A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

Bill Bryson

Puffin, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A32.99

9780241451946

This is the latest edition of a book first published in 2003 and is Bill Bryson’s attempt to help newly independent readers understand something about everything from” a journey from the centre of the planet to the dawn of the dinosaurs, and everything in between.”

Written in accessible text that has a modern layout and many illustrations by by Daniel Long, Dawn Cooper, Jesús Sotés, and Katie Ponder, it is the ideal starting point for the curious child who wants to know why and how of how the physical world works. A dip-and-delve book it offers explanations that treat the reader as a serious learner but in a style that encourages them to explore their chosen topic further, as well as offering the serendipity of opening a page and discovering something completely new.

Perfect for the budding scientist in your life. 

 

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Flinders – Adventures On Leaky Ships

Carole Wilkinson

Prue Pittock

Wild Dog, 2020

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

9781742034935

Imagine being so inspired by a book that you change your entire life’s plans and instead of becoming a doctor like your father and grandfather, you opt for a life of adventure on the high seas.  The young Matthew Flinders was so taken with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe that he decided that a maritime life was the one for him so at the age of 16 he joined the British Royal Navy.

Although England was at war with the French in those days, and Flinders had a taste of conflict early on, Flinders was more interested in exploration and following the lead of his hero, Captain James Cook. The rest, as they say, is history.  From his meeting with surgeon George Bass on HMS Reliance on their way to New South Wales; their adventures in Tom Thumb; their discovery of Bass Strait; the eventual circumnavigation of the land he named Australia in Investigator and his ultimate imprisonment by the French on Mauritius accused of being a spy his achievements are all told in this easily read biography for young readers that offers an introduction to the courage and determination of another era as well as to the man who played such a significant role in the development of this country.

But beyond just offering a history lesson, it also opens up the opportunity for discussing what a comparable journey might look like today.  What are the great unknowns that wait to be explored in 2021 and who, at an age not much more than they are now, would have the courage to say goodbye to family, friends and comfort to pursue their dreams? If Flinders was inspired by Robinson Crusoe, which stories are those that inspire today’s youngsters so much so that lives are consciously changed because of them? Whose story would they like to be a part of?

The adventures and exploits of Matthew Flinders have been the subject of many books over the years and while our students should know of them, by putting them in Flinders’ shoes and connecting what he did to their lives is a most effective way to develop that sense of awe and appreciation that is often lacking around historical studies.

As well as the detailed maps and timeline included, teachers’ notes are available.

Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Lion –  A Long Way Home

Saroo Brierly

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780143795094

Born in Khandwa, India, in 1986 at the age of just 5, Saroo Brierley was separated from his brother at a train station and, not knowing his family name or where he was from, he managed to survive for weeks on the streets of Calcutta before finally being taken to an orphanage and eventually adopted by an Australian family. Even though he was happy growing up in Tasmania, he always wondered about his long-lost family and the story of his search for them has become an award-winning movie based on the adult version of his autobiography.

This incredible story of love, resilience and hope has been exquisitely illustrated by Bruce Whatley in a version for younger readers that will intrigue and inspire as they are touched by his need to discover his roots and what happened, particularly to his older brother whom he was with.  In its own way, it will be the story of many of the children in our care who have two families and who want to know and love both. They might not have the geographical journey that Saroo has to navigate, but  there is the emotional one they have to negotiate as they discover where and how they fit in.  There is the powerful realisation that it is possible to love and be loved by more than one, and that each significant relationship we form will influence our lives and characters.

It also opens up a window to the world beyond their own bubble so they begin to understand that not all children share the life they do, and that poverty and homelessness are real for Australian children as well as India and other countries.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available.

For those who want to read further, there is also the co-release of Lioness, by Sue Brierly, Saroo’s adoptive mother.

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Steven Herrick

UQP, 2020

228pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780702263002

There are as many stories in 5D as there are students, each with a different perspective on the first day of the new school year and a new teacher. There’s Olivia and Dabir, Jordi, Zoe, Lily and Dylan, Max and Mr Bertolli the lollipop man, each very different but united by the commonality of school, each a thread that makes up the tapestry of the class. But only Olivia is allowed to ride her bike to school – until Miss Dillon suggests a bicycle bus to overcome their parents’ fears about traffic and other possibilities.  And  everything changes.

