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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Tomlinson)

Redirection to ANZ LitLovers

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 29, 2009


Click on the link to redirect to Lisa Hill’s book blog ANZ LitLovers.

Students, click this link to go to the LisaHillSchoolStuff Wiki.

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Book review: Counting Aussie Animals in My Backyard, written and illustrated by Bronwyn Houston

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 26, 2014


Counting Aussie AnimalsThis book is almost too beautiful to let into the hands of small children!  It’s a simple 1-10 counting book designed for pre-schoolers so there are two kookaburras laughing on the fence and five cockatoos squawking in the trees, and so on – but the illustrations are so stunning, most adults would be happy to have them framed and hanging on the wall. The colours are so vivid they almost take your breath away.

Little kids will love locating the creatures and talking about where they can be found in their own backyards.  (Well, maybe not the python!)  This would make a lovely Christmas gift for toddlers and pre-schoolers – just make sure that they have clean hands and don’t spoil the gorgeous artwork!

As all good books by indigenous authors do, the book includes biographical information about the author.  Bronwyn Houston is descended from the Nyiyaparli and Yindjiparndi people of the Wana clan in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She lives in Broome and draws her inspiration from the local landscape and the Kimberley region where she was born.

But I also discovered from Google that Bronwyn also works as a graphic designer and photographer, and you can buy her designs at Red Bubble.

You can find some of her other books at Fishpond, including My Home Broome reviewed here a little while ago.

Author and illustrator: Bronwyn Houston
Title: Counting Aussie Animals in My Backyard
Publisher: Magabala Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781922142542
Source: review copy courtesy of Magabala Books

Available from October 2014

Pre-order from Fishpond:Counting Aussie Animals in My Backyard
Or direct from Magabala Books.TitleTi

Posted in Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Recommended books | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Sylvia, written and illustrated by Christine Sharp

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 26, 2014


Sylvia

Sylvia is a delightfully daft picture book about the unrequited love of …  a snail.

Yes, Sylvia is a snail who is in love with Simon Green and his vegie patch: his luscious lettuce, choice cucumbers and buttery beans.  Needless to say, he is not so enamoured of her!  Have a look at the sample pages on the UQP website to see Sharp’s brilliant illustration of his enraged face bellowing GET OUT! at her, and it is just possible that even if you are a grower of vegetables yourself, you may feel a tinge of empathy when you see her slide away and shrink into her shell, sobbing her little heart out for love of Simon.

What to do?  Well, with her shimmering trail she writes Simon a love letter, but Simon is aghast when he sees the damaged kale and the nibbled tomatoes.  He’s an organic gardener who sells his produce at the farmer’s market – and he knows how fussy customers are.  (I don’t understand why people would rather buy an unblemished over-sized strawberry that tastes like water instead of a small flavoursome one, but then, I don’t understand why people eat processed food and junk food either).

But to Simon’s surprise – and the amused reader’s too – Sylvia finds a way to make a public declaration of her love, and it turns out to be the best kind of advertising he could possibly have.  Love blooms in all kinds of unexpected ways, eh?

Highly recommended!

You can download teacher’s notes from UQP.

Author and illustrator: Christine Sharp
Title: Sylvia
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press, 2014
ISBN: 9780702253140
Source: review copy courtesy of UQP.

 

Availability
Fishpond: Sylvia
Or direct from UQP

Posted in Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Recommended books, Sustainability resources | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: The Rescue Ark, by Susan Hall, illustrated by Naomi Zouwer

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 26, 2014


The Rescue ArkThe Rescue Ark is a delightful picture book pitched at raising the environmental awareness of young children.  While the allusion to the Biblical Ark is made obvious by the illustrations, it’s not a vengeful Old Testament God that the animals need to be rescued from, but rather from their own habitats which have been fouled by pollution.

Told in occasionally slightly awkward rhyme, the book shows endangered animals clambering, whooshing and grumbling their way onto the Ark, some (as you’d expect) in less orderly fashion than others.  The animals are mostly charismatic cuddly creatures, with cute little faces rendered in slightly muted primary coloured collages by talented artist Naomi Zouwer.   The Ark’s passengers include wombats, potoroos, numbats, quolls, bandicoots, bilbies, Tasmanian devils, wallabies and possums; while amongst the flying creatures there are butterflies, parrots and cockatoos.  In the less adorable but likewise endangered category there are bees, snakes, lizards, frogs and turtles, not to mention a river mouse that looks much more like a rat.  For the adult, there are zoological notes at the back which explain the conservation status of the animals, and there is a map so that the route of the Ark around Australia can be traced as the animals board it.  Some of the illustrations for the zoological notes are images from the National Library’s Rare Books Collection and they include pictures by the likes of John Gould, while others are the work of contemporary wildlife photographers.

