Tag Archives: Friendship

Crazy Characters & Daft Deeds

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I’ve chosen to review these two books on the same post as to me they are similar in many ways all of which will appeal to their audience.  Both Colin Thompson and A.F. Harrold have a singular and individualised way of providing satirical humour for a pint-sized readership. They also both employ that  every engaging device of the author speaking directly to the reader when necessary.

Fizzlebert Stump and The Great Supermarket Showdown

fizz

Published: 01-09-2016

ISBN: 9781408869451

Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens Series: Fizzlebert Stump

RRP: $12.99

I’ve not seen the previous titles in this series but any book called Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) has got my vote already and ensures I will catch up with the earlier books.

Fizz lives in a circus – in fact, he was born and raised under the Big Top. His entire life and livelihood is suddenly turned upside down when the Ringmaster sells the circus without any warning. It is all most strange. The Ringmaster assures his folk that not much will change but change it does. Those without an ironclad contract drift away to find other employment including the animals, while those basically indentured to the circus remain – and find themselves little more than navvies in a tawdry supermarket managed by a very unpleasant owner.  When a book starts at Chapter 4 you know you are in for a completely unusual read and this is the case.

Fizz is the definite hero here as he digs deeper (especially at his library!) to find out why the Ringmaster just upped and sold the circus. He runs into old friends (from previous books) and triumphantly they resolve the whole debacle.

It is fun, it is wacky and will definitely be a hit with young readers who have a yen for humour.

Watch This Space 2: In the Pink

inthepink

Random House

ISBN 9781742756189

August 29, 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

Previous readers of this blog will know of my attachment to Colin Thompson’s work.  I have been patiently waiting for the second instalment in the newest series which will no doubt prove every bit as popular as the well-worn Floods titles on my library shelves.

The Contrast family, sent into space by entrepreneur Radius Limpfast, in the most exciting reality TV show yet are bored out of their brains after a mere week in space. When they realise that they are trapped for five years things look grim but fortunately (?) their genius robot rRego knows what is needed. He hacks into the spaceship and re-directs the family to what they think will be Earth – except it’s not.

Weirdly the family ends up on a very Earth-like planet – well except for that thing about the planet seems to have turned pink and has a couple of extra moons – and a strange human-disguised lizard population.

As usual Colin’s play on words, and digs at popular culture are prevalent and highly amusing.

Your Floods devotees are very quickly going to take up this newest series and I predict you will need multiple copies to keep up with demand.

The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth – Hollie Hughes/Leigh Hodgkinson

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mammoth

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781408862780

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Imprint: Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date: August 2016

RRP $14.99

This hilarious rhyming book is just pure good fun for little readers. The huge hairy mammoth has a ‘ridiculously large appetite’ and his great friend the Bug is beginning to despair of ever finding the snack that will finally satisfy him. Clever little Bug comes up with the perfect plan to solve the problem.

Vibrantly coloured illustrations with some wonderful use of different fonts and text placements make this a visual delight for a little human.

This is Hollie Hughes’ debut picture book and I foresee that we can look forward to more fun from this writer. Stay tuned for a review that features illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson in a book which she also wrote.

Highly recommended particularly as a read aloud for Preps upwards.

 

 

Archie Green and the Alchemist’s Curse – D. D. Everest

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archie

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9780571307418

Publisher: Faber

Imprint: Faber Children Pb

Pub Date: August 2016

$14.99

 

Move over Harry, you have a rival for my affections! Somehow or other I missed the first book in this fabulous series (that will need to be redressed ASAP) but no matter, I was able to pick up the threads from the first well enough to thoroughly enjoy this volume.

And how could I possibly resist any magical story in which books and librarians feature so strongly? Well, that just wouldn’t happen at all!

