Book review, Books with current issues, Environmental books, Uncategorized

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. 

Without warning Ruby’s mother is killed in outback Australia. Her mother, a herpetologist  leaves a gaping hole in Ruby and because of this sudden loss, she doesn’t know how to cope.

Ruby’s father and grandmother are also struggling to deal with this loss and we see this in the first chapter when they race to get away from Australia and on a boat into India without warning – to manage an abandoned hotel at the foot of the Himalayas.

At first Ruby hates living in this remote location but as time goes on she makes a friend, learns about the mountains and sees how much help she can be to the local wildlife.

But despite this new found love of the mountains she soon discovers a dark secret that it hides – poachers. These poachers are on the hunt for endangered leopards and will do anything to hide what they are up to.

You will fall in love with the mountains of India and be in awe of the determination and strength that Ruby displays despite the loss she has just experienced.

Children will relate to Ruby and Praveen and their ability to see beyond what adults see when it comes to making a difference in the world.

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth is an excellent read, set out in small chapters and adorned with leopard print, young readers will find this book a page turner yet a mananagable one.

When the mountains roared is a great book for a class novel study as it links in India and Australia, animal conservation and natural disasters.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Find out where Ruby moves to from reading the description in the novel. Work out how long it would take to get there by boat and bus.

– Does this book have any similarities to Jess Butterworth’s other book ‘Running on the roof of the world”?

– Where in the world are animals poached and why does this happen? Explore what poaching means and measures in place to stop this from happening.

– Explore the differences in children’s lives around the world. Compare Ruby’s life in Australia to Praveen’s life in India as a goat herder.

– What are superstitions and why do they exist? Do you have any superstitions? How can superstitions be helpful and harmful?

– How many leopards (different types) are left in the world? Is poaching the only reason they are endangered?

Advertisements
Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books

Feasible planet by Ken Kroes

“There are no such things as great deeds—only small ones done with great heart.”
– Mother Teresa

 

36430861

Trying to live more sustainably is something every person on this planet needs to think about – especially those who can afford to buy smart phones, use electricity and buy food from a supermarket.

Ken Kroes has created a guide to more sustainable living which contains facts, tips and links to companies and websites that can help anyone on their path to better living.

There is a bit of reading do in this guide but with an easy to understand contents page, you can skip to the sections you like and find information that is practical and quick to embed into your lifestyle.

Perhaps some images would make this book more appealing to readers but overall I think it is a great guide for anyone who wants  to start to make a difference.

You can learn the impact your smartphone has on the world when it is made and after you have finished using it, learn how to motivate others through good facts and information and of course how to educate the children in your life.

By talking to the children in your life we create a ripple effect in the wider community and give them the tools to be leaders of change in society.

Feasible planet is a great guide for anyone – even those who don’t want to make a difference – as I am sure by the end you will see that those small changes you can make will make a huge difference in the way the world currently functions – for the better.

Book review, Books with current issues, Environmental books, gifted education, life cycles, Teacher tips and resources

The wild robot by Peter Brown

Clouds scudded through the sky

Spiders spun intricate webs, Berries beckoned to hungry mouths, Foxes stalked hares, Mushrooms rose up from leaf litter, turtles plopped into ponds, moss spread across tree roots, vultures hunched over carcasses, ocean waves beat against the coastline, tadpoles became frogs, caterpillars became butterflies. A camouflaged robot observed it all. 

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is my latest read and one which has had many positive reviews. I loved the premise of this novel – a robot living on an island amongst nature, learning to live in the wild and learning about the cycles of life.

But did I love the book – after a slow hump in the middle, I did.

Author Peter Brown involves the reader right from the start, telling us all about how the robot came to be on the island and often asking us questions about what we think might happen next. We watch as Roz, the mechanical robot,  learns to live in nature by observing daily activities by animals, watching the subtle changes in the cycle of seasons and day/night and of course through making friends.

We learn about the daily activities of Roz, which I found interesting but a little slow at times. However, the pace picked up again and the growth of love between Roz and her adopted son made the story so much more rich.

The Wild Robot explores the intricate details of nature and how everything effects each other. We learn, in a subtle way, about the impact changing seasons and human development are having on animals and the possibility of life with robots.

Younger children will love this book if it is read to them as they can explore how Roz learns about animals and the natural world. The last few chapters are confronting – but so are many aspects of the current world we live in.

The Wild Robot is an excellent read, broken up into little chapters with simple illustrations, it will reinvigorate your desire to get out in nature and possibly become a little wild yourself!

Children over 11 will enjoy reading this alone and I would even recommend this book as a class study as so many different topic areas are covered

  •  Climate change (how it effects animals habitat, survival in the changing seasons)
  •  How living things work with each other (life and death, building materials, symbiotic relationships)
  •  Animal habitats (how they create them and where they live)
  •  Robots in our lives – do we really need them? (What do we use them for now?)
  •  Migration patterns in birds (Map patterns of your local migratory birds)
  • Geography (uninhabited island in the world)
  •  Literary technique – breaking the fourth wall.
  • How do we communicate with animals?
Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, Uncategorized

Kookaburras love to laugh by Laura and Phillip Bunting

Have you ever wondered about why a Kookaburra up in that old gum tree is laughing?

