Archive | October 2015

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight









Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

Tony DiTerlizzi

Ralph McQuarrie

Egmont UK, 2015

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.95


This is the story of Luke Skywalker’s journey from farm boy on Tatooine to Jedi Knight told in the words of award-winning author Tony DiTerlizzi and matched with the remarkable paintings of Ralph McQuarrie, the concept artist behind the series that has captivated generations since its first release in May, 1977.

There are those so much more able than I to review this new book from this iconic series, many of whom are in or near their 40s and are still devoted fans of the series that was an integral part of their childhood lives and remains a cultural phenomenon still sought after by the young students I teach today.  So I will just use the words of the foreword by the author…

“It may be difficult to imagine, but there was a time when Star Wars was not a part of our popular culture.  Long before the toys, books and lunch boxes, and even before the first feature film flickered on a movie screen, Star Wars existed in the imagination of only one man: George Lucas. Working from Lucas’s various screenplay drafts and through a creative collaboration with the writer-director, visionary artist Ralph McQuarrie realised a universe filled with unlikely heroes, sinister villains and otherworldly vistas.

Rendered in his muted palette and streamlined style, McQuarrie’s gouache concept paintings depict what are now some of the most iconic moments in the original Star Wars trilogy… Though Star Wars is a major film franchise, its genesis was told with words and pictures, so it is with great pride that I return this epic battle of good versus evil to its original form.”

I could get myself massive brownie points with certain family and friends if I were to pass this book on to them, but given the voracity for this series amongst my young clients, I know it will be a surefire hit on the library’s shelves instead.

Dino Daddy














Mark Sperring

Sam Lloyd

Bloomsbury, 2015

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



If you’re looking for a rollicking good read that is lots of fun and has wonderful illustrations, then Dino-Daddy should be high on the list.  The third in a series which includes Dino-Mummy and Dino-Baby, Dino-Daddy is the perfect daddy making mischief and making fun. As well as the energetic pictures, the rhyming structure of the texts moves this along at a fast clip that will make everyone wish for a dino-daddy.  Perfect for very young readers and those with a fascination for dinosaurs it should be a surefire hit and a great read as part of Father’s Day celebrations.

Not Your Usual Bushrangers

Not Your Usual Bushrangers

Not Your Usual Bushrangers











Not Your Usual Bushrangers

Peter Macinnis

Echo Publishing, 2015

272pp., pbk., RRP $A34.95



Australia’s very first bushrangers did not emerge as a result of the goldrush in the 1850s, as is commonly thought.  In fact they have existed since the very earliest days of the colony when Sydney was very much an open gaol and convicts wandered through the bush – the earliest use of the term was when Lieutenants King and Dawes rowed a cutter from Port Jackson to Botany Bay to pay a friendly visit on the French who were moored there, only to find that they had been beaten by a group of convicts who had made their way overland and begged the French to give them succour.

Even though the term “bushranger” was used then in a different way it is today, this is indicative of the level of research that has gone in to the latest work from wordsmith/scientist/historian Peter Macinnis.  In this very readable book, Macinnis takes us back to the very early days of European settlement and explores this unique breed of Australians who, by 1805, had acquired the description and perception that we attribute them now – that of a “thieving scoundrel roaming the bush’. Macinnis tells the story of lesser known bushrangers like Black Caesar, the first ‘official’ bushranger and Sarah Webb, the first female.  Of course he has included the likes of Ben Hall and Ned Kelly, but it is his ability to dig deep beneath the layers and to keep digging that is the hallmark of anything by Macinnis that means as well as telling their stories, he also paints a vivid picture of life in the times demonstrating why it was almost inevitable that there would be those on the other side of the law as they fought for dignity and survival.  Life was tough, harsh and brutal with little prospect of true freedom or later, living the life of the rich and famous. Macinnis has trolled newspapers of the time, court records and a host of other documents to provide the authority and evidence required to make this compelling, credible reading.

The Australian Curriculum for Year 5 focuses on this period of Australia’s history and, in my opinion, Not Your Usual Bushrangers should be mandatory reading for all those who teach history so they can bring life at the times to life for their students and provide new information, ideas and insights into a period that has shaped so much of who we are as a nation not just then but now. 

As a disclaimer I have to say the author has been an online friend for the best part of 20 years but rather than that connection earning him a favourable review, it just gives me knowledge of the depth of his research, the stones he unturns and the cracks and crevices he delves into to make sure he can craft the best work possible.