Ideally suited for pre-school and prep children, the book concludes with the empowering message that the animals return to their homes when Aussie kids have cleaned up the environment.  This title would be a nice one to include in any units of work about Australian  animals.

For another review, see Kids’ Book Reviews.

Author: Susan Hall
Illustrator: Naomi Zouwer
Title: The Rescue Ark
Publisher: NLA (National Library of Australia, 2014
ISBN: 9780642278104
Source: Review copy courtesy of the NLA.

Availability
Fishpond: The Rescue Ark
Or direct from the NLA bookshop.

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Book review: My Dog Doesn’t Like Me, by Elizabeth Fensham

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 31, 2014


Picture of My Dog Doesn't Like Me Could there be anything worse than the belief that not even your own dog likes you?

Elizabeth Fensham’s new book begins with nine-year-old Eric running away from home, egged on by his ‘horrible’ sister Gretchen.  Worse, when it doesn’t work out, he gets sent to his room for being rude to her like the victim is in prison and the bad guy is free. (p.6)  No one in the family is ‘on his side’ – not even the dog.

He seems to have made a number of mistakes with the dog, not the least of which is its name.  Provoked by Gretchen who’s ten years older than he is, he names it Ugly.  And because he doesn’t keep his promises about looking after it, the dog’s loyalty is to mum, who feeds him.  And she doesn’t take kindly to Eric’s experiments with using the new idioms he’s learned at school: the dog was Eric’s eighth birthday present but since the dog loves her instead of him, he calls her an Indian giver.   It’s not a pretty scene.

Fortunately he has two good friends at school.  Milly and Hugh try out their newly acquired research skills by designing a questionnaire to solve Eric’s problem.  They survey other children who come up with a heap of suggestions, but Eric – who, it must be said tends to give up easily – says he’s tried nearly all of them.   But he hasn’t…

‘Well, next is this idea of Emily’s about letting the dog smell your hand and acting gentle around it.’

I knew all about that.  Grandad had told me before we went to the Dog Shelter.  ‘That’s the right thing to do when you meet any dog,’ I said, ‘but after that first introduction, you have to live with your dog every day of its life.  The same goes for Skye’s idea.  Ugly likes being tickled and scratched, but you can’t keep doing that all day.’

Milly crossed off Emily and Skye’s ideas.

‘Dog toys?’ asked Hugh.

‘Ugly’s a spoilt brat,’ I said.  ‘He’s got masses of toys, but he gets bored with them and sneaks off and chews up things that belong to us, like my Parthenon project.’ (p.41)

One experiment appeals, but alas, it doesn’t work out.   The idea of giving the dog bones fails after one try because his mother is none too pleased about Eric carving the bone out of the Sunday roast before it’s been cooked, and Dad is none too pleased about Ugly destroying the vegie patch to bury the bone. The rest of his crazy experiments don’t work out too well either.

The humour derives partly from the narrative voice. The book is written entirely from Eric’s point of view, so although young readers can see that Ugly’s flaws are caused by Eric’s behaviour, Eric doesn’t see that at all.  His whiny self-justifications and blaming of others are funny because they’re authentic.

Meanwhile the dog is growing, and the time comes when there’s an ultimatum.  Either Eric takes responsibility for the dog and trains it properly, or it has to go.  The humour limps a bit as the ‘responsibility’ theme kicks in, but I still think that young readers will enjoy the book and its unexpected ending.

The cover art by Jo Hunt is just perfect.

Author: Elizabeth Henshaw
Title: My Dog Doesn’t Like Me
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2014
ISBN: 9780702250170
Source: Review copy courtesy of UQP.

Availability
Fishpond: My Dog Doesn’t Like Me
or direct from UQP.

PS Elizabeth Henshaw is also the author of Helicopter Man which won the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Book of the Year: Younger Readers (2006).   It’s not a book for younger readers, IMO, because it’s a harrowing book about a boy whose father suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and they are on the run from the father’s imaginary enemies.  But in the hands of a skilled teacher it is an excellent book for older readers and young adults to comprehend what life can be like when there is mental illness in the family.

