Seagull by Danny Snell

We see Seagulls around most places by the sea. The fly gracefully yet also hang around fish and chip devouring visitors! They can be a beauty to watch but also an annoyance when you want to eat.


Seagull by Danny Snell brings to light a pertinent issue while linking in a bird that we all know of. Linking in this well – known bird allows the reader to make real connections to the plight of many birds and sea creatures who become tangled in the rubbish we leave behind on a daily basis.

Seagull by Danny Snell tells the tale of a seagull who become tangled in fishing wire and other rubbish. She seeks help from other animals who try to release her but cannot. However, as the day wears on  the caring nature of a young boy is displayed and she can be freed – there is hope.

This is a gently written and beautifully illustrated story that allows for many conversations and lesson starters.


How can we limit the amount of rubbish we produce each day

  • Students can keep a rubbish diary
  • Create ideas to lessen the amount of waste they produce each day.
  • Examine their own local environment and the amount of rubbish they can find that is lying around.
  • Alternative uses for waste apart from the tip. See Reverse Garbage in Marrickville, Sydney.
  • Look at the waste in your own bin – can any of this be reused? Can it be recycled? Can it be upcycled?
  • What about our homes & toys? Allow children to look at the toys they have – how many are these harmful to the environment? What can we do instead of always buying more toys? Laura Trotta has some great ideas.

How can we manage natural places?

  • Create signs to show where bins are & the differences between these bins.
  • List the importance of natural environments. Consider the ramifications of destruction of these natural places.  Create artwork that shows a natural environment of the future if care is not taken.


Seagull by Danny Snell is a quiet book, the pictures capture the imagination and the care that each character in the story displays is heartwarming. Both my children enjoyed reading this book and talking about how we can make some small differences in our lives.

Happy reading!

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Links to the curriculum:

Humanities and Social Studies links:

Stage One

The natural, managed and constructed features of places, their location, how they change and how they can be cared for (ACHASSK031)

Reflect on learning to propose how to care for places and sites that are important or significant (ACHASSI026)


Stage Two

Reflect on learning to propose actions in response to an issue or challenge and consider possible effects of proposed actions (ACHASSI060)

The importance of environments, including natural vegetation, to animals and people (ACHASSK088)

The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)


The Lorax

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


Dr Suess is an alliterative, rhyming, tongue twisting author who has written many books  that have stood the test of time. His books are fun to read and of course The Lorax has an underlying meaning.

I love reading The Lorax. It is not only a fun, imaginative read but it leaves the reader with hope and inspiration that they can do something – even something so small can make a difference.

Dr Suess explores the concepts of consumerism, greed and vanity. He also explores disregard for the natural world when pursuing money and power.

The Lorax begins it’s tale in a dark and gloomy world where there seems to be little hope, love and joy. The Once ler tells us his tale of his own destruction of not only himself but of the beautiful environment that once was. We learn about the destrcution Truffala trees, bar-ba-loots, swomee swans and humming fish and the creation of the Thneed which “Everyone, everyone, everyone needs! ”

So how can we share this book with our children?


Informative texts

  • How can we inform people about pollution and it’s consequences?
  • List the pollution made and the destruction it caused (in the Lorax) . Using a Venn diagram draw similarities to real life situations. (draw on newspaper articles)
  • Students write an informative text using factual information from Non-fiction books , newspaper articles and internet resources.
  • Encourage creativity and imagination in the informative text – linking examples from the Lorax.

Curriculum links

Draw connections between personal experiences and the worlds of texts, and share responses with others (ACELT1596)

Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts demonstrating increasing control over text structures and language features and selecting print,and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1682)



Before you read

– What is a Lorax?

-What is this story about?

AS you read

  • Discuss the animals & the names they have been given.
  • Have fun with alliteration & rhyme. Making up your own alliterative sentences & continuing with a rhyme.
  • Ask the child how they feel about what the Once-ler is doing.
  • Would you buy a Thneed?

When you finish

  • What might happen now?
  • How can you help to make sure your world doesn’t get as yucky as the world the Lorax once lived?


Go outside, talk about all of the natural things you can see. Talk about how you can help in small ways – get a worm farm, recycle, use less plastic. Draw links to The Lorax, discussing with your child that we don’t want our world to end up like his did and we can all do small things to make a difference!


Uno’s Garden


I think Graeme Base is one of my favourite picture book authors and illustrators. Not only can I spend time reading the story but I can also spend time searching through the pictures to see what else is in there.

