Hot Cross Buns, Bilbies and Great Stories

In Australia, March sees the end of summer and start of autumn, along with the winding down of Term 1, and, of course, NAPLAN. Depending on your school or system, it may also have you writing reports and meeting with parents. Hopefully you make it to the end of the month and find a way for some rest over the Easter long weekend, particularly if you have to return to school for the final week/s of Term 1. Maybe the books below, or in this month’s new release newsletter, might even find their way into your hands?

In the lead-up to Earth Day on 22 April, the crayons are back with The Crayons Love Our Planet to remind us just how extraordinary – and colourful – the earth is. All the colours are proud of their contributions in making the world an amazing place, with gold lions, white caps and red cherries. Although blue is a little worn out from colouring in all of that sea and sky, and beige is so keen to remind us of the importance of wheat that he gets a little over-enthusiastic about where it fits in. But ultimately the crayons are here to remind us of a very important point: no matter what colour you are, it’s up to all of us to look after our planet. Another fun outing from the crayons!

In February 2021, NASA landed the Perseverance rover on Mars. It was an awe-inspiring moment in human history (if you’re able, I highly recommend watching the landing on YouTube). In A Rover’s Story, Jasmine Warga has imagined the rover Resilience is undertaking this mission. While Res is built to learn about the planet Mars, his education begins long before he leaves Earth, starting with him learning about the human subset (scientists) who are building him. From the scientists, Res learns emotions and soon develops a preference for some of the humans who work on him. While Res is learning on Earth, Sophia, the daughter of a NASA scientist, begins writing to him. At first this is part of a school assignment, but then as a way to express thoughts and feelings she’s unwilling to voice to anyone else. As Res heads off to Mars and begins his mission, Sophia’s world also expands, and they both discover untapped reserves of hope and determination. This is a beautifully written novel with a truly unique perspective. With its range of text types and short chapters, it lends itself to class study for middle and upper primary students with a range of abilities. Teaching resources are available.

It’s Monday morning and the four students heading for the first stop of the school bus couldn’t be more different. And yet, they all have the same thing on their minds: the very urgent need for money. Layla’s family needs $250,000 to send her brother to the US for experimental cancer treatment; Fliss needs £5,000 to pay off a blackmailer, or some hacked photos will make their way onto the internet; Kai needs money for rent and food so he can move from squatting in vacant holiday homes to having a home of his own; while Liam needs money for a New Year’s trip with his boyfriend, not to mention easing the pressure at home. An unexpected series of events sees the four of them escaping from their school bus as it plunges over a cliff, along with a bag holding a million pounds… and a gun. Is stealing money from a thief really theft? Are all of their problems over? Or is the law of unintended consequences around to rear its very ugly head? Four Good Liars is a twisty-turny thriller told from the points of view of all four students will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

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