Category Archives: Childrens books

Third Witch – Jackie French

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Harper Collins

      ISBN: 9780732298531

      ISBN 10: 0732298539

      Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

19/06/2017

     RRP 16.99 AUD

Macbeth has been my favourite Shakespearean play ever since studying it at school and being taken to a very atmospheric production for an excursion. Of course I knew that Shakespeare had totally fibbed about the whole thing but then he wasn’t a chronicler of history, he was a showman and storyteller. Like Jackie French I too got to play the Third Witch as a 15 year old schoolgirl but not in the actual play but a school production of Happy as Larry, which was loosely based on the original.  I don’t remember much about it except we were a screaming success (of course!) except it was directed by the divine Mr Herlinger, my English and Ancient History teacher on whom I had a huge crush. But I digress…

Annie Grasseyes’ rise from lowly village girl to friend and confidante of Lady Macbeth forms the basis of this novel. Her involvement with her mistress’ plotting and planning starts out almost innocently but as time goes by Annie is drawn deeper and deeper into a vortex of evil deeds.

With her indisputable skill Jackie weaves the story with threads from Shakespeare’s own memorable phrases and a close knowledge of everyday life in medieval England, combining these with a story of a young girl mesmerised by luxury and power.

The themes of loyalty, love, betrayal, superstition, and power reflect the original but strips it down to what it truly was – an account of greed and treachery.

At times Annie almost becomes unlikeable as she constantly (and naively) supports the wickedness of her Lady, but her uncompromising loyalty is admirable and it extends to her family, resulting in her being torn between these.

This is a beautiful rendering of the original play and will bring the beauty of Shakespeare’s language to a new audience as well as entrancing them with the simplicity with which a person can find they are embroiled in the very worst of circumstances.

Highly recommended for those readers who relish historical fiction whether they be WS lovers or not.  Suitable for ten years upwards.

 

Laugh-out-loud Awesome Jokes for Kids – Rob Elliott

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ISBN: 9780062497963

ISBN 10: 0062497960

Imprint: HarperCollins

 14/02/2017

List Price: 3.99 AUD

 

Just a quickie as there’s not a great deal to say about a joke book except – well it’s full of jokes which your kids will love and will, no doubt, drive you completely bonkers!

Rob Elliott’s other collection have been best-sellers and judging by the way joke books suffer the most on our library shelves from their punishing  borrowing schedule, the appetite for them never diminishes with either boys or girls.

Riddles, puns, and knock knocks abound in this collection which will entertain your youngsters especially in these school holidays when parents can become slightly stressed.

What do pandas use to fight?

Their bear hands.

How does a farmer greet his cows?

With a milk shake.

 

You get the picture – now get the book! Your junior comedians will thank you – and you can always pack them off to the grandparent’s to practice their stand up routines!

 

Truly Tan: Trapped! (Truly Tan, Book #6) – Jen Storer

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Harper Collins

 

      ISBN: 9780733334122

      ISBN 10: 0733334121

      Imprint: ABC Books – AU

01/05/2017

     RRP 16.99 AUD

 

Confession time: Truly Tan is up to number 6 and I’ve not read any. In my defence, they are never on the library shelves long enough to snaffle one and since I taught my students how to reserve a book, they are even harder to snare!

So now having at last got my hands on one I can truthfully say I can easily see the great appeal to my girls who are such huge fans.

Tan’s family are exuberant and just a wee bit eccentric. They live in a beautifully ramshackle house in the country where animals, paddocks, creeks and bush are integral to their lives.

Tan, who fancies herself as a terrific Super Spy, is delightfully quirky and while mega-confident about her espionage techniques is also just a little uncertain of her status in the family, feeling undervalued and overlooked as the youngest of four girls.  However this doesn’t stop her quick mind and creative thinking when it comes to solving the latest unexplained mystery.

