Tag Archives: Animals

Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill – Heather L. Montgomery

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roadkill

Bloomsbury

November 2018

ISBN 9781681199009
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

 

RRP: $22.99

Yep, you did read that title correctly! It’s not for the ‘squeamish or faint-hearted) but it is completely and utterly engrossing (haha grossing!) and often rather humorous. Wildlife researcher Montgomery passes a tyre-treaded rattlesnake as she is jogging one day and on the impulse of all good scientists – why?-  goes back to pick it up so that she can investigate the mystery of how rattlers can retract their fangs without biting themselves.

After dissecting that first snake and satisfying some of her curiosity about these remarkable animals and, indeed, finding out more than she had ever known, Montgomery sets off on a ‘roadkill’ journey. She met with researchers and collectors, she helped with dissections and examinations, she found out there is a wide, wide world of biologists who are just as interested in dead animals as live ones.

These are the folks who are helping save animals from diseases and impacts from introduced species and human activity.  There is the scientist who identified a new species of bird just from one wing, a boy who rebuilds animals from the bones up, the researchers trying to find a cure for the cancer that is threatening the Tasmanian Devils and more.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste but I’m pretty sure that will only apply to adults. I think there will be many readers both boys and girls who will not only appreciate the science of it but the gruesome-ness and the irreverence.

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Fiona the Hippo – Richard Cowdrey

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Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780310766360

ISBN 10: 0310766362

Imprint: HarperCollins – US

List Price: 13.99 AUD

When a tiny hippo was born prematurely at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in January 2017 she became an internet sensation. Weighing only 29 pounds this little fighter survived and thrived and has become an inspiration to many for her plucky personality and perseverance.

Now Fiona’s story has been brought to children by acclaimed New York Times artist, Richard Cowdrey via what could well be the most endearing board book ever.

Taking inspiration from Fiona’s own adventures as she grew from undersized newborn, not expected to live, to healthy happy hippo youngster this charming book details milestones such as learning to walk and swim and being introduced to her parents.

Fiona’s first year, filled with loving support from her caregivers and her legion of fans, has been translated into a joyous expression of her tenacity and grit.

Just as Fiona online captured the hearts of many so too will this book, giving children not only a fascinating and fun look at the little hippo baby but a meaningful lesson in perseverance and friendship.

Highly recommended for little ones from baby upwards.

The Funny Life of Pets – James Campbell and Rob Jones

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9781408889947

Bloomsbury Australia

September 2018

ISBN 9781408889947

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $12.99

 

This book answers all the big questions, like: do sausage dogs eat sausages? Why has my cat done a poo-poo behind my wardrobe? And, how can I persuade my parents to get me a pet?

If you have some reluctant readers in your pack this would be a perfect book with which to tempt them! For a start, there’s no need to start at the beginning and keep on until the end. This is the sort of book that can be picked up and dipped into at random, choosing the choicest most chortle-provoking snippets.

It could be said that there are numerous facts strewn about throughout the text but they are far outweighed by the total hilarity of some of the passages. For example:

Hamsters

Generally speaking, the only thing a hamster will attack is a sunflower seed, but if you are unlucky enough to get a BAD-TEMPERED hamster, you’ll find that dressing up as a bird of prey and swooping around the utility room should make it run back into its little house. Hamsters can growl though. Search for ‘angry hamster’ online.

As well as James’ very humorous writing the comic illustrations by Rob Jones break up the text with the result that this is a great book for those who are daunted by scads of print – the ‘chunks’ are very well dispersed among the plethora of cartoon-style line drawings.

Anything to do with animals, especially in humorous situations or the focus on the freaky aspects always seems to go down a treat with kids – just look at the popularity of some TV shows on this subject! – so to my mind there is no doubt that this would be a real tempter for those kids that just roll their eyes at the thought of reading a whole book.

Recommended for kids from around eight years upwards though capable younger readers would also enjoy it.

Begone the Raggedy Witches (The Wild Magic Trilogy: Book 1) – Celine Kiernan

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Walker Australia

ISBN: 9781406366020
Imprint: Walker
Release Date: April 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

 

Just wow!! If you have readers who love HP or other magical worlds they are going to love this new series. Set in Ireland with a close family of three generations but one that has secrets. Mup lives with her mum, baby brother, dad (when he’s not away working on oil rigs) and great aunt.  But the night that Aunty Boo lies in hospital on her way to leaving this earthly realm strange things befall this family. First Mup sees the ‘raggedy witches’ leaping from tree to tree, following their car all the way home. Then as she tries to go to sleep she hears the witches enter the kitchen and despite her Aunty’s spirit telling her not to go downstairs, of course she does. Her Mam is surrounded by the horrible and frightening creatures and it’s as if she’s been bewitched into leaving with them to go to some other place. It’s only at the last minute that Mup and Aunty are able to prevent this but the witches don’t give up easily. Their next move is to kidnap Mup’s dad.  When Mup realizes that her Mam is the heir to the evil Queen of Witch’s Borough, she also realizes that she too is a witch and suddenly the whole family are embroiled in a rescue mission to save her dad and the long-enslaved inhabitants of her mother’s true world.

