Archive | March 2021

Antiracist Baby

Antiracist Baby

Antiracist Baby










Antiracist Baby

Ibram X. Kendi

Ashely Lukashevsky

Puffin, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


“Antiracist Baby is bred, not born.”

Beginning with this premise, this book takes the reader through nine steps to ensure that they and their offspring can learn how to be tolerant, compassionate individuals “to make equity a reality.”

  1. Open your eyes to all skin colours
  2. Use your words to talk about race.
  3. Point at policies as the problem, not people.
  4. Shout.  There’s nothing wrong with the people.”
  5. Celebrate all our difference.
  6. Knock down the stack of cultural blocks.
  7. Confess when being racist.
  8. Grow to be antiracist.
  9. Believe we shall overcome racisms.

Each principle is expanded by a rhyming couplet and, given the recent disclosures within the Royal Family as well as this being Harmony Day, there is scope for discussion and debate as we are encouraged to consider the things we say and do, often without thought, that could be deemed racist by another. The author has included additional discussion prompts to help readers recognise and reflect on bias in their daily lives as well links to US organisations that can offer more support.  A teachers’ guide is also available.

Despite looking like and being promoted as a book for babies, this is more one for those who understand the concept of racism already and are ready to learn more.  Reviews are very mixed mostly because while the intentions and purpose are valid, the confusion over who the intended audience is, is strong.

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants











Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants

Catherine Clowes

Rachel Gyan

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

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


While books about Australia’s unique fauna abound for readers of all levels, there are fewer that focus on our unique flora and even less for younger readers who are just developing an interest in the plants the populate our landscape. 

In this new publication from CSIRO, 26 of our well-known and not-so plants are in the spotlight offering an introduction to things we see daily and those that are not so common yet still readily seen in local environments. Maps pf plant ecoregions enable readers to identify what they are most likely to see where they live.  Each double page spread has a similar format with some detailed information using accessible language that speaks directly to the reader ensuring challenging scientific concepts are easily understood such as  the exploration of plant classification (families, genera and species) through the analogy of mixed lollies;  an interesting fact that goes beyond the scientific nature of the plant; and an activity that encourages the reader to discover more about what they have just read and engage with the plant.  There are beautiful biologically accurate watercolour illustrations of each plant and its parts, while the whole has all the necessary elements to encourage easy navigation and information literacy skills.   Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available spanning a number of the Australian Curriculum areas, including a focus on the use of the plants by indigenous people.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

If we are to have our students value our bushland then they must first know what there is to value (and there are pointers about how to explore it so that both explorer and environment stay safe) and so this is a must-have for any library collection and study that has the protection of our habitat at its heart. 


What Do You Call Your Grandma?

What Do You Call Your Grandma?

What Do You Call Your Grandma?










What Do You Call Your Grandma?

Ashleigh Barton

Martina Heiduczek

ABC Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


In every country around the world are grandpas short and tall,

Though they go by different names, we love them one and all

A Granny here, a Nanna there – or maybe she’s a Nan?

Turn the page, let’s meet a few of the finest in the land…

This is the companion to What Do You Call Your Grandpa? and like its predecessor, it introduces readers to all the words that our students use to refer to their grandparents, but this time it is grandmothers in the spotlight. But whether it’s Nonna, Nani, MeeMaw, Bibi, Amma or one of the other special names,  what is also in focus is that special relationship and bond that children have with their grandmothers and the precious memories that are made as they celebrate life together. 

As well as teaching little ones new names – I can envisage of wall display of photos of the children’s grandparents and the special names they call them, especially as the author invites the reader to share – this would also be a grand book for those who are learning English as a new language because they will delight in seeing their own culture represented in a way that connects us all.

Perfect combination for Harmony Day with so many opportunities to develop displays .


Can You Do This?

Can You Do This?

Can You Do This?











Can You Do This?

Michael Wagner

Heath McKenzie

ABC Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


No matter what amazing feat Little Brother Mouse does,  including the most amazing aerobatics in an air race, Big Brother Mouse scoffs at his efforts and says he can do the same thing in his sleep.  As Little Brother Mouse pushes himself further and further he also gets more and more despondent believing that he will never be as good as his big brother. 