 

Posted in Australian Children's Literature, Book Reviews | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Book review: Look and See, by Shane Morgan

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 5, 2014


As a librarian, it often falls to me to catalogue books for beginner readers, and it is in this genre that the ingenuity of Australian authors and illustrators never ceases to amaze me.  Working with a very limited vocabulary and designing the book so that illustrations provide context clues to support the reader, time and again these incredibly creative people manage to come up with something different.

This cute and quirky book by Shane Morgan is a good example.  At 24 x 18cm, Look and See, meet your favourite Australian animals is a bit bigger in size than most books of its type, but it follows the usual design rules: short easy-to-read sentences on one side of the page, and a picture on the other.

What makes it a bit different is the humour.  The sentences are rhyming pairs, and the first sentence introduces the animal, while the sentence on the ensuing page shows the animal getting the better of the human.

Look at the emu, running so fast.
See the emu, he caught me at last.

The picture that accompanies the second sentence shows the emu holding the human upside down by his undies – ouch!

The animals are not just the ones you’d expect, there’s also a lizard and a turtle, and all of them have very cheeky faces.  (My favourite is the frill-necked lizard with a great big cheesy grin).

Shane Morgan is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta people of Victoria.  He lives in Shepparton and studied the Advanced Certificate of Koorie Arts and Design at Goulburn Valley Community College, so I am hoping that he will go on to create more gorgeous books like this one.  I haven’t come across too many other children’s books by indigenous people from Victoria and would like to see more of them.

PS I read it to Year 1 and 2 classes today, and they loved it.  Interestingly, they picked up on the fact that it was created by an indigenous author from the double-page illustration (before the story starts) because they recognised the distinctive style of indigenous patterning and colours.  I was rather pleased by this: it shows that our students’ exposure to indigenous literature is making them so familiar with it that they can identify it without being told, even when they are only seven and eight years old.  I took the opportunity to show them on our indigenous map of Australia (always on display in the library) where the Yorta Yorta people come from, and they were excited to know that they were Victorian Aborigines.   So now I’m even more keen to add to our collection with more indigenous stories from Victoria!  I just have to find them…

Availability

Fishpond: Look and See: Meet your favourite Australian animals
Or direct from Magabala Books

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews, Fun stuff, Indigenous Teaching Resources, School Library stuff | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Book review: To See the World, by Elaine Forrestal

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 2, 2014


To See the World

Just yesterday one of my students was very excited about her discovery of the excellent My Story series, and I suspect that another fan of historical fiction has been born!  I wonder if she might also enjoy To See the World which is based on a similar premise: bringing history to life through the story of a child who lived in a previous era.

To See the World is based on the true life story of a cabin boy named José, who went to sea aboard L’Uranie, a ship commanded by Louis de Freycninet in the early 18th century.  Elaine Forrester has crafted his story from the journals of Rose de Freycinet, the adventurous young wife who disguised herself as a boy to stow away aboard L’Uranie, scandalising French society and worrying the superstitious sailors who thought that women brought bad luck.   The book begins with José’s alarm at being expected to take lessons with Madame Freycinet, and he finds reading and writing hard going at first after his free-and-easy life in Mauritius.

As the author explains in the historical notes at the back of the book, in 1818 many of the French officials on Mauritius had taken mulatto mistresses, and they were often generous to these women and their children.  When José’s father was recalled to France in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, he made provision for José by placing him in the care of Freycinet.  Teaching him would provide an interest for Rose (who by the time L’Uranie reached Mauritius was bored and homesick) and an education for José would give him a better chance in life.

As the lessons progress, José matures.  He comes to see Rose as a person, and to care about her.  At the same time, he adapts to life at sea, first taking on duties in the galley, and later when he is older, as a sailor.  (The voyage lasts more than three years so he leaves boyhood behind as well as his family).  He witnesses a death at sea, and is asked by the Commander to listen out for any incriminating conversations so that the murderer can be identified.  He survives massive storms, shipwreck and being marooned on an island.  He also witnesses historical events of interest to Australians: the removal of the Vlamingh plate; an encounter with the Malgana People of Shark Bay WA, and a visit to the fledgling Sydney Town at Port Jackson on the east coast.  (Alas, Rose had some of her precious belongings stolen in Sydney – but, well, what could she expect ‘when more than half the population has been sent here for breaking the law’!

