LisaHillSchoolStuff's Weblog

'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.

Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Book review: Rift-breaker, by Tristan Michael Savage

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 9, 2014


It’s been so long since I’ve read any SF, I’ve almost forgotten how to read it. Rift Breaker, by award-winning indigenous author Tristan Michael Savage, is a high action space adventure that will appeal to fans of Doctor Who and similar types of fantasy. The book won the 2013 Black&Write award for YA writing, but I think that adolescent boys of any age will like it. I’m not so sure about girls…

The main characters are Milton Lance, a human, and his simian mate Tazman. Although Tazman is unreliable and his party-animal ways often get the pair into trouble, there is never any doubt that they are the Good Guys. Inexperienced, sometimes naive and often impulsive, these two are recognisable as the antithesis of Evil because they show compassion for the suffering of others. With their sidekick Luyulla, it’s not so clear where her loyalties lie…

This is also true of the other significant characters. Fleet Commander Viceon Raegar works for the Tranquillian Composite, which is a ‘fusion of worlds dedicated to preserve cohabitation’. Sent to discover how the space colony Orisurrection was annihilated, he sees Luyulla’s spacecraft and assuming that the trio are responsible, circulates a Wanted notice throughout space.

From here on the trio have all kinds of trouble. Clearly there are Bad Guys, but all kinds of confusion keeps the reader guessing about who’s double-crossing whom. Milton finds himself the object of interest from both sides because the Good Guys think he’s on the wrong side and the Bad Guys somehow know that he has acquired a powerful gift that facilitates their Evil Quest.

There are so many twists and turns in the plot that I could not quite keep track, but in SF I think that hardly matters. It’s a Battle between Good and Evil, framed by a quest. The hero is double-crossed by someone, and there is a sexy female of considerable power (though she behaves in a rather incompetent way with her weaponry). In this respect it’s a rather ‘male’ book: the male characters dominate, the female has moments of being ruled by heart not head, and problems are all solved by fighting.

On the other hand, while the Bad Guys are motivated by lust for power, Milton saves himself with thoughts of home, family and friends. While there is the usual impressive range of weaponry that’s familiar from Doctor Who, the really dastardly stuff is created by evil scientists with a medical bent. Milton ends up with his mind under control through a Xoeloid implant in his brain, but the message seems to be that human love will prevail if people remain strong.

Milton is in some ways a symbol of Aboriginal resilience and reconciliation. He is a lone human in a world of other creatures, and he was raised by adoptive parents. He enjoys new experiences and he puts up with Tazman’s crazy behaviour because he craves adventure – but his heart belongs to his quiet home in an isolated rural environment. His sense of justice is outraged by colonisers who destroy space colonies for their own purposes, and he is determined to survive in order to resist their domination because he doesn’t share their values.

At 350-odd pages it looks like a long book but the font is well-spaced and it’s a quick and easy read. For fans of high action space adventure, it has plenty of techno-babble, weird creatures and snappy dialogue. I’m confident that boys will like it, and I’ll be interested to see if teenage girls like it too.

Update: Tristan Savage has won the Kris Hembury encouragement award at the recent Aurealis Awards for science fiction…Congratulations!

PS I left this book behind at my parents’ place, my mother (who’s in her late 80s) absolutely loves it!

Author: Tristan Michael Savage
Title: Rift Breaker
Publisher: Magabala Books 2014
ISBN: 9781922142467
Source: review copy courtesy of Magabala Books.

Availability

Fishpond: Rift Breaker
Or direct from Magabala Books

Cross-posted at ANZ LitLovers.

Posted in Book Reviews, School Library stuff | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Book review: Tracker Tjugingji, by Bob Randall and Kunyi June-Anne McInerney

Posted by Lisa Hill on July 5, 2014


I’m going to kick off Indigenous Literature Week 2014 with a review of a delightful picture book called Tracker Tjugingji, by Bob Randall of the Yankunytjatjara desert people from Central Australia and a listed custodian of Uluru.  The book blurb tells us that the author was taken from his family when he was 8 or 9 years old, and sent from Alice Springs to Minjala (Croker Island) off the north coast of Arnhem Land.  A well-known story-teller and songwriter, he used this childhood experience to write the award-winning song Brown Skin Baby.

Tracker Tjugingji, however, is not a sad story of the Stolen Generations, it is a celebration of traditional Aboriginal family life.   Tjugingji is a little fellow who lives in the desert with his parents, camping in little windbreak shelters and sleeping by the fire.  One day his parents let him know that he’s not to play too late that night because they are moving on in the morning, to a big lake, a long way east of where they were camped.  Of course kids will be kids, and by the time he gets back from playing his parents (and the dogs) are all fast asleep, so he lies down beside his father and goes to sleep.

