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?

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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.
Uncategorized

Living sustainably in the city links

Need some inspiration on how to live more sustainably but less stressful? Check out some posts I have written about my journey in living a more sustainable life with my family.

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https://educateempower.blog/2018/03/06/book-worms/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/02/07/sustainability-and-parenting/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/31/lunchbox-musings/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/25/global-guardian-project-protect-our-bees/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/17/pegs-for-the-future/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/01/disappearing-acts/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/18/how-can-you-be-kinder-to-the-planet/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/20/endangered-animals-the-global-guardian-project/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/21/how-to-inspire-yourself-to-change/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/11/21/global-guardian-project-australia/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/11/17/new-zealand-global-guardian-project-e-capsule/

Book review, Uncategorized

Third Witch by Jackie French

Following on from OPHELIA, QUEEN OF DENMARK and I AM JULIET, this is the third title in the series for young people that focuses on the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s classic and enduring plays.

 

Third Witch is a cleverly told tale of the Shakespeare play, Macbeth told from the perspective of Annie Grasseyes, a young girl who is the mistress for Lady Macbeth.

Annie is not a witch but when her lady asks her to help her husband rise to become king she weaves magic through words alongside her mother and friend, Agnes.

Third witch shows us the power of words, perspective on what happiness is and how simple actions can mean so much to another.

Macbeth is a well loved play but the language used by Shakespeare has been lost on many due to it’s complexity and use of old English. I do love Macbeth but I have never been truly in love with the language used – this story opened up my eyes to the story and also another perspective of the so called evil and superstition woven into the original play.

Young readers will love this story and I think it is one to read alongside Shakespeare. Not only will it give readers another view on the story it will also allow them to learn why Shakespeare wrote the play as he has.

Themes of friendship, true love and family run strong through this novel as does the power of a single action.

Dreams, power and beauty shine out their true value.

Third Witch by Jackie French is mesmerising and one for any literary bookshelf.

You will have to read this book to find out why it is so important that we think about what we say before we say it, as we never truly know the effect it will have on someone else.

Book review, Indigenous authors, Uncategorized

I remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

Do you have a memory from many years ago that is as strong as it was the day you did that activity? 

Can you remember the smells, how you felt, what you saw or ate? 

Written by Joanne Crawford and illustrated by Kerry Anne Jordinson, I remember is a beautifully told story that highlights memories and how those that fill us with joy linger within our minds, even when our day to day memory is fading.

We meet our storyteller, an older women, briefly and are quickly transported back in time to a holiday she had as a child.

She tells us in detail her family trip to the Murchison River – the journey in the car, the setting up of the campsite and cooking of damper within hot coals.

Jordinson’s illustrations bring these memories to life so much so that we can feel the heat, smell the gum leaves and hear the night animals.

The gentleness of this story shows the reader just how important happy memories are to an ageing person and how much joy they can bring. It also shows just how important storytelling is – the sharing and listening to of stories brings people and places back to life and sheds light on how we can move forward.

About 4 years ago I visited the end of the Murchison River – near Kalbarri but only spent a day there…it was amazing and I can only imagine the beauty of spending a week or two there would bring. The red rock, the blue river and the green growth – a spectacular place.

I remember by Joanne Crawford moved me, its a book for young and old, one to be shared and perhaps one that will inspire some storytelling around your kitchen table.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Tell stories as often as you can, make them up or retell about a time once had.

– Go camping or spend some time outdoors – entice your senses!

– Find out where the Murchison River is and where you could camp.

– Why is storytelling such an important aspect of Australian Indigenous culture?

– What are memories? Do we need them and if we don’t have them how does this effect us?

– What would life be like if we didn’t have any memories?

Book review, Books with current issues, Uncategorized

The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

First there wasn’t a hat.

Then….there was.

The Pink Hat written by Andrew Joyner is a simple story with an amazing message. The issues raised in this story are huge and it has done in the simplest of ways – which I love to see in a picture book.

Andrew Joyner came up with the idea of The Pink Hat after the Women’s March took place on the 21st January, 2017. This march was taken up all around the world and it gave the world a message – women’s rights are human rights too.

