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Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

Jack Noel

Farshore Fiction, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781405294065

The classic tale of Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Squire John Trelawney, Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and an assortment of other characters who set out on the Hispaniola to find Captain Flint’s long-buried treasure is brought to a new audience in this adaptation by illustrator Jack Noel to graphic novel format.

Adapted into numerous films, plays and other productions, this epitome of pirate stories really belongs in every child’s literary repertoire and using all the visual techniques that attract today’s young readers, the once-difficult language of the late 19th century storyteller is now accessible to today’s generation. So much of what we believe about pirates, their vocabulary and actions stems from Stevenson’s imagination so even if the student can’t manage the original, this interpretation will give them some insight and understanding of a story that they are expected to be familiar with in their later studies. 

This is the second in this series – the first is Great Expectations – and it would be a worthwhile addition to any library collection that seeks to extend children’s reading into the realm of stories to be read again and again. 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Enid Blyton

Hodder Children’s, 2020

638pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781444959437

Imagine being able to walk to the woods at the bottom of your garden where the leaves of the trees whisper to each other that you are there and find yourself at the bottom of a tree that has the most remarkable inhabitants like Moonface, Silky and Dame Washalot living in its branches and a revolving world of magical lands at its top, high in the clouds.  That is what Joe, Beth and Frannie (PC’ed from the original Fanny) discover when they move to the countryside and  discover that their new house lies next to the Enchanted Wood! And in that wood stands the Magic Faraway Tree where they have so many amazing encounters and adventures.

This collection comprising all three books in the series – The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree – is now, once again, on offer to parents, teachers and independent readers to share.  Over my 50+ years in teaching, I’ve lost count of how many children I have shared this magic with. Apart from transporting the children to new worlds of imagination and wonderment, it was my go-to read-aloud when they were ready for a serial that had continuous characters and settings so they were familiar with the background, but still needed a complete story within each session.  

There is a reason that Blyton’s stories (over 700 books and about 2,000 short stories) have not dated and have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children’s author and remain in print more than 50 years after her death.  Apart from being childhood favourites of previous generations and thus handed down through families like fairytales, her imagination gave her readers the wings to fly away from whatever circumstances they were in to a world where anything was possible, anything could happen and usually did.  In series like The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven,  Malory Towers and Noddy, there were no everyday constraints on the characters and they could become heroes in the most mundane of circumstances, resonating with the audience in ways many authors have envied and tried to emulate since. 

Visiting a new world every read, this is truly a perfect collection for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and because my own grandchildren have had this series on their bookshelves for many years, I know just which family needs this copy to start their tradition. 

 

The Little Pirate Queen

The Little Pirate Queen

The Little Pirate Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Pirate Queen

Sally Anne Garland

New Frontier, 2021

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

9781921928833

Every week Lucy boards her rickety raft and sets sail looking for Far Away Island, a mysterious place that no one had ever reached before and therefore no one knew what treasures might be found there. During the journeys Lucy has to constantly mend the little craft and she and it have been through some rough seas lately and as her friends cruise past her in their more sea-worthy craft, she wishes she had a shiny new yacht. 

But she keeps moving, imagining she is a brave Pirate Queen, and even though sometimes she doesn’t feel brave at all, she sails on.  Then, one day a huge storm hits and a giant wave washes away Lucy and the other children. Even though it is badly damaged her rickety raft is the only one to survive and Lucy discovers the meaning of the saying “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

Based on that quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, author and illustrator Sally Anne Garland has crafted a story to show children that the strategies and skills they learn when coping with tough times shape our ability to navigate our future – that if all we know is smooth sailing  then when a storm hits, we might not know what to do. It is a story about resilience and compassion. as well as drawing links between Lucy and pirates generally – for whatever reason, neither quite fits into society and therefore have to learn to adapt and survive, to be brave and bold and mask their vulnerability so they can keep something of themselves for themselves.

Whether read at its surface level of a little girl who turns out to be a brave Pirate Queen, or explored at the metaphorical level, this is a story that can be enjoyed by a wide age range who will see a little of Lucy in each of them. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Maybe…

Maybe...

