The street beneath my feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer

Have you ever wondered what is underneath the road, path or bush track you are walking on?

Have you ever dug down just a little and noticed a change in soil type or creatures?


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Well this just might be the book for you!  The street beneath my feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer is not only a colourful and informative book, it also folds out to around three metres in length! 

As you unfold each page you are taken deeper and deeper underground , exploring different life forms, buried rubbish, fossils, ancient artefacts, underground rivers and different types of rock.

This book will ignite so many conversations of how we use the underground world for our own benefit and perhaps might make you think what we are destroying in order to get to rocks like coal which we seem to think we desperately need.

Children will love to see the hot lava and magma which bubbles underneath our feet and the glorious gemstones which are created by this heat.

Rocks and different parts of soil are so important to the health of plants and animals which live on earth and through reading this book you can really talk about the importance of looking after the soil by thinking about what you throw in the bin, what you place down the drain and how you dig things up!

But overall I think the winning aspect of this book is the fact that is does fold out and the children can move through the soils – gaining some idea of the depth soil goes to.

A great read and one for budding environmentalists, scientists, historians and geographers!

So what else can you do?

 – Have a read of another book about soil

– Dig a hole and look at how the colour changes as you go down. Look at what is in the soil sample – animals, insects, rocks or rubbish?

– Conduct your own science experiment and see the best type of soils for plants to grow in. Learn about how much of a role soil plays in the life of a seed. Try sand, dry dirt, wet dirt, potting mix, compost etc. Place them all in the same location and give them a similiar amount of water. Predict and then watch!

– Explore the rocks we use for buildings, science and energy. Where do they come from? How do we get them out? Are they running out and are there alternatives?

– Could you create another book in this style? What could the topics be?

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Global Guardian Project

Have you heard of the Global Guardian Project?  This project is something I recently stumbled across and has been something I have been thinking about for a while – how can I help parents empower their children?

The Global Guardian project is the answer.

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Each month they release a new module which focuses on a variety of topics that help families to be inspired and empowered to make differences in their world.

Perhaps you too want to raise children who do care for the planet more than perhaps we have or our own parents have. We want to give them the tools so they can stand up and make a difference!

The Global Guardian Project is another tool you can use at home to create positive habits, learn new facts and challenge each other to become more creative and critical thinkers.

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I will be reviewing several capsules in my blog and I invite you to read these reviews and think about becoming a Global Guardian member.

So how much does it cost?

The wonderful part of the GGP is that you can choose how much you want to spend. You can nominate from as little as $6.99 a month to $12.99 a month.

How do I become a member?

If you sign up through my blog and use my code you will receive a 10% discount on any membership that you choose.

Ready to sign up?

Discount code: GGPVanessa

Sign up link: https://globalguardianproject.com/pages/digital-learning-capsule-subscription

Hope to see you in the GGP group soon!

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers

“No, you cannot have a pet lizard -” Lizzy’s mum said, “And before you ask, no snakes either. No reptiles of any sort.”

 

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers is a wonderful new fantasy  novel for younger readers – and they won’t want to put it down!


I know that as a young child I always wanted a different pet -a dog, a rabbit, a fish or a bird – I never wanted a lizard, and still wouldn’t want one crawling about in the house But Lizzy does, and she is determined to get a pet of her own.

Lizzy lives on a farm which is going through drought. The grass is brown, the dams are dry and their is the ever present threat of bush fire.

Lizzy is a strong, caring and clever young girl and perhaps by luck or perhaps by magic she stumbles upon a round shaped egg in the field outside their house. Her brother Joey discovers Lizzy and her secretive behaviour and does what many siblings would do – threaten to tell their parents if she doesn’t let him on the secret.

Despite Lizzy’s efforts to keep her egg (and then pet dragon) a secret, her brother finds out and Lizzy has to put up with doing all of his chores – that is until she discovers the magic her dragon holds and possibly the real reason the dragon egg happened to land in the drought stricken land.

Full of magic and mystery, Lizzy’s Dragon is an story you cannot put down. Younger readers will love this story as Lizzy is a character many children will identify with – she is thoughtful, she fights with her brother, she cares for her family and she wants the best for the place she lives in.

