The Dog runner by Bren MacDibble


“When the world turns upside down, the ones that survive are the first ones who learn to walk on their heads.”


The Dog Runner , written by Bren MacDibble is a  poignant Middle grade fiction book that allows readers to delve into a world where food is scarce and the world population is suffering.

We meet Ella, the quiet city girl who has lost her mother and hasn’t seen her for 8 months.  She borrows books from her neighbour by sliding them under his door and she remembers life before people started to become dangerous.  Her father and brother live with her and each day, although comforting to still have some of her family, is an act of survival.

Until her Dad doesn’t return home.

Ella and her brother Emery need to find not only their Dad but also Ella’s mum and Emery’s home out in the Mallee scrub. If they can find this place not only will they find his family but they will be able to live off the land and not have  to live off canned sardines and old books.

But to get there they need to pass people who will stop at nothing and land that has little water or shade. Ella and Emery shouldn’t have to take a dangerous journey like this – but they must.

But that’s when Maroochy, Wolf, Bear, Oyster and Squid come in –  A pack of dogs who are strong enough to pull a sled across the barren land. The adventure starts when they take off from the city and it is non stop suspense as they bump and race over the land.

The Dog Runner highlights the importance of the danger of relying too heavily on the use of pesticides on farmed land, large corporations who focus on one type of grain and thinking we can constantly kill our soil and hope that it continues to give us more food.

In this world that Bren MacDibble creates, a fungus has killed all crops around the world and it is only the genius of Emery’s grandpa that gives Emery and Ella hope that the world will again be fed and hopefully more aware.

Indigenous farming methods are the best suited farming methods for Australia and it is about time that we started to take more notice of how they looked after the land and always had diversity in what they grew. Many crops in Australia are not suited to the climate and the soil has been mistreated so poorly that the reliance on pesticides is increasing.

This book sends a message to us all – re learn your Australian history and trust the methods and the crops that the first Australians grew. Stop relying on multinational companies and start looking towards smaller scale farms that take time to look after soils and produce.

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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.

Tales from the inner city by Shaun Tan


We took the orca from the sea and put it in the sky. It was just so beautiful up there, so inspiring. But the calls of the mother never stopped.

Every story in this compilation will make you think about the world we live in and the relationships we have with animals.

You will come across animals we have forgotten, places that once were and never will be again, animals that live within our urban environments and others that want to live with us. You meet animals with agendas  – and will come away from each story wondering how much you really know about the animals that are part of this world.

Each story is accompanied with an illustration which adds more depth. Each story is filled with ideas rather than character or plot development but leaves you wondering – how did we get here?

These stories and poems can just be read for pure enjoyment and reflection but they can also be pondered upon – with the question – Is this really it?

This book is for older readers to enjoy and think about how animals can save us, and how our lives are forever entwined, for better or for worse.

So what can be done in the classroom?

Animals & Sustainability

Look at the table of contents and explore the way this has been created. Research how humans have and do interact between the animals and themselves. Draw similarities between the animal and human.

Compare and contrast the living habitats of animals who dwell in urban and rural areas. Are there benefits to either way of living

Explore the collective nouns for each of these animals.

Literacy

Explore flash fiction / microstory about a chosen animal after reading one in Tan’s novel (crocodile, butterfly, snails, shark, cat sheep, hippos, orca)  

Explore the famous short story by Ernest Hemingway

Why is this a good story?

Explore how picture books can tell a story in less than 500 words.

What do they need? What don’t they need?

Flash fiction does not have images – or perhaps only one – so you will need to tell more but still not as much as a short story.

Under the southern Cross by Frane Lessac.


Take a fact tastic tour on Frane Lessac’s most recent picture book – Under the southern cross and discover many intriguing facts about Australia that perhaps you never knew.


Such as

  • A golden staircase rises from the sea over Broome with every full moon.
  • Ribbons of rainbows hover over Tasmania at certain times of the year
  • Cape Tribulation is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world
  • The southern cross is used not only for navigation but to help with seasons and of course storytelling.

