When I first began compiling this list of resources for teachers, I surveyed writing colleagues who were also primary teachers to see what their favourite books were. Again and again, the same books and name kept popping up…Jill Morris. A great testament from her peers.
Jill Morris founded Greater Glider publishing in Melbourne in 1983. She began her writing journey creating scripts for TV, radio and theatre, later branching out into writing for children. Jill creates books for both the Curriculum Corporation and Greater Glider. Her books have strong environmental theme and are Australian classics. Jill now lives at the Book Farm in Queensland, where she hosts school visits and writing workshops.
When I first contacted Jill, she generously sent down a number of her titles and as I opened the package I knew I was in for a treat. There is a real sense of quality in the presentation of these Great Glider publications.
Green Air is one of Jill’s older books…I’ll be reviewing some of Jill’s other titles at a later date.
Green Air is the story of Silus the frog, who lives in a lush tropical forest. This book is very visually appealing…with rich browns and greens which simply drip with moisture. The effect is produced by the unusual illustration process using 3D clay sculptures immersed in water. Green Air was written by Jill to suit the medium of illustrator Lindsay Muir, a clay sculptor who runs workshops in making frogs and their habitats out of clay.
We first meet Silus as he swims to the surface to catch his first dragonfly. Using the words ‘piccabeen palms’ and ‘booyong trees’ firmly locates this book in the sub-tropics. It made me want to quickly google what they looked like and I’m sure it’s the sort of thing that your students would love to do too.
Silus meets other creatures in his habitat; the names of which are shortened versions of their scientific names. Chloris the red-eyed tree frog is Littoria chloris; Phyllurus the leaf-tailed gecko is Phyllurus cornutus and Dendre the tree snake is Dendrelaphis punctulata. In fact, Silus himself is Rheobatrachus silus, the Southern Gastric Brooding Frog. This could lead to a discussion on how species are named , between scientific names and common names and why scientific nomenclature is used.
The really fascinating part of course is the mating/breeding process! Silus fertilises the eggs but the female swallows them. They grow in her stomach and eventually she regurgitates them. ‘Green Air’ itself refers to the forest around Silus’ pool, to which he returns after being swept downstream to the ‘Yellow Air,’ where rotting and decomposition is occurring.
Such a lot of science in such a little book. The last page give us some sad background. ‘The Gastric-Brooding Frog was discovered in the Conondale and Blackall Ranges of southeastern Queensland, Austlaia in 1974. By 1981 it had disappeared.’
This story fits neatly into the biologicalsciences sub-strand of the National Curriculum, as it addresses areas such as habitat, how animals get their food, adaptations…Chloris can climb but Silus can’t. It would lead into interesting discussions at the year 4 level, which looks at how species have offspring.
It’s a great educational resource… but above all it’s a great read and is a story that can be read alone or shared with parents too.
Selected for Choice Magazine & Wilderness Society, 1996
Short listed Crichton Award, 1997
CBC Notable Book, 1997
Biological sciences (Foundation)
- Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)
Biological sciences (Year 1)
- Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)
- Living things live in different places where their
Biological sciences (Year 2)
- Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)
Biological sciences (Year 3)
- Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)
- Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)