Did you ever think that perhaps there has to be a serious Kookaburra amongst them all?

Kookaburras love to laugh  is another fabulous creation by Laura and Philip Bunting that will leave youngster having a good giggle as they follow the antics of a rather serious Kookaburra – who simply does now want to laugh.

As expected, the use of prints in this story add to the humour of this book. Simple movements or props added to each image give enough information for the reader to know what is going on and through this technique, children feel that they can add a bit more to the story.

This poor Kookaburra is very serious and he is sick of others trying to make him laugh – so he leaves and finds somewhere where he can have some peace and quiet….that is until he discovers that life without laughter doesn’t seem quite right and surprises his friends on his return.

Watching the subtle eye movements between each picture, talking about some good Kookaburra jokes and wondering what #%*@! Really means is all part of this story.

Kookaburras love to laugh is another wonderful story to add to the tree dwelling animal books we have so far:

Mopoke

Koalas eat gum leaves

I wonder who will be next?

So what else can you do?

  • Make sure you participate in your local areas Bird count. This is a really important way the local councils can learn about which birds reside in their areas through residents input.
  • Create your own Kookaburra jokes!
  • Always wonder what they are laughing at – always!
  • Draw your own Kookaburra and of possible photocopy it to add some extra props to create your own pictorial story board.
Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Little Whale by Jo Weaver.

“Is this home?” asked Little Whale. “No, we’ve still got a long way to go,” said Grey Whale.

Deep blue ocean, gentle waves rocking and peacefulness oozes out of this book.

Little Whale, written and illustrated by Jo Weaver, is a beautifully told story about a baby whale and the journey north it is taking with its mother.

Grey Whales migrate nearly 20 000 km on a yearly basis as they move back and forth between the cool and warm waters in order to find food and safety.

As we see and read about this migration we watch the baby tire, the dangers lurking in the depths and the beauty of the sea forest below.

The role of the mother whale is so important for her baby’s survival and despite the length they have to travel, albeit a little bit slower than she would normally take, she still sticks by her child ensuring they make it safely to the north.

As you read this story you will find yourself slow down.

The journey of a mother with her calf is a slow and careful one and the way Jo Weaver has told this story ensures we understand how long that journey is.

The illustrations in Little Whale are created in charcoal and really add to the atmosphere of the water. The gentle sketches of the water ebbing and flowing, sea grass swaying and fish circling give off a peaceful sense of life at sea.

Little Whale is a gorgeous story about the migration of whales, the love of parents and life living in the ocean.

It would be a great book to springboard into life cycles, animal studies of migration, animal conservation and ocean awareness.

How can I use this book at home or in the classroom?

  • Plot on a map the different routes whales around the world take in order to migrate to different feeding and breeding grounds.
  • How many different types of whales are there in the world and do they all have the same life cycle?
  • What type of habitat do whales need for optimum development? Explore why they move and why the places they go to are so important.
  • How are humans having an impact on whales and their migration? On their breeding or feeding grounds?
Books with current issues, literacy, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Can reading children’s stories help us change the world?

Each week every child at our school has the opportunity to visit the school library whether it be during their class borrowing time or one lunch time when the library is open.

The books inside the library give each and every child the opportunity to visit a new world, walk alongside a new character or think completely differently to they ever have before.

So can these stories help us change the world? Of course they can!

Every book you read to your child, or they read to themselves helps them to look outside their own world.

Every time we laugh at a story we see how humour can help change the world for the better.

Every time we cry in a story we realise how precious our own lives are and how we can help others to be just as lucky.

Every time we look up something because we wondered about it after reading a story, we learn what is going on in our world.

Stories can help us change the world so encourage your child to keep on reading, read widely and read for a change.

Book review, Books with current issues, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

You hold me up by Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel.

The four words : You hold me up ring throughout this picture book, highlighting the importance of family, trust, friendship and love.

Written by two Canadian authors, this story highlights the damage done by the government to indigenous children in the past and at times, now.

A pertinent issue for many countries around the world, and as an Australian, something we need to do more about.  

Children being taken from their families, never to see them again was something that happened all too often and the stories that are emerging from this are atrocious.

Many of these children and families are on a long path to healing and can only do this with the support of the community around them.

This story reminds us that we are all human and that we all need love, respect and dignity.

Monique Gray Smith has written this with the littlest people in mind and hopes to encourage dialogue among children, their families and educators.

Danielle Daniel’s illustrations are vibrant and full of warmth and love. Each picture oozes the strength of each relationship and the bond held between the people involved.

Read this story with those around you and as you do, you will realise how important it is to hold everyone in our community up.

