The Colouroos by Anna McGregor

Beyond the glittering sky scrapers of the Gold Coast, at a secluded beach of golden sand, a mob of yellow roos stirred from their slumber in search of fresh water.

The Colouroos, written by Anna McGregor is a cleverly written story which interweaves the concepts of drought, diversity and daring in Australia.

In three different areas of Australia there are three different mobs of kangaroos. They need the same things – family, water and home . The journey from the Red centre of the NT, the Blue Mountains of NSW and the Gold Coast of QLD.

Through their journey they discover that although they all look different, their needs are all the same. And when they realise how similar they are, colourful things happen!

Anna McGregor has weaved a simple yet deep story, intertwining topical issues of diversity and acceptance alongside geography, climate and colour!

Children will adore the colours which leap out of the story in each setting the kangaroos come from.

They will love talking about what the kangaroos discover once they get together around a common waterhole.

And they will love learning more about the diversity of Australia!

The Colouroos by Anna McGregor is a lovely story about Australia and the diverse nation it is, it is a poignant story about the state of the climate and the impact it has on the wildlife and it is a story which celebrates colours and life.

The Colouroos is a book we have loved reading and one which I have enjoyed sharing with children of all ages – it hits the spot with children of all ages

Teaching tips

Sustainability

What is drought? How is drought defined? Is drought a natural occurrence and if so, why? How can we ensure Australia does not make drought occur more often than it naturally should?

Science

Life cycle of kangaroos, habitats and eating habits.

Weather patterns

Geography

Migration of animals across Australia at different times of the year, in different years due to weather or human events.

Personal development

What is diversity? How is your community diverse? Why does the world need to be a diverse place?

Visual Art

Explore primary and secondary colours and the different degrees of these.

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The incurable imagination by Paul Russell and Aska


Right from the start, everyone knew there was something a little bit different about Audrey.

Do you know a child who has a wonderful imagination? Or perhaps you know one who doesn’t have one at all?

The Incurable Imagination is a delightful picture book about the wonder of imagination.

We follow little Audrey as she draws ogres, creates her own songs and talks to giraffes dressed in suits. Her imagination grows and grows and even the most boring of lessons can’t stop it.

Soon enough Audrey’s wonderful imagination become contagious and everyone in her classroom (including the teacher) began to see the world in a completely different way.

The Incurable Imagination by Paul Russell and Aska shows the importance of imagination and how much power it can give us. Many children have become too reliant on tv shows, pre made games and toys to amuse them and thus when left with a blank slate in any situation – don’t know what to do.

Paul Russell also highlights the importance of inspiring teacher who help children to find that imagination and Aska’s illustrations show just how wonderful imagination can be.

This book will encourage young children to use their imagination more often and go beyond the boundaries that have been set. It will also encourage parents to let their children be bored so their imagination can fire up and be a vibrant as little Audrey’s!

The Incurable Imagination will hopefully allow your body to catch ‘imaginitis’ so that  learning and activities can be a lot more fun!

In the bush I see by Kiara Honeychurch.

What do you see when you walk in the bush? A playful platypus? A nosey wren or perhaps a slithering snake?

When you come on a walk through this picture book you will meet an ensemble of animals who move throughout the Australian bush.

Kiara Honeychurch has created colourful animals who exude colour and life as they move about on their daily expeditions.

Young children will love the rainbow colours added to each animal and the small details that give texture. They will love the text for it’s simplicity and the ability for them to know what will come next once they have read it again and again! Kiara Honeychurch has done a marvellous job adding tones and changing light to each illustration

The echidna is a favourite at our house with it’s waddling walk and it’s shiny nose. Just this one page has started some extra research into these magnificent creatures!

As you read along you can talk about the noises each of these animals makes, how they move, where they live and what they eat.

. This book is part of a series by Magabala Books called Young Art which showcase young indigenous artists through easy to read board books.

Australian Birds by Matt Chun

This is the perfect book to accompany next years Aussie Backyard Bird count and the perfect book to keep the love and interest in birds up!

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Australian Birds by Matt Chun is a stunning book with so much information to interest the youngest of readers.

Each double page spread is about a different bird of Australia. The sketches by Matt Chun are life like and the written information gives the reader information about how the bird lives, where it lives and what it can do.

