Exploring Australia

Australia has long been on my list of places I’d love to visit.  It is a wonderfully diverse place—particularly in its animal life.  I was surprised to learn recently that Australia is home to some of the most dangerous snakes in the world and the greatest number of reptiles of any country.  Eek! Maybe it’s all right that I don’t have any immediate plans for world travel.  I’ll just explore Australia from the safety of my library.

Survival at 120 Above by Debbie S. Miller and Jon Van Zyle (ill.) July 2012. 9780802798145. Gr. 2-4.

In the heart of Australia’s Simpson Desert the temperature reaches 120 degrees or more in the middle of the day.  This picture book introduction to an extreme environment features several unusual animals and how they stay cool and find food.  The author traveled from her home in Alaska to Australia to explore the desert with a team of scientists.  She describes her trip in an author’s note revealing that she saw all of the animals she describes in the book with her own eyes.  Frankly, I am more than happy to stick with the book for this particular destination. 🙂

Kangaroo and Crocodile: My Big Book of Australian Animals  by Bronwyn Bancroft. September 2012. 9781921714252. Gr. PS-1

Australian artist Bronwyn Bancroft has published several books that introduce young readers to her country, and her latest is an excellent addition to her body of work.  Her bold illustrations that use techniques from her Aboriginal background feature Australian animals and landscapes with large text that will grow well to groups.  There is more information about the animals in the end notes for the kids who want to know more.  This is a great choice to introduce a unit on Australia since it highlights the plants and animals of the region as well as traditional art.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Joeys: A Guide for Marsupial Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos and Stephane Jorisch (ill.) January 2012. 9780761358596. Gr. 3-5.

Kangaroo and Crocodile is just the beginning when it comes to marsupials. This humorous question and answer guide will cover everything your students may want to know about kangaroos, koalas, and more.  It is full of interesting information and anthropomorphic illustrations that will have kids laughing.  Teachers may want to pair it with Nic Bishop’s Marsupials for a fun lesson on these unusual animals that combines humor with facts.

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