Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008342982

Lottie Luna is a werewolf. She’s super-fast, super-strong and has X-ray vision. Lottie doesn’t really like to use her skills, though – she just wants to be like everyone else. But when someone keeps destroying the school bloom garden it’s only Lottie who can come to the rescue…

Characters having alter egos with special powers continue to be popular with readers and this new series for newly independent readers will satisfy those who like this genre.  Richly illustrated with monochrome cartoon-like illustrations to support the text, young girls will see themselves in Lottie – on the surface being just regular little girls, but with a heroine not too far below the surface.

The beginning of the new school year always brings great anticipation as new titles and series are released and with a new year level after their names, students look forward to an exciting year of reading as they become more and more competent and confident.  So a new series by this established veteran author will be a welcome addition to the collection.

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles

Mark Kurlansky

Jia Liu

Bloomsbury, 2020 

176pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781547600854

The drought and the bushfires have certainly taken their toll on the wildlife of this country and the devastating effect on the environment is nightly news.  But while the trees are slowly recovering there are some species that never will, species that we seldom give a lot of thought to in the way that koalas and kangaroos capture our attention.  For just as their habitat has been destroyed so has that of the insect world, although theirs is an ongoing worldwide invisible demise.

While there is acknowledgement that the planet’s life-givers, bees are disappearing, they aren’t the only species at risk. Populations of fireflies, butterflies, and ladybugs have all been declining in recent years, too. This middle grade nonfiction explains the growth, spread, and recent declines of each of these four types of insects. Exploring human causes to natural occurrences Mark Kurlansky shows just how much bugs matter to our world. While it might be a natural instinct to swat a fly or a mosquito and deliberately eliminate those that carry disease, each life contributes to another life and in this book the author explores that interdependence and why it needs to be preserved. 

An interesting perspective and insight into the insect world that shines a new light onto a world we don’t often think about. 

My Book With No Pictures

My Book With No Pictures

My Book With No Pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book With No Pictures

B. J. Novak

Puffin, 2019

40pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241444177

Following the phenomenal reception to The Book with No Pictures , B. J . Novak now invites the reader  to collaborate in the writing of this new book.  In what has to be one of the most engaging cloze activities ever, the reader has to fill the gaps with the wackiest words they can think of so the story continues.  There are some suggestions offered (and some stickers) all of which are nonsense words, but nevertheless make sense overall.  But the reader can add whatever word they want and when they read it again, change them and have a whole new story.

As well as creating a LOL read,  putting the power in the reader’s hands ensures they will be engaged and entices them to look at the sorts of words that are required such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.  Cloze activities were one of the most powerful reading comprehension strategies I used as a classroom teacher but never did I offer one as crazy and inviting as this.  I wish I had.

Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy

9781760893651

 

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg

9781760894528

Puffin Books, 2020 

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 

 

 

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

9781460754092

Dippy the Diprotodon  has dug a new hole and the best thing about a hole is that if you have sharp claws you can make it bigger and bigger.  In fact you can make it so big it can take you into another world!    A swimming hole, to be precise, one filled with creatures that Dippy doesn’t recognise but who he is convinced will want to be friends.  But will they?

Right alongside Mothball, Dippy is my favourite literary character because his innocence and expectation that he will be loved epitomises and reflects that of our youngest generation as they learn to navigate the world beyond home and family. It never occurs to Dippy that the creatures that he discovers (and who discover him) will do him harm or be unkind. Both French and Whatley capture this perfectly in text and words demonstrating that while new situations might be different, even strange, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are confrontational and antagonistic. As our littlest ones head off to preschool and big school, they can go with a positive attitude and confidence that yes, it’s a new world but it doesn’t have to be scary. To explore this in the context of a book about dinosaurs which resonated with that age group is just genius.

For those of you who want to explore the world of Dippy, diprotodons and other megafauna there are teachers’ notes (written by me) available. 

 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback

Stephanie Owen Reeder

NLA, 2020

132pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780642279521

December 1914, times are tough, war has broken out in Europe and 15 year old Will Hutchinson joins his father, two mates and six camels on and expedition to the South Australian desert outback to search for gold. But water rather than gold becomes their main concern as the harsh conditions become real, and in desperation the men leave Will to babysit the pack camels while they search for water.

But Will is not content to just sit and wait and so he too, goes off to find water. But he finds so much more – the opal fields of Coober Pedy owe their discovery to his courage, cool head and self-belief.