This book would be a perfect book for any household who loves amateur bird watching and it would fit in nicely within the school science, geography, numeracy and sustainability curriculum. Visual art teachers could also use these sketches as inspiration.

We love this book – it’s on high rotation at the moment in our house!

Numeracy

– Count birds in the school playground or back yard and create a chart

Geography

– Plot on a map where each of these birds are from and where they move around between seasons.

Science

– Look at the lifecycle of Australian native birds and how they may differ from other birds around the world.

Sustainability

– Are these birds in good numbers or are some of them threatened or endangered. Explore why some birds thrive and some suffer because of humans.

Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj by Nina Lawrence and Bronwyn Bancroft

 

 

When a hungry crow can’t find any food, he has to be clever.

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Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj. Written by Nina Lawrence and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft is a traditional Australian indigenous story about crows and how clever they are. But what makes this book even better than just being a story, is it is a story told in two languages – English and the Djambarrpuynu, a Yolnu language from the north east of Arnhem Land.

 

As you turn each page you can read the story in either English or Djambarrpuynu and ponder on the patterned images that fall across the pages.

 

For those who cannot speak Djambarrpuynu an orthographic guide has been placed at the back alongside a glossary.

 

Clever Crow teaches the reader about persistence and patience. It shows us that even if we don’t achieve something that we want so much, with time we may just gain it.

 

Children are introduced to difference Australian animals,  traditional indigenous cooking activities and the patterns of indigenous art.

 

The colours of the illustrations jump off each page, lighting up the story from the bright sands of the beach to the darker shades of the bush. The patterns and lines within each block are something to look at in detail to understand the texture of the trees or the contours of the land.

 

Clever Crow is a book that all children across Australia should be reading and it would be wonderful to see more books like this written so we can share the Indigenous languages of Australia and keep them alive for many more generations to come.

What can you do with this book?

Explore the artwork and the patterns within each illustration. Compare the illustrations to that of images from Arnhem land – can you see the patterns in the landscapes?

Find another indigenous story from this part of Australia.

Find an indigenous story from where you live in Australia.

Think about how you have been a clever crow in one aspect of your life OR how you can be.

 

The great lizard Trek by Felicity Bradshaw and Norma MacDonald

Written by Felicity Bradshaw and illustrated by Norma MacDonald, an Aboriginal Yamatji artist, The Great Lizard Trek is an excellent addition to the science, geography and sustainability curriculum in classrooms .

It is also a wonderful book for family homes where nature lovers will delight in looking at the detailed illustrations, the maps and the reasons why we need to care more for the world we live in.

The Great Lizard trek takes us on a journey from the north to the south coast of Western Australia. Along this journey we meet the different types of lizards who live in this part of the world and learn their indigenous name and the indigenous country they come from.

Not only do we learn about these lizards we also learn that they are having to move from the places they have always lived because of climate change. Many lizards cannot cope well with extreme heat, lack of water, too much water or lack of shelter. And we often forget that reptiles play just as an important role in the ecosystem as mammals and marsupials do – not as cute and cuddly so they just don’t get the attention.

We learnt a lot about different lizards and were especially surprised by Goannas and how important temperature was for the development of their eggs. If the eggs get too hot – all the babies will be girls and this is a big problem for the future.

The Great Lizard Trek is a book you can read in one sitting or one you can take your time with, drawing on information, flipping to the maps included at the back and the from of the books and doing a bit of your own extra research.

The story is engaging as are the lizard characters we meet. The dialogue between the characters adds lots of fun to these reptiles that often get ignored!

Norma MacDonald’s illustrations are highly detailed and the background for each lizard is a reminder of where they live and the conditions they live in.

Reptile’s are amazing creatures that live in Australia – and we have so many of them. The Great lizard trek is a great wake up call for all readers to see how human actions are having huge ramifications on the animal world.

Luckily for these lizards the outcome seems to be good – but will it always stay this way? Will there be a part two? I’m not sure if the part two will be as positive.

The Great Lizard Trek is an excellent book to discuss climate change from a different angle, various reptiles and to learn more about indigenous language, culture and country.

There are some great teacher notes here: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7807/#forteachers 

Love this review? Join my facebook group where we delve deeper into these issues facing children, parents and teachers. 

