rainbow

Follow the Rainbow

Follow the Rainbow











Follow the Rainbow

Juliet M. Sampson

Anne Ryan

Ford Street, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.95


Ruby and her little dog Tavish are idling away a beautiful sunny day, fascinated by the patterns and pictures she finds in the clouds drifting overhead.  There’s a fairy with a wand, a witch with a broom and a wizard with a cape…

“I wonder what else might live in the sky,” Ruby muses as raindrops begin to fall and her dreaming is interrupted. As she heads for home, a rainbow appears and that sparks her curiosity too.  “I wonder what’s at the end of the rainbow.”  But when she asks the Scarecrow in the field, he has nothing to say and neither does Metal Man in the shed.  Even Lion left in the barn after milking doesn’t answer and so Ruby and Tavish decide to find out for themselves…

This is a story just ripe for sharing and exploring in so many directions – just as Ruby finds wonder in the clouds and the rainbow, so too do so many children and so there is a great opportunity to develop a rainbow of questions about clouds, rainbows, weather and colours to explore.  Each question might even be written on colourful paper and put together in a rainbow-shaped collage, just as those in the illustrations have been done, leading to all sorts of observations about colour and shape as each child finds just the right piece to add.

Then there are  the obvious links to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , both book and movie, that can open up new reading horizons while  the iconic song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland or Emerald City by The Seekers suggest artworks full of imagination and colour.

 And if those ideas don’t appeal, perhaps just take your little one outside and do some cloud watching together. 





Lots of Things to Know About Weather

Lots of Things to Know About Weather

Lots of Things to Know About Weather











Lots of Things to Know About Weather

Emily Bone

Katia Gaigalova

Usborne, 2023

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


Because it often determines what they can or cannot do, young children are aware of the impact of the weather on their lives,  And many, once they have learned the various weather conditions and how they form, have further questions that they want answers to such as how fast do the fastest winds blow; how heavy is a cloud and where are the driest and wettest places on Earth?

Using the format of a child asking the questions and a parent answering them, this new book from Usborne explores some of those questions that curious kids ask, such as the ubiquitous “why is the sky blue?” and  including raising topics that they don’t know they don’t know like who the weather gods of various civilisations believed in and why spiders are bigger in warm weather!

As usual the text is accessible for the target audience, the format is appealing and there is extra support through the provision of a glossary and index so the book is easy to navigate.  Quicklinks to vetted internet sites add extra information and explanations so curiosity can be satisfied at the point of need and, there is even a lot the parent can learn if they are exploring the book together with their child.  Who knew that beetroot juice, the whey left from cheese making and even the juice in the pickle jar were environmentally more friendly ways of keeping roads free of ice than the more commonly used salt?  

Meet the Weather

Meet the Weather

Meet the Weather












Meet the Weather

Caryl Hart

Bethan Woollvin

Bloomsbury, 2023

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


Join the children in their hot air balloon as they journey through the skies to encounter all sorts of weather and learn a little more about it.  

Like its predecessors  Meet the Planets and Meet the Oceans , this is one for younger readers who are just beginning to notice the phenomenon of changing weather patterns and starting to ask why it’s windy or sunny or who might be frightened by the lightning and thunder.  Written in rhyme with bold illustrations,  this respects the child’s intelligence by offering them the basic facts in a format that takes them on a journey of learning as well as discovery so they have a basic understanding of the science that will either satisfy their curiosity for now, or lead them to seek more information.  

This is a series of non fiction titles that most definitely has a place in the school library collection as it offers information at the child’s level of understanding in a style and format that is appealing without being overwhelming.  Given acknowledgement of the date and the weather forms part of the morning routine of any Kindergarten classroom, this is a great introduction that takes the learner beyond the basic observations and may even invoke a discussion about the impact of the weather on their daily lives beginning a basic understanding of cause and effect. 


The Blue Umbrella

The Blue Umbrella

The Blue Umbrella











The Blue Umbrella

Emily Ann Davison

Momoke Abe

Andersen Press, 2023

32pp., hbk.


