Author Archives: Sue Warren

About Sue Warren

Teacher-librarian https://www.pinterest.com/losangz/

Not a Book Review!

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We all know the last two years have, at times, been quite fraught and definitely frustrating. The Kid and I had a trip to Thailand that buckled in the first few months of Covid (still waiting on perhaps some refund from Thai Airways after them going belly-up) ……..our usual annual trip to NSW to visit family hasn’t happened and indeed, I have airline credits for our visit we thought might have been possible last September holidays. So really our respite from the same-ness of being home and the humdrum of school has been more local. Today we managed a lovely day out which went like this.

We had a great day – it was disappointing that, due to the winds, going to Peel Island which was meant to be the destination, didn’t happen – so St Helena was the only option – and though we loved doing the history convict tour there a year or so ago, it’s pretty boring as an island destination in itself. But K was keen to walk up the hill to visit the old cemetery again so we did – though it was very hot and having only thongs on was not ideal for my feet. And then we were late back to Raby Harbour this evening (so I drove home wearing my sunnies LOL)…. because of wind/currents but still it was very enjoyable – beautiful boat, charming & funny captain and mate. Highlights: baby stingray in the shallows off the island, a crane (bird variety that is), a sea-eagle, K found teeny tiny wild orchids and the only crocus flowering on the island, Van Morrison all the way back because when the mate asked me about favourite musicians, the Man was top of my list, just hanging together and laughing at stuff, the quite young captain resembling a very cheery Care Bear with terrible Dad jokes which added to the fun… they also do a very lovely lunch and a/tea and the captain has almost completed his tour guide qualifications and they hope to do proper St Helena tours – he was quizzing me about what I did and didn’t like about the one we did LOL.

.Important EDIT!: I forgot to say that the Kid picked up a pipi and knew it was bush tucker so found a bottle cap and prised it open to taste it, and approved – gathered up some to bring home and has just steamed them to eat ūüôā and thoroughly approves.

The Cleveland based family operation is Aria Cruises and I can thoroughly recommend this is as a lovely way to spend a relaxed and interesting day.

Mr. Men [Little Miss] in Australia – Roger Hargreaves

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Penguin Australia

  • November 2021
  • ISBN:¬†9781761044342
  • Imprint:¬†Mr Men
  • RRP:¬†$16.99

These characters are so enduring and still so well-loved fifty years after their creation, that this book will make a fun addition to your collection and, indeed, to your classroom unit on Australia, if you are building up a solid title list for that purpose.

The gang is heading down-under or according to Mr Topsy Turvy puts it ‘up over’ and each has a different take on what they want to put on their ‘must see/do’ list. Little Miss Somersault is definitely up to the challenge of planning their itinerary though.

Whether it’s climbing the Harbour Bridge – which is just the ticket for Mr Tall, though not so much for Mr Jelly! – watching the cricket at the Adelaide Oval, checking out the wildlife in Tasmania or riding the Indian Pacific, this is a terrific virtual trip around our great country for any reader.

My single slight criticism is that if you are going to talk about Bondi Beach and life guards, the illustration should be accurate (albeit I know the life saver was rescuing Mr Wrong!). Our life guards are so iconic and famous around the world I can’t imagine why anyone would draw them with blue shirts!!! (The Kid has just gained her red-and-yellows at our local club – and we are fiercely proud of her achievement).

Aside from that this a terrific addition to your library or classroom and I highly recommend it to you.

Back to School – or not, as the case may be…

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So I’ve had these ones for a while but thought they would be more usefully timed for the start of the school year so was going to post them next week as Queensland schools were due to resume on 24th January. That was the case right up to a few hours ago when the growing explosion of Covid cases – mostly Omicron – propelled the state government to announce a delay in the start of the new school year. What this will look like in reality could still change but at present our kids will, for the most part, start a week later than anticipated and hopefully the peak of this latest wave will have been reached. However, when the kids start, perhaps one or more of these will be perfect for your smaller kiddos.

