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Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit

Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit

Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Dog and the Rabbit Habit

Ben Fogle & Steve Cole

Nikolas Ilic

HarperCollins, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008306366

Mr Dog might be a stray but he is an intrepid adventurer who interacts with the wildlife of the UK, particularly helping them out when they are in trouble.  In this, the first in a new series written by well-known adventurer Ben Fogle, he helps look after baby rabbits after their mother is caught in a trap and the trapper wants all the rabbits gone. What is the secret behind the big new fence?

The second in the series,  Mr Dog and the Seal Deal is also available Written and illustrated for younger, newly independent readers, this will appeal to those who like dogs and other animals and making sure their welfare is high on the priority list. With information about animal care and conservation woven into the narrative, it’s more than just a feel-good narrative.  This will appeal to those who enjoyed series like Juliet, Nearly a Vet and Animal Ark providing something new for them to enjoy.

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus

Atticus Van Tasticus

Atticus Van Tasticus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143796541

1750, when times were tough and teeth were rotten…

As part of an ancient family tradition, young Atticus Van Tasticus narrowly escapes a life down the coal mines – or worse, going to school – when he gets to choose the gift of a pirate ship from his Grandnan’s treasure pile. ..

Atticus has a taste for adventure, beauty and danger – “where any minute might be your last, and your next minute could be your best” – so he pulls together a crew of misfit friends, of both genders and hits the high seas to lead the life of a pirate.

Spiked with humour and dozens of quirky illustrations, including a continuing comic strip of a stowaway puppy, this is a book full of crazy adventures that will appeal to all those longing to escape the humdrum of school, home and homework. Daddo has moved on a little from his recent focus on picture books for the very young and created a quirky character who is really quite ordinary but who, with the help of a very rich grandmother, is able to make his innermost dreams come true because on his 10th birthday he is allowed to pick something  from her wealth. Trouble is that his older brother and sister squandered their picks and now the future of the family is squarely on his shoulders. Choosing a pirate ship so he can search for treasure to replace what has been lost seems the obvious choice…

For independent readers who still need a little support, who appreciate and dream of crazy, out-there adventures and who like their illustrations to be more than just decoration, this is the first in a new series that will capture the imagination and the hearts of younger students and keep them reading.

 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Don't Worry, Little Crab

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry, Little Crab

Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406385519

In the rockpool above the sea, live two crabs: Big Crab and Little Crab. Today, they’re going for a dip in the sea. “This is going to be so great!” says Little Crab as they go tic-a-tac, tic-a-tac over the rocks, splish splash, splish splash across the pools and squelch, squelch, squelch through the slimy, slippery seaweed. “I can go ANYWHERE”, says Little Crab.

But when he reaches the sea and sees the size of the ocean waves, he is somewhat daunted and very reluctant to take that final leap.  Will he find the courage?

The illustration style  is very distinctive and it tells as much of the story as the text does, about a little one finding the courage to face their uncertainty. This is a common theme in children’s picture books, this time inspired by the creator’s observations of crabs and their human-like way of moving. and the way they braced for the impact of a wave but then went about their business once it frothed away. In fact, the story of the story’s evolution gives a real insight into where authors get their ideas and how they are shaped, so it is worth sharing that too. It wasn’t so much the message that came first, but thinking about what was in front of him and working from that! Perhaps a lesson for budding writers about being observant and curious and working backwards!

 

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Susannah McFarlane

Allen & Unwin, 2019

128pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524715

“Bold: typically describes one who is willing to take risks; who is brave in heart as well as deed.”

In this new collection of rewritten, remastered fairy tales featuring  Jack and the BeanstalkHansel and GretelThe Emperor’s New Clothes and Prince Leo and the Sleeping Princess, Susannah McFarlane  editor of Stuff Happens one of my favourite series for boys,  shows that there is more to brave than brawn and bravado slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress. It’s about doing what’s right, being clever and honest, that how you do something is as important as what you do.

Illustrated by Simon Howe, Matt Huynh, Louie Joyce and Brenton McKenna, four of our leading illustrators, in a style that takes the book beyond the realm of the cutsey, Disneyfied fairytale, it is the perfect companion to Fairytales for Feisty Girls which turns  Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina around to meet the demands of the modern young lady. 

Designed for independent readers in novel format with chapters within each story, it is ideal for re-engaging young students with the traditional tales of childhood literature and start discussions about how things change over time to meet the needs of the audience – these are indeed a long way from the didactic tales of Grimm et al whose purpose was to scare little ones into doing the right thing because of the dire consequences that awaited if they didn’t. 