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Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng

Have you ever made something  from scratch?

And then been able to give that object to someone else?

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng is a wonderful story about friendship, sharing, kindness and the beauty of being able to make things yourself.

Ash is a shy little bird and she doesn’t have many friends until she starts to use her wonderful gift – her ability to create clothing and objects from a beautiful piece of red material.

Ash creates many things including a shirt, arm chair cover, a dress and a scarf! She spreads her ability and love all over the neighbourhood and brings joy to so many through the simple act of kindness.

Ash could have kept the red material all to herself and made so many wonderful things from it but she chose to share and make other animals lives happier.

Ash dresses her friends is a wonderful story about how we can be kind to others, how we can share our gifts to make others happy and how we can make things on our own.

Many of us resort to the shops to buy things for friends – perhaps this book will inspire you to make something of your own next time a friend needs a present, a pick me up or just a reminder of how important they are in your life.

The illustrations really highlight the friendships being developed, the happiness each gift brings and the vibrancy of the material Ash uses in each creation.

I loved the red material Ash used and hopefully one day I might just find something made out of it!

So what else can you do at home?

SELF ESTEEM

  • Explore the gifts your child has. Talk to them about what they can do to make others happy and to show them how special they both are.
  • Look at how Ash felt shy and sad and explore times your child has felt like this.
  • How do friends make us feel good?

SUSTAINABILITY

  •  Ash made things herself out of one piece of material. Where do your clothes come from and who made them? Can you make the effort to buy more clothes from locally and ethically made sources?
  • Explore the Fashion revolution to see how you can be more aware of how your clothes were made, what they are made of and where they go once you have finished with them.

ART

  • Explore the techniques used by Fu (contrast between red and black/grey) and how this impacted the story. Create your own artwork using two contrasting colours.
  • Create your own print like the red material.

COMMUNITY

  • How can you play a bigger role in your community? Explore different groups or community days and how you can be a part of them so you know more people around you.

BUY FROM FISHPOND NOW – CLICK BELOW

Ash Dresses Her Friends

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The silver sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Let’s go down to the silver sea, come on, I’ll hold your hand.

A magical adventure written by Alison Lester, Jane Godwin and the children at The Royal Children’s Hospital , The Silver Sea, is an exploration of life under the sea, it’s magic and wonder.

Two small children slip out of their house and take to the sea – looking after each other as they explore a world they have never seen before. They splash with dolphins, swim with turtles and ride upon a whale. They explore the ocean with wonderment and awe and with their joint courage they explore the deep dark depths to find luminous monsters and the reedy home of sea dragons.

The two return back to land with new knowledge of the hidden world below and perhaps with a new outlook on life now that they know the many secrets hidden underneath.

Each page is filled with an abundance of colour through the collage of illustrations drawn by the children of TRCH.

We spent quite a bit of time looking how different animals had been drawn and coloured in and wondered who may have created them.

We also pondered about the names written on the end pages and talked about if these children were well enough to leave hospital yet.

This collaboration must have brought a lot of joy to the children who were stuck in hospital and it is wonderful to see projects like this taking place.

The Silver Sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin is a colourful story that you’ll love to read and all the profits will go towards helping the children at RCH to have more fun while their getting better in hospital.

What else can you do with this story?

VISUAL ART

– Explore the different art techniques used in this story: stencilling, water colour, wax crayon resist

– As a class write a story and create a collage to match in with the theme of each page. Remembering that the individual differences add more to the story.

LITERACY

– This is a sweet adventure story. Create a story about a place you would love to explore. Who would you take with you and what would you do?

– Rhyme. Rhyming books are difficult to create. Can you create a rhyming story about an adventure you would like to go on?

– Write a description of your favourite ocean animal. It may be one in the story or one they haven’t included.

SCIENCE

– Explore the different life cycles of sea animals.

– Learn about the life cycles of animals that live in the darkest parts of the ocean.

SUSTAINABLITY

– How can we make sure our oceans stay as beautiful as this one in The Silver Sea? Write down 5 things you can do in your life to help the ocean stay this way.

BUY FROM FISHPOND NOW – CLICK BELOW

 The Silver Sea

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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

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?

