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

Archive for September, 2014

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

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Sylvia, written and illustrated by Christine Sharp

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 26, 2014


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.


Fishpond: Sylvia
Or direct from UQP

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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.

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

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