It wasn’t supposed to rain the day the little girl found the blue umbrella on her doorstep with a note that said, “For you.”  But she took it with her to the park just in case, and sure enough the rain started.  As it got heavier, she realised her mum was getting wet, and even though it was just a little umbrella she told her mum to get under it.  And, miraculously, they both fitted.  As they noticed more and more people getting wet, they invited them to shelter too, and the umbrella grew to embrace them all.  But the biggest miracle was yet to come…

This is a heart-warming story of the power of community coming and working together that will delight young readers, particularly. Somewhat reminiscent of the story of the magic pot that kept multiplying the food so all the peasants could be fed, but without the didacticism, it shows just how the ripples of kindness can spread into unexpected corners – how a simple act might be the shining light in a person’s struggle, as it was for the old man on the park bench.  Perhaps the children might not have a mysterious, magic umbrella but they do have a smile that can spread just as widely. 

The Robin and the Reindeer

The Robin and the Reindeer

The Robin and the Reindeer











The Robin and the Reindeer

Rosa Bailey

Carmen Saldana

Hodder Children’s, 2021

96pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


The wintery white landscape is a wonderland for Little Reindeer who is learning about snow and cold for the first time.  So entranced is she by her surroundings that she doesn’t notice that the herd has moved on on its journey to the caves in the warmer south.  She is lost and the snow has already covered their tracks so she has no idea which way to go.  But she remains calm, remembers her mother’s words about digging a hole in the snow to keep warm and waits out the night.

Through the snowflakes that are still falling the next morning she catches a flash of red – curious because Leader told her all the birds had also travelled south – and a robin with his scarlet breast appears.  Together, with the robin perched on Little reindeer’s nose like a beacon, they travel through the forest until…

This is a simple story beautifully told and illustrated in a muted palette that reflects the setting, making it a great choice for a calming read at the end of a boisterous session or day.  A cross between a picture book and a novel, it is ideal for those making that transition as it has the supports needed such as just a sentence or two on each page to maintain interest even though it is somewhat longer than a regular picture book. Just as Little Reindeer realises she is becoming “a real reindeer” when she sees her budding antlers, so readers will understand that they are becoming ‘real readers”. Just charming. 

















Catherine Barr

Christiane Engel

Otter-Berry, 2022

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


Water is life! Freshwater bubbles, flows and floods with the most wonderful life on Earth – and all of us rely on it to stay alive. Yet, despite about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface being water-covered,  the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water, freshwater is becoming increasingly rare because of pollution and climate change. Although the recent rains and floods in eastern Australia might suggest otherwise, it is becoming more and more difficult for people and animals to find the clean freshwater they need to survive. 

This book tells the story of freshwater around the world including the history of water, how the water cycle works, the different kinds of water and the amazing variety of wildlife that freshwater is home to. It investigates what happens to water because of climate change and global heating; the importance of clean water for health; the worldwide problem of water pollution and the devastating impact of water shortage on children’s lives and education.

Using a picture book presentation with accessible text and lively illustrations, this is designed to introduce younger readers to the need to be more thoughtful about their water use and perhaps instil lifelong habits early.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With its subtitle Protect Freshwater to Save Life on Earth, the reader is challenged to become more aware of this precious, essential resource and to take action, to use water wisely and protect freshwater to save our planet. Like so many things, thinking locally and acting personally can have a huge impact globally if we all collaborate and co-operate.

The Secret Signs of Nature

The Secret Signs of Nature

The Secret Signs of Nature











The Secret Signs of Nature: How to Uncover Hidden Clues in the Sky, Water, Plants, Animals and Weather

Craig Caudill & Steve Backshall

Carrie Shyrock

Magic Cat, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


Since the world really started to focus on climate change, and particularly since the lockdowns of the pandemic which meant that often the only outdoors we could visit were our own backyard, there have been many books for children encouraging them to be much more observant. to look more closely at the natural world that surrounds them, to be aware of not only the little creatures but also the ordinariness of the habitats the live in and to take greater care.

