Tag Archives: Belinda Murrell

Pippa’s Island #5: Puppy Pandemonium – Belinda Murrell

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pippa

Penguin Random House

9780143793267

December 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

RRP: $14.99

The many young fans who have embraced this series with much enthusiasm will be delighted with the latest – and it’s just in time for Christmas too!

It’s been almost a year since Pippa and her mum, Jenna, and brother and sister – Harry and Bella – relocated from London to Kirra Island and their Beach Shack Café has become an established meeting place for many island regulars. Slowly their apartment above the café has been taking shape and they will be able to move out of their cramped caravan, unpack forgotten treasures from their old life and really begin their new one.

Not surprisingly money has been tight with every spare cent going to the apartment’s refurbishment and Pippa has been feeling some twinges of envy as she observes her Sassy Sister friends with their pretty swimsuits, bikes and lovely homes. When the local surf shop puts some super cute bikinis on sale Pippa is determined to buy one and comes up with her best plan ever. Pippa’s Perfect Pooch Pampering is born and soon Pippa has as many dog walking/caring jobs as she can handle – and more! Lucky she has such a great group of friends to help out and a lot of kind customers.

There is something completely joyous about these stories. Each resonates with themes of friendship, kindness, positivity and simple pleasures. No wonder they have been such a hit with readers. Let’s hope we see many more in the series!

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

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Pippa’s Island 4: Camp Castaway – Belinda Murrell

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pipisland

Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143783725

April 2, 2018

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP: $14.99

 

I may have had to wait a while for my review copy to arrive but it was completely worth it. If ever a ‘sea change’ from dull dreary winter normality was needed it was now and this was just the tonic required for that!

Pippa and her Sassy Sister friends are super excited about the 5M class camp to a tropical island two hours from home.  It’s a far cry from Pippa’s London experience of school camp sleeping over in the school hall watching movies. This camp is all about building independence, resilience and friendships beginning with learning how to sail the twin-hulled catamaran that delivers them to their island and continuing with cooking, organising, teamwork and initiative.

What a joy to read it is! Of course, there are still some ‘iffy’ relationships to sort out. Pippa and Olivia are still at odds with each other and the boys’ continual pranking of the girls is quite annoying, although the girls’ revenge is sweet when it comes.

Gradually over the five days of camp the children learn not only how to take care of themselves and work with each other but discover hidden (or ignored) positive qualities in their classmates.

From the gorgeous cover that (to me) echoes tropical fruit salad to the eminently believable characters and scenarios this is not just an enjoyable read but would, I think, encourage readers to reflect on their own personal relationships both in and out of school.

This series of Belinda’s has been taken up with huge enthusiasm with my junior readers. I’ve even had one delightful Year 4 girl so excited by them that she’s brought me Cici’s strawberry cupcakes to try out after using the recipe in a previous book! (I can only hope for more treats to come – the perks of the job *wink*).

And on that note I think we will all be eagerly awaiting the next instalment from the Pippa’s Island gang – great stuff Belinda!!

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 3 upwards.

 

 

Triple Treat: Jacqueline Harvey, Belinda Murrell and R. A. Spratt

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Such fun to open parcels with books from the most popular authors in my library – and my literary circle! The titles from this trio are highly sought after among my readers and there is always much exchanging in the returns line up with ‘She had this but I want to borrow it next’.

To make it an even more interesting mix there is a beginning, a ‘middle’ and, sadly, an ending.

Kensy and Max #1: Breaking News – Jacqueline Harvey

K&M

9780143780656

February 26, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $16.99

Without a doubt, Jacqueline Harvey has the girls from 7 to teens eating out of the palm of her hand with her Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda series.  And if you have not had the pleasure of Jacqueline presenting at your school I suggest that you do as she is without doubt the most energetic and engaging author I’ve seen in action.

Now Jacqueline has turned her considerable talents to a series pitched at both boys and girls with a hugely popular premise – espionage! Kensy and Max are twins both alike and also very different. They are well used to living all over the globe as their parents, apparently, are first responders in both tourist resorts and in crisis/humanitarian situations. However, when the pair finds themselves in a completely strange house with only their ‘manny’ Fitz in loco parentis things being to turn very mysterious indeed with their parents missing in a civil revolt and house inhabitants who are both strange and yet oddly familiar.

The two are in turn baffled and curious and begin to piece puzzle pieces together of their own initiative. It would seem that MI6 is a ‘family’ thing!

This new series has both memorable characters and believable circumstances which will thoroughly intrigue readers from around 8 years upwards. I don’t need to use my considerable powers of ESP to predict that this will be as big a winner as Jacqueline’s other series.

