Category Archives: Childrens books

Happy Halloween!

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We are preparing for a teen ‘Ween party here but I’ve been saving these titles for today so here we go!

Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Spooky Halloween

Penguin Australia

  • September 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241412268
  • Imprint: Ladybird
  • RRP: $14.99

Peppa and her Pig famiy continue to be firm favourites with little ones and this one will delight them as the Pigs prepare for a fun-filled Halloween.

Peppa and George are at Granny and Grandpa’s house and they are ready for some spookiness and luckily, their grandparents are fully in favour.

There is a flurry of baking yummy treats and decorations are dragged out of the attic – luckily Grandpa and Granny have collected quite a lot of Halloween accessories over the years. Soon both the house and yard are suitably creepy.

Next it’s time to raid the dressing-up box and all four costume themselves ready for a Spooky Show. When Mummy and Daddy Pig arrive they will be very surprised!

This is not only great fun for little ones at this time of year but a lovely warm story about the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

Your Peppa fans will love it of course!

There’s Something Weird About Lena

Sigi Cohen. Illustrated by James Foley.

Walker Books Australia

October 2020

ISBN: 9781760651503
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $25.99
New Zealand RRP: $28.99

For all who loved My Dead Bunny (that was everyone wasn’t it?) here’s another rollicking and hilarious creepy story.

With fabulous rhyming text that begs to be read aloud accompanied by the atmospheric illustrations, your kiddos will want this one over and over again.

Lena is the new kid at school and she’s really WEIRD. She cackles and howls, she shrieks and moans and she’s really not very nice. When her friends decide to prank her by dressing up spookily they are in for quite a shock – Lena is definitely not your average girl!

The fun use of onomatopoeia will simply delight – and your kiddos will be howling along with the reading – in fact, quite likely some adults will as well.

It’s a must – it really is! If your budget is all dried up by now, make sure you put it on your list for next year – you won’t be sorry!

Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad – Joseph Coelho. Illustrated by Freya Hartas.

Walker Books Australia

September 2020

ISBN: 9781406389661
Imprint: Walker
Australia RRP: $18.99
New Zealand RRP: $21.99

One for your older readers and the first in a three-part series that twists classic stories into very entertaining verse, this is perfect for your kiddos from around 9 years upwards up into Year 7.

With enough of the original story to be familiar but the delightfully gruesome twists – I mean who wouldn’t be far more thrilled with a zombie Cinderella than the insipid Disney version? – kids will gobble this up with much laughter. Trust me, when they get to the climax and instead of losing a glass (or fur) slipper, Zombierella loses her entire foot – they will explode!

Huge fun for readers from Year 4 upwards and I await the next two instalments eagerly, as they will as well.

Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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Allen & Unwin

October 2020

ISBN:9781760526214

Publisher:A&U Children’s

Imprint:A & U Children

RRP: $19.99

This is my first encounter with Dash and Lily – and I’m in love with them! As it happens I had put this title on our orders list because I liked the sound of it so much – and as it happens, with a Netflix adaptation on its way – I was pretty confident my keen beans would also enjoy it.

Now I can’t wait to talk it up at our ChocLit meeting this week because I know for sure they will love it!! It may sound cliched but I make no apologies for that – this is exactly the kind of ‘witty and sparkling’ writing that thrills me. I gobbled it up over a couple of nights and it was just pure joy to read.

Dash and Lily have been a couple for around two years and now they are finished school, their lives are changing. Dash is accepted to Oxford – his life-long dream – and while Lily knows she will miss him terribly she in no way wants to hold him back. On the other hand, she is floundering somewhat with her options. Her dog-walking business, Insta following and dog ‘crafting’ skills are really taking off and she is very determined not to follow the generations of women in her family in attending Barnard College. When Dash decides to stay in England for Christmas, Lily splurges on a trip to surprise him (her doggy entrepreneurship is REALLY successful!) in what she sees as a truly romantic gesture. But as many of us know, sometimes romantic gestures do not realise themselves in quite the same way as we have imagined them.

There are moments of real disconnection and none of it is helped by both young people doubting their choices around their chosen paths. However, as both are super intelligent and emotionally aware, they are able to work out not only their relationship but their futures.

