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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Monster party by The children from Rawa with Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Monsters come out of the ground tonight. Jeepers creepers, they give us a fright!

In 2017 Alison Lester and Jane Godwin visited Rawa Community school and took part in a project with children from the school that would help them to not only create their own book but build skills in art marking and creative writing.

Rawa Community school is located on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert at Punmu in the Pilbara region of Western Australia – a place where your imagination can run wild!

Monster Party is a fun tale about a band of monsters who decide to come and visit the children at school one day after dancing the night away and keeping everyone up! The monsters can do so many different things on the shores of Dora Lake such as hop, slobber, steal and growl.

Written in rhyme and drawing on the imagination of young children – especially at night time, we learn about the crazy things monsters like to do when we are not looking.

Imagination is a beautiful gift to have but sometimes those dark spaces and lack of noise out in the middle of the desert can make the imagination run a lot wilder that you would hope it does!

The children who helped to write this story have learnt to harness that imagination and turn it into a fun story about life in one of the most remote communities in Australia.

Young children will delight in the crazy, funny and intriguing monsters that pop out on each page and possibly wonder what sort of other monsters are out there dancing the night away?

Monster party is a wonderful picture book for younger readers and there is a lot of learning and fun that can be had with it!

What else can you do?

Explore the different verbs used throughout the book and think of some more things monsters can do.

Learn more about how each of the monsters were created and the printing technique. Try to replicate this technique and create your own monster!

Use a map and find out where Rawa Community school is. Find out more about life there and indigenous stories that come from the desert area.

Write your own story about a monster party somewhere near your school.

Explore the use of rhyme in this story and create your own story in rhyme.

Choose a monster in the book and write a short description of it.