You can read my review of this fabulous second instalment in this series at Kids Book Review now!
SEP 29, 2020 | 9781529327991 | RRP $32.99
When Dean Nicholson set off on his cycling journey around the world he had little idea that his epic trip and his life would become an Instagram sensation after he picked up a tiny stray kitten in a remote area of the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia.
Thirty-year-old Dean had been living an unsatisfactory existence in Dunbar, Scotland when he and a friend conceived of an idea to cycle the world. The pair didn’t last all that long but when Dean rescued little Nala he acquired a travelling companion who would not only become his best friend but empower him to become a fully-realised animal and environmental activist in the very best of ways.
While he already had a small following of friends and family on his Instagram feed, it was after his rescue and subsequent postings of Nala that his global audience exploded exponentially. With his Insta posts and YouTube channel Dean has not only endeared himself and his feisty little companion to thousands but has raised thousands of dollars to support small and struggling rescue shelters and charities in places that generally go unnoticed.
Their travels together of the past two years have fascinated their followers through all the ups and downs of life on the road – good times, difficult times, sickness, health, tragedies and celebrations. Their loyal fans have supported them, helped in practical and emotional multitudes of ways and cheered them on proving time and again the generosity and kindness of strangers that can still be found, even in these troubled times. And I deliberately stress that last as the book concludes with the first frightening and sweeping wave of the Covid pandemic – fortunately, Dean was able to narrowly escape being locked down in the UK away from Nala in Hungary. Coronavirus may have put the brakes on Dean’s dream trip, but nothing can stop this indomitable pair as they forge their way forward, helping whomever they can with what they can.
This hugely heart-warming and inspirational story will further Dean’s mission to support those who need it as well providing an enjoyable read whether you are a cat-lover or not. I know that when this goes onto my shelves with the other new true-life and biography books I’ve recently added, it will be snapped up immediately by one of my many readers for whom this will be an excellent follow-on from A Cat Named Bob especially.
Imprint: Rock the Boat
Firstly if Sid’s Franken-toys in Toy Story freaked you out a bit, you’re really not going to like the titular monstrous devices in this deliciously exciting and somewhat creepy debut novel from Damien Love!
Twelve year old Alex has a collection of old robot toys which his largely absent grandfather has bought for him over the years. When a new one, and definitely the most interesting of them all, arrives with a note that tells Alex ‘This one is special’ he is both delighted and intrigued. Until that is strange things start happening and Alex begins to suspect that seemingly innocuous tin robot might not just be special but possibly deadly.
Just as things seem to be spiraling into some bizarre and dangerous events, Alex’ grandfather turns up and leaving behind normal life of school bullies, but also friends and his mother, Alex and Grandad, a somewhat mysterious and eccentric old man, plunge into a sinister world of assassins, pursuit by both human and robot adversaries, high-speed chases, narrow escapes and ancient mystical secrets and feuds.
From Paris to Prague the pair, in tandem with an old friend, needs to outwit and out-outmaneuver their persistent and callous enemies as they try to destroy an ancient macabre creation that could potentially destroy the world.
This is not just impressive writing for a debut novel – Love writes with the ease and assuredness of a master whirling the readers into a truly gripping page-turner with high octane excitement and some seriously creepy villians.
Readers from around 12 years upwards will absolutely delight in this and like myself, wait for a next thrilling adventure. Highly recommended for your upper primary/middle secondary kiddos – another one for ‘book talking’ tomorrow!
Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99
Enter a fabulous new adventure-fantasy series that will not just enthral readers with its ‘difference’ being set in a fictional parallel landscape but with its wonderful celebration of another type of difference. Agatha and Jamie are of the Clann-a-Tuath, one of the clans on the isle of Skye and a clan which has abandoned the practice of marriage or child-raising by defined parents. In this clan the whole community takes responsibility for children who are assigned to roles as they grow older. Jamie has become an Angler going out on the boats to fish – which he hates because of his terrible sea-sickness. Agatha is assigned as a Hawk, one who watches from vantage points to protect the clan from invaders. Agatha too has some difficulties with her role although she is closely supervised because as the reader realises from the start, Agatha is ‘different’. Some refer to her as ‘broken’ but others in the clan accept her difference and help her to develop her strengths, such as Maistreas Eilionoir.
In complete contradiction to their long-held customs the clan has arranged a marriage between Jamie and a girl of the clan Raasay in order to (so they think) ensure a strong alliance. In fact, they have been duped and clan Raasay betray them to the deamhain from far-off Norveg, ruthless barbarians with cruel intentions.
