Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback – Stephanie Owen Reeder National

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L9780642279521ibrary of  Australia

February 2020

ISBN:   9780642279521

RRP: $24.99

I adore this series! In Heritage Heroes, Reeder not only takes her readers on adventures but provides rich fodder for hunters of history. Each volume has explored the (often unknown) achievements of young Australian people of the past in a fictionalised narrative which is lavishly interspersed with reproduced primary documents and photographs, ephemera, information on related topics such as animals, significant events and people and more.

Each volume is so sublimely presented that it becomes a tactile delight and the joy is not just in the reading but in the holding in one’s hands.

In this latest, the fifth, we are treated to the discovery of opals at what is now Coober Pedy by 14 year old Will Hutchison who accompanied his father, two other men and six camels on an expedition into outback South Australia in a time of pretty basic equipment and the dangers of extreme drought.

When Will decides to go with his father on the trip for the New Colorado Prospecting Syndicate he has no idea what dangers and hardships lay ahead. Their determination to find gold is undaunted by these although Will struggles to stay positive. Just when the situation appears to be at its most dire and unsuccessful with the company resolved to return to Adelaide, it is Will who literally stumbles onto the Stuart Range opal field which remains one of the most valuable in Australia and certainly  a location which is totally unique with so many of the dwellings being underground.

With the addition of ‘what happened next’ information, biographical notes, glossary and references for exploring further some of the many related topics this is treasure worth the delving.

What a marvellous new addition to this award-winning series this is. Highly recommended for readers from Upper Primary to Secondary not to mention any adults interested in Australian history.

Evie and Pog (series)– Tania McCartney

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Evie and Pog Take Off FINAL COVER

Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

I’ve said before that Tania McCartney is uber-talented (as well as being one of the very nicest humans I know) and I for one am tremendously excited about this new series pitched at newly independent readers. It’s just fabulous to see a few new series to add to these collections!

 High in a tree house live two very best friends. One is a girl and one is a dog. And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.

So starts each book and just like ‘Once upon a time..’ the pattern will signal to children that the fun and adventures are about to begin. These stories absolutely ooze exuberance with their characters and antics. Evie is six years old and lives with Pog in a slightly eccentric tree house alongside Granny Gladys who lives in a rather large, though no less eccentric, house. Evie loves crashing her cymbals, rolling in the daisy spot lawn, reading, cakes and knitting. Pog loves reading too but he prefers to sit at the table with a large cup of tea and his newspaper. He also loves vegetables – in any shape or form. Granny is a tidier and a rampant cleaner who is almost permanently attached to her dust buster. She also loves knitting and baking cakes (though not the mess that always seems to arise from cooking!).

They have some good friends like Noah and Mr Pooch and Miss Footlights and the adventures often include these characters.

Each book contains three separate stories and the uniform format with the double page spread of the tree house plan as the frontispiece and the cast of characters and the map of the village on the final pages gives readers that sense of continuity and familiarity they love.

Each is chockers with Tania’s humorous and always endearing  illustrations and loaded with onomatopoeia and a wonderful variety of fonts giving each an even more lively feel.

Evie and Pog: Take Off! [Evie and Pog #1]

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ISBN: 9781460757932

ISBN 10: 1460757939

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 12.99 AUD

  •  Puppy School Mess
  •  School Play Drama
  •  Cake Stall Chaos

 

I’m pretty sure you can surmise from the story titles that there is a continuing theme of incidents filled with rambunctiousness and hilarity which generally involve lots of  knitting yarn (usually in tangles), cakes and unexpected happenings.

For example, when Granny decides Pog must go to Puppy School with Mr Pooch it is not the dogs who win the Puppy Challenge  – and certainly not Pog who is completely and utterly against such demeaning activities – but Evie who aces the challenge course and becomes the first ‘girl’ winner.

 

 

Evie and Pog: Puppy Playtime! [Evie and Pog #2]

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ISBN: 9781460757949

ISBN 10: 1460757947

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 12.99 AUD

  • Reno Rumble
  • Classroom Contraption
  • Puppy Park

The tree house is freezing and Evie, Pog and Granny decide it’s time to renovate and what better way to do so than with knitting. They could really use some help though and when Noah comes to visit they know he will be the perfect person to assist – even only they can work out how to get him up into the tree house, Noah being too heavy for the basket which is the general method of entry.

