Archive | December 3, 2023

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Three Tasks for a Dragon













Three Tasks for a Dragon

Eoin Colfer

P. J. Lynch

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99


After his father’s ‘accidental’ death at sea, his stepmother Queen Nimh and stepbrother Prince Delbayne invoke ancient Lagin law that only those who can summon the mysterious wolfhounds can become king, and Prince Lir is to be banished from his beloved homeland forever. The prince is a scholar not a warrior and acquiesces to his fate, but in an apparent act of generosity, Prince Delbayne pleads his stepbrother’s case and it is agreed that if Prince Lir can complete an ancient quest he will be able to return. 

Thus Prince Lir finds himself on a mission to rescue a young maiden being held captive by the dragon Lasvarg on his island, not realising that it is all part of a devious, malicious plan and dark magic concocted by his not-so-nice brother to ensure that Lir never returns to assume his place on the throne… But then, Delbayne does not realise that brains can overcome brawn… 

Created by two who have each been the Irish children’s laureate, this is a story reminiscent of the quests of old, drawing the reader into the fantasy of kings and queens and dragons and maidens needing to be rescued  with its twists and turns in the plot while its superb illustrations bring times gone by to life.  You can almost envisage this as a Lord of the Rings-esque movie, and while it has the traditional good versus evil as its underlying theme, because Prince Lir keeps his father’s words “The trick to it… is to work with what is around you,” it has a refreshing new perspective because rather than trying to trick the dragon and kill it to save Cethlenn, Lir uses his brains to cure the dragon’s ailments caused by the mould in his damp cave, mend his broken wing, and restore his fire-breathing powers,

, forming a partnership that eventually outwits and outlasts Nimh, Delbayne and even Lagin itself..

This is an illustrated novella that would make an ideal introduction to this genre as a read-aloud merging the traditional elements and feel of the classic quest with more modern themes.  


Where are all the Christmas Beetles?




Where are all the Christmas Beetles?

Where are all the Christmas Beetles?










Where are all the Christmas Beetles?

Suzanne Houghton

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

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


Once upon a time, not so long ago, our kids looked forward to summer barbecues because it meant they were going to be bombarded by those shimmering green and gold beetles with the sharp little feet that clung to skin and clothes.  And rather than being afraid or squealing in surprise, they knew they were Santa’s special messengers and if they whispered what they wanted for Christmas, the beetle would take the request straight back to Santa. 

But now those kids want to share that Christmas ritual with their kids and there are fewer and fewer beetles to be seen!  There are no tell-tale dead patches in the grass where the grubs have eaten the roots,  they aren’t high in the gum trees either and they’re not even buzzing around the street lamps like they used to do.  Where have they all gone?  

In this beautifully illustrated book that brought back so many memories of Christmases past, the author/illustrator speculates on what might have happened to them.  Could it be the changing weather? The drought? The floods? The loss of habitat?  Scientists don’t know for sure yet and have initiated the Christmas Beetle Count for sightings and photos to be shared but before students get involved in that there are really useful notes at the back of the book as well as teachers’ notes that can help them become junior scientists and help solve the mystery.

After all, what’s Christmas in Australia without Christmas beetles and how will Santa ever know just what to leave underneath the tree?