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten – Peta Baxter & Connie Hemmens. Illustrated by Marjory Gardner.

Ford St Publishing

March 2021

ISBN: 9781925804683

RRP: $16.95

‘Tis a bit exciting to share this one as it is two lovely Queensland peeps who have collaborated to ensure that all the little people who starting off their educational journey, whether Kinder, Child Care or Prep, are happy, confident and looking forward to their new adventure.

Frankie is a real kindergarten dog from North Queensland where both Peta and Connie teach. It’s a super kindy as there are lots of pets including mice, fish and chickens. But Frankie, who lives with Peta, George the cat and Wilson the dachshund is the star attraction. All the children love him and love their busy time at kindy whether it’s doing yoga, gardening, playtime, singing or reading time. Everything is better with Frankie along. George is meant to stay at home but when he sneaks into a box and joins in the fun, the readers will love finding him in each illustration.

It is a lovely, happy narrative with some extra giggles thrown in and it will give small children a terrific insight into what to expect when they walk through the door of their first kindy. Peta and Connie have simply related the sorts of activities children might do and Marjory Gardner’s lively and colourful illustrations just hit the right spot.

Highly recommended for little ones from around 3 years upwards.

Let’s Get Ready for School – Jane Porter/Carolina Rabei

Walker Books

August 2021

ISBN: 9781529502343
Imprint: Walker

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

This is English but that in no way detracts from it’s usefulness for our little Oz kiddos as it covers in simple but reassuring language what to expect and how to get ready to start school.

From being able to dress oneself to toileting, sharing, eating and drinking, playing and getting along with others – everything needful for our smallest students is here and all their questions are answered.

Six different children are preparing for their big adventure, each of them different as will be the other kids at school. In itself, this provides the perfect opportunity to ensure that kiddos are able to accept and embrace differences. Why do I have to go to school? How will I get there? Who will I meet? Will each day be the same? All children have questions and this is a super way to help them with the answers.

Whether you read this one before the child starts school or in the first week, it will provide wonderful reassurance with its effective format, information and relatable illustrations.

Highly recommended for little ones moving into Prep.

Making Friends: a book about first friendships – Amanda McCardie/Colleen Larmour

Walker Books

August 2021

ISBN: 9781406394542
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

Naturally, along with all the excitement of starting school, comes the added excitement of making new friends. Sometimes though this is either not as easy as it seems or is even very much a matter for anxiety and insecurity for some children.

As educators what we continually strive for is to develop empathy and kindness in our charges to help them grow into well-rounded and compassionate adults. And we all know it starts right from the first day these kiddos start to mix in groups.

This is not a story book, it really is a primer for establishing the guidelines of what makes a good or healthy friendship. To this end, at some points, I found it a little too didactic which tended to put me off, but I’m an adult so I don’t think that counts *grin*. For children, I think this will provide a great springboard in a classroom or kinder setting to explore the parameters of friendship and building relationships.

Recommended for your children from around 5 years upwards.

Two for Littlies – lift-the-flap board books

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Where’s George’s Dinosaur? a lift-the-flap book

Penguin Australia

  • January 2022
  • ISBN:¬†9780241543542
  • Imprint:¬†Ladybird
  • Format:¬†Board Book
  • RRP:¬†$14.99

We all know two sure things – little ones love lift-the-flap books – and the thirst for Peppa Pig and family never diminishes!

George’s dinosaur is missing – where can it be? – so Mummy and Peppa help him look for the missing toy. Of they go, back-tracking their day… could Mr Dinosaur have been left at the zoo? There’s a tip of a tail that looks just like his – but no. Maybe when they went on the train?? Could he be at the castle?? They have had a busy day so they really need to look everywhere.

Your smalls will love the giggly surprises of lifting the flaps to see who is hiding and giggle even more when Mr Dinosaur is finally found.

