Tag Archives: Australia

Aussie Kids series – Books #5 & #6

Standard

Penguin Australia

July 2020

Get your little newly independent readers excited when you add these two new volumes to the Aussie Kids books! This is just a truly charming series as children take a vicarious trip around our beautiful country, learning a little about kids from other spaces, cultures and backgrounds as well as information about the particular locale.

Meet Mia by the Jetty – Janeen Brian and Danny Snell

  • ISBN: 9781760893668
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

Visit South Australia in this episode and meet Mia, who fancies herself a tour guide especially when visitor Jim is coming to stay. Mia knows her bossy older sister, Alice, will want to take over but she is very determined to take the lead in showing Jim the local sights of Victor Harbour, like the jetty, the island and the beach.

A delightful ride on a horse-drawn tram (the only one in Australia we learn) is a real highlight but building sandcastles and exploring the beach, including fairy penguin burrows, as well as whale spotting are also huge moments in Mia’s deluxe tour.

By the end of the day even Alice has to admit that Mia has been a pretty successful tourist guide and this is only the first day of Jim’s visit!

Meet Sam at the Mangrove Creek – Paul Seden & Brenton McKenna

  • ISBN: 9781760894122
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

This one is particularly special for me as we visit the Top End and go fishing with Sam and his cuz Peter among the mangroves. Sam has a brand new throw net and can’t wait to try it out. He’s really hoping to catch a big juicy barra but really needs a bit of tuition in using his net properly. Luckily for the boys an old-timer quietly sitting nearby knows just the right technique for success and while the barra eludes the pair, they do manage a nice little haul of good sized whiting. Pretty chuffed with their catch they plan to take them home until they notice that the old man seems to be ‘camped’ in the park with just a bag of clothes and a blanket. The boys show their gratitude by gifting their fish to the old Uncle and go home happily planning their next great fishing adventure.

This one not only allows some virtual exploration of a landscape which will be very different to that most children know but also an insight into First Australian culture. As it’s written and illustrated by two Indigenous creators, one knows that the language, actions and attitudes of the characters is completely authentic. Definitely a winner!

I’d be surprised if primary libraries haven’t yet taken up this series but if you haven’t, I’d strongly urge you to do so. I know that particularly for those units of inquiry that focus on Australia – landscapes and diversity (around Year 2 for me) would benefit hugely from the inclusion of this series with the narratives, maps and additional facts.

There are two more volumes to come so pick up the first six now if you have not yet done so. Naturally they would also make a superb addition to your own home library for children from around 5 years upwards.

Don’t forget to check out the activity pack and there is also a Teach at Home lesson.

Alice-Miranda in the Outback – Jacqueline Harvey

Standard

9781760891039

 

Penguin Australia

June 2020

  • ISBN: 9781760891039
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99

Once again Jacqueline Harvey has produced an adventure for Alice-Miranda which will both excite and fascinate her legion devoted fans. I love that each new book in this series continues to grab these readers some of whom might be considered to have ‘out-grown’ the diminutive main character!
This time Alice-Miranda along with her father, friends and cousins are off on a huge holiday/mercy mission to the outback station of Barnaby Lewis, who needs some serious hands-on help as he tries to juggle a mysterious lack of water for his stock and mustering. Normally these activities could be managed but with his wife away in the city settling her mother who has dementia and his live-in helpers absent on Sorry Business it’s not only a challenging time for the station work but also in caring for his two children.
There’s a long road trip to reach the station way out near Coober Pedy and along the way the children are fascinated by wildlife and scenery not to mention meeting an eccentric character who is an old friend of Hugh, Alice-Miranda’s dad. Their encounter with a very unpleasant couple who run the roadhouse near Coober Pedy is not a highlight, but the party does not for a moment suspect how these two will factor into a very nasty and dangerous episode.
A missing fossicker, apparent theft of water, a missing small child, long-held family secrets and an obsessive greed combine to give the visitors an adventure far more action-packed than they had anticipated. Along the way readers will discover more about the outback and its wildlife, Aboriginal culture and the cruel history of mixed race children, opal mining, station life and more without even realising how much knowledge they are absorbing about these topics.
For children, many of whom may never experience the unique nature of the outback, this will be a marvellous virtual trip and naturally the ever-present themes that permeate this wonderful series: friendship, teamwork, loyalty, resourcefulness, compassion and kindness, will offer readers great benefit.
Jacqueline always combines humour and drama to such great effect – watch out for the scene when the children are watching movies, such a hoot! – and the success of her writing is evident in the ‘million-copy bestselling’ nature of this series.
Over the past decade this series has effectively ‘hooked’ thousands of keen followers and you will have many of your readers clamouring to be the first to get their hands on this latest. There really is never any need for my humble but heartfelt endorsement but again I say – highly recommended for readers of any age – just be sure to stand well back when you first put it on display!

