Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibarr


Little birds flit around us all of the time, but what do they eat? Where do they go when the sun goes down and why do they wake us up so early?

In Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibarr the daily life of a bird is explained through simple language and traditional art techniques.

Through the story we hear the personification of the clouds and the moon, we wonder about the dreams the little bird has and we listen to the daily movements it needs to make to survive.

On each page the reader is told what is happening to the little bird and then in italics there is a whisper from the world telling the little bird what to do

Here come Cloud, huffing and puffing.

Time to play little Bird, time to spin across the sky.

Johnny Warrkatja Malibarr is the inaugural winner of the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator award and through his illustrations this story is brought to life. The cross hatching of the animal skin show texture, the colours of the desert show the variety of landscape in the desert regions and the night sky pages is full of dreams and wonder.

This story will appeal to readers of all ages as not only will readers learn about the daily life of a bird but Indigenous art techniques and the use of figurative language.

So what can you do?

Sustainability

What do birds need from the natural world to survive? What happens to them if some of the things the little bird does in this book go missing?

Literacy

Look at the personification of dusk and the moon. Why have they used this literary technique? Explore different ways to personify objects.

Science

Explore the daily life of a bird and create a flowchart to show this.

STEAM

Create a book based on the daily life of a bird local to your area using indigenous techniques from a local artist if possible.

Write a story about the daily life of a native animal local to your area – perhaps as it lives naturally and then as it lives in the urban environment. How would different objects interact with it?

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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.

Lucky and Spike by Norma MacDonald

Have you ever wondered what life is like out in the desert of Australia where the Spinifex grass grows and the stars shine all over the night sky?

Through the eyes of two cute hopping mice – Lucky and Spike – you and your young readers will see what they get up to each night as they search for food and escape from hungry predators!

Every night Lucky and Spike enjoy the spinifex seeds leftover from the local women who grind them to make bread but as we find out, they are not the only ones who are in search of food.

Lucky and Spike need to use their quick legs to escape a hungry feral cat and a barking owl but with the help of the camp dog and the sharp spinifex grass, they escape.

Norma Macdonald’s illustrations highlight the colours of the desert and the people who live there. The animals are full of life and we can see their movements over the pages as they hop, fly and run throughout the night.

There is so much to enjoy about this book and so much to learn, it is a must for anyone interested not only in the diverse landscapes, people and animals of Australia, but also the need for better solutions for native species.

The hopping mouse lives in Australia in small pockets of sand dunes, grasslands, gibber plains, heaths and open forest .   

They are on the vulnerable species list and are closely monitored by different conservation groups around Australia. Feral cats are a huge problem due to their ability to hunt the mouse with little detection. Other feral animals who roam free also play a role in the degradation of soil and small grasses – needed to provide safety and shelter.

Lucky and Spike is a fun book to read for younger children but also one which can be used for older readers to explore further into different desert animals.

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So what else can you do with this book?

Sustainability

Look at the final page in this story and read what Norma has written about feral cats. Explore the different organisations who are trying to cull these creatures and the different ways they are doing this.

Visual Arts and Artists.

Explore the art works by Norma MacDonald and other books she has written ( Spinifex Mouse by Magabala books)

Literacy

Find the verbs used to describe how the animals move around. Create a list of other verbs these different animals might use during the night and then during the day.

Science

Research further about Spinifex Hopping mice and Barking owls.

Discover how cats become feral.

Join my facebook groups if you like!

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Our birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha by Siena Stubbs

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
― Marc Riboud

Siena Stubbs was given a camera three years ago, and now at the age of 15, she has been able to publish some of her favourite photos of birds that live in Arnhem land.

Each photo is accompanied by information about the bird in words by Siena. These words tell us some simple facts about the bird and how she took the photo  –  which make this book so enjoyable for children to read.

Readers will also learn why she has chosen this bird to be in the book and where she often sees that bird.

Not only are we learning about the birds of Arnhem Land, we are also learning about the land, the sea and the sounds each bird makes.

Buy now through fishpond: Our Birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha

Our birds allows the reader to learn the language of the Yolnu people and understand how each bird was given its name.

We loved looking at the different types of photographs taken at different times of the day and in different locations. And every child that read this book was intrigued by the Indigenous language names for each bird.

This book is a great book to read but it is also a great book to use as a springboard for other activities.

What can you do with this book?

Geography

  • Look at the map of Australia and learn where Arnhem land is. Discover what life is like up there for children.

