Tag Archives: School Stories

Friday Barnes #9: No Escape – R. A. Spratt

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Penguin Australia

  • February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760895761
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $15.99

R. A. Spratt (aka Rachel) said to me ‘NO spoilers’ when I mentioned I was about to review this new Friday Barnes instalment and given she is both fit and feisty albeit small, I am not about to quibble! So here’s my rather ‘different’ review ;-).

A) Friday is now the same age as The Kid – growing up indeed!

B) The Kid will be going on her first ever school camp this year as she commences Year 10 at her new school and I will be running full checks on any accompanying teachers – just saying.

C) We live with an Italian, and know others, and I have come to the conclusion that they are ALL crazy!

D) When I reviewed #8 in the series on this blog two years ago I commented that I almost had a full-scale riot in my library when I said it would (as I had been told) be the last in the series. Like me, my kiddos just love Friday so much – so they are going to go wild when this new one appears when school goes back.

As with the others in this series there is loads of action and double doses of laugh-out-loud humour as Friday continues to awkwardly navigate her way through confronting social and emotional situations without ever losing her brilliance and genius-level powers of deduction. I loved it, your kids will love it too. I strongly suggest buying multiple copies so put it on your orders list now!!!!

Thanks so much R. A. for bringing Friday back – you know how much we all love her – horrible brown cardigan, porkpie hat, quirky but smart and, above all, the kid you’d most want to have as your friend.

Check out the blurb here at Penguin – then I can’t be blamed for any spoilers!!

Highly recommended for readers from around mid-primary upwards.

Coffee and laughs at the Shingle Inn – memorable outing!!

Tell ’em – written by Katrina Germein & Rosemary Sullivan [with the Children of Manyallaluk School] Illustrated by Karen Briggs.

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Harper Collins Australia

May 2020

  • ISBN: 9781921504921
  • ISBN 10: 1921504927
  • Imprint: Working Title Press – AU
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

What an absolute joy this book is! I’ve had some absolutely cracking books of late featuring Indigenous/First Australian themes but this one, which gives readers an insight into the everyday life of contemporary First Australian kids living in their remote community, is just superb.

Not only will it give children of either European or other cultural backgrounds quite an eye-opener but it will also be so much fun for jarjums in urban settings whose own lives will be very much different to these kids from Manyallaluk.

Follow this bunch of exuberant youngsters as they respond to the question of ‘What else?’ (to tell kids in other places) with a real exploration of their community and country.

Tell ’em how us kids like to play.
We got bikes and give each other rides.
Tell ’em about the dancing and singing,
And all the stories the old people know.

Every page is alive with colour and joy as we join the Roper River kids at their school with the pond and the banana trees, as they do handstands and disco dancing, practise for ceremony , hunt for bush turkey, goanna and kangaroo, fish and sleep in the bush making campfires for damper and tea. Just truly smashing – I love it!

Highly recommended for your kiddos of every persuasion from around four years upwards!

Lottie Luna and the Twilight Party (Lottie Luna #2) – Vivian French. Illustrated by Nathan Reed.

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9780008343019

Harper Collins Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9780008343019

ISBN 10: 0008343012

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 12.99 AUD

We all know two things for certain. Young readers love to see a reflection of their own lives: school, friendship, family and so on and that Vivian French excels in creating engaging and whimsical adventures for her audience.

This is Lottie’s second book and some readers will already have become acquainted with a little girl who is much like themselves except for the fact that Lottie is a werewolf. She’s not just a werewolf however because even though these creatures have special powers Lottie has even more due to being born at a very auspicious time. She is super fast and super strong for example.

But in most aspects she is a little girl like many others. She’s excited about her new school and new best friends, she gets annoyed with her big brother and she finds her parents by turns wonderful and a little embarrassing.

Lottie and Wilf want to plan a super surprise for their best friend Marjory who has never had her own birthday party and they come up with a fabulous idea. They will persuade the super-hot group the Wailers to play at her own twilight party. Interfering with their plans and indeed their friendship are usual-not-so-nice classmate Aggie and her even nastier cousin Kiki who is visiting.

Luckily all is resolved in time for a perfectly splendid party the likes of which Marjory has neither experienced nor expected.

This is jolly good fun in the very best way. Readers will love the werewolfish twists on normal everyday life yet still relate easily to the dilemmas and situations.

Recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

Lottie Luna and the Twilight Party (Lottie Luna #2) – Vivian French. Illustrated by Nathan Reed.

Harper Collins Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9780008343019

ISBN 10: 0008343012

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 12.99 AUD

We all know two things for certain. Young readers love to see a reflection of their own lives: school, friendship, family and so on and that Vivian French excels in creating engaging and whimsical adventures for her audience.

This is Lottie’s second book and some readers will already have become acquainted with a little girl who is much like themselves except for the fact that Lottie is a werewolf. She’s not just a werewolf however because even though these creatures have special powers Lottie has even more due to being born at a very auspicious time. She is super fast and super strong for example.

But in most aspects she is a little girl like many others. She’s excited about her new school and new best friends, she gets annoyed with her big brother and she finds her parents by turns wonderful and a little embarrassing.