I am intending on covering many of his stories throughout my blog so here is the first!

Uno’s Garden is a story about a man named Uno who falls in love with a beautiful space in a rainforest. He builds a simple dwelling and is depicted as living simply, alongside the plants and animals.

However, with so many beautiful places, other people also want to enjoy them.

As the pages turn we see more and more people living in the area until the beauty that once was, is gone.

However, there is hope – which is such an important part of this story. Without hope children reading this would not feel that they too can do something too.

The people in this story do come to realise that they have messed the world up and start to make changes.

Graeme Base ends his story in a repaired world, everyone happy and at peace, and although something is still missing, the reader can move away from the story with hope.

We can move on knowing that there is a chance that people now in our world who are doing wrong by the environment might start to make a change. It might be small to start – but small is better than nothing.

Graeme Base has added other elements including counting, prime numbers and hidden animals – such fun when reading with children of any age.

Pick up this book today – it is a magical read.


Parent shared reading tips:

  •   Before you begin – who is Uno? What sort of person might he be?
  •  As you read – count the animals – use the tips in the back of the book to support any numeracy.
  •  As you read – search for animals. Ask why the animals have the names that they do.
  • As you read – What are the people doing? What are they thinking?
  • As you read – How have the people changed the world? How are some people trying to fix the world?
  • Look at different words and work out the sound they start with. Focus on the sound, not just the letter they start with. Stretch out the words and search for the phonemes. This will develop phonological awareness.

Teaching tips

These can be embedded into any literacy teaching time:

** Problem solving: Create categories of the animals that appear in the story.

** Creative thinking: Discuss the animals Graeme Base has created – which animals has he based these on? Can students create there own special animal?

**Visualising: What might the future look in your neighbourhood if you don’t care for the natural things around you?

**Inferencing: What is Uno’s garden? Who could Uno be?

Links to the Australian Curriculum & Sustainability.


Leaf by Stephen Michael King

I stumbled across this book whilst I was shuffling through the K section of the picture books.


The green cover stood out (as I was looking for some more environmentally themed books) so I pulled it off the shelf and quietly read the story.

Stephen Michael King has written some fantastic books that children love and this one is another book for children to enjoy.

Leaf contains little language which is fantastic as it allows the reader to form their own version of the story.

It is wonderful to encourage young readers to let their imagination flow. Children love being given ownership of their own learning and ideas and graphic novels and picture books can allow this creativity to flow.

Leaf shows the love of nature that children can have when given the chance. It also shows the adult world and how everything needs to be neat, tidy and regimented. A sad story on adults behalf!

In this magical story a little boy  grows his own seedling in his hair and loves it, cares for it and shares many adventures with it. He spends every waking minute finding the best way to care for his seedling.

Unfortunately it’s time for a haircut and the adult world tries to take his small tree away from him. However, his determination and resilience shines through and he continues to care for the tree as he grows older.

This is a beautifully drawn book which not only intrigues the reader but really hits the spot on how we need to take a step back and let the natural world become a part of our daily lives.

Take some time out to read this with a child (and by yourself) you will feel refreshed and inspired to make changes in your world.


Teaching ideas

This links in easily to the sustainability strand in the Australian curriculum.

English: Writing imaginative texts, Inferencing and reading books with limited writing.

Maths: Creative problem solving – how long could he have kept a tree on his head before it would have made his head lean to the side under the weight?

Create a short puppet play!

Read a ‘green’ script’ (See my post on Little Green Hood)

Work with students to learn how to write a script. (characters, taking turns, importance of italics for movement direction)


Read Leaf by Stephen Michael King & then create a script to perform this as a simple puppet show. You can make it as detailed as you like. (You can use sock puppets or paper plates to keep it simple)

Little Green Riding Hood

I needed to find a short script that I could use in my writing group and I wanted to focus it on fractured fairytales and sustainability.

I couldn’t find one so I have written one myself!


Here is the start… (If you would like more please see my teachers pay teachers site)


Little green riding hood.


Puppet enters


Green hood: Hmmm, I’m so lost, my google maps ap has crashed again. (She looks worried and walks back and forth)

I know that is a gum tree and gum trees are often near water so if I follow the river I might find my way to Grandma’s hut. (Little green walks towards the river looking worried)


Big Bad Cat: Well hello there little one. (jumps out)


Green: AARGHHHH (she jumps in fright)


BBC: Now don’t be scared, I’m just a cat. (let’s out a big burp)
GH: whaaaaatt??? Did you just burp?


