Tag Archives: School Stories

Murder Most Unladylike #8: Top Marks for Murder – Robin Stevens

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9780241348383

Penguin

August 2019

ISBN: 9780241348383

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $16.99

Yes there are seven previous books but this series has been somewhat of a ‘sleeper’ in my library. Now, however, due to the enthusiasm of several devoted fans it is steadily growing in its popularity. I know that this newest volume will be avidly sought after and the reservation list will be frustrating for some of my girls.

Deepdean School for Girls might seem to be an innocent place but that’s never the case and the current state of affairs is no exception. When Daisy and Hazel return after their absence the place is humming with anticipation of the Anniversary Weekend but parents begin to arrive and poisoning sends shock ripples throughout the school. Everything seems to point to a parent being the guilty party and the girls are fearful that if the perpetrator is not caught, Deepdean might cease to exist altogether.

As always this is almost like a very dark and deadly Malory Towers but the power of ‘school stories’ is always evident. When some murder is thrown in amongst a gang of smart and sassy girls there’s bound to be loads of excitement, suspense and clever detection work to be had – an irresistible combination for my middle school readers!

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Don’t Follow Vee – Oliver Phommavanh

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9780143505747

Penguin

9780143505747

May 2019

Puffin

RRP: $16.99

 

So many of us are what could be referred to as social media junkies……of course I’m not talking about moi! But if you were a 12 year old kid who is not into any of platforms that your peers are, yet you are totally famous and have been since you were a baby, how would you feel about it?

 

Vee and her mum are a tight pair/team. Vee’s dad departed just after she was born and she’s never known him but her mum, who quite naturally considers Vee the sunshine of her life, has ‘Insta-grammed’ Vee’s entire life for all to see and appreciate. Now getting close to 150k followers, Vee is beginning to feel rather hemmed in and as if she has no ‘real’ life – just the one on Insta.

 

With her 13th birthday coming up, Vee is really not too sure about continuing with the whole deal, particularly as school/mates/self esteem kicks in so Vee comes up with a plan to dissuade her followers and encourage her mum to abandon the Chronicles and focus on her own life.

 

This is Oliver at his best. The characters are authentic with voices that will resonate with readers. It is funny, poignant, insightful and downright fabulous! For the more astute reader, there is a lot upon which to reflect regarding the bombardment of social media and virtual life re reality.

 

I loved this and I truly believe that your readers, either boys or girls, will also really engage with it.

Highly recommended for your readers from around ten years upwards.

Malory Towers: New Class at Malory Towers: Four brand-new Malory Towers 

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Enid Blyton, Narinder Dhami, Patrice Lawrence, Lucy Mangan, Rebecca Westcott Smith

newclassMT

Hachette JUN 25, 2019 | 9781444951004 | RRP $14.99

If there’s anything Enid Blyton readers love more than EB stories – it’s more of them! The prolific writer who created so many memorable characters and series has left a legacy that continues to resonate with new generations of young readers.

Now it’s time to welcome some new girls to Malory Towers with four new stories each written by a notable author. Each continues to tell the adventures and mishaps, friendships and quarrels of the well-known pupils but introduces a new character into the mix. Marietta, Evelyn, Sunita and Maggie bring new perspectives into the crowd of Malory girls and despite some hiccups at the start are of course welcomed into the fold. Naturally there are those who continue to make things trickier for all – spoiled Gwendoline, for example – but in the true spirit of Malory all is resolved without enduring hard feelings. Honesty, justice, loyalty and acceptance are all evident in the stories as they always were. This is what has made this one of Enid’s most enduring and popular series 73 years after the original First Term at Malory Towers was published.

These new writers have brought a freshness to the originals while still retaining the ‘flavour’ of Enid’s unique style which will ensure an enthusiastic reception from the intended audience.

The Blyton books on our library shelves are among the most heavily borrowed – and recommended to peers. This will be no exception and undoubtedly will cause much excitement when it appears.

Highly recommended for young readers from around mid-primary.

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Nullaboo Hullabaloo – Fleur Ferris

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nullaboo

Penguin

9780143787143

May 7, 2019

Puffin

 

RRP: $14.99

 

We could all use some more fairy dust in our lives. Whether it’s because of the gloom and doom of daily news reports or if (like me packing up house) because of some personal issues. I maintain that a liberal sprinkling of fairy sparkle would be very beneficial for anyone.

Fleur Ferris has demonstrated so superbly her ability to write gripping YA fiction and has now turned her hand to fiction for younger readers with the same ease and expertise.

In a little country community young Gemma isn’t having a terrific time. First there’s the worry of her family being evicted from the farm they all love. Second, the all-too-perfect Nina got butterflies for her special science project topic while Gemma bombed out with March flies – really? March Flies?

But when Gemma captures not a fly nor even a feather in her bug catcher but a real live honest-to-goodness fairy, things in Nullaboo start to go completely crazy! Janomi the fairy isn’t meant to reveal herself to humans but she’s desperate for help after her grandfather, leader of their colony, was captured by the dreadful silver spiders. There’s more than a captured fairy leader at stake though when a secret government agency gets wind of the find and lead by an absolute nutter poses a real threat of extermination to the last fairy colony on Earth.

It’s up to Gemma, her family and the solidarity of their little community to save the day – and the fairies!

This seemingly effortless and straightforward narrative has much scope for discussion with current global topics such as environmental damage, conservation, tolerance, acceptance and embracing differences all able to correlate to the unfolding of events.  And aside from that it’s a jolly fun read!

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a great fairy story – and hopes for fairies in their garden!