But his Big Brother telling the truth?  Can he really do what Little Brother challenges him to?

Sibling rivalry and the desire to do what older siblings can is often the inspiration for little ones to grow up fast and take risks and this story is a prime example of that.  But is it always wise or are their times when we need to wake for our bodies and brains to be in sync with each other?  Young readers with older brothers and sisters will relate to this story but perhaps it should come with a large label proclaiming DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!


The Couch Potato

The Couch Potato

The Couch Potato










The Couch Potato

Jory John

Pete Oswald

HarperCollins US, 2021

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


There is nothing that Couch Potato likes more that slouching on the couch.  In fact it spends all its free time in the exact spot on its comfy cosy couch, and really, there is no reason to move.  With a range of gadgets – even one that fetches its snacks – and a wall of shimmering screens in front of it,  it can control its entire life all the time with a few taps and a couple of clicks.

Life is perfect until… there is a power outage! Suddenly everything goes dark and Couch Potato is forced to open the curtains to let some light in where it sees the outdoors for the first time in a long time and it is tempted outside…

This is a new addition to Jory John’s collection of modern cautionary tales for young readers joining The Good Egg , The Bad Seed. and The Cool Bean. Encouraging those who prefer to live their lives vicariously through the screen to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and being actively involved with friends, it opens up investigations into a healthy lifestyle and the need for balance. A timely reminder given the events of the past year.


Float or Sink?

Float or Sink?

Float or Sink?












Float or Sink?

Kylie Covark

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


There is a stick in the creek bobbing along

Rolling on, light but strong.

What do you think?

Float or sink?

Most will answer “float” because who hasn’t whiled away some time putting sticks into the water and watching them start their journey to the unknown?

But what if there are those who see the stick as their personal raft, and climb onboard like a ladybug, a flea, a fly, a gnat, even a slug! Will the stick survive?  And is there danger lurking as it floats along, oblivious to its passengers and its surrounds?

The rhythmical text and the bold bright illustrations carry this story along as smoothly as the river current, encouraging young readers to make predictions about what will happen as they bring their scientific knowledge to the fore. So much potential for investigation of all sorts of things and lots of fun, but first and foremost a charming story. 



The Last Bear

The Last Bear

The Last Bear










The Last Bear

Hannah Gold

Levi Penfold

HarperCollins, 2021

304pp.,  hbk., RRP $A18.17


When her mother is killed in a car crash, April’s scientist father retreats onto himself as he tries to deal with his grief and becomes the epitome of the absent-minded professor, leaving11-year-pld April to pretty much fend for herself.  So when he tells her he has applied to man the weather station on remote Bear Island in the Arctic Circle and they will be there alone for six months over the northern summer, April sees it as a chance to reconnect with her dad and start to build a new relationship with him.

However, things don’t work out that way with her dad becoming more and more withdrawn, leaving April to explore the island and entertain herself all day and all night as the sun does not set at this time of the year. Although she has been told that once polar bears roamed the island freely, because of climate change and the melting of the sea ice, there are now no bears left,  one evening, on the horizon, silhouetted against the sun , something moves. Something big and loping and gone in the blink of an eye but a polar bear, nonetheless. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life…

This is one of those stories that stays in the mind long after the final page has been turned – indeed, Michael Morpurgo labelled it “unforgettable”. A modern story that brings the real effect of climate change home it is ideal for introducing children to the concept through their natural affinity with nature as few will be untouched by Bear’s plight and they begin to realise  that small, individual actions can have cumulative consequences. Perhaps, like April, the reader will find their own voice and their own passion and despite the obstacles, roar as April does. 

But it is more than another story about the environment and its vulnerability, albeit one with such a setting and such a storyline.  It is about April finding her voice and her passion as Bear teaches her how to roar from deep-down within as well as learning about that deep grief her father has been experiencing when she has to leave Bear. It’s about hope for families that are permanently changed finding a way to become whole again, if different, and going forward.  The most important thing in this world is the relationships we form with others, that shape our knowledge, understanding and values, and this book explores these to the fullest – between April and her dad, April and the bear, and the impact of the island and its isolation has on everyone and everything. 

