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!

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Minimising waste and reading more books!

2018 has been a great year, filled with so many wonderful books sent for reviews and bought for home or our school library.

I don’t have the time right now to list all of my favourites and I don’t know if I can choose either!! But here are a few Recent ones:

Another great thing that has happened this year is our movement towards creating less waste in landfill this year.

We’ve kept on composting and worm farming,

Reducing our food waste by making banana peel cake

Making our own dishwashing detergent, dishwasher powder and other sprays around the house!

And trying to use less packaging where we can.

I’m hoping to share more tips and tricks for parents to create less landfill waste in their homes without stressing about being zero waste – which I am sure turns many people off as it is quite unattainable for many who work full or part time, live in the suburbs, have kids, care for others .

If you know anyone who would like to join me and learn from my mistakes and my successes then pass on my blog.

See you in 2019!

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.

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?

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

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

Buy this book now from Fishpond:

The Flying Optometrist by Joanne Anderton

Have you ever wondered how someone who needs glasses in the outback gets them with no local optometrist around? 

Wonder no more as you meet one of the many optometrists in Australia who regularly fly to remote areas such as Wanarring and Tiboburra to give eye check ups to people who need them most. 

The Flying optometrist by Joanne Anderton and illustrated by Karen Erasmus is one of those picture books that intrigues you straight away. We meet Stephanie, a young girl who has broken the glasses she needs to wear everyday – but as we can see from the dusty illustrations, she lives in a very small and remote town and cannot get them fixed straight away like many people who live in more urban areas can.

And that is where we meet the Flying Optometrist!

The size of his plane is something to worry about as he navigates storms but with great flying skills he makes it – just a day late – and is ready to help those in need.

This picture book really teaches those who aren’t aware of flying medical practitioners just how important they are to these small towns. Without people who are willing to spend time flying around, these Australians wouldn’t get the help they need.

BUY HERE

Karen Erasmus’ illustrations give the feel of the dry and desolate outback, the small population of the town and the importance of a town centre.  Joanne’s words paint the story of those unsung heroes who use their skills as often as they can to help those in need.

This picture book is based on fact and there is some excellent information at the end of the story where you can discuss with children about how the Royal Flying Doctor Service started, what they do, who this book is based on and the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

I really enjoy books that are based on real-life stories or information as it is a great way to learn.

This information at the back is a great way to end the story – and when you read it again (which you will) you and your children and students will be able to ask so many more questions and wonder so much more.

Check out this interview with Joanne Anderton and her Father, Philip Anderton.

Teacher notes can be found here

And some more teaching ideas:

Exploring people and problem solving. 

  • Find out more about Philip Anderton or another flying optometrist.
  • Explore where medical professionals needs to fly to in Australia.
  • What is the Brien Holden vision institute and where do they fly to?
  • If we didn’t have medical professionals willing to fly planes, what would happen to people of the outback? Or what changes would we need to make?
  • If medical professionals can’t get to a town what else could they do?

Creative thinking

  • Explore some other books which are written as picture books but are based on a true story.
  • Can you write your own short story or picture book based on a true story?
  • Create a way in which people who live in these remote areas can get better help in the future.

Bouncing Back: An eastern barred bandicoot story by Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch

How did the last eastern barred bandicoot on the Australian mainland end up living in a rubbish tip? 

Based on a true story, Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch have created a picture book that teaches young readers about the plight of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the hard work of volunteers, conservationists and scientists to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

The story begins with some information about the Bandicoot, accompanied by delicately illustrated pictures. We learn how they live and grow, what they like to eat and their habitat.

Sadly we learn how humans have caused devastation to this once thriving population through the eyes of the Bandicoot.

The Bandicoots tell us that because of land clearing, fires, foxes and cats their numbers have drastically dwindled.

They tell us that because they have no where to hide in the once loved long grasses, they are easy prey for owls and feral animals.

