Forgotten Fairy Tales of Brave and Brilliant Girls

Forgotten fairy tales of brave and brilliant girls

Forgotten fairy tales of brave and brilliant girls











Forgotten Fairy Tales of Brave and Brilliant Girls

Lesley Sims (editor)

Usborne, 2019

208pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Ask a young child for the title of a fairy tale and you are likely to be told Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel or Rapunzel or whatever the Disney princess-du-jour is. But in fact, there are many more fairy tales than those that were collected and written down by the great storytellers like the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen. Fairy tales were told orally for many generations before they were preserved in print, each being shared a little differently by the teller according to time, place and circumstance, but each having a fundamental truth at its core. 

For whatever reason, the tales that were collected and written share common characteristics of strong men and weak women who needed to be rescued by the male’s prowess and those in which the females were the leading protagonists were almost lost to time. The story of their discovery and recovery is almost as fascinating as the stories themselves, and shows the slowly changing attitudes towards women and their place in society. Food for discussion and debate right there!

In the meantime, this remains a collection of very readable and beautifully illustrated fairy tales that deserve to be as well-known as their more famous counterparts. Perhaps the next Disney heroine will arise from this anthology. Regardless, stories about brave and brilliant girls are always good for the soul.




Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Collection

Alice-Miranda collection

Alice-Miranda collection










Alice-Miranda 3 in 1

640pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99



Alice-Miranda Friends Forever- the official movie script

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99



Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Activity Book

16pp., pbk., RRP $A6.99


Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Journal

160pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99



Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2019

When we were first introduced to Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, a young student at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies,  nearly 10 years ago, she became an instant here for many newly-independent readers who were looking for a heroine they could relate to and her popularity has continued to grow with not only many books in the series, but diaries, journals, her own website and blog, and now a movie .  

To celebrate its release on November 14, The publishers have organised a series of events as well as the official movie script, an activity book, a journal and a compendium of the first three stories in the series.  Not only will these appeal to Alice-Miranda’s established legion of fans, it is the perfect time to reboot the series as a new generation of young readers come through.  Perfect for recommending to parents as a collection for the Christmas stocking. 

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Arabella and the Magic Pencil










Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Stephanie Ward

Shaney Hyde

Exisle, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Arabella was the only child of a duke and duchess who doted on her and enabled her to be granted one special wish each year.  So far she had wished for a pink puppy, an amusement park, even a real-life fairy.  The one thing she did NOT wish for was a baby brother but she got one anyway. And Master Archibald Vermillion Remington XV (aka Avery) was “a master of mayhem” with “ear-splitting acoustics” so that while Arabella loved him, she did not always like him.  For her next wish, she asked for a magic pencil, one that could make everything she drew real/  She had a lot of fun with it until the day she drew a magnificent garden party and Avery invited himself to it.  So Arabella pulled out her pencil and did something…

Dedicated to all those who have become an older sibling, this will resonate well as sometimes it is hard to adjust to the changes. While it might be nice to wish for things to return to what they were, if it actually happened the results might not appeal.  A modern-day cautionary tale.


Mermaid Holidays (series)

Mermaid Holidays series

Mermaid Holidays series








The Talent Show


The Magic Pearl


The Bake-Off


The Reef Rescue


Delphine Davis

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2019

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99


Sophia, Willow, Chloe and Olivia have been best friends since they were merbies. Even though they don’t go to school together, whenever they come home to Turtleville for the holidays, they are inseparable. And these school holidays, their home town Turtleville is holding its first ever talent show, and of course the mermaids have to enter.  But Sophie insists that their act has to be led by her singing, even though none of the others can sing and dislike doing so. Chloe prefers to rap, Willow plays the shell trumpet and Olivia loves to dance.  But when even Sophia’s compromise act still focuses on her singing, there is a danger of their entry being all about Sophia…

This is the first in a four-book series, each episode featuring on a different mermaid and their cast of ocean family and friends and each with underlying themes of friendship, teamwork, individuality and compassion.  Written in short, easy-to-read chapters and with lots of illustrations, it will appeal to young female readers who are transitioning to novels from their instructional readers. The second in the series, The Magic Pearl was released in July, the third,The Bake-Off in September and the fourth, The Reef Rescue will be here before Christmas, so readers don’t have to wait too long in between one story and the next. 

