Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

You have his mark Mia, between your shoulder blades. The dirrarn (black cockatoo) is your totem. Your jarriny (conception totem) totem

I adored this book so much so that I read it twice.

Mia, a young indigenous girl lives on the coast of Western Australia in a remote town surrounded by bush land, water holes and hot red dirt.

She lives with her family, which includes her grandparents, but feels lost between the culture and traditions of her past and the present world she lives in.

But Mia feels the past so much more than her brother does. She feels the pain of the he injured animals and smells danger and freedom on the wind.

The story revolves around Mia rescuing a black cockatoo who has been injured by her thoughtless brother.

We learn about the beauty of persistence, following your beliefs and believing in the power of positive actions.

We also learn the importance of listening to the past, embracing culture and tradition yet looking towards the future.

Black Cockatoo will not only entertain readers from ages 9-13, it will also teach them about owning their beliefs and standing up for what they know is best.

Black Cockatoo would be a great book if o study as a class group as the Jaru language is scattered throughout the story-in context-so readers can learn how to speak this indigenous language from The Kimberley.

As Australians we need to eEmbrace more of our indigenous languages and teach not only those with indigenous heritage but also those who don’t.

Black cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler is a beautiful story and I hope that it can be shared with many more children!

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Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop

Some dads cook sausages.

Some dads cook pasta.

My dad cooks spicy, dicey stew.

And then our adventure with the delightful Meeka begins.


Meeka the sweet blue bird, hangs around with a father and daughter who cook at the market.

Meeka not only loves helping cook the heavily scented tagines through his magical song but he also loves making friends and tasting the delights from the other market stalls.

But we soon learn that perhaps all of these treats are not so good for a little birdy body…..

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Meeka is a delightfully told story by Suzanne Barton about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found.

Community love is something that perhaps many of us do not experience in our inner city life or perhaps even rural isolation but within this story it just shows that by taking part in small community activities such as the markets, we can make friends and feel a sense of belonging just through simple activities such as cooking, eating and chatting.

The father and daughter show love through cooking and cleaning together, talking to other stall owners, customers and singing with Meeka.

Anil Tortop’s illustrations are done in pastel colours full of love. We can feel the happiness oozing from the pages, we can sense the love the father and daughter have for each other and the care they have for Meeka. The illustrations really bring this story to life and show not only the immediate characters but all of the extra people who make their lives complete.

Meeka is a self published book by Bluebell books and was crowdfunded by around 100 people. Without the support of these people I may have never been able to share this lovely story which just goes to show that as budding authors, writers should never give up on a story that they feel will make a difference to our world.


Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop is a heart warming read and one to share. The qualities of care, kindness, helping others and joy are all the traits we want to see in our children and through this story we can show our children how important they are.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Are there any market places near you? Plan a family outing to a farmer’s markets.

– What do you love to cook? Choose a favourite recipe and cook this with someone you love. Explore the senses that light up as you cook – smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch.

– Take a walk into your backyard or local park and see the different birds that live nearby. Can you watch what they eat? How might humans be effecting the birds diets?

Take part in the national bird watch count.

– Explore how to make Tagines, crusty bread, donuts and toffee!

– Suzanne Barton uses rhyme to describe the father’s cooking, toffee and nectar. Can you create your own rhymes to describe your favourite food?

 

And check out Bluebell books to buy your own copy!

 

 

Snail and turtle rainy day by Stephen Michael King

What is friendship? Do we all have a different view of what it is?

What is patience? Can patience be to someone what impatience is to another?

Snail and Turtle rainy day  by Stephen Michael King is a heart-warmimg story of friendship and patience.

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My children and I loved reading this story. Not only does it explore friendship but also about patience and giving people time to feel comfortable when things are worrying them. Rainy days or sad moments in life might get you down but remember there is always a pair of gumboots, raincoats, hugs, friends and a warm cup of tea for after!

Stephen Michael King’s books are always vibrantly illustrated with small details and patterns  to search for while you are reading.

Knowing how to care for people is an important skill for everybody to learn and one which helps to make the world a better place.  This book really highlights the importance of care and patience.

We live in a world where we often expect people to just get on with it, not caring about their need to take things slowly during tough times.

As a society we need to slow down and take note of those around us and by instilling this in our children from a  young age by the way we talk to them we are skilling our world to be a better place.

So have a chat with your children about feelings, patience and care.

Of course sustainability and environment are a ket focus for me in this blog but without care from others, sense of community and a good sense of self all of these things may be pointless.

Here are some great links to sites that can help you help your children.

https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au

https://www.ruok.org.au/365-day-resources

 

One less fish

One less fish is a colourful, informative and pertinent story about the Great Barrier Reef and the amazing sea creatures within.

fish

 

I’m sure many of you are aware of the coral bleaching that has been occurring in the GBR over the past year. The coral reef is such an important part of our natural world and more importance needs to be placed upon this destruction.

I have been lucky enough to visit the reef, see the vibrant coral and swim amongst the different sea creatures that live there. Many people will miss out on this opportunity if we don’t start to take action.

The picture book One Less Fish  by Kim Michelle Toft and Allan Sheather allows children to see the fish that swim amongst the coral. The beautiful illustrations show the diversity that swims in the Great Barrier Reef and highlights the beauty of the coral that the fish live between.

One Less Fish was written to show readers what may have happened if it had not been inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981.  Each page gives tips on how we can start to make changes so that less destruction takes place towards to Reef, the ocean and the sea creatures.

Although this book seems sad and without hope as fish diminish one by one it ends on a high with all of the fish returning.

One Less Fish is a great teaching resource through the tips on each page and the glossary on the last two pages. It also allows children to see what sorts of fish live in the Great Barrier Reef and allows them to hear what can happen through small less thoughtful actions.  It also is a great starting point to discuss with them what we can do today, to ensure there is less harm done.

TEACHING TIPS

When I read this story to my children they loved counting the fish, talking about the different colours in each image and finding out the names of the creatures.

So what can you do?

SCIENCE

  •  Allow time to research a fish or another sea creature that lives in the Great Barrier Reef. Find out as much as possible about that creature. Ask the question – how will they be effected by coral bleaching?
  • Find up to date information about the Great Barrier Reef: How it is used, who uses it and the governments approach to it.
  • Create a Venn diagram that compares two animals of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Find out the life cycles of the different types of GBR fish. You will be amazed at how different they are!
  • Forming small groups look at the different tips that are offered on each page – research these issues to gain more understanding of them. Are they still issues? Are there more issues since this book was written in 1997?
  • Watch this Ted talk to see how scientists are working on saving the reef.  https://www.ted.com/talks/kristen_marhaver_how_we_re_growing_baby_corals_to_rebuild_reefs?language=en

MATHEMATICS

  •  Count the fish as you go. Show addition and take away sums as you read through the story.
  • How many fish are there in the whole story?
  • How many years has the reef been listed on the World Heritage List?
  • Look at temperature charts of the sea water over the last ten years. Discuss how this effects the coral.
  • Older children may love to look at the mathematics of coral! https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef?language=en

THINKING, TALKING & SHARING

  • Do people think differently now than in 1997? Have we continued to protect the reef?
  • What can we do if we live far away from the reef?

 

One less fish won a CBCA award in 1998

MATHEMATICS

STAGE One
Represent and solve simple addition and subtraction problems using a range of strategies including counting on, partitioning and rearranging parts (ACMNA015)

SCIENCE

Stage One

People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

Stage two

Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)

Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)

Stage three

The growth and survival of living things are affected by physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)

 Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083)