Archive | September 2020

Kensy and Max 6: Full Speed

Kensy and Max 6: Full Speed

Kensy and Max 6: Full Speed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kensy and Max 6: Full Speed

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

384pp., pbk., RRP  $A14.99

9781760890025

Twins Kensy and Max are off on another mission for Pharos, this time set in the skifields of Switzerland. On this mission they are to infiltrate the mysterious but suspicious Van Leer family. Strange as the Van Leers are, proof of their misdeeds is scarce. Filled with the sort of action that only snowy mountain country can offer, these apprentice spies are determined to uncover the truth.   But when a surprising figure appears in the ski town, it seems there is more than one mystery to solve. 

Kensy and Max epitomise the sorts of kids we would all like ours to be – clever, resourceful, resilient and respectful – who lead the sort of lives that their readers can only dream of, particularly in these times. But for all that, they remain grounded and real, offering that magical mix of realism and escapism that has been the hallmark of successful stories for the upper primary age group for decades/

Whenever I ask Miss 14 what she is currently reading, a reread of the previous stories in this series is always on the list, as, having started it when it first appeared in 2018 she is keen to see what happens next to these heroes. In fact she often asks me when the next one is coming so after a long Canberra winter spent in trying circumstances, this will be most welcome in her letter box. Miss 9 has just begun the first in the series,  so this is going to be one of those wonderful reading experiences they will be able to share and talk about together.

 

Mini Rabbit Must Help

Mini Rabbit Must Help

Mini Rabbit Must Help

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Rabbit Must Help

John Bond

HarperCollins, 2020

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

9780008264888

Mother Rabbit has written a very important letter to Granny Rabbit and Mini Rabbit offers to take it to the post box. His mother agrees he can do this but he has to be very careful and he also has to get to the post box before five o’clock because that is the last collection.  So Mini Rabbit packs some cake, some slime and a stick and sets off… What could possibly go wrong?

Not only is this a charming tale that will make young readers laugh at all the mishaps Mini Rabbit has, but they will also have fun predicting what might happen next.  It is also excellent for mapping the events of the story to help them understand sequencing and the language of time.  

A new series from a British creator that will become a favourite.

 

 

That’s Not My Wombat

That's Not My Wombat

That’s Not My Wombat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Wombat

Fiona Watt

Usborne, 2020

10pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 9781474980470

The latest in this series of over 150 charming board books for our very youngest readers that encourage them to use their senses to discover the world around them focuses on t e wombat, such an iconic Australian creature.

With shiny claws, smooth paws, soft tummy and several other distinctive features. little hands will enjoy exploring the textural elements that are the hallmark of the series.  Like its companion which highlights the koala, it teaches our littlies to look more closely at the details that distinguish the wombat from other marsupials .  The repetitive text and clear pictures encourage prediction, thus developing those early concepts about print that are so essential while engaging them with the reading experience in a way that only print books can.

Definitely one to add to the Christmas stocking or baby shower gift!

 

Peppa Pig Duo

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa’s Spooky Halloween

9780241412268

Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef

9780241457542

Ladybird, 2020

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

The end of this weird school year is in sight and plans for 2021 start to solidify including introducing today’s pre-schoolers to the adventure of “big school” that will be their reality next year.  Whether this is being done in person or via video clips, the orientation is a critical part of the transition to allay all the natural fears that these littlest ones will have.  Thus to come to the library and see familiar family favourites like Peppa Pig on display ready for them to take home can be very reassuring.

Family Favourites were always popular with the little ones.

Family Favourites were always popular with the little ones.

So these two new releases from the ever popular Peppa Pig range will be valuable additions to your Family Favourites collection that will provide familiarity and continuity to these newest students.

In Peppa Loves the Great Barrier Reef Peppa and her family join marine biologist Mrs Kangaroo in her submarine as she explores her office, the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the creatures that inhabit this very special part of the planet. In Peppa’s Spooky Halloween the family don their favourite costumes for a special spooky show. – both books offering the opportunity to go beyond current boundaries and enjoy an adventure.

Never underestimate the power of seeing familiar characters in unfamiliar situations or the impact that they can have on early reading behaviours as their familiarity immediately connects the young reader to books and stories and the promise of fun to come.  So whether you are doing virtual visits or are lucky enough to be allowed real-life, real-time sessions, having stories like these visible will offer promises of magic and more magic.  The library is a place for them – what a positive message to receive from the get-go! 

 

Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brain Freeze

Oliver Phommavanh

Puffin, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760897147

Oliver Phommavanh is one of the masters of the modern short story, particularly for those who are either independent readers looking for something meaty but quick, or for teachers who are looking to share quality literature with students while being squeezed by timetables.

