Beware the deep dark forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White.

It wasn’t a carnivorous plant.

It wasn’t a venomous snake.

It wasn’t a bristly wolf or a deep ravine.

It was worse. Much, much worse. 

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If you love an adventure and a bit of alliteration then you will love Beware the deep dark forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White.

Rosie is off to find her dog Tinky who has run off into a forest full of scary things. With only bravery in her backpack, Rosie is determined to find it – despite warnings from her Grandmother and Father.

Teacher’s will not only love reading this story to their class because it is a wonderful story, they will also love it because of the literacy devices!

There is alliteration

There are so many great adjectives of varying degrees

And there is a great plot to engage with.

The illustrations are a great way to explore visual literacy  – look at the colours, Rosie’s expressions and the use of different types of font.

We have loved reading Beware the deep dark forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White and thinking of many new ways we could describe the snakes, plants and wolf!

Check it out now:

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Beware the Deep Dark Forest

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My Brigadista year by Katherine Paterson

What were you doing when you were 13 years old?

Did you ever consider leaving your family for a year to go to a village in another part of your country to teach some others how to read and write?

The courageous character in this story, My Brigadista year by Katherine Paterson, does just that.

Set in Cuba during 1961, the country has been fighting to become independent under Fidel Castro. And although there were many terrible things he did do throughout his rule (and the author does make this clear at points throughout the novel and at the end) he had a goal to make all people in his country literate.

Seen through the eyes of 13year old Lora, we learn about Cuba and the mission she takes part in.

I enjoyed reading about how she met the families, taught them how to read and write in the evening while helping out with the farm during the day. We see the world through her new eyes and feel the passion she has to want to help these people.

As a teacher I could feel this passion as I once travelled to Costa Rica to help in remote communities with work around the towns and also with English.

Lora’s story is possibly one which has not been told in this way before and I believe it is one for anyone studying the history of dictatorships, history of war and the effects it has on the people in the country and the vital role of literacy for everyone.

My Brigadista year by Katherine Paterson is a  book for older readers.

I recommend this one for the classroom, perhaps read out loud as it may ignite volunteer work in some, a love of history in others and a wonder for what else is out there beyond our own suburbs.

 

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Nganga by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson

Nganga is an authoritative and concise collection of words and phrases related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and issues. The word Nganga (ng gar na) means to understand, to see.

In Australia we come across many indigenous words in our daily lives – but do we know the true meaning or origin?

Nganga is an excellent compendium for readers to be able to engage and explore indigenous words.

On each page a new word is presented and the reader is able to learn about the history of how the word became ‘European’, where in Australia the word came from or from which country in Australia it belongs to.

Written by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson, Nganga allows all people – young and old to have easy to understand access to the Aboriginal language.

The culture of Aboriginal Australia is not only one of the oldest cultures but is unique and vibrant. This book provides insight into how to pronounce the different words, the respect needed around certain parts of Aboriginal culture and the way we can all learn, grow and love the country we live in.

Nganga would be a great book for many schools as it is easily accessible from early reading ability and aligns strongly with the National curriculum.

A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac.

Have you ever wondered which Australian animals you would come across if you wandered through the alphabet, across the desert down by a river or over the ocean?


A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac takes every reader on a magical journey all over Australia where we meet Quokkas, Bilbies, Jumping spiders and even Death adders!

Starting from the letter A, Frane Lessac explores through brightly coloured and detailed illustrations the amazing characteristics of each animal. Each picture is accompanied by 5 – 10 facts that are very interesting and perhaps unknown to many readers.

Did you know that emus have two eyelids?

Did you know that the Perentie Goanna can run up to 30 km/h?

Letter A gives the reader background information as to why Australia has so many interesting animals. In A is for Australian Animals, Lessac explores the habitats of mammals, reptiles, birds and monotremes through each letter of the alphabet- really highlighting the diversity of Australia.

The use of rich Australian outback and bushland colours brings life to the illustrations and allows the reader to feel like they are there with the animals in their natural environment. There are no people or buildings to be seen throughout the whole story – a great way for readers to see this wide brown land.

Frane Lessac artwork is superb and draws the reader to look further into each double page spread, searching for hidden animals, detailed plants and movement of sand or water.

A is for Australian Animals is  a must read for any Australian, and perhaps an inspiration for you to take a drive out of the city and into the outback, hidden rainforests or islands of our diverse country.

So what can you do at home? 

Geography

Find out where each of these animals live and plot this on a map. How big is each animals range of habitat and has this range changed over time?

Science

Group these animals – mammal, monotreme, bird or reptile.

Group these animals according to the types of environments they live in.

Literacy

Compare this book to another fact book, video of facts and podcast of facts. How do you prefer for find out facts? Which way do you think is better for your learning or are they all helpful?

Could you change the animals in this story by creating your own A-Z of Australian animals?