In this new adventure Tan is looking after the neighbour’s house while Mrs Topple is on a cruise. Along with her BFF Gloria she becomes embroiled in a stealth investigation of some mysterious happenings: a spooky white flash that appears and disappears, a gypsy caravan, a strange orange car and a shadowy figure all play their part in Tan’s latest triumph of undercover action.

There is a load of fun to be had in these – family, friends both old and new, clues to puzzle over, and problems to solve. I predict this latest will be every bit as popular as the first five and fans will be eagerly anticipating the next instalment!

Tan’s diary entries are hysterical IMO – I love the opening description of which pen she is using (along with any defects said pen may have)!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

 

Pippa’s Island #1: The Beach Shack Café – Belinda Murrell

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9780143783671

Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143783671

July 3, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP: $14.99

 

Belinda Murrell, one of our best loved authors, has cracked it again with a splendid new series once again celebrating family, friendships, community spirit and girl power :).  Throw in a simply gorgeous tropical island setting and you have a winning combination.

 

Pippa Hamilton has just relocated from London to a small island halfway around the world, along with her mum, brother and sister. Despite Pippa’s grandparents already in place to welcome them, this young girl feels desperately lonely and anxious. It’s not just the discombobulating move and having to start at a new school, in a new place, in a new climate, in a new culture that is making Pippa morose. Her father having decided to pursue a new life which prompted their move has left her feeling very hard done by indeed.

Her mum, a former stockbroker, has (what seems to Pippa) the crazy idea of renovating a derelict old beach shack to turn it into both a home and a café. Money is tight as is the time frame and things look very tricky for the first few wobbly weeks.

Pippa’s new school adventure proves to be not quite as intimidating as she first thought especially when she chums up with Meg, Charlie and Cici. The girls are all very different in their likes and strengths but complement each other perfectly. So perfectly in fact that they combine forces to create the Sassy Girls Club – where each can shine with her particular brand of ‘mighty girl’.

With the deadline for the café opening imminent and things still unfinished, their new ‘village’ comes together and supports the Hamilton family in a joyful ‘helping hand’ we expect from close knit communities and generous Aussies.

What a welcome to Kira Island for this family! And indeed what a welcome to what will be a hugely popular series for those who loves Belinda’s other books!

With all the themes that we have to come to love young readers will flock to this series like bees to honey, there is no doubt in my mind.

Highly recommended for girls particularly from around 8 years upwards. Get your orders in noooooooooooow!!!!!

PS – Totally in love with the cover design – so colourful and with the addition of real photographs just perfect!!

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Release – Patrick Ness

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781406331172
Imprint: Walker
May 4, 2017
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
Oh my,oh my! Another one of my favourite writers! Ever since the Chaos Walking Trilogy first came to my notice I have been a fervent admirer of Patrick Ness’ writing and of course with the film of A Monster Calls soon to be released, his work is even more resonant with readers at present.

On one Saturday small town teenager Adam finds his world falling to pieces but at the same time he is being released from its confines. The son of a fundamentalist preacher, Adam’s homosexuality has become the ‘elephant in the room’ with his family with who he is constantly at loggerheads. In just twenty four hours everything turns around for him while at the same time the ghost of a recently murdered girl arises from the nearby lake seeking retribution and her own release. As is common with Ness’ writing the parallel narratives – one all too earthly and one very much mystical reality – weave in and out around the residents of Adam’s town.

Adam’s struggle with resolving his feelings about his first love and finding the joy with his new one form a large portion of his twenty-four hours but there is also the imminent loss of his long time female friend as she plans to move away, the revelation that his ‘perfect’ big brother has impregnated a girl who is not even his ‘girlfriend’ and the horrible unwanted advances of his creepy boss to deal with.

John Green describes Ness’ writing as ‘insanely beautiful’ and I have to agree. If you have never read any of his work – you should!

Given the central theme of Adam’s sexuality being prominent in this plot, this is not a book for every school library but for many it will be a turning point as a coming –of- age novel that validates being true to oneself and finding inner strength.

