Archive | April 2020

I Don’t Want to Be Quiet!

I Don't Want to Be Quiet!

I Don’t Want to Be Quiet!











I Don’t Want to Be Quiet!

Laura Ellen Anderson

Bloomsbury, 2020

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


Being quiet is not on her agenda.  She wants to be loud.  Chatting, humming, stomping, drumming, slurping, burping – whatever the activity it has to be done at the maximum number of decibels. Until she goes to the library, picks up a book and learns the lessons of silence…

While “put yourself on mute” is likely to be a widely understood and commonly used phrase in the weeks to come, it probably wouldn’t have any effect on the little girl in this rollicking rhyme which is the antithesis of children being “seen but not heard!”  She barrels through her days at the top of her lungs creating the sweet sounds of silence once she has passed but making those around her wish they could mute her while she is there.  She reminds me of me when I was little, the only girl amongst eight boys and needing to be noticed! 

In fact, Laura Ellen Anderson seems to have such a knack of reminding me of my childhood in her stories with I Don’t Want to Be Small  and I Don’t Want Curly Hair that I’m beginning to wonder if she is, in fact, my mum writing using  nom-de-plume. (Only because I know she is no longer with us, am I sure it’s not!)  In the meantime, our young readers are treated to another fast-paced story that will resonate with them, and perhaps they too, will learn the value of listening.  It’s an important lesson to learn.

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)









Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Up the Mountain 


At the Fair


Hilary Robinson

Many Stanley

Catch A Star, 2020

20pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

These are the latest additions to this series which focuses on the young reader focusing on each double-page spread to find Gregory Goose. As well as developing their visual acuity as they hone their skills searching for him, by having each story in a specific setting that may already be familiar to the child or is likely to become more familiar as their reading journey progresses. site-specific vocabulary is developed so they learn about the sorts of things they would expect to see in each venue.  This is a critical aspect of early reading development because it helps them broaden their horizons but also focuses their attention on the setting, bringing to mind likely possibilities of what unknown words could be.

For example, while not many Australian youngsters will have had personal experience of what mountain life is like, by using the first-letter cue of “s’ (“get your mouth ready for…”) and using the pictures and the knowledge they have gained from books like these, they are more likely to transfer what they know to a new situation and be able to use the context to identify words like snow, snowmen, snowballs, skis, sled, and slope. 

With their bright, clear illustrations that have lots going on, this is a series that will draw children back to it many times as they discover something new each time, and each time developing their feeling of mastery over this format and skill known as reading. 

What seems like a simple hide-and-seek book actually has a vital place in those early reading behaviours and building concepts about print. 



Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection










Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway.  She has a range of talents -each different in each story – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old.  In each episode of the series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it. 

Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.

Included in this compendium are the first four books in the series – Movie Star, Ballerina, Pop Singer and Fashion Designer – offering  young girls who are becoming independent readers some great reading while supporting their new skills with  large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. 

Collections like these are always good value and during this stay-at-home time, four stories for the price of one will be welcome.

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens










Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Nelson hates vegetables. He hates the smell of them, he hates the look of them. Most of all, he hates eating them, which can be tricky when you live in a family that loves them.  His grandparents grow them, his father cooks them and the family devour them – all except Nelson who has the grossest pile of smuggled, uneaten vegetables stored under his bed. His greatest hate is pumpkins but this is pumpkin season and his grandfather has grown his best crop ever – which he brings to town weekly so Nelson’s dad can cook them in every way imaginable.  

The other thing that Nelson hates is school, particularly Mr Shue who has been his teacher for four years, since Kindergarten.  They are always on a collision course. But when his grandmother tricks him into swallowing an entire bowl of pumpkin soup, and he discovers that he has superpowers, will he us them to save the school and Mr Shue from aliens from Neptune – aliens that he invented in a moment of desperation?

This is the first in a fast-paced series that will appeal to newly-independent readers who are ready for something more meaty but still having the short chapters and liberal illustrations to support them.  With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience,  Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Unlike Nelson who was looking for ways to hide his veges, perhaps readers will even be moved to seek out pumpkin recipes and then cook them and share their opinions with their friends in this time of stay-at-home. 