But…

When Tjugingji’s parents woke up there was a glow in the sky –  the sun was rising.  But Tracker Tjugingji was still fast asleep.  ‘Oh well, let’s leave him,’ they said.  ‘He can catch up later.’

That’s  the Aboriginal way – you don’t wake your children when they are fast asleep.

I expect this will raise a few eyebrows today when so many children are raised to be fearful of stepping outside their own front gate by themselves.  But Tjugingji is not the least little bit alarmed, because he knows he can follow their tracks.  He has his little spear and boomerang with him, and by walking around in a circle he soon picks up his parents’ tracks and sets off.

Before long he picks up other tracks as well: he meets an assortment of wildlife who tell him that yes, they’ve seen his parents, and what’s more, they’ve been chased by the family dog.  The snake, the perentie, the malu (kangaroo), the papa (dingo) and the emu all follow him to make sure that he doesn’t lose his way, and they all end up having an inma (dance to celebrate.  The song they sing is included on a CD at the back of the book.   (There is also a glossary and a pronunciation guide).

The pictures, by Kunyi June-Anne McInerney, of Yankunytjatjara descent are gorgeous.  A stunning sky blue contrasts with the rich red of the desert landscape, and as you can see from the front cover Tjugingji is  a really cute kid with unruly curls and an infectious grin.

In the classroom, I would use this book to talk about how Tjugingji managed to find his parents, eliciting that Aboriginal families in traditional communities teach their children the skills they need to know to manage in a desert or bush environment, in the same way that city children are taught to manage traffic in an urban environment.  I think it would also make a superb stimulus for artwork with pastels or crayons, and art teachers could take the opportunity to talk about the Aboriginal mining of ochre, discussing the traditional routes and the trading that went on.

(I would do this because I think the best way to counter the insulting ignorance of anyone who thinks that Australia wasn’t already ‘settled’ in 1788, is to teach children about the thriving culture that was here in Australian for 40,000 years or more, and survives to this day).

If you have enjoyed a book by an indigenous author this week, please drop in at the ANZ LitLovers reviews page, and either leave a comment or a link to your review on your blog, at Goodreads or at Library Thing.

Update 14/7/14
I’ve been working on including Aboriginal Perspectives (aka the AC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority) in our new Year 1 & 2 unit on Past and Present Family Life (ACHHK030), and have included this title in one of the activities.

ABORIGINAL PERSPECTIVES AusVELS Y1&2 Past&Present Family Li

Author: Bob Randall
Illustrator: Kunyi June-Anne McInerney
Title: Tracker Tjugingji,
Publisher: Jukurrpa Books, an imprint of IAD Press, 2012
ISBN: 9781864651263
Source: Review copy courtesy of Dennis Jones and Associates

Availability

Fishpond: Tracker Tjungingji

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

Book review: Indigenous First Discovery Series, by Debbie Austin

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 30, 2014


I came across the Indigenous First Discovery series when book distributors Dennis Jones and Associates sent me three of their little books to review for Indigenous Literature Week 2014. 

They’re small square board books entitled

  • Animals
  • People and Places
  • At the Billabong

and they’re all illustrated with exquisite artwork by Debbie Austin,  from the Kirrae Whurrong nation in western Victoria.

Animals is a simple little book of symbols representing Australia’s native animals.  There are footprints of wombats, kangaroos, dingoes and so on, all painted in the traditional colours of black, yellow, red and white.  There is a legend at the back so that children can guess which footprints belong to which animal.

People and places is similar, but the symbols are of fire, watering places, weapons and so on.  I enjoyed trying to guess what these ones were, and will use this knowledge next time I try to interpret an Aboriginal work of art.

At the Billabong features a cut-out circle representing a billabong in the middle of the book, and the text tells a simple little story about the creatures that gathered at the billabong on a hot day.

Small children will find these little books enchanting, but they serve a wider purpose.  As the blurb says:

The series was created to help raise awareness of the importance of using Australian Aboriginal symbols to teach stories top our young in all cultures, as they have been for over 60,000 years.

In this delightful new range of books for babies and children, we discover the value of learning more about the spirituality of the Australian landscape and its indigenous people and embrace an Australian identity infused with existing native wisdom and lore.

Suitable for kindergartens and prep classes, they would also make a very special gift to welcome a new baby, I think.

Click the links to buy from Fishpond.

Animals (Indigenous First Discovery) People and Places (Indigenous First Discovery) At the Billabong: An Indigenous First Discovery Book [Board book]
Author and illustrator: Debbie Austin
First Discovery Series
Publisher: Discovery Press, 2008
Contact: info@discoverypress.com.au
ISBNs: Animals  9780980470109; People and Places 9780980470116; At the Billabong 9780980470123
Source: review copies courtesy of book distributors Dennis Jones and Associates sent

 

 

Posted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Authors & Illustrators, Book Reviews | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers