Tag Archives: Family stories

Clementine Rose: Collection Five – Jacqueline Harvey

Standard

Penguin Australia

  • August 2020
  • ISBN: 9781760897437
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

Don’t wait around to get your hands on this fifth and final bind-up of stories about this delightful little girl!

This collection contains Clementine Rose and the Wedding WobblesClementine Rose and the Bake-Off Dilemma and Clementine Rose and the Best News Yet.

In case you have been in iso for longer than the past few months, Clementine Rose is the cutest child ever. Rather than being delivered in a hospital, she arrrived via a baker’s van and her adoptive mother, Lady Clarissa, wouldn’t be without her. Along with her teacup pig, Lavender, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and the redoubtable, and often critical, Great Aunt Violet plus Pharoah the sphynx cat, Clementine lives in a large and somewhat ramshackle house surrounded by friends in their local village, Penberthy Floss.

These three stories follow the exciting developments around Lady Clarissa’s wedding and the extension of their happy family and naturally there are adventures, problems and satisfying outcomes along the way.

These bind-ups are a super gift idea but obviously for all your dedicated CR fans also a must-have for your collection.

I know the copies in my libraries have always been on a constant turn-around so the addition of these is a great idea. Highly recommended for your readers from around Year 1 upwards.

The Unadoptables

Standard

Penguin Australia

July 2020

  • ISBN: 9780241453612
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP $16.99

There is something about stories set in Holland that I find particularly appealing. Perhaps it is just the vicarious sight-seeing but for some reason they are always engaging and often quirky. This one is no exception. Combining adventure and mystery, family life, loyalty and very unusual entrepreneurship this will find an enthusiastic audience with readers from around ten years upwards.

Five babies were left at Little Tulip orphanage each one in direct contravention of the ‘baby abandonment rules’… one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic hamper, one in a wheat sack, and finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket. Twelve years after the shocking flouting of the conventions, Milou, Sem, Fenna, Lotta and Egg are known as the ‘unadoptables’ but they have an unbreakable bond with each other. Though each yearns for a conventional family their more unusual bond surpasses this desire in each as they remain determined to stay together, even when that means having to stay in the orphanage under the tyrannical rule of Matron Gassbeek.

When a sinister stranger appears late one night and decides to adopt all five it can only mean one thing – something particularly nasty is in store for the children. This in turn means another one thing – they must escape from the home and find their own place in the world.

The amazing adventure of the Unadoptables as they flee Amsterdam and follow some sketchy clues to what they believe might be Milou’s original home and what follows is a roller-coaster ride filled with puppets and abandoned windmills, pirate ships, clockwork mechanics and suspicious locals not to mention the pursuit of one very dogmatic Kinderbureau representative.

This is at times hilarious and at others poignant with a very hefty dose of creepiness and suspense included. In other words, kids will lap it up!

If you are looking for something refreshingly different to tempt your lovers of such writers as Jessica Townsend, Neil Gaiman or Katherine Rundell, look no further. Highly recommended for middle primary to lower secondary readers.

The One and Only Bob – Katherine Applegate

Standard

Harper Collins Australia

  • ISBN: 9780008390662
  • ISBN 10: 0008390665
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
  • List Price: 14.99 AUD

For all of us who fell in love with the story of Ivan and his friends, this is such an exciting new release – and all I can say is if you haven’t read The One and Only Ivan – what are you thinking?! Get to it now before the long-awaited movie adaptation comes out!

Ivan and baby Ruby are happily living in the zoo that is their new home. Ruby is the darling of her adopted elephant herd and Ivan even has a girlfriend while Bob, the indomitable little dog who is their best friend, is living with Julia and her parents. NOT that he is a pet you understand – but he does accept the regular feeding, cuddles and being looked after without too much complaint. Luckily, Julia’s dad now works at the zoo and Bob is able to visit his friends regularly – with the keepers all turning a blind eye to the general rule that dogs are not allowed in.

It would seem that all is smooth in the lives of this strange but tight animal trio but when their town is hit by a hurricane that becomes a tornado all is chaos. The zoo suffers much damage and they are caught up in the destruction and the subsequent consequences. Added to this drama is Bob’s discovery of his long-lost sister whose life has been both scary and traumatic, though she brushes it all off with seeming carelessness.

Bob may be small but his spirit is huge – something already demonstrated in the earlier book – and again, this canny canine proves his worth as a hero of epic proportions.

Once again Katherine Applegate has written a tale that epitomises the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, family and home. Readers, young and old alike, will revel in the continuation of the story of this extraordinary animal and human family.

My highest recommendation for this new sequel to a truly amazing story, which was inspired by the true story of Ivan, the magnificent silverback, who became the most famous resident of the Atlanta Zoo.

Aussie Kids series #3 & #4

Standard

download (21)

Penguin Random House

March 2020

This new series for newly independent readers has already been a big hit in our junior library. Not only are the stories relatable to these young readers but they are able to explore Australia vicariously – and let’s face it, at present particularly this is a huge advantage.

 

Meet Eve in the Outback – Raewyn Caisly & Karen Blair

9781760894108

ISBN: 9781760894108

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

Many young readers will have enjoyed the picture book Hello from Nowhere which was the first introduction to Eve who lives in the middle of the Nullarbor, remote and isolated but at the same time full of life and adventure. Now we have the opportunity to visit this amazing location again when Eve has another visit from her grandmother but this time with the added excitement of her cousin, Will, coming along.

Now readers are treated to exploring the wide expanse of country and dropping in on neighbours – a mere forty minutes away. Newborn lambs, kangaroo mobs, wild camels, spinifex, waterholes and more are just some of the discoveries of a setting that many children will likely never have the experience of exploring in real life.

