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Jawsome: Licence to Rock

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

R. J. Timms

Albert Street, 2024

272pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781761068607

Deep under the ocean in the Shallow Side of Chumville Finley the reef shark lives with his dentist parents Su and Shi, and his siblings, Dash, Smash, Crash, Flash , Splash and Bash.  During the day Finley goes to school with his mates Hunter the tiger shark, Gnash the pointer shark and Gilleon the lemon shark, but at night, they are secretly the super-famous rock band JAWSOME!

In this, the second in the series, the band is off to play at Euro-fishin, and international music competition, where there will be bands like Swim Shady and Mertallica. But at the airport as departure time draws closer, Gnash (aka Gnarly Gnelson) hasn’t turned up, and a phone call to his parents reveals that he is missing. Immediately suspicious, and the police not taking the matter seriously, the band members find themselves deep in mystery and intrigue which includes  stopping evil A.B.B.A. (Alliance of Brutally Bad Anglerfish) agents from destroying the ocean. Then, in the second story, unmasking a strange new band called the Killer Wails, that everyone seems to follow, and having to use all their rockstar skills to save Chumville from becoming mindless zombies.

This is a fun series for those emerging readers who like a light-hearted read, peppered with pun humour and plenty of illustrations.  Verging on a graphic novel because so much of the action happens in the illustrations as it does in the text, it will also appeal to those students who like to be seen with thick books – it has over 300 pages because of the large font and copious graphics.  With most of the puns printed in bold, it is also a good opportunity to investigate that literary technique and how its use adds humour to many situations, as well as identifying the common elements and themes of such stories so readers start to understand the concept of genre, in this case the tropes of spy stories. 

Released at a time when so many of our students are swept up in the Swifties craze as Taylor Swift tours the nation, this is an engaging and enjoyable read on many levels that will have wide appeal. 

The Goblins’ Revenge

The Goblins' Revenge

The Goblins’ Revenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goblins’ Revenge

Andy Prentice

Tom Knight

Usborne, 2024

288pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781803706467

For 93 years the land of Sibele has been ruled by the evil wizard Darkmoon, and now he is hunting down the last few rebels who dare to oppose him, and the only one who can save them and end his reign is the reader. With a horde of undead warriors on the trail and a series of blood-curdling dangers ahead , it would be a terrifying task for anyone – but you’re just a goblin, which makes things even more challenging. Confronted by menacing monsters, ghostly magic and a thrilling race against time in this spectacular fantasy adventure gamebook, the reader becomes the hero whose decisions and choices determine the outcome.  

Decades ago the choose-your-own adventure genre hit the shelves and were an instant success with those who like to insert and immerse themselves in the stories, and this 21st century version combines that genre with the gaming craze, combining three loves of the current generation – video games, fantasy and a story in print which becomes a new adventure with every choice made. 

It begins with instructions on how to play complete with items, weapons and abilities, a logbook to keep track of the relevant details of the quest as  well as all the other things needed to play a game and complete a quest in this modern era.  There are crucial picture puzzles to solve along the way, and although a computer is not needed to play, there are links to an online dice roller if physical dice (needed to play the combat system) aren’t available as well as a printable logbook.

I am the first to admit that this is not my sort of game and my granddaughters gave up in frustration as they tried to teach me some of theirs, but nevertheless, this seems to be something that teacher librarians should be aware of so they can capture the imagination and minds of those engaged by this sort of activity, thus demonstrating that the library has resources that are relevant to them. In fact, while the publisher suggests this is suitable for 9+, it could be one to give to your gamers for feedback on suitability both for reading /comprehension age as well as future releases in the series.  

Leif the Unlucky Viking: Saga of the Shooting Star

Leif the Unlucky Viking

Leif the Unlucky Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leif the Unlucky Viking: Saga of the Shooting Star

Gary Northfield

Walker Books, 2023

320pp., pbk., ill., RRP $A17.99

9781406383416

Leif the wolf cub dreams of being a Viking explorer just like his dad, Erik the Red, but it’s tricky when you are smaller than most, clumsy and falls over his own paws a lot, and regularly split your pants. But he is an embarrassment to his family, hidden away when this father’s exploits are celebrated and almost despised by his older sister Freydis because regardless of his shortcomings, he is the heir to the throne of his father.