Dragons are magical beasts which excite and engage many readers and the beauty of this dragon is that it comes across as one of the best possible pets you could have.

Lizzy’s dragon is a wonderful read – one to read out loud or for better readers –  to read alone. The pictures within the novel give the readers some more insight into what Lizzy and her dragon look like and ignite more of that wonderful imagination.

Magic, mystery and mettle, Lizzy’s dragon is a book to inspire the best in all of us.

So what else can you do with this story?

 – Design your own dragon. What egg would it hatch from? where would you keep it and what would it’s special gift be?

– Are there any areas close to you or in your country that are experiencing drought? What do these places have to do during times of drought?

– Have you ever helped out in your community? Find out how you could help in some way at a community event.

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Want to become a global guardian?

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The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

But that was until he was accidentally locked in the library.

The lights went out, the door clicked shut and the place went quiet.

Bollo looked around but there was no one in sight, no one that is until the books started watching him.

One by one he noticed aliens googling their eyes at him, monsters waving their furry hands and a Mopoke hooting at him.

He crept closer to each book and noticed the shimmer on some covers, the sparkle on the pages and the magic smell.

He hesitantly moved his hand over shelves of picture books, rows of audio books and reams of graphic novels.

He heard stories rumble from within books on low shelves, fact reciting from books on high shelves and constant mumbling from magazines on the back shelf.

With a dash of colour here and there, Bollo found books that were beyond boring. He found books that would transport him to another time, books that would teach him things he never knew possible and books that would give him ideas on how he could change the world.

And so when the lights came back on and a friendly hand picked him up, Bollo thought  that  just perhaps, books were not so boring.

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Hey Warrior: A book for kids about anxiety by Karen Young

Anxiety explained: Kids empowered

 

Do you have a child who feels anxious? Do you have a child who worries or perhaps cries over what seems to be nothing? Or perhaps a child that might lack a bit of self confidence?

Then this book is one for your book shelf!


Hey Warrior: A book for kids about anxiety by Karen Young, is a marvellous read aloud story for parent and child. It clearly explains to children what anxiety is and how it can happen to anyone at any time.

The clever way Karen Young has done this is by explaining the part of the brain that causes our body to think it might be in danger – the Amygdala – as a fierce warrior who is there to protect you but needs a name so that you can help it to calm down when there is no real danger at all.

I have read this book only a handful of times to my daughter and straight away it made a difference to how she deals with worrying situations. Her amygdala has a name now and she can tell it to calm down which helps her. This simple act of naming is another tool to add to her toolkit for her future and equip her with skills to deal with anxiety.

Karen Young clearly explains to the young reader what is happening to their body when they feel worried and gives out simple tips that young children can easily remember when in difficult situations.

This book is amazing and is one to read again and again just to remind your little one that emotions do not need to overtake us and that we have the power and strength in our brains to make ourselves even more incredible than we already are.

I hope you can share this book and make a difference to at least one child.

 

Why read graphic novels?

Last month I was lucky enough to review a copy of Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin.

After I read it I remembered how wonderful comics are and how accessible they make reading and big issues for reluctant readers.


So why should you encourage your young reader to borrow graphic novels from the library?

  1. Graphic novels are full of text and the text is just always about reading left to right. The reader needs to look at the page to work out where to read next – it could be vertical columns, horizontal or even a one page spread.
  2. Graphic novels can cover big issues in a more meaningful and easier to understand way that stories that just have text.
  3. Graphic novels are fast paced and great for children who don’t want to sit down for a long time. They are often action packed and full of movement.
  4. Graphic novels vary just as much as novels so don’t just try one – there are many more genre’s of graphic novels coming out and many more for girls too.

Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes

What have you decided to do today after breakfast?

Build a rocketship?

Explore outer space?

That’s just what our adventurous character – Scout – has decided to do!

Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes is a fun and imaginative picture book that takes us on a journey with young Scout who is described as an inventor, explorer and a dreamer.

Scout has built a rocket ship and today is the day they are going to zoom off and explore the solar system.

