Monthly Archives: May 2016

Introducing Teddy: a story about being yourself – Jessica Walton illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

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teddy

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781408877630

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date: June 2016

 

This is a really lovely, though unexpected story. Errol and his teddy Thomas are the very best of friends who do many fun everyday things together – riding bikes, eating sandwiches in their tree-house or having tea parties.

One day Errol notices that Thomas seems sad and of course, being his best friend, tries to cheer him up.  An outing to the park and playing on the swings doesn’t seem to make any difference. So gently Errol tries to find out what’s wrong and is completely unfazed when Thomas reveals that he’s not really a boy bear. In fact, he’s never felt like a boy bear but knows he’s actually a girl bear who wants to be called Tilly.

Well of course, Errol being the wonderful friend that he is completely accepts this and as simply as that Thomas becomes Tilly. And one of the first things they do is invite their friend Ava and the robot she has just built to a tea party where they all have just the same lovely time they have always enjoyed.

This story arises from a very personal viewpoint. Jessica Walton’s father similarly transitioned into the woman he always felt he was and she wanted to be able to explain this to her son in an accessible way. And without doubt she has succeeded.

For those of you who are looking for books to build a collection that embraces diversity this would be an admirable addition. It is in no way difficult or confronting, but rather a beautiful story about friendship and accepting differences in our friends.

“A ground-breaking children’s book about gender identity and friendship”.

Highly recommended for any readers from around five and up and for all school libraries.

 

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Super Sports Stories for Kids – Patrick Loughlin/illustrated by James Hart

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supersports

ISBN: 9780857989666

RRP $14.99

Published: 01/12/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

 

 

Your sporty kids, particularly those who have enjoyed the Billy Slater footy series and the Glenn Maxwell cricket series, will love this collection of stories from Patrick Loughlin.

There’s Robbie and Bradley who both want to win their 200 metre final but are a little flummoxed by an avenging magpie. Or maybe you have some outstanding BMXers who would love the story called Wheels of Fortune with its handy tips for riding and a totally surprise ending.

Or how about a little karate with Alice Pepper fresh from the National Titles taking up the challenge from school bully Zach without abandoning the true honour code of her sport.

Surfing, netball, AFL and swimming are all included plus more. And of course no book of Australian sport stories for kids would be complete without a great handball story – anyone who has watched the intensity of playground handball tournaments know this is one sport all kids take seriously!

A great read for kids aged around eight up – particularly if they are daunted by a  ‘whole’ book – snack size stories such as these are great for a quick quiet reading time.

Super Sports Stories for Kids – Patrick Loughlin/illustrated by James Hart

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting – Michelle Robinson/David Roberts

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Published: March 2016

ISBN: 9781681190266

Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

RRP $22.99

We all know that kids love offbeat humour and this is certainly a book that will tick that box. Bear spotting is a tricky business so if you’re going searching you need to be prepared with all the information required.

 

For example did you know:

Black bears are dangerous and black, brown bears are dangerous and brown?

With hints for what to do should you run into a dangerous bear – remember to have some gum with you! – this will have your readers giggling aloud.

The illustrations which accompany the humorous text are equally laugh-out-loud making with the small child character kitted out with all his bear-spotting accouterments.

This is not a deep and meaningful picture book. It is just pure good fun and great humour.

I foresee this will be a huge hit as a read aloud with the small humans from around 5 and up and I can’t wait to share it soon in a story session.

I Knew You Were Trouble A Jessie Jefferson Novel By Paige Toon

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  • i-knew-you-were-trouble-9781471118807_hrSimon & Schuster Children’s UK |
  • 336 pages |
  • ISBN 9781471118807 |
  • November 2015

List Price

AU$ 16.99

NZ$ 18.99

 

The second in a series this is a light read for your senior girl readers. Full to the brim of parties, jetset lifestyles, rock and roll and hot boys this will appeal to girls from around 15 up.

Jessie Pickerill has had a very ordinary life so far, living with her mother and stepfather, going to school, gossiping about boys – all the normal things. But since her mother died in a freak accident, she has discovered the truth about her real father who is none other than Johnny Jefferson, possibly the most famous rock god of them all.