 

 

 

Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running with the Horses

Alison Lester

Puffin, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760892760

Nina lives with her father above the palace stables at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses. She loves watching the famous white stallions as they parade for the crowds, but her favourite horse is a mare called Zelda – an old cab horse Nina often pats on her way home from school.

When Nina’s world changes dramatically, she and her father have to flee from the city. Their journey over the mountains with Zelda and the stallions seems impossible, with danger at every turn. It will require all of Nina’s bravery, daring and faith in an extraordinary old horse.

This is a new edition of the picture book first released 10 years ago, now in a format that will attract newly independent readers to enjoy this story inspired by the rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during the Second World War, offering yet another story and insight into that conflict. although Lester insists it is a work of fiction.

With all the original illustrations – the main characters being in  black and white line drawings set against lavish colourful backgrounds – this is an intriguing read that justifies its re-release and promotion to a whole new generation.  

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Chicken All Over Australia

Leigh Hobbs

Allen & Unwin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760296964

The infamous Mr Chicken has been to Paris,  London and  Rome, and now the adventurous chicken has come to Australia. In response to invitations from Yackandandah, to Koolanooka, Wuk Wuk to Wonglepong,  he has hopped on the plane, hooked up with a helpful travel agent and is on his way to see the sights.  His list of places is very long and using all sorts of transport, they travel hither and thither, here and there, back and forth, seeing all there is to see until they climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Mr Chicken discovers he is afraid of heights…

Apart from being another great story in this series that helps little ones understand that the world is bigger than their immediate environs, this book screams out to be the start of an exploration of this great country for young readers.  Which of the places he visited have you been to? What can you tell us about them? Are the place names real?  Where are they?  How did Mr Chicken get there? If we wanted to visit, when would be the best time to go? If we sent him an invitation to come here, what would we show him that was unique?  The possibilities are endless and not only increase their understanding of the diversity of this continent but help develop information literacy skills in a purposeful, engaging context.  

A must for any collection.

 

 

A Home for Luna

A Home for Luna

A Home for Luna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Home for Luna

Stef Gemmill

Mel Armstrong

New Frontier, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781925594843

On a cold, moonlit night a dark crate washes up on a lonely shore, and out crawls a bedraggled, lonely cat, wary of her surroundings so different from the home she remembers, but glad to be out of the ceaseless motion of the sea.  As daylight creeps up, she woke and looked around only to find herself among creatures that didn’t look like anything she had seen, certainly not cats, but the familiar fishy smell drew her forward. 

Too tired to move, she lay on the rocks watching the penguins swim and return with fish, making her tummy rumbled.  And then one of them approached her… is this a friendly move or one fraught with fear?

Mel Armstrong, an experienced illustrator making her children’s book debut, has created bold illustrations which suggest that Luna is  no weak, wimpy cat and so the reader expects that this story is going to go well beyond that initial meeting and that conflict or camaraderie. there is some meat to it.

On the surface, this is a simple story about two creatures forming an unlikely friendship, one that reaches a climax when humans arrive at the colony and decide that it is no place for a cat.  But looking beneath the surface, could it be the story of a refugee arriving in a strange land amongst strange people, and being accepted just for who they are, rather than anything else?  And a government making a determination about their suitability to stay?  Or am I viewing it through the lens of so many news stories about worthy people facing deportation, so much so my views of a children’s story have been tainted and I see allegory each time I read a story like this?  Whichever, it is refreshing to read one that is about resilience and hope and which has the sort of ending we would all wish for, whether it’s a cat washed ashore or a person. 

Read more about the story behind the story here

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Hey Grandude!

Hey Grandude!

Hey Grandude!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Grandude!

Paul McCartney

Kathryn Durst

Puffin, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9780241375655

Grandad, known to his grandchildren (chillers) as Grandude, lives in a very normal house in a very normal street, but when the four chillers – Lucy, Tom, Bob and Em-  come to visit they have adventures that are far from normal.  For in his pockets, Grandude has some magic – postcards and a shiny compass. All he has to do is give the compass a rub, wave it over the postcard and say,

See the compass needle spin,

Let the magic fun begin.

