The Royal Leap-Frog

The Royal Leap-Frog

The Royal Leap-Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Royal Leap-Frog

Peter Bently

Claire Powell

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781408860106

Q: What do a grasshopper, a flea and a frog have in common?

A: They can all leap.

Q; But who can leap the highest?

A: Read this funny, colourful re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen‘s classic The Leaping Match 

Told in rhyme with hilarious illustrations, this is a fast-paced retelling of one of Andersen’s lesser-known stories that offers all sorts of opportunities from investigating his works, to exploring the concept of fables and the lessons they teach, to having a competition to see who in the class can jump the greatest distance and comparing the difference between standing and stationary starts. 

Slightly different to the original in which a flea and  a grasshopper both vain and ambitious, and a frog, patient wise and humble arrange a contest to see who can jump highest with the King offering the hand of the princess to the victor, it also enables students to look at various versions of some of these classic tales and compare and contrast how their telling has changed over time and generations, while the core message remains relevant.

Or just read it for the fun of it… 

Stardiving

Stardiving

Stardiving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stardiving

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781922696021

In the sunlit waters, baby Fluke is content to swim languidly among the rest of the sperm whale pod, occasionally rising to the surface to breathe. But as he does so, he is joined by a pod of dolphins who leap and cavort far above the surface, teasing him to join them.

“Come up and see the sky”, they say to which Fluke says he can see the sun.  “The sun’s great, but have you seen the stars?” 

And Fluke begins to wonder and daydream…until he is given some advice from Cachalot, the great bull whale, that sends him on a journey of discovery that teaches him more than he can have imagined.

Put Andrew Plant’s name on the cover of a book and I’m there! Whether it’s The Poppy, Sparkor any of the others that I’ve read and reviewed over the years, I know I will be in for a beautifully illustrated, lyrically written story that will reach deep. Of them all, Stardiving  has gone the deepest as Fluke learns as much about himself as he does about the stars that are in his own environment, without even having to learn to leap and leave his natural habitat.  As Fluke discovers the stars that twinkle and shine far below in the ocean’s depths, a place where the dolphins can’t ever go, he begins to understand what Cachalot means when he says, “You are not even yourself yet. Why do you want to be something else?”  That, like the ocean, he has hidden depths yet to explore…

Plant’s stunning illustrations take the reader into an unknown world, one inaccessible to most humans. one that even television images from deep-diving submersibles can’t portray accurately as the calm and serenity and the being-in-the-moment-ness has to be experienced; yet one that, for all its mystery, is as deserving and needy of preservation as the shallower waters above because what happens on top impacts what happens beneath.  Just as our personal experiences shape who we are, as they did for Fluke – a theme to explore in itself – so too is the ocean an integrated, holistic environment.  And while Plant doesn’t touch on pollution, habitat destruction and so forth, it is there in his dedication, reminding the reader that this story has as many layers as the ocean itself.

To all the eco-warriors who faced down the whalers; to the scientists who study and advocate for our oceans; to the kids who fight the scourge of plastic…

Extensive teachers’ notes which include an introduction to the creatures that Fluke sees, enable this book to become a journey of discovery for the reader as much as it was for the baby whale. 

 

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Imogen Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg

Bloomsbury, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781526625700

Imagine you made something that was so beautiful and powerful that everyone wanted to take it for themselves. And then you had to watch them destroy it. Would you fight for it?

Meet Gaia, the ancient Greek goddess who created the Earth and the universe that stretched beyond it. She raised trees from their roots to the sky, sent waterfalls tumbling over cliffs and created the tides that sloshed on the shore. She gifted her creation to animals and mortals, and watched as they made it their home.

But she also created a force she couldn’t control: the ambition of gods. Gaia watched as the gods fought brutal wars and manipulated mortals such as Hercules and Achilles, disturbing peace on Earth. Storms raged, fires blazed and people, animals and plants suffered. Gaia begged the gods to look after her creation, but no one listened.

But Gaia never gave up fighting for a better world. This is her story.

From the sisters who gave us the remarkable Madame Curie and her Daughters, and Athena: the Story of a Goddess comes another journey into Greek mythology with this modern take on the story of Gaia, told by the Fates, -Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos – in a graphic narrative that is designed for independent readers.  With a poignant environmental message that the pursuit of power damages our natural world, and we all have to work together to protect it, it is a relevant today as it was during the time of the Ancient Greeks 3000 years ago.  

But not only does it offer an introduction to Greek mythology that forms such a strong platform of our beliefs and values, it can also be a companion to those books that you might have been using to investigate the origins of this planet. For every civilisation has its creation myths which make for intriguing studies in themselves, let alone comparing and contrasting the lore with the science. 

Fascinating.

