Many readers will already be familiar with this favourite lullaby which features on ABC Kids and what a truly beautiful way to complete a day with your little peeps it is. Now you can also share this stunning board book with even the tiniest of humans with its lyrical text, our wonderful native animals and landscapes and the soothing comfortableness of recognition.
Tjitji (child in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara languages) Lullaby is the creation of the multiple award-winning Electric Dreams partnership. Michael Ross, producer and Zaachariaha Fielding, who regularly sings in his own Anangu language. Their unique fusion of electronic music and traditional culture has garnered acclaim across the world and spans music genres from eloquent pop ballads to contemporised traditional music. AFL fans will recognise their sound from the Dreamtime Round.
Their lullaby created for ABC Kids has literally struck a chord with all who hear it. Lisa Kennedy, First Nations storyteller/artist has brought the musical version of the lullaby to glorious full colour with her evocative illustrations, underlining the serenity and calm that a sunset merging to night sky provides. It is not only special because of its innate beauty but of course, a very simple way to introduce cross-cultural perspectives from an early age. And on this day, the 15th Anniversary of the National Apology, it seemed timely to post my review of this charming book.
What a superb gift this makes for any new jarjum in your circle or as an addition to your collection for Early Childhood readers. I cannot recommend it highly enough to you.
For another insight into First Nations lullabies check here for one in the language of my children and grandchildren, Wiradjuri.
Another glorious information book sneakily posing as a picture book *grin*, in the most excellent style for which Jennifer Cossins has become well known and loved.
The book explores the incredible migratory habits of 25 different species, quite a few from Australia, and when I shared it with a Year 3 class a few days ago, they were utterly riveted. There were exclamations, excited comments and gasps of surprise (particularly when you tell them why the bogong moth migration was so welcomed by our First Nations peoples).
Each stunning double page spread features another species with descriptive information plus a featured fact. While we didn’t have time to explore the entire book, I focused mainly on the Australian species, and the swift parrot and it’s perilous status was a very enthusiastically discussed highlight.
I always find children love nature books and, further to that, just a couple of days ago, a teaching colleague and I were remarking that we both think many children are now preferring non-fiction to narrative picture books. We believe because such NF is so marvellously created these days but perhaps, also because in our teaching we are (well, most of us) encouraging and fostering inquiry learning. It makes for children who wonder and who relish ‘facts’.
Certainly I can vouch for the warmth with which this particular book was embraced and I have no doubt that your youngsters will similarly enjoy their experience. I highly recommend it for children from Lower right up to Upper Primary.
Over the years there have been numerous books about adoption or foster families which, of course, are terrific for both children to whom that applies as well as those who can gain an understanding of the differences in families.
This is a really adorable ‘switched at birth’ story that will have children both fascinated and giggling as the two puggles make quite a surprising discovery.
When they were first hatched Ducky and Spiky looked incredibly alike, and as they got a little bit older and a little more fuzzy they continued to be very similar. But when Ducky got longer and her bill got flatter, and Spiky’s snout got longer and he got…well, spiky – it becomes quite obvious that they are not very alike at all. Regardless, the family goes about it’s daily activities although Spiky is not very good at all with diving and swimming, but is truly excellent at digging. When Spiky meets a new friend who looks exactly Ducky and comments on the pair of them being echidnas, Spiky is baffled. He is not an echidna, he’s a platypus and his new friend is not an echidna either, she is a platypus too. Except ….her mum really IS an echidna. How can this be?
It’s not until Spiky cleverly and bravely protects his new friends from a dangerous feral cat and the two monotreme families all meet each other, that the surprising facts are revealed. As always Andrew’s illustrations are completely sympatico with the text and just a delight to look at.
This is pure good fun but also has such a lovely message about acceptance and unconditional love, which also sends a strong warning about feral cats and the environment.
Highly recommended for little readers from around Prep upwards. I’m looking forward to sharing this one soon.
Yesterday at the EdSummit conference Brisbane, I had the great joy of hearing the amazing Aleesah Darlison deliver a lively and engaging presentation called “Saving the Environment through Story”. Uber-talented Aleesah has long been a huge advocate for the environment and has repeatedly taken up the cause of various creatures through her creative work. And what better time to write this review than following that experience on this, World Environment Day!!
This new series from Penguin/Puffin is going to be a real winner with little people, their parents and educators as it explores hitherto not-so-well-known Aussie critters.
First up is the adorable and really very special spotted handfish which is found only in the Derwent estuary near Hobart, Tasmania. Young children will love to hear about Coco and while this is not a narrative in the traditional sense it has a strong sense of story mixed in with the fascinating facts. These sweet and interesting little fish are critically endangered and it is imperative that we all do what we can to protect and conserve the most humblest and smallest of creatures – because they all have their important role to play.