 

One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml

Feeling a little sleepy but ready to learn about some beautiful Australian animals?


Put on those snuggly pyjamas and have a read of this delightful counting book – One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml.

One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml is a intricately illustrated counting book where one wombat just wants to sleep!

As the wombat tries to snuggle down he is disturbed by furtive frogmouths, playful penguins and bubbly budgerigahs until he sneezes – which you’ll have to read for yourself to find out what happens to all of his noisy guests!

Not only will your child be exposed to counting both forwards and backwards between one and ten but they will also learn a little bit about each cheeky animal throughout the story and then on the back page of the book.

Renee Treml is a very talented artist and each animal has been drawn with expert detail and care – so much so that your child will easily recognise these birds if they are seen in the wild.

SO what can you do at home?

  • Learn more about these cheeky birds who you might hear in the morning if you live near nature reserves.
  • Create your own counting book with ten of your own favourite animals from your country.
  • Renee has used alliteration throughout the story. Explore the words she has used and then think of how you could describe some different Australian animals and birds.
  • Visit Renee’s website and learn about how she creates her images. Perhaps you could try this with young children by scratching onto wet paint to create a picture using lines.
  • Plot on a map where these animals live in Australia. Are any of them close to you? Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Where do wombats live? Explore where wombats usually sleep so they can avoid noisy feathered friends!

 

 

Two Rainbows by Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon

Red and Yellow and Pink and Green, Purple and Orange and Blue….

 

Two rainbows by Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon is a stunning picture book for readers to learn to explore colour in their every day lives. Published by Little Hare books, Two Rainbows explores life in the city and in the country and how colours that are in one place can be completed different in another.

Colour is all around us and every moment of the day the colours can be different. As we read we see that the same colour can be seen in different places and the comparison between city and country colours shows that the same hue can be seen in many different ways-both built and natural .

Everyone loves a rainbow – no matter where it is people always stop to admire, take a photo or just ponder that mythical pot of gold at the end must be out there, somewhere.

This story also allows us to show our children that colour is everywhere, even when days seem dark, lonely, sad or hopeless – there is always colour even in the greyest of cities.

Michael McMahon’s illustrations are simple yet powerful. The simplicity of each picture highlights the colour in our world. Perhaps it shows us how much of a role colour can play in our lives – even when are all so small in terms of the space we each take up. The illustrations also show the beauty and freedom of the countryside and the dull, busy city life many of us lead. Perhaps this story might encourage city dwellers to get outside of the city boundaries more often – and see how those colours become so much more alive when they are in their natural state.

Take the time to read this book with your child and learn to appreciate how even though different  may form the same shade, they can give us a different feeling.

So what can you do at home?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Get outside into a natural environment and explore colours. Compare the different green leaves on the same tree, Look at the different shades of flower petals and feathers on birds.
  • How can you add more natural colour to your home or local environment?
  • Explore the use of natural colours – make your own and create your own Two Rainbows style book. Use beetroot, potato, clay, spinach and carrot!!  Using natural colours ensures that less chemicals are going down the drain.


 

Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

Swirls, whorls, circles and rectangles.

Lines, dots, waves and zig zags.

Red, green, blue and orange

The personified text of Bronwyn Bancroft’s Shapes of Australia brings each of aspect of nature on these pages to life. Her colourful Indigenous style illustrations use different types of line and shape to form abstract ideas of the world around us.


Bold colours, light shades give depth and shade to boulders, rivers and bee hives.

Shapes of Australia allow the reader to learn more about the amazing parts of Australian nature and how the time of day, types of weather and place of existence can change the colour of objects.

Shapes of Australia is a book that makes us look twice at the painted landscape. As the reader reads along we are encouraged to think – how do those majestic mountains merge with the long horizon or which mystical forms are inhabiting the ocean floor?

Shapes of Australia is a stunning book that emits a calming effect and inspires the awareness of colours in our world.

 

So what can you do?

Visual Art

  • Explore the natural world around you and look at the different lines, shapes and colours.
  • What were the different places visited in this story? What do they really look like?
  • List the verbs used to describe how each of the objects act.
  • How are all of these objects personified?

Sustainability

  • How are the colours of the natural world different to that of the man made world?
  • If we reduce our natural spaces how might our colour inspiration change? Where will we gather our colour from and will it be the same?