Culture

  • Explore the different moiety groups, language groups and cultures in Indigenous Australia.

Science

  • Learn more about some of the birds in this book.
  • Which birds only live in Arnhem land? Which ones travel to other countries or places in Australia?

Visual Arts

  • Look at the different ways the photographs of the birds have been taken. Critique the different techniques and then explore your own photography skills on some local birds.

Literacy

  • Explore the way the information has been written in this book. It is written in first person. How does this make the reader feel? Could you write this information from a third person perspective? Could you research and find more information to make this a different type of non-fiction book?

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

I remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what else can you do with this book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins

Thunder Rolls – BOOM!

Way up north, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the frogs sing a chorus.

Big fella rain coming


 

The magic of the summer rains is wholeheartedly felt throughout this picture book. Living in a place where life blossoms almost immediately after the first rains would be a magical place to be. This book, Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins and published by Magabala Books, is a celebration of life and the reliance all living things have on rain.

Figurative language abounds in this story from liquorice clouds, cracked earth, iridescent wings and thirsty reeds. You can feel the world come to life through the story and see it grow in colour through the illustrations.

Big Fella Rain allows the reader to explore how life changes when water plays its role. We can see seeds looking for somewhere to sow themselves, animals drinking up the long-awaited water and rivers forming to support life. The subtle changes of colours in the illustrations throughout the story show the life return to the red sand and cracked earth.

Big Fella Rain is a celebration of the start of the rainy season – the clouds building, the animals retreating and the cracked earth waiting. It is a celebration of the seasons in the Top End of Australia and the delicate nature of the natural world.

Fern Martin’s illustrations are exquisite and the details she adds to the animal features or the subtle changes in the sky add more depth to the story and show the young reader just what life looks like as the rain falls.

We loved reading this story, looking at the details of the insects, listening to the animals cry for joy and watch the water as it made it’s presence. Big Fella Rain is a wonderful picture book to read out loud, pour over the pictures and think about how much we rely on water.

 

So what can you do at home?

Explore Water 

Explore the animals of the Top end

  • Which type of tortoises live in the Top End? What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
  • What are Brolgas? Emus? Which other large water birds live there?
  • Are there any frogs endemic to the Top End?
  • We often forget about insects but they also play a role in this story – how do they cope with the rain? Where might they go when it is too wet?
  • Are any animals endangered due to climate change? Less rain or too much rain? Damage from mining or pollution?

Explore art

Explore the art work by Fern Martins – Explore how she has created the illustrations in this story and her other artwork. 

 

Have you ever experienced the start of the rainy season? I would love to hear your stories!

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.

At the beach I see by Kamsani Bin Salleh

The beach is one of my favourite places to go to. The warm sand, the crashing of the waves and the smell of the ocean. I love swimming too – but only when it is warm enough!


At the beach I see by Kamsani Bin Salleh and published by Magabala Books, is a vibrantly illustrated board book which young children will adore. On each page the reader is treated to a visual delight – not only are the different animals or plants of the sea coloured in life-like colours, they also have intricate designs on them – which we loved looking at.

The designs on each creature really highlighted the fact that although these underwater dwellers may look the same, they – like us, are all so very different.

Each watery page also exposes the reader to creative adjectives that describe how the  ocean animal or plant moves in or above the water.

Babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even young school children will love reading this book. It is easy to read, alive with colour and full of amazing sea creatures!

So what can you do with this book?

  • Visit the beach, a river, dam – whatever local waterway you can and look at the different plants and animals that reside there. Take your sketchbook down and draw the animals. Look at how they live, what they might eat and where they hide.
  • Explore the adjectives used in this book, how else can these animals and plants be described?
  • Look at the patterns Kamsani Bin Salleh has used. Explore different types of lines – waves, circles, spots, straight lines, curvy lines, spirals, dashes, zig zags. Create your own art using these lines. A great way to do this is to cover paper in paint and then scratch lines into the paint – a great sensory experience.
  • Look at some more great Young Art books published by Magabala Books.
  • For older readers – How can we take better care of the beach so these animals can continue to thrive in a pristine environment? Think of at least one thing you can do (less chemicals down the drain, pick up some rubbish at the beach, leave shells behind, buy less plastic)

 

What do you love about the beach? 

 

 

At the Zoo I see by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how can you link this book to other activities?

Sustainability

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

Literacy

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

Indigenous Australia

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