So begins an epic quest as Agatha and Jamie, the lone survivors of the attack, determine to track, find and rescue their captured clan members. To the mainland of Scotia where people have long been wiped out by a dreadful plague released upon them by the evil King Edmund in the south the pair flee, reluctantly taking along a captured deamhan who claims to be a prince in his own land, as a bargaining chip. Along their way they encounter a strange tribe, riders and companions of shaggy Highland cattle, who become allies and even stranger a mad Queen who has somehow survived plague and shadow beings alone in her castle for forty years. The rescue is arduous and long and always fraught with danger but throughout both Jamie and Agatha, who may be ‘broken’ but also has special powers, prove themselves as worth heroes over and over again, despite all odds.
This is fantastical, creepy, at times violent, but ultimately a wonderful tale of bravery, loyalty and compassion.
Elliott draws on his experience of working with children with special needs to create a memorable character, in Agatha, who is able, intuitive, fiercely loyal, sweet and funny in spite of, or perhaps because of, her Down’s Syndrome. Jamie is equal to her in many of these attributes and is able to conquer his fear, which is after all the true measure of courage, and draw on hidden strengths.
Readers from around 12 years upwards will love this for its unusual settings and characters, the use of adapted and invented languages and the full-on adventure of the rescue mission.
Harper Collins Australia
ISBN 10: 1460754093
RRP 24.99 AUD
We’ve all been in love with Jackie’s wombats for years and now she and Bruce Whatley have provided us with another fabulous ‘wombat’ character to cherish. Dippy made his first appearance last year and thoroughly delighted all his young readers. This BIG boisterous and happy diprotodont like his modern counterpart is uniquely Australian and eminently loveable.
Dippy’s new adventure follows his digging of a big hole – in fact a huge hole! – which serves as a super slide into a whole new landscape filled with strange and wonderful gigantic animals. Australia’s megafauna shows off in all its fascinating wonder as Dippy plays and flies and swims with his new friends. And just as all young ‘uns need to after such exuberance a refreshing rest is required by this young and curious creature.
Described as ‘deceptively simple’ this does indeed provide a portal to adventure and confidence for any little human.
Highly recommended for littlies from around 2 years upwards.
National Library of Australia
I adore this series! In Heritage Heroes, Reeder not only takes her readers on adventures but provides rich fodder for hunters of history. Each volume has explored the (often unknown) achievements of young Australian people of the past in a fictionalised narrative which is lavishly interspersed with reproduced primary documents and photographs, ephemera, information on related topics such as animals, significant events and people and more.
Each volume is so sublimely presented that it becomes a tactile delight and the joy is not just in the reading but in the holding in one’s hands.
In this latest, the fifth, we are treated to the discovery of opals at what is now Coober Pedy by 14 year old Will Hutchison who accompanied his father, two other men and six camels on an expedition into outback South Australia in a time of pretty basic equipment and the dangers of extreme drought.
When Will decides to go with his father on the trip for the New Colorado Prospecting Syndicate he has no idea what dangers and hardships lay ahead. Their determination to find gold is undaunted by these although Will struggles to stay positive. Just when the situation appears to be at its most dire and unsuccessful with the company resolved to return to Adelaide, it is Will who literally stumbles onto the Stuart Range opal field which remains one of the most valuable in Australia and certainly a location which is totally unique with so many of the dwellings being underground.
With the addition of ‘what happened next’ information, biographical notes, glossary and references for exploring further some of the many related topics this is treasure worth the delving.
What a marvellous new addition to this award-winning series this is. Highly recommended for readers from Upper Primary to Secondary not to mention any adults interested in Australian history.
|Imprint:||Bloomsbury Children’s Books
We all need a friend who will help us out at times and when that friend goes way beyond their ‘comfort zone’ it’s even more special.
Bear and Spider are great friends but they are very different. Spider loves being outdoors with the breeze, the smells, the plants not to mention the bugs 😊. Bear, on the other hand, is more of a homebody who enjoys pottering around the house tidying and sitting comfortably with a cup of tea.
Bear has absolutely no desire to go out with Spider to fly his kite. He has his own plans for the day, none of which involve the great outdoors. When Spider’s kite is caught up in the gusty wind and blows away of course Bear will help look for it but he grumbles all the way. The forest is full of horrible stuff like itchy plants, pesky weeds and cold rain and even Spider is starting to have enough of nature when at last as the rain clears and the pair look up to the sky there it is! At last the kite is found! Back home the two friends settle back in the comfy armchair with their tea and both fly kites from its warm cosiness.