Maybe…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe…

Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406385526

As Mother Monkey leaves her three babies high in the tree, she warns them not to go to the mango tree because of the tigers that are lurking.  But the mangoes look delicious and the babies are very tempted.  
“Maybe we could just look at the mangoes…”

“Maybe we could just get that little one…”

“Maybe we could just go down there anyway…”

How far are they prepared to push the boundaries? Are there tigers lurking?  Do the babies learn their lesson?

In the dedication, Haughton quotes Aristotle …”For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing,” and he has encapsulated this perfectly in this cautionary tale that young readers will love because they will all remember a time when they have been warned but the temptation has proved too great.  With its repetitive text that little ones can join in with, there is a sense of suspense built up as well as a sense of urgency when they discover that their mother was right all along. Nevertheless, it also emphasises the need to be willing to take risks, perhaps not as dangerous as this, if we are to learn and move forward. 

With his signature illustrative style, and its bold colours, the creator of Don’t Worry, Little Crab has gifted our younger readers another engaging story that will become a firm favourite.  

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Kylie Howarth

Walker, 2021

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760652548

Originally, Bodhi did not share his parents’ love of the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and while they travelled the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface, he preferred dry land until he discovered he had magical powers…

In the third in this series that introduces the reader to life beneath the waves and the hazards the inhabitants face,  the reader is taken to the Maldives where Fish Kid’s friendship with bestie, Emely, soon hits a snag during a tricky sea turtle rescue. Secretly wishing for powers of her own, Emely’s strange behaviour leaves Fish Kid wondering if their friendship and the super-sick turtle will survive. And if things weren’t bad enough, another turtle from the sanctuary goes missing. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

A powerful series that hopefully will inspire young readers to wonder and find out more, perhaps even be like Miss 14 who is currently studying oceanography and marine biology in Year 9 and undertaking her diver’s qualification!  The power of story to spark the “what if…” and while a mask and scuba tank aren’t quite the same as Bodhi’s powers, they work just fine!

 

The Last Bear

The Last Bear

The Last Bear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Bear

Hannah Gold

Levi Penfold

HarperCollins, 2021

304pp.,  hbk., RRP $A18.17

9780008411282

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

9781760525132

Mighty Minotaur

9781760876401

Flight of the Griffin

9781760876418

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

9781408893067

 

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.

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

James Hart

Puffin, 2021

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

9781760895129

Zeek and Arnie are best friends. They do everything together. They love solving problems, inventing, playing video games, coding, reading comics, cooking (mostly Arnie) and planning WORLD DOMINATION (mostly Zeek).

But when Zeek puts a microchip in Arnie’s pet fish, Eleanor, things go horribly wrong . . . A super-intelligent Eleanor decides she’s going to become the supreme ruler of the world.

How will Zeek and Arnie stop Eleanor’s fish-bot army and prevent this power-hungry fish from achieving WORLD DOMINATION?

This is a new series likely to appeal to those who prefer screens and coding to print because it crosses both borders.  James Hart is the illustrator behind a number of popular series including Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables but this is debut as an author. The graphic novel format is ideal for the intended audience and the story moves along at a fast clip that has characters readers can identify with and lots of humour.

Something to offer those boys you are trying to reach out to. 

 

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Wild

Robert Vescio

Mel Armstrong

New Frontier, 2020

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

 9781921928789

Roman was in his happy place when he was free to explore the wild, following the grasshopper’s chirp or the seagull’s flight or exploring the hidden depths of the rockpool. He was tuned into the sights and sounds of nature but then he wonders if that is enough. What if he had someone to share his discoveries with?  And then he finds an unexpected surprise…

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With its stunning illustrations by Mel Armstrong, once again Vescio has encouraged the young reader to step outside and view the everyday, the ordinary, the take-for-granted as a whole new world to explore. But as well as encouraging them to appreciate what Mother Nature lays out for us for free, there is the subtle reminder that there are some things that are even more important and which enrich and enhance the experience – the sharing of it all with a special friend. Because it is that human need for companionship and understanding and sharing that lifts the experience to something special and memorable.