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Water

Water

Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water

Catherine Barr

Christiane Engel

Otter-Berry, 2022

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

9781913074463

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

9781913520380

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

9781405298728

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

9781408876633

“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.

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Tania McCartney

NLA, 2020

68pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279637

According to my Facebook memories, 12 months ago it was snowing heavily here in the Snowy Mountains while there were 95 bushfires raging in the north of NSW, and we, ourselves, were evacuated just a few weeks later because of fires that had ignited here. The talk and news were constantly about the “worst drought in memory”, the heat and the continual and spreading threat of those fires.  And just as we thought that it would never end and we were doomed to breathing smoke-laden air forever, the rains came and places devastated by flames were now threatened with floods!

Regardless of the time of year, the weather in Australia is always a reliable topic of conversation and now two of my favourite creators have teamed together to offer an explanation for the phenomena for our younger readers.  Beginning with an explanation of whatever is weather, their combined writing and drawing talents have been used to explore the various elements of the weather, particularly in Australia so there is a greater understanding of the why, where, when and how of that which has such a bearing on our lives so that it is more than listening to the brief forecast on television or the BOM site. or being fascinated by the rain radars.  Living in the bush as I do, my favourite pages were Bush Forecasting that explain some of the behaviours and characteristics that we have come to notice and learn as the weather changes. Black cockatoos are always a welcome sign here.

Both Stephanie and Tania have drawn deeply on the resources of the National Library of Australia (luckily for them, it’s in their neighbourhood) and being a NLA publication the support materials for further exploration are very detailed. Even moreso though, is the module written to support the book as part of the NLA’s digital classroom   Aligned with the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences (Geography), and Science for Year 4, 5 and 6 students, it adopts an inquiry-based learning approach to develop students’ understanding of geographical and scientific processes relating to weather, environments, people and systems.

What more could you want?

A Climate in Chaos

A Climate in Chaos

A Climate in Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Climate in Chaos

Neal Layton

Wren & Rook, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781526362315

Planet Earth has been very good to us. But 150 years ago, humans began making machines powered by burning things…

You’ve probably heard about climate change. At least I hope you have – because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT. It affects all of us living on Planet Earth right now, and everyone and everything that will live on our planet in the future.

This year seems to have been the year for books about climate change, its impact on the planet and what we, as individuals, can do to help revert the damage that has been done.  Given that any book begins life well before it is published, it would almost seem prophetic that production must have started well before 2020 and its planet-changing events evolved.  What sets this book apart though, is that it helps our youngest readers understand the difference between climate and weather and just what is causing the climate to change.  Using the picture book format and easily accessible language in a narrative style that speaks directly to the reader, the impact of industrialisation over the last 150 years or so is explained simply and clearly using examples that little ones can understand and relate to.  It then moves on to showing how simple activities and lifestyle changes can make a difference and help sustain the improvement that has been caused by the pandemic.

With the environment at the forefront of so much curriculum work, this is one that will help even the youngest readers understand the words they hear every day while offering practical help and hope so that chaos doesn’t become disaster.

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abigail and the Restless Raindrop

Matthew Cunningham

Sarah Wilkins

Puffin, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9780143774495

Like all children her age, Abigail often has BIG questions about the world around her as she strives to makes sense of it.  And those questions can consume her until she gets an answer.  Today, as she gets ready to jump in the puddles made by the incessant rain, her big questions is about where the rain comes from.  And, again like all children her age, she isn’t satisfied with the first answer she gets from her mum – that it comes from the clouds – and she has to delve deeper, wanting to know how the water gets into the clouds.  

So using a lot of imagination mixed in with information, her mum tells her of a little drop of water who always wanted to fly and gently and gradually Abigail comes to understand the water cycle.

Investigating where the rain comes from was always an intriguing investigation as my classes explored the science, the maths, the language and even the story of Noah’s Ark and tho have had this book as an introduction would have added another layer.  Putting that big question which always started a unit into such an engaging story, giving the children the opportunity to reflect on what they know and believe to be the answer so that their imaginations are captured and they are invested in the investigation brings those big questions down to their level. 

Tagged with “a curious girl explores BIG ideas” , this is the second in this series – the first explores the birth of the sun– in which Abigail wants answers and her family members help her discover them in a way that combines the facts of science with the magic of story.  The final picture in Abigail and the Restless Raindrop hints at what her next big question will be and young readers can have fun predicting what it is as they wait for the next instalment. 

The Night of the Hiding Moon

The Night of the Hiding Moon

The Night of the Hiding Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night of the Hiding Moon

Emma Allen

Sher Rill Ng

NLA Publishing, 2020

4099., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279583

‘Late one night, Felix heard a thousand giants march across the sky and the round, silver moon went into hiding.’