Each page is filled with simple facts but overarching this is the double page lllustration highlighting the beauty and wonder of the particular place in Australia.

Details abound and so much can be gained from just looking at the illustrations before reading the facts.

Under the Southern Cross is a great book to use in the classroom to show how we can learn about what really makes each place around Australia unique. We often get caught up in the basic facts and landmarks – this book will inspire your students to look further into each individual place and see what really makes it different.

What can you do with this book?

Geography

Plot each place on the map of Australia then compare at least two of them to discover the similarities and differences.

Why have these places been chosen to be in this book? Find another place or two that you think should be included in the book for their uniqueness.

Literacy

Write a short piece – similar to how each place is introduced in the book to introduce a place of your choice.

STEM

Explore other constellations that are important in the Southern Hemisphere.

Locate these in the night sky and find out if there are any Indigenous stories that accompany them.

Teacher notes:

https://www.franelessac.com/wp-content/uploads/Under-the-Southern-Cross-Classroom-Ideas.pdf

Save time, save money and be eco #2 – Veggies

So you’ve been told to only eat organic, only buy from farmer’s markets and nothing wrapped in plastic – tricky? Yes!

After reading many years ago that the pesticides that are sprayed on our vegetables cause more harm than good to not only our bodies but also the environment, I was determined to eat better.

We tried organic for everything

First we tried organic. Eating certified organic food is one of the best possible ways you can avoid nasty pesticides but it is very expensive and often wrapped in unnecessary plastic to differentiate it from other vegetables.

So I found a list: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/dirty-dozen-fruits-and-vegetables/

And we tried to stick by this but as you are well aware time and money comes into play

So we found this – A local coop : Harvest Hub

Harvest hub has been a great find for us. It supplies Sydney suburbs with small scale farmed produce and many of it is spray free. This means they are not certified organic but still limit the amount and types of sprays they use. The fruit and vegetables are fresh – no sitting in freezers for month and we are supporting locally grown produce – no overseas food miles here.

We may spend a little bit more money but the produce lasts A LOT LONGER than supermarket food. I have had carrots fall to the bottom of the drawer and be found two weeks later still crispy and delicious! (that would never happen with the supermarket bought carrots)

So what do I recommend?

  1. Buy organic if you can but only if it is not wrapped in plastic. Local coops and farmers markets can offer affordable organic produce at times.
  2. Buy spray free if not organic. Google your local coops for this and seek farmers markets.
  3. If you cannot afford either, soak your vegetables in one tablespoon of baking soda to a bowl of water (https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-wash-vegetables-fruits/) to remove pesticide residue.
  4. Buy local food and buy in season. You do not need mandarins from USA in summer if you can buy melons and berries grown in Australia.
  5. Buy fruit and vegetables that are not wrapped in plastic – does it really save you time? I highly doubt it.

What do you do to lessen your impact on the environment and your wallet when buying fruit and vegetables?

The ultimate animal counting book by Jennifer Cossins


1 Blue whale: Blue whales are one of the loudest animals in the world and they can hear each other from up to 1600 kilometres away.

The ultimate animal counting book is most definitely an ultimate counting book. From numbers 1-100 you can explore an increasing number of animals who inhabit this planet.

In amongst the animals you will find facts about how they live, what they can do and how they are unique. You will also notice that although each page is dedicated to one animal in particular – they are all very different.

Zebras all have completely different spots (check out the 15 different patterns with number 15!)

The 48 Ibises are not all the white feathered and black beak bin divers we see in our suburbs but also red, green and brown.

And the 100 fairy flies are usually so small that we can’t even see many of them without a microscope.

Wild and domesticated animals, urban and rural dwellers, pests and endangered species have have all made it into this book which is important to show just how diverse the animal kingdom is and how our interaction with them plays a huge role.