The double page spread drawn by Coral Tulloch brings home the terrible circumstances these animals were in – life in a rubbish dump – the only place they felt safe enough.

Luckily a small band of dedicated people were able to save the last few of these Eastern Barred bandicoots and with hard work their population is on the rise in fenced reserves, safe from feral animals and land clearing.

This story, although long, is engaging and children will be happy to know that there is a happy ending – even if there is still a lot of work to be done.

Facts and a glossary are added to the end of the story and the endpapers are a fantastic tool for conversation!!

What else can you do with this story? 

Ask students to find out about an endangered species and create their own picture book so they can teach others about it’s plight and how people are trying to save them.

Ask students : What would life be like if Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s disappeared? How would the ecosystem be effected?

Find out: Are there other picture books that are based on factual events that look at animals brought back from near extinction? Try Phasmid: saving the Lord Howe Island Insect and Rhino in the House

And access some great teacher notes from CSIRO

Buy your own copy from Booktopia

Booktopia

Extra links for further study

Conservation volunteers: http://conservationvolunteers.com.au/what-we-do/threatened-species/eastern-barred-bandicoot/

Zoos Victoria: https://www.zoo.org.au/werribee/animals/eastern-barred-bandicoot

Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh

Alfred had fought in the Great war, but his bravery was not part of the nation’s remembering. He was one of the forgotten soldiers.

A powerful picture book for children aged 7+, Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh highlights the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from WWI.

Alfred lived where he liked to live, outside, under the stars, beneath gum trees or by the fire. He lived free and happy as a gardener and labourer, far from home. When he signed up for war not only did he experience the horror of war but also the horror of returning home without recognition for what he did to save Australia.

Many men and women returned from war, scarred from the awful experience they had and many did not receive the support they should have – but to be forgotten would have added more insult to the injuries he sustained.

Indigenous Australians have had many injustices done to them since 1788

Rachel Bin Salleh has written a beautiful story and it really pulls at the heart strings. Children will have so many questions to ask and this is a wonderful thing. We talked about war and we talked about indigenous Australians. We talked about many things I didn’t think younger children would want to listen to, but they did because they saw an injustice in the world.

Samantha Fry’s illustrations add more emotion to each page of the story, giving more meaning to who Alfred was and what he did for Australia.

Creating stories that are told through picture like this are so important and we need to make more of them so that the mistakes of history are not created again and again.

What else can you do?

  •  Talk about war – be honest without too many details. Talk about wars that have been and wars that are still raging. Explore why they start and how they finish.
  • Talk about indigenous people of Australia, what happened to them and why. Look at the indigenous language map of Australia to see where different tribes lived and where some still live today.
  • Why were the indigenous people forgotten about?
  • Look at the different colours used on each page and how those colours make you feel.

BUY HERE – click on book below.

Alfred's War

A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what can you do at home?

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

The baby animal Book

A-Z of endangered animals

101 collective nouns

Teachers – There are some great teacher notes here

Continue reading

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

If you had one wish what would it be?

Esme Silver lost her mother 7 years ago and has just witnessed her father remarry a women she doesn’t like at all. She is not only upset at her father for remarrying but also upset that he wants to move on when she can’t. Her mother went missing 7 years ago for no apparent reason and it is this unknowing that draws Esme to a small cottage she has been told to avoid for the last 7 years after her father and his new wife depart on their honeymoon.

Not only does Esme discover more about her mother, she also discovered another world – and this world has many more links to her mother than she would like to think.

When Esme steps into this other world, she makes many true and good friends in the city of Esperance who help her to find out what has happened to her mother. She shows determination, clever thinking and a strong will as she journeys through a city which constantly surprises her with it’s twists and turns around every corner.

Esme’s wish is a marvellous story and a definite page turner. It is full of magic and wonder,imagination and marvel, creativity and friendship. Not only does Esme travel Esperance to find her mother, she travels through it to also save the city from certain destruction.

