Little People, Big Dreams: Mary Anning; Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Popy Matigot
When I think of palaeontologists I think of Ross Geller from the TV show ‘Friends’. I’m not ashamed to admit that this is about the extent of my knowledge when it comes to famous fossil hunters so I was intrigued to see what I might learn as I opened up the latest addition to the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series.
Mary Anning was born into a large and poor family, she was the tenth Anning child. She enjoyed spending her childhood days accompanying her father on cliff walks and seeing what she could find. To earn some money, she would sell her finds on the beach to the wealthy beach-goers who were fond of a treasure to take back home. It was one of Mary’s customers that would give her a book that would change her life. It helped her uncover the truth about one of her beach discoveries and from then on fossil hunting became a way of life.
The brilliant books in 2021 just keep on coming. Again, this is another book that has been talked about extensively on social media platforms for a number of months. And if everything was to be believed, then Hannah Gold’s debut was going to be something rather special.
As I began reading The Last Bear in the plus thirty five degree heat of Melbourne this afternoon, I could not have been further from the Arctic circle and the polar ice caps. But Gold quickly transported me to a mysterious and unexplored wilderness, a remote location in the middle of the Barents Sea…Bear Island. So named for the polar bears that used to inhabit it, but they have since long gone, the melting of the ice caps has meant the location has become inaccessible. A struggle that is all too real for these wonderful creatures.
Agents of the Wild: Operation Icebeak; Jennifer Bell, illustrated by Alice Lickens
My favourite animal protection agent is back and this time she is heading to Antarctica.
Agnes Gamble loves protecting the world’s flora and fauna just like her parents had done previously. So when SPEARS receive a distress call from their underwater outpost in Antarctica they know just the two agents that are needed to go and aid and investigate. Agnes and Attie (Attenborough) the shrew are the perfect agents to send to icy Antarctica on a mission to investigate some very strange goings-on. Equipped with trinoculars, an otter sled and telescopic giraffe stilts the duo hop aboard the omnifrog and set off to a land of snow, icebergs and a lot of penguins.
Fluffles: The Brave Koala Who Survived a Bushfire; Vita Murrow, illustrated by Rachel Qiuqi
Fluffles: The Brave Koala Who Survived a Bushfire is part of a new series of books based on heroic animals entitled ‘True Stories of Animal Heroes’ and is published by the brilliant Frances Lincoln Children’s.
Fluffles lived amongst the eucalyptus leaves in South-Eastern Australia. She would spend the days playing with her fluffy friends, munching on the tasty leaves and sleeping in the lofty branches. One terrible day everything changed when her home was engulfed by searing heat and fierce flames. With danger all around, Fluffles sought refuge at the top of a tree and trusted that everything would ok…
Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow; Benjamin Dean, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat
Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow is another book that has been raved about on social media. Having read Alex Gino’s books that feature and explore the LGBT+ community I was keen to see what Benjamin Dean’s debut had to offer.
Parents have a way of dropping bombshells when you are least expecting them. Whether it be the news of moving home or the arrival of a new sibling or any number of other things, you can never be prepared for the moment your parents tell you that they have something they need to talk to you about. And when Archie Albright's dad drops some life-changing news, Archie finds his life exploding into a million different pieces.
The Shark Caller; Zillah Bethell
I love stories from other settings and cultures and this is one of the best I have read in quite some time. Lots of new books receive plenty of ‘book chat’ on social media but none more so than this one. It has been raved about on all social media platforms and I was excited to read it to see if it lived up to all of the hype.
Orphaned child Blue Wing is desperate to be a shark caller like Siringen, her waspapi, but he will not let her. The skill of shark calling is rooted in tradition and should only be passed down from uncle to nephew. Siringen also knows the reason for Blue Wing’s desperation to call sharks - to gain revenge on the shark that caused the death of her parents two years ago.
My favourite sisters, the Widdershins, are back for a brand new adventure. A Tangle of Spells is the third book in the adventures of the Widdershins sisters. Michelle Harrison has truly had me under her spell ever since I read the first story about sisters Fliss, Betty and Charlie. 'A Pinch of Magic’ was magical by the bucket-load and ‘A Sprinkle of Sorcery’ was an epic adventure. The question was, could Harrison magic up another spellbinding read? The answer is a resounding yes. A Tangle of Spells is everything I love about Harrison’s writing - wonderful characters, a village steeped in folklore and witchcraft, and an unbreakable sisterly bond.
I am a huge sports fan and absolutely love the Olympics so I opened this book with huge excitement and extremely high hopes and it did not disappoint.
The first modern Olympics was in 1896 although the roots of many sports can be traced back to long before the Olympics had been invented. Mankind had been running, chasing, lifting, hitting, throwing, kicking, fighting and swimming long before anyone ever thought of awarding medals for any of these achievements.
On Your Marks, Get Set…Gold! is an action-packed and light-hearted look at Olympic sports and it is a wonderfully fun smorgasbord of sporting history, knowledge, information and lots of humour. Readers are given an insight into all of the current Olympic events and I was thrilled to see the inclusion of surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing that will debut in the Olympics of 2021.
What can be somewhat of an embarrassing topic is handled sensitively and expertly in this superb non-fiction book.
There comes a time when children start asking those awkward questions…Where do babies come from? How are babies made? Where did I come from? The latter question often receiving a response in the hope of curbing curious minds until they are just a little bit older…you were delivered by a stork, you hatched from an egg, we picked you off the supermarket shelf (which is what I remember my sister being told).
Having the talk to explain about ‘the birds and the bees’ is an important conversation and this accessible book is a brilliant text to introduce and support a discussion.
Phew! Now my pulse has returned to somewhere near normal…
Jennifer Killick is back at her brilliant best and I for one am thrilled. I have been desperate for a sequel to Crater Lake and was leaping about with excitement after getting this advanced reader copy via Netgalley. If Emma Carroll is the ‘Queen of historical fiction’ then Jennifer Killick is rapidly becoming the loveable evil overlord of the comedic science-fiction horror.
Firstly, if you have not read Crater Lake - the book that precedes this new release - then you are really missing out. And secondly, you really need to as the action in Crater Lake Evolution picks up six months later and without the prior knowledge everything will seem a bit disjointed.