There is so much to love about this book! Firstly, I adore that while it outlines completely relatable problems there is none of the intense teeth-gnashing, maudlin introspection and egocentric thinking that seems to pervade so many YA novels. There is a lot of humour – and I particularly love the ‘punny’ expressions throughout – and these two as well as secondary characters are genuinely likeable. I also really appreciate that while the couple do have a physical relationship there is nothing overt that could cause problems with your younger readership and similarly, there is no swearing!

Your readers from around Year 7 are likely to connect with these two as much as I have and I highly recommend it for your astute readers who will fully appreciate the humour, the dilemmas and the joy of the narrative.

The Body Book – Hannah Alice

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Allen & Unwin

July 2020

ISBN:9781788006767

Publisher:Nosy Crow

Imprint:Nosy Crow

RRP $19.99

So here’s another book about the human body but this one for your younger readers – with considerably less grossness haha!

It’s a large format sturdy board book and the see-through body will absolutely entrance readers as they explore each aspect of the body’s structure and functions.

Although it’s intended for younger readers I will still be including this in the Kid’s reading list as the interesting facts, useful diagrams and other information provided is excellent and helpful for one who is learning to research independently.

A very welcome bonus is the reminder that while skin colour may differ we are all the same underneath it as well as the concluding page which outlines ways to keep our bodies healthy.

Highly recommended for young readers from around seven years upwards who will absolutely love the transparent layers especially.

The Human Body Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Australia September 2020

ISBN: 9781760896744

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

As it happens the Kid is looking at the human body for the science component of her home schooling this term. Of course, as the diligent teacher-librarian/gran that I am, I have organised a lot of useful resources for her – none of which will be anywhere near as gross or fascinating as George’s new survival guide! In fact, the day it arrived, she picked it up and there were many gasps and groans as she flicked through it – a pretty fair indication that all your kiddos who delight in the gruesome and ghastly will love it :-).

Sections such as Red Spurty Stuff, Pooping it Out and Dead Stuff will likely be the first that readers dip into (for want of a better expression) and the gross-o-meter throughout will aid them in their reactions. Fact boxes, extracts from articles, images and diagrams galore all help put together a thoroughly disgusting journey through the body and it’s mysterious workings.

There is a particularly welcome section on body image which will empower young readers to view themselves positively and the book’s conclusion has a useful glossary plus some excellent further reading links.

It is definitely a book that will take some time to work through as the readers pore over each fact, article, diagram, table, illustration and more.

Any kiddos from around ten years upwards will enjoy this one and obviously, it will be featured on the Kid’s reading list for this term. I feel confident she will ferret out the most odious of facts to share with me.

George is one of those amazing authors who can skillfully turn his hand to adept and engaging writing across many genres. The fact that he is just a tiny bit crazy (eccentric?) is a bonus [thought you’d like that addition, George!]. He is also one of the most fun people I’ve ever met :-).

Don’t miss out on George’s mad scientist/not-a-real-doctor videos and check out his Q&A with Better Reading here.

Highly recommended for your readers from middle primary to middle secondary.

The Fire Star: A Maven & Reeve Mystery- A. L. Tait

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Penguin Australia

September 2020

  • ISBN: 9781760897079
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • RRP: $16.99

Well-known globally for her adventure series The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, A. L. Tait brings another entertaining and engaging series to middle years readers with the introduction of Maven and Reeve.

Maven, youngest daughter of an impoverished and dispossessed noble family, is companion and maid to Lady Cassandra who has been betrothed, unwillingly, to Sir Garrick, highly regarded warrior knight. Reeve, also from a noble family, and without any family support, has been sent as squire to the famous knight. The whole marriage hinges on the possession of the fabled jewel, the Fire Star, passed down through many generations to Lady Cassandra. Airl Buckthorn, Cassandra’s uncle, is liege lord over them all and strongly desires the jewel to be in the hands of his unpleasant and wayward daughter, Anice – and therefore, to all intents and purposes, his own hands.

When the jewel goes missing, Maven and Reeve find themselves thrown together to solve the mystery. Much hinges on their success including their own personal fates. In a kingdom rife with corruption and unrest, there are undercurrents of treason, intrigues and dark deeds on all sides.

This is an adventure/mystery that will immediately capture the imaginations of middle grade readers with immensely likeable heroes as well as thoroughly unpleasant villains.

Maven and Reeve make a terrific pairing as both bring their own backgrounds, upbringing and personal standards to a narrative that is fast-paced and full of excitement.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Read an excerpt here and you can check out A. L. Tait’s website here.