Of course throughout each of these is again the signature knitting, cakes, often surprising accidental events which are always resolved happily (and with the aid of the aforementioned knitting and cakes).

These are truly hilarious and quirky almost to a point of outlandishly silly which little readers will absolutely love. The belly laughs will be plentiful I predict!

 

Highly recommended for younger readers from around six years upwards. What a joy they are!

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Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Random House Australia

February 2020

ISBN: 9781760896034

Imprint: Penguin

RRP: $19.99

Parents (and librarians) of the legion Alice-Miranda fans you are hereby warned! It will not matter one jot whether your devotee has every title in the series they will vociferously demand this gorgeous anniversary edition become part of their collection.

This beautiful hardback with its sumptuous gilt scrolling will be the piece de resistance for any lover of the tiny indomitable compassionate child we have all come to know and love.

From her first appearance ten years ago Alice-Miranda has gone from strength to strength with readers,  even thos who would now be considered too old for the readership still happily delving into the pages of her adventures.

Jacqueline’s understanding of what makes such stories relevant and meaningful to her readers is superb and she is unwavering in her commitment to provide fun and excitement along with kindness and courage exemplars for her fans.

Readers have just had the excitement of seeing Alice-Miranda in her first animated film appearance (an event that caused joy of immense proportions for so many!) and now they will revel in holding this precious gift of a book in their hands.

A beautifully written letter from Jacqueline prefaces this edition and her readers, both  young and old, will love the insight into the creation of A-M and her journey into published work.

You know and I know that I don’t need to ‘sell’ this one – like all the other titles (18 in all, along with other activity books and so on) – will just jump off the shelves into the hands of those who sincerely hope that this tiny dynamo has many more adventures in store.

Either as a special gift or just because – this one is a must-have! Congratulations Jacqueline Harvey on this wonderful milestone and thank you for all the joy that Alice-Miranda along with Clementine Rose plus Kensy and Max have brought to us all.

The Space We’re In – Katya Balen

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Bloomsbury

November 2019

ISBN: 9781526610942

RRP $14.99

What an absolutely stunning debut novel from Katya Balen! Simultaneously heart-breaking and uplifting Balen examines the difficulties faced by a child living with a special needs sibling.

Frank is ten years old. He loves soccer and space, he loves secret codes and playing in the ‘Wilderness’ with his two best friends. He loves living in his funny dilapidated house with his loving mother and father and he sort of loves his 5 year old brother Max who is severely autistic. Really Frank is struggling with his relationship with Max and often resents the way his little brother’s condition monopolises his mother’s attention and creates general havoc in the home and anywhere else. He knows that his mother and father love him dearly but there are times he wishes that they were in the same place they were before Max arrived.

We are her world and her universe and her space and her stars and her sky and her galaxy and her cosmos too

His mum’s constant affirmation of her love for them all is the lodestone to which Max clings and the rare moments they spend together just the two of them are infinitely precious to him.

When unspeakable tragedy strikes Frank is even more at odds with his brother but gradually through the support and intervention of understanding people such as neighbour Mark as well as his friends, Frank begins to piece together a new cosmos for his family – one that is different and not always easy but one in which Max is no longer light years apart from him.

Tissues are needed for this as there was a great deal that hit a little too close to home for me and it would be best that readers of a sensitive nature should be cautioned about the often very emotional content but it is a truly fabulous read. Often the voice of a sibling who finds themselves in this situation is glossed over or idealised or even just ignored. This book addresses the very real conflict that such children can experience and shows that there can be a way forward.

Highly recommended for readers from around 12 years upwards.

The Kid Who Came From Outer Space – Ross Welford

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Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

ISBN: 9780008333782

ISBN 10: 0008333785

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 14.99 AUD

This is the second Ross Welford book I have read and reviewed [The 1, 000 Year Old Boy] and once again I am tremendously impressed in his story-telling which takes something unbelievable and makes it completely feasible.