But he is undeterred by his misfortunes, and determined to prove his worth, he embarks on a secret mission to locate a missing shard from Thor’s hammer, the weapon of the Norse god of Thunder, which has landed far away in polar bear territory.  Armed with a map of the route and a magic cloak given to him by Thorbjorg the Witch, who believes he is destined for greatness, he sets off on his quest, accompanied by fellow adventurers Olaf the cranky duck, Toki the silly puffin and Flora the stinky musk ox. As they attempt to navigate across vast, dangerous lands, they must contend with hungry giants, fearsome polar bears and a sea beast as old as the gods themselves.

A step up from Murray the Viking in complexity, this would be an ideal next read for those emerging independent readers who love adventure, wacky characters and historical fiction, particularly the time of the Vikings.  With humour and the sort of craziness that many kids adore, this is original, engaging and something different to underline the value of determination, perseverance and not giving up. It introduces readers to some of the magical Norse mythology on which so many stories are based that may take their reading interests into new realms, but, above all, it is just a thoroughly good read. 

Murray the Viking

Murray the Viking

Murray the Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murray the Viking

Adam Stower

HarperCollins, 2024

192pp., pbk., ill., RRP $A11.99

9780008561253

Murray the cat enjoys living the good life with Fumblethumb the wizard, a life made even better when Fumblethumb accidentally turns one of Murray’s favourite buns into a bunny, complete with a cherry for a tail.  But when he messes up again and turns the cat flap into a gateway to adventure, instead of just the garden, then the fun really starts…

In this new series for newly independent readers consolidating their skills, the cat flap takes Murray and Bun back to the times of the Vikings.  where they are given an important mission  to travel to Troll Island to rescue Eggrik the Viking… if he hasn’t already been gobbled up by the trolls, that is. 

Simple text,  humour and full of illustrations that carry the story along at a rapid pace, this is a great stepping stone between everyday readers and novels that will have wide appeal because of its outlandish characters and original adventures, as well as introducing them to historical fiction, perhaps sparking an interest in the time period.  Something new to offer those moving forward on their reading journey as they go through their own cat flap of adventure to the world of stories.

Pablo and Splash

Pablo and Splash

Pablo and Splash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pablo and Splash

Sheena Dempsey

Bloomsbury, 2024

240pp., graphic novel, RRP $A17.99

9781526662606

Pablo and Splash are two penguins, and even though they are very different in that Pablo loves his icy home and Splash is sick of the cold, they both agree that a holiday would be a good thing.  But it’s tricky when you live at the bottom of the planet in Antarctica and warm places are too far to swim and without wings, you can’t fly.

But Antarctica means there are scientists nearby and surely they have a solution… However on their way to visit them, they fall down a hole in the ice into the clutches of Professor O’Brain and her Timebender machine and before they know it they are on the beach they were dreaming of, but they are sharing it with dinosaurs.   Can these accidental explorers find their way home?  Or will they be stuck in the past, avoiding becoming the next meal for the locals?

With its classic theme of “be careful what you wish for” as well as the familiar time-travelling theme that takes readers to times past and future,  this is a full-colour graphic novel that will delight fans of this genre. Stories about penguins and dinosaurs individually are always favourites so combining the two into a story that engages while it educates will have broad appeal, and its undertones of the enduring friendship between two characters despite their differences will resonate with many. 

This is the first in this series that has the potential to not only appeal to its intended audience of young independent readers but also introduce them to times past that might spark an interest in further investigation.  I wonder where they will go next… Where would the reader like them to go? If they came to Australia at a particular time in our history, such as the gold rush, what hazards might they encounter? Perhaps an interesting story starter that could show you what the students know…

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

Jackie Hosking

Lesley Vamos

Walker Books, 2023

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

9781760654948

Having completed their Amazing Australian Road Trip, now the family is off on a camping adventure because Aunty wants to paint “a fantastical beast”.