The Tindims of Rubbish Island – Sally Gardner and Lydia Corry

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Harper Collins Australia

September 2020

  • ISBN: 9781838935672
  • ISBN 10: 1838935673
  • Imprint: Head Of Zeus – Zehpyr – GB
  • List Price: 12.99 AUD

This is not only a terrific story for newly independent readers to enjoy on their own but if your junior classes are planning an environmental or recycling unit this would make a super introduction to some serial reading – with a chapter per session. This is particularly so as each chapter focuses on a different character and part of the whole in turn.

The Tindims (sorry but every time I looked at the cover, I immediately thought Tim Tams! haha!) are little people not entirely dissimilar to humans except for one very striking difference. The Tindims don’t throw rubbish, especially plastic, willy nilly all over the place. In fact, they rescue and recycle trash into creative and useful everyday objects. As a matter of fact, their entire island has been constructed from discarded waste acquired over hundreds of years.

In modern times however, the Tindims are facing a huge problem. The amount of plastic washing up on their island is becoming too much for them to re-purpose and they have no idea how to persuade the Long Legs (humans) how to change their ways.

As the book doesn’t offer a solution to that problem, I think there must be more in the pipeline but in the meantime, little ones will enjoy the creativity of the Tindims, their quirky personalities and will, no doubt, be able to come up with many ideas of their own.

Recommended for readers from around five years upwards.

Mind Shift to a Better Place – Dr Larsen, Mindshift Foundation, Elizabeth Venzin

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Harper Collins Australia

February 2020

  • ISBN: 9780733340451
  • ISBN 10: 0733340458
  • Imprint: ABC Books – AU
  • List Price: 32.99 AUD

Thankfully mental health has become not only de-stigmatised but supported and managed in ways that previously we had never experienced. It’s fair to say that 2020 has taken almost all of us to emotional places we had never expected to be in and the toll that stress, anxiety and uncertainty has taken is, to employ that ubiqitous word, unprecedented.

The Mindshift Foundation has taken up the mission of supporting Australians, young and old, to become aware of the importance of maintaining positive mental health through developing self-worth, better coping skills and greater resilience.

This book is a primer of useful information and and resources which can become a source of strength for those who are seeking to create for themselves better self-worth, positive well-being and above all, the strongest mental health possible.

Either as an addition to your collection or as a resource for teacher/counsellors this is an excellent resource.

Health and Help for tweens & teens

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There is certainly a boom in books targeting young people to empower them to be their best selves and take action for the greater good. As it happens I have quite a pile of them here so have decided to compile them into this one post. All are very worthy additions either to a personal or library collection.

Perfectly Unique: Love Yourself Completely, Just as You Are – Annie F. Downs

Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

  • ISBN: 9780310768623
  • ISBN 10: 0310768624
  • Imprint: HarperCollins Religious – US

RRP: $22.99

As it would happen I had seen this book while browsing for other titles for our collection and added it some time ago. In particular for either Christian families or schools, you will find this a charming and heartfelt message for our young girls.

Each section takes a look at various parts of the body and the ways in which each has the potential for a girl to grow in her faith whilst understanding the often confusing and contradictory moods of her changing body.

Annie is a well-known podcaster and author based in Tennessee who strives to impart via her writing the presence of a loving and present God. For young girls the turbulent teens, the powerful influences via social media and peer pressure can be overwhelming and Annie’s mission is to provide these girls with the tools, skills and strength to withstand these and stand strong in faith.

Read more about Annie here

Dare to be You: Defy Self-Doubt, Fearlessly Follow Your Own Path and Be Confidently You! – Matthew Syed. Illustrated by Toby Triumph

Hachette

September 2020 | 9781526362377 | RRP $19.99

Following the runaway success of You are Awesome Matthew Syed continues to empower young people, providing them with the tools to employ their own positive thinking.

Combining his humour and personal insights with the stylistic illustrations, Matthew introduces real-life role models such as Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai as an aide to encouraging diverse thinking.

Matthew wants children and young people to stop doubting themselves, accept that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and embrace their own wonderful selves with confidence to grow into happy, well-adjusted adults.

Looking after your Health – Caroline Young

Harper Collins Australia

July 2020

  • ISBN: 9781474982757
  • ISBN 10: 1474982751
  • Imprint: Usborne – GB
  • List Price: 14.99 AUD

It’s not just about mental health of course and this super little book is perfect for kiddos from around eight years upwards to teens, to encourage them to take care of their physical well-being as well as their mental health.

