The Windy Farm by Doug Macleod and Craig Smith


My family lived on the windiest farm on Windy Hill. It was all we could afford

The Windy Farm by Craig Macleod  and illustrated by Craig Smith is a funny and lighthearted look at the importance of wind power and environmental sustainability.
Windy hill is a windy place – so much so that the family need to wear heavy metal shoes and one particularly windy day, the house blew away! The family rebuild the house and notice how quickly the windmill spins – leading them to come up with a great plan to build more windmills and create a wind farm!

The Windy Farm explores the differences between oil and wind power for energy and how if we harness wind power it is endless – very different to the fossil fuel reliance.

The illustrations by Craig Smith are fun to examine as you read along adding more detail and humour to the story.


So how can you use this book?


  •  Why did Grandpa always say never mind?
  •  Do we often see women being portrayed as inventors? Gender stereotypes.
  • Antonyms – what are the antonyms to these words: Greedy, Poor, Windy, stupid, old, borrow.
  • How was humour used in this story? List some funny pictures, characters or sentences that made you laugh.
  •  How do the images add more to the story (pages: mum inventing the shoes, windproof house, ad with clean energy sign)
  • Illustrators and authors often work together to create picture books SO: Create your own story in groups – have illustrators, writers and idea creators to either write their own version of windy farm or another sustainable issue: Rainy farm, Sunny farm, thermal farm etc.


– What is wind? Where does it come from? (A.A.Milne poem). Read through the poem and create another poem using the same starting verse. Use other weather phenomenon – Rain, Thunder, Lightning, Coldness, warmth or rewrite own version of wind.

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.



  •  What is a wind farm?
  • Where are they located – are there any close to you?
  • What are the pros and cons of wind farms?
  • What is a renewable resource? What isn’t renewable?
  • Are there ways in which you could make your house more sustainable? Look at an example of a sustainable house and ask children to redesign their own house to make it more sustainable.



Developing literacy skills through reading

Many of us often read to younger children but think that our older children don’t need this when if fact, if you can make the time, they do! Being read aloud too – by someone if your family help the listener to develop listening skills, think creatively and explore vocal tone.


When you read out loud you can take the time to talk more about concepts and literary devices within the story which you may not explore when reading alone.

Some children may be able to listen to more complex stories than what they can read alone – reading out loud lets them hear those more in depth stories at an earlier age. Reading out loud allows your child to know that they can listen to more difficult stories and may motivate them to engage more in literacy.

Sharing books out loud has power – and can make just as much and perhaps more meaning as Television, radio, podcasts and videos. It has a positive effect on motivation, engagement in topics and interest in new ideas. It also gives families a time to share together, away from daily conversations and technology.

Perhaps this is the week to start putting aside time to share a story!


Our Island by the children of Gununa

Our Island explores the beauty of Mornington Island through children’s pictures and gives you a true sense of the peacfulness and abundance of nature. ⠀

The children of Gununa alongside Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey have created this picturesque story that shows outsiders the beauty of Mornington Island and the link the Indigenous people have with the natural world around them.

Sunrise, Sunset and the hot summer sun are all depicted through the eyes of children alongside the poetic nature of the words. Simple crayon and food dye techniques are used to create a natural feeling of the island and its people.

Our Island helps readers to become more aware of the rich indigenous culture that Australia has and the beauty of places untouched by development. By sharing this story with someone you are making their world a bigger and brighter place.

Indigenous Links

  • Who are the children of Gununa?
  • Learn some Lardil words
  • Can you find out the same words for the tribe who did or still does inhabit/ed where you live?
  • How do indigenous people live with nature – how does this help the environment?


Before: Predict what this book might be about:

  • Where is Mornington Island?
  • Who are the children of Gununa?
  • Who is Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey?


  • What do you think life would be like for the people who live here? Compare your ideas from the start of the book.
  • What do you think people do on this island?
  • Are there people on this island? Why is it not mentioned in the story?
  • How do these people feel about the natural world?

Your Task

  • With a partner, describe where you live
  • Create a book just like this to show your town, your city, your island, your bushland, your ocean etc.
  • Do you think you would need to mention people?  Can you leave people our of your space like this story does?
  • Compare and contract the children of Gununa to your life. Think about the differences and how you would both feel living in each others community.

Literacy, your child, picture books and parenting.

How to raise a globally conscious child

Storytelling and ambiguous sentences – Grandpa’s Big Adventure

Just the way we are – all families are wonderful!

Three little monkeys – coping with your own little monkeys

Developing literacy skills through reading

Road Trip – how to enjoy a road trip?!