ANZAC Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front

ANZAC Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front

ANZAC Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front










ANZAC Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front

Allison Marlow Paterson

Big Sky, 2015 

52pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


In the years of 1914-1918 over 330,000 Australians served their country in a war far from their homeland, more than 60,000 of them died. Five of these Australians were brothers; three of them were destined to never return to the home they loved.

The Great War brought enormous sorrow to families all over the world. In Australia there were few who escaped the fear, nor the tragedy. This is the story of the Marlow brothers. This powerful children’s book brings their story to life for future generations. It is a tragic tale of mateship, bravery and sacrifice; a heartbreaking account of a family torn apart by a devastating war. It is a pledge to never forget.

Based on the original title Anzac Sons; the Story of Five Brothers in the War to End All Wars, this important children’s book compiled by the granddaughter of a surviving brother tells the true story of brothers’ service, the impact on the family and community and weaves through the facts and history of the Great War and battles.

Combining beautiful prose and imagery including photographs, maps, letters and facts, the book will reach children of a variety of ages. Children, teachers and parents can read the letters her ancestors wrote from the trenches, walk in their footsteps and remember all those who have served throughout the generations to defend our freedom and our way of life. This and Dreaming Soldiers have been released as a special 2020 ANZAC Day book pack with a number of accompanying resources.  Details are available here

As we prepare to commemorate an ANZAC Day like no other in living memory, with services online and driveway commemorations, this is a book to be shared at this time so we can think about the sacrifices made by those who have gone before to keep us safe, and renew our commitment to what we have to do now to keep others safe.  And if you can’t get this one in time for this year, there are plenty of other suggestions here


Bluey: Bob Bilby

Bluey: Bob Bilby

Bluey: Bob Bilby










Bluey: Bob Bilby

Puffin, 2020

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


Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC. 

Young readers are now expecting their heroes to be in multimedia format, giving them a more holistic experience, so adding print to the collection so familiar and favourite characters are seamlessly interwoven is a critical part of their literacy development. So as well as this new adventure where it is Bob Bilby’s turn to take Bluey home, there is also a craft book available.  While its focus is Easter, there are still many activities that little ones will enjoy doing that are more general, and all of which will develop their imagination and fine motor skills.  Perfect as winter approaches and this stay-at-home time extends.

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle










The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

Brenda Gurr

New Frontier, 2020

88pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Zoe Jones has a hidden talent and a secret identity.  Daughter of one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world, sadly dead now, and a secret globe-trotting international food critic, at the age on nine, she has inherited her mother’s interests and talents, and when she is not at school she creates masterpieces that are highly sought after, aided and abetted by her guardian Aunty Jam.  

In this, the first in the series, she gets a new pastry order for a special medieval crumbling cake, but she has no idea where to start! It needs to be ready in less than a day for the school fair and the clock is ticking. Will she deliver it on time and remain the undercover secret pastry chef everyone talks about?

Given the shortage of eggs, flour and other baking ingredients on the supermarket shelves at the moment, it can be assumed that there might be many budding pastry chefs like Zinnia Jakes emerging from kitchens and so this is a timely release that should have widespread appeal to young, newly independent readers.  While different to the Sage Cookson series, it nevertheless caters to a similar audience of younger readers with an interest in food, and while they wait for the second episode, The Tumbling Tortoises,  due in October 2020, they could indulge themselves with that collection.  


Aussie Kids -series

Aussie Kids - series

Aussie Kids – series








Meet Eve in the Outback

Raewyn Caisley

Karen Blair



Meet Katie at the Beach

Rebecca Johnson

Lucia Masciullo 



Puffin Books, 2020

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Two more fabulous stories in this new series for newly independent readers that focuses on the diversity of the lives of kids in this country.

We first met Eve in Hello from Nowhere, one of the most isolated towns on the planet far out on the Nullabor Plain in Western Australia, and were delighted by her joy and optimism as she revelled in the isolation, finding fun in the creatures that live around her and the strangers who pop into the family’s roadhouse.  But today is going to be  special day because her cousin Will is coming to visit and she is looking forward to showing him all the sights and sounds that make her home so special.

