Unicorns are Cressida Jenkins’s favourite thing so when she meets one in the woods behind her house, one who needs her help and invites her to the Rainbow Realm, her greatest wish comes true.
In Sunbeam’s Shine a blundering wizard-lizard casts a spell that accidentally robs Princess Sunbeam of her magic yellow sapphire. Without it, she loses her powers–the ability to create light and heat. The only way to reverse the spell is for a human girl who believes in unicorns to find the yellow sapphire and reunite Sunbeam with her gemstone. Sunbeam ventures into the human world and enlists Cressida’s help.
In Flash’s Dash, the annual Thunder Dash is approaching, and Princess Flash has opened the race to non-unicorns for the first time ever! Cressida is the first human girl invited to participate, but Ernest the wizard-lizard accidentally casts a spell that covers the race track in sticky, pink goo!
Is Cressida able to help her new friends out?
Judging by requests by students and parents in forums I belong to, unicorns are the in thing of young girls and so a new series about them will be very popular, particularly one that is designed to be read independently by emerging readers or read aloud to those not quite there yet. Illustrated and with a heroine who probably personifies the inner wishes of the reader to have their own special unicorn, it is a light read that encourages them to find the magic in stories and they will be looking for the next additions to the series.
If I were asked to name one of the most popular series for newly independent readers that has endured over my time as both a teacher and a teacher librarian, I would undoubtedly answer, “Tashi” and now it is time for another wave of emerging, newly-independent readers to get to know this magical little fellow who has such big adventures.
This special selection of stories includes Tashi and the Baba Yaga, Tashi and the Genie, Tashi and the Big Stinker, Tashi and the Haunted House, The Book of Spells, The Three Tasks, Tashi and the Phoenix and a brand new story Kidnapped! Tashi, the imaginary friend of Jack, is a delightful little character who is so clever, resourceful and brave as he confronts fearsome opponents set on destroying his village and his peace, often having an ethical dilemma to come to grips with as he seeks a solution.
Not only is he a lovable character, the short stories and the amazing monochrome illustrations that break up the text are perfect for starting newly-independent readers off on their journey through novels giving them the confidence and satisfaction of reading a “chapter book” for themselves. Tashi and his adventures have been the springboard for many a young reader over many years and this new selection will no doubt encourage many more.
Every Saturday, with a hop, a skip, and a magical twirl, Mia, Emma and Grace (with a little help from Mia’s dachshund, Coco) put on their dancing shoes and turn into Fairy Dancers. First introduced in 2015 with The Fairy Dancers, this is the second volume which brings the three friends together in three stories perfect for young readers and aspiring ballerinas.
Starting with a sleepover at Miss Ashleigh’s house where Emma is concerned about sleeping away from home; then a story where the girls have to dance with boys; and finally an adventure with Santa, this is a great way to build the bridge into reading longer “chapter books” independently. Each story is short and complete in its own right and there are plenty of gentle illustrations that both illuminate and break up the text .
One for the budding ballerinas and perfect to pop in the Christmas stocking.
Sage Cookson is a ten-year-old whose parents, Ginger and Basil, travel Australia and the world, and lucky Sally gets to go with them. While they are sampling the food, learning new cooking techniques and then sharing their new knowledge with their massive television audience through their show The Cookson’s Cook On, Sage has a lifestyle that others might envy.
In this latest episode, Sage is confronted by a school assignment which many children dread – having to prepare and present a three-minute speech to her classmates. She fears all the things that many do – forgetting the words, being laughed at, being boring – and even the comforting words of her best friend Lucy don’t reassure her. Nevertheless she perseveres amidst all the excitement of the launch of her mother’s first cookbook at the Sydney Opera House, helped enormously by Tori who has flown in from Singapore to give her own speech at the occasion. But when traffic delays everyone except Sage and her mum, Sage finds herself volunteering to do the opening speech … is this the silliest decision she has made?
This new series for newly independent younger readers combines the author’s love of television cooking shows and mysteries, so that in each new addition something goes wrong and Sage has to solve the problem. Sage is going to appeal to a range of young readers who will be able to follow her adventures and then visit her website for more fun, as well as trying out the delicious cupcake recipe included.
Inspired by their favourite television character Fred Fantastic, Ace Detective, Dotty and her best friend Beans have formed the Join The Dots Detective Agency. They have special badges that they wear underneath their coat collars so they don’t blow their cover and are ably assisted by Dotty’s dog McClusky to solve mysteries that seem to occur.
Guided by Fred Fantastic’s tenets of
Stay Frosty. Always be on the lookout
Follow That Hunch. If you’ve got a funny feeling you may be onto something important
Use Your Noodle. Think
A Light Bulb Moment. A sudden genius idea
Get Proof. You must have the evidence before you can solve your case
Jeepers Creepers Use your Peepers
in this episode they set out to solve the strange noises that Dotty hears in her hallway at night. When she opens her door and can’t see anything she is almost convinced to believe in ghosts and that her house is haunted. But by using the clues, conveyed through secret notes written in invisible writing, they are able to identify what is really going on…
This is a new series that is perfect for the newly independent reader with its layout, illustrations, larger font, shorter chapters and humour. The pace is rapid and the use of a variety of fonts highlights key ideas and actions without the need for a host of words. Girls will relate to her feisty nature but boys will also find the situations familiar and appealing. Others in the series are Dotty Detective, The Midnight Mystery, andThe Lost Puppy.
A worthwhile new series to get for those who are beginning their independent reading journey.
