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.

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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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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?