Numeracy

There are more kangaroos than humans in Australia! Where do they all live then? Compare and contrast the population sizes of the animals in this story. You could look into the rise or decline in numbers and try to work out why this has happened.

GeographyFind out where each of these animals live and plot this on a map. How big is each animals range of habitat and has this range changed over time?ScienceGroup these animals – ma

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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Desert Lake by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli

The dry salt bed of Kati-Thanda~Lake Eyre shimmers in the desert heat.

But far up north, the rains have come. Water is flooding into empty riverbeds and swirling down towards the lake.

Soon everything will change.


Mesmerising images, lyrical narrative and imagination sparking facts – Desert Lake is a work of art created by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli.

The story begins in the hot parched desert which looks desolate and barren but as soon as the rains falls and the rivers from up north flow down south we see how amazing the natural world is. As we read this story we were amazed to find out about frogs eggs that lay dormant for  years under the ground waiting for rain and birds that can sense when the lake is in flood from hundreds of kilometres away.

Desert Lake’s illustrator – Liz Anelli has created eye catching illustrations which give more depth to the story through detail and by adding extra images on each page.

The natural world is an amazing place and to see something like this happen in person would be a wondrous event. I was lucky enough to visit Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre when it was in flood in 2010 – we couldn’t drive to the lake at the time as many of the roads were damaged from recent flooding but we were able to take a flight from William Creek Hotel. As we flew overhead we saw flocks of birds all over the lake and understood the span of the water as it sat there glistening in the sunlight.

Kati-Thanda-Lake Eyre does not receive as much water as it used to largely due to climate change and over use of water from nearby farms. Humans have a great knack at doing things that suit us without thinking of the consequences – perhaps now is the time to start to consider the farming procedures in Australia so that we can perhaps start to farm food that works with our climate – food that needs less water and less pesticides.

So what can you do?

  • Take your time to read this book – we have read it over and over and still each time we manage to ask new questions about Kati Thanda.
  • Pull out a map and find out which rivers flow into Kati Thanda.
  • Investigate and find out the type of farming done in the middle of Australia and how the farming might effect the land.
  • How can you save water? List some ways your family can conserve water.
  • How can you look after water? List some ways you can be more mindful of what you put down the drain.

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Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre

Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver

Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver was the last book she produced in her artistic career and it truly is a wonderful book to be remembered by.


Rock Pool Secrets take children on a journey into the secrets of a rock pool through high and low tide. Children can discover the different animals that hide amongst the rocks and see how they survive fluctuations in the water level, food availability and predators.

Rock Pools are always a fascinating place to be and there is so much hidden deep down crevices and cracks, behind seaweed and darkness.

Each page engages the reader as they search for camouflaged animals, hidden molluscs and inky octopuses.

Rock Pool Secrets is a beautiful book to help your child become aware of these imagination inspiring places and how something so small can do so many amazing things.

So what can you do with this book?

SCIENCE

  • Learn about different animals that live in rock pools. Discover their life cycles, habitat and eating habits.
  • Where are rockpools situated?
  • Are there any famous rockpools in the world and why are they famous?

 

LITERACY

  • Using this book as a springboard, choose another area of interest in the area of science. How could you present this new topic in an interesting and engaging manner? Try to engage your peers in a new way so that they can learn something new.

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Why do we need rockpools?
  • How can the ph of the water effect the livelihood of rock pool creatures?
  • What sort of creatures only live in rockpools?
  • Are rockpools ever in danger of destruction?
  • If all rockpools were destroyed, what might the oceans look like?

SCIENCELearn about different animals that live in rock pools. Discover their life cycles, habitat and eating habits.Where are rockpools situated?Are there any famous rockpools in the wor

A child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

A child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam winston really brings home the importance of books in our lives.

A child of books is a book I have been searching for. ⠀

‘For imagination is free’

The idea of imagination is key to this picture book and is portrayed so beautifully through illustrations, excerpts from other stories and a rich tale. ⠀

A young girl sails on a sea of words to invite others to a place where they can search for make-believe, discover treasures, lose themselves in forests and sleep in clouds of song. ⠀

Books are such an essential part of our lives. They enrich how we see the world and open our minds to so many possibilities. ⠀

I adore fiction stories and especially those that send a message of hope, imagination, joy and empowerment.

So what can you do as you read, while you read and after you read A Child of Books?

  • Take the time to read through this story by yourself and with a child. There are so many details within each picture and word that you can spend quite a bit of time on each page.
  • Search for hidden sentences and author names within the pictures and find out more about the whole story that has been written.
  • Create your own page of the book with favourite passages from poems and stories.
  • Explore the artwork of Sam Winston and recreate an artwork like his.
  • Have a discussion on what life might look like    – without books?  – Without stories?  – without poetry?
  • For Older readers – Has there ever been a time in history when books have been banned? How did that world look like?

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A Child of Books