Mermaids, along with unicorns, are very much part of the lifestyle of young girls these days, so this is a series with characters that will appeal immediately and encourage our emerging readers to keep reading. 

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)











Unicorn Academy (series)

Julie Sykes

Lucy Truman

Nosy Crow, 2019

112pp., pbk, RRP $A12.99


Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together! That’s what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island. There are 12 books in the series  (some still to be released), the latest being Ariana And Whisper.

Written for younger independent readers, the series appeals to those for whom unicorns remain a fascination and who dream of having their own one day, a fascination that shows no signs of abating.  Such series are very popular with younger readers just starting their reading journey through novels as they associate with and invest themselves in the characters, putting themselves in their shoes and truly immersing themselves in the experiences.  They form relationships with them that mean they are eager to read and re-read each one in the series, honing their skills and understandings of reading as they do so. So this is a series that will have a strong following because it features all those characteristics that hook these emerging readers in.  Worth the investment, not just for themselves but the reading pathways  that keen readers will then follow.

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)









The Hackathon


Game On


Alex Miles

Puffin Books, 2019

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

From the Girl Geek Academy website…

What would the internet look like if there were more women building it?

  • By the age of 6, children classify jobs as male and female.
  • By the age of 8, they are limiting aspirations
  • By 13 many of them have already ruled out career options that don’t fit with gender stereotypes.
  • By ages 16-17 60% of girls aspire to stereotypically ‘female’ jobs.

So the mission of the Girl Geek Academy is to increase the number of women and girls in tech, games, making, robotics, 3D printing, aviation, drones and space by teaching one million women
to learn technology by 2025. Launched by five women with the aim of making girls in STEM and IT the norm, they are developing a series of initiatives aimed at those from five years old up to mature women, one of which is this new series of books that put geek girls in the spotlight and in charge.  They show that technology is fun and girls are awesome, with each focusing on each of the girls, Hamsa, Eve, Niki and Maggie and their particular talents – hacker, hipster or hustler. With characters that young girls such as my Miss 13 will recognise, they take everyday situations that arise in schools and show how the girls use their strengths to solve them, demonstrating that being a ‘geek girl’ is as normal as being any other sort of girl.  It’s just one part of who they are.

As well as this new series (four in the pipeline so far) there are many other programs and resources available on the academy website to support and enable the development of digital technologies in the school and across the curriculum so this is both a series and a website that could and should be promoted widely to staff and students.  So often, geeks don’t see the library as having anything for them, particularly when there is still such an emphasis on books and reading, so this is yet another way to reach out to that long tail – all those potential patrons that a library has but who don’t use the facility because they don’t believe it has anything to offer them.

Well-written, illustrated and as perfect for the newly-independent reader as it is for those whose appetite for reading is never sated, this is a series with a difference and with huge potential. 


Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch










Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Nikki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2019

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


In 2017 we were introduced to Zelda Stitch, a new character from the zany imagination of Nikki Greenberg…

“Zelda Stitch isn’t much of a witch – she’s hoping she’ll make a better primary school teacher. But if the vice principal finds out about her, her dream will go up in a puff of smoke. Keeping her magic secret isn’t the only trouble bubbling in Ms Stitch’s classroom: there’s wild-child Zinnia, lonely Eleanor, secretive Phoebe and a hairy, eight-legged visitor called Jeremy. Not to mention the nits… With NO HELP AT ALL from her disagreeable cat Barnaby, Zelda must learn to be a better teacher, a better friend and a better witch – even if that means taking broomstick lessons.”

