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Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Jennifer Bell

Alice Lickens

Walker Books, 2020

184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781406388459

Daughter of world famous botanists who were killed on a flower-collecting expedition in Australia, 8-year-old Agnes now lives with her uncle who doesn’t understand her and certainly doesn’t understand her need or demand for a pet.  For although she now lives in a flat on the 26th floor of an apartment block in a big grey city, she has her parents’ love for the outdoors and being with the creatures in the local park is her favourite thing to do. So when she discovers a mysterious creature on her bed – one who informs her he is an elephant shrew, Rhynchocyn petersi,  Attie (short for “Attenborough”) a field agent for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Atlantic forest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? 

This is a new series for newly independent readers who have an interest in the environment and its preservation, as they can put themselves in the story as they venture into foreign places on important missions.  Avid readers are always looking for new series while those who are more reluctant will appreciate the short chapters and many illustrations. Both will enjoy having a meaty, meaningful story to engross them as they transition from set basal readers to novels.

Bumblebunnies (series)

Bumblebunnies (series)

Bumblebunnies (series)

BumbleBunnies (series)

Graeme Base

Angus & Robertson, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

The Pond

9781460753941

The Sock

9781460753972

The Gate 

9781460754009

The Balloon

9781460754030

This is a new series by the amazing Graeme Base, written for our earliest readers. Featuring some superhero bunnies , who generally reside in their hutch looking like ordinary white rabbits, and the Wuffle the dog, Lou the cat and Billington the duck, Base uses  simple text and his exquisite detailed artwork to bring everyday incidents to life in story. When Wuffle, Lou and Billington are confronted by situations they can’t handle, the superhero bunnies morph into bees and use their intelligence and unique skills to get the heroes out of potentially dangerous situations.

Apart from being entertaining stories in themselves, the nature of series means that even little ones can learn about each character and carry what they know of them over to the next book.  They will delight in helping the BumbleBunnies choose what is needed for each situation, giving them a sense of power over the words that most stories don’t have, and suggesting the ways that the BumbleBunnies can each use their skills to rescue the situation.

While this is quite a departure from his works for older children, nevertheless, Base’s attention to detail in the illustrations makes them so rich that they demand to be read over and over again with something new to discover each time.

 

 

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

Aleesah Darlison

Puffin, 2020

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

The Golden Llama 

9781760894160

Llama Impossible

9781760894184

Undercover Llama (July 2020)

9781760894191

Rogue Llama (July 2020)

9781760894207

The League of Llamas (LOL) are a group of secret llama agents and they’re on a mission to save the world – if only Agent 0011 Phillipe Llamar could stop looking in the mirror at his luxurious fringe and Agent 0013 Lloyd Llamanator could resist the temptation to eat everything in his path!

This is a new series for the newly independent reader who is looking for something a little different as the LOL set out to protect the world from the evil badger General Bottomburp – but in a bumbling style somewhat akin to Maxwell Smart of yesteryear rather than the suave smoothness of James Bond, things don’t always go according to plan., providing a lot of laughs along the way. Darlison herself loves llamas, which is why they are the unusual heroes, but her love of language and clever use of it and her ability to hone in on what young emerging readers want to keep them engaged mean that this is a series that will have wide appeal that should hook those enjoying the new-found power of being able to read whatever catches their eye.. 

Evie and Pog (Series)

Evie and Pog (Series)

Evie and Pog (Series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evie and Pog (Series)

Tania McCartney

Angus & Robertson, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

High in a tree house live two very best friends. One is a girl and one is a dog. And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.

Evie is six years old. She likes knitting and jumping and books and cake. But most of all she loves to roll on the daisy-spot grass because she adores daisies.

Pog is a pug. He is two and likes to drink tea and read the newspaper. But most of all he loves vegetables.  It doesn’t matter if they are baked, mashed or fried, he adores them.

Next to the tree house in a big house lives Granny Gladys whose favourite things are dusting, mopping and sweeping but most of all she loves quiet.

If you were a teacher librarian who had the opportunity to request the perfect series to offer young readers who are transitioning from basal, levelled readers to the wide world of reading whatever they choose then this could well be it.  Using all the support structures that such readers need such as relatable characters and events; large, varying fonts; accessible language in simple, powerful sentences in short chapters within three stories in one book; illustrations galore; maps and a cast of characters;  all crafted together in humorous adventures by someone who knows how to reach their target audience perfectly, then this new series by the versatile Tania McCartney would be the result.  With two already available (Take Off and Puppy Playtime), young readers already have six separate stories to enjoy with three more to anticipate in Party Perfect in April. And with each book being a stand-alone there will be no queues for having to read them in order.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

While it is not the teacher librarian’s role to be a reading teacher, it is our role to support the programs that are happening in the classroom and students. teachers and parents alike will be thrilled to have this series recommended because it is so strong in promoting that independent, voluntary reading we are all seeking. 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2020 

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

9781760651138

In this sequel to Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja,  Fish Kid is holidaying at Ningaloo and keen to show his friend Emely not only the reef but also his secret superhero-like powers. But things don’t go according to plan and he is torn between obeying his parents and using his powers or becoming shark bait.

With Bodhi’s parents being underwater specialists – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer  – discovering what is under the surface is just what the family does, and the author has carefully woven all sorts of interesting information about the creatures there into the story so that is as educational as it is entertaining.  Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). 

This is a series that will appeal to newly independent readers still needing a bit of textural support and with each episode featuring a different part of the oceanic world and its inhabitants, the scope for unique and interesting adventures is broad. There is already a new addition in the pipeline. 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2020

272pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760892913

1750, when times were tough and teeth were rotten…

As part of an ancient family tradition, young Atticus Van Tasticus narrowly escapes a life down the coal mines – or worse, going to school – when he gets to choose the gift of a pirate ship from his Grandnan’s treasure pile. ..