Men and women who can transform at will, ravens that rhyme and cats that talk, illegal magic and outlawed clans, the tyrannical Queen and her evil pack of followers are all part of the mix against whom Mup and her family must do battle. This is one exciting fantastical ride through a new world. It was a one sitting read for me and no doubt others will find it just as compelling.

The next instalment will be just as intense I predict because we all just know that nasty grandmother and Queen is not going to ‘go’ quietly!

Highly recommended for your middle school readers both boys and girls.

A First Book of Animals – Nicole Davies

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406359633
Imprint: Walker
October , 2016
Australian RRP: $29.99
New Zealand RRP: $32.99

Divided into five sections: Big and Small, Colours and Shapes, Animal Homes, Animal Babies and Animals in Action, over fifty animals are presented in poems and simply glorious illustrations in this beautiful book. The author is both a biologist and a children’s writer so you can be sure that the information presented in this verse style is accurate as well as engaging.

It is big and bold as well as beautiful and young animal lovers will be entranced by the glossy pages and their contents.  The animals featured are from all around the world so this would present a wonderful opportunity to map their locations.

Perfect not just for the pleasure of the book but a superb addition for units of work focused on animal life.  Just take a look at some of these sample pages.

Highly recommended for primary libraries and small animal lovers.

 

 

Lexi & Lottie #1: Trusty Twin Detectives – Melanie Alexander

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9780143784135

Penguin Random House

9780143784135

May 29, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $12.99

 

If you’re looking for something new for your early independent readers this might be just the thing. Ignorant as I am of TV shows in the main, apparently this is based on a kids’ show of the same name.  The author writes for television and also has teaching experience so clearly knows her audience.

Kid detectives and animals (vets/zoos) are very popular trends at present and this follows that appeal with a colourfully illustrated and easy to read narrative.

The twins live at an animal park which caters for creatures who are unable to survive in the wild. The arrival of two white tiger cubs is a great cause for celebration and publicity but when one of the cubs is stolen, it’s a case for the twins to crack. Enlisting the help of their Grandpa George, best friend Fred and clever pet mouse Mozart, the girls are sleuthing all over town to locate poor missing Pounce.

There are some rather cute inserts into the text of the girls’ notes on the case as well as interspersed animal facts.

All in all a useful addition to your Easy Reading collection.

 

Vet Cadets : Bks 3 & 4 – Rebecca Johnson

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Penguin Random House

31 July 2017

Imprint : Puffin (AU YR)

RRP $14.99

This new series from Rebecca Johnson is perfect for those who have graduated from Juliet Nearly a Vet with girls who are just a little older and perhaps with a slightly more exciting setting. The three main characters – Abbey, Talika and Hannah are the newest recruits at boarding school Willowvale in its Vet Cadet program. So each book combines all those great things that girls especially love to read about – boarding school, friendships, animals and adventures. They are easy to read and quickly finished for the most part and each also has fun facts about the featured animal/s and other useful information. My only slight criticism of these two is that in one book MrMcPhail’s rescue dog is referred to as a cattle dog and in the other as a border (actually on one page a ‘boarder’) collie. I’m not trying to be pedantic but it is exactly the sort of detail I know my girls would pick up on!

Saving Itsy Bitsy

ISBN 9780143782735

9780143782735

When the school’s sow Henrietta has her litter of adorable piglets there is one tiny runt which looks like it won’t make it. However, the three girls are determined to save Bitsy and with dedication and help from sympathetic staff the tiny piglet begins to thrive and is able to go back with the rest of her family.

Those of us with a soft spot for piglets will especially warm to this feel-good story.

Alongside the struggle to save Bitsy there is the mystery of a spate of cattle thefts to be resolved. The girls with their quick minds and powers of observation are able to assist in a happy outcome with this as well.

 

Clever Chicks

ISBN 9780143782742

9780143782742

In Book 4, the girls’ science teacher Mrs Parry sets the task of raising and training day old chicks to prove that they are not ‘bird brains’. There is a lot of advocacy about caged hens and unethical egg production along the way which can only be a good thing. No doubt after reading this there will be many breakfast tables around Australia where hard questions are asked!

