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?
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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, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.

Did you know there is an Australian animal that starts with X? 

And that many of the animals that inhabit Australia are endemic to it?

Or perhaps you didn’t realise that the only egg laying mammals in the world live amongst our shrub?

Well wonder no more! Make yourself comfortable and journey through the amazing alphabet of Australian animals.

On this alphabetical journey you will learn about an animal that represents each letter of the alphabet through illustration, facts and figures. Children will delight in Jennifer Cossins vibrant illustrations which resemble the real animal in focus.

We have read all of Jennifer’s books and have adored them all. Not only are the illustrations amazing, the facts that she provides are perfect for little minds. Tapping into the interesting facts and basic information, children will want to learn more about an animal that resonates with them long after you have finished reading.

The Orange Bellied Parrot was a favourite of ours and once we found out it was endangered we made a poster just to share with others the importance of looking after the natural world and helping those who are trying to save them.

We also loved the Sugar glider and my children were quite jealous of the fact that it had the name sugar in it’s name and it got to eat sweet things every day!

A-Z of Australian animals is a delightful book to read, use as a reference guide and admire the illustrations of. One for every library at home, school or in the community.

So what can you do at home?

  •  Explore one or more of the animals in this book. Find out which ones live close to you or a place you have visited.
  • Use a map of Australia to see where each of these animals live.
  • Write your own list of Australian animals A-Z and see what else you can come up with!
  • Read some more of Jennifer Cossins books and explore her illustration techniques throughout the different books.

The baby animal Book

A-Z of endangered animals

101 collective nouns

Teachers – There are some great teacher notes here

Continue reading “A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.”

Books with current issues, Creativity, literacy, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Find your treasure #2

This year the theme for book week is Find your treasure, so each week in our library we will be taking part in a small activity where the theme will be promoted.

I have some much loved covers from my Who gives a crap toilet paper and instead of putting them straight into the bin they are being converted into book covers (see below)

Each book that has been covered has three clues on the front. The idea behind this is for children to see what sort of books could be ones that they treasure.

We have books about adventure, women’s rights, battles and laughter. Not only will children get to guess which books are hidden behind the paper, they will also discover these covered books hidden on our shelves throughout the year.

Finding treasure is exciting and I hope that by covering some much loved books other children will also discover that exploring in the library can be fun!

Book review, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Unplugged by Steve Antony

But one day there was a power cut…

Can you imagine? A life without your computer? phone or tablet?

What would you do if you had to go outside, talk to people around you or explore the unknown outside the safety of your device?

Steve Antony has answered these questions in his creative picture book – Unplugged.

Blip, a little robot loves her computer and all of the different things she can do on it. She can play games, learn new things, sing, draw and go on adventures – what more could she want?

She thinks she has it all until the power is cut and it is only then that she realises how much more is outside and how much more colour it brings to our lives.

Blip loves being outside and with real friends  and even though she loves her computer she realises just how great outdoor play is and the need to do it more often.

Simply told through words and pictures, children can see the similarities and differences between computer games and the outside world. But they can also see how much better playing outside is. Most children I have read this to have agreed that outside is so much better but they still like their computers – which is fine but as adults we really need to get motivated and take our children outside, explore with them, play with them and teach them just how much more is out there.

Computers are great but they can breed jealousy (when viewing those perfect pictures) time wasting, inappropriate content, narrow view of the world, time wasting and loss of imagination and creativity.

Perhaps it is time to see what you and your children are doing when you are plugged and unplugged. Perhaps it is time to become just like Blip and see how great it is to be unplugged!

So what else can you do with this book?

LITERACY

  •  Write a letter to yourself persuading you to get unplugged more often.
  •  Write a letter to your parents, encouraging them to get unplugged
  • When Blip plays all day long there are no words between the friends. What do you think they might be saying to each other?
  • If you were to spend a whole week with your family without screens what would you do? Where would you go? Write some ideas down to share.

NUMERACY

  • Work out how much time you spend in front of a screen and work out a way you can spend less time in front of it.
  • How often do you move? Investigate your daily movement and how taking time off the screen can help your movement and health.

INQUIRY

  •  How are you like Blip? Create an advertisement to show a person, before and after being unplugged. You can choose a perspective to take this from – health and wellness or computing company.  Look at how advertisements can persuade us to do things that aren’t great for our health and see how you can create your own.
Book review, Books with current issues, nature play, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.

Many of us have heard the story of Malala but this magical picture book brings her story to younger readers.

Armed with her dreams of a magic pencil, Malala tells us of all the things she used to wish she could do if she had a magic pencil.

However Malala realises that her magic pencil won’t appear so instead she works hard at school but then once the military move in and try to stop girls from being educate she realises that she has her own pencil and her own mind and voice so she writes letters to the world.

She doesn’t stop there. She speaks to the media, travels around her country and inspires girls to take a stand for themselves and their basic human rirghts.

Malala’s voice has continued to grow loud as time has gone on and she continues to work hard for those girls who are missing out on being educated.

The support she must have from her parent’s is phenomenal and it really is a message to both children and parents.

Children – don’t think you are powerless just becase you are small. You have a voice and you can speak up.

Adults – support your children to speak up. Teach them about the world and how they can make a positive difference.

What can you do at home?