It takes a quirky, often humorous, approach to sharing useful information none of which is either too radical or ‘out there’ but more like a common sense approach to looking after themselves whether its diet, exercise, sleep, managing stress, maintaining and regulating friendships or relationships (so tricky at times!).

This not an onerous read and certainly not ‘preachy’ but quite fun to read with some solid advice for young people. This one is going to feature in the Kid’s home schooling this term part of which is focusing on the human body and health.

Helping our Planet – Jane Bingham

Harper Collins Australia

July 2020

  • ISBN: 9781474982764
  • ISBN 10: 147498276X
  • Imprint: Usborne – GB
  • List Price: 14.99 AUD

I think this and the following book are perfect companions to those above because we know that many young people are increasingly anxious about the state of the world’s environment and also, that by becoming actively involved with relevant causes, they will of course also be aiding their own mental and physical health.

Offering some really simple to implement strategies any one, young or old, could benefit from these suggestions. For example:

Five Moves to beat ‘Hidden Plastic’

  1. Stop buying wet ones, glitter and glittery things
  2. Don’t buy chewing gum
  3. Buy plastic-free teabags or go for loose tea
  4. Try to avoid drink cans, take away coffee cups and cartons
  5. Buy clothes made from natural fibres, such as bamboo or wool

Easy peasy! and there are loads more ideas as well as of course the facts behind important issues such as water conservation, planet-friendly shopping and waste management.

Hope: 50 Ways to Help Our Planet Every day

Penguin Australia

August 2020

ISBN: 9781760896737

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Did you know your food travels an average of 4000 kilometres to get to you? Have you ever wondered where exactly ‘away’ is when you throw something away? Or what happens to the 3 billion drink cans Australians go through in a year?

There will be many families as well as classes who are inspired and impassioned by the War on Waste series hosted by Craig Reucassel not to mention the thousands who are, quite rightly, extremely concerned about climate change and this is the perfect jumping-off point for readers from as young as eight years old but upwards to early secondary. In fact, I will be offering both these books to our Year 8 team for their unit on Waste (or as we call it at school the Rubbish unit – haha!).

Case studies (from kids), inspirational quotes from leading world figures, practical advice and simple activities will engage and involve classrooms, families and communities.

Most of all the premise of this little book is as the title says to offer ‘hope’ that it’s not too late to make the changes our world needs so badly.

Overall I highly recommend all of these for either your family or your collection.

Magabala Magic

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It’s always exciting to open a package from Magabala. I find such joy in the wonderful stories shared by our talented Indigenous creators. Two such stunning books are recent additions to the Magabala book list and both are set to become highly acclaimed in all quarters.

My Story/Ngaginybe Jarragbe – Shirley Purdie

October 2020
ISBN 9781925936131

RRP $24.99

Told in English and Gija, this is Shirley Purdie telling her own story of her childhood and her world-acclaimed art. Born at Mabel Downs, Shirley was raised absorbing the knowledge and culture of her elders and in turn, now shares this wealth through her artworks.

The first in the new Kimberley Art Centre Series which focuses on ‘developing the skills of Kimberley Aboriginal artists in children’s picture book storytelling and illustration’ this is going to be a major player in cross-cultural perspectives for your young readers.

Shirley’s anecdotes of growing up: learning about bush tucker, ceremony, learning to paint from her famous mother, Madigan Thomas and others and daily life on Country, will fascinate children and inspire them to pursue their own artistic endeavours.

The launch of the book will coincide with the re-hanging of the 2018 National Portrait Gallery exhibition So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian history along with some wonderful cultural activities engaging with My Story.

Truly a beautiful book this will be a valuable addition to your Indigenous collection and your integration of cross-cultural knowledge.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.

Found – Bruce Pascoe and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis

August 2020

ISBN 9781925936483

RRP $24.99

Author and illustrator have together created a simple but beautiful story about a little calf separated from its mother and family. Set in the bush, the small creature finds other animals but none are his family and his emotions run high. The strong feelings will easily resonate with young readers who will relate to the anxiety and the ultimate joy of reunion.

While Bruce is always so adept at creating heartfelt narratives, for me it is the superb illustrations that truly make this book stand out. These are without doubt the most adorable cows you have ever seen!

Another to add to your collection and one that will delight the littlest of readers from around four years upwards. Highly recommended for both the joy of the reading and the rich discussions that will arise.