Esme’s wish by Elizabeth Foster is a book for readers aged 11 and up and perhaps one that may have a sequel….who knows? Perhaps I will have to ask Elizabeth Foster herself…..

So what else can you do with this book?

– Draw a map of Esperance and surrounding islands after you have read the book

– Make a list of the different gifts people can have. How do people have gifts in our world? Are they as revered as they are in this story? Are all gifts equal in this world and our own?

– What is a pearl made out of? Why are they precious? Can you find any stories throughout history related to pearls?

– As you read list the metaphors and similes and other types of figurative language. This book is rich in this type of language and a great way to study how you can add more to your writing.

There are so many more wonderful activities to do with this book – it’s a great book to share or read as a group!

Global Guardian Project: Australia

Created by Beth Johnson from Kid’s Mind Body Spirit, this capsule gives your family some wonderful insight into Australia and it’s natural beauty.


In this capsule you can learn more about opals, gum trees and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is discussed in depth and your children will be inspired to learn more about this natural wonder through the colouring in pages, an online adventure story and some tips on how you can help the reef to survive.

There are some book links in the capsule but you can also check out these two books which I have reviewed here:

One less Fish

Coral Sea Dreaming

These capsules are aimed at both adults and children so don’t be put off by all the information – use it as a tool for yourself to teach your children through discussion and storytelling. Children can learn a lot through watching videos and documentaries but when we talk and listen to each other we can learn so much more.

The Global Guardian Project is a great initiative run by Rebecca Lane and something you can be a part of too.

If you are interested in giving it a go sign up for one capsule and see if you like it.

I am offering a 10% discount with my code GGPVAnessa.

So what are you waiting for – inspire yourself, inspire your children, inspire your family and together we can make the world a better place for now and the future.

 

Bouncing Bouncing Little Joeys: A bush Christmas by Lesley Gibbes

Have you started to think about Christmas yet?


If you’re anything like the little joeys in this story you’ll be thinking about all the different things that need to be done in time for Christmas day.

The busy little joeys in this story are not the quiet kind, they are full of energy and eager to decorate the house and Christmas tree – all in time for Christmas day!

Written with rhyme and repetition, young children will love reading this story and watching the little joey and his family have fun together bringing about Christmas cheer!

Doris Chang’s illustrations are cleverly drawn, showing the reader the key part of the joey’s actions. The colours she has used reflect summer in Australia – the parched greens, brown earth and the wildlife that abounds in backyards!

Bouncing bouncing little joeys: A bush Christmas is a fun way to inspire some homemade family fun and because of the rhyme and repetition, children can be involved in the storytelling.

So what else can you do with this book?

Literacy

  •  List all of the verbs used in this story. What other verbs might you use to describe actions when you are getting ready for Christmas?
  • Choose a part of the Christmas tree and write your own descriptive sentence that may have rhyme, repetition and descriptive adjectives.

Science

 

 

Endangered animal spotlight: The Numbat

What am I?

I am only 40cm long

I eat around 20 000 termites a day

I am only found in Western Australia

 

I am a NUMBAT!

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(Photo taken from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-03/numbat-population-grows-after-wa-breeding-program/8410856)

 

Numbat’s used to inhabit the southern part of Australia, including Western Australia, South Australia and parts of New South Wales but now they are only found naturally in pockets of South Western Australia.

Key reasons as to why these cute banded animals are endangered is because of cats, foxes and loss of habitat due to land clearing for mining and farming.

There are currently only around 1000 numbats left  in Australia.

So how can you make a difference for these diurnal marsupials?

Read a book – Rufus the Numbat is a fun filled read!

Check out project numbat and the great kids activities online

See how fences are keeping away cats and foxes

Keep your cat inside – see what PETA says about this.

Check out what FAME are doing for these animals

 

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!

 

 

Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston

Do you know much about the history of Australia’s pearling industry? In the late nineteenth century, many of Western Australia’s Indigenous were forced to dive for pearl shell under terrible conditions. This story is a tribute to these men and women who risked their lives for the pearl lugger owners.