Indigenous 

  • Explore the techniques Bronwyn has used to paint the pictures in this story.
  • Where did Bronwyn learn her painting technique? Explore other artists from her Indigenous nation.

 

 

Interview with Muza Ulasowski and Jennifer Poulter

 Today I am interviewing Jennifer R Poulter and  Muza Ulasowski, the author and illustrator of the beautiful story – Getting Home.

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How did you come about to illustrate picture books?

I have always been ‘arty’ with it being my favourite subject in high school. Even as a child, I remember telling everyone that I was going to illustrate children’s books!! However, life happened to get in the way – I ended up working as a legal secretary and various other professions instead – eventually, forgetting my dream. After my children graduated from high school though, I went back to college and graduated in 2007 with a Diploma in Graphic Design.

In 2011 I was lucky enough to have received my first publishing contract with New Holland to illustrate the book, ‘Where’s Michael?’ by Xavier Waterkeyn. I enjoyed that process so much, that I have been illustrating children’s picture books ever since. So now, I am very happily living my childhood dream.

How were you able to illustrate these Polar bears so that they would look so life like?

My natural style is hyperrealism. No matter how hard I try, I cannot do simple illustrations. Before I begin to illustrate a character in a book, I research and research and research, downloading hundreds of images via Google. I also visit zoos. For the book Forest Wonder, for example, I spent a lot of time at Lone Pine and also at Australia Zoo photographing the animals and sketching, to get a feel of their movements. I definitely used up my annual passes to both places!! With Getting Home, I visited Sea World many times and took photographs of their polar bears.

What was the medium you used for the illustrations in ‘Getting home’?

I use digital illustrating for books, and I work in layers. The reason for this is so that I can move the characters and background around to fit the text in comfortably – without having to redraw the whole illustration.

I used a combination of Artrage and Photoshop digital programmes via my trusty Intuos 4 tablet or my Cintiq Companion 2 to illustrate Getting Home. I used Artrage because the program is very straightforward and has no “bells and whistles”. It is very similar in technique to using acrylic paints in that once you choose your brush, intensity, medium, colour and transparency – away you go. Each brush stroke is applied individually – just like using acrylic paints – except there’s virtual “water”, no paint spillage and, you never run out of paint. Also, there’s a magical button I like to use a lot – called “delete”!!

Each character is created as a separate illustration, much larger in size than needed so that I can put a lot of detail in each illustration. All the created characters and the background are then combined in a Photoshop file and any touch-ups to colour and shadows are then finalised.

 

Do you enjoy drawing animals?

I love drawing birds and animals and portraying the tiniest of details. I find it fascinating to try to convey expressions on their faces and though quite challenging, it’s extremely rewarding when I “nail it”.

 

Your illustrations bring out so much in this story which has such a simple storyline. How do you do this so you can not only draw what has been written but add more to it?

I usually know what I want to draw before I start, but the pictures tend to change and evolve as I go. Sometimes it feels as though the animal characters totally take over – dictating to me what should happen on the page and what else is going to be happening on the page. Usually this happens once I am halfway through a book, and then I have to go back and amend or add to what I’ve previously drawn. So the stories evolve as I go further into the book with sidelines being added to the story.

Do you discuss much of your work with the author?

J.R.Poulter: “Getting Home” was a collaboration. Muza and I spent over a year to and fro-ing ideas, modifying images, modifying text till we had a cohesive whole that we knew ‘worked!’

Muza: Getting Home took an extraordinarily long time to develop…. when I look at the original roughs, the final one looks like a totally different book. There were lots and lots and lots of emails between Jennifer and I and a lot of collaboration changing, editing, deleting, redrawing…. it took over a year to get it to where we thought it was just right.

Why is it important that young children are aware of the problems animals face due to human behaviour?

J.R.Poulter: Today’s children, as the next generation of politicians, teachers, writers, researchers etc., are the ones who will work to protect our world and its animal inhabitants or not. It is important that children are taught to respect the world they live in and seek to preserve it for their children. If today’s educators and parents fail to pass on this respect by example as well as by teaching, then we can expect more animal species to become extinct as their habitats disappear, their food sources are cleared, water sources poisoned and the animals themselves hunted to oblivion either literally or by the push of so called ‘progress.’