Once again interesting factual snippets are sprinkled throughout and the joy that this unusual setting brings will both inform and entertain young readers.

Meet Katie at the Beach – Rebecca Johnson & Lucia Masciullo

9781760893675

ISBN: 9781760893675

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

The very first thing that I love about this particular new addition to the series is that Katie and her family live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of the lively and busy Gold Coast and this is a setting as unusual (in fiction) as the Nullarbor.

Little readers will certainly all connect with Katie’s story and her wobbly tooth problem but will also relish the quintessential Queensland aspects of surf, beach cricket, sea creature fun and mangoes.

Little ones can find out more about crabs and tides at the same time as simply enjoying Katie’s day out down at the beach – and of course, right now when we are all restricted to such activity will be able to envisage when they too can once again go ‘out’ with family for picnics

 

This series is perfect for independent reading or incorporated into the unit of learning that incorporates finding out more about our beautiful country.

Highly recommended for your kiddos from around Year 1 upwards.

Don’t forget to check out the activity pack for this series here

The Missing: the True Story of my Family in World War II – Michael Rosen

Standard

1577053974835

Walker Books

March 2020

ISBN: 9781406386752
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $22.99
New Zealand RRP: $24.99

First of all I have to say that I have the greatest admiration for Laureate Michael Rosen, both as a writer, a champion of children’s reading and school libraries and as a human. His writing over the years has always resonated with readers both young and old whether prose or poetry.

This is an account both intensely personal and powerful of Rosen’s determination to uncover the history of his missing relatives – who were ‘there before the war ….and gone after’. With very little to go on Rosen made it his mission over years, countries and continents and what scant records were available to piece together the fate of his missing uncles and aunts during the terrible purge of the Jews by the Nazis.

From the outset the tone of this volume is conversational in order to make it accessible and clear to his young readers and while never shying away from facts of genocide, death camps and similar topics he does not go into depth or details which may make it too confronting for the reader.

Written in both prose and poetry (in the main, excerpts from longer works) which was written specifically addressing his family as his thoughts turned to them, it is also interspersed with such rare primary documents and photos as were uncovered during his long research. The book concludes with extensive book lists of both fiction and non-fiction about the Holocaust and refugees (including our own Once by Morris Gleitzman and The Arrival by Shaun Tan)  as well as a useful list of museums and libraries for further investigation and an index. I would add to the list of graphics both the new White Bird by R. J. Palacio as well as Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in World War II (2016) – Helen Bate.

In my experience, there is a large sector of child readers who will devour books around the Holocaust and not, in my opinion, because of any ghoulishness but rather a deep desire to understand the terrible tragedy, which in turn further develops their empathy and their acute awareness of injustice, and in the cases of some books the demonstration of resilience and the enduring hope displayed by so many.

I commend Rosen on his sharing of his own family’s sad story and his continuing endeavours to provide for children meaningful and thought-provoking readings. Books such as this one in particular will go a long way to raising our readers as compassionate and caring adults in an increasingly intolerant world.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

The Ghost of Howler’s Beach (The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries #1)  – Jackie French

Standard

y648 (6)

Harper Collins Australia

February 2020

ISBN: 9781460757727

ISBN 10: 1460757726

List Price: 16.99 AUD

 

To most folks Butter O’Bryan would seem a lucky boy.  In a time when many people are destitute and homeless he lives in a large and comfortable house, known as the Very Small Castle, he has three eccentric but loving aunts –  known as Elephant, Peculiar and Cake – and a well-regarded and clever doctor father who has offices in Sydney’s Macquarie St. He goes to a good school where he has chums and at home there is always a veritable cornucopia of good food prepared by Cooky. But the truth is that Butter often feels lonely and sad, particularly in the school holidays with no school or mates to distract him. He misses his mother who died a year ago dreadfully and even though the aunts are so very good to him, the emotional distance between him and his father makes him even sadder.

When he wanders down to Howler’s Beach just below the Very Small Castle one morning and discovers three raggedy thin children playing a game of cricket, he’s a little hopeful of joining in the game – even though he suspects they may be from the nearby susso camp and he’s not supposed to go near to those inhabitants. This edict is not from a snobbery point of view but a health precaution imposed by his father and aunts. No fear of that though as he is resoundingly rejected by the kids who disappear as soon as his attention is diverted by their dog digging furiously in the sand.

All thoughts of disappointment and loneliness vanish as quickly as the kids when the scruffy little dog disinters a human skull from the sand! Butter quickly wraps up the skull and takes it home in a great state of agitation and with his imagination running wild. And thus begins a curious mystery/adventure that young readers will find compelling as the history of three ragged kids, a strange and pathetic old man who dies unexpectedly on the door step of the Very Small Castle, a three-legged dog and a secret cove unravels. Along the way the empathy and innate goodness of the O’Bryan family is an inspiration for all readers –  a valuable lesson in our current global situation.

So, on the surface a really well-thought out and engaging tale that will totally hook readers from mid-primary upwards. But of course, there’s more 😊 . Jackie’s setting is the Depression in the Sydney area and readers will absorb so much historical information about this period of time in our country and the impact it had on the vast majority of ordinary people. The aftermath of the Great War has already made itself felt in a multitude of ways and now unemployment, poverty, homelessness and sickness are wreaking havoc on an already disenfranchised sector of society. There are references to significant events and topics such as the polio epidemic, the susso, wireless sets, the building of the Harbour Bridge and the cricket – including the great Bradman. And just to add even more value to this, Jackie has concluded with informational pieces about many of these as well as some typical 1930s recipes even including Bread and Duck under the Table – such a well-known and still used idiom in Australia.

Once again, I cannot recommend this highly enough. I think any reader from around ten years upwards will enjoy it very much on all levels.

Lulu Bell Series – Belinda Murrell

Standard

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!!!