Tag Archives: ecology

A Whale of the Wild – Rosanne Parry


Harper Collins Australia

January 2022

  • ISBN: 9780062995933
  • ISBN 10: 0062995936
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • RRP: $16.99

This is just a magical read – the lyrical text almost flows like the water Vega and her family inhabit – and was certainly for me last night, a really intriguing but also restful way to read myself ready to sleep. That’s not to say it’s without tension and drama but there really is just something about it that just floats the reader along with the orcas.

I have to be honest. I had never heard of the Salish Sea nor was I particularly aware of different types of orcas, so reading this was also very informative and it is indeed described as ‘slyly educational’ which is pretty much spot on. *grin*

Vega and her family are already facing difficulties as their usual salmon feeding cycle has been disrupted and their hunger increases as they try to find the salmon that is usually so plentiful. They do not realise that humans have made such an impact on the ecosystem at first. Vega is learning to be the salmon finder for her family, against the day when she will become the matriarch following on from her mother and grandmother but when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami separate her, along with her younger brother Debden, from the rest of the pod, they must brave danger and threats to try to find their family again. In a sea that is almost unrecognisable they face sharks, their increasing hunger and polluted waters and Vega must be resilient and employ every skill she has learned from her mentors.

It is a rousing adventure, a wonderful story of survival and an ecological lesson all in one with superb research underpinning the entire story. It is further enhanced with beautiful black-and-white illustrations, and also includes a map, much backmatter and information on orcas.

The publisher suggests it for 8 years upwards and certainly it is not a demanding text but I am seriously considering it for inclusion with our scant ‘Animals’ genre collection for our Year 7s in particular as I think there would be many kiddos who like both animal stories and are interested in environmental topics for whom this would greatly appeal.

On that basis I’m giving it a full recommendation for readers from around Year 4 to Year 8. A very useful teaching guide is available.

Read more about SRKW (Southern Resident Killer Whales)

Backyard – Ananda Braxton-Smith & Lizzy Newcomb



Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781925381177
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

As educators we are always seeking new ways to switch on our youngsters to awareness and a responsibility towards the environment and we sometimes overlook the smaller picture for the larger. This book with its focus on the amazing diversity found in our own backyards will help us to keep the perspective – and action – local and personal.

The text is both lyrical and resonant with figurative language that will immediately engage young readers and inspire them to seek out other examples. Reminiscent of Dylan Thomas portraits the phrasing such as “sleep-moony child”, “sweet-tooth bats” and “last-light dragonfly” literally infuse the book with the life and energy of all the creatures that may be found in a child’s own environs.

Accompanied by glorious vividly hued and detailed illustrations – and absolutely wonderful endpapers (again!) this will be a delight to share with all little people from around Prep to Year 3.

This makes me think of the many times, pre-library times, when I would take my class of Year 1s or 2s out into the school yard for an environmental explore using all our senses. With the curriculum so crowded these days sometimes these magical moments become scarce but what riches we can bring to children’s attention by doing so.

Highly recommended for your Junior school particularly as a vital component of environmental based units.

On the River – Roland Harvey



Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760112455

Imprint: A & U Children

 July 2016

RRP $24.99


“The book is about the Murray River, from top to bottom. The system is vitally important to graziers, food growers, communities for drinking and domestic use, for irrigation, for hydro power, for recreation and for the health of the environment wildlife and habitat. I thought there was a great opportunity to reveal the history and some of the secrets of the Murray. Most people cross the Murray, see little bits of it, fly over it, visit a few tourist spots but seldom see the system as a whole, or appreciate its complexity or the role it plays in our cultural environment, economy and lives.”

Roland Harvey (@ Allen & Unwin)

Not only is this a fabulous picture book with a wealth of discoveries to be made in each illustration as we are well used to with Roland’s books but it is a superb teaching resource. What better way to teach geography, ecology, historical and cultural importance than through a gift of a book such as this.

Beginning with the fantastic annotated maps on the endpapers readers can journey through the entire Murray River system learning about the many aspects that make this river such a significant part of our country.

They will also find out why the Murray was threatened and the steps that have been taken to restore it to its former health and beauty.

This is a must have for any school library as it will become an important resource for many units of work as well as providing great pleasure for any children who closely examine its delights.

With some very useful teaching notes and a fun activity sheet as added value, this has to be on your shelves.

Highly recommended for children aged around 8 and upwards and teachers as an amazing teaching resource.


On the River Activity Sheet

Bee & Me – Alison Jay



Walker Books Australia

Imprint: Old Barn Books

July 2016

ISBN 9781910646052



When an exhausted bee flew into Alison Jay’s studio she revived it with some sugary water and the genesis of this beautiful book was underway.

A wordless story about friendship and a gentle introduction to an important ecological issue, this is an inspiring exploration of the power of illustration. There is so much rich detail in these pictures that readers will return again and again to discover more each time.

A little girl, a rescued bee and a lonely neighbour forge a friendship and undertake to fill their drab city with flowers.

I love that at the end of the book is information about bee-friendly plants for gardens and ideas to make your yard a happy sanctuary for bees.  As well as the delight of the story this would clearly make a marvellous addition to any unit of work focused on ecology and habitats.

Watch a trailer here.

Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards.


The Little Corroboree Frog – Tracy Holton-Ramirez


The Little Corroboree Frog – Tracy Holton-Ramirez & Angela Ramirez

Magabala Books

December 2013


Paperback 32 p.

RRP $14.95


When I was living and teaching in Canberra, we had a very engaging Unit of Inquiry for the Year 1s to begin their research skills and report writing based around the Corroboree Frog. Until that point I was pretty much unaware of these gorgeous little animals and their very precarious grip on survival but soon became quite intrigued. I remained disappointed not to have seen a real one but have discovered much information about them.

One of the problems with delivering the unit was that there was very little material written for younger students. This little book while written as fiction contains a wealth of information and is presented at a very accessible level for Lower Primary children.

Jet the corroboree frog is anxious about his family’s eggs being threatened despite all his efforts to tend the tadpole ponds. When he seeks advice from Grandmother Frog he realises the dangers that are undermining the survival of his species – particularly those caused by humans. A little boy and his father who happen to be visiting his region to go fishing in the nearby river present the perfect chance for Jet to initiate some change in human thinking and action.

This is a really simply written ecological tale and achieves its goal without being ‘preachy’.  A lovely double page spread at the end gives readers lots of facts and figures as well as links for further investigation.

Very much worth inclusion on your shelves and a book to share with all little people who love animals of all kinds, even teeny little clammy ones.

corroboree frog

Loads of reference sites and film clips available:




Corroboree Frog

Corroboree Frog – KidCyber

Project Corroboree

Corroboree Frogs: Taronga Conservation Society

Corroboree Frog Education Kit

Postscript: October 2014 Congratulations Tracy, Angela and Magabala on the Whitley Award from the Royal Zoological Society of NSW!