We loved reading this story, following the hat and seeing all the different people that cam e by the hat, wore the hat or played with it. Each illustration, done in black and white – with pink of course really added to the importance of the hat and the people it made touch with.

As soon as I finished this story I was flooded with questions about why the little girl was marching and why women and girls do not have the same rights – still – as men and boys.  If my young children didn’t see this state of human affairs as fair – why does it still happen?

We need to raise the big issues with our young children so that they can tackle these problems and make changes for the better.

Women’s rights is a huge issue and still so many women around the world do not have the rights they should.

Thank you Andrew Joyner for creating this marvellous picture book. It will be one that I will share again and again – and I know all children will love it and understand the message being sent.

Some fun activities with your students and child

 – View a youtube video of the march and look at the different signs that were made. What do they all mean? Create your own sign that you would use in this protest march.

– Learn to knit your own hat. Crafts like this are being lost because of our love affair with fast fashion. Aim to make something from locally sourced wool.

– List the verbs used to describe how the hat moved. What other action words can be attributed to a hat?

– Investigate where in the world women’s rights are being abused. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Investigate if women’s rights are being abused in your country, City or local town. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Explore other protest marches that have been held on a global scale. Could you create a book like the pink hat to teacher younger people about this issue?

Book review, Environmental books, Uncategorized

Planet of the Orb Trees by Barton Ludwig

A world that exists only to have fun without any consideration of how we can make a difference?

A world where you live day by day with the hope that destruction doesn’t come your way if you remain behind the fence?

A boy who does something about his and his planet’s future despite what others say – This is Planet of the Orb Trees by Barton Ludwig.

planetoforbs

Set in the future in an old amusement park, where you can have everything you want  – but this everything is just purely amusement rides and food – no trees, no flowers and really no life except for humans.

Planet of the Orb trees explores a world where people don’t seem to care about the world around them only care for themselves and their own outcomes.

Kai, the main character, is determined to reach another planet for a better life and possibly to help his own destroyed planet. In order to do this he has to leave the safety of the amusement park, cross a desert and work out different traps and puzzles.

My older child enjoyed reading this story and although there were some sections that needed clarification, it was overall enjoyed.

BUY NOW:

With large colourful pictures on each page, readers aged 7-13 will enjoy reading this science fiction picture book and possibly give themselves some time to think about how they care for the world around them.  Quirky characters abound and strange experiences occur but underneath this lively tale is a message – care for the world as if you were caring for it for others too.

So many of us just care for ourselves and out immediate fun – we act without thought and consequences. Kai’s planet is destroyed because of this and young readers will see the desolation of the planet despite the so called easy life the amusement park residents have.

Mr. Ludwig wrote “Planet of the Orb Trees” with hopes to promote ecological awareness, conservation of resources, and cohabitation and cooperation with animals.

Planet of the Orb trees has been published by Heart Lab Press and is available on Amazon.

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Book review, Uncategorized

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down.

The air felt thin. ‘Step boldly,’ Morrigan whispered.

Then she closed her eyes. And jumped.

This is one book that you need to read. It has been described as a mixture between Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland – truly magical and mysterious.

Morrigan Crow, a cursed child who is doomed to die very soon is swept away by a ginger haired man in a spider looking contraption to Nevermoor. A place where everything is run on Wunder, nothing is what it seems and even shadows can play games with you.

Morrigan has been chosen to join the Wundrous Society – but first she must make it through four difficult trials where what you think will happen is often the complete opposite.

Along the way Morrigan makes many new friends, discovers power within herself and learns to believe in the person she is – not what others have told her she is.

Nevermoor is one of those books that will make you stay up late and keep your heart racing as Morrigan and her friend Hawthorne embark upon each trial. You will never want to leave the enchanted world of Nevermoor and the Deucalion Hotel – and you will be waiting with baited breath for the second book.

The magic of Nevermoor will weave into your bones, showing you that magic can be wherever we look and that the power within ourselves is something we need to harvest and believe in in order to make a positive difference in the world we live in.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – a book for adults and children – and one to read now!

