The Goblins’ Revenge

The Goblins' Revenge

The Goblins’ Revenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goblins’ Revenge

Andy Prentice

Tom Knight

Usborne, 2024

288pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781803706467

For 93 years the land of Sibele has been ruled by the evil wizard Darkmoon, and now he is hunting down the last few rebels who dare to oppose him, and the only one who can save them and end his reign is the reader. With a horde of undead warriors on the trail and a series of blood-curdling dangers ahead , it would be a terrifying task for anyone – but you’re just a goblin, which makes things even more challenging. Confronted by menacing monsters, ghostly magic and a thrilling race against time in this spectacular fantasy adventure gamebook, the reader becomes the hero whose decisions and choices determine the outcome.  

Decades ago the choose-your-own adventure genre hit the shelves and were an instant success with those who like to insert and immerse themselves in the stories, and this 21st century version combines that genre with the gaming craze, combining three loves of the current generation – video games, fantasy and a story in print which becomes a new adventure with every choice made. 

It begins with instructions on how to play complete with items, weapons and abilities, a logbook to keep track of the relevant details of the quest as  well as all the other things needed to play a game and complete a quest in this modern era.  There are crucial picture puzzles to solve along the way, and although a computer is not needed to play, there are links to an online dice roller if physical dice (needed to play the combat system) aren’t available as well as a printable logbook.

I am the first to admit that this is not my sort of game and my granddaughters gave up in frustration as they tried to teach me some of theirs, but nevertheless, this seems to be something that teacher librarians should be aware of so they can capture the imagination and minds of those engaged by this sort of activity, thus demonstrating that the library has resources that are relevant to them. In fact, while the publisher suggests this is suitable for 9+, it could be one to give to your gamers for feedback on suitability both for reading /comprehension age as well as future releases in the series.  

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Coral Vass

Heidi Cooper-Smith

Wombat Books, 2024

80pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781761111266

Amanda Caomhánach (aka Amanda Commander)  is nearly nine and likes nothing more than hanging out with her two best friends Lucia Cazzoli (aka Rainbow Fudge) and Mai Le (aka Plum Flower). Together they make up the Dolphin Squad meeting at their beachside HQ and solving problems like why Amanda didn’t receive an invitation to Eve’s birthday, the only one in the class not to have one.

This time, Amanda has a tough time fitting back into the friendship groups at school after having a sick day, and so, when Eve has several days off, Amanda is determined she will not face the dame issues, even if it means she, herself, is excluded.

This is the fourth in this series for the newly independent reader, particularly girls, which focuses on the sorts of issues that eight and nine year olds face as they navigate the world of greater independence and making and maintaining friendships. Thus, it will resonate with many who will see themselves in the stories, and start to think about what they might do in the same circumstances.  If someone returns to school after an absence or is new to the school, how will they respond so the transition is smooth and welcoming.

Using all the textual devices that support those making the transition to novels, this is a series that will be a sound stepping stone.  

Inside Story – Creative Writing for Students

Inside Story – Creative Writing for Students

Inside Story – Creative Writing for Students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Story – Creative Writing for Students

Sue Lawson & Jodi Toering

Guy Holt

Wild Dog Books, 2024

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

9781742036670

Whether our students know it as “written expression”. “composition”, “exposition”, “essay”. “creative writing” or any of the other terms story-writing has been tagged over the generations, the first thing that they ask a published author is, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

And whether it’s a set topic with perfect spelling and grammar expected from the get-go, or the free-range experience of ideas first, editing later promulgated by the likes of Donald Graves and Lucy M. Calkins,  there are those who love to write and do it well, and those who struggle and find it a chore.  Whether the focus is product or process, there will be teachers who find this a tricky topic to teach and students who find it hard to achieve – just as those who find music, maths or any other subject tough going. Nevertheless, there is an expectation by society that students will be competent readers and writers having passed through the school process, being able to express themselves well verbally and in writing so others can understand their meaning and intent and so we must do what we can, AI, Chat GPT and text-speak notwithstanding.

So this easy-to read practical guide will be a boon to both teachers and students, because, regardless of any external aids that might be imposing all sorts of new considerations, those aids cannot edit or alter or improve a blank page.  But where to start to make those first marks on the page, whether they be with a pencil on a scrap of paper or keystrokes on a computer screen?  One of the first things the authors say is that you DON’T have to start at the beginning – either the beginning of the story of even the beginning of the book. If characters interest you, then look at the section that helps you develop credible characters that the reader cares enough about to want to find out what happens to them; if visualising and description is your thing, then start there… Thankfully, through the teaching of Graves et al., writing is seen as a process of refinement over time (unless you are sitting a standardised test where you have to get it right first go or else) and so this little handbook offers ideas and tips for getting started and keeping going, particularly for those whose imaginations might need a kickstart. 

In a nutshell a story has a complication and a resolution – a problem and a solution, made more interesting by the impact they have on those experiencing them,  and there are suggestions for story starters, ideas for creating the characters  who will be participating (even how to name them appropriately), tips for setting the scene – all the elements that complete and engaging story and all written in a style and language that directly addresses the reader so they are itching to get started, whether as teacher or writer. IMO, just acknowledging that we each have a different way of getting started is critical – some prefer to start with the end in mind and work back; others prefer to have the ‘what-if’ identified and work outwards; others  (like me) prefer to have the opening sentence set in place and flow from there.  There is no one way and no right way. 