Archie Greene found out he was from a magical family on his 12th birthday and since then he has been living with his aunt and uncle plus cousins in Oxford so that he can pursue his inherent apprenticeship working with magical books. Not only does he have a natural talent for the work which he is undertaking to learn but he has a rare gift. He is a book whisperer. He can hear and speak to books who often reveal secrets that others can have no hope of discovering.

When Archie’s younger cousin also embarks on his apprenticeship and steps up to receive his ‘fire mark’ from the mysterious Flame of Pharos which will denote his apprenticeship path, he and Archie as well as Bramble the older cousin surprisingly receive another mark. Two other apprentices also are branded in the same way. The five now carry the Golden Circle – the mark that has not been seen for 350 years and means that the children are the new ‘crop’ of original magic writers.  The whys and wherefores are the thread of the story and the plot untangles like a strange spell itself revealing hidden histories and uncovering truths.

D. D.Everest has provided readers with an alternate world which in every sense not only echoes the satisfaction we all had with HP books but at times eclipses this with highly original plot twists and characters.

I will be promoting this with vigour in my library just as soon as I can get hold of the first in the series. I predict that we may well need multiples as word spreads of the delights of this series.

Amazingly these are the author’s first forays into writing for children – check him out here.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards. Make sure you stock up!

Be a Friend – Salina Yoon

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beafriend

Bloomsbury

August 2016

ISBN 9781408809093

RRP $14.99

 

There are plenty of children who are different in some way or another and often they are subject to being ‘left out’. Dennis is quite an ordinary boy but he communicates in somewhat an extraordinary way. When his classmates do ‘show and tell’ Dennis mimes his news. Other children climb trees but Dennis would rather ‘be a tree’.  The other children just don’t get Dennis and he becomes invisible and so quite lonely.

Then Dennis meets Joy and a perfect friendship is born. When Dennis kicks an imaginary ball Joy returns the serve.  They don’t need words to express their friendship and Dennis realises that being a bit different is absolutely OK! In fact, it’s something very special.

We all know those children who don’t quite fit the ‘mould’ that others expect them to and this book would be a beautiful way to reassure them that they don’t have to and build their self-acceptance and self-worth.

Highly recommended for your young readers aged around 6 and upwards – and lovers of mim

Six – M. M. Vaughan

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Simon & Schuster

  • Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN 9781481420709 |
  • May 2016

This is speculative fiction for your young readers at its best. If you have kids who are into the whole premise of technology and scientific discoveries at their best – or worst – they will gobble this up.

Parker Banks hates that he has to move to America. His mum is dead, his father is determined to take up a new job working for some secretive organisation. His little sister Emma seems quite reconciled. Even her congenital deafness doesn’t deter her from making new friends. Their father’s invention of a communication implant so that Emma can ‘hear’ all Parker’s and their dad’s thoughts – a great bonus, though some might think it is simply natural telepathy.

Just as Parker thinks he can’t take any more, his father who has been working overtime on his project is kidnapped and suddenly his and Emma’s safety are jeopardised by the ‘Six’ mystery.

His only friend Michael, along with a trusty chauffeur/factotum, is his ally as he and Emma determine to rescue their dad.

A complex, fast-moving plot with twists and turns make this a riveting read.

Just how close are we to some of the scientific surprises in this story I wonder?

Take your kids from ten upwards into a world of future possibilities with this. They won’t be disappointed.

The Moonlight Dreamers – Siobhan Curham

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moonlightdreamers

ISBN: 9781406365825
Imprint: WALKER PAPERBACK
Distributor: Harper Collins Distribution Services for Australia and New Zealand

Release Date: July 1, 2016

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

 

Four teenage girls couldn’t be more different in personality, home life, culture or beliefs; yet one thing brings them together. They are all fed up with other people, whether peers or adults, telling them how they should look, what they should wear, how they should think and behave. Each feels that there is worth in their own personal expression of themselves yet each is continually bombarded with negativity or bullying from others.

