animals, Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, Indigenous authors, literacy, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, plastic free July, Teacher tips and resources

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina

Have you ever been out on a bushwalk, seen some rubbish but thought – it’s not mine, I’ll just leave it? Or have you ever left something behind because you didn’t want to carry it home?

Perhaps reading Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina will help you to consider the ramifications of those small bits of rubbish we leave behind and the effect they have on Australian bush animals.

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up is a great story about a very friendly lizard called Benny Bungara. We meet him on a beautiful day, warming himself up under the sun – but  when he hears a strange sound he just has to find out what it is.

Thinking it might be a new bush creature he scrambles up a tree to see but once there he discovers it’s a friendly Olive Python with his head stuck in a bottle. Benny helps remove the bottle only to find other creatures who have been effected by rubbish humans have left behind – broken glass and fishing line.

The friends know they need to ask the humans for help but while they are waiting for the help they decide to start cleaning up the place themselves by reusing some items, recycling others and putting some in the bin.

A simple message comes across in this book and young readers will understand what they need to do.

Humans have a huge impact on the planet and we all need to be much more mindful of what we leave behind each and every day.

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina teaches children in a fun way about how to never leave rubbish behind and always think about the best place to put it once we have finished with it.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Check out my (in very draft form) resource to help minimise the amount of waste you have in your house: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xnstqsthasuz2tu/How%20much%20plastic%20is%20in%20our%20pantry.docx?dl=0

Look at your bin at the end of the week and work out what could have been reused, refused, repurposed, composted or recycled!

Pack a waste free lunch box for a week and come up with different ideas that help you to leave less rubbish behind.

Explore images of animals around the world who have been effected by the rubbish humans have left behind.

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

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eco living, Environmental books, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

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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animals, Book review, Books with current issues, National Science Week, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, science, Teacher tips and resources

A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones

Are you finding the concept of pushing and pulling a little tricky to teach or understand?

This science storybook about forces is a wonderful way to look at simple forces and how they occur in the real world.

The concept of forces is explored through the lovely ‘Bird’ who uses pushing and pulling in many different ways throughout her day. She pulls a worm out of the ground for breakfast, pushes twigs around for her nest and uses strength to push, pull and carry things to and from her nest.

Richard Jones’ illustrations are delightful and reflect the changing light of the birds day.

The story is told in a matter – of -fact way but children will love seeing the bird build her nest, explore the woods and lay her own eggs. And becuase this story is so easy to understand, the concept of pushing and pulling will be too.

A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones is an excellent book to have in any early science classroom as it makes science real and will help you to get outside and start to look at all the different forces coming into play in our world every moment of the day!

There are some simple activities in the final pages of this book alongside an index and bibliography which will help to continue the conversation about forces after the story has been read.

Can you do anything else with this book?

Visual arts

  • Explore how the artist has drawn movement. Explore different ways to show something is moving.
  • Explore the different colour of the sky throughout the day and how you can replicate that in your draawings.

Literacy

  • Explore the verbs used in this story and which ones relate to forces.

Science

  • Go outside and find other things that use this force.

BUY NOW FROM FISHPOND

Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces (Science Storybooks)

AND THINK ABOUT HOW THE RUBBISH YOU LEAVE BEHIND IMPACTS THE NATURAL WORLD – BUY FROM BIOME TO MAKE LESS OF AN IMPACT!

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

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Book review, Books with current issues, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

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.
animals, Book review, Environmental books, nature play, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? by Tania Cox and Jedda Robaard.

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? 

Do you leave it? Pull it? Or ask some friends to help you investigate? 

All this is explored through a simple and fun text written by Tania Cox and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

With a repeated refrain : What’s at the end of this piece of rope? , a small girl enlists the help of many friends to help her to work out where this tightly held rope is anchored to.

Working together is a key concept in this story and with engaging and fun illustrations, young children will see how important and fun team work can be.

The young reader will love chanting the refrain and also wondering which animal friend will help next. You can ask questions to your young reader as you skip along through the pages helping them to develop their inquiry based thinking.

Enjoy reading this book aloud or encourage your early reader to read to you. Not only is this book a great early reader it is also a great book to spend time perusing through the images of the animals who fill up this book with warmth.

Buy Now – click here: What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What else can you do with this book?

  • Question – what else can be at the end of a piece of rope?
  • Question – should we always pull ropes by ourselves?
  • Question -Why do we need other people to help us sometimes?
  • Which animals are in this story, write down their names and the countries that they come from.
  • Look at the sounds they make as they pull the rope. Can you think of some other sounds that you might make when something is heavy?
  • Why are there not many words in this picture book? Explore the importance of pictures.
  • Please and thank you are used quite a bit in this story – why are these words important?
Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, Uncategorized

Kookaburras love to laugh by Laura and Phillip Bunting

Have you ever wondered about why a Kookaburra up in that old gum tree is laughing?

Did you ever think that perhaps there has to be a serious Kookaburra amongst them all?