The last part of the voyage where the ship’s company is at the mercy of a competing gun-runner and an American whaler is quite exciting, and José ‘s subsequent journeys are a bit of an anti-climax.  But over all, I think young people will enjoy this book for the glimpse of an adventurous life that seems appealing despite its discomforts and dangers.  Each chapter is illustrated with B&W reproductions of images from the National Library, including a painting featuring Rose and José that was censored from the official account of this voyage because Rose was not supposed to be on board.

Rose de Freycinet herself, of course, deserves to be better known because while not the first woman to circumnavigate the world, she was the first to journal her experiences.   (An image of a French publication of her journal is included in the book).  Her husband, Louis de Freycinet is known to Australians as the navigator who managed to publish his map of the Australian coastline (complete with French place names and claims of French discoveries already made by the British) ahead of Matthew Flinders’ map because Flinders was detained by the French governor at Mauritius for six years.  But time goes by, and petty rivalries can be set aside in honour of the brave men – and woman – who showed great courage and tenacity in the quest to explore the planet.

A most interesting and enjoyable book that deserves a place in school libraries everywhere.

Author: Elaine Forrrestal
Title: To See the World
Publisher: NLA Publishing (National Library of Australia)
ISBN: 9780642278494
Source: review copy courtesy of the NLA

Availability

Fishpond: To See the World

Or direct from the NLA Bookshop

 

Posted in Australian History, Book Reviews | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

CBCA Shortlist activities: Granny Grommet and Me by Diane Wolfer and Karen Blair

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 31, 2014


I’m not really convinced that Granny Grommet and Me is among the best books eligible for the 2014 CBCA shortlist, but, well, there it is, and so I’m reading it to my junior students next week.

So I need a purposeful activity to go with this book, but although I usually find the series really useful, this year’s edition of Activities for Early Childhood by Mary O’Toole and Ruth Moodie hasn’t got an activity for Granny Grommet that I particularly want to do.

So instead, my Year 1 & 2 students are going to browse my collection of books about life underwater, and they’re going to use this research to complete a sunshine wheel about what can be seen underwater with a snorkel.  They’ll need to differentiate between what can be seen in the shallows and rock pools and what can be seen in the open sea.  They’ll then draw and label what they add to the sunshine wheel.

It would be more fun to make a snorkel-eye view with shoeboxes and blue cellophane but alas I don’t have enough time in my library lessons for time intensive activities like that.  And I do like my students to use thinking tools as much as I can.

For copyright reasons I can’t include an image of the book cover on this worksheet.

Granny Grommet and Me

Posted in Library activity sheets, Resources to share | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New history unit for Years 1 & 2: Technology and Tradition (Toys and Games of the Past)

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 15, 2014


This week I’m working with my colleagues to develop our units for Even Years Term 3.  Today I worked with the Junior team to develop a history unit, and you can download it from the Goodies to Share menu:

Technology and Tradition (Toys and Games of the Past)

 

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, History units of work, Resources to share | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

New unit and resources for NAIDOC Week: Indigenous War Service

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 13, 2014


Indigenous ServiceLast term I developed and trialled a new unit of work about Indigenous War Service for years 5 & 6. It’s based on a resource called Indigenous Service, A Resource for Primary Schools, published by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Shrine of Remembrance, but I adapted it quite a bit.  You can download the unit, and all the supplementary resources from the Goodies to Share menu, Australian Curriculum Literature & Research units for Years 5 & 6

This unit forms part of our whole school plan for the ANZAC Commemorations for 2014-5 (which you can download from the same page).

As it turned out, although I didn’t know this when I decided to develop this unit, the theme for NAIDOC Week 2014 was Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond:.  As it says on the NAIDOC website

This year’s NAIDOC theme honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.

From our warriors in the Frontier Wars to our warriors who have served with honour and pride in Australia’s military conflicts and engagements across the globe.

We proudly highlight and recognise the role they have played in shaping our identity and pause to reflect on their sacrifice. We celebrate and honour their priceless contribution to our nation.

I would be rapt to get some feedback from teachers who download and try out the unit. Please use the comments box below.

 

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Australian History, Indigenous Teaching Resources, Library activity sheets, Resources to share, School Library Units of Work | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Background reading: “Repaying our debt to Aboriginal soldiers” – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 9, 2014


“How many Australians know that Matthias Ulungura, a young Tiwi Islander, captured – and disarmed – the first Japanese serviceman taken as a POW on Australian soil in 1942?”

It’s NAIDOC Week: Visit this link to learn more about the contribution of our indigenous people to the defence of Australia

Repaying our debt to Aboriginal soldiers – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Indigenous Teaching Resources | Leave a Comment »

 
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