Scout and the trusty rocket ship – Beattie – visit the planets and their personalities. Each planet is represented by a different animal and I found as I read this book out loud to young children that it really helped them to connect with these space beings which are so far away and can at times be difficult to understand.

Each planet smiles at Scout and Beattie, welcoming them to their zone and showing off just how big, small or coloured they are.

We even get to visit Pluto – who is so small and far away (and not a real planet by scientific standards) but very very helpful!

Sha’an’s illustrations are delicate and colourful. Each planet is really brought to life through the idea of an animal and the adventure Scout embarks on does not seem daunting when there are friendly creatures and a caring rocket ship along the way.

Zoom is a simple story but told so well. Children are engaged right from the start with the simplicity of always starting a day with a good breakfast. I also loved that the main character Scout was not outlined as being a boy or a girl so that both boys and girls can identify with being a scientist, adventurer and thinker!

What can you do with this book?

 –  Imagine what animals you think the different planets are like. Draw what they look like and how they act, using information about the planets to support the ideas.

– Design what you think earth would look like if you were in outer space.

– Start a diary with the words – But we all need our breakfast…..

-This picture book is full of adjectives – find as many as you can. Can any of these adjectives be replaced with a new adjective?

-CRASH, GATHUNK and FIZZ are all onomatopoeia words, can you think of some more that you might hear in outer space?

 

Endangered plant spotlight :Wee Jasper Grevillea

The Wee Jasper Grevillea, found in only two places in the world : wee jasper and on the slopes above Burrinjuck Dam has bloomed for the first time in twenty years!

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The hard work from the Saving our Species team and the National Parks and Wildlife service has saved this species from extinction.

The Wee Jasper Grevillea can grow up to 2.5m tall and has been in the past a delicacy for roaming cattle.  It grows around the many caves that are around the Wee Jasper area and flowers in winter and spring. It is interesting to note that it is predominately pollinated by birds.

So why is it critically endangered?

– Weeds take over the area it needs to grow in

– Feral Goats and grazing cattle have eaten it

– Recent fires have wiped out some of the small population.

– Human interaction with the area (tramping on plants and seedlings)

How is this plant being looked after?

Fences have been put in place around the species so that any young growth cannot be trampled on. This is paying off so the fencing will stay in place so that more plants can grow to adult size.

What can you do?

  • Report any feral animals you see to local farmers and NPWS.
  • Stick to the path when out bushwalking. Take photos only, do not pick the flowers.
  • Make sure your boots are clean when walking in different areas so you do not carry seeds from weeds.

 

Draw a story

This month, The Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs has suggested that we focus on drawing a story.


The idea behind drawing a story is to show how much the illustrations can change how we see the story. The illustrations can give us the viewpoint of someone or something in the story or just allow us to be observers.

Illustrations can help us to feel stronger emotions or to understand what the author really means.

Illustrations play a vital role in picture books and allow us to stop and think about what we have just read, search the page for more meaning and look at how different illustrators portray ideas.

There are more great graphic novels coming out – picture book and comic style.  And these types of books are a great place to start looking at how illustrations can tell a story all on thier own.

There are some wonderful ideas on the website and also an event but how can you use these ideas if you don’t have access to the books at home or at your school?

  • Last week my son (3) and I sat down. He drew three pictures then put them in order and told me a story as he looked back on what he had drawn. He learnt how to sequence the story, how to start a story and how to finish it – He even managed a complication in between! It was fun, it was easy and he learnt a lot – learning doesn’t always have to be formalised when it comes to books!
  • Explore Graphic novels that I have reviewed: Illegal, The arrival
  • Find an image and make up your own story. Try Bronwyn Bancroft’s art

Amazing animal babies by Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft

Which animal lives in it’s father’s mouth as an egg? How big are earthworm eggs? And which creatures need to fend for themselves as soon as they are born?


Babies of any kind are amazing yet many of us know little about animal babies – unless we see them on the news as part of a zoo breeding program.

Amazing animal babies by Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft is a wonderful book that teaches the reader about how different babies are grown in the womb or egg, how they develop and the amazing things they can do from a young age.

