Author Archives: Sue Warren

About Sue Warren

Teacher-librarian http://about.me/suewarren https://www.pinterest.com/losangz/

The Girls’ Guide to Growing Up Great: Changing Bodies, Periods, Relationships, Life Online

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–  Sophie Elkan with Laura Chaisty & Dr Maddy Podichetty. Illustrated by Flo Perry

Bloomsbury Australia

June 2018

Imprint: Green Tree

ISBN 978147294374

RRP $22.99

Navigating through puberty is no easy ask and often it seems tweens heading into teens can be quite overwhelmed despite all intentions to help them be informed and comfortable. For some, in this instance, girls it can be a very beneficial adjunct to whatever home and school offers to have their own relatable ‘reference’ book and this one is a great example.

Aimed to empower girls through its sensitive, wise and often humorous take on issues that can be of real concern to young women it covers a wide array of topics including basics about body changes, care and comfort, relationships and friendships, information on sex and sexuality plus some input regarding safety on the internet. All this is couched in accessible straightforward text accompanied by some very quirky illustrations.

The main author’s clear information is supported by both a psychotherapist and a medical doctor which is helpful and provides a very balanced viewpoint. The illustrator has also included some space for girls to record their own thoughts or feelings which is a very nice touch indeed.

Whether you are looking to provide your own girl with a reliable source or perhaps seeking to support the teaching of Personal Development in your collection, this would be an outstanding addition.

I highly recommend it to you for girls aged from around ten years upwards.

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The Peski Kids #1: The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach – R. A. Spratt

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9780143788812

Penguin Random House

9780143788812

July 30, 2018

Puffin

 

$16.99

 

There were many sad faces in my library when I reported that the Friday Barnes series had come to an end (including mine) but there was the consolation that R. A. Spratt was working on a new series. And here it is! And it’s hilarious! I was tucked up in bed reading it and snort-laughing at so many times.

I’ve said before that Spratt has such a knack for creating quirky characters and a real sense of the absurd and it doesn’t get much quirkier or absurd than this narrative!  Meet Joe, sixteen and a bit gawky with a nervous stammer, Fin (i.e. Sharkfin) thirteen and April, twelve, siblings who are always arguing – easy enough as April is pretty much your semi-psycho anarchist tween who live with their mother, a middle-aged professor of paleontology –  or so the children think.

It’s not until a wholly unexpected visit from their mother’s boss, Professor Maynard, that the children discover that their mum is actually an international spy who has been incarcerated by the dreaded Kolektiv organization. As the kids are now also targets they are rushed out of their home minutes before it explodes and re-located hours later in the country town of Currawong and the home of their father, who is without doubt the most eccentric, absent-minded and wimpish dad ever. He’s clearly unaccustomed to children whether his own or not. The kids’ entrée into Currawong community life is  far from auspicious as they (April) scorn such long-held traditions as the Cockroach Races, lawn bowls and flat caps and escalates when competitive cockroaches begin being nobbled. Throw into the mixture a bizarre but beautiful neighbor, a maniacal dog (April’s) and a host of weird and sociopathic townspeople and you have the makings of a series that is going to captivate kids right from the get-go.

Watch the book trailer here and R. A. Spratt talking about the book here.

Without a nano-second’s hesitation, highly recommended for your readers aged from around ten years upwards.

 

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables #3: Go Wild – Tim Harris

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9780143789024

Penguin Random House

9780143789024

September 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP : $14.99

 

Being curled up and cosy with a steaming cup of Himalayan tea – what could be better? If you have the new adventure of Mr B and 12B to make you laugh, of course.

The class camp is going to be super-fun with Mr Bambuckle’s feathered friend Dodger having carefully chosen the right location and Mr B’s own unique style of doing things which means it’s not going to be your average school camp. However, it looks as though plans are going to be thwarted when the heinous new deputy-principal Miss Frost (think Tilda Swinton as the White Witch from Narnia) turns up to throw cold water over any proposed activities.

Naturally the imperturbable Mr Bambuckle is more than equal to dealing with a rigidly frigid administrator and the class seems well able to follow his lead and their own initiative to survive any obstacle put in their way. The whole class – except Vex who sleeps the entire duration of the camp – are triumphant in their successes but it does not escape their notice that Mr B seems just a little too friendly to the dreaded Miss Frost. What next for the intrepid class? Well, as Vex has disappeared mysteriously when the camp is struck – it could be almost anything!

Kids in my readership have been gobbling up the first two in this series and I can guarantee they will be grabbing this one as quickly as they can as well!

Highly recommended for kids (ok yes and grownups) who love to laugh at complete absurdity!