As they ride, they learn new things about themselves and each other, seeing the world through a different lens. Olivia can fix a puncture in two minutes and Max can ride on one wheel.  Lily wishes she wasn’t quite so wobbly and Jordi’s been waiting forever to ride on the road. Dylan has a speedy getaway from alley cats, Dabir’s glad to be part of a group and Zoe’s bike even has a name (Esmeralda). Everyone loves their new way of getting to school.

But there’s a narrow stretch on Fishers Road with no white line to separate the cyclists from the local traffic, so Zoe and Max decide they need to make it right (even if that means breaking a few rules).

This is a novel written in free verse by the master of this format that not only entertains and resonates, but introduces young readers to a different ways of telling a story. Each character tells their own story, with characters swapping in and out after a couple of pages, the next linked to its predecessor in some way and so the reader makes the connections and the continuity rather than imposed descriptions of setting and activity. 

The sun is shining
and today feels like an adventure,
only one I can go on
whenever I want
because I have a bicycle
and friends
and a city
just waiting to be explored.

The same could be said of this book – it’s an adventure only the reader can go on because it is what they bring to the words that brings them alive.

Teachers’ notes are available.

 

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Adrian Beck

Scott Edgar

Puffin, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760892975

Derek Dilbert Dool knows he is supercool -but no one else thinks so.  Thus, he spends his life trying to prove it but none of his escapades ever quite end the way he envisages.  

In this third adventure, he somehow finds himself going from a meatball eating competition in the local food court as part of a celebration of Ruttsmell twinning with a Norwegian city to being determined to win the school cross-country, even though he is far from being a natural athlete. But underneath the bravado and the look-at-me antics, there is a young lad who really just wants to be accepted and liked for who he is, even if his name his Derek.  Written for all those boys who are newly independent readers who like a particular sort of unsubtle, gross humour supported by short chapters and lots of illustrations, this series will resonate with many who are similar to Derek as they struggle with crossing that bridge between who they are and who they think they should be. Underpinned with themes of self-confidence, self-worth, the need for family and friends, and staying true to yourself, it has serious core encased in bravado, humour and crazy antics.  Derek Dool actually DOES what the reader would like to do, if only he were brave (or foolish) enough.

As 2021 gives us a new batch of boys who are looking for something to tempt them to keep reading now that they can, this is a series that is worth introducing them to as another step/pathway in their reading journey. 

 

 

What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future

What We'll Build: Plans for Our Together Future

What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2020

48pp., hbk., RRP $A 24.99

9780008382209

What shall we build, you and I?

I’ll build your future and you’ll build mine.

We’ll build a watch to keep our time.

Sitting perfectly alongside its predecessor Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth in which Jeffers tries to offer an explanation of this planet and how it works so that his young son Harland  (and any other little children) will be able to negotiate it successfully; this time Jeffers is talking to his daughter Mari about how they will build their future together with a home to keep them safe, love to keep them warm and memories to cherish. Thus it is as much about satisfying the tangible, physical needs as the intangible, emotional that are perhaps even more critical.

Given the year that just was, this is the perfect start to a new year – one which has never been more anticipated and had more hope built into it by our young students – so that they can look forward rather than back and think about their dreams and how they might build these, while for the adult sharing the book it is a time for them to pause, look at their children and grasp that there, is one of their dreams come true – a happy, healthy child. And the future for each is inextricably intertwined.

Jeffers has a unique style of both text and illustration which is perfectly suited to this sort of philosophical text; one that might be directed to his daughter but which has universal application for starting this new year.  If 2021 is to live up to expectation what do we need to do to ensure that it does?

