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Dotty Detective (series)

Dotty Detective

Dotty Detective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dotty Detective: The Paw Print Puzzle

Clara Vulliamy

HarperCollins UK,2016

176pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

 9780008132453

Inspired by their favourite television character Fred Fantastic, Ace Detective, Dotty and her best friend Beans have formed the Join The Dots Detective Agency.  They have special badges that they wear underneath their coat collars so they don’t blow their cover and are ably assisted by Dotty’s dog McClusky to solve mysteries that seem to occur.

Guided by Fred Fantastic’s tenets of

  • Stay Frosty. Always be on the lookout
  • Follow That Hunch. If you’ve got a funny feeling you may be onto something important
  • Use Your Noodle. Think
  •  A Light Bulb Moment. A sudden genius idea
  • Get Proof.  You must have the evidence before you can solve your case
  • Jeepers Creepers Use your Peepers

in this episode they set out to solve the strange noises that Dotty hears in her hallway at night.  When she opens her door and can’t see anything she is almost convinced to believe in ghosts and that her house is haunted.  But by using the clues, conveyed through secret notes written in invisible writing, they are able to identify what is really going on…

This is a new series that is perfect for the newly independent reader with its layout, illustrations, larger font, shorter chapters and humour.  The pace is rapid and the use of a variety of fonts highlights key ideas and actions without the need for a host of words.  Girls will relate to her feisty nature but boys will also find the situations familiar and appealing.  Others in the series are Dotty Detective, The Midnight Mystery, and The Lost Puppy.

A worthwhile new series to get for those who are beginning their independent reading journey. 

Pip and Houdini

Pip and Houdini

Pip and Houdini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pip and Houdini

J. C. Jones

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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

9781760296056

Pip Sullivan first entered our reading lives in Run, Pip, Run when she had to live on her wits to stay out of the clutches of the authorities when her “grandfather” Sully had a stroke and subsequently died. Fearful of being put in foster care, Pip found temporary refuge with her best friend Matilda’s family. But to Pip, Matilda is perfect and never seems to get into trouble whereas Pip doesn’t seem to be able to stay out of it. Convinced she is going to be put in formal foster care with all that entails because she believes the Brownings no longer want her, Pip hits the road with her inseparable dog Houdini determined to find her real mother.  With only a nine-year-old postcard to go by, she is determined to get to Byron Bay…

Full of determination, resilience and quick-thinking Pip has much to overcome as she makes her way north, all the while never giving up hope and never forgetting Houdini who is very well named. Despite her somewhat unorthodox upbringing, she has learned some important life lessons from Sully and these make her a particularly likable little girl of just ten and a bit.  Asking to pay extra for her train fare because she had skipped without paying the day before is just one example. And when all you want is a family of your own, nothing will deter you.

Written so that the reader can understand her perspective and her thinking, it is an engaging sequel that is every bit as good as the CBCA shortlisted original. An engaging, solid read that is a little bit different for independent readers.

 

Rockabye Pirate

Rockabye Pirate

Rockabye Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockabye Pirate

Timothy Knapman

Ada Grey

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408849392

Rock-a-bye pirate, in the crow’s nest
Mummy says bedtime, and Mummy knows best.
You’ve had your adventures, you’ve sailed the high seas,
So under the covers and go to sleep, please.

During the day, this little pirate has all sorts of pirate adventures doing all the things pirates do.  But the life of a pirate isn’t all swashbuckling, treasure-seeking and making enemies walk the plank – come nighttime they have to have their dinner, have a bath, wash their hair, get in the PJs and snuggle into bed to listen to a bedtime story.  And this smart mummy knows this, turning her boy’s bedtime routine into a pirate-centred lullaby to settle him down and lull him to sleep.

Author of other preschool-friendly stories such as All Aboard the Dinosaur Express, Knapman describes himself as a children’s writer, lyricist and playwright and his way with words, their rhyme and rhythm certainly shines through in this latest offering. Sublimely illustrated so that even the wickedest pirates who ever set sail – Black-Bearded Brewster, Sea Dog McPhail, Cross-Eyed Delaney and Freddy the Fright – become just regular people who go home to their magnificent purpled-hair mum, there is everything that is familiar about pirates in this book as well as things that are not so it is scaled back to become a gentle bedtime story for even the toughest, most adventurous daytime seafarer.

The Cherry Pie Princess

The Cherry Pie Princess

The Cherry Pie Princess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cherry Pie Princess

Vivian French

Marta Kissi

Walker Books, 2017

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

9781406368970

“It’s not much fun being a princess: you have to be prim, proper and obedient. Princess Peony lives in a world full of magical creatures – hags, trolls, giants and fairy godmothers – but her father’s strict rules leave her feeling bored and lonely. She wants to learn how to DO things, and cooking’s at the top of her list. But when Peony borrows a recipe book from the public library, the king has the old librarian who tried to help her arrested for “speaking out of turn”. Can Peony stand up to her father and make things right?”