Lottie and Wilf want to plan a super surprise for their best friend Marjory who has never had her own birthday party and they come up with a fabulous idea. They will persuade the super-hot group the Wailers to play at her own twilight party. Interfering with their plans and indeed their friendship are usual-not-so-nice classmate Aggie and her even nastier cousin Kiki who is visiting.

Luckily all is resolved in time for a perfectly splendid party the likes of which Marjory has neither experienced nor expected.

This is jolly good fun in the very best way. Readers will love the werewolfish twists on normal everyday life yet still relate easily to the dilemmas and situations.

Recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

Derek Dool Supercool #1: Bust a Move– Adrian Beck. Illustrated by Scott Edgar

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9781760892951

Penguin Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9781760892951

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Yep, we’ve all known a Derek – and indeed, some of us have taught one! Derek Dool thinks he is the ant’s pants really and doesn’t miss a chance to let everyone know. It’s just a shame that no one else seems to appreciate his supercool-ness. Mind you, given his very uncool father it’s to be expected.

Of course, Derek does have his stalwart friends, Big Denise and Booger – I probably don’t have to go into too much detail about them given their names – but despite their whole-hearted support Derek still struggles to achieve the acclaim which he feels is rightly his.

So Derek’s immediate problem is how to demonstrate that he really is the ‘coolest, funniest, most handsome kid in school’ in the dance-off happening at the school disco, especially as he’s up against his nemesis, Carmichael Cruz.

Really, with his vast quantities of talent, nothing can go wrong – well, except for wet pants (due to melting ice but looking like suspect toilet troubles), an incident with a giant cake, an escaped pet rabbit and a rogue giant mirror ball. Oh and that little matter of Cruz actually being a great dancer and Derek getting the blame for a disastrous social event.

Kids from around 8 years upwards will absolutely love this. It is exactly the kind of slapstick funny, gross-out humour, ridiculous situations and outrageous characters that they love. And with Edgar’s  comical illustrations and the interspersed Bad Dad Jokes they will get even more laughs out of it.

Really, some light-hearted comedy that also includes some themes of real friendship and family is a good antidote for the current doom and gloom.

If you haven’t already, get hold of this for your middle/upper primaries and wait for them to add to their favourite funny series lists!

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Random House Australia

February 2020

ISBN: 9781760896034

Imprint: Penguin

RRP: $19.99

Parents (and librarians) of the legion Alice-Miranda fans you are hereby warned! It will not matter one jot whether your devotee has every title in the series they will vociferously demand this gorgeous anniversary edition become part of their collection.

This beautiful hardback with its sumptuous gilt scrolling will be the piece de resistance for any lover of the tiny indomitable compassionate child we have all come to know and love.

From her first appearance ten years ago Alice-Miranda has gone from strength to strength with readers,  even thos who would now be considered too old for the readership still happily delving into the pages of her adventures.

Jacqueline’s understanding of what makes such stories relevant and meaningful to her readers is superb and she is unwavering in her commitment to provide fun and excitement along with kindness and courage exemplars for her fans.

Readers have just had the excitement of seeing Alice-Miranda in her first animated film appearance (an event that caused joy of immense proportions for so many!) and now they will revel in holding this precious gift of a book in their hands.

A beautifully written letter from Jacqueline prefaces this edition and her readers, both  young and old, will love the insight into the creation of A-M and her journey into published work.

You know and I know that I don’t need to ‘sell’ this one – like all the other titles (18 in all, along with other activity books and so on) – will just jump off the shelves into the hands of those who sincerely hope that this tiny dynamo has many more adventures in store.

Either as a special gift or just because – this one is a must-have! Congratulations Jacqueline Harvey on this wonderful milestone and thank you for all the joy that Alice-Miranda along with Clementine Rose plus Kensy and Max have brought to us all.

Attack of the Meteor Monsters [Maudlin Towers #3] – Chris Priestley

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9781408873137

Bloomsbury

October 2019

ISBN: 9781408873120
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $15.99

 

If you or your readers haven’t caught onto this series yet I would urge you to do so. While we all know it’s important to have narratives which deal with significant issues or concepts, it’s equally important to just have a chuckle in my opinion – and Maudlin Towers certainly does this ‘par excellence’.

Very reminiscent of Ronald Searle’s fabulous St Trinian’s and his collaboration with Geoffrey Willans on the Molesworth series, Maudlin Towers and it’s chief characters Mildew and Sponge are dim-witted inept students in an outstandingly chaotic school which always seems to be running into adventures of the strangest ilk.

In this new adventure the school is inundated by some rather odd girls and their teacher while at the same time Mildew and Sponge witness what they at first believe to be a meteor crashing to earth. As the story unravels it becomes apparent that the ‘meteor’ is in fact a space ship and its occupants have dispersed – coincidence? I think not. When a second space vehicle arrives complete with large scary but hilarious mechanical spiders the pace quickens and predictably further rumbustifcations ensue.

I cannot say I detect any deep meaningful concepts (except perhaps to not always be mentally consumed by the thought of biscuits!) but it is all raging good fun wonderfully written and illustrated by Priestley.

Do your kiddos a favour and get some humour into their bookshelves – indeed why not buy all three if you have not already done so!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

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!

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.

FirstTermAtMaloryTowers

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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