Whatcha Building? by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King

It’s exactly what this town needs.

I adore this book, Whatcha Building? by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King is a story about endings and new beginnings, imagination and determination and a sense of community.


The old milk bar around the corner from young Davey’s house in being pulled down and a new building is replacing it. Davey observes the daily deconstruction of the milk bar and each day takes a piece of timber home. The builder and the reader’s imagination run wild with all the possibilities of what young Davey might be building.

It’s only until right at the end the masterpiece is unveiled with a timely message for us all.

I love the illustrations in this story as they not only accompany the text but they add more  depth to each page. Stephen Michael King has used recycled garbage, cardboard, pen and ink to create the illustrations and this combination brings life to the story. Throughout the images we can get a real sense of the community at work and the role we all play in our environment.

So what else can you do with this book? 

Sustainability

  • We all throw out too much and many of this can be reused or recycled. Investigate what you can do with things that are no use to you anymore. Rather than just throwing them out can you create something new? Give it to someone else? Or recycle it in the best possible way.
  • Create your own doll sized house purely from recycled and reused materials.
  • What sort of materials are best for the environment? Compare and contrast different types of floorboards available to the community – work out which ones are best using categories such as value for money, ecological impact and community impact.

Global values

  • Watch building really makes us think about how important people and space is to each of us. Many of us get caught up in consumption and needing the best of everything. Is there a place in your community where people can come together?
  • Design a space where people of all ages and backgrounds can come to share the love of where they live – without having to buy things.

Literacy

  • Look at the slang used throughout the story – what do each of these slang words mean? How does this portray Dave the builder?
  • What is the significance of Davey not saying many things throughout the story?

 

Some great thinking questions:

Do endings always have new beginnings?

If all the buildings in your town were replaced how would that effect your community both negatively and positively? 

Select one architect who has changed the way we build sustainably. Find out how they approach design and how they want to improve life for all.

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Let me know how you go! It’s a beautiful book – I hope you can enjoy it too.

Wolfie: An unlikely Hero by Deborah Abela and Connah Brecon

Those Poor wolves.

Have you ever read a story where the wolf is a hero? The wolf is the good character? Or the wolf is someone that we should all look up to?


I haven’t but perhaps there is hope that not every story with a wolf in it has terror within!

Wolfie: An unlikely Hero by Deborah Abela and Connah Brecon is a humorous tale where a wolf tries to take on the storytelling skills of the narrator…and gets more than he bargained for!

Wolfie wants to be known for his running skills, his gleaming teeth, his loyalty and his bravery and the narrator takes note….but not in the way Wolfie was hoping for.

Wolf: an unlikely hero made us laugh and it also made us feel sorry for poor Wolfie – but it also made us think that perhaps we shouldn’t trust wolves…or should we?

Wolfie: an unlikely hero allows the reader to see how stories, when changed in the slightest way, can make huge differences. This story shows the reader how wonderful storytelling is and that we can all play a big role in telling different stories.

Fairytales are great places to help children become interested in reading and Wolfie plays on all of those wolf containing stories!

How can you add more to this story?

LITERACY

Predict: What do you think will happen to this wolf? Why is he an unlikely hero? How do the other characters on the front and back cover feel about this wolf?

Visualise: Think about how the wolf wants to be seen and how the narrator sees him by using the same words.

Storytelling: How can you create a story with many different endings? What events need to happen so a story can be changed so easily?

Reflect: Think about all of the different stories with wolves in them. Group these according to the different types of personalities, things they get up to and how the story finishes for the wolf.

Stereotyping:

How are wolves portrayed in different stories? How are princesses portrayed? Pigs? Dragons?

What is stereotyping and how do we stereotype in society?

 

Fairytales:

Can you create a fairytale with a different ending?
Continue reading “Wolfie: An unlikely Hero by Deborah Abela and Connah Brecon”

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies.

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton is a creative, eye catching non -fiction picture book that conveys the message of the amazing diversity of life we have on our planet Earth.

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Nicola Davies invites us to look everywhere and when we do we will find so many different types of life.  Through magical storytelling the reader finds out small facts about different creatures, how they live, how many species there are and where they hide. Emily Sutton illustrates with care, bringing the natural world into focus and helping us to se the intricate details of each animal, plant and insect.

LOTS is a great book to ignite your child’s interest in animals and perhaps a future in animal and habitat conservation.

LOTS is a gentle way to teach children about the importance of all life forms and how we all play a role in caring for them.

An informative and entertaining book, LOTS is one for the science lesson, literacy lesson and just the quiet book before bed.

So what can you do with this book? 

Before you read – write down three things you know about life on earth.

After you read – write down two facts you learnt. Write down two things you would like to know more about. Write down two ways you are going to help make sure no more animals become extinct.

Animal conservation

  •  read about an animal in this book who has become extinct. Work out why they became extinct and actions that may have saved them.
  • List and group all of the different animals in this story. How many groups of animals are there?
  • Look at the page on food/life cycles – can you investigate other animals and how they link in with each other for food and life?
  • Donate money to an organisation or do some volunteer work that would help restore habitats for animals.

Use this book as a springboard to help your child to be aware that everything they do makes an impact. Every piece of rubbish, every flick of a light switch and every trip in the car impacts another.

How can you make a difference as a family? 

 

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My magnificent jelly bean tree

If I had a Jelly Bean tree, I would care for it while it was small. 

