Tag Archives: Felice Arena

Poo! and other words that make me laugh – Felice Arena/Tom Jellett


Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

  • ISBN: 9780733341427
  • ISBN 10: 073334142X
  • Imprint: ABC Books – AU
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

Kids love words – there’s no doubt about that all – and they particularly love rambunctious words I have found. One time, when I taught my darling Year 1/2 class about onomatopoeia in our little school (just 100 kids), they were so delighted with being able to say it. I swore them to secrecy to not, under any circumstances, tell the Year 7s when they went out to the playground – as ‘those big kids, you know, they’re not good with difficult words’ ;-). Naturally the first thing they all did was run shrieking at any big kid they saw “We can say ‘onomatopoeia’ and you can’t!’. It was rather amusing.

Of course, ‘poo’ is a very popular word with little kiddos especially but just think how you could enrich them with words such as squeegee, dilly-dally and succotash!

That’s what this riotously funny book is all about – the magic of weird and wonderful words. Tom Jellett’s always distinctive illustrations fill each page with glorious colour and vibrancy and the children will just lap it all up. The addition of a glossary to inform the reader of meanings of the crazy words is a superb touch!

This will easily springboard into an ongoing word wall with some little word detectives sleuthing out some additional unusual, quirky or obsolete words to build into their burgeoning vocabularies. I’m pretty sure that it will also be a pretty simple step towards moving away from ‘POO!’ into something far more hilarious for common usage – ‘bumbershoot’ perhaps?

Highly recommended for fun and learning for little – or even bigger – readers from around 3 years upwards.

The Besties Make a Splash – Felice Arena/Tom Jellett



Penguin Random House

April 2020

ISBN: 9781760890964

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $9.99

The Besties are back for their next little adventure and your little newly independent readers are going to be well pleased about that!

Again Felice has taken a familiar event in the lives of many small humans and turned it into a fun and engaging romp with a great message woven into it.

As we know Oliver and Ruby have been besties for ever. They do everything together and they love going to the beach where there is so much to do; swimming and jumping the waves, exploring the rock pools, racing around in general and of course getting an ice-cream from the beachside kiosk van.  Such an outing is doubly exciting when their two friends from school turn up as well. Zac is very funny and Isabella is quite the live-wire and they are both great friends as well. Just because you are best friends doesn’t mean that you absolutely positively have to do everything together or even enjoy everything the same so when the two Besties split up to enjoy their own preference of activity – Ruby with Zac and Oliver with Isabella – it seems like a great idea.

Well sometimes things don’t work out quite the way we plan and Ruby and Oliver find themselves feeling just a tad overwhelmed by their individual companions, their exuberance and just the, well, difference in personalities. All in all it’s a bit of a relief to have the adventure over and to be back in their own comfortable groove.

As we know these little ones at the start of their school years are often dipping in and out of friendship circles and for some it can be quite the challenge to try out the company of someone else. We all prefer the friendship of those with whom we are comfortable but it can also be a great learning experience to connect with someone else, even on a temporary basis.

Once again Tom Jellett has captured the personalities of Oliver and Ruby perfectly and Felice has ticked all the boxes for these beginning readers who will love this new book as much as the earlier ones in the series and will be waiting impatiently for the next one.

Highly recommended for small humans from around 5 years upwards.

In case you missed it – catch up on Felice’s blog post about the importance of play.

Total Quack Up Again! – Edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck. Illustrated by Jules Faber.



Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9781760893583

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Get quacking if you haven’t already and grab this second edition of hilarious stories from some of our most celebrated authors as well as one young newcomer!

The first TQU was a great success not only providing children with some super funny stories but raising funds for Dymocks Children’s Charities. At this critical moment Dymocks are well and truly focused on providing valuable support for children affected by the catastrophic bushfires which are still burning.

Featuring stories from Nat Amoore, Felice Arena, Adam Cece, Jules Faber, Tim Harris, Kim Kane, Belinda Murrell, A.L. Tait, Shelley Ware, Michael Wagner and Nova Weetman as well as young Coby Sanchez whose story The Duck Pond was determined the winner of the story-writing competition, this collection will have kids everywhere chuckling with gusto.

With all the aspects young readers are looking for including ridiculous situations, ‘smelly’ stories and weird characters this will be a welcome addition to any primary library.

Be sure to tell children how this book (and its predecessor) represents a special and generous initiative by not only the Dymocks group but the talented authors/artists who so generously give of their time and talent.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

The Besties – Felice Arena and Tom Jellett



We all know how hungrily those newly independent readers gobble up their favourite series of easy chapter books and we also know that there are times when we struggle to find them the ‘next series’ on which to embark.

This super new series from a highly talented pairing is going to tick a lot of boxes. The two ‘besties’ of the title are Ruby and Oliver so right there you have instant appeal for both boys and girls and also a fabulous demonstration that opposite genders can very easily be friends!