Free diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston is a lyrical narrative that takes the reader on a journey out to sea and on board a pearl lugger. A pearl lugger was the name given to the large vessels that were used to go out to sea to collect pearl shell. This industry, which has brought a lot of money to Australia is still a part of the economy today – visit Broome to see the many pearl shops up there – but under much better circumstances for the divers.

Older readers will be entranced by the colour of the land and the sea. They will feel scared and worried as the main character dives beneath the waves and yearns for his home. The prose entices the reader to ask questions about where they are, why they are diving with just a rope and why is pearl so precious?

This story really allows the reader to see the past injustices of society and how many people were treated so terribly just for the sake of money.

Brown Houston’s illustrations add more emotion to the story. We feel the gentleness of the ocean breeze, the warmth of the sunshine, the quietness of the moon. But we also see the fear the young man feels, we see the worry he holds within but also the freedom he feels when under the water.

Although I have read a little bit about the history of the Pearling industry from my visit to Broome this book gave me more insight into the dark side of it and how something so beautiful can hold a sad story.

Read this book with your children – it is a beautiful tale. The song at the end may inspire you to pull out your guitar and have a sing along too.

So what can you do after you have read this book?  

  • Explore the pearling industry. Compare the past and the present. Indigenous people had their own methods of finding pearl shell long before the Europeans came along.
  • Are there currently any injustices in the jewellery industry? Explore the concepts of fair-trade and worker’s rights.
  • Sing the song together – it is a beautiful tribute and there is no better way to learn about a story than through song.
  • Explore the art of Bronwyn Houston and the techniques used in this story.
  • Stand up for human rights. Keep an eye out for those around you and make sure that everyone is being treated equally. Be more mindful of what you buy to ensure that people aren’t being mistreated just for a final product.

Interview with Joanne Karcz, author of Dangar Island. Birds, Barrows, a ferry and me.

Joanne Karcz is the very talented author of the rhythmically relaxing picture book: Dangar Island. Birds, Barrows a ferry and me.

Thank you Joanne for taking the time to answer some questions I have about your great book.

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How long have you lived on Dangar Island?

I have lived permanently on Dangar Island for seven years, but had a long association with the island before that. We used to come up for weekends regularly since 2000.

What do you love about Dangar Island?

I love so much about the Island, including being so close to nature, having parrots in our trees and water dragons near our jetty. I like that there are no cars. The river is beautiful and the ferry regularly passing our house is a sight I really enjoy. The community here is another great thing about living here. People are friendly and supportive and there are often community initiatives that happen here that are unlikely to happen on the mainland.

What inspired you to write a picture book about Dangar Island?

The freedom that the children who grow up here have, is something very special. They are allowed freedoms that not many children on the mainland have. That and the fact that I love living here gave me the inspiration to share this life with others.

You have written this poem in rhyme – how difficult was it to find the right words?

I have written many things in rhyme over the years, and it is a style that works for me. Finding the right words took time and perseverance – I did many drafts before being satisfied with the text.

What do children love to do on Dangar Island?

The book pretty much describes what the children enjoy doing. Playing in the park, getting covered in mud on the beach when it’s low tide and riding their bikes down the hill to the jetty. They enjoy exploring and older ones like to walk around the island on the shoreline at low tide.

If we come to visit what should we do? The cave looks exciting! 

It is easy to explore the island on foot – it only takes about 40 minutes to walk around the island. A couple of caves are close to the road on the high side. They are big rock overhangs, not deep caves. A walk to the top of the island through the bush is fun. You should see the beach and the park and try and see how many different birds you can see.

The illustrations really complememt the story, was it difficult finding an illustrator who would suit the lightness and happiness of the story?