Lucy’s Book

Parent Tips


Stereotypes in fairytales

Grandpa’s BIG adventure by Paul Newman

Grandpa’s BIG adventure by Paul Newman and illustrated by Tom Jellett is a story of adventure told by a grandfather to his grandson – and what a great story he tells!

Grandpa is teaching his grandson how to swim (and his grandson is a little apprehensive like many young swimmers are) and to help ease him into the water he tells him of a great adventure he once had when he swam around the world.

The story grandpa tells is amazing and one which we all want to believe in, even when he tells of the time he met the Prince of Whales!  The illustrations highlight the wonderful adventure with brilliant colours and quirky illustrations and tell more of the story to a young readers eyes.

If we all had a grandpa like this who ignited imagination we would never fear anything as we would know that someone has gone through these emotions before – such an important message for young children.

What can you do with this story? 

Geography ~ Numeracy ~Literacy

  • As you read this story pull out a map of the world and look where you could swim to.
  • Look at all of the different bodies of water in the world.
  • Where do people swim? Where don’t people swim? Work out reasons why! 


  • Measure distances between countries and bodies of water.
  • Pose problems – if grandpa swam 1km an hour, how long would it take him to swim to New Zealand from Australia? 

 Self awareness 

  • Can you tell a tall story that would help encourage someone?
  • Do you think grandpa did any of the things in this story?


  • Look at the inside back and front covers – what else did grandpa do whilst on his adventure? Can you add some extra tales to this story?
  • How do the illustrations change the meaning of the text? Read this book without looking at the pictures – ask students to tell you what they can see in their minds and then show them the image. Give students a sentence (or they create their own) where the sentence can have more than one meaning. 

Word play and extension 

  • Idioms – there are so many wonderful idioms in this story, try and find them! Then explore some more ambiguous sentences and draw your own illustrations. 

The Travel Bug by Benjamin Gilmour and James Gulliver Hancock

The Travel Bug by Benjamin Gilmour and illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock is a travelling entomologists dream!

Published by Penguin Random House, Australia, The Travel Bug takes the reader on an investigative adventure around the world and around the many bugs which inhabit it!

As you read this book you will not only learn about different insects of the world but also different places in the world and the fact that everyone has a wonderful story to tell and is willing to help you out.

The pictures in this travelling tale are eye catching and I am sure many a budding entomologist will devour the pages whilst they search for more bugs.

Rhyme sets the tone in The Travel Bug as the bug is offered pistachio flan, a lesson in flamenco and is photographed by a moth in Kyoto!

Travelling is such an empowering experience and whether it be in your home country or overseas, it opens you up to new ways of life, new people and new ideas. When you do travel with young children it should be travel that teaches them about the location – not just a resort that resembles home culture or creates laziness – do we all really need those resort style holidays as often as we are told we do? Taking ourselves and our children camping, into a new town centre, along to different community events and playing with other children or talking to other adults are vital to building skills of resilience, adventure and confidence – skills which can even be developed in an adult!

So what else can you do at home with this book? 


  • How do insects play a role in our lives?
  • Could there be a world without travel bugs? Could there be a world without any bugs?
  • How do humans impact insects?


  • Is there a way we can travel the world sustainably? This can be discussed with young children through how we travel, what we do when we travel, where we place our rubbish and how we spend our money through buying local. Perhaps talk to you r child when planning your next holiday about how you can make less of an impact.


  • Rhyme – As you read talk about the words that rhyme and think of some new rhyming words.
  • Visual literacy – what else do the pictures tell us? There is so much more to see and perhaps some new stories to be made from the amazing illustrations!
  • Creative writing – Where would you like to travel to? What would you like to learn from other people around your country or the world?


  • Look at the map at the back of the book – where did he travel?
  • Are there some types of insects that live in more than one country?
  • How do you think this insect travelled to each country?


  • List all of the different books that are mentioned and all of the different books that have been drawn. Compare these bugs to real images and then try and draw some of your own!
  • Which sort of insects can travel long distances?  How do they travel?



 The Travel Bug

A child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

A child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam winston really brings home the importance of books in our lives.

A child of books is a book I have been searching for. ⠀

‘For imagination is free’

The idea of imagination is key to this picture book and is portrayed so beautifully through illustrations, excerpts from other stories and a rich tale. ⠀

A young girl sails on a sea of words to invite others to a place where they can search for make-believe, discover treasures, lose themselves in forests and sleep in clouds of song. ⠀

Books are such an essential part of our lives. They enrich how we see the world and open our minds to so many possibilities. ⠀

I adore fiction stories and especially those that send a message of hope, imagination, joy and empowerment.

So what can you do as you read, while you read and after you read A Child of Books?