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Think about how you can support those in your family when they are sad, have experienced something difficult or are just having a bad day.
  • Investigate the Indigenous people of your country. How have they been treated in the past and how are they treated now?
  • How do books like this inspire change? Can books inspire change?
  • Look at the technique used by Danielle Daniels: bright colours, focus on faces and how we can draw emotion into people. Experiment with your own way of exploring happiness, love and support in art.
Book review, Books with current issues, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Dot.common sense: How to stay smart and safe online by Ben Hubbard.

Have you been concerned about the prospect of your child delving into the unknown world of the internet alone?

The use of social media, digital footprints and you tube videos is something that we cannot avoid; so it’s time to pick up your child and that cup of tea and together read this book!

Dot.Common sense is a great way to engage your child in conversations about being safe online.

Walking through different aspects of the online world are two children – Olivia and Sam. Along the way they come across cyber bullies, trolls and viruses but they also learn about the positives of the internet – information gathering, linking with friends after school and educational games.

As they travel through different aspects of the internet, they learn about the importance of boundary setting before anything online has begun. Page 13 gives parents and carers a great list to go through with your child that they will need to adhere to if they are to use the internet and all within it!

Talking to your child about the concept of forever is important as well as the idea that not everyone online is your friend – even if they make it out that they are.

Online etiquette is also a focus of this book and children will learn the importance of treating everyone with respect even if they don’t know the person. So many young people fall into the trap of cyber- bullying as it is very easy to say things behind an avatar – but as we are too well aware, these simple words can form tidal waves in young people’s lives.

Dot.Common sense is a book to read slowly with your child. Stop after each chapter and have a discussion, talk about scenarios and set boundaries together.

The quiz at the end of the book is a fun way to go over what has been learnt and something to revisit when the time arises.

Dot.Common Sense is a book that every child should read before they head into the online world so that they are safe and they ensure that others are safe too.

So what can you do at home? 

 – Create your own rules for online use at home.

– Look at how you all use the internet and see if there is a way you can use it better so that you all remain safe online.

– Discuss ways the internet is beneficial and how those sites could be used more regularly over sites that can cause harm.

– Revisit this book from time to time and work through the different topic areas so that everyone has a clear understanding of how to act online.

Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, nature play, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

I love this tree by Anna Claybourne

Come and climb up a tree, sit on it’s branches and admire it’s leaves, seeds and fruit.

Wonder no more about the secrets a tree holds as you will find out so many things in this informative non-fiction text about trees – and why so many people love them! 

In this colourfully illustrated non fiction book for children you will discover the world of trees that perhaps you did not know about.

Each page is filled with detailed explanations of trees from how it grows from a seed, how old they can be and who needs them.

The readers will discover that there is so much more to a tree than it’s leaves, bark, fruit and seeds. They will see that trees provide so much for many animals and humans and that they cleverly work so that they can survive in testing conditions.

Not only will readers learn facts about trees, they will also learn about how myths have been created about trees and their importance in different cultures and times.

I love this tree is filled with drawn illustrations and real photographs. Diagrams are labelled clearly, timelines give adequate description and there is even a pie chart! Exposure to different methods of factual information is important for young readers so that they know that reading and writing are not the only ways we can see facts.

Trees from all around the world have been included in this book as well as animals and insects that need them for survival. Perhaps this book would be a great lead into learning more about one tree in particular once you have covered the ground work through the chapters in this book.

How can I use this book at home?

This is an easy one as trees surround us – even in the cities and they are often a focus point of parks and walkways.

 —————–  > Go and investigate trees that are in your area.

——————————- > Look at different leaves that have fallen onto the ground and collect them to make a collage, basket display, sketch or chalk rubbing.

——- > Look for seed pods or flowers and try to work out which tree they have fallen from and the purpose of each one is.

Where would you use this book in the curriculum?

Literacy

There are so many ways to base factual knowledge into persuasive texts, imaginative texts and informative. 

Outdoor Learning

Check out this link on how you can learn outside and meet curriculum standards https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/curriculum-connections/portfolios/outdoor-learning/

Science:

Explore different parts of trees, how they help us to survive and how we can help them to survive.

  • Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017
  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observablefeatures and can be distinguished from non-living things(ACSSU044
  • Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)
  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment
Book review, Books with current issues

Snap review: Missing by Sue Whiting

I couldn’t put this book down.

A heart wrenching, page turning young adult novel by Sue Whiting , missing is one to read.

You’ll be immersed on the awful emotional journey a young girl named Mackenzie must take as she learns her mother has gone missing.

Her mother is a scientist with a specialty in bats. She travels the world speaking at conferences and out in the field discovering new bats and disease seen in them.

Mackenzie’s mother hasn’t returned from her recent trip to Boquete in Panama – and hasn’t been in contact in any form. No one has seen her and as to her whereabouts- there are mixed messages.

No one is telling her anything and the police can’t find her

She clings onto anything she can to feel like her mother is still alive and it isn’t until she does some of her own detective work that she comes to learn what really happens.

You won’t be expecting the ending and you’ll be drawn in by the strength displayed by Mackenzie, a year 6 girl, on the cusp of high school.

So many people go missing every year in Australia and although many are found, many are not.

Take a read of this to see how those who are left behind feel throughout the searching process.