At the End of Holyrood Lane – Dimity Powell/Nicky Johnson

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holyrood

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781925335767

ISBN 10: 1925335763

Imprint: Exisle Kids Publishing – NZ

On Sale: 20/08/2018

List Price: 24.99 AUD

 

Just before Miss Small (who really is no longer small!) came to live with me, she was absolutely petrified of storms. She would watch the sky anxiously and literally quiver with fear. While I guessed that this was symptomatic of something else, I hasten to point out it was not domestic violence and as time went by and her emotional anxiety eased, the storm ‘thing’ disappeared.

However, as one who has lived with DV and escaped, it is not only diminishing and frightening for the adult involved but has a very real impact on the children exposed to it, whether or not they are the recipients or not.

So this book with its subtle analogy was quite resonant for me for both those reasons.

This new picture book from Dimity Powell, beautifully illustrated by Nicky Johnston, provides a safe metaphor for children in just such a situation and enables caring adults to explore strategies by which these victims can begin to feel secure.

Flick lives with the fear of storms. Normally her life is filled with ‘sunshine and butterflies’ but the storms regularly appear and Flick, in her intense terror, has no escape except to hide. At last Flick seeks help to weather the storm and finds that this is the way to become free from the tyranny of the recurring fury.

Poetically written with much onomatopoeia and beautiful language it is a book worthy of sharing even if not in a ‘pointed’ way but just to explore children’s fears in general.

We are so blessed to have such quality writers for children in this country who are unafraid to tackle difficult subjects.

This book is endorsed by ActforKids, Paradise Kids, Think Equal and will be launched on 23rd September in Brisbane.

I highly recommend it for your young readers from  Prep upwards and would suggest that you also bring it to the attention of your school guidance officers/psychologists.

HL-Book-Launch-Invite

 

Kensy and Max #2: Disappearing Act – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Random House

9780143780632

September 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP: $16.99

 

Twins Kensy and Max are back in another absolutely cracking adventure, which will delight the readers of this new series. The pair has had some time to adjust themselves to their new life as part of the important Pharos organisation, headed up by their impressive grandmother and is now agents-in-training along with some of their school friends.

Although their parents are still missing they at least now know they are still alive, so the Christmas celebrations at Alexandria, their grandmother’s home and Pharos training centre, are quite something. Their training program has been exciting and both have added many new skills to their already natural talents.

With their manny Fitz also absent and the unexpected arrival of Uncle Rupert, a somewhat dubious character, the twins have much to occupy themselves but their school trip to Italy promises to be a welcome distraction.

But of course, this turns out to be no normal school trip with a missing boy, a den of thieves and Mafioso-like goons threatening all-round chaos. It would seem that the twins will be on their first mission much earlier than could be expected.

Jacqueline Harvey has a real talent for creating very believable characters and scenarios which immediately engage her readership and leaves them begging for more.

While her two hugely popular series are eaten up ferociously by girls for the main part, this new series has equal appeal for both genders and will be, I predict, creating another huge following from the pre-teen crowd.

With neat touches like the coded chapter headings, this will have the problem-solvers competing for first place in deciphering!

 

Highly recommended for your readers from around Year 3 upwards who enjoy everyday stories with a hefty twist of wild adventure, sleuthing and drama.

 

Backyard – Ananda Braxton-Smith & Lizzy Newcomb

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781925381177
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

As educators we are always seeking new ways to switch on our youngsters to awareness and a responsibility towards the environment and we sometimes overlook the smaller picture for the larger. This book with its focus on the amazing diversity found in our own backyards will help us to keep the perspective – and action – local and personal.

The text is both lyrical and resonant with figurative language that will immediately engage young readers and inspire them to seek out other examples. Reminiscent of Dylan Thomas portraits the phrasing such as “sleep-moony child”, “sweet-tooth bats” and “last-light dragonfly” literally infuse the book with the life and energy of all the creatures that may be found in a child’s own environs.

Accompanied by glorious vividly hued and detailed illustrations – and absolutely wonderful endpapers (again!) this will be a delight to share with all little people from around Prep to Year 3.

This makes me think of the many times, pre-library times, when I would take my class of Year 1s or 2s out into the school yard for an environmental explore using all our senses. With the curriculum so crowded these days sometimes these magical moments become scarce but what riches we can bring to children’s attention by doing so.

Highly recommended for your Junior school particularly as a vital component of environmental based units.

Maya & Cat – Caroline Magerl

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781921977282
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
Throughout our college and certainly in my library at present we are having a great focus on kindness and empathy. With my little people I am using a range of picture books which offer this theme that also feature animals as this meshes with their classroom unit.