“It eats like a fish and swims in the lakes, has fur like a dog and venom like snakes, with a bill like a duck, it also lays eggs, has a tail like a paddle and walks on four legs.”

With the 4WD loaded to the hilt and beyond, they head to country to find this amazing creature, finally setting up camp and starting to relax. And although there is lots of wildlife to discover, each with one of the attributes that Aunty has described, none has them all.  What could she be looking for?

As with its predecessor, this is a story that rollicks along in rhyme accompanied by eye-catching illustrations full of detail and humour including the mysterious animal hiding on each page waiting for the eagle-eye to spot…  While many readers will be familiar with camping, and understand the terminology as well as recognising the creatures that the family spot, for those for whom the Australian bush is a mystery there are lots of explanations of unfamiliar words as well as information about the various animals. And, also like its predecessor, it offers a lot of potential for investigation, not the least of which is the meaning and purpose of a glossary.

As summer holidays fade into the distance, this is one that will bring back so many memories for children who spent their time camping “out bush” as they giggle their way through familiar scenes and adventures – although I was a bit concerned that the copperhead snake that inhabits the cool climate region I live in is active at night – and begin to look forward to the next one. 

Loving this series which brings our country to life in such a fun way. 

 

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter on Holiday: A Big Trip Around Europe

Jessica & Stephen Parry-Valentine

Ashlee Spink

Puffin, 2023

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

9781761046926

Our bags are packed, we have passports in tow,
We’re checked in and waiting. It’s almost time to go!
Our luggage is all stowed and we do our seatbelts up quick smart,
The plane is taking off now, our trip’s about to start!

Having explored Australia in the family caravan, Hunter is now off on her first overseas adventure, this time exploring Europe and seeing the iconic sights of England, Scotland, Iceland, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. As she gets on the plane with her parents, she creates her wishlist of places to visit and the things she will see, and the endpapers provide a map so the reader can track her journey both there and on a real map or globe. 

With travel at the forefront of the minds of many at this time, this is an introduction for young readers to overseas travel and the delights it might bring.  Some may have visited these places and have their own adventures to tell, while those who have actually come from each country might like to become a travel guide and suggest other places to visit and things to do. Or for those not so fortunate, they could perhaps make a list of the things that Hunter could see and do if she were to come to their town. 

The Lonely Lighthouse of Elston-Fright

The Lonely Lighthouse of Elston-Fright

The Lonely Lighthouse of Elston-Fright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Lighthouse of Elston-Fright

Reece Carter

Simon Howe

A & U Children’s, 2023

352pp., pbk., RRP $a17.99

9781761066795

Nobody in Elston-Fright believes in magic anymore, even though its history is steeped in it, so now, when something weird happens, they just lock their doors and pretend it’s not.  But Flip Little, his nan and his friends: a girl called Corpse, a ghost called Girl and a very large spider called Simon, know differently, and when Simon is taken by ancient weather ghouls called the Poltergusts, Flip and his ghostly companions turn to the last Lightkeeper’s journals for answers. To rescue their friend, they will need to find and return the missing Light to the lighthouse to restore its lost magic. In the past, the light from the lighthouse not only protected passing ships but also repelled bad magic, but that seems to have long gone.
Because nothing in Elston-Fright is as it seems. When Flip feels something different in the air, and sees something odd through his telescope things are about to change. Questions bubble up from the deep. Dark secrets come to light. And pretty soon, Flip and his friends learn that in order to save the future of Elston-Fright, they’ll first need to understand its past
This is the sequel to A Girl Called Corpse, and while there are references to that in this one, to be honest, it would be better to have read the first one to get the most from this. Written by an author who has a dog named Hagrid -what more can you say? – this is for independent readers who enjoy magic, mystery, and the supernatural entwined with family and friendship and who are able to cope with the two different, but clearly identified, perspectives from which it is told. 
Already longlisted for the Australian  Best Children’s Book, Indie Book Awards, 2024 this series is a cracking way for those who enjoy this genre to start their 2024 reading adventures, particularly with the third in the trilogy to look forward to. .