Each page is accompanied by Jason Cockcroft’s vibrant illustrations that depict how the animal lives and moves in its habitat. The pictures bring the facts to life and help the young reader to absorb the facts that they hear or read throughout the book.

A great aspect of this book is towards the end where readers can discover more through some extra facts. I love when books provide this extra information as it really empowers children to go on and explore more about the particular animal they are interested in.

So how can you use this book?

  • Choose one or two of the animals and then research some more about them through library books and easy to read websites.
  • Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Where do each of these animals live? Plot them on a world map – country awareness is really important to build from an early age.
  • Should we use the cute factor to save endangered animals? Would this help? 

Flying books

I am sure you, just like me have donated books to charity.


It makes you feel good that someone else is going to enjoy a book or  at least the book isn’t going to end up in the bin.

But have you ever donated a really terrible book? An old book? Perhaps an outdated book?

On a recent trip to Vanuatu we were lucky enough to stay with a local for three nights/four days on the northern tip of Efate. On one of those days we visited a school with a suitcase full of books to donate to the library.

Most of these books were in great condition and were aimed at young children but the lady who took us to the school told us that they do often receive books that are falling apart, too hard to read or too outdated.

Many people might think they are doing to right thing by donating a book but really they are just creating more rubbish in a place that doesn’t need any extra waste or material that will just be burnt.

Next time you hear about a book drive or decide to donate some books consider if it will be read or if it will just be disposed of by someone else instead of yourself.

Consider the people who will be receiving the books – many of those in developing countries who are in need of books do not have very good English skills so the easier the book and there pictures the better.

Don’t send your junk or your old books. Send your best books – these people deserve to read the quality that we all read too.

Little mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell

What lengths do your children go to to grab themselves a sugary treat?

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The little mouse in this book travels all over his neighbourhood to find a delicious sweet snack meeting different animals and their taste buds along the way.

A sweet, simple, fun and engaging story, Little Mouse’s Sweet treat will not only engaged your child it will also expose them to rhyme.

Rhyming is one important aspect of learning to read so having these types of books read out loud to your child is setting them up for an easier path when learning how to read.

The watercolour illustrations are beautiful and my three year old loved looking at what the different animals were doing as the mouse spoke to them.

My one year old niece asked for the story to be read over and over again, enjoying the pictures, the sing song of the rhyme and the curiosity to see what the mouse ended up eating!

Little Mouse’s sweet treat is a lovely read for younger children and one which early readers will also like to read out loud.

You can buy your copy here: Amazon

Snap review: Within these walls by Robyn Bavati

Whatever is coming, we’ll face it together, as a family.

As long as we’re together, we’ll be okay.


I’ve read a few books about the Holocaust – both fiction and non-fiction and I’ve visited the Holocaust museum in Sydney.

But this book written by Robyn Bavati opened up so many more terrible emotions as we see the unfolding events through the eyes of a young girl named Miri.

Bavati has created this work of fiction based on many different stories she gathered from interviews with survivors – so even though the final book and it’s characters are fictional, the stories are not, and these stories are heartbreaking.

Robyn Bavati is an excellent storyteller on an issue that is so emotional. There are moments of joy, kindness and strength but overall you will be left wondering how this ever happened and perhaps how this still happens today.

A book for children 11 and older but one to debrief on after and perhaps look further into the Holocaust and why it all happened.

 

Educational services

Please contact me if you would like any of the following paid educational services

 

– Written teacher notes linked to the Australian curriculum for novel studies.

– Talks for parents and teachers about Gifted education.

– Lesson plans and units of work related to picture books, junior and young adult fiction , science and sustainability.

I can be contacted by email at nes.ryan@bigpond.com

Please see my About me tab to see my experience in the field of education.

The chronicles of Jack Mc Cool: The Amulet of Athlone by R.E.Devine

Ever wondered, ‘What’s special about me?’. Jack did and soon discovered that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, even ones with sticky-up hair and an unending supply of dodgy one-liners.

Jack Mc Cool is funny, full of energy and bright- but he is also forgetful and gets in trouble from his teachers. He lives with his family and goes to school – just like any other ordinary teenager.