Alone in his room, Felix is frightened – he imagines he can hear giants gathering on the rooftop. As a wild storm thunders through the night, Felix turns to his trusty torch, creating strong, brave shadow creatures who can keep him company and protect him from the ferocity of the wind and rain.

One by one, frolicking creatures crowd Felix’s bedroom. With his shadow friends impatient to play in the night, Felix must decide whether to stay, alone, or venture out shoulder to shoulder with his friends and confront his fears.’

Storms can be terrifying for young people (and not-so) and how well I remember being told that lightning was just the angels having a fireworks party and thunder, the clouds banging together – explanations I shared with both my son and my grandchildren when they crept into my bed seeking comfort. So Felix’s fear is understandable and will resonate with young readers and perhaps offer them some reassurance. It offers an opportunity to not only investigate the origins of storms but also to play around with shadows and discover how they are caused.

But being from the NLA, this story has the added bonus of extra pages and these one focus on the art of telling stories with shadows, particularly shadow puppets.  There are even instructions for making your own and patterns that can be used. In these times of schools not necessarily being in physical spaces, this is one that could be recommended to parents (it’s available for purchase online) to offer lots of creativity and fun as well as learning. 

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

The House on the Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House on the Mountain

Ella Holcombe

David Cox

Allen & Unwin,2019

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

9781760636968

 

There is a fire coming, and we need to move quickly. Mum and Dad start packing bags, grabbing woollen blankets, the first-aid kit, torches, and then the photo albums. Dad puts Ruby on her lead and ties her up near the back door. My chest feels hollow, like a birdcage.

At first, it was just another hot day as  summer days can be in Victoria, with the heat lingering well into the night. But this hot day turns out to be like no other… For this is February 7, 2009 – a day that is forever etched in Australia’s history as Black Saturday. Over 400 fires took 173 lives and left thousands homeless.  

And sadly, it could have been any one of a number of deadly days of this past summer as fires again tore through the landscape, on a much larger scale devastating homes and lives in every state on an unprecedented scale.  In this particular story, the author draws on much of her personal experience of 10 years ago to tell of the fear, the anguish, the devastation, the unknown but she has changed the ending of one of family tragedy – she knows that story too well – to one of hope and continuity and renewal. 

But this could be the story of so many of our students this year – those who have witnessed the fires first-hand, those who have had to evacuate, those for whom there is no home to go back to; those for whom life is going to be topsy-turvy and very different for a long time to come.  But while it is a bleak story to begin with, one that will stir memories for many, it is that message of connection and continuity, that one day (that might seem too far away just yet) their children may play on land they once called home that can offer succour and strength to try one more day.  And it may be the catalyst for some to open up about their experiences and begin to share and process what they can.

Even if students have not been able to return to their own schools, nevertheless it is the routines of school that are the constants in students’ lives right now so anything we, as teachers, can read, understand and do to support them is so important. Used sensitively at this time, this could be an important part of the help we offer. 

 

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

Ella and the Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ella and the Ocean

Lian Tanner

Jonathan Bentley

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760633691

Ella lived in the red-dirt country
where the earth was as dry as old bones
and it hadn’t rained 
for years
and years
and years.

One night, Ella dreamt of the ocean… and the image mesmerises her and she wants to know more. So she asks her dad,  her mum and Ben the farmhand, and while each has a distant memory to share it is viewed through the lens of the cracked red earth, the dust of the dry, dry, plains and the hungry hungry cows.  Her Gran hasn’t seen the ocean but dreamt about it once – ‘it picked me up and carried me from one side of sleep to the other and I have never forgotten it’- and so she sets about making Ella’s dream come true.

This is an uplifting story that will resonate with so many children from the front cover of the red-roofed house surrounded by vast dry, red, rain-starved land and gaunt gum trees to the family melancholy of hard work and no relief to the power of just a small break in routine to restore faith and hope.  You do not have to venture too far from the city to see the impact that this interminable drought is having on the land, and just as it sucks the life out of the land, so it has the people. Like Ella’s family, that impact is not as visible but is in their body language, their words and their perspective and while we city folk might pay some attention to their plight it is not long before we go back to our own lives, having put a few dollars in a tin or bought a more expensive bottle of milk.  Stories like Ella’s  and images like Bentley’s bring the reality home and depending where you live, will either help the children understand that they are not alone in this plight or perhaps inspire them to do something that might be ‘the trip to the ocean’ that turns a family around for a little while longer.  Or perhaps look a little closer to home. maybe the local nursing home, and think about what they can do to disrupt the routine of same-same boredom to put a light into someone’s life.

So often any unit of work about weather and its causes focuses on the scientific rather than the human, and Ella and the Ocean works to redress this, as readers are almost compelled to think about the what-if. and the what-can-I-do.  Another one of those great picture books that can work across all age groups.