Next to my storybook cushions, my author kits with engaging covers and basic tools of the trade are the biggest sellers on my little market stall as budding authors pester parents to purchase one, and apart from hearing, “My child loves to read”, hearing “my child loves to write” gives me the biggest tingle.

So if you have a child who loves to write or are a teacher who is not sure where to start to enthuse students, this little book is for you. 

 

How to Find a Rainbow

How to Find a Rainbow

How to Find a Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find a Rainbow

Alom Shaha

Sarthak Sinha

Scribble, 2024

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

9781761380372

Reena and Rekha may be sisters, but when it comes to the weather, they couldn’t be more different.  Reena hates rainy days because she sees them as grey and gloomy, depriving her of being outside painting all the bright and beautiful things.  Whereas Rekha loves the smell of wet earth and the solitude of being outside when everyone else is in.

As she splashes in the puddles she sees a rainbow, and knows immediately that it is something Reena will want to see.  But by the time Reena joins her, the rainbow has disappeared.  Where can it be?  Will they find it again?

There is a saying, “Without rain, there can be no rainbows”, and this charming story can be read on two levels – that of two sisters in search of a physical rainbow and that of emerging from a gloomy emotional episode and beginning to find joy again.  It offers scope for investigating the science of rainbows (as well as instructions for creating one) , but also helps young readers understand that even if siblings or friends don’t like the same things, there are still ways to come together.  With much of the story carried in the dialogue which is assigned directly to each character, and an original style of artwork, this is a story of two red pandas that offers much to young readers learning to explore the world around them so that they will be looking forward to the next rainy day to explore for themselves. You could even teach them the word “petrichor” which is the grown-up word for the smell of dry earth as rain hits it, and watch them impress others with their knowledge! 

Sensational Australian Animals

Sensational Australian Animals

Sensational Australian Animals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensational Australian Animals

Stephanie Owen Reeder

Cher Hart

CSIRO Publishing, 2024

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781486316908

These days, when we read the word “sensational” we usually take it to mean “causing great public interest and excitement” but if we take it back to its original meaning of “relating to sensation or the senses” then we arrive at the core of this new, unique offering from CSIRO Publishing and Stephanie Owen Reeder.

For this is not just another book about Australian animals to join those already in the 590s section of your collection. Reeder begins by asking which sensations we associate with Australia – the sight of a flock of galahs, the sound of shrieking cicadas on a summer afternoon, the smell of koala pee raining down from a eucalyptus tree? Or perhaps the taste of prawns on the barbecue or the feel of a mosquito sucking your blood? By using our senses we navigate and make sense of the world around us, and so too do those creatures with which we share the landscape and environment.

And so it is through each of the senses that the reader learns about these creatures with the book divided into sections captioned The eyes have it, Did you hear that, Follow your nose, That’s tasty! and What a feeling. Each section begins with a diagram and brief explanation of how the human version of the organ works, and then explores how various creatures use their senses to navigate, survive and thrive in the natural world, including the super-senses like echolocation and electroreception.  From the large and common to the tiny and uncommon, hundreds of creatures have their secrets exposed in short paragraphs accompanied by detailed illustrations.  While the text is accessible to the independent reader, Reeder respects their intelligence by using or introducing the more sophisticated terms such as “otoliths” and “salivary glands” with each printed in bold type to indicate that it is explained in a glossary at the end.

A dip-and-delve book that will keep the budding naturalist intrigued for hours, this is most definitely one to add to the collection. 

Night Watch

Night Watch

Night Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Watch

Jodi Todering

Tannya Harricks

Walker Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781760655310

As Sun’s final flames linger in the sky and Dusk whispers, Tawny Frogmouth wakens and with a drumming noise, calls Moon over the horizon because together they have a journey to make.  It is time for the Night Watch.

And so, over Australia’s vast and diverse landscapes they travel, bidding goodnight to her many creatures with their babies as they settle down…

Over the years I have read and reviewed many books focusing on Australia’s unique wildlife, each special in its own way, but this lyrical, lullaby-like tale is outstanding. With its bold, oil painting illustrations that echo not only the deepening and then lightening of the night but also the strength that is required to thrive in the landscape, the  reader is taken on the same journey as Moon and Tawny Frogmouth with the words calming and gentling as both reader and those in the book settle down to sleep. It reinforces the notion that even though it might be dark, nevertheless someone or something is looking over the sleeper and dawn will come to begin another day, and with all being well, Tawny Frogmouth’ work is done for the night..