But this all changes the day he tries to escape the annoying requests from his brother to help him prepare for his school play.

Jack climbs into the attic of the house and in an effort to escape his brother, stumbles upon a trunk – which looks like a great hiding place but ends up being something completely out of the ordinary.

The Amulet of Athlone is the first book in a series of 6 which takes the reader on an magical adventure back in time to the Kingdom of Eireann to recover 6 powerful gems that will restore peace to the Fianna people.

Ruth Devine’s writing is fast paced and action packed. Each chapter in The Amulet of Athlone leaves you with a cliff hanger, subtly recaps what has happened and allows you to really get to know the characters.

Ruth was inspired to start writing this series of 6 by her three sons, who all have ADHD. She wanted to create an adventure story with a quirky main character that not only would her boys want to read about but also other children who may be reluctant readers or have ADHD.

You’ll feel like you know each of the characters by the end of the book and if you’re like me, be quite happy to join Jack and Finn on the next quest. You’ll be amazed by the magical spells and tricks played by evil banshees and mesmerised by the description of the places Jack visits. You’ll also see how important family, friends and positive support  are to all children, especially those who are a little bit different and don’t always fit what the teachers at school or society expect from them.

The Amulet of Athlone is a great start to this 6 book series and I can’t wait to read the rest!

Teacher notes coming soon – Watch this space!

Endangered animal spotlight: The Numbat

What am I?

I am only 40cm long

I eat around 20 000 termites a day

I am only found in Western Australia

 

I am a NUMBAT!

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(Photo taken from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-03/numbat-population-grows-after-wa-breeding-program/8410856)

 

Numbat’s used to inhabit the southern part of Australia, including Western Australia, South Australia and parts of New South Wales but now they are only found naturally in pockets of South Western Australia.

Key reasons as to why these cute banded animals are endangered is because of cats, foxes and loss of habitat due to land clearing for mining and farming.

There are currently only around 1000 numbats left  in Australia.

So how can you make a difference for these diurnal marsupials?

Read a book – Rufus the Numbat is a fun filled read!

Check out project numbat and the great kids activities online

See how fences are keeping away cats and foxes

Keep your cat inside – see what PETA says about this.

Check out what FAME are doing for these animals

 

Tell me a story Rory by Jeanne Willis and Holly Clifton Brown

We love our teddy bears and have spent many hours over the years searching for bears that have hidden themselves in trees, under lounges and inside cars. But as the children grow older they are starting to need them less and less and it’s good it doesn’t bother them but it does make me sad that they are growing up.

Tell me a story Rory by Jeanne Willis and Holly Clifton Brown is a simple yet powerful story about the love between those beloved cuddly toys and children.

Rory the lion used to listen to his little girl tell a story every night but now she has moved to a new bed and doesn’t come and see him anymore.
Rory misses her and instead of lamenting his loss he starts to create his own stories.
His stories lead his little girl back and together they adventure far and wide through magical night time stories.

Tell me a story Rory highlights the importance of storytelling and the relationships we can build through spoken word.

So what can you do at home? 

Tell stories! Tell a story every night when your child goes to bed. It is not only fun but it ignites imagination. See my post on storytelling.

Don’t discourage soft toys, they are a reassurance for young children and they will eventually let go of them.

Tell stories to your child. We have so much fun every night telling stories! Perhaps a good picture book will come out of it one day!!

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft

“I have something to make you jolly, Numbat.” said Anteater.

But animal after animal throughout the alphabet is just too busy to find out what Anteater has until they feel like they are missing out on something wonderful!


The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is an intriguing  illustrated book that not only is a stunning alphabet book, it also has a message for us all  that I think all readers will see differently.

As readers peruse through the pages and admire the illustrations they can also explore Bronwyn Bancroft’s use of indigenous art techniques which complement each if the Australian animals who stumble across Anteater on his little journey.

Sally Morgan’s words are descriptive and this adds to the depth of using this book in the classroom or at home as parents and teachers can explore the different adjectives used to describe how the anteater thinks the animals might feel about his amazing thing.

