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A Great Escape

A Great Escape

A Great Escape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Escape

Felice Arena

Puffin, 2019

176pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143794042

Berlin, August 13, 1961, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US and its allies is at its peak and  Peter is playing with his mates Max and Hubert, ignoring his mother’s requests to come inside because they are leaving to visit the western side of the city, controlled by the Western Allies and entirely surrounded by the Soviet-controlled East Berlin and East Germany. It doesn’t seem like a big deal because Peter can always stay with his grandparents as he frequently does.

But this time things change for overnight the East German authorities start constructing the wall which divided the city for 28 years and Peter finds himself separated from his parents and little sister Margrit as they are unable to return to the East and he can not join them. Guarded by tanks and soldiers with ferocious dogs and who shoot to kill, it seems that Peter will never see his family again.  However, he is determined to escape and despite seeing the fate of most of those who do try, including the body of his best friend’s older brother left caught in the barbed wire as a warning, his resolve to rejoin his parents doesn’t waver.  While he meets new friends Otto and Elke he is scorned by others, including being taunted and beaten by his old friend MAx who considers him to be a traitor for wanting to be reunited with his family.

This is knife-edge reading about a period in time that was the backdrop to the life of a generation and inspired by the author’s visit to Berlin and asking himself, “If the Wall were to be implemented today, and I were separated from my family, what would I do?” He has brought the period and the dilemma of so many to life through Peter and his friends, and created another must-read to go with The Boy and the Spy and Fearless Frederic.  As well as shining a spotlight on a recent period in history that is still fresh in the minds of many of our students’ grandparents who will have seen it, perhaps even been affected by it, it also sets up a number of ethical questions that could lead to some robust discussions.  

Just as with its predecessors, this is a meaty book that will appeal to those who like some real depth to their reading and who are then compelled to find out more about the events and circumstances.  Perfect for independent readers who are a little older and have a sense of history and are interested in the lives of other children in other places in other times.  As Arena asked himself, what would they do if they found themselves in another’s shoes?

Amazing Transport

Amazing Transport

Amazing Transport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Transport

Tom Jackson

Chris Mould

Bloomsbury, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781408889770

“Every day, all over the world, people are busy travelling – short hops or great, long voyages, moving slowly and steadily or racing along at super-fast speeds,  They make their trips in cars, trains, planes, ships and on bikes – and some people even blast off in rockets!”

People have always sought ways to make travelling easier and this book traces the development of some of the most popular methods of travel including the first canoes of over 7000 years ago, the earliest railway of the Ancient Greeks and the Chinese invention of rocket power 700 years before the birth of Christ. 

Each mode of transport is presented first with an amazingly detailed timeline that wends its way across the double-spread like a huge maze, full of monochromatic cartoon characters and comments, and then as snippets of critical information in a second double-spread that expand on some of the key developments, often focusing on unusual events that have almost been forgotten over time. . It is a unique presentation that will appeal to those who want to know the basics but not be swamped and it is one of those books that young boys will pore over together and talk about, a critical part of their literacy development.  It will also appeal to those who need to know but whose skills are still challenged by large amounts of text, perhaps encouraging them to find out more. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Sam Copeland

Sarah Horne

Puffin, 2019

299pp., pbk., RRP $A7.99

9780241346211

When the draft copy of this book first arrived in the post, it came with a flurry of yellow feathers and straight away it was apparent that it was going to be something a little different and lots of fun.

Charlie is an optimist, but things are conspiring against him. His brother SmoothMove is in hospital waiting for an operation, his parents are trying to hide how worried they are, and the school bully is upping the ante in Charlie’s direction.

The thing is, Charlie’s never really been stressed before – not properly, sweatily, heartpumpingly, stressed – and with everything going on at home, plus all the normal worries at school, he’s starting to panic. And this is bad, because Charlie’s just learnt that when he gets properly, sweatily, heartpumpingly, stressed, he turns in to an animal, all sorts of animals. A flea. A pigeon. A rhino. Who knows what’s next?

The school play is only a couple of weeks away, and Charlie is starting to worry. What if he transforms in front of the whole school, while he’s on stage playing Sad Potato Number 1? What if he turns into a naked mole rat or a John Dory in front of everyone he knows, with the spotlight on him? Will he get sent away for Science to deal with? Will his parents crack up with all the extra stress? Will everyone know he’s a freak?

With the help of his three best friends, Charlie needs to find a way to deal with his extraordinary new talent. And fast.

With its eye-catching bright gold cover, zany illustrations and informative footnotes that add extra information about the story without intruding into it, this one will be a winner with independent readers looking for the fun in stories.  They can learn more about Charlie’s friends, who are introduced here

The new year is bringing forth a wealth of new novels and series for young independent readers who just want to curl up and read a quality story and this is one of them.  Hook your boys with this one, with at least two more to come.