 Do you have any favourite stories that encourage people to act more sustainably in our world?

J.R.Poulter:

“The Trail of the Sandhill Stag” and “Foam Razorback, His Life and Adventures” both by Ernest Thomas Seton – these two books were handed on to me by my grandmother. My mother’s eldest sister gave me a book called “Nanuk” about an Eskimo boy and his family and how they sought to live and work sustainably in their environment.

My grandmother also had a set of books called “People and Places,” which was published before World War I, I believe. It gave wonderful description of the native peoples and their environments and the animals of these then pristine areas.

Thank you both for giving up your time to answer these questions. Maybe we will see another collaboration someday soon. 

Muza Ulasowski is a graphic designer and children’s book illustrator based in the leafy western suburb of Brookfield in Brisbane, Queensland. Australia. She is inspired and surrounded by a vast array of local birds and animals who tend to make their appearances in her book illustrations. She shares her life with her wonderfully patient husband, their charismatic bulldog called Charlie and a black magic cat named Basil.

In 2010, she was invited to illustrate her first children’s picture book and enjoyed it so much, that she has been collaborating ever since with Australian and international authors. To date she has illustrated 12 children’s picture books and is currently illustrating several more which will be published in 2017/18. Whilst primarily concentrating on creating digital images for children’s picture books, Muza also specializes in graphic design, designing book covers and book layouts to print ready stage. Currently Muza has illustrated approximately 12 books, with more to be published in 2017 and 2018.

In her spare time she enjoys illustrating in pencil and charcoal, acrylic painting, wildlife photography, sewing, and creating artworks for her colourful and crafty ETSY store.

Qualifications:

  • Diploma of Arts – Visual Communication – 1979
  • Certificate IV in Graphic Design – 2008
  • Diploma of Graphic Design – 2008

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Jennifer R. Poulter was a senior education officer with Qld Studies Authority, writing assessment packages for schools and editing material, and was Deputy head of John Oxley Library [SLQ] when she left there to have her brood of 5. She has over 30 children’s and education titles published in Australia, UK, Europe and USA with mainstream publishers and is currently collaborating with over 30 illustrators publishing her work under her imprint Word Wings for Kids. She has won major awards, including Children’s Choice, New Zealand. More books are coming. She loves teaching children the fun to be had with words!

Under J.R. McRae, she writes novels (including YA), award winning literary poetry, short stories and creates artwork.

J R Poulter - portrait

 

 

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle toft 

Another intriguing and intricately detailed picture book from Kim Michelle Toft is Coral Sea Dreaming. ⠀

Take a plunge under the water and meet many amazing animals who live amongst the Coral of the Great Barrier Reef. ⠀

Learn about why we need to take care of this world heritage listed wonder. ⠀

Learn more about the animals who call the reef their home and know that if the reef is destroyed by mining, climate change, pollution, over fishing or greed that they too will disappear. ⠀

Kim Michelle Toft shows her passion for raising awareness about the GBR in all her books and this one is no exception. ⠀

Norah Colvin has written an amazing and insightful blog post on this book – take  a look here: http://www.readilearn.com.au/preserving-worlds-oceans-coral-sea-dreaming/

So what can you do?

Visual Art

Explore the techniques used by Kim Michelle Toft and recreate your own images of endangered sea creatures of the GBR.

Literacy through science 

Write your own poem using rhyme that highlights the importance of coral. Explore why we need coral and which animals would not be alive if we did not have any coral in our oceans.

Sustainability

How do each of our actions effect the GBR? Make a list of the actions you are going to change (water usage, chemicals you put down the drain, amount of times you drive instead of walking)

Why do we need the coral reef? List all of the different reasons why we need this great natural wonder.

How can we talk to the government so that they take action and halt any further mining in this area?

What might the future look like without the GBR?

Visual ArtExplore the techniques used by Kim Michelle Toft and recreate your own images of endangered sea creatures of the GBR.Literacy through science Write your own poem using rhyme th

 

 

 

My country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

In my country I play with the morning star

Author Ezekiel Kwaymullina, from the Palyku people in Western Australia’s Pilbara, says, ‘The book was inspired by my Nana and Gran, who passed on their love of country to me.’