Jennifer Cossins has created many other wonderful books about animals and this one is a great addition to the collection. Children of all ages will enjoy learning how to count, reading the different facts and pouring over the illustrations of each individual animal.

Art/Numeracy activity

Can you create a whole class counting book with a focus on endangered animals, animals in your local area or animals in your country?

Integrate skip counting or addition sums with your science unit on living things.

The day we built the bridge by Samantha Tidy and Fiona Burrows


The first thing that you will notice in this picture book are the end pages, adorned with Australian native flowers – Gum blossoms, Wattle and Geraldton Wax flowers.

The day we built the bridge by Samantha Tidy and Fiona Burrows is a beautifully illustrated picture book that allows younger readers to explore this important timeline of Australian history.

Fitting in perfectly with any Australian history lesson, this book has a key focus around Sydney’s need for the harbour bridge. We see the journey from the bridges inception in the 1890’s until the day it was finished and celebrated in 1932.


As a key icon of Australia, many of us may not know how much thought and how much time it took for this bridge to be built. It is something we see all time time in either our passing over it or viewing it on commercials about Australia. It’s connection is not only that of two land masses but also of a community that wanted more.

The pictures in this book tell just as much of a story as the words do, and together they create a magical book that takes you back in time to a place that Sydney was.

The day we built the bridge is an excellent way for children to see the time it took for the bridge to be built and the other things that were going on whilst this all was happening. It allows them to see what children did, how families worked together and the day to day life of Australians through the war and times where money was scarce.

Stunning illustrations and poignant words will bring you back to this book again and again. It is one to share in the classroom and at home.

So what else can you do with this book?

History

Write down different words that you associate with commemorative events in Australia. Why is the building of the bridge so important? Are there other events just as important? Can we rank these events?

Use trove.nla.gov.au to explore images and newspaper articles from this time in Sydney and make comparisons to bg events of today.

Research how bridges were made then and how they are made now – are there any differences?

Create a timeline in your own space of the events that took place in the lead up to the bridge being created. What else can you add?

If the bridge was a different design, how might Sydney look or feel?

https://t.dgm-au.com/c/357229/137028/2741

Captain Jimmy Cook discovers third grade by Kate and Jol Temple

Mum said she was looking forward to hearing about it, but we were having Kale for dinner and she had to get things ready. So this is a little tip for anyone who ever hears those words: Kale is not a person.

Written in log format (diaries are for girls) children will enjoy the discoveries young Jimmy makes at home and at school.

Jimmy (or captain Jimmy Cook we he likes to be called) is a young explorer determined to make a new discovery just like his predecessor Captain Jame Cook.

He has to keep a log for his school project and takes it very seriously detailing any new discovery and plan to make his way to Hawaii.

Jimmy shows determination in collecting as many stamps from the ‘Wheat blocks’ packs to win the prize that will take him to Hawaii. He is sure he will be one of the first to discover its uncharted lands and weird new animals. But will his enemy Alice Toolie beat him to it?

Young kids will love this ( and their adults will too!)

Onto Jimmy’s next adventure when we get back to the library!

Letters to change the world

Christmas has just passed and perhaps your house is now filled with excess toys and packaging.

Over summer we have been talking about toy quality and how some last, while others don’t, which toys are great to have and which ones we will forget about in one week.

From this we have decided to write letters to toy companies and asking them to make changes to the material toys and their packaging is made out of.

I have done this in class with a group of Year 2 students so any age group can follow the following formula to make a letter be read and replied to.

Here is a suggestion of how to get children to enjoy writing letters to companies of their favourite toys…. It’s simple and allows the children to still enjoy having toys – but gets them to think about how small changes can make a big difference!

Dear (Try to find the name of the CEO),

  1. Talk about why you love their toys and all of the things you like to do with them.
  2. Give them a suggestion as to how these toys could be changed so they have less of a devastating effect on the environment.
  3. Tell them that you hope you can see a change and you are looking forward to a reply.
  4. Sign off and add a return address.

Can you inspire your child to write a letter to a company asking them to make a change for the good of the world?