The Angel of Waterloo

The Angel of Waterloo

The Angel of Waterloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Angel of Waterloo

Jackie French

HarperCollins, 2020

422pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99

9781460757918

Henrietta Bartlett, known to everyone as Hen, is working alongside her surgeon father amongst the hellfire and brimstone that is the battlefield of Waterloo.  Circumstances lead to an unexpected and untimely marriage to one of her patients, an event that not only changes her life forever but leads to changing many lives of generations not yet even born.  For on that battlefield a dream of living where it is acceptable to be a female working in medicine is born, and from there to the newly-established colony of New South Wales where anything seems possible, we have the prequel to the fabulous, meticulously-researched, partly-autobiographical Matilda saga 

And this is my Christmas gift to you- hours and hours of put-your-feet-up reading into the world of Australia’s past through the stories of the generations of a family of strong women to acknowledge all the work you, as teachers, have done to keep our kids moving forward during such a difficult year. Hen herself kept me engrossed  with no room for mundane stuff like feeding the family and cleaning the house (the joys of retirement) and re-reading the series itself took care of many confined-to-home Covid hours.  It truly is Jackie French at her best.  

Merry Christmas and happy reading!!!

 

 

Peppa’s Night Before Christmas

Peppa's Night Before Christmas

Peppa’s Night Before Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Night Before Christmas

Ladybird, 2020

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

9780241448625

To round out Peppa’s busy year of celebrations and holidays, this new adventure in which she and George help Santa out of a sticky situation will be welcomed by her young fans.  Written to the rhythm of the Clement C. Moore poem , it will capture their imagination as they anticipate the big night. 

Peppa has had many exciting adventures throughout the year,  but this is the crowning glory.  Imagine helping Santa out!!! It will send little ones off to sleep with wonderful ideas whizzing!!! Even the littlest, most stubborn person falls asleep eventually!

 

A Christmas Wish

 

A Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Wish

Beatrix Potter

Eleanor Taylor

Puffin, 2017

18pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

9780241291757

It’s Christmas Eve and Peter Rabbit and his sisters are excited, but Peter is worried too. They have all wished for a special present but Peter can’t sleep, and he knows Father Christmas won’t visit if he’s still awake. As the hours drag by anxious Peter hears a little creak here, and a little bump there, so now he’s even less likely to fall asleep, especially as he is convinced each noise must be Santa and he gets up to investigate. Then he decides to sit and gaze at the lights on the Christmas tree…will Santa come while he’s there?

The charm and delight of Beatrix Potter’s tales about Peter Rabbit have endured over decades and this adaptation is no exception.  Perfect for that final sleep on the BIG night, little ones will empathise with Peter as they share his excitement and find it just as tricky to get to sleep it will become a classic part of the annual Christmas Countdown.

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Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down Under The Twelve Days of Christmas

Michael Salmon

Ford Street Publishing, 2012

Pbk., RRP $A12.95

9781921665592 

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … no, not a partridge in a pear tree. But a kookaburra in a gum tree! In this quirky re-release of Michael Salmon’s version of the traditional Christmas song, Santa has landed in Australia’s outback and is checking his list.  Although the kangaroos are in charge of the presents, their koala helpers are not helping very much at all.  Are six sharks a-surfing and seven emus laying really what someone wants to find under their tree – or anywhere?

Most of us are familiar with the bright, colourful illustrations that are a signature of Michael Salmon’s work and from the cover to the final page which is a blackline master to be photocopied and coloured in, they just delight the readers and put a smile on their faces.  Not only is the original song one of timeless tradition, but this book is one of timeless quality which will bring joy to yet another generation of little ones.  With ski-ing snakes and dancing dingoes, they are introduced to some of Australia’s most iconic creatures in situations beyond their normal bush habitats and daily habits.  And of course, the whole just begs to be the basis of an improvisation that lets the students demonstrate their knowledge of our fauna and alliteration.  Imagine eleven echidnas eating…

Christmas Day in Australia IS very different from all those snow-covered Christmas card scenes we seem to still hang on to, and this classic proves it!

If your library copy from way back when is tired and over-loved, this is the opportunity to renew it with a sparkling new version.  And don’t forget to introduce the children to the fun and games available in the cave!