This is the fifth in the Heritage Heroes series that tells  the “true stories from Australia’s past featuring ordinary children and young people who have achieved amazing things against the odds”. As well as the narrative itself, Will’s story is interspersed with double-page spreads about the topics in each chapter such as riding the Ghan, the Afghans, the camels and surviving in the desert, all of which draw on the full resources from the National Library of Australia  to bring them to life and give them authenticity. There are also pages about the future of Will and the three men (Will came to a tragic end at 21), maps and details about the stories behind the story so readers can explore further.  Thus as well as an entertaining read for independent readers about a real person they can relate to, there is also a glimpse into a past that few know about. There is a reason that the main street of Coober Pedy is called Hutchison Street and the memorials that stand beside the Stuart Highway in South Australia and at Glengyle Station in Queensland.    Teachers’ notes will be available .

This is a series well worth highlighting in your collection so our young students not only learn the intriguing stories of this country’s past but can also be inspired by ordinary kids doing extraordinary things so perhaps they too can become a hero of the future. 

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

A is for Ant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A is for Ant

Kate Slater

DK, 2020

16pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9780241435922

There has been something of a revolution in board books over recent times. Our youngest readers are now getting interesting stories rather than one-word concept books and now publishers like DK are acknowledging that even at this early age, some are choosing non fiction as their preference. A is for Ant  is the first book in a new alphabet series, each of which looks at a particular animal that begins with that letter as well as features about the creature that reinforce the letter while illustrations bring the world of ants to life, as toddlers learn about ant hills, antennae and more.   Filled with simple, fun facts, A is for Ant provides lots to talk about as they learn how ants work together, what they eat, and where they live. It is cleverly designed to encourage early learners to repeat the fun a-words.

With the competition from screens of all sorts, convincing little ones that books are worthwhile even if they do appear static can be tricky but books such as this which demonstrate they do have something to interest them are a great starting point. Maybe, given the ubiquity of ants, it is time to invest in a magnifying glass to go on an ant hunt and discover more about these creatures, while older siblings could suggest more ‘a’ words to go with those already included. 

 

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Planet: The One Place We All Call Home

Matt Whyman

Richard Jones

HarperCollins, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780008180317

This is the official children’s book version of the Netflix documentary series Our Planet. Endorsed by the World Wildlife Foundation and with a foreword by Sir David Attenborough , it is an authoritative exploration of our planet’s natural world using both illustrations and  photographs from the series itself. 

While each habitat is treated separately, nevertheless this is a story of interconnection and hope, so much so that Sir David Attenborough suggests that the children who read it will be “among the next characters who can, if they wish, tell the most extraordinary story of all – how human beings in the twenty-first century came to their senses and started to protect Planet Earth'”

So many of our students have access to services like Netflix now  and may well have seen the documentaries so this is a great opportunity to explore how film and print can work together. 

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and My Boots

Penny Harrison

Evie Barrow

Little Hare, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760502331

Bronte loves her boots and she wears them all the time.  But they seem to take a role of their own depending on who she is with.

Mum calls them my brave-girl boots.
My bold-as-brass, adventure boots
I’m off to snare the dragon boots.
I’ll drag him home for tea.

My teacher calls them bustling boots.
My buckle-down-to-business boots.
I’m the best at jobs boots.
I’m busy as a bee.

Bouncing along with a rhythm that is as engaging as Bronte, with clever language and joyful illustrations, Bronte learns that who she is when she is wearing them is shaped by the relationships and circumstances at the time. But most importantly, she knows that all of these personalities make her who she is, even if she does have more layers than a triple-chocolate cake. 

This is the first in a new series about this thoroughly modern young girl who is confident and assertive and very comfortable in her own skin. The endpages and illustrations show she is not restricted by gender stereotyping or other artificial boundaries, complementing the text perfectly as she rejects the notion that her boots make her bossy or stubborn.

Looking forward to many more in the series.

 

 

Love from the Crayons

Love from the Crayons

Love from the Crayons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love from the Crayons

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2019

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

 9780008384920

Love is yellow and orange.
Because love is sunny and warm.

Join the Crayons as they bring us another charming tale,  this time about how love is many colours depending on how we are feeling and what we are doing at the time. 

Explore how love can be shown in so many ways apart from saying those three words, and then take it further by investigating how we often assign colours to our emotions and how colours can affect and reflect our moods. 

Something charming for Valentine’s Day and Library Lovers’ Day.