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is a beautiful book that can be admired and read again and again and drawn upon for many different lessons.

So what can you do from here?

  • List all of the adjectives that are used throughout the story and discover if any are synonyms.
  • What were each of the animals too busy doing? Explore the different verbs from each of the animals.
  • How much do you know about each of these Australian animals? Explore some of the animals you don’t know a lot about.
  • How many times does the anteater appear throughout the book? Explore counting through the pictures of the animals on each page.
  • Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Are any of these animals endemic to one particular area of Australia?
  • What do you think this amazing thing really is and why might everyone think it is different?

 

It’s our world

How do we raise our children to be more environmentally conscious children?



How we do we raise them so that they are not caught up in the world of consumption, acting for the Instagram followers or having a total disregard for tomorrow?

In the western world where convenience is key it seems to our survival we, the adults, need to change our ways and show our children that convenience isn’t always the best way forward.

Raising environmentally aware children is paramount. This doesn’t just mean awareness of the natural world, it also means awareness of how our actions impact other people’s lives.

But how do we do this when convenience is right there to make our lives easier when many of us work full time, need to keep a tight budget or want to relax rather than clean, cook or sew?

We can do this – one step at a time. And that one step at  a time should be together with our children and on display to them.

How can you slowly move from a life of convenience to an eco-conscious life?

– Go to the library and borrow some of the books I have reviewed. By educating your children about the world around them they are more likely to make changes. Try Feathers by Phil Cummings

– Eat more fruit and vegetables from a coop, markets or fresh delivery. Vegetables and Fruits have little or no packaging and have less of an impact on the environment that plastic wrapped things. Try a Patch from Scratch by Megan Forward

– Try baking your own biscuits, cakes and bread. I’ve just started making my own sourdough and it is a lot easier than what I thought! I’ll share my recipe some day soon. Try this delicious recipe Coconut carrot cake

– Get outside into the natural world every day. It might just be the park and that’s fine. We need to teach our children about these spaces that allow us to slow down. Try Last tree in the city

– If your children are old enough watch the news but if not there are plenty of books out there that explain these issues in a much more gentle way. Try Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Phasmid by Rohan Cleve, The Hairy Nosed Wombats find a new home by Jackie French

– And most importantly be a part of your community. Check out the Crop swap groups, local community gardens, markets, second hand stores, food delivery groups and repair cafes. Being part of your community will help you to move away from a life of convenience. Try The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba

Is there a change you need to make? Perhaps a book will inspire that change – ask me and I can help!

 

Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop

Some dads cook sausages.

Some dads cook pasta.

My dad cooks spicy, dicey stew.

And then our adventure with the delightful Meeka begins.


Meeka the sweet blue bird, hangs around with a father and daughter who cook at the market.

Meeka not only loves helping cook the heavily scented tagines through his magical song but he also loves making friends and tasting the delights from the other market stalls.

But we soon learn that perhaps all of these treats are not so good for a little birdy body…..

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Meeka is a delightfully told story by Suzanne Barton about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found.

Community love is something that perhaps many of us do not experience in our inner city life or perhaps even rural isolation but within this story it just shows that by taking part in small community activities such as the markets, we can make friends and feel a sense of belonging just through simple activities such as cooking, eating and chatting.

The father and daughter show love through cooking and cleaning together, talking to other stall owners, customers and singing with Meeka.

Anil Tortop’s illustrations are done in pastel colours full of love. We can feel the happiness oozing from the pages, we can sense the love the father and daughter have for each other and the care they have for Meeka. The illustrations really bring this story to life and show not only the immediate characters but all of the extra people who make their lives complete.

Meeka is a self published book by Bluebell books and was crowdfunded by around 100 people. Without the support of these people I may have never been able to share this lovely story which just goes to show that as budding authors, writers should never give up on a story that they feel will make a difference to our world.


Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop is a heart warming read and one to share. The qualities of care, kindness, helping others and joy are all the traits we want to see in our children and through this story we can show our children how important they are.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Are there any market places near you? Plan a family outing to a farmer’s markets.