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush written by Robyn Osborn and illustrated by John Phillips

Way off the beaten track, somewhere between Bandywallop and Bullamakanka, lived Bruno Bright, a big, boisterous, blue dog, and his best buddy Bob, a barefoot bushie. 

Pull up a bucket, boil up your billy and bunch up your buddies because Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush written by Robyn Osborn and illustrated by John Phillips is a book to share with any Australian bushwacker.

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush is a story with a lovely message and a fun read full of words that start with ‘B’, Australian lingo and places.

Children will love the use of B on each page, and although some of the words will need explaining, it is a great way to introduce the outback vernacular!

Bruno and his mate Bob are from the bush. They loved the great outdoors and the simplicity of life. This all changes when Bob wins a large amount of money at the races and they decide that country life isn’t for them.

Together they travel Australia, (this is a double page spread that we loved! We really enjoyed looking at where they went and then looking up what these places look like in the ‘real world.’ )

But when they come back home they think that they can buy a better life – in a fancy house in the city.  As many stories tell us, life with money isn’t always a good life, and this is what Bruno and Bob realise after nearly losing each other.

Buy Now from Fishpond.

Bruno: The Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush is a fun book with a great message. It’s a great book for teachers to reinforce Alliteration and to explore different words used in the English language.

The cartoon-style illustrations add to the fun and simplicity of the message behind the story. The illustrations also help the reader to understand the  new words used on each page – mostly starting with ‘B’

A fun book that makes you wonder about all the little towns that are beyond the cities of Australia and who lived in them. Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush also shows readers that friends and happiness are much more important than money – a great message for children these days when they see so much importance placed on this.

Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush written by Robyn Osborn and illustrated by John Phillips – check it out here https://robynosborne.com/books/bruno-the-boisterous-blue-dog-from-the-bush-picture-book/

and also on the other blogs who are part of this tour!

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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.

 

Aussie Backyard BirdCount week 22-28th October

What will you be doing next week?

Keen to count birds with your children, students or those youngsters in your care?

The annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to connect with the birds in your backyard no matter where your backyard happens to be — a suburban backyard, a local park, a patch of forest, down by the beach, or the main street of town.

You can count as many times as you like over the week, BUT remember – each count is completed over a 20-minute period. The data collected assists BirdLife Australia in understanding more about the birds that live where people live.

You can do it in your backyard, your local park or on your verandah. The Aussie Backyard Bird count just wants to know how birds are fairing in your area of Australia – and hopefully increase awareness of how important having trees, shrubs and flowers are for their existence.

We love the birds that visit our backyard even if they regularly have a heated discussion with our chooks.

Teachers & parents – link this in with numeracy!!

Counting one to one correspondence, counting by twos or other groups.

Creating graphs about the different birds seen.

Adding up the time spent outside counting.

And how about Science

How can we make our natural spaces more native bird friendly?

Which Australian birds are your favourites? Find out more about these birds and the types of trees they like to eat from and live in.

Learn about the life cycle, migration paths and population of your favourite bird.

Evaluate the effectiveness of the Aussie Backyard survey – can you design something different/better or something to add to its value?

Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby

Lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby.

Has anyone else read this yet?

I absolutely loved this mystery set in a small sleepy town not far from Sydney.

Finding out about herself and her mother is something young Benny is in search of .

At the same time the town finds they are in search of the reasons why a healthy looking man sits in front of an antique shop for hours then slips away.

Loved the characters, the red herrings and the cliff hangers.

Another wonderful book by Holly Throsby

You’ll be Inspired to learn more about some other great unsolved Australian mysteries too.

The gum family finds home by Tania McCartney and Christina Booth.

Do you actually know how hard it is to find the perfect home?

The Gum family are in need of a new home – it needs to be safe, secure ,comfortable and of course somewhere amongst the gum trees – where will it be?

Join Tania McCartney and Christina Booth as they take the Gum Family on a rocky adventure around Australia, visiting many different and amazing geological formations in Australia.