Meanwhile, Katie lives on the opposite side of the country in an apartment tower overlooking one of Queensland’s beautiful beaches. Being in the surf, beach cricket  and building sandcastles are daily occurrences but no matter where you are, having a wobbly tooth and then losing it can be a miserable experience.

This really is an excellent series that will capture imagination of our younger readers who are ready to curl up and read by themselves. And even better, there are more on the horizon ( Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in July, and Dooley and Matilda in September.) and a free activity pack available now so the fun can continue, perfect for following up the reading during this stay-at-home time. 


Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings

Landing with Wings










Landing with Wings

Trace Balla

Allen & Unwin, 2020

80pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Mira and her mother are moving from their home near the sea to the goldfields of the Bendigo area, somewhere very foreign to Mira and she has no idea what to expect.  Her life is being turned upside down and she writes a farewell letter to her favourite tea-tree, beginning her recording of this new adventure which is scary but also a teeeeeny bit exciting. “Just a bit. It’s sort of like not knowing what’s on the next page and wanting to turn it to see what happens.”

Like Miri, Trace Balla loves to observe nature by sketching it and so, inspired by a story she saw about a refugee Syrian girl in an Australian detention centre whose future was equally uncertain, she has taken Miri on this journey of having her life upended and gradually discovering this new place, one that takes her back to her indigenous roots of the Dja Dja Wurrung people until she finally finds her home.

This is another intriguing graphic novel from the creator of Rivertime and  Rockhopping  that is just as extraordinary as those predecessors because of the levels and layers within the story. While  on the surface it seems like a personal recount of moving from one place to another, emphasised by the first-person narrative and hand-written font, there is also a bigger picture journey being told, that of anyone whose life is suddenly and permanently disrupted and having to find their place in a new landscape, whether that is physical, emotional or metaphorical. If they are lucky, they will land with wings and with the insight of someone like Trace Balla to guide them, they will learn to reflect on their experience and understand how it has shaped them just as much as the original catalyst.

A silver lining of this current situation of isolation is that we now have the time to read and appreciate this book in all its nuances, for we have each had our own journeys and this encourages us to revisit, review and reflect on them and their impact. It is just what we need at this time to get our lives back into perspective and see the whole rather than just the daily detail, yet, as Balla illustrates, it is the daily detail that builds up the whole. 


The Astronaut’s Cat

The Astronaut's Cat

The Astronaut’s Cat










The Astronaut’s Cat

Tohby Riddle

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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


The astronaut’s cat is an inside cat.
And she likes it like that.

But unlike other inside cats, the astronaut’s cat is on the moon, where it is so hot during the day a bowl of water would quickly boil, and so cold during the night it’s ten times colder than being in a fridge freezer!!  So each day Cat looks out the window at Astronaut working while she watches and snoozes and dreams of going outside to pounce and bounce lighter than a birthday balloon.  But when Earth rises on the inky black horizon she dreams of being back where there is colour and movement and shapes and forms and Mother Nature fills her with sights and sounds and scents…

When the masterful Mr Riddle created this book he would have had no idea that it was going to be released at a time when many of its readers were going to be cooped up inside, just like his cat. That being able to go outside and breathe fresh air and savour the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors would be as much a risk for them at this time as it is for Cat. That they would gaze through their windows and dream of earlier times… 

He probably thought that he was just creating a story about his cat Pom Pom who is just like the cat in the story – completely white, odd eyes and pink ears – and who, being an inside cat, spends her time gazing at the window outside.  While he has cleverly superimposed Pom Pom and Astronaut onto real backgrounds of the lunar landscape to help intensify the feelings of isolation and disconnectedness, here on Earth it is a deadly disease keeping people indoors rather than a hostile environment.  But unlike Cat we can connect so perhaps sharing this story could be the catalyst to connect our kids with the Through My Window activity. Have each one look out their window as Cat did, and draw or photograph what they see, including the sounds and the smells they are missing (good or not-so) and write an explanation to share with their friends. Maybe they could pop a teddy or something in the scene and challenge others to find it. 

Here’s what is outside my window this morning…

But here’s what I am missing…


A great way to think about how Cat might be feeling and the things we take for granted. As Joni Mitchell sand in Big Yellow Taxi, “You don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone…”