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Leaping Lola

Leaping Lola

Leaping Lola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaping Lola

Tracey Hawkins

Anil Tortop

New Frontier, 2019 

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

9781925594591

Down in the meadow, all boggy with mud, Clarissa the cow was chewing her cud. Up on the hilltop a calf caught her eye: flouncing and bouncing, she frolicked on by. “Oh no!” cried Clarissa. “Lola, don’t prance. Jerseys are milk cows – we’re not meant to dance.”

But Lola is determined to practise her moves so she can be perfect at that evening’s ball.  Not even the fact that she is a brown cow and it is a Black and White ball deters her. She enlists the help of her friend Pearl the Pig to disguise her and with great confidence she sashays in. With the twang of the band making her wriggle and giggle,  she has the time of her life and is the belle of the ball until…

Just the mental image of a cow leaping, let alone “whoomping and boomping her beautiful hide” is enough to set up the reader for the joyous, funny story this is and it is compounded by the rollicking text – who knew there were so many ways a cow could move its body? – and the delightful illustrations that take it into the fantasy that it is.  Occasionally as you travel through the countryside, you might see young calves frolicking but the concept of a dancing cow is the antithesis of what really happens. Thus, the stage is set for a story that will engage and delight, as young readers’ toes start to twitch and they feel compelled to try out some of Lola’s moves. But there is also an underlying message about being true to yourself, following your passion and not settling for being a stereotype. Thirty-two pages of fun!

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760650810

New to the realm of supportive novels for newly independent readers is this title from graphic designer cum author Kylie Howarth. 

Using the popular superhero theme as its foundation, this is a series with a difference because as well as being entertaining, it also teaches those young readers about the ocean environment and its inhabitants.  Bodhi’s parents are right into the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and they travel the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface. But Bodhi isn’t into this world as much as they are, preferring dry land but then he discovers he has magical powers…

Each book is set in a different oceanic environment where Fish Kid befriends an amazing marine creature. As he bonds with his new animal friend, he discovers a new fish power. Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). In this, his family are in the Galapagos Islands and he finds himself stuck on the boat with the captain’s daughter Emely, who likes to play pranks on him, although the innocent looking green smoothie with its secret ingredients would make even the reader have the same reaction as Bodhi. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

Although I haven’t dived the Galapagos Islands, this book took me right back to my experiences on the Great Barrier Reef and for that, this is one destined for Miss 8 so she can share the wonder her grandmother, grandfather and father still have.  Perhaps she, too, will be tempted like Bodhi.

 

My Book (Not Yours)

My Book (Not Yours)

My Book (Not Yours)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book (Not Yours)

Ben Sanders

Lothian Children’s 2019

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

9780734419040

Lento Sloth is all set to share his book with the reader but first he needs a little nap. But as he puts his head down. Fox swings by and steals the book- “You snooze, you lose, Sloth!” Telling Lento that a book needs “a dynamic lead character, a star with style and pizzazz, a hero with wit and talent”, Fox is determined to be the star of the story.  But Lento does not give in and there follows an hilarious duel as he struggles to get his book back so he can be its star. Can he do it?

This is the first in a new series of adventures featuring Lento and Fox that is likely to appeal to young readers, particularly those who are almost independent because all the action is in the dialogue and the illustrations. However, it would also work as a read-aloud as children can use the illustrations to predict how Sloth is feeling and what he is going to do and who will be the victor. They might even investigate the characteristics of sloths to imagine just what Lento’s story might be, while examining the behaviour of fox as cunning and sly and discuss stereotyping. There are lots of subtle tweaks in the endpapers, title pages and even the cover that add to the story -something a little different from the usual, that demonstrates that print can have as much action and humour as the screen. 

Leonard Doesn’t Dance

Leonard Doesn't Dance

Leonard Doesn’t Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonard Doesn’t Dance

Frances Watts

Judy Watson

ABC Books, 2019

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

9780733333040

It’s just a week until the Big Beaky Bird Ball and Leonard would love to go but he doesn’t know how to dance!

And so he decides to ask his friends to help.  On Monday the magpies teach him how to do the warble-warble- waltz. On Tuesday the duck teach him to do-si-do and Wednesday’s lesson is how to do the caw-caw can-can with the crows.  Despondent because none of the lessons has been successful, Leonard decides he is not a dancer and refuses the offers from the rosellas, galahs and woodpeckers, hiding in his nest, ashamed. He huddles down deeper when his friends come looking for him on Sunday but when he hears them say they can’t go without him he feels even worse and agrees to go…but he won’t dance!

With stunning illustrations that take you straight to the Australian bush even though there is a range of birds from around the globe, this is a glorious story that rollicks along on the rhythm of the alliteration with a surprising and funny twist that will have the young reader’s feet tapping in anticipation.  How would they dance if what happened to Leonard happened to them? An invitation to get up and move and try all the dances for themselves!

Dance, like music, is an innate human expression and this is a celebration of that.  Everyone can dance, even those for whom movement is tricky, and Leonard shows that you just have to find out what works for you!