They visit the 12 apostles, wave rock, Kata Tjuta and the Glasshouse mountains – just to name a few. At each place the look for the perfect spot for a new home admiring the different ways the rocks have formed and changed over time.

Children have a great sense of wonderment and awe and this book arouses just that.

After we read this book we pulled out a map of Australia, books about each place visited and jumped on the internet to learn more.

The book does contain a map, small pieces of information and real photographs but the need to learn more was inspired – so we did just that!

Many students knew about Uluru and the Three Sisters but that was about it – so thank you to The Gum Family – these students all now know a lot more about the country they live in.

I also enjoyed pulling out old photographs of my trip around Australia to many of these places and reminiscing about how I felt in each location.

So this is what we did after we read the book:

– We researched further into each location and wrote down some more points.

– We worked out why tourists visit here and created a new brochure.

– We discussed what might happen if some of these places crumble up? Get destroyed by human interference?

– We discussed what koalas need in a perfect home.

What have you done with this book?

Wisp by Zana Fraillon

One day, a Wisp flew in on the evening wind. Dust rose up in swarms around it, feet trampled it into the dirt, nobody noticed it.

Nobody, except Idris.

Zana Fraillon , author of the Bone Sparrow and The ones that disappeared –  has again touched upon such an important topic that needs more action – the people who have to live in refugee camps for long periods of time.

So many people flee their home countries every day in our world and most of these people end up in Refugee camps because they have left  everything they own behind them.

However, The story of wisp focuses on hope- hope that one day there will be more to life than just wire fences, tents and desolation.

A small boy by the name of Idris sits alone one day only to notice a small wisp floating around the camp, resting on those it passes by.

With each touch, the Wisp brings magic. With each touch, the wisp brings memories.

Memories get passed around on the wisp as adults and older children remember the wonderful things that had happened to them – before they became refugees and  lived in the camp.

But when Idris, the main character of the story holds the wisp close, nothing happens, as all he knows is life in the camp.

But Idris sees past this and  realises that the wisp for him can be a promise – a promise of life beyond the fence, a life full of excitement, adventure and love.

Wisp allows the reader to see that there is hope and with continued pressure on the government to help there people, someday they will all be able to make wonderful memories again.

So what else can you do? 

Join my facebook group where we talk about ways we can inform children and the wider community about the big issues facing us today:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sociallyconsciouschildren/about/

Teacher notes: https://www.hachette.com.au/content/resources/9780734418043-teachers-resources.pdf

Visit: http://refugeecampauburn.com.au and book a time to visit what a refugee camp looks like.

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Act: Join groups that send books and packages to children in dentention: https://befriendachildindetention.wordpress.com

Even something as small as a letter can bring hope to a child in detention. 

Ask:

  • How can we give children in detention hope?
  • Explore other books about refugees – do these all give hope?
  • Draw your own wisp and draw what would be inside of it if you had to live in a refugee camp.

Song Bird: Rainforest Rescue

Teach, Restore, Encourage, Establish, Support

These wise words come not only from our superhero – Songbird, but her friends and teachers who learn that looking after the world – especially rainforests, is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the future is much brighter.

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SongBird: Rainforest rescue is the third book in the Song Bird series, written by Karen Tyrell (with guest posts by Steve Tyrell in chapters 2 and 10).

Song bird has had some great adventures so far and even though we thought that Destructo was gone, we discover in the early chapters that he is back, and ready to destroy a rainforest.

This time Songbird and her friends are on a camp in the Gondwana Rainforest and it is a race against time if they are to save this world heritage listed rainforest from Destructo.

With magic interwoven within the rainforest and it’s amazing Beech trees, Song Bird travels back in time to ancient Australia where dinosaurs roamed and mythical snakes slither.  They are chased by Bunyips and Yowie’s and haunted by Destructo’s evil plans. They travel through different eras helping animals and meeting indigenous Australians – who teach them about the importance of nature and living in harmony with the natural world.