This book, co-authored by a BAFTA winning naturalist, takes that ability to be observant several steps forward and shows the reader what can be learnt from Nature, by noticing and interpreting everyday signs and signals that not only enrich the experience but help predict what might be happening.  Apart from using their senses more acutely, young readers are encouraged to read the weather by understanding rainbows, observing cloud patterns, predict wind direction and use a compass before they set off into their environment and then each section introduces them to some of the secrets of that place whether it be the ocean or a puddle, the woodlands or a desert or even how a farm paddock! 

Although predominantly using the landscapes of the United Kingdom, the reader and the two young adventurers are taken across the globe as there are many principles to discover that are universal – looking at the shape of the moon and the various visible stars or examining tree stumps can all reveal stories regardless of where you are.- and the reader is urged to be constantly curious, to be present in the moment, to be familiar with the environment so changes are noticed, to study what they observe and ask questions, and then use their learning to teach others.  So, having spotted a huddle of sheep in a paddock, they can surmise that it is likely to rain soon and predict the direction the wind is coming from be looking at the land’s topography. Or stomping through a puddle can tell the person who comes after you, which direction you were travelling…

With such a focus on environment and sustainability both in the curriculum and literature, this is an important book that can empower young readers even more, encouraging them to go  outside and see what they can learn right now!  

Rainbow Grey

Rainbow Grey

Rainbow Grey











Rainbow Grey

Laura Ellen Anderson

Farshore Fiction, 2021

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Ten-year-old Ray Grey lives in the magical Weatherlands, high in the sky in the City of Celestia and where the Earth’s weather is created. She is surrounded by Weatherlings with astounding weather power at their fingertips  The Sun Weatherlings look after the great Sunflower in the sky that provides light and warmth for humans, and there are Snow, Rain and Wind Weatherlings who use their magic to give Earth its weather.. . . but she doesn’t have any such magic! However she longs to be just like her friends, Snowden Everfreeze who is the cleverest Show Weatherling in the Sky Academy, Droplett Dewbells who sploshes any one mean to her friends and have adventures like her hero Earth explorer La Blaze Delight. 
Then, after a forbidden trip to Earth through when a map in an old book, Ray’s life changes forever. She and her friends discover Ray and her friends discover a crystal which unleashes a power that hasn’t been seen in the Weatherlands for centuries and she is transformed from Ray Grey into Rainbow Grey! With the help of her best friends  and her exploding cloud cat Nim, now all Ray has to do is master those powers, dog deep to find her inner strength so her true colours can shine so she can save the world from a mysterious, powerful enemy who also wants the powers…

Even though this book feels thick with its 304 pages and thus a little daunting, young readers need not be concerned because it is packed with illustrations and other design techniques that break up the text and make it accessible and manageable. Like Monster Hunting for Beginnersthe story centres on an ordinary everyday character who could be any one of the readers and her friends who are the sorts of friends everyone wants,  giving it an appeal to those who enjoy adventure stories, fantasy and the traditional good versus evil theme. Humour softens the anxious, nail-biting cliff-hangers so it becomes a great read-aloud and with the sequel Eye of the Storm  due in March 2022, this is a series that will be perfect for a birthday or Christmas gift. 

Snow Ghost

Snow Ghost

Snow Ghost











Snow Ghost

Tony Mitton

Diana Mayo

Bloomsbury, 2020

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


“Snow Ghost came whispering out of the air,

Oh, for a home to be happy – but where?

Snow Ghost is looking for a home. Through the dark winter sky, she swoops and swirls, past the whirling traffic of town, into the dense, tangled wood and to the top of the blustery hill, searching endlessly to no avail, unwanted. And then on the moors she spots a small farm where children are playing in the snow. She has found her home at last.

This is a beautiful story, written in rhyme with rich imagery and exquisitely and delicately illustrated that, on the surface, would appear to be about the weather. T But what if it were a metaphor for the refugees and the struggles they face when they have to flee their country and find it difficult to find friendly shelter, particularly in these times? That theme opens up a whole lot of possibilities that not only take the reader into a different world but raise their awareness of the challenges that have to be faced, racism being just one… It is about hope and an inner knowing that there will be the perfect place to belong, and having the resilience to find it. So even though it is not winter, and there are few places here that see snow, it has a much broader appeal and application.