Subbie and his mate

Subbie and his mate

Subbie and his mate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subbie and his mate

Corinne Fenton

Mark Wilson

Ford Street, 2022 

32pp., pbk, RRP $A16.95

9781925804980

When an ebony-black foal was born on s spring morning in 1988, no one knew that he would grow to be one of the most famous horses in Australia, right up there with Phar Lap.  That, despite becoming a household name after winning the 1992 Melbourne Cup, his greatest contribution would come in the years and years following as he and his constant companion raised millions of dollars for charity and brought comfort to children and the aged alike as they visited those in hospitals.

The story of the bond between Subzero and Graham Salisbury is written into Australian horse history in this moving story for young readers, and while they, and probably their parents, are too young to remember the horse, the power of the connection between an animal – horse, dog, cat, donkey… – will be recognisable in Fenton’s narrative and Wilson’s illustrations that reflect some of the classic images of this horse that remain in the memories of older folk.  

As the 30th anniversary of his Melbourne Cup win approaches, teachers’ notes will help expand the themes of this book and help the reader understand ‘what this horse and this man did –
know of the joy and happiness, the smiles they brought to the faces of the young and not so young, those sick kids they gifted special moments to carry with them forever. “

100 Things to Know About Music

100 Things to Know About Music

100 Things to Know About Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Things to Know About Music

Alex Frith, Alice James, Jerome Martin, Lan Cook

 Dominique Byron, Federico Mariani, Shaw Nielsen, Parko Polo

Usborne, 2022

128pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 9781474996730

Continuing this popular series which includes titles such as 100 Things to Know About Science,  100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet 100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers & Coding, 100 Things to Know About Food,  100 Things to Know About the Human Body, 100 Things to Know About Space, 100 Things to Know About the Oceans, 100 Things to Know About Planet Earth and 100 things to Know About History, young musicians can now investigate which tunes could save a life, and which should come with a health warning; how  talking drums tell the history of Africa; what happens in your brain when you listen to music; the part that termites play on creating didgeridoos and even how parachuting pianos into war zones helped win World War II! 

Without a contents page but with an extensive index, this is a dip-and-delve book that can lead the reader down all sorts of interesting paths depending on where they open the book.  Who knew that playing music to plants could make them grow faster or that sleigh bells and harmonicas were the first instruments into space?

With lots of illustrations and easily accessible facts in small chunks, this is the perfect book ( and series) to get reluctant readers who prefer non fiction to consolidate their skills as they  become engrossed in stuff they didn’t even know they didn’t know yet want to discover more about!  

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Look Inside a Coral Reef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Inside a Coral Reef

Minna Lacey

Sam Brewster

Usborne, 2022

14pp., board book, RRP $A19.99

9781474998918

Despite it being in board book format, this is one for anyone with a new interest in coral reefs, their formation, inhabitants and the secrets they hold.  The board book format allows it to have a sturdy lift-the-flap feature encouraging readers to explore further and learn more as each phenomenon is explained in a little more depth beneath the flap.

 


And for those who want to know even more, there are the usual Quicklinks that accompany most of the books from this publisher, including games and activities. 

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans

Markus Motum

Walker, 2022

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781529502831

January, 1992, and far out in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a ferocious storm, a shipping container slips silently off the deck of a cargo ship and gradually sinks to the bottom of the sea. Unlike many of these containers which sink and remain forever on the seabed, this one has been damaged by the storm and it it goes to its watery grave, it releases its cargo – thousands and thousands of plastic ducks, frogs, turtles and beavers – and they are left to travel the world’s seas, taken by wind and current.

Based on true events, this innovative story tracks the journey of one of those 28 000 little ducks as it travels on ocean currents to meet sea life and discovers the rubbish from humans that endangers our oceans., highlighting the growing problem of plastic pollution. Trapped in the vast wasteland that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the little duck thinks it is doomed but another storm frees it and it eventually washes up on a beach where someone is actually doing something to address the problem…

With 40% of plastic that is produced designed for single use only, and an estimated 8 000 000 tonnes of it finding its way into the oceans each year, some scientists are estimating that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.  While recent, and upcoming bans on the sale of single-use plastic items will hopefully contribute to diminishing these statistics, stories like these that bring the problem into the lives of our students so they are aware of it from an early age are essential.  As well as explaining how the oceans’ currents enable these “plastic islands” to form, there are suggestions to enable individuals to make a difference such as recycling or organising a beach cleanup, but it might also spark discussions about what could be done at the class or school level, such as a toy swap or a Nude Food Week, especially if before-after comparisons are done as part of a maths challenge.  

Team this with others like Oceans of Plastic The Plastic Throne and Toy Mountain    so that even our youngest can start to make a difference.  

   

Lightfall (series)

Lightfall (series)

Lightfall (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightfall (series)

The Girl & the Galdurian

 9780062990464

Shadow of the Bird

9780062990501

Tim Probert

HarperCollins, 2021=22

256pp., graphic novel, RRP $A19.99

Welcome to Irpa, a world in which humans live and work alongside animals, where the sun no longer shines, and an ancient, forgotten terror is stirring.