 

Aussie Kids series #3 & #4

Standard

download (21)

Penguin Random House

March 2020

This new series for newly independent readers has already been a big hit in our junior library. Not only are the stories relatable to these young readers but they are able to explore Australia vicariously – and let’s face it, at present particularly this is a huge advantage.

 

Meet Eve in the Outback – Raewyn Caisly & Karen Blair

9781760894108

ISBN: 9781760894108

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

Many young readers will have enjoyed the picture book Hello from Nowhere which was the first introduction to Eve who lives in the middle of the Nullarbor, remote and isolated but at the same time full of life and adventure. Now we have the opportunity to visit this amazing location again when Eve has another visit from her grandmother but this time with the added excitement of her cousin, Will, coming along.

Now readers are treated to exploring the wide expanse of country and dropping in on neighbours – a mere forty minutes away. Newborn lambs, kangaroo mobs, wild camels, spinifex, waterholes and more are just some of the discoveries of a setting that many children will likely never have the experience of exploring in real life.

Once again interesting factual snippets are sprinkled throughout and the joy that this unusual setting brings will both inform and entertain young readers.

Meet Katie at the Beach – Rebecca Johnson & Lucia Masciullo

9781760893675

ISBN: 9781760893675

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

The very first thing that I love about this particular new addition to the series is that Katie and her family live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of the lively and busy Gold Coast and this is a setting as unusual (in fiction) as the Nullarbor.

Little readers will certainly all connect with Katie’s story and her wobbly tooth problem but will also relish the quintessential Queensland aspects of surf, beach cricket, sea creature fun and mangoes.

Little ones can find out more about crabs and tides at the same time as simply enjoying Katie’s day out down at the beach – and of course, right now when we are all restricted to such activity will be able to envisage when they too can once again go ‘out’ with family for picnics

 

This series is perfect for independent reading or incorporated into the unit of learning that incorporates finding out more about our beautiful country.

Highly recommended for your kiddos from around Year 1 upwards.

Don’t forget to check out the activity pack for this series here

The Australia Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

Standard

9780143796572

 

Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9780143796572

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

George Ivanoff is not just a pretty face. Under that luxuriant  mop of ever-changing hair there’s an inventive and clever brain which can produce not only awesome adventures of the fictional kind for readers but now the ultimate field guide to surviving in the harsh reality of the Australian landscape.

Naturally, George being George, this is not just a dry and dull book of sensible information but is crammed with quirky facts, funny interjections, news articles, and scientific information about creatures of all kinds, first aid tips and much much more. I love the way the book finishes off with the wacky aspects of Australia – the ‘big’ things, weird slang, Vegemite and neatly a glossary to explain any difficulties (which might be very useful for foreign readers!).

From Swimming Death to Totally Fake Death, Wibbly-Wobbly Death to Death from Above every conceivable aspect of our country’s multiple potential hazards is covered but always partnered with practical suggestions for avoiding the ghastliness of being dead in the landscape.

A particularly favourite chapter for me is the one on Not Death (Bush Tucker and Bush Medicine) and I think readers who are as yet unfamiliar with the native bounty of our bush will be intrigued by this cultural inclusion.

All in all I must agree with George….”I’m beginning to think that even though Australia is DANGEROUS…maybe the good things outweigh the bad? Apart from the occasional natural disaster, staying alive seems to be a matter of commons sense. It’s about avoiding the dangerous things…”

Thanks George for an entertaining and informative read which I know many young people will thoroughly enjoy, particularly those from around mid-primary to mid-secondary.

Highly recommended for your collection or any avid adventurer of your acquaintance.

Taking Tom Murray Home – Tim Slee

Standard

y648

Harper Collins

July 2019

ISBN: 9781460757864

ISBN 10: 1460757866

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

RRP $32.99

The inaugural Banjo Prize competition attracted 320 entries but it was Taking Tom Murray Home that took out the first prize with its truly authentic Australian voice. Tim Slee’s novel bristles with laconic wit, quirky characters and bitter-sweet emotions and underlines with eloquence the dilemmas faced by so many of our rural Aussies who are doing it tough.