After a six week stay in L.A. experiencing life with her father, his wife and two little boys not to mention some exciting new friends, especially a certain young up-and-coming rocker called Jack, Jessie is attempting to settle back into her regular life while trying to keep the secret of her true parentage.

A visit to England from her dad and his family sees that secret blown apart becoming a media frenzy and Jessie needs to get away from school, her home and stepfather and new boyfriend, Tom. Can she sustain her home relationships while living in L.A. till the storm blows over? Which place will she decide is her true home? And which boy will she choose?

A holiday read for your older girls who might be looking for some escapist respite from assessments and assignments.

 

Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket – Caleb Krisp/illustrated by John Kelly

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ISBN:9781408858677

Publisher:Bloomsbury

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

June 2016

RRP $14.99

That irritating and insufferable Ivy, Child Blunder extraordinaire, is back with another hair and eyebrow raising adventure. Half dead and now living with a sinister and secretive pair of undertakers who purport to be her new ‘parents’, Ivy is on a mission to save her dead friend Rebecca becoming embroiled along the way in another mystery – the disappearance of a young man and his sweetheart. The return of the nefarious Miss Always is offset by the appearance of Ivy’s new ‘special friend’ Miss Carnage, a librarian of dubious antecedents and strangely theatrical appearance.

All of this plus dealing with the horrible Matilda, Lady Elizabeth and various other buffoons, not to mention being incarcerated in a local insane asylum keeps the unsquashable Ivy puzzling and plotting with her usual doubtful diplomacy and fallible finesse.

Between the constant harassment from Mother Snagsby to dust and clean and fetch and carry and the almost tender empathy from whisky slugging Mrs Dickens the cook, Ivy begins to detect that something is not quite right about her creepy funerary parents. There is especially something most odd about their insistence on her drinking warm milk which always seems to make her incredibly sleepy and reading death odes to people who are seemingly not ill enough to die – but who do!

As usual Ivy is sharp as a tack or at least an earthworm and with her astounding intellect ferrets out solutions to her endless problems – although fails miserably to remove that hideous wart from her new mother’s less-than-beautiful face.

Those readers with a taste for the Gothic side of humour and a secret sympathy for ghosts and ghouls will relish this second instalment of the irrepressible Ivy.

Highly recommended for crazy readers from around ten years upwards.

 

Kiss It Better -Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated by Sarah Massini

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kissitbetter

Allen & Unwin

ISBN:9781408845622

Publisher:Bloomsbury

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date:February 2016

$22.99

 

Everybody needs kisses. In our house there are plenty to share for any reason or none at all. This charming book shares the special sweetness of family kisses for young readers with a lilting rhyming text and a gorgeous family of bears.

Little humans will relish the thought of kisses ‘speaking’ to them.

A cheer-up kiss says, “Tell me what’s wrong.”

A be-brave kiss says, “Come on, stay strong!”

A see-you-soon kiss says, “I’ll miss you, too.”

….

Everything feels better with the help of  a kiss!

I can’t wait to share this with some special little people in my life – all of whom know that kisses are indeed ways to tell each other how much we care.

Highly recommended for your readers from Prep up.

 

Hattie Helps Out – Davina Bell & Jane Godwin/Freya Blackwood

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ISBN:9781743435434

Publisher:Allen & Unwin

Imprint:A & U Children

Pub Date:March 2016

RRP $24.99

 

This is a delightful story to which young readers will easily relate.

Hattie loves to help out and she thinks she is very good at it. Baby Lottie is not so much of a help but that’s not her fault. One very busy day Mama is trying hard to get ready for Dad’s special birthday dinner.  There is so much to do – the birthday cake, the house cleaning, flowers to arrange and more. Hattie helps with the birthday cake but then it’s time for her nap – which is not a nap anymore insists Hattie. “It’s a rest…”. She persuades Mama to snuggle with her just for a few minutes and inevitably one very tired mother is sound asleep and Hattie is wide awake.