Now, in this recently released sequel. Zelda is preparing to face term 2. With her secret exposed, she is hoping that it will be easier and has set herself some goals – 

1. Be the best teacher I can be.
2. Keep my spells to myself. 

But of course, nothing goes to plan and readers are plunged into another maze of magic, mischief and mayhem. Written in diary format with lots of illustrations for support, this is an enchanting read for the newly independent reader who is looking for some fun and fantasy.  So even though it looks thick and daunting it is actually suitable for those who are moving beyond the more traditional stepping stone novel but are not quite ready for the full-blown item.  Miss 8 will adore it and will no doubt be looking forward to Term 2’s adventures!. 

52 Mondays

52 Mondays

52 Mondays









52 Mondays

Anna Ciddor

Allen & Unwin, 2019

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Melbourne in the hot summer of February 1964 , in the hot car on the way to Nana and Zayda’s and Anna clutches the library book she can’t wait to read. It’s called Hitty: the life and adventures of a wooden doll and it not only inspired young Anna to own her own antique doll, a dream that lasts 52 Mondays, but also inspired the older Anna, the author, to tell the tale of the joys and disappointments of her real-life childhood search for the doll.

Based on her own life and following the success of The Family with Two Front Doors  which tells the story of  her own family, the Rabinovitches who “dance, laugh and cook their way through an extraordinary life in 1920s Poland”, the author takes the readeron a journey through the life and times of children growing up in 1960s Melbourne.  No computers, no Internet or social media, in many homes, not even a television set – just the day-to-day adventures of children who had to seek and make their own fun.  For those like me it is a trip down memory lane to the days of warm school milk, Mr Whippy, and desks in rows in schools, while for more modern young readers it is an insight into the lives of their grandparents -something very different to that which they know.

Whichever, it is a very readable story about a little girl with a dream, parents who understand and support it, the  highs and lows of following it, and the determination and resilience  required to achieve it. 



Dress Like a Girl

Dress Like a Girl

Dress Like a Girl









Dress Like a Girl

Patricia Toht

Lorian Tu-Dean

Harper, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Time for a sleepover and the guests have been instructed to “dress like a girl”.  But what does that mean? 

Does it really mean dresses and high heels, buttons and bows?  Or could it mean a space suit, a wetsuit, a medico’s coat or something entirely original?  

Told in rhyme the opening stanza sums up the focus and purpose of this book perfectly…

What does it mean to dress like a girl

Many will tell you in this big, wide world

that there are strict rules that must be addressed,

rules you will need when looking your best.

But when you are given these rules to obey,

the secret is heeding them-in your own way.

The strong message is that we are each individuals and we should be dressing to suit ourselves rather than what others might say about our appearance, or what “fashion” dictates or other external influences. Written for the young girl who is becoming more aware of the world around her, what others are doing and wearing and starting to shape her own tastes and preferences, this is a timely release that should spark lots of discussions not just about what is “acceptable” but also self-acceptance and the influence of peer pressure. Do “clothes maketh the man”? 

While Tu-Dean has depicted a diverse range of ethnicities and origins in the illustrations, there is a strong theme of events like slumber parties being about the friendships and fun that are common desires of everyone, rather than differences that divide or separate or having to conform to a given look to be accepted. Great for the mindfulness collection.

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up










Lola Dutch When I Grow Up

Kenneth Wright

Sarah Jane Wright

Bloomsbury USA, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Lola Dutch  is frantic because she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up and even though her sensible friend Bear thinks there is time to discuss it, Lola sees it as an emergency.  So she drags him to the den where she consults all sorts of books and decides that she wants to be on the stage and lets her imagination wander…But then she thinks she might be an inventor, or a botanist, or a high court judge or…

This is another delightful book that explores the wonderful world of Lola Dutch and her imagination, but concludes with her being happy with just who she is – for the moment at least!

Young girls will delight in seeing themselves in Lola while those who are looking for diversity in books about girls will be glad to see the various ambitions that Lola has that go beyond the traditional choices, that open up all sorts of opportunities for dreams and plans but also acknowledges that it is perfectly fine to be just who you are. No decisions have to be made right now! Great as a read-aloud or a read-alone and perfect for satisfying any curriculum outcomes about career education.