Highlighting the information which is presented in such a palatable and easily accessible way are the absolutely tremendous illustrations from Mel Matthews. Having read the book last weekend, and then listening to Aleesah yesterday my mind immediately raced as to the many possibilities for activities, inquiry and action that one could undertake with kiddos. For those who are looking to focusing on Australian species and taking an active stance on conversation this series is going to be absolute gold, in my opinion.
I’m so thrilled to be able to count Aleesah amongst my literary friends – her talent, generosity of spirit and genuine commitment to educating and encouraging children to take up the challenge of protecting our fragile environment.
Read more about the series here and find teaching resources here – our junior library is about to populate a gifted fish tank with inhabitants and I think this is going to be a perfect accompaniment to that real-life activity.
I cannot recommend this highly enough and am so looking forward to seeing the forthcoming series titles!!! Well done Aleesah on another evident success!!
A year ago Australia was gripped by the raging fires that were sweeping through so many areas with ferocity causing so much devastation in their wake that the whole world was gasping as the scenes were broadcast. According to sources the destruction wreaked by Black Summer was unprecedented: 72 000 square miles burnt, 5 900 buildings destroyed (around half of these homes) and 34 people lost their lives. An estimated three billion land animals were impacted with some endangered species suspected to be now extinct. The Kid and I were visiting family in the Blue Mountains and the constant vigilance and state of alert around the fires that kept springing up across the ranges was both exhausting and stressful. Jackie French was just one of thousands evacuated when her home came under threat and given that the valley in which she lives is heavily populated with wildlife she was a firsthand witness to the dreadful impact on our native species.
With so many animals displaced and their food/water supplies destroyed an army of volunteers took on the role of providing fodder and clean water for thousands of creatures who otherwise would have succumbed as victims in the aftermath.
The Fire Wombat is just one of these and Jackie has crafted a beautiful testament in rhyme to illustrate the survival of our fauna, both with their own instincts and the compassionate help of so many.
One small wombat realises that bushfire is approaching and leads other animals to the shelter of her burrow, knowing that underground is the safest place to be. When the inferno has passed the creatures emerge and try to make their way out of the charred remains of their home territory, scalding their paws as they traverse the baked earth. But the fires have destroyed everything – grass, seeds, foliage, creeks and waterholes. If not for the legion of helpers dropping tons of carrots and other fodder as well as providing water, the decimation of our native wildlife would have been even greater. Jackie has captured this moving moment in our history beautifully and Danny Snell’s illustrations are a perfect accompaniment providing visual insight into the terrible destruction of the forests and mountainsides.
A truly beautiful book to both springboard discussions about supporting our fragile environment, caring for our wildlife and preparing for as well as recovering from bushfire season.
Watch Jackie’s video clip of the real Fire Wombat – now chubby and healthy after her recuperation.
You can find other images of animal rescue from Black Summer here at the Atlantic and an inspiring video of the work done by volunteers in saving animals.
I cannot recommend this highly enough – I would encourage multiple copies for your collection – and teaching notes are also available which will provide excellent scaffolding for use in your library or classroom.
Following the huge success of Koala Bare this favourite furry friend returns with enough self-confidence to power the whole country!
I am top of every tree!
Top is always best to be.
With the terrible outcome of bushfires and the dire predicament of our native animals, particularly koalas there could be no better time to use a delightful picture book to focus attention on these amazing and threatened creatures.
Once again Jackie’s lively rhyming text is accompanied by the truly beautiful watercolour illustrations of Matt Shanks as readers follow Koala to the top of everything – whether its Uluru or Parliament House or the Big Pineapple. Children will once again be treated to exposure to some of our quirky Australian animals including that favourite – the quokka with loads of laughs along the way.
Whether you have a classroom topic of animals or Australia or simply to remind your kiddos of the need to protect our fauna, this is superb way to introduce both and your audience will definitely be clamouring for re-reads!
Highly recommended for little readers from around 3 years upwards.
Publisher: National Library of Australia Edition: 1st Edition ISBN:9780642279255 Publication Date: 01 August 2018
Tania McCartney is not only one of my very favourite author/illustrators but also one of my favourite humans. This impossibly talented woman is clever, stylish, generous, beautiful inside and out and passionate about our unique country. It took a while for this review copy to get to me but oh how worth the wait it was! And as with Tania’s other books this one doesn’t go to our library shelves or some other worthy recipient but remains firmly in my own collection.
