Tag Archives: Friendship

The Adventures of Catvinkle – Elliot Perlman

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catvinkle

Penguin Random House

9780143786368

October 1, 2018

Puffin

RRP $19.99

 

Well regarded author of adult books Elliot Perlman has ably proven that he can turn his hand just as easily to writing for children with this first book for younger readers. It is delightfully whimsical and carries a literary flavour of its Amsterdam setting within its text with an enviable ease (very reminiscent of Annie M. G. Schmidt’s beautiful classics).

 

Catvinkle is a much pampered only pet of a charming barber in Amsterdam. She is exceedingly beautiful and certainly talented in some ways but also very definitely selfish and rather casual with the truth. When her owner Mr Sabatini brings home a rather forlorn and neglected Dalmation named Ula, Catvinkle is extremely unimpressed to say the least. An intruder into her cosy parlour and water bowl and a dog to boot is the last thing with which she wants to contend. It will completely ruin her social standing in Kittens Anonymous for one thing!

 

Ula’s sweet nature and compliant personality win Catvinkle over slowly (of course her delicious musky smell which acts intoxicatingly on the cat helps) but it also endears her to others as she breaks down barriers between not only cats and dogs but dogs and dogs!

 

The subtle themes of anti-racism, anti-bullying, acceptance, tolerance, friendship and loyalty are delivered in a wonderfully funny story where cats who baby-shoe dance, fly with tail propellers and llamas who play backgammon are quite the norm.

 

Readers from around eight years upwards will delight in this magical story of animals whose lives seem to mirror those of humans.

 

 

 

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Maya & Cat – Caroline Magerl

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maya

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781921977282
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
Throughout our college and certainly in my library at present we are having a great focus on kindness and empathy. With my little people I am using a range of picture books which offer this theme that also feature animals as this meshes with their classroom unit.

Author/illustrator Caroline Magerl’s new picture book, launched this week, is a perfect fit for this very unit with its themes of resilience and friendship along with the very essence of kindness.

Maya follows her empathic instincts to coax Cat down from on high and thereafter tries to find her rightful home. When she does so, her sadness at leaving Cat with her own family is assuaged by an unexpected surprise, one which fills her with absolute delight.

This text features some absolutely scrumptious figurative language which would be inspirational for encouraging children to attempt their own evocative writing.

“On a roof, wet as a seal, grey as a puddle, Cat was rumbling a rumbly purr.” 

The stunning artwork perfectly captures the mood of the text and the endpapers are just sensational! (My kidlets all know about my predilection for gorgeous endpapers!)

If you are searching for more wonderful books that will assist with growing empathy in children, this will make a super addition to your collection.

I highly recommend it to you for readers from around Prep upwards.

Other Worlds #3 & #4 – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Random House

RRP $14.99

gameworld

#3 Game World

9780143786238

May 28, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

George’s new series will be just as popular as his previous offerings I predict and this one particularly is clearly going to have huge appeal to the ‘gamers’ in your reading audience.

Hall is not very special in his own estimation – a little podgy and a little ordinary – but when he’s gaming he’s the ace HallsOfAwesome and hard to beat.  His ‘greatest online nemesis’ RandomizerBian he also somehow considers a friend, as he doesn’t really have many in real life and when his worthy opponent seemingly disappears from the game they play he starts to dig deeper.

Then very weirdly Hall finds a way into the game – or is it the game?

In a virtual reality that is in the midst of a ferocious battle between humans and computers Hall needs all his geekness to not only survive but to get home again. And when he comes face to face with his adversary the game really changes – for them both.

 

#4 Dark World

darkworld

9780143786252

May 28, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

 

In this volume George takes his readers into a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies –yep, got them right there! Newt (short for Newton) is a scientifically minded girl who really doesn’t care for Rowan (son of hippie health-freaks) but when they both end up facing the Dark World they are forced to work together to stop the evil that threatens all existence.

Newt and Rowan have to not only deal with some dire machinations but also reconcile their individual views on science and ‘magic’.  Giant hairy spiders that emerge from a body are not everybody’s idea of a mage’s familiar but then – neither are forces trying end the existence of every living thing.

This series is certainly going to keep readers on the edge of their seats. I would highly recommend them for kids from around ten years upwards. The manga style cover art will also appeal to many.

3rd August

An exciting and enjoyable morning spent listening to George’s energetic presentation hosted by Moreton Bay Libraries here in Redcliffe and then joining George, Penguin Random House publicist Talie, plus two lovely MBC library staff for coffee and chat.

George had children from two local schools thoroughly engaged as he spoke about his writing and his passions – science fiction, fantasy, computer gaming, Dr Who and Pokemon ;-). It was so interesting to hear how George has woven his enthusiasm for certain topics into his books such as the You Choose series (so hugely popular with  my readership!) and now the new Other World series.

And of course a real delight to be able to engage in some lively conversation with him and other library folk while we enjoyed some stunning Redcliffe winter weather and a view of the water.

digsdr

Thank you so much PRH and George – as well as MBC library service!

