Archive | August 2017

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

Big Picture Book of General Knowledge












Big Picture Book of General Knowledge

James Maclaine

Annie Carbo

Usborne, 2017

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


Miss 6 is at that stage where she wants to know “stuff”.  Inspired by a teacher who not only encourages her endless curiosity but also being independent in her quest for answers, she is always looking through her growing collection of “fact books”.  And now she is all but an independent reader, the thrill and affirmation she gets when she can find the answers for herself delights her and inspires her even further.

So this latest offering from Usborne will be a welcome addition to her collection.  With its double-page spreads of the sorts of topics its intended audience is interested in – animals, the body, food and drink, music, space, sports and many more – each double page spread is packed with a plethora of short facts accompanied by lots of hand-drawn illustrations.  Rather than being an in-depth encyclopedia, it is designed for those who love to dip and delve into non fiction to see where what they discover will take them.  And for those whose interest is ignited Usborne have a page of quick links for them to investigate further.

Perfect for Miss 6 and that group of boys that we all know who like to gather around a table in the library with this sort of book to share and explore and discuss what they discover. 

Morris Mole

Morris Mole

Morris Mole










Morris Mole

Dan Yaccarino

Harper, 2017

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Morris Mole is the youngest of the eight mole brothers, and because he is a little different – they go to work in their hard hats with their shovels while he looks like the town dandy; they eat at a communal bench while Morris prefers fine dining; and they share a bed while he has his own – they tend to ignore him.  

And so it is when the biggest brother announces that they have run out of food.  Even though Morris says he has an idea, he is ignored and the brothers start to dig even deeper than before.  Morris’s idea was to dig UPWARDS – and so he does.  Even though it frightened him he found his courage built on his belief that even though he was small, nevertheless he could still do big things.  And what a wonderful world he discovered when he broke through the surface.  Full of treasures and treats until…

Young children will enjoy hearing this story where smart thinking overcomes physical size but be prepared to answer their questions about why the wolf left Morris alone. They might even be able to predict answers – perhaps wolves don’t have moles in their dietary plan. The bold computer-generated illustrations are interesting, contrasting the underground and above-ground worlds well and the message of small things being able to achieve big things will empower them.

Little Baby Books (series)

Little Baby Books

Little Baby Books







Little Baby Books





Mel Four

Bloomsbury, 2017

10pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

These books for very young readers stand out from other first-word books because of their design and format.  Basically done with white text on black pages, the focus word and its picture are done in eye-catching foil so they stand out. 

Designed to be shared with very little people just learning to recognise objects and perhaps even associate speech and writing, they would be an unusual but welcome addition to a baby shower gift collection or a new mum wanting to start her infant’s library.

Do You Know About Space?

Do You Know About Space?

Do You Know About Space?










Do You Know About Space?

Sarah Cruddas

DK Publishing, 2017

144pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


What is space?  Where does space really begin?  Why is Jupiter stripy? What is a light year? How are rockets launched?

There are few parents of young, curious children who have not been confronted with questions like these as their offspring begin to realise that there is a world even larger than the one immediately around them and they want to find out more. 

So here is the answer – a new publication by DK that uses children’s questions and an inquiry approach to provide the answers.  Using extraordinary photos and clear diagrams supported by child-size bites of text over 200 common questions about space have been answered at a level that the child will understand.  Yet there is enough information for the really curious to want to investigate further.  For example, in 2007 tiny animals called tardigrades survived for 10 days in space outside a spacecraft – but what is a tardigrade?  (You can find out here.) There are even quick quizzes that encourage them to read the text closely, including picture captions, critical information literacy skills.

DK have a sound and deserved reputation for bringing non fiction to young readers in a way they can access and engage with and this new addition is no exception.  Ideal for the eyebrow-raising questions for parents who can get themselves off the hook by suggesting they use the book to find out together, yet tantalising enough for those with a need to know more.

Dotty Detective (series)

Dotty Detective

Dotty Detective









Dotty Detective: The Paw Print Puzzle

Clara Vulliamy

HarperCollins UK,2016

176pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99


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, and The Lost Puppy.

A worthwhile new series to get for those who are beginning their independent reading journey. 

I Don’t Want Curly Hair

I Don't Want Curly Hair

I Don’t Want Curly Hair










I Don’t Want Curly Hair

Laura Ellen Anderson

Bloomsbury, 2017

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



Imagine having curly hair  that has spirals and squiggles and swirls and curls that are too bouncy and loopy and knotty and fuzzy and frizzy… so hard to handle it makes you dizzy!!!  

Now imagine all the crazy-daisy ways you might try to straighten it.  You could brush it for hours; get your friends to stretch it; you could put big books on it or even tie balloons to it! Maybe stick it down with sticky tape or even give yourself a bucket bath…

Or you might learn to live with it and love it, especially if you met someone with dead straight hair who would love to have your curls…

This is a superbly illustrated, funny, story-in-rhyme that will resonate with every girl who wants what she hasn’t got. Whether it’s straight hair, long legs, no freckles, there is always something we wish we could change.  

Even though its target audience is very young readers, this would be the perfect kickstart for a discussion about body image, body-shaming, self-acceptance, loving who we are on the inside and all those sorts of issues that start to plague young girls.  An important addition to your collection relating to mental health and mindfulness.   