The publisher’s blurb sums up this engaging story very well. Despite being somewhat of a misfit in her family shunning shoes and pretty dresses to better herself, she counts down the days till her 13th birthday when she is allowed an unescorted “educational” visit but is dismayed to find that her plans to again visit the library which she first discovered when she was nine, are thwarted by Mrs Beef who believes a visit to the family’s mausoleum to study her ancestors would be much better for her. But she manages to escape, makes her way to the library and there her adventures really begin…   

For independent readers who like their princesses to have some attitude but also compassion, this is a new take on the more traditional tale.  Lovers of familiar  fairy tales will see it still has many of the features of the originals with a tyrant king with old-fashion views; older, self-absorbed sisters who treat the youngest one with disdain; the mean, miserable governess with the iron fist; fairy godmothers who can grant wishes; a neglected old hag who is cranky that her invitation to the new prince’s christening has not arrived; dark gloomy dungeons where innocents sit forgotten for years; a talking cat… and only one person who can save the day when trouble threatens.   But they will also like the determination, compassion, resilience and self-reliance of Peony who is more like them and isn’t relying on a handsome prince to get her out of bother.

Vivian French’s storytelling is accompanied by a sprinkling of illustrations that add charm and character, making this ideal for a bedtime read-along  or read-alone for the 7+ age group.

The Birthday Invitation

The Birthday Invitation

The Birthday Invitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birthday Invitation

Lucy Rowland

Laura Hughes

Bloomsbury, 2017

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

9781408862995

Tomorrow is a very special day for Ella -it’s her birthday party.  She finishes writing the invitations and hurries through the woods to deliver them to her friends.  But she is so excited she doesn’t realise she has dropped one and that it is picked up by a wizard.  And so begins a remarkable journey for the invitation, one that means Ella is going to have the best celebration ever! Wizards, pirates, a princess and all sorts of interesting guests turn up – and each has a tale to tell about how they got there!

Written in rhyme which keeps the pace and action moving at a fast clip, this is a charming story that will engage and delight.  Laura Hughes’s bright detailed illustrations are sheer pleasure and the invitation almost comes to life leaving the reader to wonder where it will land next.  

As well as engaging young readers in its fun and light-heartedness, it’s also a great vehicle for focusing on sequencing and mapping the story.  Positional words such as first, next, after can be explored as a map of the invitation’s journey is constructed.  And for those who feel they have to, there is also an opportunity to investigate rhyming patterns as many of the couplets end with words with the same sound but a different spelling pattern.But I think the children will have much more fun thinking of the unique gifts that each character might give Ella for her birthday.

 

Brambleheart

Brambleheart

Brambleheart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brambleheart

Henry Cole

Katherine Tegen Books

288pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780062245441

Naming Day at the school on The Hill -an old rubbish dump on the edge of the woods – is the most important day for the students because it is then that they get their surnames based on their expertise in particular disciplines such as metal craft and weaving.  Chipmunk Twig, who prefers to read discarded picture books rather than the old instruction manuals preferred by the other students, is struggling to excel and seems destined to become a lonely Errand Runner. Shamed and embarrassed he runs away, falls into a river and when he reaches the shore he finds a golden egg from which hatches a dragon.  And suddenly his fortunes change – or do they?

Miss 11, an avid reader, was drawn to this book on a recent visit because it is the sort of story she likes and she immediately put her nose into it. However her comments afterwards suggested it did not live up to expectations.  Even though the writing is descriptive,  she said she was glad there were the pictures to help because her imagination wasn’t drawing them for her.

She felt that the storyline did not match her predictions and there were several gaps that were unexplained such as how Twig got back upriver; what is making Char the dragon so sick; enemy Basil’s change of heart and how Lily, banned from seeing Twig manages to accompany him on the final adventure.  She wasn’t keen on the up-in-the-air, to-be-continued ending which left the story unresolved until the sequel Bayberry Island is read. Sadly, Grandma didn’t have it. Perhaps if she did and all the loose ends were tied up she might have enjoyed it more.

Friendship and the ethics of keeping animals captive and cheating to achieve a goal are the themes of this story but to Miss 11, the target audience for the story, they were lost in her confusion of the story.

Unusual for me to publish a less-than-positive review but when you have the critique of the intended audience, it’s hard to ignore it.  