And because she is such a great helper she knows what she must do. Watch Hattie as she builds a delightful biscuit tower, arranges flowers all over the house including the light shades and toilet bowl, sweep the floor and all it’s stuff into a corner and shovel all the cooking equipment back into a cupboard.

When the family arrive for dinner and Mama finally wakes up they are all amazed at the wonderful surprise. Who could possibly ask for a more special birthday dinner?

With Freya Blackwood’s always exquisite illustrations this is a real treasure of a book and highly recommended for little humans from around 3 – 6 years old.

The Family with Two Front Doors – Anna Ciddor

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ISBN:9781925266641

Publisher:Allen & Unwin

Imprint:A & U Children

Pub Date:March 2016

RRP $14.99

 

To take one’s own family history and turn it into a delightful, amusing and engaging story takes a real talent.

Anna Ciddor has done so with this wonderful tale of family warmth, traditions and insight. Inspired by her grandmother’s stories Anna has painted a beautiful picture of a Jewish family’s life in Poland before the horror of World War 2.

The Rabinovitches (the family name struck such a chord with me as it was also my great-grandfather’s name!) are a lively and close family who occupy two houses as there are quite a few of them. Yakov the mischief maker, Nomi, Miriam and serious Shlomo and more lead the reader into a fascinating glimpse of life in the 1920s in Lublin, Poland.

The details of daily life, celebrations and rituals, the excitement of older sister Adina’s wedding and adventures in the streets of their town bring this charming family to life before our eyes offering us a superb chance to develop more cultural understandings.

This is a book which holds up the ordinary life of a family and shows us the joy and love that abounds between all its members while at the same time commemorating the author’s lost family.

A marvellous addition to your collection especially suited to readers from around 12 up, I highly recommend it to you. Teaching notes are available here.

Blueberry Pancakes Forever – Angelica Banks

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ISBN: 9781760110451

Publisher :Allen & Unwin

Imprint: A & U Children

Pub Date: June 2016

RRP $15.99

 

As soon as I opened the package I was bursting to read this third and last instalment in the Tuesday McGillycuddy trilogy. And so I did in one sitting, devouring it as easily and happily as Tuesday might her father’s pancakes.

I have lately often spoken of the dearth of original and fresh stories and Angelica Banks AKA Tasmanian writers Heather Rose and Danielle Wood provide exactly the antidote to that.

This latest is a little darker and deeper than the previous two stories with a terrible sadness impacting on Tuesday and her author mother, Serendipity Smith. A year previous to this adventure, their much loved husband and father Denis died and their lives have become cloistered and cobwebby inside a once sunny and happy home and their shared world of writing, Vivienne Small’s world has become frozen in an endless winter.

The unexpected arrival of Tuesday’s eccentric godmother Colette Baden Baden heralds the beginning of healing and the start of a fresh and often dangerous adventure.

Much to her surprise, Serendipity is once again drawn by a mysterious story thread and leaving Colette to care for Tuesday returns to the Library for respite and rousing from the Librarian.

Almost immediately Tuesday is also snared by an even stranger story thread and finds herself captured by the weird and rather scary Loddon who seems to think he knows her.

As Baxterr and Colette desperately seek out Tuesday, defying all the conventions of the place where only writers are allowed, Tuesday and Vivienne face horrible dangers from the seemingly demented Loddon.

Without her faithful doggo at her side she seems to be in a very frightening situation and the defeat of Loddon seems almost impossible.

But strength and help often come from unexpected sources and Tuesday’s own story embraces both past and present intertwining threads.

These characters become so real to the reader and the whole premise of the series is so fresh and entrancing that one cannot help but become more and more engaged with their lives. I am a little sad to part with them.

For one who has spent the past fourteen months in intense grief this new story has particular resonance and offers the hope of healing. I cannot help but think that anyone in similar circumstances would also find it so.

If you have not yet discovered the magical world of Tuesday I recommend that you rush to buy this series and promote it to your readers who are hungry for a new hero – a girl of resilience, courage and compassion.

Highly recommended for readers aged around 8 to 13.