At the Pond

At the Pond

At the Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Pond

David Elliot

Amy Schimler-Safford

Candlewick Press, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536205985

The red-winged blackbird spreads his tail
and sings his hello morning song;
he has sung it since the bright
and misty world began.

When the soft pink of the dawn sun starts peeking over the pond, a new day has begun for all the animals who live in it and around its watery edges. The friendly duck family, the mysterious water striders, and the busy beaver are a few of the many fascinating and familiar animals included in this glowing poetic tribute to the lively ecosystem of the pond.

Pairing poems with pictures, this is an introduction to the animals and plants that call the pond home, and while they may not all be those that young Australian readers are familiar with, it sets up the opportunity to investigate what a local pond might have and would look like. Do we even call them ponds?  Or are they dams and billabongs? 

This is another invitation to look more closely at the world around us, especially those parts we tend to take for granted, to extend vocabulary and writing skills to describe it in poetry or depict it in artworks, or if that isn’t a strength, create a brief factual description using those included as a model.   

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Activists Who Are Changing Our World

Rebecca Schiller

Sophie Beer

Walker Books, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406397024

In the USA school students are walking out of school to protest the lack of gun control laws; in Australia, they walked out of school in 2021 to protest the lack of action on climate change… The names of Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, and other young activists are as well-known to them as those of their favourite singers and movie stars as the mantle of protest moves from its traditional university setting to the classroom.  

But who are they inspired by? On whose shoulders do they stand? 

Defining an activist as one who uses their knowledge, skills and energy to make the world a better place by protecting human rights, ending prejudice and inequality and protecting the planet from harmful human activities so all its creatures are safe, this book introduces young readers to 20 people who have made a significant contribution to changing the world – some names familiar, others not-so – including Sonita Alizdeh; Rachel Carson; Favio Chavez; Mahatma Gandhi; Jane Goodall; Helen Keller; Martin Luther King Jr; Nelson Mandela; Wangari Maathai; Aditya Mukarji; Emmeline Pankhurst; Autumn Peltier; Boyan Slat; Gareth Thomas; Harriet Tubman; William Wilberforce; Ai Weiwei Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah as well as both Yousafzai and Thunberg.

Each person has a double-page spread that includes an outline of what they have achieved, the core motivation for their actions, the particular powers that they employed, as well as a significant quote to inspire the readers to continue their work.  There is also an activity suggested so that this can be done so the reader begins to realise that no one is too small to make a difference. For example, they are encouraged to build their public speaking powers so when they have something important to say they can speak out with confidence as Mahatma Gandhi did, or perhaps create something that will solve a problem as Boyan Slat did when he was confronted with an ocean of plastic rather than marine creatures on his first scuba diving trip.

Conservative, right-wing, middle-aged men in suits (and those who follow them) condemned those children who left their classrooms to protest – they should have stayed there to study and learn –  yet it could be strongly argued that those same children were actually putting their learning into practice, determined to make the world a better place for themselves and others, because “there is more to life than increasing its speed” as Gandhi said.  By introducing our students to those who have gone before, and those who are already forging a new path, through books such as this,  Children Who Changed the World , and others, perhaps we can plant the seeds that will grow the future.  Encourage each to “dream with their eyes open.” 

 

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Jackie Kerin

Milly Formby

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

978148631449

 

A few weeks ago we found ourselves at an international airport, which might not seem unusual except we we had no luggage, tickets or boarding passes, we weren’t intending to fly anywhere and our feet were firmly planted in the sand of Shoalhaven Heads in the Illawarra District of Australia’s East Coast.

 

But this was not your usual airport where planes take off for faraway destinations – it’s actually an important bird migration destination on the East-Asian Australasian Flyway  that extends from Arctic Russia and North America to New Zealand and is used by over 50 million migratory waterbirds.  Twice a year, 36 species of migratory shorebird fly annually to Australia and New Zealand for their non-breeding, or overwintering, season, and then return to breed in the northern hemisphere above the Arctic Circle.

So the release of this book for review was very timely, particularly as it also coincides with an opportunity to follow illustrator Milly Formby’s microlight adventure around Australia to raise awareness for migratory shorebirds in May–November 2022, complete with all sorts of support resources including the teachers’ notes downloadable from the book’s home page..

While we might be learning about the amazing migratory journeys of species like the humpback whale  and other creatures, they are able to stop, rest and feed on their journey.  How can a red-necked stint which weighs about the same as a piece of toast fly 500km without stopping – that’s the distance from Sydney to Perth and then another 1000km out to sea?  Who are these amazing birds, who can’t land on the water because they don’t have webbed feet, and what do they do to prepare for their amazing journeys? How do they find their way across both ocean and continent covering up to 12 000km in nine days like E7, the bar-trailed godwit which was fitted with a tracker to record the first world bird record for the longest non-stop flight?