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This must read for all ages is a celebration of Australia. Throughout the book we see the land as a diverse and bountiful playground that we can all enjoy and one which belongs to all of us.

As we listen to the text hear the young girl playing with the natural world  – sliding down rainbows, chasing the sun and swimming in the moonlight. Sally Morgan’s illustrations bring the text to life through her vibrant, indigenous artwork.

This story is a wonderful bedtime read as it flows from morning to night time, reminding us of the constant connection we should have with our land. It also teaches young children about the importance of country to Indigenous Australians and the deep connection they have.

So what can you do with this book?

Celebrate Indigenous people of Australia. Who are they? Where do they live? How do they live? What has happened in the past and how can we ensure this never happens again?

How do you view the land? Can you improve on how you see the natural world?

Look at Sally Morgan’s illustrations – draw your own picture of you playing with nature using her techniques of bold colours and lines.

 

 

 

 

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

‘Never step on a snail’

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan explores a relationship between two boys or brothers over the course of the summer holidays. This book is shelved in the Fiction section of our library and although younger readers may enjoy the pictures – it really is a book for readers who can think more deeply about what is happening as each page is turned.

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There is no particular narrative in this story but rather a series of rules that one must not forget if they are to survive summer.

Each page adds more intrigue to the story being told through pictures and leaves many questions being asked by the reader. You may find many questions of self reflection being asked about children’s own approach to different situations and why that crow appears in nearly every page.

We had a lot of fun working through this picture book in four lessons. If you would like to go on a summer journey too: Visit my TPT store to purchase the lesson outline you can use with your group to explore:

– Details of the pictures

– The role adults play in the lives of children.

– Changing perspective.

– Creative thinking through the KAPLAN model.

At the Zoo I see by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

At the Zoo I See by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells and published by Magabala books  is a vibrant board book for younger readers.

At the Zoo I See is a colourful parade of creatures found in zoos around the world including many wonderful Australian animals. As you turn each page your child will be delighted by the vibrant pictures of animals you can see at the zoo.

I loved the adjectives used in the short board book as it gave each animal more meaning to how they move about in their daily life. We loved discussing why the cassowary was queenly!

At the Zoo I see is another harmonious collaboration between Joshua Button, a descendent of the Walmajarri people and artist Robyn Wells who resides in the Kimberley area. Each animal is true to it’s colour in nature and is depicted as alive and alert. This board book is part of the Young Art Series which showcases the work of young indigenous artists.

Zoo’s are an important part of a natural world especially with the destruction of animal habitats every day all over the world. It is important that we make our children aware of the wonderful animals that their local zoo takes care of. Although zoos may seem cruel in that the animals are caged, without this many of the animals we see at the zoo would already be endangered or extinct.

Board Books are a wonderful way to start your child reading and At the Zoo I See connects creative sentences alongside colourful pictures to mesmerise young readers and allow them to learn more about animals and reading.

So how can you link this book to other activities?

Sustainability

  • Talk about the animals in the book and perhaps explore theses animals further through research, other books and videos of the animals.
  • Go to your local zoo and find out more about the work the people at the zoo do for the animals.
  • Wombats, Quolls and Cassowaries are all Australian animals – find out where they live, how they live and how they are effected by feral animals and habitat destruction.
  • Find other picture books that include animals

Literacy

  • After finding out more about each animal, try to think of other adjectives that could describe the animal.
  • What other words start with the same sound as the animal? Have some fun with alliteration such as wobbly wombat, quokka on a quest and calm cassowary.
  • For older readers work out which animal is first if put in alphabetical order.
  • Ask your child – what do you think these animals are doing? Use the pictures on the pages to help answer these questions (look at the eyes, movement of animal and anything else in the drawing)

Indigenous Australia

  • Find out what the animal names are in your local indigenous dialect.
  • What is the young art series and how is this helping young indigenous artists?
  • How are different Australian animals important to different Indigenous groups of Australia? Which Australian animals live in your area?

Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Bronwyn Bancroft’s poetry brings the vibrant colours to life as we sail through shadows,ferns, clouds and raindrops.

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Each page brings another part of Australia to life with shades, hues and patterns.