Pow Pow Pig 5: Snow Action

 

 

 

Pow Pow Pig 5: Snow Action

Pow Pow Pig 5: Snow Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pow Pow Pig 5: Snow Action

Anh Do

Peter Cheong

A & U  Children’s, 2023

240pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781761068928

It is the year 2050 and the world is in trouble. In 2030 the rich animals of the world voted to stop helping the poor and as they became richer, forever seeking bigger and better while discarding their unwanted things instead of sharing them, creating a huge amount of waste.  And then the fighting started.

But all is not lost and Piccolo Pig (aka Pow Pow Pig) , inspired by his parents’ role model has yearned to join CHOC (Creatures Helping Other Creatures) to help make the world a better place through small acts of kindness. So as soon as he was old enough he joined, and now, after three years of training it’s Graduation Day. But he and his friends Danielle Duck (aka King Fu Duck), Chelsea Chicken (aka Cha Cha Chicken) and Barry the Goat (aka Barry the Goat) are not in the A Team but the Z Team.  So they are the last to be picked when it comes to world-saving missions,

So when a call comes in and they are the only ones left, it is up to them to save the situation.  Although they live in 2050, they have time machine that allows them to travel back in time but sometimes it doesn’t work as it should.

This time, they find themselves at the North Pole, and after being rescued from a giant snowball, find themselves in Santa’s village. But when they meet Santa himself he seems a little distracted… two of his reindeer, Comet and Vixen, are missing. And he’s convinced they have not left of their own accord. 

And so begins another zany adventure perfect for a Christmas read-aloud.  Written for younger independent readers  with all the attributes required to support their transition to novels including a larger font, a light-handed layout and many illustrations, as with his other series,  embedded in the thoroughly modern characters, action, adventure and humour, there is an underlying message that gives the story more than just fleeting entertainment value. By making the heroes creatures often associated with being underdogs and having them as the Z Team readers can learn that success can take many forms, that not all battles are won with might and power – a tea towel and a broom can be very effective when used cleverly – and that the desire to do well has to come from within. They can also visit other time periods in an exciting adventure, providing a gentle step into the concept of history and offering an insight into life in those times that is much more fun that facts and figures.

Something for the Christmas stocking of both fans of the series and Anh Do fans generally. 

 

 

 

 

The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie Albert and the Amazing Animal Gang: The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

Paul O’Grady

Sue Hellard

HarperCollins, 2022

272pp., pbk., RRP $A11.99

9780008446857

Somewhat-unhappy and never-quite-fitting in 10-year-old Eddie Albert is the only one who knows he can speak to animals, including his pet dog Butch, his hamster and his two goldfish (who claim they were once pirates). But when Eddie is sent to stay with his aunt in Amsterdam, who, rather than being the miserable old lady who stank or cats and peppermints that he expected,  turns out to be a wealth, eccentric spinster called Lady Buddelia Sprockett who prefers to be called Aunt Budge he discovers that not only does she enjoy adventures but she too has this gift…

Now, Eddie is living in a new old house in London with is dad spending their time doing it up,  and with the Easter holidays approaching, he is looking forward to staying with her on the English Romney Marshes in an old cottage she has renovated, and she has even invited him to bring his best friend Flo, and his animals Butch the dog, Bunty the hamster and pirate goldfish Dan and Jake. The Romney Marshes has a rich history of smugglers and pirates, so when the terrible Rancid Twins arrive in town, set on uncovering the secret mystery of the smugglers’ treasure, Eddie and Flo are drawn into a thrilling new adventure. Eddie must use his ability to speak to animals to enlist the help of two elegant alpaca, a friendly sheep called Doris and a famous film-star rabbit to save the day and reveal a treasure of epic proportions…

This series has wide appeal for independent readers who like adventures, mysteries mixed in with an affinity for animals.  Unlike other series, it is not assumed that the reader has read previous episodes and  much of the background of the characters and their relationships are woven into the easy-to-read narrative.  Readers might like to seek out the first in the series, or even be drawn into reading the classic Dr Doolittle series by Hugh Lofting or perhaps the adventures of either the Famous Five or the Secret Seven, both by Enid Blyton – all stories that have proved their appeal and endurance over generations by still being in print and readily available..