Highly recommended for readers from mid-primary up – get it on your shelves ASAP!

 

Pippa’s Island #3: Kira Dreaming – Belinda Murrell

pippa3

9780143783701

January 2, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $14.99

 

Without fail, if I put a Belinda Murrell book, whether Lulu Bell or one of the time slip series into a girl’s hands, I have her hooked from that moment. I’d like to think it’s my skill as a teacher-librarian but really its Belinda’s talent at knowing exactly what will grab her readers!

 

This is the third in her latest series and already I have girls clamouring for the next so this will be a huge hit when school goes back. There is something just purely delightful and happy about Pippa and her friends and family, even though there are serious moments e.g. Pippa’s absent dad. This doesn’t detract as I believe so many children can relate to the ambivalence about a parent who has absconded from the family. It’s difficult for them to reconcile their own love for that parent and the feeling of rejection/abandonment.

In this new episode, the Sassy Sisters are entering the school talent quest and while Pippa’s besties, Cici, Meg and Charlie are rapt about this opportunity, Pippa has real problems with her stage fright. Unexpectedly, it is this which provides a catalyst for Pippa to resume some ‘friendly’ relations with her MIA father.

These stories are fabulous narratives about real life situations to which readers can relate – despite the fact that they may not live on a tropical island!

Again, highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards and if you’ve missed the first two, put them on your ‘to buy’ list as well!

 

Friday Barnes #8: Never Fear – R. A. Spratt

fridayfinal

9780143784203

January 2, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

 

When I gently broke the news to my avid Friday readers that the forthcoming book would be the last in the series there was full scale caterwauling and gnashing of teeth. The only thing that saved me from literary lynching was the promise of a new series in the pipeline – whew!

 

I’ve mentioned this before. I love Friday! I love her geekiness, her gauche-ness, her daggy clothes and social ineptitude.

 

Highcrest Academy has a new principal and she is one seemingly mean and shockingly capable young woman. She promptly promotes Friday to Year 12 to ‘extend’ her and Friday is convinced that this means she’s just one step away from being ousted from what she regards as her home.

Along with this is the persistent rumour of long hidden gold somewhere in the school grounds and when implosions and explosions begin to disrupt the regular (!!) routine of Highcrest everyone is on edge.

 

Some huge questions are answered in this final volume. Will Friday ever kiss Ian? Can Melanie stay awake long enough to observe it? Who will still be a student in the academy at the end of year? Is the new principal who she says she is or an imposter? And will Friday ever kiss Ian? 😉

 

There will be some sad faces at this the final Friday chapter but reassure your readers that more great stuff is on its way from R. J. Spratt’s imaginative mind!

Highly recommended for readers from around mid-primary 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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The Lost Sapphire – Belinda Murrell

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lostsapphire

ISBN: 9781925324112

Published: 16/05/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $17.99

Once again Belinda Murrell has set her readers’ feet upon a path to the past with an ease that is breathtaking.

When Marli’s mother has to go overseas for work for several months, the teenager is sent to stay with her estranged father in Melbourne, doing so with the scowling bad grace that only an adolescent can summon. While all her friends will be back in Brisbane enjoying themselves for the holidays, Marli knows only too well that her workaholic father will leave her to moulder in boredom and loneliness.

Only one bright spot lightens her mood. She is reunited with her grandfather Didi who has some intriguing news. The old mansion owned by Marli’s ancestors, which has been leased to the government for ninety years is to come back into their possession. Derelict and abandoned, the old house seems destined for demolition.

Marli is determined to find out more about the mysterious mansion and its secrets especially after Didi handing over some artefacts which once belonged to his mother, Violet. Although a precious sapphire ring has not turned up in these, the other items are enough to spur Marli on in her journey of discovery.

Sneaking into the grounds of the mansion through a neighbouring property, Marli is surprised by Luca, a young man from the Italian family of neighbours who also has a connection to the old place.

As two parallel stories unfold, the reader shares in Violet’s life in the 1920s: the loss of her two brothers in the Great War, then her mother’s death, the emotional distance of her father and most interestingly the painful history of the chauffeur Nikolai, a Russian émigré whose family has escaped the Bolshevik revolution as well as following the progress of Marli’s Melbourne sojourn and her growing reconciliation with her father.

As usual, Belinda has woven a story of complete authenticity and within her fiction has much for us to learn about a period of time and events in Australia that are not widely known.

It is fascinating and engaging and will undoubtedly be as hugely popular as the other titles in this wonderful ‘time slip’ series. I have already had the first borrower snatch it up quickly five minutes after it went on our ‘new books’ display. I think that probably says it all!

