Monthly Archives: October 2018

His Name was Walter – Emily Rodda

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Harper Collins

ISBN: 9781460756188

ISBN 10: 1460756185

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

On Sale: 23/07/2018

List Price: 22.99 AUD

Oh my gosh!

 

Yes, of course there will be more to say but really this book was so incredible it really did almost leave me speechless. Just when I think Emily Rodda cannot get any better (I mean, I just loved The Shop at Hooper’s Bend!) she comes up with something so extraordinary that it is hard to imagine how any person can be so very talented.

After their excursion bus breaks down on a lonely country road a history teacher and four children are forced to seek shelter in a strange old, once grand, house until they are rescued. The overwhelming atmosphere of the shabby half-ruined place is one of melancholy and malevolence.  When they accidentally discover a very beautiful hand-written and illustrated book in a secret drawer the mystery deepens. The allegorical fairytale written to tell the story of Walter and Sparrow drives Colin and Tara especially, as the most sensitive of the group, to seek the truth behind the story .  While they are all intrigued by the strangely vivid almost lifelike painted illustrations it is the story itself that envelops them and compels them to keep reading throughout the night.

Emily’s book within a book explores the themes of justice, loyalty, compassion and true love all cloaked in a tale filled with magic and murder, prophecies and promises and long-hidden secrets.

As the haunting tale of Walter and Sparrow unravels the children and their teacher are drawn into a poignant and forgotten history until they finally solve the puzzle and at last, though decades later, justice can be served.

What a treat this book is! I read the first three chapters to Year 5 last Friday and you could have heard a pin drop with all of them clamouring for more – fortunately they will get that!

If you haven’t yet added this to your shelves be sure to do so. I highly recommend it for discerning readers from around ten years upwards.

 

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Total Quack Up- Edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck. Illustrated by James Foley

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9780143794905

Penguin Random House

9780143794905

October 15, 2018

Puffin

RRP $14.99

 

Here’s another super choice for the kid who loves humour – and again, very timely with Christmas rushing in upon us.

 

The cream of our Australian children’s writers have contributed a wealth of funny stories: Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Adrian Beck, Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, Sally Rippin, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton are all crowd pleasers at any time.

 

Oliver P’s poem about writing a poem, Rhyme Time!, made me laugh aloud – definitely going to use that the next time I do a library unit that features poetry to ward off the inevitable groans. Jacqueline Harvey’s Pet Sit Pandemonium: Operation Snowball is also a cracker – the image of Puss with poor Pavarotti clamped in his jaws balefully glaring had me falling about. And of course, Nanny Piggins is a guaranteed chortle-inducer and Pigerella, R. A. Spratt’s contribution, is no exception.

 

From football loving pigs to a principal with a rat phobia, from vegetarian bikini-wearing hippos to a crazed vacuum cleaner, this compilation will have something for every reader.

The book also includes the first publication of the winning entry in the Kids’ WB competition by Ella Wallace.

 

Royalties from the sales of this book go directly to Dymock’s Children’s Charities with all the authors as well as James Foley, illustrator, thrilled to be part of the project donating their talents and work.

 

So buying this book will not only give the kids you love some pleasure but also help to provide some for children in less fortunate circumstances.

 

Highly recommended for kids who love to laugh, from around eight years upwards.

 

Funny Stories: and Other Funny Stories – Morris Gleitzman

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9780143793380 (1)

Penguin Random House

9780143793380

October 29, 2018

Puffin

RRP $24.99

So, you say, what could be better than a new Morris Gleitzman book? A bumper book with three books in one plus a bonus brand new story – that’s what!

Give Peas a Chance, Pizza Cake and Snot Chocolate line up for what can only be described as laughter exploding out of every page. Whether it’s on the sporting field as rival kindy histories flare into full on rages or a dog daring to go where no other dog has gone before, there will be a steady flow of snorts and guffaws. And just to kickstart the fun readers will love Zac’s circular day and talking appliances, not to mention Woody the mouse with his starring role.

Without a doubt the stand out for me would have to be Saving Ms Fosdyke – I’m thinking I might need to get an agent if I’m going to get traded to another school, even an underprivileged one, for $50 million!

Morris’ books have long been solid favourites with the middle to upper primary crowd and with Christmas coming up this super edition chockful of hilarity would make a great stocking stuffer.

The Tales of Mr Walker – Jess Black. Illustrated by Sara Acton

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Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143793076

October 29, 2018

Imprint: Puffin

RRP $24.99

 

Some readers of this blog will have seen photos of my Pippin – a toy poodle of extraordinary personality but neurotic (apparently a poodle thing). I love him – truly I do! – but seriously if he could be more like Mr Walker I would a very happy dog owner!