Loved it and if ever there were a must-have book to share at a baby book shower to start the little one on their 1000 books before big school,  this is it.  Timeless and one to pass on and on and on… 

 

When The Fog Rolls In

When The Fog Rolls In

When The Fog Rolls In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Fog Rolls In

Pam Fong

Greenwillow, 2024

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

9780063136540

On a clear day, when the sea and the horizon stretch endlessly around, the flock of puffins takes flight from their rocky island home – except for one, who is a little tentative and anxious.  But, when he has the courage to follow his mates, the fog rolls in and things become murkier and murkier until it is so thick, he stumbles and can’t find his way forward.  Perhaps it would be safer to stay just where he is, but when a walrus looms in front of him, he realises that that can be dangerous.  And so, he summons his brave that let him leave his home in the first place, and goes forward learning that “the closer you get, the more you see. And the more you see, the clearer the path becomes.” And eventually, the fog lifts and the world and the horizons spread in front of you again.

On the surface this is a story about a little puffin separated from his flack, lost, afraid and bewildered until he finds them again, but it has been deliberately written as an allegory for helping young ones navigate uncertainty, open their minds and finding their way back to a place of safety and certainty. It helps them understand that, at times, we all face feeling lost and unsure, having to make decisions and having faith that what we decide will lead us to clarity.  

While there are lots of stories that celebrate being happy and positive, and others that deal with anger and sadness, there are few that confront confusion and uneasiness in such a way that makes it easy to start conversations and explore those emotions so that the child not only understands that there can be a pathway through without becoming too anxious, but others feel the same way at times.

An exceptional addition to your mindfulness collection for little ones, while useful for teaching older students about allegories and learning to read between and beyond the lines to what the author is really saying – an essential skill in being a critical reader.   

Leif the Unlucky Viking: Saga of the Shooting Star

Leif the Unlucky Viking

Leif the Unlucky Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leif the Unlucky Viking: Saga of the Shooting Star

Gary Northfield

Walker Books, 2023

320pp., pbk., ill., RRP $A17.99

9781406383416

Leif the wolf cub dreams of being a Viking explorer just like his dad, Erik the Red, but it’s tricky when you are smaller than most, clumsy and falls over his own paws a lot, and regularly split your pants. But he is an embarrassment to his family, hidden away when this father’s exploits are celebrated and almost despised by his older sister Freydis because regardless of his shortcomings, he is the heir to the throne of his father.

But he is undeterred by his misfortunes, and determined to prove his worth, he embarks on a secret mission to locate a missing shard from Thor’s hammer, the weapon of the Norse god of Thunder, which has landed far away in polar bear territory.  Armed with a map of the route and a magic cloak given to him by Thorbjorg the Witch, who believes he is destined for greatness, he sets off on his quest, accompanied by fellow adventurers Olaf the cranky duck, Toki the silly puffin and Flora the stinky musk ox. As they attempt to navigate across vast, dangerous lands, they must contend with hungry giants, fearsome polar bears and a sea beast as old as the gods themselves.

A step up from Murray the Viking in complexity, this would be an ideal next read for those emerging independent readers who love adventure, wacky characters and historical fiction, particularly the time of the Vikings.  With humour and the sort of craziness that many kids adore, this is original, engaging and something different to underline the value of determination, perseverance and not giving up. It introduces readers to some of the magical Norse mythology on which so many stories are based that may take their reading interests into new realms, but, above all, it is just a thoroughly good read. 

Murray the Viking

Murray the Viking

Murray the Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murray the Viking

Adam Stower

HarperCollins, 2024

192pp., pbk., ill., RRP $A11.99

9780008561253

Murray the cat enjoys living the good life with Fumblethumb the wizard, a life made even better when Fumblethumb accidentally turns one of Murray’s favourite buns into a bunny, complete with a cherry for a tail.  But when he messes up again and turns the cat flap into a gateway to adventure, instead of just the garden, then the fun really starts…

In this new series for newly independent readers consolidating their skills, the cat flap takes Murray and Bun back to the times of the Vikings.  where they are given an important mission  to travel to Troll Island to rescue Eggrik the Viking… if he hasn’t already been gobbled up by the trolls, that is. 

Simple text,  humour and full of illustrations that carry the story along at a rapid pace, this is a great stepping stone between everyday readers and novels that will have wide appeal because of its outlandish characters and original adventures, as well as introducing them to historical fiction, perhaps sparking an interest in the time period.  Something new to offer those moving forward on their reading journey as they go through their own cat flap of adventure to the world of stories.

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Rabbits

Larissa Ferenchuk

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2024

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

9781922539656

On a dark rainy night, in a cold wet field, Little Grey Rabbit and Little Brown Rabbit had an argument, their words carried away on the wind. And as you do when you have had an argument, each stormed off – Little Grey Rabbit into the street towards her home, and Little Brown Rabbit into the lane towards hers… Will they be able to come back together and find a way to save their friendship?

Using a clever textual technique where the actions and thoughts of each are mirrored in the text, this is a charming story for little ones who are still feeling their way with forming friendships beyond the family and learning that you can still be friends even if you disagree on some things.  Yes, there is anger and sadness and even loneliness, but these become reasons to mend the friendship rather than destroying it.  Apologising is being smart and grown up, not a weakness, and with the reason for the original argument not disclosed, the focus is on those feelings and the coming together again.  

The endpapers are interesting – see if the child can spot the difference – and they will have fun spotting places and tracing journeys of the map.  

One that is perfect to add to the collection exploring how to make and maintain friendships, particularly in those early months of school.