 

Pirate Pug

Pirate Pug

Pirate Pug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirate Pug

Laura James

Eglantine Geulemans

Bloomsbury, 2019 

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408896948

Pug and Lady Miranda are off to the seaside! Pug is dreaming of naps under the beach umbrella, but when a little mishap means he has to wear an eyepatch, things quickly get a lot less snoozy! Soon Pirate Pug and his ragtag crew of friends find themselves on the trail of buried treasure. They have to reach the island where X marks the spot before the other pirates beat them to it. There’s just one problem – Pug is scared of water!

This is the fourth adventure in this series for newly independent readers who are ready for novels, but who still need the support of illustrations, short chapters and a larger font.  Pug gets himself into all sorts of adventures, often with humorous outcomes, and young readers who like something a little wacky will enjoy both this stories and its predecessors. 

Moonfish

Moonfish

Moonfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonfish

Harry Laing

Ford Street, 2019 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781925804256

Decades of research have shown that children respond to the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of their native language as the first steps in learning to talk and later to read. The words can be utter nonsense or hold little meaning as the poems of Spike Milligan and traditional nursery rhymes have proven by their endurance because it is the cadence and expression that captures the ear.  

Thus, poems are important in children’s early literacy development and so a new book with a range of poems  that capture both the ear and the imagination is a delightful addition to this genre.  from the mysterious yumbie to the elusive moonfish to the pet flea who eats 100 meals a day (“it’s my blood but that’s okay) to the angry old lady of 93 who is on Facebook and learning karate, Laing spans the spectrum of the topics in his imagination, providing a rhythmic experience that has broad appeal and reinforces why our language should be predominantly spoken aloud. 

Featuring eye-catching and fresh art by some of Australia’s best known illustrators including Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs, Judy Watson, Marjory Gardner, Mitch Vane and Anna Pignataro, there is something in here for everyone, young and not-so-young that will create or renew the fascination with language and how we can manipulate it. 

If your students are tired of the sterilised, contrived texts that they are supposed to engage them and engender a love of reading, share these poems with them and watch the joy return. 

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats and Robbers

Russell Ayto

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408876503

While inside the house everything appeared to be as it should, outside three robbers were spying on it and making a list of things they would take once they were inside. They had dismissed the paintings, the vases, the sculptures and the sweets and their primary goal was the safe! So in they crept intent on their mission.

But they did not know they were being watched by two cats. Two cats who had their own reasons why the safe was sacred and would not be taken, and who put into place a plan to protect it.

This is a delightfully funny story that will have young readers in stitches as the slapstick comedy plays out and they want to discover who wins! The twist in the end is perfect…

Written with repetitive phrases and clever use of bold font, it is made for reading aloud with the reader using the cues to build up the tension and suspense. This is not a book that can be read in a monotone with no passion or engagement. Lots of fun and lots of scope for ideas to foil the robbers and their plans.

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Kate Gordon

Sandy Flett

Yellow Brick Books, 2019

92pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780994557094

A disaster is on the horizon! Muttonbird Bay School might be closing. 

Juno Jones loves her school, but the Men in Suits want to close it down! With three schools in the area, including a posh school and a public one near the sewerage system (known as the poo school) , and not enough children, one of the schools has to go. And, according to their principal,  there’s only only one thing Juno and her classmates can do to stop it… show they are smarter and dedicated and so they need to READ! Which is perfectly fine for people like Perfect Paloma, Smelly Bella and Genius George, but Juno Jones is a kid who doesn’t like reading. She prefers being a secret ninja, telling jokes and drawing so she strikes a deal with her teacher to write a book rather than reading one. She needs to become a Word Ninja.

And the result is this new addition to the series scene for newly independent readers for those who like something different with a quirky, feisty female lead in a setting they can relate to, but with a balance of male and female characters that means its appeal is not limited to girls. Each character has talents and skills that contribute to the development of the story, setting the series up for a whole range of new adventures.

 

 

 

Dinosaur Juniors (2) – Give Peas a Chance

Dinosaur Juniors (2) - Give Peas a Chance

Dinosaur Juniors (2) – Give Peas a Chance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Juniors (2) – Give Peas a Chance

Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins, 2019

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

9780008280635

The baby dinosaurs are having lots of fun together, but then Nancy is called in for dinner.  She’s reluctant to go because she is having so much fun but her dad insists, telling her she can play again when she shows him her clean plate.  But alongside the Dino Bites and fluffy rice, which she likes,  are peas! And Nancy doesn’t like peas – or anything green for that matter. 

But then she hatches a clever plan and it’s not too long before she is able to show her dad an empty plate.  But has she outsmarted him?

This is the second in this joyful series for preschoolers that will appeal to them because of the bright pictures, the clever rhyme and Nancy’s clever plan.  Many of them will relate to not liking green vegetables and enjoy Nancy’s subterfuge but the ending may well surprise them. 

Perfect for little ones who love dinosaurs and for encouraging the belief that reading is lots of fun. 

 

 

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.