 

Mr Walker is a gorgeous, placid and friendly golden Labrador who has been trained as a companion dog via the Guide Dogs. His new job involves him being the Ambassador of a very tasty Melbourne hotel, the Park Hyatt.

 

If you are a traveller for whatever reason (as I was in a dispiriting corporate job) hotels can be dismal places away from home. I’m not saying that the staff or amenities are sub-standard but there is a definite sense of discombobulating associated with staying repeatedly in such places.

 

How marvellous to be greeted by a loving and friendly canine companion!

 

Jess Black’s stories of Mr Walker are based on a reality that should be a part of every big and often impersonal hotel. Mr Walker becomes the special ambassador for the Park Hyatt and though there a few contretemps as he settles into his new role, his reception is so warm and loving by all, that he has no doubt he is in exactly the right place.

 

This book consists of four stories of Mr Walker after his arrival at his new home and I do hope there will be more as they are charming and heart-warming.

 

Beautifully illustrated the stories follow Mr Walker’s experiences as he learns to interact with both his new family and the various guests he encounters.

 

Royalties from this book go to support the Guide Dogs of Victoria which is a truly lovely bonus.

 

Young readers from around eight years up will fall in love with Mr Walker (and no doubt request their own Labrador as a result!).

 

Highly recommended for newly independent readers and also as a read-aloud for classes.

 

 

Limelight – Raphael Solli

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limelight

Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143793762

September , 2018

Imprint: Puffin

RRP $16.99

 

Just in case you missed the utter sensation of the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam last year, here is your introduction to amazing Raphael Solli. His performance was viewed on Facebook over 3.5 million times instantly rocketing him to well-deserved fame.

Raphael’s poetry is squarely focused on current issues affecting his generation such as sustainability and social equality, all the while amplifying his uplifting message of hope.

This book features over thirty of his poems and also shares his tips on writing and performing in a way that will engage young readers and inspire them to tackle their own concerns through words and voice. Some introductory chapters explore different types of poetry and clearly defines ‘slam poetry’ a term which may, as yet, be unfamiliar with younger writers.

Whether you are looking at a unit of poetry in teaching or want to encourage your own children to express themselves, this is certainly a very admirable addition to your shelves.

I highly recommend it for readers from around ten years upwards.

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Wundersmith : The Calling of Morrigan Crow : Nevermoor 2– Jessica Townsend

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9780734418227

Hachette

OCT 30, 2018 | 9780734418227 | RRP $16.99

Imprint: Lothian Books

Morrigan is back! The eagerly anticipated second instalment of Nevermoor is no disappointment and the many readers who are bursting at the seams waiting to get their hands on a copy will be delighted.

Now that Morrigan has passed her trials she becomes part of Unit 919 with her fellow successful candidates and is admitted to WunSoc as a scholar. However, her personal troubles and doubts are far from removed as her unit for the most part are wary, if not hostile, about her Wundersmith status as are the very Elders who are in charge of the youngsters’ education.

Barred from participating in the fullest range of classes by the suspicious and stern Scholar Mistress, Morrigan’s misery deepens especially as Jupiter is so often away and she has no one in whom to confide, aside from her friend Hawthorne.

Things go from bad to worse when Unit 919 begins to receive blackmailing notes and everyone blames Morrigan as the target, Mog is bullied by some very nasty scholars and discovers a rather disturbing secret power, and Wuns are disappearing without a trace. Mog’s frustration and unhappiness are unwittingly the conduit for the dreaded and exiled Ezra Squall to manipulate her gathering Wunder. Will she be able to resist the temptation to accept help from unwanted and dangerous sources?

When Morrigan is finally able to attend at least one other class besides the dreaded `History of Heinous Wundrous Acts’ with Professor Onstald she is thrilled to be part of the ‘Decoding Nevermoor’ class with the rest of her unit and certainly their tutor Henry Mildmay is a vast improvement on the dreary Onstald. Mog’s connection with Nevermoor as a living organism is both intense and personal despite not having grown up in the city and she excels in the class, thriving on Mildmay’s praise.

But Nevermoor is not always the brilliant and exciting city that Morrigan has grown to love. It also hides dark and dangerous places, people and secrets – like the Ghastly Market and the Museum of Stolen Moments and Morrigan has to learn not only to navigate around the city but to resist and defeat the perpetrators of such evil as well as learning to summon and control her Wunder.

Despite her troubles and doubts about her place in the Society and the resistance she faces from others, Morrigan rises to the challenges with the support of her friends and proves herself equal if not more to the honour of being part of the Wundrous Society and at last a valued member of her Unit.

If anything I loved this more than the first as there is so much within the plot that is fresh and original. The characters continue to develop and grow along with new important secondary cast members strongly introduced. Significant themes carry over from the first volume especially self-belief, integrity, loyalty and compassion.