The Greatest Book in the World

The Greatest Book in the World

The Greatest Book in the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Book in the World

Matt Porter

Dave Atze

Ford Street, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804157

Rudolf Wordsmith is determined to write the greatest book in the world.  But he believes that such books are always written in rhyme so he speaks directly to readers inviting them to help them complete the rhyming couplet.  Of course, he sets up the words (and Atze sets up the illustrations drawing Rudolf in humiliating predicaments,)  so that readers finish them with a rude word, and admonishing them when they do so.

While Rudolf always supplies a socially acceptable alternative, this will appeal to that particular brand of humour that all boys seem to pass through as they emerge as independent readers, and is a LOL book that will have them gathered around and enjoying that collaborative reading experience that is also essential to their reading development.

One to encourage boys to keep reading beyond the home readers…

 

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

Shari Last

DK, 2018

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

9780241347843

 

“Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into the one and only Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his special, high-flying talents. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other universes and pull different versions of Spider-Man into our world.”

This is the synopsis of the new Spider-Man movie about to be released in Australia on December 26 and so this official guide to the story and the new characters will be a must-have in any fan’s Christmas stocking.  They can discover everything they ever wanted to know about his astonishing costume, loyal allies and frightening enemies, and find out about his amazing origin story and his fiercest clashes as  he juggles high school life with his status as a Super Hero.

Written in graphic novel format crossed with the usual DK clarity for accessing information, this is the perfect way to combine what is likely to be a blockbuster movie with the power of print to provide more information, particularly as reviews from the movie suggest it is likely to be very popular these holidays.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Jeff Kinney

Puffin Books, 2018 

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143309352

Lots of kids live on Greg Hoffley’s street, but because it is partly on the flat and partly on the hill, loyalties are fiercely divided and any peace is an uneasy truce. Those on the flat think they own the street, refusing to let those from higher up play there, but then the tables are turned when it snows and those from down below want to come uphill to enjoy sledding.  “if you live on Surrey Street, you’re either a HILL kid or a NON-hill kid and there’s no switching sides.”

After a miserable week of bitterly cold days which have been a trial for Greg as he had to face walking to school while other friends’ parents drive past; indoor recesses where people sneeze their germs over him; worrying about frostbite because he is so skinny; navigating perilous footpaths and a host of other dangers that made his life more than difficult, his life is made more miserable because he’s in trouble for not digging the driveway clear, even though he did have it done but because he tried to renege on the deal he had made with some neighbourhood kids, they piled all the snow back again! So when the weekend comes and he’s looking forward to a lie-in and playing a few video games, he’s dismayed to discover that his mother decides he needs to spend the day outside being active, and even locks the door so he can’t come back inside.

And that’s when the conflict starts… but the end result is a great lesson in dealing with differences, problem solving,  strategising, co-operating, knowing when to compromise, all life skills that are so important.

Greg Hoffley has a legion of fans as his popularity grows from when we first met him more than 10 years ago  and this 13th book in the series will not only delight them but also garner him a lot more as new readers learn about this young lad who struggles to fit in with his peers in middle school (Years 5-8 in the USA) and his loyal best friend Rowley Jefferson.  With their first-person narrative that echoes the voice and thoughts of so many boys like Greg, their cartoon drawings and humour, this addition to the series is available in paperback, hardback, audio book and ebook so regardless of the format that most appeals to a young reader, they can access it.  

This is one of those books that even reluctant readers will want to have because to be talking about it will mean being part of the “in-crowd”, important for those who otherwise struggle to belong.

 

 

 

The Awesome Book of Space

The Awesome Book of Space

The Awesome Book of Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Awesome Book of Space

Adam Frost

Bloomsbury, 2018 

112pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408896501

Did you know that if you were an ancient Egyptian then your understanding of the sun’s journey across the sky would focus on a giant dung beetle called  Khepri who dug the sun out of the underworld in the East at dawn, rolled it across the sky and then pushed it back into the underworld in the evening? But if you were an Aztec you would know that there had been four suns before this one, which is called Tonatiuh, and without human sacrifices, it would refuse to move across the sky and all the crops would fail.

On the other hand, did you know that just one space suit (used on the ISS only about 25 times each) costs 40 times more than the top-of-the-line Rolls Royce car; or what would happen if you fell into a black hole?

These are the sorts of things covered in this intriguing book about space that is perfect for young readers who like to dig and delve and have their information presented in a graphic format rather than lots of text making it  accessible to readers at all levels of development.  Ranging across the sort of subjects that young readers like to ask questions about or surprise their parents with at the dinner table, this book answers questions like 

  • How many pairs of pants you’d need to pack to live in a space station for a year?
  • What the weather is like on Neptune?
  • How many tonnes of litter humans have left on the moon?