I Want My Daddy

I Want My Daddy

I Want My Daddy










I Want My Daddy!

Tracey Corderoy

Alison Edgson

Little Tiger Press, 2015

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



Sometimes when you have a really bad day, like the days when you’re a knight and your castle falls down, you just need your daddy.  And when your daddy is a knight too and has a special pot of castle glue it’s even better.  Or when you fall off your valiant steed and hurt yourself, daddies are the best. Or there is something on the end of your fishing line and you are sure it’s a monster…

This is a charming story for the very young about that special relationship that they have with their daddies that is heart-warming and reaffirming.  Soft but bright illustrations exude love and the bond between Arthur and his daddy comes alive.  A great read-aloud to recommend to families for special times between father and child or just for reflecting on the love between them.

Izzy Folau (series)

Izzy Folau (series)

Izzy Folau (series)











Izzy Folau: Chance of a Lifetime


Izzy Folau: Reality Check


Izzy Folau: Pushed to the Limit


 Izzy Folau: Standing Tall



David Harding & Izzy Folau

Random House Australia, 2015

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

With the Super Rugby competition for 2015 decided, the Bledisloe remaining in the hands of the All Blacks and the Rugby World Cup in full swing, this new series featuring champion Israel Folau will be just what younger rugby fans will adore to read as the follow the progress of their favourite teams.

Its two stars, Daniel and Sione have both been picked for the Valley rep team to play at the State Championships.  But they couldn’t be more different with Daniel from an affluent family, attending sports-mad Barker College and having all the confidence in the world while Sione is from the other side of the tracks where his school holds a mufti day to raise the funds for him to attend the selection camp and he’s so lacking in self-confidence that he doesn’t go to school that day.  But both have been picked and are off to camp to be coached by Izzy Folau. 

As the series follows them through their training to the final match, as well as great tips about playing football there is also a strong undercurrent of sportsmanship, friendship and what it means to be a team member as well as believing in yourself, even when you’re angry and frustrated and you don’t reach the heights you were sure you could. Folau tells the boys, “I’ve changed sports a few times and every time I did there were people who weren’t happy. Without meaning to I upset fans, the media, and, worst of all, my teammates.  Each time I had to walk into a change room filled with people I didn’t know to play a game I wasn’t too sure about.  I found it hard to be happy and relaxed sometimes, but I did my best to make it work.  I trained,  I was nice to people, I was a good teammate. You know why?…If I didn’t, I might as well have gone home.  It’s the same for you guys.  If you can’t chill out, have fun and be proud of your achievements, then you might as well think about going home.”

This is a series for the young fan who is an independent reader who wishes they had the opportunities that Daniel and Sione and their teammates have.  But even if they don’t realise the dream of having Izzy Folau as their coach, there is much to learn and enjoy from this series.

Our Class Tiger

Our Class Tiger

Our Class Tiger











Our Class Tiger

Aleesah Darlison

Oxford University Press, 2014

24pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99



Class 3M has adopted a tiger cub living in a sanctuary on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Berhaga was rescued after his mother had been shot when he was just five months old and the children do all sorts of fund-raising to get the money needed to send to the World Wildlife Fund each month so he can continue to be supported until he is old enough to be transferred to a national park. 

Accompanied by stunning photographs the students of 3M explain the adoption as well as retelling the story of Berhaga’s development.  Fascinating facts about tigers are interspersed with the “speech bubble” text providing a unique insight into  one of the world’s most endangered creatures and helping the young reader understand why such magnificent animals need to be protected for the future.

Apart from its important context which fits in perfectly with a sustainability theme, it is a model of a non fiction book for young students with all the essential elements that we teach students about at that age. Features such as contents, headings, captions, a glossary and an index are all there to help students understand the cues and clues of navigating an information text.  It could also be used as inspiration for a class to write their own book providing a platform for their continued development in the information literacy process giving them both a context to put it into practice and a product to display their learning.  

Ms Darlison was awarded the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature and the inaugural Puggle Award (Children’s Choice Award) from the Wilderness Society for Our Class Tiger and it is richly deserved.

