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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.

We Eat Bananas

We Eat Bananas

We Eat Bananas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Eat Bananas

Katie Abey

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408899212

The sequel to We Wear Pants, this is as equally engaging and fun as its predecessor.  On each double spread, a clutch of creatures is eating a variety of foods like a flamingo munching on a banana and a shark slurping on fruit smoothie, each in their own unique way.  Young readers are invited to find their favourite amongst them and with interactive speech bubbles and an eccentric little monkey to look for on each page, there is much to encourage them to search for details and develop their visual acuity. 

Designed to encourage children to try new foods and have fun at the same time, parents will enjoy this as much as their children. 

 

 

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…

 

Geronimo; the penguin who thought he could fly

Geronimo

Geronimo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geronimo: the penguin who thought he could fly

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins Children’s, 2018

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

9780008279752

At the “bottomest bottom” of the world, amidst a huge colony of emperor penguins, little Geronimo is born and right from the get-go, all he wanted to do was fly! Despite his dad telling him that penguins don’t fly, Geronimo persisted in following his dream and whether it was using the icy slopes as a runway, the elephant seal’s tummy as a trampoline, or the spout from the blue whale’s blowhole as a launching pad, he was determined that he would overcome his not-made-for-flying-despite-its-wings body.  Despite the failures, Geronimo still dreamed of flying – a dream apparently shared by all penguins in their early lives.  But after a particularly devastating misadventure while trying to hitch a ride on an albatross, Geronimo has to admit that the dream was indeed, over and a single tear rolled down his face.

His father was so moved by that that he called a meeting of the whole colony and…

The theme of penguins dreaming to fly is not a new one in children’s stories but when it is in the hands of master storyteller David Walliams and the creative genius of Tony Ross the result is an hilarious adventure that will be a firm favourite with younger readers.  They will empathise with Geronimo as he tries everything to make his dream come true, and perhaps be inspired by his determination, perseverance and resilience. At the other end of the scale, older readers could identify their dreams and perhaps start investigating what it is that they need to do to make them come true while parents sharing this with their children will also want to be like Geronimo’s father, prepared to try anything and everything to help their child’s dream come true, supporting them, protecting them and helping them deal with the failures and disappointments that will inevitably befall them. 

An utterly charming book that celebrates dreams and making them happen.

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

Lauren Child

HarperCollins Children’s, 2018

208pp., hbk., RRP $A 19.99

9780008264086

“These stories are about the days when the Bobton-Trents had it cushy, very cushy indeed.”

The Bobton-Trent seniors certainly know how to make the most of their extravagant wealth – socialising, doing things, buying things and generally being more than a little bit … irresponsible…

Luckily for them, their son Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent is an exceptionally intelligent, talented and sensible child.

Unluckily for Hubert, this tends to mean that a lot of his spare time is spent steering his rather unruly set of grown-ups out of trouble. So oblivious are they, they don’t realise that their lavish lifestyle means that their money has run out. even when the Bobton-Trents and their guests sit at a bare dinner table, waiting for an hour and 22 minutes for the maid to serve them, unaware that the staff has left.  They are also unaware of their only child’s immense talents –  he phones his parents at the age of one, reads at two and-when he tumbles into the pool at age three-discovers that he is “”a natural swimmer – and when their financial situation becomes clear to him, he tries ways to raise money through schemes like hosting board game sessions and opening the mansion up for tours, but all his schemes fail because his parents just spend the proceeds. It even becomes his decision to sell the mansion and downsize to an apartment!

Lauren Child brings her unique combination of story-telling, illustration and humour to this new series of books for the newly-independent reader.  Even though the message about money not necessarily being the happiness-bringer it is reputed to be may be lost on the target audience, nevertheless young readers will delight in the outrageous lifestyle and Hubert’s constant vigilance and tactics to keep the family afloat. Those who are a little older might like to think about how income is derived and disbursed and the sorts of decisions that must be made. 

With the second episode Alien Beings due later this year, this is a series that will become very popular as the word spreads among your students. 

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

Mark Sperring

Claire Powell

HarperCollins, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780008212995

Princess Scallywag and the Queen are out on the royal yacht enjoying the fresh air when they are invaded by three stinky, sweaty, no-good pirates waving their swords and determined to take them prisoner. 

But three stinky, sweaty, no-good pirates are no match for the quick-thinking Queen and the persnickety princess, although it is touch-and-go for a while as they desperately try to save themselves from being made galley slaves, scrubbing the decks and walking the plank!