Felice has the knack of engaging his readers always and by having these two new characters simply enjoying their friendship, everyday life, playtimes and simple adventures will very easily hook those early readers into the narratives.

The Besties Show and Smell (#1)


January 2020

ISBN: 9781760890988

Imprint: Puffin

Format: Paperback

RRP: $9.99

Ruby has been so excitedly looking forward to her turn at Show & Tell because she’s going to play her ukulele for the class but things go awry when their regular teacher is away. The replacement teacher Mr Botham is a real grump and refuses to proceed with the regular program but Ruby is not to be daunted. Ollie is a little disturbed and cross that she’s going to defy the old crank while he’s out of the room but soon recovers and all is well. Ruby’s impromptu performance is a huge success and not even class clown Zac’s ‘smelly’ response can quench the mood.

The Besties to the Rescue (#2)


January 2020

ISBN: 9781760890971

Imprint: Puffin

Format: Paperback

RRP: $9.99

Ruby has been practicing her trampoline skills and asks Ollie to video her stunning flips and tricks. Of course Ollie is only too happy to do so but when the pair watches the result they realise that the naughty neighbourhood cat has attacked a bird’s nest and the little fledgling has been tipped out onto the ground. Ruby and Ollie know the little bird is too young to fly so it’s up to them to help it and enable it to survive.


These are super cute stories full of fun with the right dash of imagination to appeal to the little ones that will pounce upon it. Jellet’s illustrations resonate with the joy and energy of the characters. Felice and Tom, who did such a brilliant job on the Sporty Kids, have nailed it again with this new series. Two more are already on the way so what a great way to start off the new year for your borrowers – get some on your shelves ASAP!

Highly recommended for readers from around 6 years upwards

A Great Escape – Felice Arena



Penguin Random House


March 2019



I have never been a student of post-war modern history so my knowledge of the Cold War has always been minimal – sketchy even – but, as serendipity would have it, not one but two of my most recent audio ‘reads’ on my daily commute have referenced this period extensively and in great detail.

Now Felice Arena has brought this era to life for young readers with a compelling narrative based on facts. Peter is swept up in the swift and cold-hearted division of Berlin when his parents and younger sister are in the West on a day visit,  while he has stayed home with his grandparents in the East. In just one day the barriers become impassable and implacable with hundreds of families and couples completely sundered from each other.

For Peter this separation is utterly unbearable and from the first he begins to plot and plan how he might escape over the newly-erected barricades before the Wall becomes a concrete reality. In the course of his pursuit of a workable method of fleeing he encounters two new friends, Elke and Otto, both of whom are also trying to get to their families. The ingenuity of these other children is truly inspiring, demonstrating the lengths to which those who have been cut off from their loved ones would reach, despite the menacing threats of soldiers, guns and savage dogs.

Peter’s growing distress over his isolation but also his increasing worry over his aged and frail grandparents and their care is a dilemma which he must resolve before he can even contemplate action. Life in East Berlin is fraught with danger – the Stasi (secret police) always on the lookout for “traitors”. It almost seems inconceivable that any power would create such a heinous division of family and friends – but then it seems that the idea of building walls has not yet gone out of fashion and many will recognise the correlation and repugnancy of such action resonating in modern situations.

This is a powerful demonstration of the bonds of family and the courage of those who risk all to attain freedom from cruel and callous oppressors.

I cannot recommend it highly enough for readers from around ten years upwards and think it would be a particularly apt read for older students who are embarking on the study of this period of history.

Fearless Frederic – Felice Arena



Penguin Australia


April 2, 2018

RRP: $16.99


In 1910 Paris flooded. A ‘once in a century’ possibility saw the Seine rise to over 30 feet above it’s normal level and the citizens of Paris having to adapt to their city in ways they had never experienced.  For many of them this meant actually evacuating their homes and being housed in makeshift centres across the city.

This new historical novel from Felice narrates the stories of three children, all very different, and their own dramas amid the floodwaters. Frederic lives with his mother since his father was killed in a botched robbery at the Louvre, where he was a security guard. Thierry, the would-be author, is also fatherless – his builder father having died in a construction accident when Thierry was small. Claire, it appears, also has only her mother but there is something odd about the way her mum can never been seen in the shelter.

The children band together to make the most of the drama unfolding around them each day and find themselves in the roles of rescuers and heroes  saving cats, children, horses – and helping track down thieves In the process Frederic uncovers the villains who murdered his father and burns for revenge.

As the narrative unfolds, the personalities (and secrets) of the children, the extraordinary circumstances impacting on them and the growing friendship between them draws the reader further into the adventures of Fearless Frederic and his Floodwater Friends.

Felice has a really deft way of weaving adventure, history and realistic fiction together in a manner that appeals to both genders.

I would highly recommend this for readers from around Year 5 upwards.