So all in all it is a simple story which allows students to experience puppetry. They learn how to read a script and in turn can create their own.

Students also link into the sustainability outcome in the Australian curriculum through learning about the plight of native animals due to feral animals hunting them for food and for fun.

More needs to be done by local councils to stop the spread of feral animals – mostly cats into the Australian bush. Laws are in place but are not strongly implemted. There are too many cats out roaming at night time doing as they please.

We need to lobby the local council to implement heavier penalties for single and once off offences.

Why start a blog about books?



This is why, and I thank @coralsci for this:

I was watching a TED talk by Kristen Marhaver ( @coralsci) about growing baby coral to help replenish reefs.

She said this that inspired me to try and make a difference, to try and help others understand what is going on in the wider world and how it relates to us even in the smallest way.

And yet, almost everyone I meet, no matter how educated, is not sure what a coral is or where they come from. How would we get someone to care about the world’s coral reefs when it’s an abstract thing they can barely understand? If they don’t understand what a coral is or where it comes from, or how funny or interesting or beautiful it is, why would we expect them to care about saving them

I hope my blog can try to make meaning to real environmental issues – let me know!


Last tree in the city

Loss and Hope.

Children look at the world differently to adults. They notice so much more than we do  and appreciate the small things that we overlook.

Peter Carnavas has written a poignant picture book that shows how much joy nature can give. The images add more depth to the well written story, they are simple and green – highlighting the natural world in the main characters life.

This story drew my thoughts to life as an adult compared to that of a child. As adults we can become caught up in our jobs, money and homes and never stop to realise that there may not be a tree down the street, a bee buzzing in the flowers or a native bird singing in the backyard.

Last tree in the city is the story of a boy who loves to climb the only tree in the city until one day he finds it has been removed. The young boy is upset but demonstrates resilience by not wallowing in despair, but moving on with hope to spread a new green around the city.

This book hits the mark with the current awareness that many city dwellers have with the lack of green space. I have seen in my own city of Sydney that cities are slowly moving towards a greener colour with planter boxes growing on roofs,  small trees on the sidewalk and mini herb gardens aside cafes and homes. This book shows that a little bit of green can go a long way in changing the mood of the world.

This book is a heartwarming story full of hope and gives children (and adults) the belief that there is nothing too small that they can do to help improve the world in which they live in.

Teaching tips

  • Ask students to look around the school environment and note any small changes which can take place to make it a ‘greener’ place to live in.
  • Investigate which herbs can be easily grown in pots and used in salads and cooking.
  • Investigate plants which help to improve the air quality indoors.
  • Learn more about how inner city buildings now have bee hives, working gardens and native plants growing.
  • What are community gardens? Find the local one that your child or class can visit.
  • What is resilience? How did this boy demonstrate resilience in the story. Discuss what the boy could have done if he wasn’t resilient and hopeful. Discuss other environmental ‘warriors’ who have displayed resilience.
  • Compare and contract areas of your city that have become greener or even areas that have become less green due to population expansion.

NSW Curriculum links:


Stage 1:  Features of places.

Stage 2: The Earth’s environment

Stage 3: A diverse and connected world.


Stage 1: Earth and space, Living world

Stage 2: Living world.


Personal health choices & Problem solving.


Pictures to stir

Graeme Base has written many poignant tales about the environment that surrounds us.

I love reading his books to my classes and my own children. The illustrations tell their own story and the words are like music to the listener’s ears.

If children are to make connections with big issues such as changing climate, drought and environmental destruction – picture books are the answer.

Graeme Bases’ picture books lighten the important issues.

The reader can learn about different types of animals, seek out how the land changes depending on the climate along with learning about different animals and their habitat.

Two books that I have read recently were Uno’s garden and The Waterhole.

There are so many lessons that can be drawn from these two books but here is something for your creative thinkers who love writing and creating to start with:


How do built environments effect the natural environment?


Uno’s garden & The waterhole – Graeme Base.



  • How the world is changing for the animals
  • How the images make us feel
  • How do the words make you feel (alliteration & verbs)




  • Using alliteration, create your own counting book to not only teach counting but to also convey a message of caring for the natural environment. Use alliteration, personification, verbs & descriptive language.