Glitch

Glitch

Glitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitch

Michelle Worthington

Andrew Plant

Ford Street, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925272710

Glitch, a trembly, twittery,twitchy kind of bug built amazing creations from the things that he found on the rubbish dump where he lived.  It really was a case of one man’s trash being another’s treasure.  His best friend June was a much calmer bug as well as being the best billycart driver ever.  Glitch spent his time rummaging through the mountains of mouldy mess deposited daily by the dump trucks trying to build June the best billycart ever.  But even though he managed to do that, they had never won a race.  Somehow, despite June’s brilliant driving, Glitch’s issues as the co-driver denied them victory.

So this time, June decides that Glitch will be the driver – a thought that terrifies him and has him seeking all sorts of excuses why not.

Full of alliteration that give it pace and rhythm this is a story that will delight young readers and culminates in something they will resonate with – having to put their brave on and do something that scares them. Great for getting the children to think about what they are afraid of and considering taking the first step to vanquish it.  Andrew Plant, illustrator of the magnificent Spark   and the brilliant The Poppy has really let his imagination go wild and got down and dirty amongst the rubbish heaps to bring the story to life and show how the most mundane things can be repurposed.  With makerspaces the current big thing in school libraries, this is the perfect book to challenge students to make a billycart for a bug using recycled and repurposed materials.

Miss 6, whose first task at Joeys was to help build a raft from drink bottles, is right into recycling so she is going to love this.  Such a strong message told in such an entertaining way.

 

Winnie the Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt

The Great Heffalump Hunt

The Great Heffalump Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winnie the Pooh: The Great Heffalump Hunt

Giles Andreae

Egmont, 2017

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

9781405278300

Piglet trotted happily beside his best friend Pooh.

Talking about nothing much as best friends often do.

When suddenly Pooh stopped and said, “I’ve got a Grand Idea”.

“I’m going to catch a Heffalump. I’ve heard they live around here.”

Giles Andreae of Giraffes Can’t Dance fame has taken this wonderful and well-known adventure of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and reinterpreted into a delightful rhyme and pictorial experience.  More than 90 years on from the first publication of the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Tigger inspired by a real-life bear  Milne’s stories are as enchanting and popular as ever so to have this one in a picture book version for our youngest readers is a treat indeed.  

As well as providing a taste of the delights of what is in the original collection, it celebrates friendship, bravery and the imagination, even providing the basis for an inquiry project for beginners.  Just what is a Heffalump, what does it look like, and what would be the best way to catch it?  Each child could create their own version, design a suitable trap and bait and maybe even start to consider whether catching wild creatures is ever a good idea.  Those a little older might even start to investigate the role of zoos and how they’ve changed, particularly given Winnie’s origins.

Even though this is an adaptation of a classic, in its new form there are so many layers to explore that it is perfect as a standalone., and another generation will learn to love this lovable bear and his endearing friends.

 

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger, Tiger

Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger, 2017

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

9781848694446

Mother Tiger has somewhere she needs to be so she leaves her cub in the care of Old Tiger.  But while Little Cub wants to play and explore, Old Tiger thinks he is too old to babysit and just wants to sleep.  But he consents to a “very slow stroll”  through country he has seen so many times that he believes “There’s nothing to see around her any more.”  But he doesn’t factor in the joy and enthusiasm and fresh eyes of the very young and gradually his grey, tired world takes on new colours and new life.

With plenty of action words that young readers will love and relate to as well as text that sometimes rhymes, this is a story that moves from shadow to light as Old Tiger rediscovers the sights of his youth and even begins to take the lead in the play.  Sometimes, as we age and life seems to weigh heavily at times, we forget to take delight in the everyday things that surround us so this story is a reminder that we need to make time for the simple and that there is fun to be had without always having to be entertained by external things.

Lambert is first and foremost an illustrator and that’s evident not just in the detail in the pictures but in the way he has used colour to reflect Tiger’s perception of the world.  At first the jungle is dull and grey but as the adventure continues the colours brighten and the details are more intense and lush.  The reader sees more and more just as Old Tiger does.

A great book for little ones and older ones alike.

 

 

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth

Ellie Hattie

Karl James Mountford

Little Tiger Press, 2017

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781848694484

Bong! Oscar is woken by the town clock striking midnight and strange noises in the street.  As he looks out his window he sees a huge, hairy woolly mammoth. Instead of being scared, he is dressed and outside in a flash where Timothy the mammoth explains he is searching for his little brother.  Together they continue the search which leads them to the town museum where the door opens a crack to reveal the inhabitants have come alive and are having a party.  Continued through the interactivity of gatefolds, lift-the-flaps and speech bubbles the search progresses through the various sections of the museum until… It is certainly the most extraordinary hour of Oscar’s life.

Apart from kids’ universal curiosity of the mysterious creatures of the past, this is a book that will delight young children as they explore it over and over as it combines so much information as the quest continues.  There is so much detail included that there will be something new to explore and learn with every reading. It is certainly an intriguing way to help them discover their world and enjoy having to be part of the action to move the story along.