I really don’t need to endorse this one because the series has already garnered so many followers but I do thoroughly recommend it and I have many readers, young and old, who are literally gasping until they get their copy.

Find some great resources here.

Black Cockatoo – Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

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Magabala Books

 

Published: Jul 2018

 

ISBN: 9781925360707

RRP: $11.99

A beautiful novella that explores a coming-of-age experience for a young Aboriginal girl in the remote Kimberley region.

Mia is distressed at the increasing distance her brother is putting between himself and family. The growing turbulence within her family is hard for a 13 year old to contend with but the day she find an injured dirran (black cockatoo), her own totem animal is the start to an acceptance of the situation for her.

As she cares for the bird she begins to comprehend the wisdom of her elders around being true to oneself and one’s culture, resilience and inner strength. When Mia finally is able to release the beautiful bird she realises that she can indeed stand up for herself and weather the storms.

A short but powerful read that I would highly recommend for readers from around 12 years upwards.

Crossing Ebenezer Creek – Tonya Bolden

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Bloomsbury Australia

Published: 01-08-2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781681196992
Imprint: Bloomsbury YA
RRP $14.99

 

The wonderful thing about well-written, well-researched historical fiction is that you don’t just learn new information but that you can immerse yourself in the period and gain a far greater understanding than dry textbooks will offer. I openly admit that I know very little about the American Civil War beyond a little reading and several movies (after all, who hasn’t watched Gone With the Wind at least a dozen times?).

Hence I had no idea about the freed slaves who were part of Sherman’s march across Georgia – nor indeed the dreadful ending so many of them had. Naturally I knew that not all the Yankees were accepting of the freed slaves but to read of such vile wickedness is quite confronting.

Mariah and her young brother Zeke are freed from their heinous slavery and are two of the hundreds in the march. Caleb, a free-born man, is an indispensable assistant to the kind and compassionate Captain Galloway and takes on the role of protector, and indeed would be family to them both.

Along the often harsh march the ex-slaves share their various dreadful histories revealing much of a truly horrendous endurance.  But it is not all history as many perish at the hands of cruel supposed liberators even in the midst of their hopes and dreams of freedom.

The terrible crime at Ebenezer Creek needs to be told and told it is in the context of real human anguish and pain. Bolden has done a remarkable job of bringing this to the attention of young readers with the dignity and empathy that its victims deserve.

The frightening aspect is that so little has changed in many ways – either in the USA or here with our own First Australians – who are often still victimised and persecuted simply on the basis of race. Hopefully, there are enough of us who are prepared to continue to stand up to this schism in our society and eventually eradicate the evil forever.

Highly recommended for discerning readers from around 12 years upwards.

 

The Great Outback Adventure

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My Jen was a proud Wiradjuri woman and always encouraged her daughter, Not-So-Small, to grow in her culture. One of her greatest dreams was to take Not-So-Small to the Outback particularly Kakadu and Uluru. When she died in 2015 many kind people put much-appreciated donations towards a fund for me to be able to fulfil that dream. At the time it wasn’t enough but over the years, by dint of adding when I could I managed to acquire more dollars. A few months ago when a certain airline announced direct flights from Brisbane to Ayers Rock at a very reasonable price I knew it was doable – so booked our flights and some accommodation for the first few nights. Last Monday we took off on our adventure. We arrived at Ayers Rock Airport and headed straight out to Uluru for our first close-up look, taking Mummy in our hearts and minds.  After a look around the wonderful Cultural Centre – the highlight of which was watching some beautiful aunties painting we drove out to Kings Canyon where we spent the first three nights.

A walk along the canyon floor admiring the beauty of the amazing feature and another a day later exploring to Kathleen Springs were our main goals. We spotted wild camels, zebra finches, a bearded dragon, a wedge-tailed eagle and hawks all the while marvelling over the seemingly barren endless expanse of the Central Desert.

On Thursday we got up early and headed back to Uluru (spotting two dingos, including one black one! along the way) for a luxurious night at Sails in the Desert – how wonderful to have a free  upgrade to a terrace room! – with it’s sumptous grounds, pool and marvellous staff.  Back to the sacred rock for some more photos, a swim for Not-So-Small in the amazing pool (all to herself at the time!), a Bush Tucker talk and some lunch, then a little rest before a brilliant sunset scenic flight over the spectacular Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Uluru itself in a tiny Cessna – just the two of us and the pilot. What a truly wonderful experience that was – definitely the highlight – and our pilot so knowledgeable as well. Not-So-Small loved being up front next to him!

After an easy dinner with room service we headed off to the Field of Light art installation – another fantastic experience.

One day we might get to Kakadu as well – though Not-So-Small has requested Tasmania for our next adventure – next year! In the meantime, I know Jen would have been watching over her girl as she discovered more about her First Australian heritage and smiling.

Thank you to everyone who helped the dream come true xxx

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