As you read Colours of Australia, a calmness sweeps over the readers, immersing them in the Australian landscape.

We loved reading this story, looking at the different shades of colour and wondering about the beauty of Australia.

This is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to link picture books to nature through Indigenous art techniques.

So how does this link to sustainability?

PLAY OUTSIDE!!

This book encourages us to go outside – everyone! There is so much research pointing us in the direction of outside play. We need to get more in touch with the land, the plants and the animals that are part of our world. Nature is important in so many different ways. See my blog post on nature play.

CREATE

Compare pictures of some wonderful Australian locations and create them in your own way using colours and shades like Bronwyn Bancroft has.

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Go to your local paint shop and grab some paint cards. You can find so many different shades of every colour and this can help children to discern between the different shades and how they wish to use them.

Look a local river, a river in the daintree, a river in a farming area and a river in flood through the desert. Notice the different colours of the river at different times and different locations.

Learn about Bronwyn Bancroft and her amazing artworks.

 

LITERACY

This book contains fantastic vocabulary to start drawing on the importance of synonyms in creative writing. Create your own synonym wall for each drawing in this book.

Touch and feel words – which words in this story make us ‘feel’ the word? Discuss and find more of these.

How do colours make you feel? What if you had synaesthesia. How would this effect how you ‘see’ colours?

 

Happy reading!

Mechanica: A beginner’s field Guide by Lance Baldachin.

How would our planet look if insects did not exist?

Can butterflies be beautiful and brutal?  

Are drones a necessary evil? 

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Mechanica: A beginner’s field guide by Lance Baldachin is a picture book for those who love the earth but wonder what is to become of it if we keep treating it the way we do.

It is circa 2250 and the earth is devoid of any natural life due to human destruction and consumption. However, mechanical creatures have been made to replace what was lost – though these are not always as kind as they look!

This very impressive picture book with detailed diagrams of futuristic insects, small animals and birds captured my attention immediately.

Children will love reading the details about each creature and looking at the intricate designs Lance has included.

There is a glimmer of hope in the Addendum – perhaps nature will always fight us and our consuming ways.

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

Science

  • With every animal in the story try to compare and contrast it to a real animal in your own country (if possible) (Links in to higher order thinking skills)
  • Choose any insect in our world and explore how that insect helps us to grow food, keep soil healthy or rid waste.
  • Create your own Mechanica creature. Give it a new name. Outline the details similar to Lance Baldachin descriptions.
  • Create the life cycle for these Mechanica. How is their life cycle altered when they turn bad?
  • What are drones? Explore the history of drones and wonder if we really need them….

Geography

  • Using a world map find out where these futuristic creatures live. Ask why they might live in these regions and not others.
  • What sort of Mechanica could live in your home town?

Literacy

  • Write a journal from the perspective of Miss Liberty Crisp. Outline her journey through the Orient, her experiences in Saraswati and her excursion to the National History Museum.
  • Write a persuasive outlining to others the importance of starting to take care of the world we live in. Present this in a TV advert – make it catchy, straight to the point yet entertaining.

Art

  • Create your own mechanics using recycled materials. Find old nails, bolts, cutlery etc. Not only are you creating something from waste but you are also alerting children on how much waste we do create!

 

Welcome to future Earth.
Despite repeated warnings, the environment has become polluted to such an extent that many areas of the globe have become uninhabitable, and wildlife is now extinct.
From the ashes, a new style of ‘wildlife’ is created. Wildlife that will not remain harnessed by humankind.

Welcome to the world of Mechanica.

Back Cover: Mechanica – Lance Balchin

Books that have Indigenous links

The Legend of Moonie Jarl

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu

Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Thirst

WELCOME TO COUNTRY by Aunty Joy Murphy

At the Zoo I see

Our Island

Say Yes

Mrs White and the Red Desert

Crabbing with Dad

On the way to Nana’s

Stories for Simon

Animals in my Garden by Bronwyn Houston

Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise

Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft 

Waterlilies by Diane Lucas

Shallow in the Deep End by the Tiwi College Alalinguwi Jarrakarlinga

Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreise

Once there was a boy by Dub Leffler

We all sleep by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

My Country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

At the Zoo I see

Big Fella Rain

Deep Diving