When the bank forecloses on Tom Murray’s dairy farm he is determined to go down in a blaze – literally. He sells off his stock, empties the house of his family’s possessions and burns it down. Unfortunately Tom is trapped in the fire probably due to his weak heart problem and loses his life. His widow Dawn refuses to allow his death be in vain and decides to take his body to Melbourne for burial thinking the several hundred kilometre ‘funeral procession’ from their small rural town will offer people pause for thought on the plight of so many struggling country folk. She is persuaded to take the coffin on the back of a neighbour’s vintage horse-drawn milk cart for even more impact and so begins a poignant, fraught and dramatic passive protest.

Told from the viewpoint of Jack, son of Tom and Dawn and twin of Jenny, the journey begins with a local drama when the town bank burns down. Immediately, the whole protest/procession takes on a new and controversial aspect.  As the travellers move slowly towards Melbourne they are joined by supporters of all types, thwart the frustrated police who try to find ways to stop them and alerted to a wave of fires that are erupting around the country targeting banks and supermarkets – who are seen as the corporate buddies threatening the livelihoods and lives of the farmers. Rallied by stirring words and the community spirit the grief and loss and frustration are eased and bolstered by hope and possibilities.

The twist in the end is both a surprise and a damning indictment of the pressures put upon the families who are fighting for their survival and will give many readers cause to reflect on actions that could make a difference to those who are the ‘backbone’ of our country.

While essentially a novel that would be equally enjoyed and appreciated by readers both young and old, there is a liberal sprinkling of swearing which might preclude younger readers if you were to put this in your school library.

Highly recommended for readers from around 14 years upwards.

The Middle of Nowhere [Usborne Modern Classics] – Geraldine McCaughrean

Standard

nowhere

Harper Collins

October 2018

ISBN: 9781409570516

ISBN 10: 1409570517

Imprint: Usborne – GB

List Price: 14.99 AUD

Rarely have I read a book which so captures the Australian landscape, isolation and the deep abiding racism of times gone past which has been written by a non-Australian but this is superb. Taut, thrilling and anxiety-making the narrative follows the friendship of young Comity, daughter of the district telegrapher and Fred, Aboriginal yard boy, and their persecution by a sadistic and depraved assistant to the telegraph station. After Comity’s mother dies from snake bite, Comity is left to fend for herself, keep intrusive relatives at bay via long distance and try to manage house and the duties of the station as her father withdraws deeper and deeper into depression.

Comity has grown up with Fred whom she considers her best friend. He teaches her about the country, the spirits and survival while she teaches him reading and ‘whitefella’ ways. When cruel assistant Quartz Hogg arrives he quickly sums up the situation with Comity’s ineffectual father and sets about usurping his authority, turning his employees against him, setting up an illegal still and worst of all victimising Fred.

When all pretence of compliance breaks down between Hogg and his supervisor, Comity’s father is locked in the despatch room while his assistant and the other hands begin a drunken spree which ends in Fred being hunted like an animal into the wilderness. Comity is desperate to save him and has to rely on the ‘ghans, who are also despised by the white people, to help  both of them.

This is not a novel for sensitive young readers but it is an insightful and beautifully written exploration of grief, loneliness, self-reliance, courage as well as the cruelty and prejudices of some humans.

I would recommend it for astute readers from around 12 years upwards – I really enjoyed it very much.

 

My Australia – Julie Murphy/Garry Fleming

Standard

myaustralia

National Library of Australia

April 2018

9780642279163

RRP $24.99

Those of us of a certain vintage will have vivid memories of learning off by heart Dorothea MacKellar’s famous poem My Country at school. For many I guess it may have been a trial but for me it was a joy, not least of all because it was my father’s favourite poem.

This beautiful new picture book is, to my mind, a new incarnation of that joy in our amazing country with its incredible diversity of landforms and wildlife. Lyrically realised in the most wonderful use of imagery and figurative language this is pure pleasure to read.

This visual feast of a journey moves from wetlands to forests, mountains to oceans and gardens to bush with a mesmerising flow. As well as the native fauna and flora there are glimpses of other features of our country’s wealth such as cattle, cities and cottage gardens.

To complete the poetic text lavishly illustrated with marvellous resonant images, the book concludes with several pages of factual information about the wealth of our natural habitats. With a Year 2 unit around People & Places coming up next term and my focus on using Australian picture books which illustrate our diverse nation, this will be a perfect addition.

I can highly recommend it to you for the same reason or just for its sheer beauty.  Highly suitable for use with primary children in particular from as young as prep to upper grades, this is a fine addition to your collection.