Kookaburras love to laugh  is another fabulous creation by Laura and Philip Bunting that will leave youngster having a good giggle as they follow the antics of a rather serious Kookaburra – who simply does now want to laugh.

As expected, the use of prints in this story add to the humour of this book. Simple movements or props added to each image give enough information for the reader to know what is going on and through this technique, children feel that they can add a bit more to the story.

This poor Kookaburra is very serious and he is sick of others trying to make him laugh – so he leaves and finds somewhere where he can have some peace and quiet….that is until he discovers that life without laughter doesn’t seem quite right and surprises his friends on his return.

Watching the subtle eye movements between each picture, talking about some good Kookaburra jokes and wondering what #%*@! Really means is all part of this story.

Kookaburras love to laugh is another wonderful story to add to the tree dwelling animal books we have so far:

Mopoke

Koalas eat gum leaves

I wonder who will be next?

So what else can you do?

  • Make sure you participate in your local areas Bird count. This is a really important way the local councils can learn about which birds reside in their areas through residents input.
  • Create your own Kookaburra jokes!
  • Always wonder what they are laughing at – always!
  • Draw your own Kookaburra and of possible photocopy it to add some extra props to create your own pictorial story board.
Book review, Creativity, gifted education, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Ruben by Bruce Whatley

Ruben’s dreams were of places that made no sense to him. Places that didn’t exist. At least not anymore.

Ruben, a young boy lives on the outskirts of a damaged, abandoned and futuristic city. Every day when he wakes he writes about his dreams and flicks through images of places he once knew.

Living alone, Ruben often wanders the streets, avoiding the huge machines that live in Block city who destroy things humans need for survival – freedom, safety and knowledge.

One day, on his way through the city in search of food and water, he discovers Koji, another child who is also alone. Together they understand each other, share secrets and dream of escaping on one of the fast trains that leave the destroyed city.

Bruce Whatley is a master illustrator who has created this whole world in black and white – giving it the grim and abandoned feel it needs. Readers will pour over the illustrations for hours as they journey with Ruben hoping that he can escape this formidable place.

Although set in the future, the sketches of objects Bruce Whatley has included, pull on our own heart strings and lead us to think – what if? Children of all ages will ponder the possibility of places in our world that already look like this or the possibly of our own country looking like this if we don’t care for others around us.

This Dystopian world that Ruben lives in is one that young children can enter without the violence of many other Dystopian fiction books on the market.

I have explored this book with some Gifted Year 4 students and they have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Ruben and then creating a Dystopian world of their own.

So what can you do? 

GRASPS Task – – Ruben by Bruce Whatley

GOAL: You are going to create your own dystopian world using as many as the key areas as you can.

ROLE You are the engineer of this futuristic society. You are the designer of the people, their plight and their place.

AUDIENCE You need to create a world that will appeal to readers aged 8-12. .

SITUATION : In the book market there are many fiction books set in Dystopian worlds but they are for older readers and any are full of violence. You need to create a dystopian world without violence. There are many other ways the world can become dystopian so use your create juices and move away from the violence we hear about in the older books.

PRODUCT. The world you create needs to be a combination of things so we can get a true insight into this world. You can use: Diary entries, maps, posters, sketches, storytelling, newspaper articles, radio correspondence etc.

You will be marked out of 15.

STANDARDS and CRITERIA [INDICATORS]

 

1 2 3
Key areas of a dystopian world. Student has used 3 key areas in their dystopian world Student has used 5 key areas in their dystopian world Student has used 6 r more key areas in their dystopian world.
Understand how texts vary in complexity and technicality depending on the approach to the topic, the purpose and the intended audience (ACELA1490 Student has developed three different types of texts to engage the audience Student has developed four different types of texts to engage the audience Student has developed five or more different types of texts to engage the audience
Discuss how authors and illustrators make stories exciting, moving and absorbing and hold readers’ interest by using various techniques, for example character development and plot tension (ACELT1605 Outline how they developed characters and settings briefly. Outline how they developed characters and settings in details. Outline how they developed characters and settings in detail and respond to questions with good explanation.
Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794 Outline the basic process of creating this Dystopian world. Discuss how characters were developed and how they fit into the world created. consider how and why particular traits for a character have been chosen. Discuss in details why the setting has been created and how the idea was developed.
Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing text structures, language features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1704 Many errors made in final draft with little editing present. Some mistakes made in final products wth some editing present. Excellent final product with little or no mistakes.

 

 

 

Book review, Books with current issues, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas

Know someone starting school this year? Or starting a new school?

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas might be one to share with them before they start on their way.

This story was written in 2008, has won many awards and has had many teacher notes and activities written about it, so I won’t add to it all but I really just wanted to highlight how great this story is for young children.

This book shows the young reader how important it is to be true to ourselves and that true friends will see who we really are and will love us for who we are – not what we have.

We can teach our youngsters about popularity and how it is fleeting (despite the messages the media throw at us). Peter Carnavas shows children through this store the importance of  knowing who we are and how by knowing, we will find those who will support us through good and bad times.