A small village in Northumberland is shocked and in turmoil after the mysterious disappearance of 12 year old Tammy especially of course her parents and her twin brother Ethan. Despite vigorous and thorough searching there seem to be no clues. That is until Ethan reluctantly accompanies relative newcomer and definitely odd Iggy for a spot of fishing to ‘take his mind off’ the situation. The boys don’t have any luck with the fishing but they do ‘catch’ something – the realisation of an invisible spacecraft and the appearance of a definitely visible fur-covered tailed humanoid called Hellyann – who indicates that she not only knows where Tammy is but how to rescue her.

Imagine a civilisation that keeps animals in a zoo for the edification of its own species – oh that’s right – but imagine if that civilisation is located on a remote planet in another galaxy and the animals kept are actually humans. That’s where Tammy has been taken by one of the ‘Hunters’ of the planet Anthalla. This race has become so uniform and so controlled in its past 500 years of history that no member of it dares to disagree with any of the strict protocols in place. There may be order and peace but it’s at a price – with no individuality or emotions allowed. The flaw in that is that there are just a few Anthallans whose ancestors were of ‘mixed’ DNA so that their descendants retain some human traits – such as emotional responses. And Hellyann is one of these ‘Hearters’ and knows that there is something inherently wrong with abducting a human, removing it from its family and keeping it sedated and contained. Hence she sets out on a mission to rescue Tammy but enlisting Ethan and Iggy.

There is much humour to be had in this narrative but also a great deal of thought-provoking concepts to consider. Once again Welford has crafted a story which demonstrates the unerring ability of children to bridge the sometimes vast gap between others and forge unlikely friendships as well as rising to challenges which reveal their inner reserves of determination, resilience, courage and compassion.

Another truly worthwhile book to share with your readers from around 8ish upwards, I highly recommend it for Middle Primary to Lower Secondary students.

Love From the Crayons – Drew Daywalt/Oliver Jeffers

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Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

ISBN: 9780008384920

ISBN 10: 0008384924

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 14.99 AUD

You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love the crayons books!

Now you can give the gift of love AND crayons to someone special whether that’s a big or a small person.

What colour do you think love is? For me it’s a sort of sunset orangey/red 😊.  For you it might be white “because sometimes love is hard to see” or perhaps it’s grey “because love can be small and soft, or big and strong” or even purple “because love has its own imagination”. Each variation is accompanied by the colourful crayon drawings we’ve come to relish in these popular titles.

You may choose to give this to a little one to show your love for them or even add it to a special Valentine’s Day gift – my copy is going to be one of the ‘revolving’ titles in the reflection space in my library – just to remind all who pick it up that love comes in many colours but is always present.

Highly recommended for readers from babies upwards.

 

 

My Folks Grew Up in the ‘80s – Beck and Robin Feiner

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HarperCollins Australia

September 2019

ISBN: 9780733339417

ISBN 10: 0733339417

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

List Price: 24.99 AUD

Well of course it is great fun for kids to have a laugh at their parents but there’s also that more serious side of researching  personal or modern history – sounds good don’t you think?

Any of us who lived through the 80s (and possibly those of us who had teenagers back then) can pat ourselves on the back that we actually made it through all the weirdness that embodies that decade.

Big hair and big shoulders, flouro and hypercolour, lycra (arrghhh!) and legwarmers, breakdancing and Blind Date and telephone books and tapes – it’s all here in blazing and humiliating glory, ready for instant hysterical laughter from the younger generation.

This madly colourful and highly entertaining takes readers through a high-speed tour of the best  worst of everything their parents or other family members remember fondly.

It’s a laugh on every page and totally cringe-worthy. Don’t miss out – or more importantly don’t let your kiddos miss out.

I’m planning on letting the Kid take a look just to see what her mum and her aunties looked like and did back in their wild abandoned youth (well some of it!).

Highly recommended for kids from around 8 years upwards – or adults who just want to reminisce…..b708d78c6a833b3624217da24deae669

 

Top Koala – Jackie French. Illustrated by Matt Shanks

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HarperCollins Australia

November 2011

ISBN: 9781460754818

ISBN 10: 1460754816

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 24.99 AUD

Following the huge success of Koala Bare this favourite furry friend returns with enough self-confidence to power the whole country!

