Wednesday, 8 December, 2021

Let The Ashes begin; Taiwan’s cane toad problem; Squiz E sniffs out a fake; and learning to read at 104.



Kuttiyamma the reading and writing granny:

Newshounds: the fake photo:


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Today marks the official start of the Australian summer … I know that’s not what the calendar says, but when the first ball is hurled down the wicket at the Gabba this morning, signalling the start of the First Test of The Ashes – that’s when we’ll know summer has really begun.

The Ashes take place every two years: it’s a cricket contest between old sporting rivals, England and Australia.

And this year’s Ashes are more significant than most, thanks to several factors. 

It’s the first outing for Australia’s new captain – Pat Cummins. Cummins is a fast bowler, and it’s not usual for a fast bowler to be captain – such is the concentration required to rocket those cricket balls down the wicket, over after over. 

One former Australian Prime Minister once famously said he had the second-most important job in the world – after the Aussie cricket captain. So, you know, no pressure then.

And then there’s the question mark that still hangs over where the fifth test match of The Ashes will take place. It was supposed to be played in Perth, but border closures and COVID restrictions have made that impossible. So now Cricket Australia has asked other capital cities to bid for the right to host the fifth and final Test match. Sydney and Melbourne are favourites – but Hobart has made an impassioned plea to give the little guy a go.

England yesterday named their 11 man squad to take to Brisbane’s famous cricket oval, the Gabba today – with big things expected of Ben Stokes  

If you’ve signed up already for Squiz Kids bonus content on Apple Podcasts, you’ll have access to a special shortcut on The Ashes: a ten minute deep dive into the history, the background, the ins and the outs – everything you’ve ever wanted to know about one of our great sporting contests. Search Squiz Kids on Apple Podcast and sign up for your free trial today.



Each day we give the world globe a spin, and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed in Taiwan .. where the sudden appearance of cane toads in suburban backyards has environmentalists there very worried.

If you live in or have ever visited Queensland – you’d be familiar with the cane toad. Ugly little thing that breeds like you wouldn’t believe and squeezes out poison if a dog or threatening human comes near it. Can you tell I’m not a fan? They were introduced to Australia by Queensland sugar cane farmers back in 1935 – to try to control a beetle that had become a pest. About 100 cane toads were released into cane fields 90 odd years ago – now it’s estimated there are anywhere between 200 million to one billion of the pests hopping about the place. 

And after people in Taiwan started keeping them as pets and some of the pets were released by their owners, they’re starting to breed and become a pest there too. The race is on to find, trap and get rid of them before the problem gets out of control. Eugh.



Have you got your report card back yet? How did you go in reading and writing? If your marks weren’t all that crash hot this year – don’t worry. Everyone gets their head around reading and writing in their own time. Take for example .. Kuttiyamma – a granny in India who only learned to read and write at the age of 104.

Yes that’s right – 104 years old.

Because she was married at a young age and her adult life was mostly about household chores and raising a family, Kuttiyamma didn’t get to go to school – and so she never learned to read. 

But thanks to a government program, she took herself off to school at 104 and finally fulfilled a dream she’d had since she was a child: to read a book from cover to cover. 

And when test time came around, she even scored an impressive 89 out of 100 in her reading and writing exams.

Go Kuttiyamma!

The moral to the story: it’s never too late to chase a dream. And like Kuttiyamma, once you’ve mastered the art of reading and writing – do as much of both as you can. The more you read, the more you’ll love reading. Trust me on this one … 

There’s a link to video of Kuttiyamma’s story in today’s episode notes ..




In this segment, Squiz E the Newshound sniffs out fishy stories on the internet – … and this week, he’s in Europe, where he’s sniffed out another example of misinformation on social media. A photo that was posted on Facebook and shared many times by many people claimed to be of a crowd of people protesting against COVID vaccines. The post claimed it was a photo taken in the last month of protestors in Vienna, in Austria. Except, it wasn’t. It was in fact a much older photo – from the year 1991, so 30 years ago and long before COVID was even a thing – of a crowd in Russia who were protesting something completely different.

I’ve stuck a link to the photo and an explainer in today’s episode notes. 

It’s another example of why it’s really important to not always believe everything you see on social media … another example of how people use social media to spread misinformation … and why, like Squiz E, whenever we see something on the internet that looks fishy – we should always Stop. Think and Check. 



Have you been paying attention to 2021? Think you know more about what happened this year than your mum or dad? Then why not test once and for all who’s smarter – by signing up to our Squiz Kids summer holiday bonus content .. the perfect accompaniment for long road trips or lazy school holiday days at home by the pool.  We’ve got a whole summer planned of kids v adult quizzes – quizzes about space, animals, sport, music and even the very first Squiz Kids Christmas Quiz.

Plus a whole bunch of cool Shortcuts: deep dives into fun topics from Marvel movies to Roald Dahl and The Kid Laroi. Just visit Apple Podcasts, search for Squiz Kids and sign-up for the free trial. And make sure when your kids head back to school they do so with a head full of fun facts. You’re very welcome.))



This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What’s the name of the new Australian cricket captain?
  2. In which country does the Kuttiyamma the reading and writing granny live?
  3. What are environmentalists in Taiwan trying to control before it starts reproducing and becomes a pest?




It’s December 8 … birthday of Nicki Minaj … werk.

It’s also only 17 sleeps ‘til Christmas !! Here comes Santa Claus! 

Plus it’s a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today …

Chloe from Tingalpa, Kayden from Oran Park, Amelia from Ellenbrook, Oscar from Woollahra, Jessamy from Pymble, Ellie from Geraldton, Malakai from Maitland, Chloe from Barnawartha and Keeley from Lake Munmorah.

And because this is our last week of Squiz Kids before the school holidays, we’re giving happy ‘early’ birthday shout outs to all the Squiz Kids celebrating birthdays between next Monday and December 31 … and because you’re all special in my eyes – even if I won’t be here to wish you happy birthday on your actual birthday, I give you … the birthday reggae tune …. Hit it …. 

Happy “early” birthday to…Andreea from Glen Innes, Tate from Woodhill, Daylan from Shoal Bay, Tiana from Lysterfield, Hazel from Peakhurst, Therese from Griffith, Eoin from Broken Hill, Nidhi from Glendenning, Hugo from Abbotsford, Cate from Pymble, Scar from Blackburn South and Sam from Craigburn. 

Classroom shout outs today go to…Mrs Schiller from Inverell Public School who is also celebrating a birthday next week, class 4R at Murray Farm Public School in Carlingford, class 6A and B at St Joseph’s Primary School in Kempsey and to class 6M at Leura Public School. Also classroom shout outs to 5/6I at Mossvale Public School, class 5C at Kings Langley Public School and to class 3M at Tamworth Public School. Finally to class 5G and Mr Gomaz at Excelsior Public School in Castle Hill.


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Pat Cummins
  2. India
  3. Cane toads