– What do you love to cook? Choose a favourite recipe and cook this with someone you love. Explore the senses that light up as you cook – smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch.

– Take a walk into your backyard or local park and see the different birds that live nearby. Can you watch what they eat? How might humans be effecting the birds diets?

Take part in the national bird watch count.

– Explore how to make Tagines, crusty bread, donuts and toffee!

– Suzanne Barton uses rhyme to describe the father’s cooking, toffee and nectar. Can you create your own rhymes to describe your favourite food?

 

And check out Bluebell books to buy your own copy!

 

 

Exploring soils by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler

Have you ever wondered what is underneath the grass you walk upon?

Have you ever scooped up some dirt and examined the life that teemed out of it?

Have you ever noticed the different colours of soil on your bushwalk or sand at beach?

Exploring soils by Dr Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler is a informative picture book that takes us on a journey through a young child’s eyes as they explore how plants and animals live in soil, how soils are formed and how they are essential in our lives.


Having two young children I have rediscovered the joy of dirt – yes really! Although it does create mess, there is so much to see inside of it. As we dig in our backyard or down in the local park we have discovered so many interesting insects, old junk and pieces of rock.

The collaboration between Grover and Heilser is remarkable. As facts are brought to life through story, the illustrations match so that we can see the layers of soil, see the tiny legs on the insects and learn how water moves through soil.

The importance of soil is shown to the reader as we learn about gardening, using clay for bowls to eat out of and even different ochres that allow us to paint.

The idea of being a soil detective is not out of reach for any young reader and in fact I found this book a great way for children to take a closer look at the soil. There really are hours of discussion to be had around soil and this book is a really great way to start that discussion. Without healthy moving soil we would not have the planet we have today!

So what can you do with this book?

  • Go outside and dig a hole! Start with a small hole and see what is in that space. Write down what you see, draw what you see and compare different spaces around the backyard or park.
  • Learn about the soil that is in your area and how it is different from soil in another part of our suburb or city.
  • Explore why we need healthy soil by conducting an experiment. Try to grow some sunflower seeds in sand, rocky soil, old soil and fresh new living soil. Which one grows best when all given the same conditions?

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Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground

exploring soils

That’s not a daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

Does your child know how flowers grow?

Do they know that all flowers were once seeds?

That’s not a daffodil is a beautiful story about a young boy’s relationship with his next door neighbour. The neighbour, Mr Yilmaz, shows the boy a daffodil – but to the boys surprise it is only a bulb (which Tom – the young boy –  thinks is an onion)


Not understanding the time it takes for a seed to grow into a flower or the things you need to do to nurture the seed so it grows, young Tom is always bewildered when Mr Yilmaz refers to the pot of dirt with the bulb inside, as a daffodil.

As we see the bulb slowly grow, we also read creative similes, metaphors and figurative language that cleverley describe the daffodil in each state of growth.

The relationship between Tom and Mr Yilmaz also blossoms as the daffodil grows, just showing how simple acts of kindness can lead us to learning about someone we may not have always chosen to know.

That’s not a daffodil by Elizabth Honey was a CBCA shortlisted book in 2012 and is definately one for the home bookshelf. It not only teaches children about plant growth but also the importance of patience, kindness and the ability to see beyond the simple picture.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Grow some seeds. Find some pots and plant seeds and watch them grow. If you can, keep a seed diary so your child can monitor when the seed is watered and how long it will take to grow into a plant.
  • Learn about the life cycle of a plant or an animal, discover how long other things take to grow and what they need for survival.
  • Imagine a world without regular rain or temperatures that are too cold – what might happen to plants that rely on rain and warmth?
  • Enjoy some green space and digging – it is a wonderful activity for the soul.

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss.

Bunny loves reading books and listening to stories being read by the librarian during summer.

But when the weather cools down storytime moves inside and bunny can no longer hear the stories she loves as she thinks that animals are not welcome in the library .

Bunny can’t live without her books so she comes up with a plan to sneak into the library and borrow some books by herself!

Bunny entices her friends and they all end up in the library every night until the librarian discovers them…what will she do?

You’ll have to read it to find out!