Using characters who are familiar to the reader and his quirky sense of humour,  he creates quirky stories that are perfect as read-alouds or read-alones. In this new collection he ventures into new territory with some of the stories featuring fantasy and animals, but in the main the 12 stories are about kids being brave -something our students have had to do in so many ways themselves, this year.  From a dog who accidentally becomes the first animal on Mars, a hopeless chess player dealing with his sports-mad dad, a girl whose dreams are getting too big for her bed, to a boy who has had 1000 names – so far. and a  strange boy who never seems to get brain freeze until…, this is a collection that will bring a smile to those who loved Thai-riffic, (Lengy makes a special appearance in one of the stories);  Con-nerd  and The Other Christy

Drawing on his own experience as being Thai-Australian, he introduces characters from backgrounds that so many will relate to and enjoy reading about as they see their own story in his. If your students haven’t met this remarkable young author yet, now is the time.

 

The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Realisation

Tomos Roberts

Nomoco

HarperCollins, 2020

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

9781460759806

London is in lockdown and poet and performer Tomos Roberts finds himself home-schooling his much younger brother and sister.  One evening, as he tucks his brother into bed, Cai asks him to tell him the poem “about the virus” again and Roberts obliges.

And so begins a reflection of what the world was like before 2020 when Greed was King and the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar was paramount regardless of the pollution it caused, the damage done to the environment and the consequences to the planet’s health. People’s relationships and connections were lost as we raced lemming-like to some elusive, invisible but seemingly better future.

But then came coronavirus and with it, orders to stay at home and inside.  And because of human nature, we reverted to the simpler pleasures of earlier times rebuilding a more sustainable lifestyle that was not dependent on external gratification and validation.  And that, in turn, had an effect on our cities and countries as the landscape was allowed to breathe again, if not heal. There was a realisation that there was a different, even better way to live and perhaps this experience and its rewards would be embraced even after the virus was managed. “We all preferred the world we found, to the one we’d left behind.”

Roberts finishes by telling his brother to “lie down and dream of tomorrow, and all the things you can do.  And who knows, if you dream hard enough, maybe some of them will come true.”

Roberts first shared this as a video clip and it has been viewed over 60 million times, suggesting that it has a universal message that humanity really wants to hear at this time but it’s production as a picture book with the extraordinary illustrations by Japanese artist Nomoco not only bring the words to life but make it accessible to so many more.  Because the spoken word is so fleeting it’s meaning is not always grasped within the moment, but having a print version that can be read and re-read enables the full intent of the words to be appreciated, valued and perhaps acted upon.

 

While younger readers will recognise some of the events in the story and will be able to talk about what they did when they couldn’t go outside, the full beauty of the words, the pictures and the message is one that more mature readers will appreciate more.  This is reflected in the activities in the teaching ideas which I wrote as I found myself going back and forth many times and finding more each time (and am continuing to do so as I write the review!)

This is a unique book – it is factual yet both a reflection and a dream at the same time and one that will become a point of reference for whenever in the future we look back on this year and consider the time the world was changed in a such a profound way that it would never be the same again.

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ANZACs 

9781760897024

Robotics

9781760897680 

The Ocean

9781760897666 

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 

A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for 80 years, Puffin introduces our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in this new series of non fiction titles, the perfect size and format for little hands. Voiced by Puffin Little and speaking directly to the reader in a narrative style which ensures engagement, there is much to carry interest and open up new fields to explore.  The contents page and glossary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned.

Joining the first collection of three are Little Explorer Ocean,  Little Scientist Robotics and Little Historian The ANZACs offering  a variety of topics to tempt a diverse range of interests for those who prefer non fiction and are looking for something that will satisfy their curiosity but not overwhelm with detail. They are ideal for answering those questions that are a step beyond initial curiosity offering enough information using accessible language that respects their existing knowledge and skills. Young readers will appreciate this series because there has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal. 

When Allen Lane first established Puffin 80 years ago with a dream of establishing a publishing house devoted to children’s literature, he began by publishing four non fiction titles for children who had been evacuated to the country to keep them safe from German bombing and invasion – War on Land, War at Sea, War in the Air and On the Farm – so it seems fitting that the dream has turned full circle and this anniversary year has been marked by this no-frills non fiction series for little ones. 

 

 

Monty’s Island 2: Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams

Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams

Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams

Emily Rodda

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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

9781760529864

Monty lives on a perfect island in the middle of a magical sea. Sometimes the sea throws up something interesting … and Monty goes on an amazing adventure!