Natural Born Loser – Oliver Phommavanh

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loser

Penguin Random House

9780143505730

July 30, 2018

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $16.99

I just have to say straight up – it was really great to read a truly ‘feel good’ book. This is a perfect read-aloud for kids in around Year 3-6 to generate some inspiration and discussion on school cultures in a humorous but meaningful way.

Raymond is, in his own mind, a bit of a loser. He’s a follower not a leader, he’s not the smartest in his class, he can’t even score a goal in soccer but he does care about his school. He cares that the school his mum also went to has degenerated into a dodgy ‘joke’ that everyone including his almost perfect cousin speak of with scorn. When the school gets a new principal (after several who left in despair in rapid succession) there might be some hope. Mr Humble wants to reinstate prefects – not captains but a team who will work together for the school. Raymond has no confidence in his own chances but goes along with his friend Zain, super soccer star, for an interview with the principal and his simple comment that he wants the school to be better and like it was when his mum went there impresses Mr Humble enough to include him in the team.

A team of four with very divergent personalities and skills has a rocky start but it is Raymond’s good sense and ability to communicate honestly that begins to make a difference. Of course, his bold statement that air conditioning for the lower classrooms (which will cost $20 000!) at the first prefects’ assembly could possibly have been his ruin.  However, Raymond’s hitherto unsuspected ability to rally people together even the die-hard bullies of the school proves that he is really a leader not a loser.

The themes of friendship, teamwork, compassion, understanding and loyalty run through this narrative which happily has a great outcome. If you are looking to give your kids a bit of a pep up for this second half of the year this would be the perfect choice.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Surf Riders Club 2: Bronte’s Big Sister Problem – Mary Van Reyk

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surf

Hachette Australia

FEB 27, 2018 | 9780734417923 | RRP $12.99

 

As I predicted the first in this series has been very popular in our library – after all we are in the beautiful Sunshine Coast and surfing is a prime pastime! So I have no doubt at all that this second in the series will be just as eagerly pounced upon by our girls.

While the first book centred on Ava’s move to her new community this one moves focus to another member of the Surf Riders Club, Bronte. The club is going strongly with the girls all continuing to help each other improve their surfing skills and encouraging one another in all efforts. They are very excited about their upcoming first competition but Bronte is having some difficulties. Ever since her older brother Oscar went away to uni the dynamic between Bronte and her older sister Carrie has changed – and not for the better.

Carrie no longer wants to share in Bronte’s interests but instead wants, even insists that Bronte should tag along with her and ignore the ‘stupid’ Surf Riders Club. Bronte faces real dilemmas as Carrie urges her to ‘cover up’ to their parents – because ‘sisters stick together’.  Bronte has to really wrestle with her conscience as well have the confidence to stand up for herself and her friends and risk losing her sister’s trust.

The surf competition is pretty intense and the girls do themselves proud.  Even more importantly as Carrie’s importunate and deceitful behaviour unravels in front of everybody including their parents the sisterly relationship begins to heal and Bronte gains a deeper understanding of both her sister and her own need to be true to herself.

Another great read for young girls from around ten years upwards. This is exciting and dramatic and touches on many issues with which tweens can easily relate.

Highly recommended for girls – around Year 4 to Year 7.

The Chocolate Factory Ghost – David O’Connell

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Bloomsbury

ISBN: 9781408887066
ISBN-10: 1408887061
Series: The Dundoodle Mysteries
Published: 1st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

RRP; $12.99

Archie McBudge has lucky underpants. He knows he does because he and his mum have just discovered that Archie has inherited a huge mansion, a famous sweets factory and more from his Great-Uncle Archibald. What makes this even more astonishing is that neither Archie nor his mum even knows the old man existed until this moment.

Anyone might think this is a recipe for a very happy ending with a full stop but not so as Archie discovers that there is definitely something sinister, spooky and even supernatural going on at Honeystone Hall. Luckily his new albeit odd friends Fliss and Billy are ready and willing to help Archie unravel the complexities of flying letters leading to cryptic clues, strange artefacts, and horrible twin Piglet cousins not to mention finding the secret ingredient on which McBudge’s famous fudge depends.

Lots of fun for readers from around eight years upwards. There will be plenty of laughs as well as a few creepy moments – just the right balance of both!

Check out David O’Connell’s webpage here for more information, teaching notes and a fun activity pack.

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.

 

 

Alice-Miranda in Scotland [#17]– Jacqueline Harvey

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Random House Australia Children’s

ISBN 9780143786016

May 2018

RRP $16.99

 

What could possibly be more delightful than our favourite BFF immersed in Scotland’s culture and icons?  The inaugural Queen’s Colours leadership program for children is kicking off in the land of Burns, Bruce and Braveheart and Alice-Miranda (after a tricky start) as well as friends from near and far are part of the cohort.

 

With some colorful and memorable new characters to entertain as well as some tricky puzzles to solve along the way, the kids are bound to have loads of fun and great experiences.  Whether its caber tossing or Highland dancing the leaders of the future are keen to have a go and earn some points for their team. Of course, as always there are a few less-than-positive participants although after one initial hiccup this is not the ubiquitous Caprice causing most of the upsets. A rather nasty cousin of Alice-Miranda’s bestie Millie, one Madagascar Slewt is quite the most obnoxious child and makes no bones about her indifference to rules, socially acceptable behavior or consideration of others. What a toad!  Even Alice-Miranda has difficulty overlooking her appalling behavior.