A sequel to Princess Scallywag And The Brave, Brave Knight, this is a bold adventure story for those who like their princesses feisty, clever, and subversive.

Johnny’s Beard

Johnny's Beard

Johnny’s Beard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny’s Beard

Michelle Worthington

Katrin Dreiling

Little Pink Dog Books, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95

9780648256304

Johnny was very proud of his magnificent, splendiferous, long, red beard and he spent many hours grooming it and making sure it was perfect. He washed it and combed it every day, and each day he walked over the hill and back again so he could enjoy the feeling of the cool breeze blowing through it, or it keeping him warm on cold, foggy days. 

On one cold winter morning Johnny met a twitchy little mouse on his walk and when he asked it what was wrong, the mouse told him its home was too cold and it would freeze when the snow came.  So Johnny invited the mouse to his house for the winter and soon the mouse was snuggled up in his wondrous beard.  Then he met a jittery rabbit who had the same problem so Johnny offered the same solution.  And then he met a shivering raven… and a family of hedgehogs… 

While the animals were all snug and warm, Johnny’s beard was tangled and it stabbed and pecked and tickled and poked.  What is he to do?

This is a charming, funny story that will have little ones imagining all the sorts of things that could have taken up residence in Johnny’s beard, while enjoying the descriptive language that bring both the beard and its residents to life. Katrin’s interpretation of the beard as so long and so thick and so red just adds to the appeal, setting up an opportunity for little listeners to describe the beards of those they know. 

However, it reminded me of the Edward Lear poem There was an old man with a beard and thus, a natural way to introduce little ones to his fun poetry. (He, himself, seems to have sported s splendiferous beard.)  What fun it could be to illustrate this poem as a group, or consider what Australian bird could have nested in it, while learning about rhythm as they try to fit the words in to maintain the beat. As well as learning the format of the limerick, there is also scope to explore rhyme beyond the familiar device of word families and examine all the combinations that could rhyme with beard such as feared, jeered, weird, scared, laird, paired and so on.  Young children love to explore language this way and have something interesting to contribute to the dinner-time conversation.

Given that many of his other poems, like The Owl and the Pussycat  and The Jumblies also inspire mind-pictures not only is there scope for lots of artwork but they are the perfect bridge between nursery rhymes that are familiar to the children and more ‘serious’ poetry within a natural context.    Enjoying the nuances of our language through a new medium as a natural extension of what they already know and love seems to be a win-win for me!

So what seems like just a fun story with bright pictures could lead to so much more and for that, this deserves a place in your collection and promotion to your teaching colleagues. 

Mince Spies

Mince Spies

Mince Spies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mince Spies

Mark Sperring

Sophie Corrigan

Bloomsbury, 2018 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408893463

Something or someone is destroying all the sweet Christmas treats in the supermarket and so the Mince Spies are sent on a mission to discover what is happening.  With puff pastry jet packs, shortcrust walkie-talkies and squirty whipped cream they foil the villains – with a bit of help from Santa.

This is a fun romp written in rhyme that moves along at a fast pace that little ones will like, although its outcome might be a little obscure for Australian children whose Christmas is in summer and thus whose Christmas dinner might not be laden with the winter vegetables familiar to English children. Nevertheless, something a little different from the regular Christmas story fare. 

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas

Santa's High-Tech Christmas

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa’s High-Tech Christmas

Mike Dumbleton

Angela Perrini

New Frontier, 2018 

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

9781925594270

Santa has come into the 21st century in this hilarious story-in-rhyme from Mike Dumbleton.  No more making a list and checking it twice – as the presents are loaded he scans them on his techno-pad; parking is easier in his new-look sleigh and a rocket -pack gets him into high-rise buildings so quickly.  

But things start to go wrong when he drops his techno-pad and it no longer works.  Thank goodness Jasmin is there to help and she gets it going again.  But that’s not the end of his troubles…

With today’s young Santa-believers so used to and comfortable in their world of tap-a-screen, this is the perfect book to help them keep the faith.  Just this week Miss 7 was mixing the magic with her science and told me that Santa must have turbo-boosters on his sleigh to accomplish what he does in one night, and that the front reindeer would have tiny ones in their hooves so they didn’t plummet to the ground!!!  And of course, I agreed with her.  There’s always room for old and new ideas!

One to share just for the sheer joy of it .

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.