Tag Archives: Australian Wildlife

Tell ’em – written by Katrina Germein & Rosemary Sullivan [with the Children of Manyallaluk School] Illustrated by Karen Briggs.

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Harper Collins Australia

May 2020

  • ISBN: 9781921504921
  • ISBN 10: 1921504927
  • Imprint: Working Title Press – AU
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

What an absolute joy this book is! I’ve had some absolutely cracking books of late featuring Indigenous/First Australian themes but this one, which gives readers an insight into the everyday life of contemporary First Australian kids living in their remote community, is just superb.

Not only will it give children of either European or other cultural backgrounds quite an eye-opener but it will also be so much fun for jarjums in urban settings whose own lives will be very much different to these kids from Manyallaluk.

Follow this bunch of exuberant youngsters as they respond to the question of ‘What else?’ (to tell kids in other places) with a real exploration of their community and country.

Tell ’em how us kids like to play.
We got bikes and give each other rides.
Tell ’em about the dancing and singing,
And all the stories the old people know.

Every page is alive with colour and joy as we join the Roper River kids at their school with the pond and the banana trees, as they do handstands and disco dancing, practise for ceremony , hunt for bush turkey, goanna and kangaroo, fish and sleep in the bush making campfires for damper and tea. Just truly smashing – I love it!

Highly recommended for your kiddos of every persuasion from around four years upwards!

Alice-Miranda in the Outback – Jacqueline Harvey

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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!

 

Ten Little Figs – Rhian Williams/Nathaniel Eckstrom

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1570582187580

Walker Books Australia

April 2020

ISBN: 9781921977312
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Here’s another beautiful book which would make a super complement to that reviewed in my previous post, to add vigour and depth to your backyard holidays.

Kiddos will just love this rollicking rhythmic countdown as the ten juicy figs disappear one by one thanks to some Australian native fauna. We may not all spot an echidna in the backyard or even a Hercules moth but it’s very likely we may find leaf-curling spiders or lorikeets –  again, it could well be a springboard to discovering what suburban wildlife your own backyard harbours.

This is the author’s first book and I for one look forward to seeing more from her particularly as she is passionate about nature and IMO sharing such books is a must for our little people. Eckstrom’s illustrations are wonderfully well-suited to the subject matter as they evoke a lush garden space on a sunny day and children will love investigating smaller details.

A perfect read-aloud to share whether you’re in ‘stay at home’ mode or not – this one will be a sure-fire hit with small humans from around 2 upwards.

Why not start your own backyard safari while we have so much time to enjoy our beautiful out-of-doors?

 

Searching for Cicadas – Lesley Gibbes and Judy Watson

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1552876485549

Walker Books Australia

August 2019

ISBN: 9781922244420
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $26.99
New Zealand RRP: $28.99

This one had slipped through the cracks and I’m terribly sorry about that because it really should have had its promotion during the summer months. That being said with so many families taking advantage of the ‘stay at home’ situation and exploring their natural world with children it would be a perfect addition in preparation for next cicada season.

What is so delightful about this book is the twinned text of narrative and factual information combined with the amazing and detailed illustrations. Grandad and grandson have a camping adventure every summer purely for the purpose of cicada watching which is a lovely examination of that special relationship between generations. While they keep count of their sightings and observe the cycle of nymphs emerging and their transformation into adulthood, the child is most keen to discover a Black Prince – the rarest of all the cicada types.  (In all my years I’ve only seen one!)

The shrill of cicadas is always our first sign that summer has arrived and at times their cacophony is so deafening that it is hard to believe that such small creatures can make such a racket.

Do yourself and your kiddos a favour and seek this one in preparation for those long languid summer days and afternoon walks in the local park or bushland.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

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Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures – Tania McCartney

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9780642279545

National Library of Australia

November 2019

ISBN:

9780642279545

RRP: $24.99

Where to begin with this absolutely glorious book? Once again Tania has created a jewel of colour and style with her distinctive stylised illustrations and combined with information both fascinating and amazing this is a treasure for readers of all ages.

The wealth of facts about a wide variety of our unique animals is presented in bite-sized segments perfect for easy digestion by avid little naturalists from as young as seven. Each beautiful double spread is crammed with such detail yet easy to absorb with life-sized art of such things as teeth or eggs , annotated portrayals of the animal, scientific names, habitats, diet, appearance, distribution and much, much more all of which will delight and intrigue the reader.

The important issue of conservation is not neglected. Several pages conclude the book with vital information about endangered or extinct animals encouraging children to take action to prevent the loss of more of our natural wonders.

The lineage of animal life is included as is a beautiful spread describing the astonishment of European arrivals with reproductions of early representations of these curious creatures.

An extensive glossary and index complete the volume making this the complete package for young investigators and researchers.

Tania knows well that her books normally do not leave my own personal shelves. However I am going to make a supreme sacrifice with this particular title. This year I have had the pleasure of a little American girl who has been one of my keenest participants in library activities of all kinds. Sadly for us, her university lecturer dad has completed his exchange and she and her equally delightful family will be returning to the States. I can think of no better gift to give her as a keepsake of our shared year and know that she will truly love it.

