Described by the publisher as an ‘explosion of fun and pure joy’ this is a delightfully riotous and exuberant picture book full of colour and humour. The Rawa Community School is on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert and the children there helped to write the text along with Alison and Jane and provided all the cut-out illustrations. What an experience it must have been for all as these two celebrated authors worked alongside the middle school students drawing out all their creativity and their own Martu cultural knowledge.
Some very crazy looking monsters emerge from Dora Lake giving the children a little scare before going completely bonkers all around the place, even to school which completely disrupts a good day’s learning!
Loaded with rhyme, rhythm and some wonderful onomatopoeia cleverly highlighted in large colourful fonts, this will be a real hit with little ones either to read by themselves or as an enthusiastic read-aloud.
Highly recommended for little readers from around toddlers upwards!
Penguin Random House
October 1, 2018
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.
Penguin Random House
September 3, 2018
Classic Morris Gleitzman! And pure unadulterated joy! In these parlous times when politicians behave without regard for those they are sworn to represent this could not be more timely or indeed, pointed.
Ludo is a helper. A year after losing his mother his desire to help and his commitment to the values of being a true Scout remain firmly fixed in place. When his father wins a seat as an independent MP and the pair move to Canberra Ludo begins to see that politics, the people embedded in the system and the nation’s capital are all far from being the selfless ideal he had in his mind. His zeal for helping the homeless people in the capital quickly escalates into a mission with much wider implications. Along the way he is able to recruit like-minded allies, not least of all, his dad.
Ludo is a very likeable protagonist and never becomes priggish which could so easily have happened with a lesser creator. His warmth and compassionate nature are a lodestone throughout the narrative which readily endears him to the reader.
With Morris’ usual deft touch the gravity of some nasty situations is liberally leavened with a good dash of humour as well as some moments of real poignancy. Quirky characters as well as unsavoury ones are sprinkled throughout making this an engaging read with some very important underlying themes.
Not only do I believe this would be a novel which could be used to great effect with students but I do think it should be mandatory reading for every single elected member – perhaps it could be a requirement of their introduction or even better, preselection process?
Highly recommended for either independent reading or read-aloud for children from about eight years upwards. Kudos to Morris for a fantastic and apt new book!
Ford Street Publishing
DC, you have completely smashed it with this thrilling conclusion to the trilogy – darker, edgier and gripping! I’ve watched with such joy as the Dead Gang monster misfits have grown from their funky beginnings to truly kickass warriors united in their mission to save not themselves but their world and all the myriad creatures who inhabit it.
The gang continues their mission of dragon egg rescue after their narrow escapes from Dr Franken’s torturous facility and amidst ongoing attack from all sides. The loss of Zorg and Jaakie are a real blow but they manage to keep their spirits high. Stoker, the vampire-formerly-known-as-Prince-Robert heads for the Isle of Giants with a human girl acquired for her mechanical ability, Roa and the enigmatic and cranky Erica, royal ogre bodyguard and the giant skunk aniwye (not the friendliest of creatures). Their goal is to protect Empress Kalthazar until the rest of the Dead Gang arrive with help.
The remainder of the group escape with the dragon egg they have acquired by a narrow margin and are completely taken aback when the egg hatches and little fin-flapping Karamas immediately becomes an important addition to their team. An encounter with the living giant heart of Monstro City, disarming ancient nuclear weapons, deflecting rogue ogres and taming clone Prince Robbie are almost all in a day’s work for this mob. However their encounter with the fearsome and treacherous Cyborg Warlord is almost a disaster for them all.
Will the gang survive intact to effect the rescue and revitalisation of the great Kalthazar? Will they be able to save not only themselves but Monstro City and, indeed, the entire world? More to the point – will Bruce, gnarly sexy spider-dude avoid being munched by a prospective bride and will PT EVER tell Greta just how he feels about her?
It’s like a mash-up of Tolkien, teen horror movies and Kotter’s sweat hogs on steroids! The addition of some excellent illustrations really enhance the narrative with the truly warped visualisations of the chief characters along with a nicely detailed map.
Again there are plenty of laughs throughout the tensely dramatic plot as well as moments of poignancy and important themes of loyalty, friendship, honour and resilience.
I have loved this series immensely and while I was of the understanding that this was to be a trilogy I won’t be disappointed to meet the characters again as they age to what one can only imagine to be an equally crazy adulthood!
Get onto it if you haven’t already! Your readers from around ten years upwards who relish a little bit of scariness along with a whole lot of great humour will love it.
Penguin Random House
July 30, 2018
There were many sad faces in my library when I reported that the Friday Barnes series had come to an end (including mine) but there was the consolation that R. A. Spratt was working on a new series. And here it is! And it’s hilarious! I was tucked up in bed reading it and snort-laughing at so many times.
I’ve said before that Spratt has such a knack for creating quirky characters and a real sense of the absurd and it doesn’t get much quirkier or absurd than this narrative! Meet Joe, sixteen and a bit gawky with a nervous stammer, Fin (i.e. Sharkfin) thirteen and April, twelve, siblings who are always arguing – easy enough as April is pretty much your semi-psycho anarchist tween who live with their mother, a middle-aged professor of paleontology – or so the children think.
It’s not until a wholly unexpected visit from their mother’s boss, Professor Maynard, that the children discover that their mum is actually an international spy who has been incarcerated by the dreaded Kolektiv organization. As the kids are now also targets they are rushed out of their home minutes before it explodes and re-located hours later in the country town of Currawong and the home of their father, who is without doubt the most eccentric, absent-minded and wimpish dad ever. He’s clearly unaccustomed to children whether his own or not. The kids’ entrée into Currawong community life is far from auspicious as they (April) scorn such long-held traditions as the Cockroach Races, lawn bowls and flat caps and escalates when competitive cockroaches begin being nobbled. Throw into the mixture a bizarre but beautiful neighbor, a maniacal dog (April’s) and a host of weird and sociopathic townspeople and you have the makings of a series that is going to captivate kids right from the get-go.
