Janine Kitson

Rock Pool Secrets

by Narelle Oliver

Walker Books, 2017

This gentle and calming book invites the reader to discover the wonder and magic that exists in rock pools. At first glance, there appears nothing much to see. However its secrets can be discovered. Just sit quietly and observe the many sea creatures that camouflage and hide with the coming and going of the tide. Author/illustrator Narelle Oliver’s poetic words and beautiful linocut artwork open up the fascinating world of the rock pool where the sea anemone, hermit crab, decorator crab, shrimp, goby fish, starfish, octopus, sea slug, turban sea snail all live. The book literally opens up as the reader lifts numerous flaps to reveal hidden marine life in the rock pool.

This book wonderfully explores the biodiversity of rock pools. It reminds me of US marine biologist Rachel Carson who loved rock pools, which motivated her to write her ground breaking Silent Spring that ignited the modern environmental movement. The book, dedicated “For rock pool explorers big and small everywhere”, makes you want to visit a rock pool soon!

Smart about Sharks

by Owen Davey

Flying Eye Books, 2016

Not only is this book an excellent factual text about sharks but also it celebrates the majestic power of one of the ocean’s most successful predators. Suitable for middle years, author/illustrator Owen Davey explains shark biology and nomenclature. He brilliantly explains their complex lives and the many species including the hammerhead, great white, basking shark, Port Jackson shark, cookiecutter shark and even the wonderfully named tasselled wobbegong that is camouflaged to look like pieces of coral. The book is beautifully illustrated with excellent layout that enables complex facts to be presented in accessible ways. It gently invites one to consider the threats to sharks and why they must be valued. At a time when the world’s oceans are facing threats of staggering proportions, this book gives hope. If we get smart enough we might actually save our sharks and the marine world that we are so dependent upon.

Just Cool It! The Climate Crisis and what we can do: a post-Paris agreement

by David Suzuki and Ian Hanington

NewSouth, 2017

Legendary Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki explains global warming: its science, history (particularly since the Paris Agreement of December 2015), its consequences, obstacles and most importantly the solutions needed. The book was published before US President Donald Trump controversially announced the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The agreement was a worldwide commitment to solving global warming by agreeing to transition from fossil fuels to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. Despite Australia signing the Paris Climate Agreement, it remains disappointing that the Australian government continues to dither on moving to renewable energy. Shamefully, it has offered a billion-dollar subsidy to start the mega Adani coal mine in Queensland.

Without shifting away from coal, the world will face devastating consequences, including rising sea levels, food and water shortages, and increased extreme weather, droughts and flooding.

The book also explains the dire risks facing the ocean as it absorbs the excess carbon and becomes warmer and more acidic. There are threats from pollution, over-fishing, massive swirling islands of plastic waste, dead zones caused by nitrogen run off from agriculture, and sewerage.

Despite these confronting facts, David Suzuki remains hopeful we can achieve a safer, healthier and fairer world.

All three books are available from Federation Library.

Janine Kitson is a Federation Life Member

Classroom Activities

Rock Pool Secrets

K-6 Science and Technology
Stage 1, Living World
Living things live in different places where their needs are met.

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. Have you visited a rock pool?
  2. Why secrets have you seen in a rock pool?
  3. Why are rock pools important?

Suggestions for learning activities:

  1. Visit a rock pool and observe its secrets.
  2. Make a class collage of a rock pool.
  3. Drama – Act out the life in a rock pool – its changing moods with the waves crashing and smashing; the tides coming in and out; the calmness; the danger.

Smart about Sharks

7-10 Science:
Stage 4, Living World
There are differences within and between groups of organisms; classification helps organise this diversity.

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. What do you know about sharks?
  2. Which shark most interests you?
  3. Why is it important to protect sharks?

Suggestions for learning activities:

  1. Use the book as an inspiration to choreograph a dance about sharks and their world.
  2. Research the threats to sharks, imagining you are a marine biologist.
  3. Debate: Sharks should not be punished for attacking people.

Just Cool It!

7-10 History:
Topic 5b: The environment movement (1960s-present)
Responses of governments, including the Australian government, and international organisations to environmental threats since the 1960s, including deforestation and climate change.

Small group/pair discussion:

  1. What do you know about climate change?
  2. What has been done to address climate change?
  3. What still needs to be done to address climate change?

Suggestions for learning activities

  1. Write a time line of key events where scientists made discoveries about how the climate was changing due to human influence.
  2. Draw an action plan of how to address the problem of climate change.
  3. Role play an interview with David Suzuki on his book.