It was difficult finding an illustrator at all given my budget constraints. This book was a personal project which I wrote for my children and the children of Dangar Island. It took me quite some time to find Jacqui who is the niece of a friend and lives on a property in Queensland. She first came to Dangar Island when we launched the book and used internet searches and photographs to guide her illustrations. We communicated regularly by phone and email. Before engaging her I asked her to do a sample of her work in a style similar to Mem Fox in Possum Magic. I am really happy with how the illustrations and story work together.

Can you see yourself writing any more books in the future? 

I have written a second book which is similar but very different from the Dangar Island book. It is currently in the process of being illustrated. Jacqui was not available and I was lucky to find someone else to work on this new book.

Thank you Joanne. I am looking forward to making a weekend visit over to Dangar Island some day very soon! 

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Photo taken from : http://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/story/4794923/farleigh-downs-artist-recognised-in-us/

A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac.

Have you ever wondered which Australian animals you would come across if you wandered through the alphabet, across the desert down by a river or over the ocean?


A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac takes every reader on a magical journey all over Australia where we meet Quokkas, Bilbies, Jumping spiders and even Death adders!

Starting from the letter A, Frane Lessac explores through brightly coloured and detailed illustrations the amazing characteristics of each animal. Each picture is accompanied by 5 – 10 facts that are very interesting and perhaps unknown to many readers.

Did you know that emus have two eyelids?

Did you know that the Perentie Goanna can run up to 30 km/h?

Letter A gives the reader background information as to why Australia has so many interesting animals. In A is for Australian Animals, Lessac explores the habitats of mammals, reptiles, birds and monotremes through each letter of the alphabet- really highlighting the diversity of Australia.

The use of rich Australian outback and bushland colours brings life to the illustrations and allows the reader to feel like they are there with the animals in their natural environment. There are no people or buildings to be seen throughout the whole story – a great way for readers to see this wide brown land.

Frane Lessac artwork is superb and draws the reader to look further into each double page spread, searching for hidden animals, detailed plants and movement of sand or water.

A is for Australian Animals is  a must read for any Australian, and perhaps an inspiration for you to take a drive out of the city and into the outback, hidden rainforests or islands of our diverse country.

So what can you do at home? 

Geography

Find out where each of these animals live and plot this on a map. How big is each animals range of habitat and has this range changed over time?

Science

Group these animals – mammal, monotreme, bird or reptile.

Group these animals according to the types of environments they live in.

Literacy

Compare this book to another fact book, video of facts and podcast of facts. How do you prefer for find out facts? Which way do you think is better for your learning or are they all helpful?

Could you change the animals in this story by creating your own A-Z of Australian animals?

Numeracy

There are more kangaroos than humans in Australia! Where do they all live then? Compare and contrast the population sizes of the animals in this story. You could look into the rise or decline in numbers and try to work out why this has happened.

GeographyFind out where each of these animals live and plot this on a map. How big is each animals range of habitat and has this range changed over time?ScienceGroup these animals – ma

Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson

It’s morning in the bush.
Python stirs and slithers out from her shelter.
She warms her head and smells the air
with her forked tongue.
Python is a beautiful snake,
but also dangerous
– and she is looking for a meal

Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson is a captivating picture book that takes you along for a ride as snake looks for her next meal.

Illustrator Mark Jackson brings the danger of the snake to life through his descriptive illustrations of snake sneaking up on her next meal, camouflaging amongst rocks and basking in the warm sun with her brood.

Christopher Cheng not only writes an enchanting story of the snake and her meal seeking adventure, he also adds in some great facts along the way that even the youngest reader can engage with.

Python teaches the reader about Pythons, their habitat and behaviour. Many of us are petrified of snakes and perhaps would rather throw a rock at it than let it run away. When we read stories like this to our children we are building their awareness of creatures like snakes, who are dangerous, and allowing them to know more about them to realise that the snakes are probably a lot more scared of us!

Did you know that pythons might only eat once every four weeks? And that they can unhinge their jaws?

The world of pythons is dangerous yet intriguing and this CBCA shortlisted picture book is a book for all to enjoy.

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