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Bad Nana #1: Older but Not Wiser – Sophy Henn

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nana

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780008268053

ISBN 10: 0008268053

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

June 2018

RRP $17.99

Newly independent readers who love a giggle are bound to fall in love with Bad Nana and her granddaughter, Jeanie. Of course Bad Nana isn’t really bad – but she is cheeky and unconventional, most definitely mischievous, and certainly the type of granny that any kid would want to claim.

Jeanie and her baby brother spend a lot of time with Bad Nana as both their parents work full time and that suits Jeanie just fine. Of course there are times when Bad Nana can be a little embarrassing and she’s very good at getting Jeanie involved in her madcap antics. You know, like the time she accompanies Jeanie’s class to the local museum which is the most boring excursion ever and made worse by the grumpy curator. The angry man is almost beside himself with criticising the children and even humiliating them but Bad Nana doesn’t stand for such nonsense and when she slips herself into Henry VIII’s seat at the mock medieval feast, replacing the mannequin, she ensures her aim with a chicken drumstick and more is spot on.

Bad Nana’s no-nonsense attitude and her rather unique appearance are very endearing. Young readers will really feel attracted to her and the stories are wildly funny without being nasty or mean (well, except for the rather horrid class show off, Lydia). Bad Nana’s exquisite timing in giving bullies their come-uppance will definitely appeal to youngsters who will giggle all the way.

Apart from the hilarious story line the eye-popping fluoro colour scheme of lime, hot pink and black of the illustrations will really give a shot of excitement.

Highly recommended for readers from around seven years upwards.

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables On the Lookout: #3 – Tim Harris

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9780143793144

February 5, 2019

Puffin

RRP: $14.99

 

Even those who have not been privileged enough to sip Himalayan tea with Mr Bambuckle are completely taken with the adventures of his class 12B. The continual struggle to defeat the pressures put upon them by short-sighted school admin individuals and to foster each child blossoming into their full potential is real.

When 12B goes to camp they are eagerly anticipating a real adventure, particularly when it appears that their campsite is ‘off the radar’ so to speak. Even though there are the usual hiccups with students not completely in sync with each other, it’s shaping up well. That is until, Miss Frost turns up. The snarky new deputy seems intent to find fault with every little thing.

Still, 12B with Mr Bambuckle’s backing and natural flair seem determined to prove Miss Frost’s dire prognostications wrong and equally committed to supporting their much loved teacher.

 

But when Vex goes missing it seems that all is doomed to become a swan song for Mr Bambuckle. It’s up to 12B to save the day and their teacher.

 

Tim Harris’ recounts of the adventures of Mr B and 12B are not only highly amusing but have much to offer young readers about loyalty, friendship, empathy and honesty.

 

If your kidlets have not yet caught onto the Bambuckle  phenomenon make sure you buy this and the first two in the series and watch them roll in the aisles laughing.

 

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

 

Treasure of the Golden Skull: Maudlin Towers #2 – Chris Priestley

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skull

Bloomsbury

December 2018

ISBN: 9781408873106
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP : $14.99 AU $16.99 NZ

Readers return to the wacky world of Maudlin Towers with Mildew and Sponge as they attempt to save their mouldering school from closure, due to its pecuniary troubles. Ever since the funds for the renovations disappeared in time (see the first book) there seems to be no solution to the threat of closure.   That is until Mildew and Sponge realise the possibility of the legendary Captain Greenbeard, fearsome pirate (and as it turns out, Mildew’s ancestor) having buried his treasure nearby.

It is rather unfortunate however that it’s not just the bumbling pair hunting treasure. Due to Kenningworth’s big mouth and newspaper coverage the school is taken over by pirates from Greenbeard’s crew who are also after the treasure.

As usual despite their ineptitude Mildew and Sponge manage by dint of accident rather than brilliance to save the day. These are hilarious stories which are sort of a mash up of Molesworth and comic horror which many readers will find a really enjoyable read.

Recommended for able readers (given the word play throughout etc) from around ten years upwards.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #13 : The Meltdown – Jeff Kinney

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9780143309352

Penguin Random House

9780143309352

October 30, 2018

Puffin

RRP: $14.99

 

There is not much more embarrassing than being an adult of a certain age in public and snort laughing as you read the newest Wimpy Kid book, attracting strange looks from wary observers.  But it does seem to happen to me every time and this is no exception.

 

Fans of the hapless Greg Heffley have been waiting for the newest book to arrive and won’t be disappointed in the manic mayhem of a neighbourhood in full-blown snowed-in battle mode.

 

“Snow days” are a rather foreign concept for Australian kids but many could probably related to other weather events impeding their attendance at school. And like most kids (and teachers) an unexpected holiday is to be relished.  The severity of the winter weather has already been quite a trial for Greg with lost gloves, melted boots, unploughed sidewalks and bossy Safety Patrol girls combining to make the daily slog to school a complete nightmare. So when the weather becomes even worse and the cold snap enforces a school close-down, Greg is pretty jubilant until that is both his mother and the other neighbourhood kids all seem to conspire to make the unexpected luxury of ‘free time’ into an endless round of chores and full on snow warfare.  Greg and Rowley attempt to best their rivals in a series of side-splitting moments that certainly all the WK fans will relish.

Will the pair eventually triumph over their opposition? Will the snow ever thaw? Will Greg ever be able to escape the endless round of household tasks? So many questions to be answered! And the fans will undoubtedly enjoy discovering the results.

As always a high recommendation for kids with a sense of the absurd looking for a light read.

Check out some Meltdown activities here.

 

The Peski Kids #1: The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach – R. A. Spratt

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9780143788812

Penguin Random House

9780143788812

July 30, 2018

Puffin

 

$16.99

 

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.

 

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables #3: Go Wild – Tim Harris

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9780143789024

Penguin Random House

9780143789024

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!