  • Take the time to read through this story by yourself and with a child. There are so many details within each picture and word that you can spend quite a bit of time on each page.
  • Search for hidden sentences and author names within the pictures and find out more about the whole story that has been written.
  • Create your own page of the book with favourite passages from poems and stories.
  • Explore the artwork of Sam Winston and recreate an artwork like his.
  • Have a discussion on what life might look like    – without books?  – Without stories?  – without poetry?
  • For Older readers – Has there ever been a time in history when books have been banned? How did that world look like?

A Child of Books

Schumann the Shoeman by John and Stella Danalis

Schumann the Shoeman by John and Stella Danalis is a intrinsically illustrated picture book which will appeal to readers of all ages.

Schumann is a shoemaker who makes shoes which are not only works of his creativity but also long lasting and made to fit the buyer’s foot. Schumann has many adoring customers but when a shoe factory opens in town his loyal customers start to buy these cheaper shoes and Schumann’s world changes.

Schumann tried to work in the factory but he could not bear to work with shoes that were cheaply made and looked the same so he left and moved to a forgotten forest. Here, in the forest he made shoes for animals until his last breath.

The story ends with a strong message for us all – one which needs to be pondered long after the story has finished.

The story of Schumann the showman is a poignant tale in today’s consumeristic and throw-away culture in which many lessons can be drawn from.

So what can you do?

  1. What sort of issues arise in this story? Use the following headings to sort out these different ideas.




  • Explore what different shoes are made out of and how they are produced.
  • How have humans made shoe production easier? Has easier meant more use of technology or more exploration of people?



  • Conduct an investigation into the economics of a cheaply manufactured T-Shirt (sold for $5) and a locally created T-Shirt for $45). Sort out if it is cheaper to buy one $45 one or 3 cheaper ones. Consider the cost to the consumer, producers, local economy, local council (disposal of old shirts) and impact on the environment. Rank the T-shirt in the different areas.
  • Many people cannot afford bespoke shoes like Schumann’s shoes so often buy cheap shoes. Create a plan so that more people can afford hand made shoes over manufactured shows.


  • Has the advancement of technology meant more exploration of people?
  • How has modern shopping malls and advertising created a place in the world for the exploration of people?



4. Explore collage and how it has been used in Schumann the Shoeman. Does the use of Collage link in with the environmental issues told in this story? Create your own collage to add to this story.




Shock Monday by Gillian Bradshaw

Why walk when you can drive? 

The first step to saving yourself is saving the planet – how? 

Explore the new diet trends of the western world – are they doing more harm than good to our planet?

This book reminds me a little of myself….a mum who is trying to help my children to understand more about looking after the world around them and small children who wonder what their mum is getting up to!

Shock Monday by Gillian Bradshaw starts with ‘ Mum always drives me to school……but this morning was different‘ and from there we see through the young boys eyes the transformation of himself, his mum and his sister as they walk to school.

So many of us rely on cars – and many of us do need to BUT there are also many opportunities to walk and we need to make more use of this time we are given.

Tom notices things he has never seen before, meets new friends along the way and actually starts to enjoy himself.

Shock Monday is a great book for parents to read with their children to show them that walking to school and just being more eco-friendly isn’t too weird!


Inferring skills – use these questions to help build up the skills of inference. Inferencing is thinking about and searching text to construct meaning beyond what is literally stated.

– Before you begin : what could Shock Monday be about? Who are the two children? Read the blurb on the back and then re answer the questions.

– As you read: Where do the children live? Why are they walking to school today? How long does it take them to walk to school? What is the weather like? Why does Tom think his mum should have been a teacher? What time of day are they walking to school? Why does Tom’s bag feel lighter?

Further Literacy

 – Write your own story about something that would be shocking in your house to make it a  more eco friendly house.

– Read the packaging of some products that are claiming to be eco-friendly. Are they really?

When we go camping by Sally Sutton

When we go camping by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Cat Chapman is a rhythmical story that the youngest of readers will love. Rhyme incorporated with onomatopoeia provides a book that makes you want to move about, point to the pictures and possibly even pack your car for a family camping trip!

Zip petty zap petty flopp-io

Jumpy bumpy gigg-lio

When We Go Camping highlights all the wonderful things about camping – making friends, sleeping in a tent, helping out as a family and catching your own fish!

It also mentions the trials of camping – but we don’t need to worry too much about them when there is so much fun to be had boiling up the billy, splashing in the river and singing by the fire.

If you have a family member who is apprehensive about camping you need to read this book to them, it’s a gem!


How can I develop my child’s literacy and create a globally conscious child?