Friendship, belief in oneself and a love for the natural world are all strong themes throughout this story – some of the best themes for young children to read about.

Friendship helps us to do things we might otherwise never do.

Believing in ourselves is what keeps us going, is what helps us to rise up when life challenges us and spurs us on to do what we think is right.

Song Bird is a great role model to look up to, and even though she has superpowers, the strength to take on those who are doing wrong is something that we all can do – especially with like minded support around us.

We loved reading the third installment of Song Bird and loved learning more about the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia – perhaps inspiring a visit to a few more of them in the next holiday!

Barry Watson & Karen Tyrrell

So what else can you do?

Explore:

Find out where the Gondwana rainforests of Australia are.

Are there any threats to these rainforests?

What is the meaning of friendship?

What was Australia like during the era of the dinosaurs? What was Australia like when the Indigenous people were free to live on the land before the British colonists came?

Think:

What do the words Teach, Restore, Encourage, Establish, Support mean to you? How can you do all of these things in your life and your community?

Act:

What is something you can save or change in your community? Can you stop the use of balloons? straws? plastic waste at school? Remember, you have the qualities of Song Bird and her friends – you can do it!

Music:

Find out more about the different songs Song Bird sings throughout the novel – what do you think of all of these and do they have anything in common?

How to Bee by Bren Mac Dibble.


Have you ever wondered about what life would look like if there were only a small amount of bees left in the world?

This is a very real problem and one book that made me shudder with the possibility of being real.

Meet tough, smart and vibrant Peony, an ten year old farm girl who works in the Goulburn Valley of NSW, Australia. Peony works hard on the farm, manually removing bugs from crops as pesticides have been banned – however becoming a Bee is what she dreams of. Being a Bee is one of the most important roles in this futuristic society as the young and nimble need to do the job the bees once did – pollinating flowers.

Peony lives with her grandfather and sister but the community around them and the bond they all have is amazing and something to aspire due despite the poverty they live in. Peony’s mother wants more than farm life and takes Peony off to the city to earn real money. Despite her utter dislike for city life, huge disparity being rich and poor and still the utter disregard for the hard work of farmers, Peony learns about the importance of friendship, family and kind acts.

How to Bee brought a tear to my eye and although it may seem like a bleak outlook from the start it shows how strong the human spirit is and the need we all have to belong and live in harmony.

Perhaps if the big supermarkets and chemical companies read this story they would start to change how they see the world and start to think more about the impact we are having on the future.

There are some areas of the world where this form of pollination is already happening today – I’m not sure if we want this to spread to all areas of the world. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/humans-bees-china_us_570404b3e4b083f5c6092ba9?section=australia

So what can you do?

Bee and Me

The Book of Bees

Bee

Oxfam Shop

Can you find me? By Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington

Tufts of grass, muddy banks, forest floors and watery gardens are all places animals hide  – with every intention of never being found, but perhaps you can find them?

Gordon Winch has worked alongside Patrick Shirvington to create this picture book which not only allows readers to search images but also read along with the story through the use of repetition and simple language.

On each double page spread the reader will hear clues that will help them to find the animal who is trying to camouflage in their natural habitat – some are very easy to find while others are quite tricky!

Early readers will get a feel of how each page is written and start to read along as they search the illustrations.

The Australian bush land is full of so many marvellous animals and so many of them are very well hidden so that if we ever want to see them we have to be very quiet!

This picture book is a wonderful way to teach children that when we are in the bush, sometimes it is important to be quiet, look around, listen and most importantly tread carefully because all creatures are there, we just need to take the time to look for them!

Many of the animals in Can you find me?  are endemic to Australia so by bringing their habitats to life through questions really engages children and will help them to think about each animal as they venture into the natural world.

Can you find me? By Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington

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Amazing Australian Women by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer.

Twelve Australian women who have shaped history and all from different eras and different walks of life.

In the last two years there has been an increase in books about women who have made a difference in the world but this book is a little different.

