May 7, 2019
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!
ISBN 10: 0008268053
Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
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.
February 5, 2019
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.
||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.
Penguin Random House
October 30, 2018
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.
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 30, 2018
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.
Penguin Random House
April 2, 2018
Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s
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.
Random House Australia Children’s
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.