  • Find out more about Malala and the school she has opened in Pakistan.
  • Find out where Pakistan is and why girls don’t have the same rights as boys.
  • Find out where else in the world girls have trouble going to school. Explore why this happens and who is trying to change this.
  • Think about what you can speak out about. Is there something you wish to change in your community? Write letters, connect with like minded individuals.
  • Share Malala’s story and those of other people who have spoken out – be inspired to be the change you want to see in your world.
Book review, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, refugees, Teacher tips and resources

Room on our rock by Kate and Jol Temple.

I’ve never heard of a forwards backwards book! How did they do it?

A class of Kindergarten children were in awe of Room on our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple and amazed by the Temple’s ability to write a book that could be read both from the front cover and then from the back cover – and make complete sense – and tell two different stories! Amazing!!

Room on our Rock is a picture book designed to make us see one event from two different perspectives. The reader is able to see how words, when used in different tones and order can make completely different meanings.

Two seals are in need of a home because theirs is being washed away – will the seals on the nearby rock help them? It depends on your perspective of the issue and the way you read the book!

This book made sense to many young children as they know what is going on in our world – they know there are people losing their homes due to war, climate change and poverty but being small means many of them feel that they can’t do a lot.

After we read this book we talked about what we can do – and that by buying this book, our school has helped the Refugee Action Support Program.

Room on our rock is such a clever book with a strong and important message that all children will understand (and hopefully pass this knowledge onto their older family members).

Room on our Rock shows us that all people and creatures are equal and if only we change our perspective we might just see how we can view a tricky situation in a different light.

So what can you do at home?

  • Find out what your local council does for refugees in your area. Is there any way you can help or ask them to provide better help?
  • Who is the Refugee Action Support program group? FInd out more about what they do.
  • Who are climate refugees? Explore te Kiribati Islands and the plans they have in place in case of the seas continuing to rise.
  • Investigate which animals will be displaced due to rising and warming seas. Where will these animals live?
  • Can you create a link between this book and your library? Try and find other books about refugees. Could you have a fundraiser that supports refugees in your country? Or is there a need for books in good condition to be donated or sold for money?
Book review, Indigenous authors, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

In the city I see by Tori-Jay Mordey

Have you been on a trip to the city lately?

Perhaps it is too far away or too busy for you?

Perhaps just for now you can curl up on your lounge and visit it from there! 

Visiting the city is a great experience for young children so in the meantime – take a look at this new book ‘In the city I see‘ written by Tori-jay Mordey and published by Magabala books.

A small , simple and sturdy board book, ‘In the city I see’ will amaze young readers with the vibrant colours on each page that help to add more detail to the simple descriptions.

As you travel through this story you might see hungry pigeons or colourful markets and as you read each of these pages you can talk to your child about the colours they can see, the faces on the people and the different details Tori-Jay has added.

The young art series by Magabala books is a great initiative that showcases young indigenous artists. We have read At the beach I see and At the zoo I see – both fantastic books for young readers.

So what else can you do with this story as you read or after you have read it?

  •  Point out the different colours, name and ask what they are.
  •  How are the different people in the book feeling on the various pages?
  • Who lives in the city?
  •  Why are pigeons hungry in the city?
  • Which flags are flying from the tall buildings?
  • Which show is being advertised on the sign? Check out this video here
  • Visit the city with a camera and an agenda. Choose some places that you can get to by walking or bus and check out places that are child-friendly. A day out in the city is a great way to spend some time!
Book review, Books with current issues, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas

Know someone starting school this year? Or starting a new school?

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas might be one to share with them before they start on their way.

This story was written in 2008, has won many awards and has had many teacher notes and activities written about it, so I won’t add to it all but I really just wanted to highlight how great this story is for young children.

This book shows the young reader how important it is to be true to ourselves and that true friends will see who we really are and will love us for who we are – not what we have.

We can teach our youngsters about popularity and how it is fleeting (despite the messages the media throw at us). Peter Carnavas shows children through this store the importance of  knowing who we are and how by knowing, we will find those who will support us through good and bad times.

We have loved reading Jessica’s box and it is one we will continue to visit in times to celebrate friendship or times when we need to re assess the difficult journey friendship can take.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Play a major role in your child’s education so you are aware of how they are feeling. Talk to them about school, read with them after school and be involved when you can.

– Talk about things you are good at and ask your child what they think they are good at. Tell each other what you are both good at. Do this as often as you can.

– For older readers – find times in the media when people have become popular because of one thing but then faded because that thing was gone or no longer popular?

– How is social media like Jessica’s box? How can we become popular on Facebook or instagram? Does this popularity really count?

How will you play a role in order to help your child thrive?

Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

One small step

Worried that your vegetable patch isn’t growing too well and perhaps isn’t making a difference to the world?

Or perhaps when you only walk once a week instead of driving you wonder if it is really worth it?

And how about the times when you are given a plastic bag because you forgot your reusable bags and you really need to carry something home in it?

All the small steps add up to big steps and every small step will inspire someone else to make a difference. Check out these books and the characters who made a small step to inspire others. ?

Leaf by Stephen Michael King       

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden

The Last tree in the City

The Seagull 

Ada’s Violin

A bag and a bird

What small steps are you going to take today so you can make a difference in some one else’s life

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