The Wonderful Wisdom of ants.
Philip Bunting (2020)
Omnibus Books: Scholastic
The Wonderful Wisdom of Ants is a playful picture book written by the highly recognised author of Mopoke, Philip Bunting. It sets out to answer life’s biggest questions through the often unnoticed yet insightful world of ants. Bunting takes us on a factual journey to discover the hidden talents of these little creatures while subtly drawing comparisons to humans, their relationships with each other and the earth.
Bunting’s known quirky style does not disappoint in this factual book. Similar to conventional non-fiction texts, the book provides facts about its topic’s (ants) likes, dislikes, community and hierarchy. The reader will learn about communication and diet, with exposure to a range of technical language. The uniqueness in this text, however, comes from the comedy and graphic design which is far from a typical information text. Bold blocks of earthy colours cover each page with large, simple illustrations. Facts are presented through smoothly structured sentences, diagrams and picture labels. Bunting maintains engagement for the reader, employing strategies such as repetition, single word and complex sentences, to convey meaning while keeping the explanations comprehendible for a range of readers. He adds characterisation to the ants through humorous dialogue in the form of speech bubbles and quotes.
The book is a perfect intergenerational text that can be read to a younger audience while still being enjoyed by the older reader. As a mentor text for the classroom, this book would be perfect to teach the comprehension strategy Making Connections as the author leads the reader to connect and compare the information with their knowledge of the world, humans and relationships. The study of sentence fluency could also highlight the clever way that short sentences, repetition and more complex sentences can be carefully crafted to engage the reader.
From the illustrations, graphic design, humour and facts, there is something for everyone in this delightful book.
The Cage by Lloyd Jones
Lloyd Jones (2018)
Read by Amos Phillips
Strangers. They’ve experienced an inexplicable trauma, arrive without documentation and cannot explain who they are. No birth certificates, passports or ID. We want to help them but how do we know we can trust them? Without documentation, substantiated history, how do we know their true purpose? Keep them detained- to protect us, to protect them. Until…
The Cage by Lloyd Jones tells this initially innocent tale that becomes more and more immoral as the story progresses. The protagonist is a reliable yet naïve narrator and the reader joins him in observing the happenings from a distance. But at what point should our storyteller stop observing and intervene? At what point should we?
The allegory Jones writes is expertly woven into a fictional account set in a small country town. The community is tight and cooperative. They create and follow protocols as they incarcerate two distressed and suffering strangers who cannot explain themselves adequately for the townspeople. The reader is positioned to wonder what they hope to achieve with this cage and for how long the ordeal will last.
Salt by Bruce Pascoe
Salt- Selected Stories and Essays
Bruce Pascoe 2019
Challenging. This book challenged my understanding of the history of Australia. It challenged my vocabulary knowledge and comprehension. It challenged me because I couldn’t always relate to the situations that characters were in. It was a book I could put down, and I often did. I kept coming back to it, however, because I knew that these challenges were an essential way for me to crawl my way out of ignorance. Pascoe has a way with words that is poetic, at times gritty and highly intelligent. Throughout this book, as well as Dark Emu and Young Dark Emu, Pascoe brings to light, cultural identity that exists within many Indigenous Australian communities.
Salt is a collection of short stories and essays. The essays reflect on a version of Australian history that has been taught for centuries in contrast to the truth of Australian history that should be taught. He explores people’s general perceptions about the origins of farming, bread making and science concepts while exposing the ignorance of many through his research from the written transcripts of the European explorers. At times, his essays are angry and sometimes sarcastic, however, always informed and informative.
Pascoe’s stories can be abrasive. They talk of relationships and give voice to interesting and diverse characters. At times, his stories are so personal, one might feel embarrassed to be reading, as is the case in Dawn. Romantic stories such as Pittosporum invite the senses as readers feel the texture of words on their tongues, visualise smells and experience colours.
A book worth persisting with.
What's this about?
As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.