Seed to Sky: Life in the Daintree by Pamela Freeman

This lusciously illustrated book tells the story of the Daintree Forest from over hundreds of years ago through to today. We begin at a time 200 years ago when seeds from a Bull Kauri pine explode into the air, dropping slowly to the ground. 

Some of the Kauri seeds are being eaten. One by a Musky Rat-kangaroo, another by a bush turkey. ‘But one lies unnoticed …’ . This little seed takes root and begins to grow. 

As we follow the story of this little seed, growing taller and taller, we learn all about the forest. Kauri pines have been growing in Australia for more than 200 million years. Trees can be up to 600 years old. 

It’s now 180 years ago. Our little seed continues to grow and reach for the light. Nearby a dingo has caught the scent of a bandicoot and a water dragon is munching on a Rhinoceros beetle. ‘Beetles make up around one-quarter of all species on Earth!’

As we travel through time, we travel up through the canopy with our Kauri. Seasons come and go, we meet butterflies and the Hercules moth, white-lipped tree frogs calling in the night and pythons who slither around tree branches. There is 430 species of birds in the Daintree. There is much to learn and see on every page. All the while our Kauri pine is growing stronger and taller. 

As we reach today, our Bull Kauri pine is now 650 metres tall, towering about the treetops.

This book is as much a work of art as a fabulous reading experience and learning tool. It’s a storybook surrounded by small chunks of information about the animals and plants that call the Daintree home. I was swept along with the tale, searching the page for our Kauri, filled with a sense of wonderment for this oldest rainforest in the world. 

Buy it, borrow it, but please put Seed to Sky into the hands of a young reader and let them be inspired.

Reviewed by Rowena Morcom

Age Guide 4+

Teachers’ Resource

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Hart / Pamela Freeman authorPamela Freeman is an award-winning children’s author who has also worked as a freelance business and technical writer. Pamela’s work ranges from picture books to young adult novels and she is best known for her Floramonde series of fantasy novels which include The Willow Tree’s Daughter, Windrider and The Centre of Magic.

The Castings Trilogy is Pamela’s highly successful fantasy series for adults published by Hachette Australia. In addition to this, she teaches creative writing to adults at the Sydney Writers’ Centre. Victor’s Challenge won the 2009 Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Short Fiction/Illustrated Work/Picture Book and was a Notable Book in the Younger Readers Category, Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2010.

Visit Pamela Freeman’s website

 

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Liz Anelli once had a job dusting dinosaurs at London’s Natural History Museum. Nowadays she draws every day and illustrates picture books; combining collage, printmaking and paint into digitally composed artworks. These have collected numerous shortlistings and awards. In between books she creates quirky illustrated maps.

Having spent 10 glorious years in Australia she and her husband are now living in Cambridge, England. Liz loves sharing her passion for making pictures at festivals, libraries and schools around the world.

Visit Liz Anelli’s website

Alex and the Alpacas Save the World by Kathryn Lefroy 

Originally published in 2019, Alex and the Alpacas Save the World was shortlisted in the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards. It is a fast-paced middle-grade fantasy set on a farm in Tasmania. Alex and her mum are about to spend the summer holidays visiting her cantankerous grandfather on his property. As her mum and grandfather have a difficult relationship, Alex has never been there before but from the moment she arrives, strange things start to happen.

Alex discovers she is the Fortieth Sun, destined to defeat the evil spirit Kialia who is bound inside an olive tree in her late grandmother’s olive grove. She also finds that she can talk to the four alpacas on the farm, which are not what they appear. Working out what the key is and how to defeat the evil threatening the world takes all the ingenuity of Alex, her friend Leeuie from the property nearby, the grandfather who turns out to be a Guardian and the alpacas. However, the epilogue casts a shadow over the ending of the book and the good vs evil battle continues in Alex and the alpacas ride again.

This is a well-written story with a fast-moving plot and well-drawn characters. The alpacas in particular are warm, endearing and funny. Whether the fantasy scenario is plausible enough for the reader is up to them to decide. 