The Healthy Harvest

The Healthy Harvest

The Healthy Harvest










The Healthy Harvest

Emma Martin

Graeme Compton

Little Steps Publishing, 2014

pbk., 30pp., RRP $A14.95


Meet Harry Harvester who wants to help our very youngest readers learn about the food they buy in the shops so they can learn about the five food groups and make healthy choices and “keep sickness away.”  His friend Alfie Apple introduces fruit – where it grows,  how much we need each day and why it’s good for us – while Carly Carrot does the same for vegetables.  Charlie Cheese tells us about dairy products and Harry’s best friend Wally Wheat introduces grains and cereals.  Sammy Salmon has the big job of teaching about proteins in all their guises and finally there is Tommy Takeaway with a message about the “sometimes foods”.   

With childhood obesity on the rise and a recent survey in the ACT showing that over 80% of all food advertising aimed at children is for those “sometimes foods” the message about healthy eating has never been more important.  While it is not the children of the target age range who buy the food, they do have “pester power” so encapsulating such an important message in rhyme and with fun characters who could become household names this is an important book to have and promote both to teachers and students.  It could form the core component of a unit of work on healthy eating as well as an investigation about where our food comes from. Eggs don’t magically grow in cartons in the supermarket chilled foods section.  The final two pages show the recommended amounts of each food group each age group should have each day and many might find it interesting to keep a food diary and track just what goes into their mouths.  They may be surprised!

The author, Emma Martin, is well qualified to write this book and accompanied by charming illustrations which will appeal to the children, it is a refreshing and welcome addition to a topic that has been covered so often already.

Once I Heard a Little Wombat

Once I Heard a Little Wombat

Once I Heard a Little Wombat











Once I Heard a Little Wombat

Renée Treml

Random House, 2015

24pp., board book, RRP $A14.99



Once I heard a sugar glider bump, bump, bump

Riding gentle breezes with each jump, jump, jump.

I called to little glider, “Won’t you stay, stay, stay?’

But little glider went along her way, way, way.

Little kangaroo would love someone to play with but each of the creatures she meets is too busy to stop.  Until little wombat comes stomp, stomp, stomping along.

Based on a traditional nursery rhyme, Renée Treml, the artist behind books like Colour for Curlews and The Great Garden Mystery, has created this delightful rhyming story for the very young which has great appeal.  As well as the rhythm and the rhyme which are so important for tiny tots to hear, her scratchboard illustrations introduce a range of baby Australian animals that will become so familiar to them as they grow older.  Perfect to read to a babe in arms, it also encourages the older child to interact with the text as they scritch and scratch, growl and prowl as each new creature is introduced.

Parents of the very young would love to know about this book so they can add something new to the nightly read-along session, and parents-to-be would love to receive it as part of Baby’s first library.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Lola’s Toybox: The Patchwork Picnic

Lola's Toybox

Lola’s Toybox







Lola’s Toybox: The Patchwork Picnic

Danny Parker

Guy Shield

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015

85pp., pbk., RRP $A12.95


Lola was never allowed in the shed – it was too messy and too dangerous And it had spiders.  So when her mum decides to clean it out and invites the children to choose what they want to keep, she is amazed.  Hidden under a sheet and cover in dust she discovers a very old wooden toybox marked with the word Timberfields.  But older brother Nick also wants the box and as he comes into Lola’s room to demand it, she hides inside pulling the lid down only to find it fills with light and begins to shake.  When it stops, Lola climbs out and discovers herself on a beautiful hillside and her Buddy, her learn-to-dress clown and favourite toy who had been in the box with her can talk and, with a little practise of rusty limbs, can walk and move!

Buddy knows all about this place where the toybox (now a picnic hamper) has taken them.  “The Kingdom is where toys come when they are not being played with by their children,” he tells Lola.  “And there are lots of different lands in the kingdom.”

So begins a new series from the author of Tree and Parachute that will appeal to young girls who are making the transition from structured home readers.  In each episode, Lola and Buddy face a particular problem that has Lola having to decide the best way forward for all because as the only human, only she has the logic and emotions to seek a win-win solution.  The problems that she faces in The Kingdom reflect those that the readers may face in their own world and so as Lola works her way through them, the thoughts and skills she brings to the situation can be taken on board by the reader. The series is as much about empowering the reader to be more independent as it is to tell an engaging story. In The Patchwork Picnic Lola has to resolve a dispute at the teddy bears’ picnic between the soft toys and The Plastic Prince and his army of plastic toys who while already ruling Nevercalm are determined to take over The Kingdom. But before she is trusted she has to pass a test…. 

Described by the publisher as “imaginative fantasy”, there are three others in the series – On the Story Sea, The Treasure Trove and The Plastic Palace.  All will offer young girls a good solid read that they will enjoy.