Pip and Houdini

Pip and Houdini

Pip and Houdini









Pip and Houdini

J. C. Jones

Allen & Unwin, 2017

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Pip Sullivan first entered our reading lives in Run, Pip, Run when she had to live on her wits to stay out of the clutches of the authorities when her “grandfather” Sully had a stroke and subsequently died. Fearful of being put in foster care, Pip found temporary refuge with her best friend Matilda’s family. But to Pip, Matilda is perfect and never seems to get into trouble whereas Pip doesn’t seem to be able to stay out of it. Convinced she is going to be put in formal foster care with all that entails because she believes the Brownings no longer want her, Pip hits the road with her inseparable dog Houdini determined to find her real mother.  With only a nine-year-old postcard to go by, she is determined to get to Byron Bay…

Full of determination, resilience and quick-thinking Pip has much to overcome as she makes her way north, all the while never giving up hope and never forgetting Houdini who is very well named. Despite her somewhat unorthodox upbringing, she has learned some important life lessons from Sully and these make her a particularly likable little girl of just ten and a bit.  Asking to pay extra for her train fare because she had skipped without paying the day before is just one example. And when all you want is a family of your own, nothing will deter you.

Written so that the reader can understand her perspective and her thinking, it is an engaging sequel that is every bit as good as the CBCA shortlisted original. An engaging, solid read that is a little bit different for independent readers.


My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals










My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals

Dorling Kindersley, 2017

224pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99



Anyone who has spent time with little people, particularly boys, will know that they often gravitate to the non fiction collections of the school library where they can get a THICK book (very important) and then pore over the pictures for hours at a time.  If the pictures and diagrams are of high quality then they can absorb a lot of information from them even if they can’t manage the text yet.  

In this new publication from non fiction experts DK the editors have mastered combining stunning illustrations with just the right amount of text to support the beginning reader, often only one sentence and using vocabulary that is appropriate to the age group whilst not “talking down.” Divided into four sections – All About Animals;  Amazing Animals; Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals – it begins with a clear explanation of what animals are, differentiating them from plants, and then moves on to those of land, sea and air. 

Using lots of colour, a clear, clean font of a good size, labels, speech bubbles and other literary devices, the young reader is taken on a journey through the animal kingdom that they will return to again and again, all the while honing their reading skills as they want to know more than just the pictures can tell them.  At the back they are introduced to the concept of a glossary which explains the meaning of some of the more unusual words they might encounter like amphibian and exoskeleton, as well as an index that will help them find just what they are looking for. 

With more and more research emerging about the need for children to develop basic literacy skills using print if they are to use and interpret online information efficiently and effectively,this is a must-have addition in both the school and home libraries.  


A is for Australian Animals: A factastic tour

A is for Australian Animals

A is for Australian Animals











A is for Australian Animals: A Factastic Tour

Frané Lessac

Walker Books, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $SA24.99


Australia is full of the most amazing animals on the planet! What animal has six thumbs? What animal produces square poo? What animal is made up of 95 per cent water and is highly venomous? 

There have been many books, including alphabet books, published about Australian fauna over the years that one wonders what a new one could add to the collection.  Renowned author and illustrator Frané Lessac has found the answer in this fabulous new publication described as a FACTASTIC tour of our unique wildlife.

While the familiar candidates like the kangaroo and koala are there, she has also included many not so well-known creatures like the Irukandji Jellyfish, the Hopping Mouse, the Ulysses Butterfly and the Velvet Gecko. Beautifully setting each in its own natural environment with a brief introductory caption, she has also scattered bite-sized facts about each for those who want to know more.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Even more....

Even more….

Stunning in its presentation, thorough in its research this is a must-have modern approach to a perennial topic that can not only assist young children in their search for knowledge about this country’s amazing fauna but also offers a model for how they could present their own information when they do their own investigations.  After all, it is one that is done in the early childhood years in almost every school so why not challenge the class to develop their own factastic tour? 

Grandma Forgets

Grandma Forgets

Grandma Forgets









Grandma Forgets

Paul Russell

Nicky Johnston

EK, 2017

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



My grandmother forgets who I am.  Every time we meet, it likes meeting someone new….

Even though Grandma can’t remember us, we have so many memories of her.”

There are the sausages as big as elephant’s legs that she served for Sunday lunch; going to the beach; snuggled in together with a hot-water bottle and a blanket watching the nighttime storms split the sky… The little girl and her dad have memories galore that they share with her in her new home with the painted garden and people who remember for her.  

Young children encountering older relatives who are succumbing to the challenges of the ageing process are becoming more common as generations live longer than ever, and so stories that help them deal with what can be a confronting situation are always welcome.  This is a gentle comforting story about the enduring love between the generations, although if Grandma is 80 as her birthday cake shows there seems to be a skipped generation in the chain.  My own grandchildren would appear to be about the age of the children in the story and they faced this situation with their great-grandmothers, not their grandmas. We are only in our 60s!  

Nevertheless, this is an uplifting story that shows how children embrace the changing circumstances, accepting the changes and the challenges and working with them, rather than taking them as a personal rejection.  There are adults who could learn from this unconditional love that children display and how they adapt so they almost become the adult themselves.  And while there are old memories to recall, there are always new ones to make.

The soft palette and lines chosen by the illustrator portray the beautiful memories perfectly and the love between them all just oozes from the page setting up the perfect opportunity to let the children tell and draw their own stories of their own special moments with their grandparents, perhaps cementing them even more firmly.

A family story that provides lots of comfort.