Watch the book trailer here and R. A. Spratt talking about the book here.
Without a nano-second’s hesitation, highly recommended for your readers aged from around ten years upwards.
Penguin Random House
September 3, 2018
Random House Australia Children’s
RRP : $14.99
Being curled up and cosy with a steaming cup of Himalayan tea – what could be better? If you have the new adventure of Mr B and 12B to make you laugh, of course.
The class camp is going to be super-fun with Mr Bambuckle’s feathered friend Dodger having carefully chosen the right location and Mr B’s own unique style of doing things which means it’s not going to be your average school camp. However, it looks as though plans are going to be thwarted when the heinous new deputy-principal Miss Frost (think Tilda Swinton as the White Witch from Narnia) turns up to throw cold water over any proposed activities.
Naturally the imperturbable Mr Bambuckle is more than equal to dealing with a rigidly frigid administrator and the class seems well able to follow his lead and their own initiative to survive any obstacle put in their way. The whole class – except Vex who sleeps the entire duration of the camp – are triumphant in their successes but it does not escape their notice that Mr B seems just a little too friendly to the dreaded Miss Frost. What next for the intrepid class? Well, as Vex has disappeared mysteriously when the camp is struck – it could be almost anything!
Kids in my readership have been gobbling up the first two in this series and I can guarantee they will be grabbing this one as quickly as they can as well!
Highly recommended for kids (ok yes and grownups) who love to laugh at complete absurdity!
Penguin Random House
July 2, 2018
Random House Australia Children’s
So my read last night was the new hilarious instalment in Tom Weekly’s adventures and it didn’t disappoint. Fortunately alone in my bedroom there’s no one to witness my snorts of laughter!
Where to start? Well I just loved Nanna Nancy’s stealthy attempted sabotage of the fruit cake competition and the skilful way in which she makes Tom her patsy for the crime. Then of course there’s the traumatic guinea pig hostage situation where the very image of Tanya ending up in a rubbish bin filled me with absolute joy – and of course Gus the guinea pig surviving triumphantly.
Skroop’s massive detention siege and the ultimate revenge of having bully Brent getting his come-uppance is pretty sweet as is getting the better of the world’s angriest ice-cream man. Tom’s smelly bottom issue and baby-sitting Jack’s horrid little brother Barney are both as funny as but without doubt, the pièce de résistance is the Killer Possums, for which I have been waiting with great anticipation.
My visual of a posse of possums in a conga line and Tom covered head to toe in possums made me laugh aloud and was indeed worth the wait.
As usual, interspersed with the chapters, is much useful Tom Weekly advice such as reasons to get your parents off social media and household hacks along with ‘Would you rather……’.
Again, Tristan has given us a prime motivator to get kids reading – and enjoying it – this is bound to be another sure-fire winner with the kids from around Year 3 upwards.
Woot! Keep on bringing it Tristan and Gus!
Series: The Dundoodle Mysteries
Published: 1st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
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.
Walker Books Australia
Imprint: Black Dog Books
March 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $12.99
The kids from Little Lunch really do crack me up! As I’ve said before I reckon I’ve taught every one of them at one time or another. The fun continues for fans of the popular TV show with this latest instalment of another three stories.
Sport-obsessed Tamara needs to find a new walking buddy for the school walkathon. Her last year’s partner, Melanie, is definitely off the list for stopping to rest and, for goodness sake, tie up her shoelaces. Of course, Melanie has taken herself off the list anyway because when she fell Tamara didn’t even stop to help her up. But finding a suitably competitive buddy is difficult and after all this is all about winning and getting your name on the gold cup – oh and of course raising money for the school’s African sponsor-child. Still, despite her obvious sporting superiority, Tamara finds it difficult to find the right applicant and things start to look a little desperate.
And on the note of competitiveness is the school talent show. Rory’s plan to shut the girls into the toilets so that he can resume his rightful place as Atticus’ magic assistant does not quite work the way he imagines it will and so the chaos continues with identical songs, costumes and snarky sniping until of course it all unravels relatively neatly – well, sort of.
Definitely my favourite is Rory declaring himself Prime Minister. Since he spends most of his time outside the principal’s office he’s taken on acting as a deputy principal but feels he has more to offer. The ensuing anarchy, Mrs Gonsha’s attempts to divert the drama into learning about democracy and the hilarious outcome is worth the read. Vote for Rory!
Highly recommended for your readers from around 8 years upwards!
We all know the problem of disappearing socks. Miss Small favours odd socks but even with that un-complication we still seem to be scratching around for the little blighters often.
So many children will get the giggles as they help search for the missing socks in the illustrations in this new book. Part rhyme and part prose it has a joyful rhythm and lots of interaction along the way.
In all this time I’ve never expected that the family cat (or cats in our case) might be responsible for sock thievery! But then neither of ours is called Socks so perhaps we will have to search out another thief!
As well as the missing socks children have the opportunity to re-examine the colourful illustrations to find other objects via checklists at the end of the book.
This is a fun and simple book for little readers from around 4 years upwards. It would make a super bedtime read to explore and find all the items.
Recommended for kindy & child care groups as well as Junior Primary classes.
Available on request from Bullawai Books, (Specialist Publication and Editing Services ABN 14790495731)