True friends help each other even when they are opposites. This is a terrific story to explore that idea with little humans.
Highly recommended for readers from around 3 years upwards.
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99
I’m pretty certain that I’m not the only one who’s so excited that Anthony has his Alex mojo back J – and with the talk of the forthcoming movie there are bound to be many more readers added to the fold of fans.
In this new volume, seven adventures are recounted – making them perfect read-alouds for book talks or encouraging reluctant readers. I’m finding at present that as many girls as boys are borrowing the series (especially since I bought the new editions with the stunning cover art!). Since this collection includes three brand new adventures it will have as much appeal to existing fans as to those new to the series.
Whether it’s playing the part of assassin unknowingly, having a routine dentist visit turn into something far more sinister or skiing down steep slopes in a frantic attempt to save himself and others, Alex the reluctant spy manages to come out on top, largely thanks to his uncle’s dedication to bringing him up with the skills he would need.
Anthony Horowitz does thrilling suspense so well – as we know not only from his books but also his plethora script writing ventures. I know I’m not alone in my addiction to Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War!
As an introduction for the next generation of devotees or to add some excitement to your existing AR readers – this is a must have for your collection.
Watch the trailer here.
Imprint: Walker Books Australia: February 1, 2019
Australian RRP: $14.99
New Zealand RRP: $16.99
If you have readers who love a good fun story with a bit of interesting information plus a smattering of a conservation message this will be a huge hit. The first in a new series Kylie Howarth has set up readers for a hilarious romp following the adventures of Fish Kid.
Bodhi is not at all interested in the ocean or the creatures that inhabit it -especially the scary ones. But he has little chance to escape either with a father who is a marine biologist and a mother who is an underwater photographer. He is particularly unhappy at being trapped in a boat in the Galapagos Islands with a very annoying skipper’s daughter who keeps pranking him
When Emely persuades Bodhi to drink a special smoothie she’s made – mentioning the mango but omitting the sea cucumber and jelly fish ingredients – Bodhi has a terrible allergic reaction which ends up with them both overboard and stranded on a lonely island. But there has also been a more long term effect. Bodhi can now swim like a super fish and stay submerged for simply ages! With no sign of being rescued, the pair engineers their own escape accompanied by a rather large and ugly, though seemingly intelligent, marine iguana. Their mission is a success and along the way they manage to alert the authorities to a sea cucumber poaching racket.
Throughout the text are scattered fact pages about the various sea creatures which Bodhi and his parents encounter which offers readers a fantastic opportunity to increase their knowledge of these. Also on offer is the underlying repeated message about preserving our marine habitats.
All in all this a great package for readers from around eight years upwards.
Activity pack: Fish_Kid_Activity_Kit_FINAL_WEB.01
Walker Books Australia
Release Date: November 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99
In the first of the trilogy The City of Secret Rivers Hyacinth Hayward managed to thwart the plot to control the magical powers of the underground waters of London and also gain some inkling about her family’s role as protectors of that city’s magic. Now in the second instalment Hyacinth is again joined in another manically paced adventure by familiar characters Little Ben and Oaroboarus, that unflappable mute yet eloquent porcine master of disguise. When ancient stones begin to be stolen from all over London, Hyacinth realises that this is yet another plot. With new characters – some friends, some foes – introduced including Dasra (suspect grandson of Lady Roslyn), Inspector Beale, Hungerford a large and somewhat awkward stone lion, the Precious Man and his daughter Minnie Tickle, Hyacinth embarks on a race-against-time to retrieve the missing magical stones and restore the balance of a structured city.
With the same hysterical humour as the first as well as the thrilling and adventurous, if convoluted, journey across and under the city, Hyacinth begins to not only surmise more about her own family’s role but to make discoveries about herself, hitherto unsuspected. Certainly aspects of her practical ‘instruction’ by female family members over the years become both understandable and frankly, very useful.
Again Weinstein has combined the gangbusters narrative with much hidden and fascinating history about this famous city which will continue to appeal to those interested in history mysteries. Once again the factual notes and photos that conclude the novel provide some intriguing background to the story.
I for one am very much looking forward to the final instalment in this highly entertaining trilogy and again I highly recommend it for able readers from around 8 years upwards.