Everyone loves Bring-and-Buy Day, when Trader Jolly visits the Island with all the supplies Monty and his friends need.

But this Bring-and-Buy day is different. Instead of Trader Jolly, there’s a sneaky new trader called Beady Bold. And he’s arrived with a boatload of trouble. As well as pretending he has taken over from Trader Joe, he treats them with contempt, trying to give them less for their goods than they are worth  The yum-yams are yummy, but they’re not what they seem and soon the island and the islanders are in trouble.  All seems lost until Monty comes up with a daring plan after he sees something through his trusty spyglass…

This is the second in this series for newly independent readers and it promises to cement the series as a firm favourite for those looking for a modern piece of escapism with just the right amount of magic.  The first, Scary Mary and the Stripe Spell  was published in April as people were confined to their homes and since I posted it to Miss 9 she has been asking for the next one.  When I asked her why this series, she said that it’s because she likes how smart and brave Monty is but of all of them –  Tawny the Fearless Lion, Clink the Shipwrecked Parrot, Bunchy the Elephant Magician, Sir Wise  the  owl,  she really likes Marigold who runs the island café the best.  (Her daddy is a chef so perhaps she has visions of being Marigold one day.) She says she likes the way they are still friends even though sometimes they make each other cranky and how they all work together to sort out big problems when they have to – a timely message for us adults, perhaps. 

A prolific author, Emily Rodda is perhaps best known for her ground-breaking Deltora Quest series and I would certainly have these dusted off when readers come looking for more, as they wait till January for the third in this series. 

 

Nala the Koala

Nala the Koala

Nala the Koala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nala the Koala

Penny Min Ferguson

Puffin, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9781760898830

Fire has destroyed Nala’s treetop home and now she must find somewhere new to live.  But being a koala means that not just any place will do and the quest is not as easy as it seems…

This is a timely story in the wake of the devastation of last summer and the weather beginning to warm up again with a new fire season on the horizon. It is an opportunity to investigate just what Nala and all her cousins need to survive – indeed, any of the species that were so affected by the events of last summer – and what it is that humans can do to assist that. 

Told in the pictures as much as the words, and primarily aimed at young readers, there is also the opportunity to examine how humans may have contributed to those catastrophic fires through our everyday actions. Given recent events in the NSW parliament, older readers could also investigate whether fire is the greatest threat to koala populations or if it is a much broader issue than that.

With all royalties being donated to WIRES , this is an opportunity to initiate some meaningful, in-context research that will resonate with students across all ages.  The power of the picture book to raise awareness and take action.

 

From Stella Street to Amsterdam

 From Stella Street to Amsterdam

From Stella Street to Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Stella Street to Amsterdam

Elizabeth Honey

Allen & Unwin, 2020

432pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781865084541

In 1995 Elizabeth Honey wrote 45 & 47 Stella Street, a story told by Henni Octon, writer-to-be. of what happened to Zev, Danielle, Frank and Briquette the dog and everyone else when The Phonies moved into their street and started to spoil everything. It was funny and fast, and very scary and they never knew what was going to happen next! Over the years more tales were added to the series , and each time a new one was released there was a reserves queue that necessitated buying multiple copies! 

Now, 25 years on, there is a new addition that is not only a great read in itself, but which could well spark a stampede to read the original stories in the series, (So search your shelves to see if you have the others on hand in readiness!)

In this one, Henni’s stubborn old neighbour Willa insists on returning to her childhood home in the Netherlands for a wedding, and Henni leaps at the chance to be her travelling companion. ‘Lucky duck! Fantastic opportunity!’ That’s what everyone in Stella Street said. ‘Oh boy, chance of a lifetime.’

But during the long flight to Amsterdam, Willa reveals to Henni the real reason for her journey: a terrible family secret stretching back to the Second World War. As Henni makes friends with more and more of Willa’s relatives, she must decide if they should know the truth. And is that the only mystery?

Talking about the original, Honey said she “wanted to write about kids who were open and robust, ingenious, tenacious and funny” and  “families [who] are strong and enjoy life. They go through ups and downs but basically they stick together.” And that basically sums up this t=story and the series – they are about characters and situations that our children can relate to, feel-good stories that have all the tension and drama required to keep the reader engaged but which have “a happy ending, not in a Disneyland way, an Australian way.” 

I love books that open up other avenues for readers, books that compel them to keep reading beyond the pages and it is SO good to see this one because not only is it likely to entice the readers to seek out those prequels but they’re going to venture into a series that quite possibly their parents read and enjoyed, opening up the possibilities for all sorts of discussions and memory-making.  The enduring power of print vs the fleeting influence of the screen!!!