Having escaped certain disaster on the high seas in his first adventure, he is now on the trail of treasure when he and his crew are lured into a clash with Bjorn Ironhead who is “vicious, mean and mighty unclean.”

Again, Daddo and King have combined to create a story that is going to appeal to young independent readers who see themselves as full of derring-do as they rule the waves rather than their bedrooms. The presentation is very appealing and even reluctant readers will suddenly find themselves having conquered a thick book, built their confidence and looking for the next episode.  Both Daddo and King know just what it is that will appeal to their audience and I predict Atticus Van Tasticus is going to be the next must-read that causes the buzz in your school library. 

Where’s Peppa’s Magical Unicorn?

Where's Peppa's Magical Unicorn?

Where’s Peppa’s Magical Unicorn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s Peppa’s Magical Unicorn?

Ladybird, 2020

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

9780241412046

Peppa wants to play with her magical unicorn but she can’t find her anywhere! Is she hiding at the castle, the beach, or the end of the rainbow?

Peppa Pig and her family continue to be popular with our youngest readers and this interactive book is a new adventure that not only draws on familiar characters so it is easy for them to become immersed in the story straight away but also helps the transition from screen to print.  Not only does the child have some power over the story as they lift the flaps to discover where the unicorn is hiding, but they can also return to it again and again.  Even if they know what is hidden, the power of predicting and being right is exhilarating making this sort of format a read-and-read-again one. Perfect for beginning to build those critical concepts about print that are the foundations of reading.

Elbow Grease vs Motozilla

Elbow Grease vs Motozilla

Elbow Grease vs Motozilla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elbow Grease vs Motozilla

John Cena

Howard McWilliam

Puffin, 2019

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760894665

Elbow Grease is the smallest monster truck in the Demolition Derby. Even though his brothers Tank, Flash, Pinball and Crash were tougher, faster, smarter and braver, they didn’t intimidate him nor deter him from racing.  Even the fact that he was different because he ran on an lithium-ion battery and needed to be recharged every night did not stop him believing in himself and his ability to keep up with his brothers.  Because Elbow Grease had gumption, that mixture of strong will and determination to keep on going even when it seemed all was lost.

But when Elbow Grease has a flash of inspiration and decides that the gnarly monster machine Motozilla that turns trucks into crunch sandwiches has to be beaten, he realises that this is not something done alone.  it will need teamwork and all the strengths that each of his brothers possess.

Told with a bare narrative with all the speech in speech bubbles, sometimes the message about teamwork is less than subtle, but young readers will delight in the bright, bold illustrations that carry the expression and the humour.  Some who are familiar with WWE competitors might even recognise Cena from that field and be inspired because of that.  In an interview, Cena said, “With ‘Elbow Grease’ and the books to follow, I want to offer kids a fun and engaging way to learn about the power of ambition, dedication, and heart. These concepts have been transformative in my life, from my childhood up to now, and it’s so important to me to pass the positivity on and help our youngest generation see that right mindset is key to achievement,”

Monster trucks appeal to so many little boys that even if they don’t absorb Cena’s message at first, at least they will continue to discover the joy of reading as they find books about the topics that interest them. 

 

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Bloom Garden

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008342982

Lottie Luna is a werewolf. She’s super-fast, super-strong and has X-ray vision. Lottie doesn’t really like to use her skills, though – she just wants to be like everyone else. But when someone keeps destroying the school bloom garden it’s only Lottie who can come to the rescue…

Characters having alter egos with special powers continue to be popular with readers and this new series for newly independent readers will satisfy those who like this genre.  Richly illustrated with monochrome cartoon-like illustrations to support the text, young girls will see themselves in Lottie – on the surface being just regular little girls, but with a heroine not too far below the surface.

The beginning of the new school year always brings great anticipation as new titles and series are released and with a new year level after their names, students look forward to an exciting year of reading as they become more and more competent and confident.  So a new series by this established veteran author will be a welcome addition to the collection.

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Rules

Philippa Gregory

Chris Chatterton

HarperCollins, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780008339791

Princess Florizella was friends with some of the princesses who had studied the Princess Rules, and behaved just as the Rules said they should. Florizella thought their hair was lovely: so golden and so very long. And their clothes were nice: so richly embroidered. And their shoes were delightful: so tiny and handmade in silk. But their days bored her to death…”

Instead, Princess Florizella rides her horse, Jellybean, all over the kingdom, having adventures of her own…

Originally written for her daughters in 1989 when the concept of rebel princesses as heroines was scarcely heard of much beyond Munsch’s  The Paper Bag Princess Philippa Gregory has reimagined this collection of three stories for her granddaughters and created a thoroughly modern tale.  “I’m much clearer that she’s up against something worse than a bad fairy at a christening – the ‘rules’ that try to persuade bright multi-talented children into stereotype notes. Florizella and her BFF Prince Bennet find their own paths around giants, wolves and (of course) dragons.”

With humour that stabs at convention and stereotypes and their consequences, Gregory has created a feisty heroine who will appeal to today’s newly independent reader who may once have dreamed of life as Aurora or Belle or some other Disney princess but who will no doubt much prefer to be Florizella instead.  

With a growing call for diversity in children’s literature, movies and other arts, the issue of stereotyping is a topical one so while this book may have a predominantly young female audience, it also has the scope to be a platform for exploring this topic among those much older. And Gregory’s experience as a writer shines through so it would not be considered as a twee, sugar-coated read beneath that older audience. It may even lead them to her more grown-up novels.