I have to add that this assignment seems to be the most arduous school work to appear in the books – I’m sure lots of girls would want to join the ranks at Willowvale if that’s the case!

In addition to their chicken lobbying, the girls face a trauma when a game of horseback hide-and-seek takes a sinister turn when a horse on the neighbouring property is diagnosed with Hendra virus. Will the girls’ horses be alright? It’s a worrying time for them all.

 

All in all these are lots of fun with, as to be expected, a real scientific flavour throughout. Rebecca has a winning way of integrating her passion for science  with her narratives and you can be sure that there will many readers who begin to dream of such a career path after experiencing it vicariously.

Highly recommended for your readers from about 8 – 13.

PS Certainly Miss K loves the idea of being ‘nearly a vet’!

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Truly Tan: Trapped! (Truly Tan, Book #6) – Jen Storer

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Harper Collins

 

      ISBN: 9780733334122

      ISBN 10: 0733334121

      Imprint: ABC Books – AU

01/05/2017

     RRP 16.99 AUD

 

Confession time: Truly Tan is up to number 6 and I’ve not read any. In my defence, they are never on the library shelves long enough to snaffle one and since I taught my students how to reserve a book, they are even harder to snare!

So now having at last got my hands on one I can truthfully say I can easily see the great appeal to my girls who are such huge fans.

Tan’s family are exuberant and just a wee bit eccentric. They live in a beautifully ramshackle house in the country where animals, paddocks, creeks and bush are integral to their lives.

Tan, who fancies herself as a terrific Super Spy, is delightfully quirky and while mega-confident about her espionage techniques is also just a little uncertain of her status in the family, feeling undervalued and overlooked as the youngest of four girls.  However this doesn’t stop her quick mind and creative thinking when it comes to solving the latest unexplained mystery.

In this new adventure Tan is looking after the neighbour’s house while Mrs Topple is on a cruise. Along with her BFF Gloria she becomes embroiled in a stealth investigation of some mysterious happenings: a spooky white flash that appears and disappears, a gypsy caravan, a strange orange car and a shadowy figure all play their part in Tan’s latest triumph of undercover action.

There is a load of fun to be had in these – family, friends both old and new, clues to puzzle over, and problems to solve. I predict this latest will be every bit as popular as the first five and fans will be eagerly anticipating the next instalment!

Tan’s diary entries are hysterical IMO – I love the opening description of which pen she is using (along with any defects said pen may have)!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

 

Animasaurus – Tracey Turner, illustrated by Harriet Russell

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Bloomsbury UK

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

ISBN 9781408884850

RRP:  $26.99

Did you know:
A shark as long as a bus roamed the oceans?
Hamsters with horns once burrowed the Earth?
Giant armadillos grew to the size of a family car? 

Oh yes, this very much satisfies my love of engaging information books for children!  Explore the world of ancient giant beasts as you’ve never done before with each one compared with its modern counterpart.

Have you ever heard of the Titanic Snake? No? I’m sure you do know the green anaconda though.  What about the Therizinosaurus, which once roamed the Mongolian plains with its claws that were almost a metre long? Compare this with the cassowary, which has some of the longest claws in the modern animal world.

Full of fascinating facts, startling statistics and intriguing illustrations this will be a treasure trove for boys and girls aged from around eight years up – especially those lovers of ferocious beasts!

Highly recommended for primary readers with a passion for the weird and wonderful.

Fright Club – Ethan Long

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Bloomsbury Publishing Australia

Published: 01-09-2016

ISBN: 9781681190433

Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

RRP: $9.99   –

This is one of the cutest board books I’ve seen for ages. Forget about sweet and pretty – this one is just in time for Halloween and a fun story for little people.

The local Fright Club led by Vladimir the vampire are busily practising their ‘ghoulish faces, scary moves, chilling sounds’ in their clubhouse when there comes a knock at the door. A sweet fluffy bunny asks if she can join the club and is promptly rejected. The monsters continue with their very amateurish spookiness and there is another knock at the door. This time the cute bunny is accompanied by her foxy lawyer citing discrimination about being excluded and pretty soon all the woodland creatures are picketing the Fright Club. Of course eventually the monsters have to give in and let them all join – and who knew? Those little animals can be quite scary when they want to be!

This is just great fun with a load of good devices to talk about if you did want to share it with older ones; speech bubbles, onomatopoeia etc but basically it is a just a hoot for Halloween.

Check out the trailer here.