Amber is an Oscar Wilde devotee with two dads and a penchant for wearing tailored clothes and collecting anything vintage. Totally over being friendless and victimised by the fashionista clique at her school she sets about recruiting some like-minded girls for a ‘moonlight dreamers’ society.

More by chance than her planned design she encounters Maali, Sky and Rose.

Maali is a shy and reserved Indian girl whose passion is photography. She has an unwavering belief in Lakshmi the Hindi goddess of good fortune and prosperity. She longs to overcome her shyness enough to talk to a boy – after all, how will she find her soulmate if she can’t even hold a conversation with the opposite sex.

Sky lost her mum when she was eleven. Since then she and her dad Liam have travelled the world like gypsies as he teaches yoga in ashrams all over the globe. Now that she’s in her senior schooling, Liam has decided that they should be more settled and they have been living in their canal boat while Liam has pursued teaching yoga to the rich and famous. Their hippie lifestyle is under threat as Liam has fallen for an aging though still stunning model, Savannah. Moving in with Savannah means also moving in with her sullen daughter Rose, who is being pressured into being as beautiful and sought after as her mother. The monumental clashes between these two are epic.  Sky yearns to be a performance poet and Rose, in an unlikely rebellion against her mother has her heart set on being a pâtissier.

The rocky road of bonding between these four girls makes for a fabulous narrative and in my opinion accurately and truthfully reflects the often turbulent nature of teen girls.

This is a story about more than just friendship. It is about being true to yourself despite the obstacles in your path.

I highly recommend it for readers from around twelve up. There are some considerations for some as there is a sexting incident and some sexual references. However, I feel that in the context of the story these are a valuable lesson about the pressures put on young girls.

Princess Betony and the Hobgoblin – Pamela Freeman/illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie

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ISBN: 9781921720260
Imprint: WALKER BOOKS AUST

July 2016

RRP $12.99

This is a series new to me (thank you so much to Walker Books for adding me to your reviewer list!!) and I think it is just delightful judging by this one.

Princess Betony is not exactly your average princess. She doesn’t much like wearing fussy dresses and being on show at state functions. She does however love digging in the garden and having adventures – especially when new friends are to be made!

Her father is the king and her mother, the Queen, is a dryad (the spirit of a willow tree) and Wild Magic is never far away. When sniffy Lady Pineal stops the kitchen staff from putting out milk for the hobgoblins (a short-sighted parsimony to regret), the resident garden hobgoblin takes umbrage and retaliates with the kind of mischief one expects from such a creature.

Much mayhem ensues but Princess Betony and the baker’s boy, Basil, know that the hobgoblin is not to blame. With the help of Rosie, the royal gardener, the hobgoblin problem is eventually resolved and once again humans and Wild Magic reach a harmonious agreement – for now, I suspect!

This is a perfect series for your girls looking to begin chapter books and would be super for quick read-alouds. And who could resist such sweet cover designs?

I will definitely be adding these to our Super Series for our younger primary girls.

Highly recommended for young readers from around 6 years upwards.

Ollie’s Odyssey – William Joyce

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Simon & Schuster Australia

  • Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  • 304 pages
  • ISBN 9781442473553
  • April 2016
  • RRP $27.99

 

This is a Hans Christian Andersen-style tale of magic and wonder that echoes of the same tenderness as works such as The Velveteen Rabbit.

When Billy is just a baby he has a problem with his heart which makes his parents fearful and anxious until they know the outcome. To assuage her fretting, Billy’s mother creates a special toy for him. Made of soft textured fabrics and containing the ‘bell’ heart from her own favourite childhood toy, Nina the dancing doll, Ollie becomes Billy’s best friend and most treasured companion. In short, he is Billy’s favourite and as Billy grows up, strong and happy, Ollie shares in every single A-venture.