Highly recommended for girls in Year 5 upwards.

 

Lulu Bell collections – Belinda Murrell

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LBamazing

Lulu Bell’s Amazing Animal Adventures – Belinda Murrell – illustrated by Serena Geddes

ISBN: 9781925324358

Published: 01/02/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $19.99

 

Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn
Lulu Bell and the Cubby Fort
Lulu Bell and the Tiger Cub
Lulu Bell and the Pyjama Party

LBfantastic

Lulu Bell’s Fantastic Holiday Fun – Belinda Murrell – illustrated by Serena Geddes

 

 

ISBN: 9781925324372

Published: 01/02/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $19.99

 

 

Lulu Bell and the Koala Joey
Lulu Bell and the Sea Turtle
Lulu Bell and the Pirate Fun
Lulu Bell and the Circus Pup

 

 

Regular readers of this blog will already know how well loved the Lulu Bell books are in this house. They are far and away Small’s favourites. David Attenborough may reign supreme for her viewing but it is Lulu Bell who wins outright when it comes to our nightly reading time.

 

In fact as I did not have the complete collection, having not reviewed earlier ones, the missing titles were one of the gifts in her Santa sack. She just adores them. And why wouldn’t she? She and Lulu Bell are about the same age and they both just are passionate about animals. In fact Small wishes she too lived in an animal hospital! (Mind you our growing menagerie must come close to having as many occupants!)

 

Each bind-up comprises four favourite titles from this successful series and whether you are introducing these to newly independent readers or ‘topping up’ your series collection they will be highly prized additions to your shelves.

 

Lulu Bell lives with her parents and younger brother and sister in a beachside town where normal daily life with family and friends becomes an adventure. With a dad who is the local vet and living next door to the surgery, animals abound both at home and also on holidays.  Lulu and her friends are just regular kids and their exploits, problems and solutions all resonate easily with young readers.

 

I was very surprised to find that in my new library there was only one title on our shelves – soon fixed that problem! I know they will be a huge hit with our little girls.

 

For more information on this series as well as Belinda’s other outstanding titles check out her website.

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Lucky visitors to the Newcastle literary festival were blessed to be able meet both Belinda and Serena there. I was positively peeved that we missed out!  Hope they bring this to Bris Vegas sometime!

Lulu Bell Series – Belinda Murrell

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Lulu Bell and the Pirate Fun – Belinda Murrell

9780857985545

ISBN: 9780857985545

Published: 01/06/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 96 pages

RRP $9.99

Lulu Bell and the Magical Garden

9780857985644

ISBN: 9780857985644

Published: 01/06/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 96 pages

RRP $9.99

I recall when I was so pleased to meet Belinda Murrell last year at Black Cat Books Paddington just after I had received my first Lulu Bell titles to review and being able to tell her just how delighted my Small was with the stories.

I must speak sternly with the fabulous Zoe from Random House because despite this blatant and overt expression of fandom somehow I missed out on reviewing the two titles released earlier this year (….Arabian Nights & …. Koala Joey – March 2015) and therefore Miss Small missed those as well, even though we had received Lulu Bell & The Christmas Elf before Xmas.

However, the past couple of weeks have been cosily spent snuggled up in bed together reading two chapters each night of the latest in the series and once again my little animal lover has revelled in the stories. She loves to project herself and her own experiences into the plot, to offer comments, predict what’s next or simply express her pleasure. For a very hardworking little girl with language difficulties, who is trying her heart out to acquire more sight words and reading skills, such engagement and connection with texts is vital.

Once again Belinda Murrell takes us inside Lulu Bell’s daily life with its small but nonetheless thrilling excitements and adventures. Whether it’s watching baby chicks hatch at school, planning a rebuilt school garden, rescuing a much loved family dog from a flooded creek or helping with a little brother’s special party, any young reader can make connections in some way to Lulu and her family.  Small’s expression when she learned that Lulu’s cousin is called Lachie (a family name with us as well) was worth bottling. She literally bounded up the stairs each night to have the next instalment of chapters read and was oh so disappointed when we reached the conclusion of the second book.

Looks like I’d better get hold of the rest of the series published before I began reviewing or that I’ve missed out to provide my special girl with more reading pleasure.

Highly recommended as always for newly independent readers or those who may be struggling as a fantastic read-aloud, especially girls.  Check out Belinda’s website here and find all the Lulu Bell titles here at Random House.

PS!! The absolutely wonderful and vivacious Zoe Bechara from Random House is sending us the ‘missing’ Lulu Bells – stay posted for more rave reviews!!!