When the sun was extinguished 500 years earlier, the Galdurians invented and built floating Lights to ward off the overwhelming darkness, and now, though the Galdurians are believed to be extinct, the Lights shine on.  

Deep in the heart of the planet stands the Salty Pig’s House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea, studying, foraging and making potions together for the people of their once-prosperous world, and, as keepers of the Endless Flame, living a quiet and peaceful life. 

All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it’s the Pig Wizard. And so these two unlikely friends get swept up in an epic quest to save their world from falling into eternal darkness.

When they arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found—all that’s left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard’s safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light.

Will these two unexpected friends find the beloved Pig Wizard and prevent eternal darkness from blanketing their world Or has Irpa truly seen its last sunrise?

In the second in this new series, Bea and Cad continue their quest to stop Kest, the mythic bird who stole the sun. After a battle that nearly cost them their lives, they awaken in the hidden settlement of the Arsai, mysterious creatures who can glimpse into the future. The Arsai’s vision paints a dire picture for their planet, as the bird Kest Ke Belenus—now awoken from a restless slumber—threatens to destroy all the Lights of Irpa. Desperate for a solution, Bea and Cad seek out the help of a water spirit known as Lorgon, whose ancient wisdom may help them find a way to take down Kest and save Irpa from utter destruction.

But when their time with Lorgon presents more questions than answers, Bea and Cad must decide what’s more important . . . stopping Kest or uncovering the truth.

Both episodes end on a cliff-hanger leaving the reader to wait for the next installment, making this an engaging series for those who enjoy this sort of story in graphic novel format.  Probert has built a whole new world with intriguing characters that young independent readers will relate to as they face the sorts of dilemmas and decisions that the reader does, but in a parallel setting that adds an extra dimension, yet remains familiar so the leap isn’t too great for their imaginations.   

 

Leilong’s Too Long!

Leilong's Too Long!

Leilong’s Too Long!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leilong’s Too Long!

Julia Liu

Bel Lynn

Gecko Press, 2022

28pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781776574339

Leilong the brontosaurus is a very good school bus, and the children are all ready and waiting as he goes from building to building to collect them.  But being a brontosaurus in a modern city of cars and buses and trucks and people can have its drawbacks and Leilong finds himself banned and confined to the school gymnasium.  He is so upset that he cries and cries… and finds himself a new career!!

Young readers first met Leilong when he took them to  library storytime and they will be happy that he returns in another adventure. What if Leilong arrived at their school?  What uses could he have?  Have them write letters to the principal to persuade them that Leilong should stay… 

 

Pirate Queens

Pirate Queens

Pirate Queens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirate Queens

Leigh Lewis

Sara Gomez Woolley

NatGeo Kids, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781426371950

In 1995, September 19 each year was proclaimed International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Created as a bit of fun by two friends in the US, in Australia, at least, it has become a major fundraiser for Childhood Cancer Support with schools getting involved in a range of ways to support students and friends.  According to the Cancer Council, it is estimated that, on average, about 750 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia with leukaemia accounting for about 33% of cases, and brain cancers, 25% so it is likely that a school will be supporting a student through this –  if not yours, then nearby.

Thus, what might have been a frivolous suggestion more than 25 years ago, can now have a significant impact on those we know and this new book from NatGeo Kids can provide an opportunity to investigate the lives of some of the women who were just as fearsome as the more well-known males such as Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Captain Hook or even Jack Sparrow.  As is often the case with history, the past is viewed through a male lens because men were viewed as the gender capable of writing and reading, they became the scholars, and thus wrote the history books which were mostly written to please kings , generals or male politicians and so only portrayed the male perspective.  

Thus, even though there have been female pirates since the dawn of piracy, including Ching Shih (aka Zheng Yi Sao)  who tormented the South China Sea with her fleet of 70,000 raiders in the early 19th century, our children have grown up with male-dominated images and stereotypes.

Easy to read with lots of detailed illustrations, the author has trolled the few resources that do still exist and this collection of six stories of powerful female pirates who forged their own path is but a small part of the stories of other women whose stories have been lost or forgotten. Spanning the Caribbean, the Irish and North Seas, the Mediterranean and even the Pacific, this is a fascinating look into the lives of these women that had me more intrigued that I imagined and immediately I could see its place in a serious study of these seafarers who not only captivate young readers in folklore and fiction but who also were real and shaped history so that International Talk Like a Pirate Day could have a legitimate place in the curriculum and thus, its associated fund-raising boosted.

Older students might investigate the qualities of leaders and leadership and whether rule by fear is the most successful way, while perhaps the next pirate a younger child draws might even be female!