We have loved reading Jessica’s box and it is one we will continue to visit in times to celebrate friendship or times when we need to re assess the difficult journey friendship can take.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Play a major role in your child’s education so you are aware of how they are feeling. Talk to them about school, read with them after school and be involved when you can.

– Talk about things you are good at and ask your child what they think they are good at. Tell each other what you are both good at. Do this as often as you can.

– For older readers – find times in the media when people have become popular because of one thing but then faded because that thing was gone or no longer popular?

– How is social media like Jessica’s box? How can we become popular on Facebook or instagram? Does this popularity really count?

How will you play a role in order to help your child thrive?

Book review, Creativity, literacy, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Have you ever felt like no one really understands you?

Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you just set off and found someone who did? 


Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise is a wonderful tale about friendship, being yourself and acceptance.

I really love this book. I have read it to classes during library time and to my own children many many times.

There is so much to gather from this story, as mentioned above, but overall it is just a really lovely story.

Archie is a bear (but he is really a boy) who goes wondering out into the forest with his homemade honey sandwiches. He meets a friendly boy (who is really a bear) and together they nibble on honey sandwiches and teach each other different things.

As the night grows dark they try to keep each other warm but end up returning to Archie’s house where they sleep warmly by the fire under a warm quilt.

The friendship between the bear and the boy is enviable, they take care of each other, are gentle to each other despite both knowing that they are clearly not what they say they are and they love hanging out together.

Friendship, acceptance and kindness are traits that we want to encourage in our children and this book really shows this in a subtle way.

We need to learn to accept people for who they are, accept people for what they believe in and accept them into our lives even if they are different.

David Mackintosh’s illustrations are bold and simple. They show enough of the story but don’t overload the page. The use of watercolors in the background help the reader to focus more on the main characters and the actions they are taking.

Not only does this book have a calming effect as we watch the friendship blossom, it also shows us how simple life and friendship can be.

Archie and the Bear is a beautiful read, definitely one for your bookshelf!

Author Interview, Book review, Books with current issues, literacy

Interview with Suzanne Barton, author of Meeka

This month I am interviewing Suzanne Barton, the author of the new picture book: Meeka.
 
Meeka is Suzanne’s first picture book and has been self published.
 
Meeka is a delightful story for young children 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
 
Thank you Suzanne for answering these questions for my audience and I.
 
1. How did you come up with the idea of Meeka?
Meeka’s story first came to life through a conversation between my mother and I. We were enjoying a delicious Moroccan meal and giggling as we imagined the adventures of a cheeky little bird who got stuck in a tagine. Not long after, I wrote up the story to enter into a writing competition and, to my surprise, the manuscript won its category. After that, I’d always hoped to see the story published.
2. How long have you been writing for and when did you feel that children’s writing was where you wanted to be?
I come from a family full of writers, English teachers and Scrabble enthusiasts – so I’ve been a bookworm and a wordsmith for as long as I can remember. My career and studies have led me to write everything from advertising copy to film scripts, but I really love children’s stories. Some years ago I took a course in children’s writing and loved learning about all the different styles and techniques. Since then, the stories have kept flowing.
3. How did you work with Anil Tortop? Did you exchange ideas or just let Anil explore the story and interpret it herself.
Working with Anil was a wonderful collaboration. I had some ideas about how I saw Meeka coming together, and so did she. From her very first sketches and storyboards, it was clear that Anil knew just how to bring Meeka to life. I always loved receiving her drawings as we were working on the book. Her characters have so much personality and movement. Even now I keep noticing tiny details that make me smile.
Check out the book trailer for Meeka!
4. You ran a successful pozible campaign – how did you ensure its success and how did you cope with the wait?
I am so grateful for the lovely people who supported Meeka on Pozible, helping me print the book beautifully. To prepare, I went to a crowd funding workshop for authors and thought carefully about the rewards I could offer supporters, and what fun things I could share on social media during the project. These included a book trailer, time-lapse videos of the illustrations and Photoshopped ‘selfies’ of Meeka with supporters, which were really fun to make. Sometimes I felt nervous that the project wouldn’t reach its goal, but I tried to stay positive and we got there with a few days to spare.
5. Can you give any advice to budding picture book authors who would love to see their book published?
Never give up. If you have stories in your heart, then keep working hard at your craft and seek support in the wonderful writers’ groups that can be found in many communities, and of course at your fingertips online. I also find critique groups especially handy. The chance to regularly receive constructive criticism from a supportive network of like-minded writers, and also to review other people’s work, really helps keep the creative ideas flowing.
 
 

6. Where to next? Can you expect another picture book some time or are there other areas of creative writing you are going to explore?

 

I have several more picture books up my sleeve and hope to see them brought to life in the coming years. I’m also working on a story for older readers, and continuing to create cabaret productions inspired by 1940s radio drama with my musical ensemble, Neo Radio.
Sounds exciting Suzanne! I can’t wait to see what else you can bring to life. Thank you for the time you have given to answer these questions.
Now followers – do you have any questions?

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: https://www.bluebellbooks.org/shop/