With its foiled cover and the always bright colours of the Peppa Pig illustrations, this is a guaranteed hit and would make a lovely gift too.

Eric Carle’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Other Nursery Rhymes: a lift-the-flap book

Penguin Australia

  • January 2022
  • ISBN:¬†9780593224311
  • Imprint:¬†Penguin
  • Format:¬†Board Book
  • RRP:¬†$19.99

Many years ago when I first started teaching Year 1 (the first year at school) we always kicked off with nursery rhymes as our topic/theme because it was something with which most little kids had some familiarity so could be engaged. Then it seemed that over the years the numbers of kids knowing nursery rhymes dropped markedly. So for me, books like this are a godsend really because the combination of Eric Carle, lift-the-flap and the rhymes makes for a win for little ones who benefit so very much from the rhythm and rhyme of traditional nursery offerings.

...revisit five classic nursery rhymes: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Hickory Dickory Dock,” “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.”

I’m very much in love with this (as I am with anything Eric Carle – what a loss to us all *sad face*)……….and again, this would make a very beautiful and much-loved gift for a new baby or little person in your circle.

You’ll Be the Death of Me – Karen M. McManus

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Penguin Australia

November 2021

ISBN: 9780241473665
Imprint: Penguin
RRP: $17.99

Really, this author and her books need no promo via my humble opinion, although I am more than happy to provide it. In my library and among my reading circle, these are just unstoppable – particularly so since the series exploded onto the small screens. The teen thriller market is just huge right now and looks set to continue blazing across the best-seller lists for some time.


This is one of McManus’ stand-alone novels and centres on three young people who take a day off school on a complete whim, all of them for very different reasons. Ivy, Mateo and Cal were friends in middle school following another spontaneous ‘walkabout’ day but have somewhat drifted apart now they are in senior school. For all three their memory of The Greatest Day Ever, shared in innocent good fun, lingers and with all the various pressures on each, makes the day off idea all the more appealing.

But when they arrive in Boston and start wandering, and arrive at an art studio used by Cal’s mysterious friend, they are confronted with what appears to a murder scene. As if that’s not confronting enough, the victim is a fellow senior, known to them all. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is pretty much a jerk but he’s also a jerk who was just voted in as Senior Class President, over Ivy – even though he only ran as a joke. That does appear to put Ivy in the frame as a potential suspect, especially when the news breaks. But her two comrades also have secrets which impact on the situation. Cal is ‘involved’ with one of their teachers and Mateo’s cousin/sister has got herself tangled up in some kind of criminal activity.

It really is another convoluted and gripping narrative with suspicion falling in one direction after another and it took this reader quite some time to even start to sort out the who’s who in this nefarious plot. Your teens are going to love it and I know it’s going to be in high demand/rotation when we start back at school.

Highly recommended for your readers from around 14 years upwards – some strong language and drug references but nothing too shocking.

Einstein the Penguin – Iona Rangeley. Illustrated y David Tazzyman.

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Harper Collins Australia

December 2021

  • ISBN:¬†9780008475963
  • ISBN 10:¬†0008475962
  • Imprint:¬†HarperCollins GB
  • List Price:¬†19.99 AUD

This is a fun new read for your kiddos who are moving on from those first easy chapter books to something a little more challenging. Imagine stirring up Paddington stories with Mr Popper’s Penguins with a good dash of Finding Nemo and just the tiniest hint of The Wrong Trousers, and you’ll be coming close. And in saying that, I am certainly not implying that this is derivative, merely that it reminds me strongly of all these stories with its fun and joyousness.

When the Stewart family visit London Zoo on a very gloomy winter’s afternoon the children are not very thrilled but certainly brighten up when they encounter a very endearing little penguin on their way out. When the children protest strenuously about leaving the penguin, and insisting that the bird accompany them home, Mrs Stewart kindly tells the little penguin he is always welcome at their home, in an effort to divert the kids. So, of course, the very next day there is a knock on the door and – lo and behold!- there is a penguin on the doorstep, complete with backpack.