Highly recommended for older readers from around 15 years upwards.

 

Toto: the Dog-gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz – Michael Morpurgo. Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

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Harper Collins

          ISBN: 9780008134594

          ISBN 10: 0008134596

         Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

         On Sale: 21/08/2017

         List Price: 19.99 AUD

When I had my sixth birthday my older sister gave me an illustrated copy of The Wizard of Oz and I immediately fell in love with the story. This poor book (which I still have) was re-read many times and is now looking a little shabby but is still treasured deeply.

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How absolutely marvelous to have one of our greatest modern storytellers bring a fresh new take on this now ‘antique’ tale – first published in 1900 by L. Frank Baum. MM has conceived a wondrous version which re-tells the story from the point of view of Toto, Dorothy’s courageous little dog.

Now an old Papa dog, Toto delights in telling the young pups stories and of course the favourite is the story of his and Dorothy’s adventures in the Land of Oz. Most of the pups get bored with the endless reminiscences but not the youngest who laps them up especially the Oz story no matter how many times he hears them.

Toto’s voice is completely as one might imagine from a little Kansas country dog and this re-tell keeps closely to the original story which is especially satisfying.  MM also keeps closely to the language style of the original while still making it accessible to modern readers.

Colourful and contemporary styled illustrations give this book a really attractive and vibrant look which will thoroughly engage young readers for what might be their first introduction to the Oz stories.  They will definitely love the ‘emerald’ foiled highlights on the cover!

Much as I love my original even after so many years this was simply a joy to read – as indeed are all Morpurgo books!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards!

Super Blog Sale

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Given that I need to raise some extra funds to tide us over till my new contract starts, I’m selling off books that I have reviewed recently or about to. Selling them all for $5 each – will combine postage if needed – or local pick up if wanted.

Here’s the first lot and will keep posting as available:

 

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The High Note (Girl vs Boy Band #2) – Harmony Jones

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Allen & Unwin

ISBN:9781408878279

Publisher:Bloomsbury UK

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

May 2017

RRP: $14.99

 

Popstar fans who enjoyed the first instalment of this series will love this one even more. The Brit boys are back in California ready to rock and roll with their band Abbey Road. Following the departure of Aiden, who was just not the team player, Lark’s crush Teddy has been installed as the third member. However, this is not without some issues as Teddy is not just focused on his music but really wants to do well in school. Stylists, choreographers, publicity and the impending tour all impact on this. Lark feels for him – as the other boys are all for it, being a little older and not quite as academically minded.

Lark’s own songwriting and performing step up as she gains in confidence. Certainly her flying visit to Nashville to see her dad help with this as she is a special guest of Holly Rose and is able to share the stage at the Grand Ole Opry – plus helps out the famous Hatfields with a song lyric, reaping some useful kudos and royalties along with it.

Continuing on with the themes of loyalty, friendship, self-belief and the usual teenage anxieties, Harmony Jones presents a sweet and wholesome fun read for ‘tweens’ who are not quite ready for more mature reads.

This will definitely satisfy some readers who are fascinated with their music and their pop idols.

Recommended for girls from around ten years up.

 

 

Transitional Problems

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When you are ‘moving’ between schools/libraries after 18 months and have to pack up all your resources and ‘props’.

And the stuffed full car is unpacked and two new stacks of boxes etc in the garage – not to mention a ‘whomping willow’ which will become a Magic Faraway Tree parked next to 3 garbage bags and one tub of soft toy reading buddies in the lounge room!

 

HP’s potions bottles now relocated to the top of the kitchen cupboards – OK so any visitors may suspect some hocus pocus with their food or drink!

New School!!

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I am wildly excited to announce that I will be starting at a new school and library next term. And not only that but a school where the Principal fully supports and values the work of the library and teacher-librarian. I am stoked!! Stay posted for mega excitement!

In the meantime, I have some downtime (holidays and hopefully some relief teaching to ch-ching some $$) and hope to tackle my enormous pile of review books!!