Author/illustrator Caroline Magerl’s new picture book, launched this week, is a perfect fit for this very unit with its themes of resilience and friendship along with the very essence of kindness.

Maya follows her empathic instincts to coax Cat down from on high and thereafter tries to find her rightful home. When she does so, her sadness at leaving Cat with her own family is assuaged by an unexpected surprise, one which fills her with absolute delight.

This text features some absolutely scrumptious figurative language which would be inspirational for encouraging children to attempt their own evocative writing.

“On a roof, wet as a seal, grey as a puddle, Cat was rumbling a rumbly purr.” 

The stunning artwork perfectly captures the mood of the text and the endpapers are just sensational! (My kidlets all know about my predilection for gorgeous endpapers!)

If you are searching for more wonderful books that will assist with growing empathy in children, this will make a super addition to your collection.

I highly recommend it to you for readers from around Prep upwards.

Other Worlds #3 & #4 – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Random House

RRP $14.99

gameworld

#3 Game World

9780143786238

May 28, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

George’s new series will be just as popular as his previous offerings I predict and this one particularly is clearly going to have huge appeal to the ‘gamers’ in your reading audience.

Hall is not very special in his own estimation – a little podgy and a little ordinary – but when he’s gaming he’s the ace HallsOfAwesome and hard to beat.  His ‘greatest online nemesis’ RandomizerBian he also somehow considers a friend, as he doesn’t really have many in real life and when his worthy opponent seemingly disappears from the game they play he starts to dig deeper.

Then very weirdly Hall finds a way into the game – or is it the game?

In a virtual reality that is in the midst of a ferocious battle between humans and computers Hall needs all his geekness to not only survive but to get home again. And when he comes face to face with his adversary the game really changes – for them both.

 

#4 Dark World

darkworld

9780143786252

May 28, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

In this volume George takes his readers into a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies –yep, got them right there! Newt (short for Newton) is a scientifically minded girl who really doesn’t care for Rowan (son of hippie health-freaks) but when they both end up facing the Dark World they are forced to work together to stop the evil that threatens all existence.

Newt and Rowan have to not only deal with some dire machinations but also reconcile their individual views on science and ‘magic’.  Giant hairy spiders that emerge from a body are not everybody’s idea of a mage’s familiar but then – neither are forces trying end the existence of every living thing.

This series is certainly going to keep readers on the edge of their seats. I would highly recommend them for kids from around ten years upwards. The manga style cover art will also appeal to many.

3rd August

An exciting and enjoyable morning spent listening to George’s energetic presentation hosted by Moreton Bay Libraries here in Redcliffe and then joining George, Penguin Random House publicist Talie, plus two lovely MBC library staff for coffee and chat.

George had children from two local schools thoroughly engaged as he spoke about his writing and his passions – science fiction, fantasy, computer gaming, Dr Who and Pokemon ;-). It was so interesting to hear how George has woven his enthusiasm for certain topics into his books such as the You Choose series (so hugely popular with  my readership!) and now the new Other World series.

And of course a real delight to be able to engage in some lively conversation with him and other library folk while we enjoyed some stunning Redcliffe winter weather and a view of the water.

digsdr

Thank you so much PRH and George – as well as MBC library service!

The Girl Who Thought Her Mother was a Mermaid – Tania Unsworth

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Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781788547796

ISBN 10: 1788547799

Imprint: Head Of Zeus – Zehpyr – GB

On Sale: 24/09/2018

RRP $14.99

This is a quite lovely blending of old selkie folklore, fairy tale and a young girl’s search for her own true self as well as her lost mother.

Stella feels she is always the odd one out and really not like other girls. Of course they don’t know she sleepwalks or has a terrible fear of water despite her longing to be near the ocean but they do sense the strangeness of her. Since her mother died when she was young her dad has retreated into his own grief space and spends even more time with his high-powered job and the travel it involves. It’s not that he doesn’t love Stella he’s just not always around and Mrs Chapman the housekeeper and whichever latest nanny is present are poor substitutes for the closeness a young girl needs. When Gramma comes to live with them she certainly is a comfort to Stella but her grandmother’s mind and memories are beginning to slip away and that makes Stella even sadder.

Small fragments of memories, chance comments and some of her mother’s beautiful little sketches begin to coalesce in Stella’s mind until she forms a rather fanciful theory about her mother. What if her mother was actually a mermaid?

Stella’s daring adventure to unravel the truth is not just about finding out about her mum. She also discovers much about herself along the way – as well as her father and grandmother.

This is beautifully and believably told and would appeal greatly to sensitive readers from around ten years upwards.

Definitely recommended for your collections