A sweet family of koalas live, as they would do, in a gum tree but their home is not without its problems. High winds, busy buzzy bees, no shelter from rain and more all make for a sometimes difficult living environment and like many other families this one thinks perhaps they might look for something more congenial and comfortable. With their koala caravan hitched up they follow their black noses around some of Australia’s most glorious geological wonders in search of a dream home. Along the way they see some of the most spectacular scenery in the world but when all is said and done, they realise that their own home is special – and with just a few modifications might suit them best after all.
What a perfectly wonderful way to introduce kidlets to our amazing landscapes (some of which Miss No-Longer-Small and I will be privileged to see next holidays! Excitement!). I am just a little sorry I didn’t receive it in time to use it with Year 2 this term – but what the hey there’s always next term to follow up on their classroom unit! Particularly as there is a wealth of information at the end of the book about the various locations this will prove not only entertaining but enlightening.
Tania, you and Christina, are a dream team – and this is just beautiful as well as informative. And oh my! The end papers are just truly divine!!!! (my kiddos at school find my obsession with endpapers highly amusing).
Watch the beautiful Tania share this gorgeous book here.
Publisher: National Library of Australia Edition: 1st Edition ISBN:9780642279200 Publication Date: 01 March 2018
Aptly in time for Easter (Bilbies not Bunnies!!) this is a beautiful abridged adaptation of Ellis Rowan’s fictionalised account of the little orphan bilby she raised and kept as a pet. The original was published in 1908 as simply Bill Baillie and included beautiful colour plates of some of Rowan’s wildflower paintings. Her extraordinary travels around Australia and to Papua New Guinea marked her as an unusual woman of her times and her prowess as a painter of wildlife, though she had no formal training was remarkable.
During an extended stay in tiny Goongarra on the Western Australia goldfields in 1906, wildflower painter Tabitha is given an orphaned bilby, blind and hairless, rescued from its dead mother’s pouch. With painstaking patience she raises the little creature and takes it on many travels with her. With so little known about these tiny animals at the time, Bill Baillie became a fascination for all who came into contact with him, earning him the soubriquet of His Highness Master Bill Baillie. His quirky antics and endearing personality make for engaging reading.
This lovely edition also features some of Rowan’s wildflower plates in colour, comprehensive information about bilbies and advice for wildlife rescue. A glossary is also included to assist young readers in an understanding of language of the period.
A delightful hardback of almost pocketsize, this is just a truly beautiful book which would make a lovely gift as well as a fine addition to a primary collection.
Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.
Click here for more information about the Easter triplet bilbies and the work of the Save the Bilby Fund.
I have purposely saved this one for the start of the school year believing it to the most beautiful ABC book I have seen in a long, long time and so perfect for introducing your preppies to both the alphabet, Australian flora and fauna and Indigenous culture.
In particular as Warren is descended from the Djabugay people of Far North Queensland, this is even more relevant to our Queensland schools as the illustrations depict the diverse wildlife and plants found in the Far North rainforests.
Each vibrantly colourful page shows an illustration of the chosen creature or plant in traditional Aboriginal style and colours. An interesting exercise might be to research the actual descriptions and images with the children to make comparisons between the stylised and photographic versions. And of course while there will be some familiar names to the children, others which are unique to the Far North may require some investigation.
Just over a year ago I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing Renée’s second picture book, Colour for Curlews. I absolutely loved it – and I love this new one just as much.
There is great consternation in the garden. Someone is stealing the beetroots – who could it be? The two curious curlews reappear and assume the role of detectives and are enthusiastically ‘helped’ by the speculations of the other animals who either find incriminating clues such as square poos, a hole under the fence or tufts of fur or use their knowledge of character traits to fling around accusations so, as Fox is sneaky it could well be him. Following this maze of clues leads to a final accusation against Roo – who bounds away rather than stay to face this bush court (should that be kangaroo court?). The garden is tidied up, new seeds planted and all seems calm. That is, until nightfall when Wombat (in a reappearance from the two earlier books) wakes up, and sets off for more free veggies – especially beetroot!
This is a very amusing detective story for young readers and certainly could lead to some interesting classroom discussions about taking care when leaping to conclusions.
Once again I am very struck with Renée’s illustrative techniques. In this new book, the characters themselves are quite monochromatic but the effect of them placed against coloured backgrounds in the double page spreads is really striking. The lovely endpapers with a trail of munched beetroots against the white space are similarly attractive.
Another picture book which lends itself particularly well to read-aloud sessions and no doubt much debate and discussion about who the guilty party might be, as well as introducing some judicial new vocabulary.
Highly recommended for young readers aged 5 and up.
Visit Renée’s website here and find teaching notes here.