Reviewed by Lynne Babbage

Age Guide 9+

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathryn Lefroy, author for childrenKathryn has story in her blood. Her great-great-great-uncle was Jane Austen’s inspiration for one of literature’s most well-loved figures, Mr Darcy. She writes fiction novels and screenplays, and nonfiction content for some of the world’s top brands.

Kathryn has a first class honours degree in Art History from the University of Melbourne, a PhD in Marketing from Monash University, and is a graduate of UCLA’s professional screenwriting program. She not-so-secretly wishes she lived in a dance movie.

Visit Kathryn Lefroy’s website

A Better Best Friend by Olivier Tallec

When Squirrel is out walking, usually all he finds are pine cones. But today he found a friend. Pock is a mushroom. Of course, squirrel says, you can have lots of friends, but a BEST friend is different. He thinks that is what Pock will be. It takes a while for them to say anything, but it isn’t long before our squirrel is racing around showing Pock his favourite things. The tree he likes most, the tall grass and the puddles that reflect the sunlight. 

As the seasons change, they watch the autumn leaves then the snowflakes fall. Then as spring arrives so does a new friend, Moo. A fly.

It takes them a while to say anything but Moo shows them places they’ve
never seen before, with new puddles that also reflect the sunlight, but the clouds too.  

Maybe Moo is a better BEST friend? But wait, now here’s Gunther! Our overthinking squirrel wonders how many best friends he can have.

Better Best Friend is a joyous book that is a treasure. The illustrations just so warm and instantly connect you with all the emotions that our particular squirrel has, and Tallec even manages to give our quiet mushroom a wonderful expression.  

A broad smile was across my face the whole way through this book. 

Reviewed by Emily Ross

Age Guide 3+

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olivier Tallec, illustrator and author

Olivier Tallec is an illustrator based in Paris, France.

He was born in Brittany, France. After graduating from the École Supérieure d’ArtsAppliqués Duperré in Paris, he travelled extensively and now lives and works in Paris.

He hasillustrated over 60 books for children, along with his work as both author and illustrator.

Follow Oliver Tallec on Instagram

Super Snake by Gregg Dreise

Stormy clouds whirl across the sky and lightning lights up the ridges above the drought-riven land as a large rainbow appears and curves down to the ground. Mundegutta Gooriya the Super Snake slithers down. He tells the elders he can help them find water. They are frightened yet climb upon his back. He takes them east, travelling through the Goomelroi and Ngarabal Country where more elders climbed upon his back.

As they reach where the rivers meet the ocean, he teaches them about ocean water that Yirray, the sun, sucks up leaving salt behind. Water needs to be shared. ‘You can’t have a rainbow without water,’ he calls out.

Using his body, Super Snake carves out the land to make a river. When tired, he lays down creating great lakes beside the ocean as he massages his aches away. He continues to carve the land as he heads west. When he looks back and sees the water being sucked up by Yirray he ‘thrust his body down to create an underground water system’. Again, he teaches the elders how precious water is. ‘You can’t have a rainbow without water.’

This dreamtime story tells of the creation of the Darling River that begins its life in Southern Queensland, travelling through New South Wales and ending in South Australia.  

The illustration are luscious and earthy, filling every page and the story reminds us that we need to share our resources and care for them as they are not unlimited. Super Snake is the author’s first book in a ‘Scales and Tails’ series and I am very much looking forward to more.

Reviewed by Emily Ross

Age Guide 5+

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Dreise, Australian author, illustrator and song writerGreg Dreise is an author, artist and song writer –

I love being an Author, come take a look,

I love to sit and create, another little book.

I love to retell stories, from Dreamtime to new,

I love to give imagery, tell a yarn is what I do.

I love to sit and paint, while I am creating,

I love to work to relax – not for a rating.

I love to build up a picture, through my hands,

I love to create imagery, from my lands.

I love to create music, from my guitar,

I love to sing and dream, of being a star.

I love to play the drums and the didgeridoo,

I love to create music, about me or you.

