The great lizard Trek by Felicity Bradshaw and Norma MacDonald

Written by Felicity Bradshaw and illustrated by Norma MacDonald, an Aboriginal Yamatji artist, The Great Lizard Trek is an excellent addition to the science, geography and sustainability curriculum in classrooms .

It is also a wonderful book for family homes where nature lovers will delight in looking at the detailed illustrations, the maps and the reasons why we need to care more for the world we live in.

The Great Lizard trek takes us on a journey from the north to the south coast of Western Australia. Along this journey we meet the different types of lizards who live in this part of the world and learn their indigenous name and the indigenous country they come from.

Not only do we learn about these lizards we also learn that they are having to move from the places they have always lived because of climate change. Many lizards cannot cope well with extreme heat, lack of water, too much water or lack of shelter. And we often forget that reptiles play just as an important role in the ecosystem as mammals and marsupials do – not as cute and cuddly so they just don’t get the attention.

We learnt a lot about different lizards and were especially surprised by Goannas and how important temperature was for the development of their eggs. If the eggs get too hot – all the babies will be girls and this is a big problem for the future.

The Great Lizard Trek is a book you can read in one sitting or one you can take your time with, drawing on information, flipping to the maps included at the back and the from of the books and doing a bit of your own extra research.

The story is engaging as are the lizard characters we meet. The dialogue between the characters adds lots of fun to these reptiles that often get ignored!

Norma MacDonald’s illustrations are highly detailed and the background for each lizard is a reminder of where they live and the conditions they live in.

Reptile’s are amazing creatures that live in Australia – and we have so many of them. The Great lizard trek is a great wake up call for all readers to see how human actions are having huge ramifications on the animal world.

Luckily for these lizards the outcome seems to be good – but will it always stay this way? Will there be a part two? I’m not sure if the part two will be as positive.

The Great Lizard Trek is an excellent book to discuss climate change from a different angle, various reptiles and to learn more about indigenous language, culture and country.

There are some great teacher notes here: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7807/#forteachers 

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The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

When you get home, tell them how large the world is, and how green. And tell them that the beauty of the world makes demands on you. They will need reminding.

Although I found this book slow to start, once it did start it was amazing. So many different themes shine through this book – friendship, courage, environmental stewardship, adventure, kindness, creativity, problem solving, teamwork and independence.

Four young children – Fred, Con, Lila and Max – are aboard a tiny plane flying over the Amazon Rainforest when it crashes – leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere and without an adult to help guide them.

Using their own basic knowledge they start to look after each other in an environment that is completely foreign to them.

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Eating new food, sleeping outdoors, observing animal behaviour and hunting for meals are all a part of survival in this green and lush rainforest.

But it is only by chance that Fred discouvers a map and with his own knowledge of past explorers convinces the group that they need to follow the river to get back home.

The children discover much more than they thought they would and learn so much more about themselves that they ever knew. I can’t give anymore away – you’ll have to read it to find out.

Young children will want to go out and explore after reading this book and hopefully realise how important it is to explore places but not destroy them. Many beautiful places on this earth have been destroyed by humans because we all want to see it.

Perhaps we can still see these amazing places but we need to see them for what they are – not what we want them to be.

If you take anything away from this book it should be the idea of conservation. Conservation of indigenous tribes and their language and culture, conservation of plants in their natural habitat and conservation of all types of animals.

Without conservation there will be nothing left on earth to explore and without anything to explore the human spirit dies.

Let’s keep our planet for what it is – think about what you can do to ensure it is conserved in the natural state it once was.

‘You don’t have to be in the jungle to be an explorer,’ he said. ‘ Every human on this earth is an explorer. Exploring is nothing more than paying attention….that’s what the world asks of you. If you pay ferocious attention to the world, you will be as safe as it is possible to be. ‘

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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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Verdi by Janell Cannon

A quick snapshot post – Just some quick ideas for your day!

My son is fascinated by snakes so this book was chosen purely on the standout image on the front cover.

verdi

Snakes are feared by many and because of this there are many endangered species. This book brings about an awareness that snakes are animals that are just trying to have fun!

Verdi by Janell Cannon is a heartwarming story of a young python named Verdi who doesn’t want to grow up – seeing the older green snakes as boring and unimaginative.

Throughout the book the reader can view intricate images of Verdi and his crazy antics.

We see him develop into a larger green python and learn that it isn’t that bad becoming older as although we see life in a different way, we can still have fun with the younger generation.

So how can we talk about this book?

SCIENCE

  • The back two pages is full of fascinating facts about snakes. It is very wordy for young children so I would pull out facts that are straight to the point. You might even want to research snakes yourself from here.
  • Create a life cycle of Pythons and then perhaps some other great Australia snakes!
  • Ask: Are snakes endangered? Why?
  • Where do Australian snakes live? How do they live?

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Growing up is fun but be careful of the risks you take ( Link to when Verdi fell)
  • Older snakes can be wise and full of fun too (Link to Verdi playing with the young snakes)
  • How can we have fun with older people in our family? How do we link in with members of our family?

LINKS

Investigate resources and strategies to manage changes and transitions associated with puberty (ACPPS052)