Focussing on only 12 women and covering each state of Australia, the short stories written about each woman give us some information about where and how they grew up and what inspired them to start on the pathway that made them famous.

Each story is short and engaging so younger readers will enjoy reading these stories and looking and the vibrant illustrations that match what the woman looked like and what she did.

The book has also included a more information section at the back of the book to help young readers or their parents and teachers to use websites that are trusted to give them reliable information.

We especially loved the final page in this book which inspired many of my young readers

So ask yourself:

What is my story going to be?

What will I do?

How will I change my world? 

Amazing australian women by pamela freeman and sophie beer

Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N. Garward

A turtle hatches from her egg and immediately her life is in danger – we know that has always been that way but how have humans made the dangers even more numerous?

Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N. Garward is a wonderful book – both illustrations and story engage young children from start to finish and gives them so many different ideas for questions they can ask.

The main character in this story is Tilly, and she is a new turtle, born with an instinct to survive.

She escapes from crabs, birds and barracudas but it is the one thing that she wasn’t prepared for that nearly kills her – a plastic bag!

Luckily for her there are some caring humans around who help her out of the bag as they continue to pick up rubbish along the beach.

Continue reading

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 

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Stories make us Honest

 

The theme for stories this month, as written by Australian Children’s Laureate – Morris Gleitzman, is ‘Just admit it: Stories make us honest’

Stories make us honest.png

Many stories that we read have an element of truth to them and perhaps ask us to question our own actions too. Here are some prompts to help you think a little bit more about the truth:

  • What is the truth? Can it be different in different settings? with different characters and different times?
  • Do people really like finding out the truth?
  • Should characters always seek to find the truth?
  • Can truth be hurtful or wonderful? Or both?
  • Can you think of some stories where the character had to find out more truths about themselves before they could move on?
  • Have you ever told yourself a story to help you learn or cope about the truth?

Explore the truth through some of these books:

Out by Angela May George

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Room on our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Feathers by Phil Cummings

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Continue reading

Bird to Bird by Claire Saxby and Wayne Harris.

A bird drops a seed to the floor of the forest. The seed grows into a sapling, then a tree. The tree is felled and taken to a busy city.

Bird to Bird is a beautfully told story about the life cycle of a tree in it’s natural state and then man made state.

Not only will children learn about how trees can grow they will also see the many uses timber can have.

Children will learn about the history of Australian settlement by the English through the tree and how out lifestyle is supported by this amazing part of nature.

Based on fact, Bird to Bird tells us how trees felled in England were used to make beds for the convicts being transported to Australia.

It also tells us that something that may not be of used anymore can often be used in a different way and given more life.

Children will see the timber being used for beds, weaving looms, a house and then a sculpture.

Imagine if all the objects we had in our lives had such a story to tell? Imagine if we could all be more creative with the things we don’t need anymore and turn them into something else to stretch out it’s lifespan.

Bird to Bird is an excellent story to use at home but it also makes fantastic links to so many subject areas across all grades at school.

Australian history, life cycles, sustainability and transport are all covered within this gently told story and you will find that this book is not one to be read quickly, but one to be read slowly with lots of discussion.

So what else can you do with this book?

Sustainability

  • Is there anything you have that has had another use before the one it is used for now?
  • Is there something broken in your house that could be fixed or used in a different way before you throw it in the bin?
  • Check out your local repair cafe or upcycle place.
  • Explore what you can do with broken pencils, crayons or other school items before they end up in the bin.
  • Explore where our rubbish goes after we have placed it in the bin. Which rubbish will turn back to dirt and which rubbish will stay for longer?
  • Explore natural fibres and the importance of using these over plastic.
  • Explore how logging can be done sustainably and investigate places where this may not be happening.

Check out these great teacher notes:http://www.lamontbooks.com.au/media/116024/publishers-notes-bird-to-bird.pdf

BUY FROM FISHPOND NOW:

 Bird to Bird

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