Visit Greg Dreise’s website

 

 

Dinosaur in My Pocket by Ashleigh Barton & illustrated by Blithe Fielden  

James loves two things. The first thing is dinosaurs. Everything from Diplodocuses to Velociraptors. The second thing is miniatures. He
has a huge collection on his shelves of teeny, tiny things from a fire truck, a lion, to a red telephone box. He even has a miniature fridge.

One day James visited the museum and there he found the most perfect thing. A miniature Triceratops! But James didn’t have any money. He wanted this so very badly. ‘He looked left. He looked right.’ Now he did a naughty thing. He put it in his pocket.

The rest of the day James didn’t feel right. He couldn’t eat his sandwich for lunch. He felt something wriggling in his chest. When he looked down the Triceratops he’d put in his pocket was growing bigger! He put it quickly in his bag. But by the time he got home it had grown even bigger. His mum was watching as it burst out of his school bag. He had to confess.

This cautionary tale tells us how guilt can grow so big but doing the right thing can set it straight. The way the parents deal with James’s ‘sticky fingers’ is softly done as they help him learn but also find a way to have his teeny dinosaur after all.

Much to feel good about here.

Reviewed by Merle Morcom

Age Guide 3+

 

Ashleigh Barton, author children's ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh Barton is a children’s author and content and copywriter based in Sydney, Australia. This means all her working hours are spent on her own creative projects or crafting copy for clients in various industries all over the world. No two days are the same – just the way she likes it.

Before writing full-time, she pursued my love of books (children’s books especially) by working in some of Australia’s biggest publishing houses. She ran marketing and publicity campaigns for globally-renowned authors and illustrators, including some of myher all-time favourites.

Visit Ashleigh Barton’s website

 

Blithe Fielden, Australian illustrator booksABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Blithe Fielden is an illustrator from the UK but now based in Brisbane. Blithe loves to create playful, colourful and happy illustrations, depicting the world through the eyes of children.

Since graduating from Leeds Arts University with a BA (Hons) in Illustration, Blithe has showcased her illustrations to a range of audiences.

Follow Blithe Fielden on instagram

Leo and Ralph by Peter Carnavas

Leo and Ralph lie on a blanket together. It’s evening and they are looking at the stars. Leo asks, ‘What planet should we look for?’ Ralph says, ‘Flumblebot’. This planet is one of Leo’s favourites that they had invented.

Leo is about to move house and tonight will be their last night together. Leo’s family is moving to a small country town and Ralph can’t come. Ralph is Leo’s imaginary friend, and everyone agrees that Leo’s old enough to leave Ralph behind. 

Leo doesn’t find he fits in or makes friends easily. After Ralph turned up, having arrived from one of Jupiter’s moons, school became ‘less scary’ and Ralph became the ‘friend of his dreams’.  

The car is packed and the family head off to a new town, a new school, a new life. But can Leo manage without Ralph? When his mum sees Leo’s pinky being held out to his side in mid-air, she knows that Ralph is back holding his hand.

This book touched my heart. The way Ralph changes colour to match Leo’s emotions, his silly antics and sense of fun had me smiling and my heart swelling. Leo’s emotions had me empathising and reliving the feelings we have all experienced. 

Carnavas’ writing is simply outstanding. He has created a most beautiful, thoughtful and gentle book about growing up, being brave, and finding out that what might scare you, or make you feel awkward, might not be so scary or awkward after all.

Leo and Ralph deserves to have many young hands lovingly wrapped around it. 

Reviewed by Jane Stephens

Age Guide 7+

Read an interview with Peter Carnavas about Leo and Ralph

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Carnavas Australian author for kidsPeter Carnavas writes and illustrates books for children. He has made many picture books, such as The Children Who Loved Books, Last Tree in the City and A Quiet Girl.

His novel The Elephant won a Queensland Literary Award and was shortlisted in four other national awards. He has won an Australian Book Industry Award and a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and his books have been published widely across the world.

My Brother Ben, won the 2022 Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, was shortlisted at the 2022 Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards, longlisted for the 2022 Australian Book Industry Award’s Book of the Year for Younger Children, and was a 2022 CBCA Notable.

Peter lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, with his wife, two daughters, a dog and a cat.

Visit Peter Carnavas’ website