Uncategorized

Communication with your child’s school

Research has shown that communication between a parent and a school is one of the key indicators to a child’s success at school. If there is not fluid communication between the two parties then key information is not passed on and both parties can feel a lack of support and/or mis understanding.

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I was recently interviewed about my views on communication and if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask:


 

Q:   I am having difficulty with communicating with my child’s school. Can you give me some tips on the best way to do this?

A:  Of course. Communication between parents and the school is one of the most important communication lines in the school context. It needs to remain open and welcoming throughout the child’s education so that all parties are aware of each others needs, expectations and hopes.

So what can you do to ensure the communication remains positive and helpful?

  1. Communicate early – Whenever any issue arises that you think needs to be brought to the attention on the school do it early. The sooner they know about the issue, the sooner they can help your child. We cannot expect schools to be able to read our child’s body language so by you communicating to them via a short note, they can act.
  2. Forms of communication – Written communication is a great place to start any communication, as we do not always time to go and visit the school in person. Outlining your concerns via email or a written note can get the ball rolling on any issue at hand.  If the issue is one that needs more elaboration I would highly recommend scheduling in a face to face meeting or if that is not possible over the phone or something like skype. Talking to someone about big issues face to face (in person or computer) really gets the message across in a more amicable way.  If we only write about our problems words can be misread or details missed so try to make the effort to discuss in person.
  3. Active listening: When you are communicating with the school on any particular issue that concerns you, make sure you are actively listening. Don’t just listen to the answers you want to hear. Listen to the teacher/principal without thinking about what you are going to say next. Try to understand where they are coming from so you can respond according to their response.
  4. Read the newsletter. Every school would publish a newsletter at least weekly or fortnightly. Take the time to sit down and read it. Ask your children questions about items that come up in the newsletter and show an interest in what is going on. By knowing what the school is telling you, you are in a more informed position.
  5. Trust the class teacher. If you have any concerns please talk to your child’s class teacher/preferred subject teacher or year coordinator first. They see your child the most often and know your child. Taking an issue straight to the principal is not always helpful (unless it is one that cannot be spoken to with the teacher) and can make the classroom teacher  feel like you do not trust them if it is an issue that could have been dealt with by them.

(If you feel you need the principal’s support because it is a bigger issue or one the teacher has not dealt with after bringing it to his or her attention then organise a three way interview.)

  1. Join in with school life. Try to be involved in at least one school activity. This will allow you to mix in with other parents, talk to the teachers in a more social way and see how the school runs in a different context than just the learning classroom environment.

 I hope those 6 tips are helpful in you becoming a better communicator in you child’s school. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any further assistance!

eco living, Parent tips, Uncategorized

Lunchbox musings

As a parent I am swamped with what we should be giving our children for school lunches and also the importance of how they look.

Really? Do we really need to worry about how the food in our children’s lunch boxes look? Not only is this more pressure on parents to pack the perfect, fun looking lunchbox but it is also setting up our children to expect food to look certain ways. This could lead children down the path of only eating carrots if they are sticking out of an apples with sultanas for eyes…

So what should you be trying to put in your child’s lunchbox if it is not only going to be healthy but also better for the environment?

  1.  No single use plastic. You can use sandwich containers, beeswax wraps and smaller containers to pack food in.
  2. Think you need packaged food? Try making your own cupcakes, biscuits or muesli bars  as an afternoon activity. Children learn about measuring and different ingredients through this fun – albeit messy process.
  3. Less meat – try eggs, avocado, cheese twice a week instead of meat products.
  4. Aim for more fruit and vegetables cut into manageable pieces  – these leave a better impact on the environment and have no packaging!
  5. Fill up a drink bottle instead of packing poppers or bottled water. We don’t need more waste when we have access to fresh and clean drinking water. Worried about chlorine and fluoride? Check out these products.
  6. Ask your school to minimise the amount of waste created by students by removing bins, encouraging a waste free canteen and waste free events.