Running parallel to the story of Billy and Ollie, we discover a dark world of hidden menace with a history stretching back to a carnival where Nina the dancing doll once entranced Billy’s mother. In those days a very popular sideshow attraction was the Bonk-a-Zozo, one of those games where patrons try to win a toy by hitting a target.  In its heyday, toys came and went regularly but there was always a happy communal feeling to the booth with Zozo the clown, the target, reigning benevolently over all.  Then the dancing doll arrived but was hung so discreetly that few customers noticed her. However Zozo had eyes only for her – and she responded with her own eyes – as no words ever passed between them. As time goes by the carnival becomes less and less popular and on a day that changed the course of events forever, a little girl came with her father and won the prized doll. Taking her away, she claimed her as her favourite toy and Zozo’s clown heart hardens and his thoughts turn dark.

Zozo makes it his mission to recruit the Creeps whose only mission is to steal the favourite toys of all children – including Billy.  When Billy is made to attend a BORING wedding with his parents, he secretly takes Ollie with him but disaster strikes and Ollie is toynapped.

The ensuing rescue mission is filled with drama but as it must, love and bravery triumphs. ‘Never has a journey of ten blocks been so epic.’

The story is beautiful and the artwork enchanting. A beautiful hardcover with glorious glossy pages, this is a testament to books being a work of art in themselves.

Browse inside the pages here.

This is a book to treasure. As a sustained read-aloud it will engage its audience from the very beginning and I predict lead to much discussion about the demonstrated values and philosophy.

Highly recommended for children from around 8 to 12.

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How to Stop an Alien Invasion Using Shakespeare – Nick Falk & Tony Flowers

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alieninvasion

ISBN: 9780143780328

Published: 28/03/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

 

RRP $14.99

Hast thou ever feared the imminent arrival of strange googly-eyed alien monsters? Dost thou fret over total destruction of the known world by hideous extra-terrestrials of extraordinary ugliness?

You may rest assured that the solution is at hand. Join Sid, his little sister Wendy and evil-genius neighbour aka the Mighty Professor Skeletron as they thwart an alien invasion caused by Sid’s astounding adaptation of Romeo & Juliet for a school assignment.

When Mr Pilchard, Sid’s vile teacher, threatens the class and especially Sid of dire consequences should they not produce their best piece of creative writing ever, Sid seeks inspiration and advice from the evil-genius. Mighty Professor Skeletron’s psychic cat directs Sid’s attention to the works of Shakespeare, greatest writer of all time.

The trouble lies in the fact that Sid makes his story just too similar to the original and mayhem ensues as he reads aloud his prize-winning story instigating a chain of events that sees the intrepid trio travelling in time via potato power to redress the catastrophe. Changing the course of history has never been so simple or so hilarious!

Kids from around 8 and up will love this latest offering from the talented Falk and Flowers duo. Highly recommended for your primary library shelves!

Marmaduke the Very Popular Dragon – Rachel Valentine/Ed Eaves

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Marmaduke the Very Popular Dragon – Rachel Valentine/Ed Eaves

ISBN:9781408862667

Publisher:Bloomsbury

Imprint:Bloomsbury Child

Pub Date:June 2016

 

There would be very few children – or indeed adults – who have not been in the same position as Marmaduke at some time. Marmaduke and Meg are the very best of friends and the envy of everyone in the kingdom as a result. They are different but when they are together, differences don’t matter.

Then one day one of the princesses who has been watching from the safety of her tower gets up the courage to ask if she can join them to play.

And gradually all the other princesses, princes, dragons and even knights want to join in the fun as well. Marmaduke is a huge hit as he is affable and helpful and a great friend. But sometimes being a great friend to many people causes us to lose sight of our very best friend. And so it happens with Marmaduke and Meg.

But of course, there must be a happy ending for all and so it is. Marmaduke realise he has basically abandoned Meg in the sudden flattering flush of his popularity and makes amends.

Aside from being a quite delightful story, this would be a super book to share with those little ones who are, even halfway through the year, trying to come to grips with friendship issues.

Highly recommended for little people from Prep upwards.

 

PS – they will love the sparkly bits!