Whether offered as a read-aloud or a read-alone, this is a book so well-written it will be a highlight of the reading year. 

Rise of the Mythix (series)

Rise of Mythix (series)

Rise of the Mythix (series)











Rise of the Mythix (series)

Golden Unicorn


Mighty Minotaur


Flight of the Griffin


Anh Do

Allen & Unwin, 2020-2021

200pp.,. pbk., RRP $A15.99

The tyrant known as the Soul Collector (who is a physically weak man filled with greed who boosts his energy with his daily rituals) hunts down anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique. Among is his collection are  The Holy Grail and Lucifer’s Ring, artefacts of Heaven and Hell which he has united in defiance against their creators.

Stanley is the Collector’s finder. He hates his master and wants to change his situation. He discovers an ancient text on Prophesies and Portents that speak of three instruments of power – The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin, that will return in human form, unite, and restore balance and harmony to the Kingdom.

Kelly, who is trying hard to be an ordinary teenager and fit in with her peers,  finds that every day her powers are growing: she can run faster than the wind, she can hear people’s thoughts, she is not normal. So when he captures Kelly Smith’s mother and holds her hostage after Kelly and Stanley escape his attempts to capture them,  she knows she can’t linger in the shadows any longer. But who is she really? Can she be the one in the prophecy? Is she…the Golden Unicorn?

The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin – Only these three united to a common purpose can fell him who seeks to triumph over all. 

Kelly didn’t believe in ancient prophecies. But now she must. And she needs to find the Minotaur.

Meanwhile, Minh knows something epic is going on. His body is changing; his strength is otherworldly. But he has no idea that this is just the beginning…

Kelly and Minh must help each other if they are to have any hope of rescuing the people they love. )The king of beasts and the lord of birds, together once more, will know a third companion, as the days grow dim.  The Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin are united at last. Surely together they will be unstoppable!

But the Collector is not going to give up without an epic fight, and not all the beasts of legend are on the side of good …

Have Kelly, Minh and Jimmy met their match? Will the prophecy fail just when it looks most like coming true?

Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular writers for young, independent readers for good reason  and this series is one that may well tempt the lover of Weirdo and Ninja Kid up to the next level of their reading journey, just because of his name alone. Fast moving, well-illustrated and moving within that superhero domain that is so popular right now, with characters that appeal to a wide audience, it is a series for more mature readers which may open them up to discovering more about these mythical creatures of ancient times. 


The Don’t Panic Gang!

The Don't Panic Gang!

The Don’t Panic Gang!











The Don’t Panic Gang!

Mark Sperring

Sarah Warburton

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99



The Don’t Panic Gang is a top secret organisation, comprising a doughnut-loving cat, a little blue bird and an unassuming window-box worm

But when they get a call that there is something SCARY lurking in the bathroom, something HUGE and HAIRY they become Sumo Cat, Ninja Bird and King-Fu Worm  and leap into action, donning their superhero costumes, clambering over rooftops, leaping off buildings and scaling walls  to reach the caller zippity quick.
.  But all is not what it seems…

This is a fast-paced action story that young readers will enjoy because it mirrors much of what they like to view on their screens. Bright, sketchy illustrations contain a wealth of amusing detail, and the various layouts , the changes in font and cartoon like style convey the action as effectively as any animation. 

Something to read and enjoy just for the joy of it.

Unipiggle (series)













Unicorn Muddle


Dragon Trouble


Hannah Shaw

Usborne 2020

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Welcome to Twinkleland Kingdom, where everything is 100% perfect. Except Princess Pea – she loves getting muddy and having fun and she’s not keen on choosing her own perfect unicorn at the Royal Unicorn Parade. Until the final unicorn turns out to be a podgy, pongy, proud, magic-horned…pig? And so the adventures of Princess Pea and Unipiggle begin!

This is a new series that will appeal to younger readers who prefer their princesses and unicorns to be a little bit different – definitely not your stereotypes. whether read independently or as a bedtime read-together, the bright bold illustrations will capture the imagination and have the readers seeing themselves as Princess Pea. 

With a new addition due in June, this is a series that can help younger readers transition from picture books and basal readers to the next step of their reading journey.