  • RHYME – The three sentences on each page end in a rhyming word. Explore other words that rhyme with the final word.
  • Start with a sentence: When we go fishing, When we go riding, When we go bushwalking, When we go running (Make sure the sentence has something to do with outdoor play). Children then create their three lined poem using rhyme.
  • ONOMATOPOEIA: Explore the different uses of onomatopoeia throughout the story. How does it make you feel when you hear those words?  Look back at the three lined sentence that has been created and now add some onomatopoeia to it.

Nature Play

    • Plan a family camping trip or if you can’t do that an outside activity. Children learn so much when they play outside.
    • Write a diary entry, recount over dinner about the activity. Talking and listening reinforces fun times and allows for more family interaction – embedding the importance of talk from a young age.

Rays Outdoors – Homepage

Mopoke by Philip Bunting

A feathery humorous tale, Mopoke by Philip Bunting is a fun book to share with one or many children (and adults).


As I read this story with my two children we laughed at the antics of the mopoke and were surprised by what the Mopoke got up to!

Mopoke explores playing with words, rhyme and adjectives. It also explores what a mopoke is, where is lives and is nightly antics. (I mean, do we really know what they get up to when we are asleep?)

Awareness of birds in our environment is important, especially for those of us who live in large cities and never hear a large variety of bird song. Our family has been lucky enough to have a resident mopoke and on those still, quiet nights we have heard the mopoke call “mo-poke” much to the amusement of my children!

Mopokes are known for their love of peace and quiet and perhaps the mopoke in this story challenges that notion – but as the smallest owl  in Australia, Philip Bunting’s creation of wonder is fantastic.

Mopoke links text to pictures so even the smallest reader has a clear understanding of the words being played with.

Buy Mopoke Here

So how does this link to literacy and conservation?


  • Create a new page in the story with another word that rhymes with ‘mo’. Could it be a flow poke? Low poke? know poke? row poke?
  • Explore rhyme with other animals whose names can be broken into two syllables.
  • Inferencing
    • How did the mopoke change him or herself with each page turn?
    • Where did the mopoke go?
    • Why is it always night time in the story?
  • Create
    • Create a story about the wombat – how did he come to be in that tree?
    • Create a story similar to ‘Mopoke’ using another Australian animal that could become ten different persona’s. (Emu = She mu, He mu, Wee me, See mu, Tree me, be mu, tea mu, chi mu, key mu)


– The mopoke or Southern Boobook owl has large numbers in it’s population but with increasing cats on the loose at night and urban sprawl most bird numbers will diminish or move further away. Explore how you can make your garden more bird friendly

– Explore birds which are endangered in Australia and how scientists and conservationists are helping to save them.

– Explore more about mopokes – where do they live, what do they eat, what do they do etc.

– Researrch about other Australian owls and their habitats, eating habits and daily life.


2017 is International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

Books make links to issues that are larger to understand for small people.

There are some wonderful books that support these big ideas so go to your local library 

The key areas the UN will be focusing on are:

(1)     Inclusive and sustainable economic growth

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood
(2)     Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction Schuumann the Shoeman by John Danalis 
(3)     Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change On the River by Ronald Harvey  

(post coming soon!)

(4)     Cultural values, diversity and heritage Amelia Ellicott’s Garden by Liliana Stafford
(5)     Mutual understanding, peace and security Blue Sky, Yellow Kite by Janet  A Holmes

(post coming soon!)

Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood

Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood is a moving and informative story told through the eyes of a young boy who lives on a farm through abundance and scarcity.

Nature rules the lives of so many whose livelihood depend on the great cycles of nature causing great joy and also great distress.

As most of the population live in cities and suburbs of those cities we really need to take the time to appreciate what goes on on those farms and how much weather patterns plays a role in what the farmers can and can’t do with produce and live stock.

The young boy in this story is waiting for his friend Rick to come and visit him again over summer and is making comparisons to last year when  the river flowed, the green grass, the number of animals around and the extra time they have to put into the farm when the grass isn’t there for the animals to feed on. He hopes that perhaps Rick will bring some rain with him.

Two Summers is a beautifully written book with soft and emotive illustrations. You can feel the emotions of the family through their daily life on the farm and begin to understand what farming life is like when times are tough.

So how can you link this book with your children and family to make more meaning? 

Geography: Taking a trip to the countryside is so important but if it can’t be done there are many local farms that are often within an hours drive of a major city.

Take some time to see where your food comes from and learn how the amount of rain, the fluctuations in temperature and the pressure from large multinationals plays a role on the lives of the people who provide food for us.

English: Look deeper into perspective – how would you feel if you lived on a farm? How does this boy feel?

Science: Look at the rainfall and temperatures of a large farming area where your food comes from. How do you think this climate effects produce?