Written in the conversational tone of Splat the Fake Fact, young readers are invited to guess or research the answers to some of the articles such as which of a range of creatures has not made it into space, so that it becomes an interactive experience rather than just a passive reading one.  And with the range of topics covered, it offers a taster for everyone providing the boost to do some further research if the imagination is gripped, not just about space itself but also physics, geology, and a host of STEM topics. Just how many explanations did earlier civilisations have for the sun’s journey across the sky and how do they compare with what we know to be the case now that science has solved its mystery? 

Not only would this be a valuable addition to a library collection to inspire space enthusiasts, but it’s also the right size and price for popping in the Christmas stocking.   

 

Elbow Grease

Elbow Grease

Elbow Grease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elbow Grease

John Cena

Howard McWilliam

Puffin Books, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143794400

Elbow Grease is the smallest monster truck in the Demolition Derby. Even though his brothers Tank, Flash, Pinball and Crash were tougher, faster, smarter and braver, they didn’t intimidate him nor deter him from racing.  Even the fact that he was different because he ran on an lithium-ion battery and needed to be recharged every night did not stop him believing in himself and his ability to keep up with his brothers.  Because Elbow Grease had gumption, that mixture of strong will and determination to keep on going even when it seemed all was lost.

When Mel the mechanic puts a large poster of a monster truck Grand Prix on the wall, Elbow Grease is determined to compete, regardless of the derision of his brothers.  He drove to the Grand Prix by himself, snuck in behind all the others at the starting line and off he went.  It soon became obvious that the other trucks had more experience and better technique but Elbow Grease refused to give up. On an on he went until it started to pour and his battery went completely flat…

Inspired by growing up with four older brothers, John Cena has captured the spirit of determination that younger siblings so often have as they strive to keep up, and has created a powerful story about trying new things, resilience, facing fears and obstacles, and doing everything you can to keep going.  It’s a lesson in “Of at first you don’t succeed….” 

Told with a bare narrative with all the speech in speech bubbles, sometimes the message is less than subtle, but young readers will delight in the bright, bold illustrations that carry the expression and the humour.  Some who are familiar with WWE competitors might even recognise Cena from that field and be inspired because of that.  In an interview, Cena said, “With ‘Elbow Grease’ and the books to follow, I want to offer kids a fun and engaging way to learn about the power of ambition, dedication, and heart. These concepts have been transformative in my life, from my childhood up to now, and it’s so important to me to pass the positivity on and help our youngest generation see that right mindset is key to achievement,”

Monster trucks appeal to so many little boys that even if they don’t absorb Cena’s message at first, at least they will continue to discover the joy of reading as they find books about the topics that interest them. 

The Brave Knight

The Brave Knight

The Brave Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave Knight

Sally Gould

Celeste Hulme

New Frontier, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

978192559419

High in his treehouse, the handsome, brave knight stands guard over his lands – his backyard.  With his long, sharp sword and shiny, strong armour, he guards his castle against enemy knights, and when they arrive he tricks them, making them pay gold for knowledge of the secret entrance, eventually imprisoning them…

This is a charming story that will delight all those little lads who like to dream of being a knight in shining armour.  There are even instructions for making a sword so they too can be the guardians of their realm.

 

The Football Book – Post World Cup Edition

The Football Book - Post World Cup Edition

The Football Book – Post World Cup Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Football Book – Post World Cup Edition

David Goldblatt & Johnny Acton

DK, 2018

400pp., hbk., RRP $39.99

9780241332856

With the northern hemisphere competitions gathering momentum, and the Australian A-League beginning and garnering more attention because of Usain Bolt’s participation, this book about the most popular sport in the world written to include the latest information from the 2018 FIFA World Cup is likely to become a much-loved, much-discussed addition to your collection as your young soccer fans pore over it. 

Beginning with a section on the origins of football which go back into ancient times and how it is now a global sport – about 250 million people play it regularly and if footballers were a nation, it would be the 4th most populous on Earth – it continues with comprehensive chapters about how the game is played; teamwork; the individual skills and how to master them; and then individual guides to the various nations who play; the World Cup and world records. There is an outline of Australia’s national achievements, each team in the A-league and even names those players who were eligible to play for Australia but who chose other teams instead. It really is 400 pages crammed with information for both the novice and the aficionado, regardless of which side of the boundary line you are on. 

However, while the Women’s World Cup has its own double spread, the book’s focus is predominantly on the male game with even the gender-neutral sections like How the Game is Played featuring male characters and champions.  

With illustrations, maps, charts, diagrams and easily readable text, this is one that will be a communal read in the library, turning reluctant readers into real readers, as well as one that will fit snugly into a Christmas stocking.