In this absorbing book, the reader is taken on a trip to the Arctic tundra and back to discover the life and lifestyles of these wanderers in a format that is engaging, accessible and which opens up a whole new world to wonder about.  With books like this and The Great Southern Reef  we can introduce our students to the amazing world that is right on their doorstep, perhaps opening up new interests and dreams. For Milly Formby has a dream to fly her microlight to Siberia and back to follow the birds, the first step being that  Wing Threads adventure of flying around Australia. A real-life example of “Dreaming with Eyes Open.” 

Milly's Journey

Milly’s Journey

 

 

Then to enrich the experience, as well as being involved in  Milly’s adventure, track down a copy of the movie Fly Away Home, the remarkable story of saving Canada geese by training them to follow an ultralight, based on the real-life experience of Bill Lishman.

What a world has opened up for me because I found myself at that unknown airport!  And my feet haven’t even left the ground!

 

 

Song of the White Ibis

Song of the White Ibis

Song of the White Ibis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the White Ibis

Phillip Gwynne

Liz Anelli

Puffin. 2022

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

9781760897949

The ‘chorus” of this song would seem to sum up this bird’s reputation…

Call me Bin Chicken
Call me Tip Turkey
Call me Picnic Pirate

But, in fact, the white ibis – Threskiornis molucca – has  a more dignified tale to tell. That of being related to the Sacred Ibis of Egypt and to Thoth, the god of science, writing, magic and the moon; that of being the farmers’ friend as their long beaks aerate the soil as they dig for troublesome insects like locusts; that of once living in the wetlands but driven to being of scavenger of the cities because of human habitation overtaking theirs. 

There was much derision when Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe suggested the white ibis to be the mascot for the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane but this intriguing book by Phillip Gwynne with its detailed illustrations from Liz Anelli  shows the bird in a completely different light, offering a different side to its common image. Certainly, the final message of “reduce, reuse, recycle’ or we might all become bin chickens is confronting but is a definite heads up to make us think about why there is just so much waste to enable these birds to thrive in the urban environment. 

According to the  National Food Waste Strategy Feasibility Study

  • Food waste costs the economy around $36.6 billion each year.
  • Each year we waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food across the supply and consumption chain – this wastage equals about 312kg per person, equivalent to around one in five bags of groceries or $2,000 to $2,500 per household per year.
  • Food waste accounts for approximately 3% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Australia uses around 2600 gigalitres of water to grow food that is wasted – this equates to the volume of water in five Sydney Harbours.
  • The amount of land used to grow wasted food covers in excess of 25 million hectares, a landmass larger than the state of Victoria.

(Source: Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, 2022)

Thus, this book could be the springboard to students  investigating food waste and its management in both our schools and our homes making it so much more that a plea from a bird for some dignity and respectability. Even young readers can create visual representations of what 312kg  or one in five bags of groceries look like. And that notion of it being the Olympic mascot could be more beneficial than first considered… 

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku

Sally M. Walker

Matthew Trueman

Candlewick Press, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9781536203561

one minuscule speck
grows into the universe
a mind-boggling birth

Defined as a traditional Japanese three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count which often focuses on images from nature, haiku emphasises simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression making it an effective way to get students to focus on the essence of an object and then use succinct, descriptive vocabulary to portray it so every word has to work hard. 

In this stunning union of poetry, art and science, haiku is used to explore the universe through a lunar eclipse, beyond the orbiting planets, and into glowing galaxies and twinkling constellations out to Ultima Thule, the most extreme limit of the journey which “longs for a visitor with coal and a carrot”, and all accompanied by the most imaginative illustrations that are almost photo-like so that not only does the reader learn about the vast beauty of space but they are left in wonder and awe of its magnificence. The minimal text structure of haiku means just the nucleus of the phenomenon is offered as a teaser, leaving the reader with a tempting taste to learn more…

the Eagle landed

one giant leap for mankind

footprints in the dust

Some of this is offered in the comprehensive, well-researched final pages which explore such topics as constellations and astronomers, the birth of the universe, stars, the solar system, moons and eclipses, asteroids, meteors, and comets, but the whole offers an opportunity for students to engage in their own interest-driven investigation with the challenge of summarising their findings in their own haiku and artwork. 

Old Fellow

Old Fellow

Old Fellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Fellow

Christopher Cheng

Liz Anelli

Walker Books, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760652395

The Swedish have a word for this story- fika [fee-ka]. It means “a moment to slow down and enjoy the good things in life”.  And that is exactly what the old man and his dog do from the moment they wake and stretch their creaky old bones, through their walk in the park meeting old friends and new and then home again for a well-earned cuppa. But is it the man or his dog that is the “old fellow”?