Do you wish that jelly beans grew on trees? 

I’m sure we have all had the dream as a child that if we planted a single jelly bean and cared for it that it would, with a bit of magic, grow into our own little tree full of sugary delights!

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Tantalising all of the senses, this book makes every young person’s dream a reality. Maura Finn’s rhyming texts outlines the reasons why freshly grown jelly beans are so much better than the store bought ones and how within the jelly bean tree there are so many other delights that perhaps you never imagined!

Aura Parker’s illustrations bring out the sugary smell of the jelly bean tree and leave the reader wanting to rush out and plant their own tree once the book is finished!

We did….

Not only does this picture book takes us off to a magical land, it also teaches the reader how to care for a plant and enjoy the fruits it bears. My magnificent Jelly Bean tree is a delight to read to inspire imagination and some gardening!

So what can you do at home? 

Nature

 – Grow your own beans or sunflowers. These are easy seeds to grow and monitor even when you don’t have a veggie patch. Keep a seed diary and draw a daily picture of what is happening to the plant.

 – You’re the head of the CSIRO in 2050 and the world is running out of food. Invent your own type of plant that could feed a family for a week and fit into a small sized garden.

 – Investigate seeds, what they look like at different stages and in different species of plants.  Life cycles of seeds can also be looked at here.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle, illustrated by Maggie Prewett is a fascinating story about life in the desert for three children and the trouble with the red dust that blows in and over everything in it’s path!


This group of desert children invite their school teacher, Mrs White, home for dinner to show her why they always bring in grubby homework. BUT – little do they know what mother nature has in store for them all!

They live in a higgledy-piggledy house with a higgledy -piggledy garden but they play outside, tell stories in the sand, have vivid imaginations and love learning.

Maggie Prewett’s illustrations highlight the spareness of the desert and dominance of the red sand after a sand storm! It reminded me of the many times I have spent in the desert and the fact that even months after returning home, I still found that red dust in pockets of clothes and gaps in the car seals!

I loved reading this story to my children and to classes at my school during library lessons as I was able to tell them about the desert and the amazing landscape we have in Australia. We were able to discuss how theses people live near waterways and if they don’t – water needs to be trucked in – a very foreign concept to city based children.

When we read books to children we open their minds to how other children live and therefore increase empathy and awareness of the world around them.

So what can you do with this story at home or in the classroom?

  • Look at a map of Australia and see where remote communities live. How do these people live in these areas?
  • How do children go to school when they live remotely? Explore School of the Air and Central schools. Compare how you go to school to how they do. Look at this school in Broken Hill 
  • How did the children in this story pass on stories and learn? Have you ever told a story without writing it down? Try and tell a story or two using only spoken word and perhaps a drawing or two as you talk.
  • How did they use their imagination when they heard unusual sounds? Close your eyes and listen to the outside world – imagine what those different sounds could be.
  • Explore personification throughout this story. How does making the objects alive add to the story? Create your own personification sentences.

Looking further:

 

 

Making a difference in Australia.

There is still low education achievement outcomes for Indigenous children in Australia. Indigenous children deserve to learn how to read and write as much as any one else does so that they can choose to move out of poverty cycles and educate the next generation.

In many indigenous communities books are scarce and literacy levels are low.

You may have heard in the media about the low literacy rates and perhaps wondered how you can make a difference? It is really important that we as an affluent nation look towards helping developing nations but we need to look at our own communities who at times are functioning at a developing nation level – which should not be happening.

Through education, empowerment and support anyone can achieve anything.

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The Indigenous literacy foundation are an amazing group who raise money and work with indigenous communities. Through their programs they empower communities to learn how to read by giving them books and publishing books that have indigenous links.

We are a national book industry charity, which aims to reduce the disadvantage experienced by children in remote Indigenous communities across Australia, by lifting literacy levels and instilling a lifelong love of reading.

Please check them out at www.ilf.org.au  and see if your school or community can  participate in the great book swap in August:  www.greatbookswap.org.au

May – focus on sustainability and storytelling

During the month of May my intention is to help parents and teachers build awareness of how we can act more sustainability and how education in this area can be part of their daily routine.

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The world we live in now needs more people to start reflecting on how we are living and how that living is effecting the way others live now and how are future generations are going to be able to live.

Through picture books, small activities and short discussions we can all start to raise awareness in ourselves and our children.

Have you ever read a book about our underground farmers?

Do your children know why earthworms exist and how what we spray on our backyards can drastically effect their health? Try reading Yucky Worms to inspire your own backyard warrior!

Have you ever stopped to look at the detail of a tree?

Many children do have a short attention span but ask them to touch the tree and give you an adjective about how it feels, looks and smells like. You will be amazed! Inspire yourself and your child to appreciate trees and perhaps plant some extra in your own yard or during a community event such as Plant a Tree day.

Try reading Last Tree in the city also – an inspiring read about the power of determination to make a difference.

How about inspiring your child to be more sustainable in order to save an endangered species?

Many adults and children are oblivious to the animals that we effect by the chemicals we pour down the drain, water we waste, plastic waste we throw out and land clearing for housing, farms and business. Try reading a story that inspires someone to tread a little more carefully. The Hairy Nosed Wombats Find a New Home is a very inspiring story as is Phasmid!

Join me in May on instagram and Facebook as I learn how I can make my life more sustainable so someone else in the world has a better chance and so that my children live in a better world.