 

Despite that negativity the program is going pretty well until  the intrusion of a real ‘monster’ as well as the fabled one in Loch Ness which threatens in a very real way the safety of Alice-Miranda and her team. Fortunately some resourceful thinking and some daring courage will save the day and as always, Alice-Miranda’s innate compassion and empathy for others shines through.

 

I hardly need to recommend this as the series is perpetually ‘off the shelf’ in our library, one returned copy being snapped up by another borrower time and time again. However, the alacrity with which my review copy was pounced upon for two extremely keen sisters demonstrates admirably the popularity of this character and her stories.

The 1, 000-Year-Old Boy – Ross Welford

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alve

Harper Collins Australia

January 2018

ISBN 10: 0008256942

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

ISBN: 9780008256944

Pages: 400

List Price: 14.99 AUD

 

Alfie Monk is not your average eleven year old boy. He is ‘proficient in Old Norse, Old English, Middle English and Modern English, plus French, Latin and Greek (ancient and modern, though they are not so dissimilar), and [has] a smattering of Welsh and Scots Gaelic’. He has a very faded and blurred tattoo between his shoulder blades and two curious scars on his arm. He speaks with a curious unrecognisable accent. And his teeth are just terrible, which is to be expected if they have been in use for a thousand years.

On the other hand, Aidan Linklater is pretty much a regular eleven year old boy who has just moved to ‘Dumpsville’ due to a bad financial investment by his father, he has a rather annoying seven year old sister and his parents are continually arguing. He is pretty despondent about the move and the shift in his friendships.  His new neighbour is a rather odd girl called Roxy Minto who appears to be very intuitive but also a little weird.

Roxy it is, who shows Aidan an old stone house hidden away in the woods behind their houses – and the strange woman and boy who live there. This is Alfie and his mother Hilda.  When Alfie – Alve – was eleven he was witness to the last horde of Vikings attacking England. With his father killed, Alve and his mother have three most precious possessions left. Livperlers or life-pearls. His father had owned five and had died trying to protect the remaining three – one for his Mam and two for Alve when he gets older. But boys will be boys and Aidan not only uses one life-pearl on himself but when the other is accidentally broken, uses it on his cat Biffa rather than waste its precious alchemy. Now he too is a ‘Neverdead’ just as his father was and his mother is. He will live forever though is not immortal.

Though the secret of eternal life has been sought after for thousands of years, Alfie/Alve would probably tell anyone that it’s not all it may seem. And now Alve yearns to grow up, raise his own family, grow old and be ‘normal’.

The unlikely friendship of these three children becomes the answer to Alfie’s dilemma. This is a narrative filled with adventure, tragedy, humour and acceptance.

At times I felt achingly sad for Alfie in his eternal struggle to find friends and build relationships but at other times this was replaced by the joy of reading the development of true and unconditional friendship.

Told alternately in both boys’ voices is a clever device which not only allows each his own narrative but further serves to illustrate the contrast between the articulate and wary Alfie and the rather bumbling, ingenuous Aidan.

It’s a cracking read that I devoured in one sitting and I would highly recommend it to readers from around ten years upwards.

 

Piglettes – Clementine Beauvais

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Penguin Random House

Imprint: Pushkin Press

ISBN 9781782691204

August 2017

RRP $16.99

This superb YA novel deals with some pretty gritty issues like bullying (cyber and real life), self image, identity and family relationships and is one of the most wickedly funny books you’ll read all year.

Mireille, Astrid and Hakima are three girls at the same school and recently voted as the first three place-winners in a Facebook ‘Pig Pageant’ for the ugliest girls by their schoolmates. This event was initiated by Mireille’s erstwhile childhood friend Malo, who is one of the most odious youths ever. Since they both started high school Malo has made it his mission in life to humiliate Mireille at every turn.

While the girls are all pretty crushed by this horrible bullying, they are not going to let it get the better of them and form a friendship that will fly them forever.  Each has a particular reason for their proposed plan to cycle to Paris for the huge Bastille Day celebrations; Mireille, wants to confront her biological father, now married to the President, Astrid wants to meet her idols Indochine and Hakima wants to berate the commanding officer about to be awarded the Legion of Honour for the debacle that resulted in her brother Kader losing both his legs in battle.

Overcoming the opposition of parents, the girls set off on what must be the craziest road trip ever with Kader in his super wheel chair as their chaperone. Along the way they garner the respect and adulation of thousands via newspapers and social media and in real life.

Told through Mireille’s witty and philosophical voice, the reader is alongside the girls for the entire trip which is joyful, uplifting and totally hilarious.

Proving themselves as true Mighty Girls the trio triumph over the online bullies and even horrid Malo shows some indications of redemption, especially when the reason for his nastiness is revealed. Each girl learns valuable lessons about herself particularly when they finally attain their goals and find that something has changed about their motivations.

Definitely worthy of its achievement of winning France’s biggest award for YA/teen fiction I highly recommend this to you for your girls from around 14 years upwards.