As it turns out, Einstein is a penguin from Australia – ‘Sydney’ Zoo (well, that would actually be Taronga Zoo) to be exact and this smart little bird manages to convey to Imogen and Arthur, that he is here to find his much-loved friend, Isaac – who was whisked away with no due regard for comradely associations.

This is a story that is both funny and endearing as the children, especially would-be detective, Imogen, do their utmost to re-unite Einstein and Isaac – well, at least so each knows the other is safe and well.

It is both well-paced and ‘cute’ really and I foresee would be a big hit as a read-aloud – I would probably pitch it at Year 2s or 3s personally. Highly recommended for your younger readers from around 7 years upwards.

Clarice Bean: Think Like an Elf – Lauren Child

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Harper Collins Australia

November 2021

  • ISBN:¬†9780008470845
  • ISBN 10:¬†0008470847
  • Imprint:¬†HarperCollins GB
  • List Price:¬†24.99 AUD

I am just sorry this one didn’t arrive in time for me to get it read and reviewed before Christmas because it really is a perfect gift to share with a young reader. In her own inimitable manner, Lauren Child, takes us into Clarice’s home and family with side-splitting results as they prepare for a festive season very different to their normal ones. No hundreds of potatoes to peel, nor a house full of people, nor Mum and Dad slumping with exhaustion. This Christmas is going to be QUIET.

For Clarice, who normally looks forward to Christmas so much, this does not feel right, and she is struggling to feel the Xmas spirit as she usually would. Without all the extended family expected for the celebrations, and even her bestie, Betty Moody, going to Japan (!!) for Christmas, no Advent calendar with tiny doors to open, and almost no money in her toadstool/piggy bank to buy presents, things are looking very gloomy and not the least bit tinselly sparkly.

As you would always expect, nothing runs smoothly for the Tuesday family from an issue with selecting the Xmas tree, the accidentally too-large turkey which ends up on the floor before being eaten by Cement, the dog and a random fox (in which no one believes), Clarice, being helpful, but mixing up the airmail parcels and more. All of which makes for all the hilarious mayhem we have come to expect from this talented creator. The interspersing of all the Ruby Redfort references, are just a crack-up of course as Clarice tries to follow the advice and sagacity of her literary hero.

Naturally it won’t matter one jot to your readers if this was on offer when school starts back, when Christmas and New Year are just a memory but equally, if you were buying this for a gift (for next Xmas!) or to add to your store of Xmas stories, just perfect. It is beautifully bound, with the dust-jacket being more Christmassy than the actual binding, but both still delightful, with lovely Christmas tree endpapers. And of course, Lauren’s illustrations throughout, as always, are charming and completely in keeping with the quirkiness of the narrative.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

We Go Way Back – Idan Ben-Barak/Phillip Bunting

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Allen & Unwin

August 2021

ISBN:9781760526085

Publisher: A&U Children’s

Imprint: A & U Children

RRP: $24.99

Idan Ben-Barak first came to my attention with Do Not Lick This Book, and, like so many others, I found it uproariously funny as well as a brilliant informational text for young readers. Certainly, the kiddos with whom I shared it voted it their favourite of that year.

What impresses me so immensely is that someone as technically knowledgeable and eminent in his chosen qualification/professional field can translate that into information so readily accessible to young children, who cannot help but learn through the medium of a picture book.

In this book, children are given an insight, in terms to which they can relate easily, to the beginnings of life on Earth, from a jumble of elements to one little bubble to highly evolved organisms. The text is accompanied by Philip Bunting’s -almost electric- vivid and quirky illustrations, with the repetition of circular shapes so perfectly echoing the concept of molecules.

This is an absolute joy, and I would love nothing better than to share it with some little humans and see where the ensuing discussions might take us.

Highly recommended for your readers from Prep upwards – and, of course, particularly appropriate in your science studies.