Decades ago DK Publishing revolutionised the presentation of non fiction to young readers with bright photographs, information in manageable, well-labelled chunks and the clever use of white space so that the reader was not overwhelmed. Their Eyewitness series became a staple of primary school library collections. Now they have a launched a new series for the younger reader, using their familiar format but adding many more features so the newly independent reader can access information at their level.
Beginning with a durable paperback cover which folds out to be a quiz with answers and essential information relevant to the topic such as areas of study, a timeline or a phylogenetic tree, it then offers a page where the reader can jot down the things they have already identified that they want to find out thus supporting the inquiry method of investigation from the get-go. Then, as is customary with DK books, there are the usual contents, glossary and index pages which encourage and enable young readers to use the clues to get to what they want and in between are double-page spreads of basic information and glossy photographs and diagrams, all clearly labelled. So as well as being an ideal way of exploring print to find information they also serve as a model for students to present their findings if their searches have been assignment based rather than just curiosity.
To top it there is an easy-to-navigate website that offers more information and activities as well as support for teachers and parents. Like the books it is also a teaching tool for helping young children learn to use a website for information, one designed for their level and more authoritative and targeted than Wikipedia.
Despite the misguided opinion of some, there is a lot of research and reasons that primary school libraries, particularly, need to have a robust, attractive, up-to-date non fiction collection and this new series demonstrates the value of not only catering to those who prefer to read non fiction but also those wanting to find out more NOW! As well, the series is attractively priced so that parents can purchase individual volumes to accompany particular interests or investigations that their child is pursuing.
Miss 6 is fascinated with the human body and snaffled my review copy as soon as she saw it, not only asking and answering questions for herself but also learning vital lessons about using such resources. Now she is exploring those for information as often as those for her imagination. It won’t be hard to fill her Christmas stocking!
Usborne have added another volume to their stable of illustrated collections that bring us the tales, stories, myths and legends that have been shared with and enjoyed by children throughout the generations. This collection includes The Secret Garden, The Railway Children, The Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty, Little Women and Heidi, all based on the original stories and beautifully illustrated to entice the young reader ready to take their reading in a new direction.
There are some stories that have endured over time for very good reasons and this collection is one that celebrates some of those that continue to be published in full so many years later. They are the sorts of stories that grandparents and even great-grandparents remember fondly and love to give so these abridged versions are the perfect introduction to the longer, original stories. Apart from just being a good read, they give 21st century children a glimpse into the lives of children of the past to a time when life wasn’t dominated by screens and technology. Who wouldn’t be tempted to explore the mysteries of Misselthwaite Manor, wander down the yellow brick road or be afraid of going from luxury to poverty overnight?
As well as being an essential addition to the collection, this could be one to flag in your suggestions for Christmas purchases for parents!
Chook is not his real name – that’s Simon – but he’s earned his nickname because he is anxious and scared about many things, even everyday encounters, and “chook” is another word for chicken. Let’s Do Diwali, Up and Away, On the Road and Unhappy Camper are the latest releases in this series especially designed for the young reader making the transition from basal reader to novels.
In each story, Chook faces a situation that scares him such as working with new people, speaking in public, being in a crowd, playing with strangers, sleeping away from home and he has to draw on his inner reserves to deal with each one. Often circumstances are that he becomes involved in events and doesn’t realise that he has overcome his fear and come out the other side until it is all over, each time gaining a little more confidence. All the issues he faces are those that will be familiar to the young reader so they can draw strength and confidence from Chook’s success.
Short chapters, large font and plenty of illustrations support the newly emerging reader and with such relevant topics told well this is a perfect series to entice even the reluctant reader into more challenging books and show them that this reading thing actually has something to offer them and they can be successful at it.
Guide Dogs Australia provide essential services to those with vision impairment as well as those who suffer other conditions through their Pets as Therapy program, relieve the isolation and loneliness of the elderly through Companion Dogs and are piloting Autism Assistance dogs for children so this new series which highlights the training of these dogs as well as helping to raise funds for that training is as much a community service as it is a really good read for those newly independent readers.
Each book focuses on the children in different families helping to train the dogs for their special jobs, taking on the responsibility of all aspects of what is involved, providing an engaging story as well as guidance for how the reader might train their own four-legged, tail-wagging friend. They also shed some insight into how life can be for those whose vision is impaired and the impact having some of the stress removed can have, maybe even encouraging them to become puppy-raisers themselves. So many refuse to do it because of the heartbreak of having to part with the dog, but there’s a lesson to be learned in suffering a little to give someone else so much.
2017 celebrates 60 years since Guide Dogs Australia placed the first dog and April 26 is International Guide Dogs Day. The purchase of each book supports their work so that even more puppies can bring help and joy to others. But apart from that, each story is a good read and Miss Dog-Loving 6 who is on the cusp of being ready to read chapter books independently is going to love them. They will give her that little push she needs to make the leap!
This is a new series featuring Ginger Green, a lovable little fox, who likes to dance, do gymnastics, dress up and make-believe. But even more importantly she likes to play with her friends and has lots of playdates, each of which brings a new challenge to negotiate and resolve. Friends who won’t share, friends who prefer her sister, friends who like to do different things, friends who are naughty… each one requires tact and thoughtfulness so it ends in a win-win situation.
Written for emerging independent readers with short chapters, large font and charming illustrations, this is a great series for those just growing into the realm of developing friendships beyond the influence of parents and having to work through the minefield of egos, wants, needs and expectations. Using settings and situations that will be familiar to the audience, the stories provide suggestions for how to handle challenges that the reader will inevitably face without having to rely on parental help, helping build empathy, resilience and compassion.