I am top of every tree!

Top is always best to be.

With the terrible outcome of bushfires and the dire predicament of our native animals, particularly koalas there could be no better time to use a delightful picture book to focus attention on these amazing and threatened creatures.

Once again Jackie’s lively rhyming text is accompanied by the truly beautiful watercolour illustrations of Matt Shanks as readers follow Koala to the top of everything – whether its Uluru or Parliament House or the Big Pineapple. Children will once again be treated to exposure to some of our quirky Australian animals including that favourite – the quokka with loads of laughs along the way.

Whether you have a classroom topic of animals or Australia or simply to remind your kiddos of the need to protect our fauna,  this is superb way to introduce both and your audience will definitely be clamouring for re-reads!

Highly recommended for little readers from around 3 years upwards.

Ten Minutes to Bed: …. Rhiannon Fielding/Chris Chatterton

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Penguin Random House Australia

There would not be many parents (or grandparents/carers) who haven’t had to coax a small one to bed at some time and if that’s you right now this little series which has been brought to my attention would be a perfect shared read to give that heads up that it’s sleep time.

They are colourful and full of lively and rhythmic text which is accentuated by the use of varying font size and design with lots of the onomatopoeia that children love to echo.

I love that each has a full double spread map of The Land of Nod at the end so adult and child can locate where the characters might hang out.

These would be really suitable for cuddle-up-on-a-lap bedtime reading or indeed as a prelude to naptime in an early childhood setting.

You may choose the latest which is the mermaid or perhaps your little reluctant sleeper is more of a monster *wink*.

Recommended for children from babies upwards to around four or five years old.

 

Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Mermaid

9780241372678

August 2019

ISBN: 9780241372678

Imprint: Ladybird

RRP: $14.99

Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Monster

9780241348918

December 2018

ISBN: 9780241348918

Imprint: Ladybird

RRP: $14.99

Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Unicorn

9780241348925

September 2018

ISBN: 9780241348925

Imprint: Ladybird

RRP: $14.99

 

 

Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror – Natasha Farrant/Lydia Corry

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Harper Collins

November 2019

ISBN: 9781788541152

ISBN 10: 1788541154

Imprint: Head Of Zeus – Zehpyr – GB

List Price: 29.99 AUD

Whether you are looking for alternative princesses or fairy tales or just looking for a beautiful book for the Mighty Girls in your readership this stunning gift book ticks all the boxes.

When an enchantress prepares for a new princess’ naming day saying she promises to ensure that the new little girl will become an ‘excellent’ princess, she needs to determine what in fact that means.

According to some it’s clean fingernails, manners, being pretty and kind to animals but the enchantress feels it’s so much more than just that. Her magic mirror is really not that much help but she knows a way to solve that problem and shrinks the large mirror to a pocket-sized compact and so its adventures begin.

Picked up by the first princess and travelling through time, place and misadventure over centuries the mirror becomes an important talisman for a eight different girls, each with their own strengths and energetic personalities who demonstrate courage, intelligence, compassion and love with big hearts and a burning desire to live life to its very best whatever that may be.

When the mirror returns finally to the old enchantress both have learned something valuable and lasting and the new princess will undoubtedly benefit from their wisdom.

This is truly a beautiful book both to read and behold – the colourful illustrations lend a real insight into each different princess and the absolutely glorious binding will make it a treasure for any recipient.

Mirror, mirror on the wall… what makes a princess excellent?’ The enchantress’s mirror travels through time, from east to west, to find the answer. Reflected in it are princesses who refuse to be pretty, polite or obedient. These are girls determined to do the rescuing themselves. The Arabian princess of the desert protects her people from the king with the black and gold banner; Latin American Princess, Tica, takes a crocodile for a pet; a Scottish princess explores the high seas; African Princess, Abayome, puts empathy and kindness above being royal; and in a tower-block, Princess saves her precious community garden from the hands of greedy urban developers. {Publisiher}

Highly recommended for readers from 8 years upwards.