And all of them are whisked away to the destination on the postcard, on a magical mystery tour that takes them to a tropical island, cowboy country, and listening to Grandude strum his guitar in Sound of Music country. And just as the day begins to wane and little ones begin to too, out comes the compass and a photo of Grandude’s very ordinary home…

From the  the creator of some of the world’s most iconic and recognisable songs, this story is based on McCartney’s own experiences of being a grandfather while giving the reader an insight into the magical imagination of someone who can  create such diversity as Yellow Submarine and Hey Jude. Setting aside the realisation that my teenage idol is now a grandparent (as am I) and trying to review this dispassionately, this is still a story that will appeal because it celebrates that special relationship that children have with their grandfathers (who are usually more relaxed than even their grandmothers) and inspires a conversation about where they would go if they had a postcard and a magic compass and the adventures that might happen when they get there, because none of those of Lucy, Tom, Bob and Em end well and they have to beat a hasty retreat! Or an opportunity to recall and retell some of the places they have already been with their grandparents and the memories evoked.

With appealing illustrations created by Durst which show her experience as both an  animator and an intern with Pixar Studios, this is a modern story, unsentimental but nevertheless engaging and one deliberately structured to draw the curtains on the day.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

 

 

The Runaways

The Runaways

The Runaways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Runaways

Ulf Stark

Kitty Crowther

Gecko Press, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A18.99

9781776572342

Grandpa is stuck in hospital with a broken leg and a heart that is coming to the end of its working life.  Used to being an engineer on the great ships of the seas,  being confined to a bed is making him cranky and cantankerous and he swears at everyone, continually pushes the alarm buzzes because he is bored and complains about the food.  “Not even the water tastes any good.” Only young Gottfried, his grandson, finds pleasure in visiting him and understands the reason for his moods.

And so he hatches a plan to get Grandad out of there, on one last adventure…

This is a heart-warming family story that captures the frustration of the elderly who know their end is coming and want to be anywhere but in a hospital as well as the ideality of youth whose imaginations are not constrained by the realities of what is safest – they think of ‘what if” and deal with ‘what now ‘ and ‘what next’ if and when it arises. Gottfried’s plan to give his grandfather one last simple pleasure has to be complex and he does worry about whether sometimes it’s OK to lie and the consequences, but his love for Grandpa is stronger than any obstacles.

Written by a renowned Swedish author and set in Stockholm, this is, nevertheless, a universal story, one that many of us with ageing parents and grandparents will relate to. The unusual illustrations done with coloured pencil bring colour into what is otherwise a drab life for Grandpa but Gottfried’s love for him shines through, making it an uplifting story about how both deal with end-of-life issues. Something special.

 

Super Sidekicks (series)

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

9780143795865

Super Sidekicks 2: Ocean’s Revenge

 9780143795889

Gavin Aung Than

Puffin, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

 

“Superheroes have it easy. They don’t have to clean their secret headquarters, wash the alien bloodstains out of their costumes or be responsible for taking Super Mutt out for a walk. No, they leave all that for their sidekicks like me, while they get all the credit! “

But Junior Justice (aka JJ) is tired of all that – “Being a superhero sidekick isn’t as fun as you think. You do all the work, beat the bad guys and save the planet, only for your grown-up partner to get all the credit.”  So he and his sidekick pals, Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo, have decided to form their own super team. But before they can start saving the world they’ll have to prove to the adult heroes that they’re more than just sidekicks. And once the evil Dr Enok discovers his favourite pet Goo has left him to join a super team, the world might need saving sooner rather than later!

This is the first in a new series that will appeal to those who like lots of action and adventures in their stories and a graphic novel format making it an easy read for the newly independent reader. Given the popularity of superhero movies and the anticipation for Avengers: Endgame  with young and not-so-young projecting themselves into the roles of world saviours, this is a series that has the protagonists at a similar age to the reader so they will be able to take on their favourite role as they immerse themselves in it. 

The second, Ocean’s Revenge focuses on a problem that is thankfully getting more and more publicity – the pollution of our ocean with rubbish, particularly plastics, and the devastating effect that is having. The Mother of the Seas is sick of humans using the oceans as a junkyard, so she decides to give the land dwellers a taste of their own medicine. Children of the age that this series is aimed at are very aware of their environment and the impact that humans are having on it so this is an ideal discussion starter to raise awareness of the impact of plastic on it and perhaps even begin with some small projects to make a difference, because even a little helps. And knowledge is empowering and for young children to feel they have any power at all has to be the way forward because too many adults still have their heads in the sands and dismiss the issues. Introduce them to young fictional heroes like JJ and his Sidekicks and then to real-life ones like Greta Thundberg and show them they CAN  make a difference and the local, national and international media will take notice.

A timely series with an important message and the potential to have a huge impact.