There are only a handful of authors who can take such an everyday occurrence as an old man and his dog taking their daily exercise and turn it into such a charming story that has so many possibilities.  Indeed, Chris Cheng has dedicated this story to the “Old fellows of Campderdown Memorial Park”, suggesting that he. himself, has spent an hour or more there just  practising fika as he watches all the meetings and greetings and connections that are made, for a walk in the park is as much mental and emotional exercise as it is physical.

While, in previous generations the old man might be represented by a grandfather, that stereotype has been replaced and so our children might not have as much contact with those whose birthdays start with a 7 and beyond and so this is an opportunity for them to engage with this age group and as programs such as Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds showed so well, there are huge benefits for both sides. Teachers’ notes are available.

In the meantime, Liz Anelli’s illustrations are so rich in detail as she captures not only the community who enjoy the park but their connections and friendships that you can almost feel the camaraderie coming off the page. And the reader’s next walk in their park will be viewed through a different lens.

With titles such as Bear and Rat  and One Tree , among many others to his credit, Chris has once again shown his incredible ability to capture the emotional essence of a situation that can open up a whole new world for young readers as they learn to identify, express and manage their own feelings.  

In the meantime, here is that elusive fika in action!

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: A Jigsaw Puzzle Book

Bluey

Puffin 2022

8pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

 9780143777878

Just as the new season of Bluey appears on the screen, and the controversy about whether Bandit is a “bad dad” fills talk shows, comes a new, interactive print edition  for the lovable character’s fans. 

Each double page includes a put-together puzzle that emerges into a new adventure for Bluey and her family, then young readers can flip each puzzle over for a new picture.

Despite what those who have to politicise everything through their narrow, adults lenses have to say, this series, its characters and situations remains one of the most popular for young children ever, and interactive books like this which rely on their interaction with both the book and the story are perfect for developing those critical early reading behaviours!  At last the preschool population are being seen as a real audience with specific needs and interests and these are being met by print-based publishers. While Mem Fox has continually stated, “” If every parent -and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy in one generation!” it is also essential to actively engage the child in the story, either through the reading itself, talking about it, creating something or music and movement, giving the child the power to manipulate it, as this does, is also vital.  

Another essential for those who care for our very young. 

Where’s Wally?

Where's Wally?

Where’s Wally?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s Wally?

Where’s Wally? The Super Six

boxed set, six books + puzzle & poster.,  RRP $A69.99

9781406396744

 

Where’s Wally? At the Movies Activity Book

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781529503166

 

Martin Handford

Walker Books 2021-2022

One of the most enduring memories from my days in the library is watching groups of young boys, particularly, racing in at lunchtime to get hold of a Where’s Wally book and then being bunched around a table, heads together, eagerly being the first to spot him amongst all the other incredible busyness on the page. They were so popular that they had to be on the Not For Loan shelf, and I can still hear the shouts of delight as new discoveries were made – often not even involving the finding of Wally, but something else intriguing. So as well as developing their visual acuity, so important for discerning letters and words accurately and interpreting details in illustrations, they were thoroughly engaged in a print resource at a time when the personal screen was just emerging as the entertainment-du-jour.

So it is grand that Walker Books have just released a compendium of six of the classic titles – Where’s Wally?, Where’s Wally Now?; Fantastic Journey; Where’s Wally in Hollywood?; The Wonder Book and The Great Picture Hunt–  all in the original large size format and at a price that allows libraries and families who don’t have these basics to afford them.

Then, as well, there is the new Where’s Wally? At the Movies Activity Book in which readers can visit the sound stage to watch a song and dance rehearsal, plan out your own film plots in the writers’ room, choose a star-studded cast, then step on to the red carpet for a glitzy, glamorous movie premiere through an array of games, puzzles, searches and stickers.

There are a handful of series of books that were available 20 years ago that I credit with getting a generation of reluctant readers to engage with text and start a lifelong journey of reading – the incredible work of Martin Handford in the Where’s Wally series is one of them.

Kind

Kind

Kind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kind

Jess McGeachin

Allen & Unwin, 2022

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

9781761066047

The publisher’s description of this book as a ” beautiful ode to the wonders of our natural world” is spot on.

In this book you’ll find

Many kinds of things

Some have slippery scales

Some have feathered wings

But kind is more than type

Kind is how you care

For creatures that you meet

And places that we share. 

There have been a plethora of books in the last couple of years that encourage us to take greater notice of our immediate surroundings, particularly as that has been where we have been confined to, and implore us to take greater care of where we step, what we see and how we act.  Leaving a shell on the beach means a lot to the little creature who seeks shelter beneath; not stepping on an ant means  even more to the ant! So this is another reminder to take the time to acknowledge,  appreciate and applaud Mother Nature, to remember that the real seven wonders of the world are at our fingertips.

But it is her final verse that really has great impact if we are to continue to be healthy and happy individuals who have the compassion, empathy, strength and energy to be kind to everyone and everything else. 

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.