Title: Let's Build a Backyard
Author: Mike Lucas
Illustrator: Daron Parton
Publisher: Lothian Children's Books
Publication Date: 27th April 2022
For ages: 3+ years
Type: Picture Book
Themes: Family, Backyards, Gardens, Gardening, Sustainability, Rhyming
Let’s Build A Backyard is the newly published companion book to Let’s Build A House, both written by South Australian author Mike Lucas. This latest release is a lively and vibrant account of a time spent in the backyard of the father and his young daughter from the first book, working together to create a very special place.
From the very beginning of this delightful and energetic book the young reader will enjoy the action that the clever rhyming words impart. Each step of the building a backyard journey is labelled clearly, followed by the short rhyme, and with three action words highlighted across a double page spread.
Mix in some compost.
“Use your fork to turn, turn, turn.
A little help from all the worms.
Watch them wriggle, see them squirm.”
Squirm! Squirm! Squirm!
The bright and colourful illustrations by Daron Parton complement the text perfectly and showcase the steps needed to create the new garden. This book has a very welcome and gentle introduction to the topic of sustainability for young children with mention of looking after a tree, making a possum box and a bee hotel, installing sprinklers, creating a vegetable patch, as well as adding compost.
This is a perfect book to read aloud to young children and engage them in the story by allowing them the opportunity to do the actions as it is read. A welcome addition to a home, school or public library.
Reviewed by Kathryn Beilby.
Heroes, Rebels and Innovators is an inspiring non-fiction book containing seven stories about First Nation and Torres Strait Islander people from the past. The stories have been written by author Karen Wyld of Martu descent born on Kaurna yerta in South Australia and illustrated by self-taught artist Jaelyn Biumaiwai who is of Mununjali and Fijian descent.
Each story opens with the narrative told from a First Nation perspective and then a brief historical summary of the First Nation and Torres Strait Islander inspirational figure. The stories include notable historical First Nation people such as Patyegarang, Bungaree, Tarenorerer, Yarri and Jacky Jacky, Mohara Wacando-Lifu, Fanny Balbuk Yooreel and David Unaipon a well-known Ngarrindjieri korni(man) who now features on the Australian fifty dollar note.
David Unaipon’s story will be of particular interest to South Australian readers. He was born on Point McLeay Mission now known as Raukken and was a preacher like his father. David’s incredible intelligence and visionary insights were spread across science, engineering and all aspects of writing. Unfortunately, he was unable to patent or build any of his inventions but that never stopped his dreaming. He advocated for co-operation between First Nation people and those not of First Nation descent and was the earliest First Nation writer to be published.
These seven stories provide the middle grade and lower secondary reader with an insight into an historical perspective of First Nation people not presented before. An important resource for all school and public libraries that will be a welcome addition to Reconciliation and NAIDOC Week literature.
Themes: History, First Nation and Torres Strait Islander People, Colonisation, Conflict
Reviewed by Kathryn Beilby
Welcome to my first review for 2022. Both of the fabulous books I am reviewing have a South Australian connection and were published in 2021.
Ngarrindjeri yanun Kraiyi is retold and illustrated by the students of Goolwa Primary School with Cedric Varcoe and Amanda Westley. Published by Goolwa Primary School.
The students of Goolwa Primary School have cleverly illustrated the pages of this wonderful book that explains the meaning of the kraiyi (snake). Through the explanation of each segment of the kraiyi you are able to learn the language of the Ngarrindjeri people as well as learning how they lived and cared for the land in the past and continue to do so now.
Where birds sing and wildflowers dance written by & illustrated by Jason Tyndall. Published by Nature Play SA.
This very special book has been written as a guide for exploring South Australia’s National Parks. Throughout the book are stunning photographs and hand drawn images of nature. There are detailed explanations of the plants, flowers and creatures in the parks as well as poetry and other interesting information. If you have a family member or a friend that loves walking in nature in SA this is the perfect book for you and them to share.
In this post, I am sharing two wonderful new children’s non-fiction picture books which each have a special story to tell about survival and conservation.
One Potoroo: A story of Survival written by Penny Jaye & illustrated by Alicia Rogerson
CSIRO Publishing ISBN 978486314645
This fabulous story is about a Gilbert Potoroo, one of the last survivors of a bushfire at Two Peoples Bay in Western Australia. The book tells of the journey to safety for the potoroo, which is the world’s most endangered marsupial, and the conservation efforts to save the species. The full-page illustrations are beautiful and you will learn some new facts such as how the potoroo loves to eat truffles which are the fruity bulbs of underground fungi.
Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths written by Julie Murphy & illustrated by Ben Clifford
CSIRO Publishing ISBN 9781486314621
Tiny Possum, a mountain pygmy-possum, lives high in the Australian Alps and during the summer months must find food and shelter to survive under the snow during the long winter months. Without the migrating bogong moths as a food source the species will not survive. Along the migrating path of these moths, conservationists have encouraged residents to turn off their lights at night so the moths will not be distracted on their journey. This is an amazing story with striking illustrations.
Two very special picture books have just been released that you and your family will enjoy reading. They are both beautifully illustrated with bold and colourful images. These two fabulous books will inspire you to keep on trying and show you that you can do amazing things.
Born to Run written by Cathy Freeman and illustrated by Charmaine Ledden-Lewis tells the story of Cathy Freeman, Australia’s first Aboriginal athlete to win an individual Olympic Gold Medal. The fact that this happened at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was even more special as Cathy’s family were there to see her win the 400m. Cathy tells us in her story that she always loved running and with amazing support from her family, friends and the resilience to overcome any setbacks, she was able to achieve her dreams. She believes that “dreams do come true.”
Little Nic’s Big World written by Nic Natanui and illustrated by Fatima Anaya is the second picture book by the West Coast Eagles AFL footballer. In this story Nic’s school is having a fete with the theme ‘The World Comes to Us’ and each child can bring their own special food, music, art/craft or sports from their family background to share with their friends. Nic and his mum bake a Cassava cake that his Bubu (grandmother) would always make. Nic loses the cake along the way but after having fun experiencing many of the activities it is finally found.
Did you know that there are only 14 species of Handfish that are found in Australian waters? The majority of the species are found in Tasmania, with the Spotted Handfish, Red Handfish and Ziebell's Handfish listed as critically endangered.
There are two new books for younger readers that share some interesting information about the unique Handfish.
Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish was shortlisted in the 2021 CBCA Eve Pownall award category of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. It is a factual fiction book which tells us all about Handstand, a Spotted Handfish, who lives in the waters off Tasmania. He is tiny, just measuring 13 cms, and walks along the seabed on his hands (pectoral fins). He does not have a swim bladder like other fish so cannot always swim away from danger. The Spotted Handfish was one of the first marine species to be on the Threatened Species Red List as his habitat is threatened by introduced predators, climate change, fishing nets and dredging, pollution and rubbish as well as anchors from boats. This is a great read and the illustrations are vibrant and full of life. You will learn all about this amazing creature that has survived since the time of the dinosaurs.
Coco, the Fish with Hands is the first book in the Endangered Animal Tales series. It tells you the story of Coco, the Spotted Handfish, who goes on a long journey to find somewhere safe to lay her eggs. Coco usually lays her eggs around a sea squirts or sea tulips but the Northern Pacific sea star has eaten many of these plants so Coco must find somewhere else to go. Along the way she is in danger from crabs but she cleverly outwits them! Coco eventually finds a mate and lays her eggs in a safe place. The Spotted Handfish stays with her eggs until they are hatched. Did you know that the babies are called fry and are only 6mms long? How tiny! The illustrations are bright and colourful and this is a lovely story to learn some new facts about a very clever little marine creature.
What's happening to protect these unique fish?
The National Handfish Recovery Team (NHRT) was formed in 2014 and coordinates the research program for the three species of handfish in Tasmania. You can find out more about their projects here.
Kathryn (who just loves non-fiction!) recommends these two fabulous animal non-fiction texts that children of all ages will find fascinating. Both were written and illustrated by Australian creators - Sami Bayly and Philip Bunting.
The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals written and illustrated by Sami Bayly is a simply stunning book prefect for all of you who love to read about unusual and unfamiliar animals. Each double page spread has a large and striking drawing of an ugly animal with easy to read facts under the headings of Description, Diet, Location/Habitat, Conservation Status plus Fun Facts.
The world’s most pointless animals written and illustrated by Philip Bunting is a new release that you will find filled with funny and interesting facts. The simple drawings are surrounded by text and handwritten labels that at times are both clever and entertaining. In Philip Bunting’s humorous style, he has crossed out the animal’s scientific name and replaced it with his own version. For example, the Guinea pig’s scientific name is Cavia Porcellus, but Philip has called it Squeakius fuzzballi!
Each of these fabulous books will be a great help if you need to write an animal information report or if you just want to read, read, read for fun and new facts.