My prediction is that this should definitely be a given for any award short-list and in my opinion a winner. I highly recommend it to you as a valuable addition to your shelves or a special gift for a child of your acquaintance. With Christmas fast approaching it would make a truly prized present in someone’s stocking!

Check out this sneak peek on Tania’s FB page!

The Australia Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

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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.

Lucky and Spike – Norma MacDonald

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Magabala Books

February 2019

ISBN: 9781921248177

RRP: $17.99

Back in 2013 Norma MacDonald introduced us to the sprightly joy of a little Spinifex mouse, elusive tiny creature of the Pilbara region in Western Australia– a creature many of us will never otherwise know or see.

Now Norma turns our attention full square onto the dangerous plight that faces not only these adorable little animals but so many others of our natural fauna – feral cats.

I admit it. I’m a cat person. I love our two cats and have owned many before them but I’m also equally passionate about protecting our native animals from them. The prevalence of feral cats, irresponsibly caused by white Australians, has wreaked havoc and continues to do so in our wildlife populations.

Lucky and Spike are out on their nocturnal adventure in search of food and are pursued by one such feral cat as well as a hunting owl. Thankfully in their terror they are able to hide close to the people who are around their campfire. The camp dog takes care of the cat but they still have to evade the owl. It’s a close escape for the intrepid pair – predators abound for such tiny residents of the Pilbara.

This is a great insight into desert natural life and an excellent starting point for simple discussions about protecting our precious species.

Highly recommended for children from about five years upwards.

Sleep tight, Platypup – Renee Treml

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platypup

Penguin

February 2019

ISBN: 9780143789697

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $19.99

I always find something entirely magical about Renee’s books. Both her text and her illustrations are equally charming and so beautifully suited to little readers.

As a child I knew what it was to be afraid of the dark. I did eventually grow out of it (well except for when my daughter tricked me into watching The Sixth Sense because of my Bruce Willis passion) but for many small people those mysterious sounds and shadows of the night can pose a real anxiety.

Little Platypup is one of those youngsters. The weird sounds of the bush outside the burrow are so worrisome and it’s easy to let the imagination run away. But Mother Platypus is both wise and patient and knows exactly how to reassure a little puggle.  Those sounds outside at night are merely the same ones heard through the daytime – it’s just that at night when all is quieter they seem so much more mysterious and queer.

For little humans who are still nervous of night time this is a perfect book to share – and talk about of course. We can’t always address our children’s worries through books but sometimes they are the perfect solution or entrée into assuaging the troubles they face.

Highly recommended for little people from toddlers upwards.

Wilam [a Birrarung Story] – Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly with illustrations by Lisa Kennedy

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1546493893465

Walker Books

April 2019

ISBN: 9781925381764
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

For the many readers who loved Welcome to Country and those who are committed to developing a quality collection of First Australian resources, this is a superb addition to your shelves.

The text along with the richly detailed illustrations offers readers a glimpse of one day in the life of the Birrarung (Yarra) river. The many beautiful renditions and mentions of native flora and fauna that inhabit the river’s environs create a vivid and colourful experience for the reader. The inclusion of many words in language (clearly elucidated both in meaning and pronunciation in a glossary) does not hinder the natural flow of the words but rather makes it all the more lyrical.

I cannot emphasise enough how this picture book simply bursts with life and the complete affinity with country that is held close by our First Australians. As some of you know my own family are proud Wiradjuri people and my daughters are very committed to raising the grandchildren with pride in their heritage. This does not preclude the sharing of other language groups’ culture and country. Promoting the understanding between our cultures is paramount to developing the much-needed empathy and acceptance we hope to grow in our young people.

Highly recommended for all readers from prep upwards.

Leaving the Lyrebird Forest – Gary Crew. Illustrated by Julian Laffan.

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Lyrebird

Hachette

Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books

September 2018

9780734418432

$16.99

Gary Crew has created a narrative which is not only redolent of the quintessential Australian bush life – which is now mostly disappeared from our landscape – but also encourages the reader to think about the future for both humans and wildlife.

Are you lonely here?’ her mother asked. 
‘Never,’ Alice said. ‘Not while I am friends with the lyrebird.’

Alice has lived her entire life with her artistic parents in a small but quirky house on the outskirts of town. Apart from school she has little contact with other people but that doesn’t concern her. Alice’s best friend is the lyrebird that comes to visit her every other day. When she gets to know her hermit-like neighbour Mr Brown, recently widowed, she discovers that they both share this friendship with the cheeky bird. She also discovers that she and Mr Brown also share a deep and abiding love of the pristine bush and both are determined to preserve it – and the haunt and habitat of the beautiful wildlife therein.

Everything is changing. Alice is getting older and knows that eventually she will have to leave the bush and her home to complete her education but her concern over the splendours of her surrounds drive her decisions about her future. Together with Mr Brown she is able to set in motion a train of events that may possibly save this corner of paradise for the future.

This is a story with overtones of a time gone by which are enhanced by the delightful woodcut illustrations by Julian Laffan. The reader will have much to think about and certainly much to inspire their own aspirations.

Highly recommended for readers from about ten years upwards.