Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo











Dexter Lost His Boo-Woo

Shane Hegarty

Ben Mantle

Hodder Children’s, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99


HELP! Dexter’s lost his Boo-Woo.

It’s a scary sounding beast! It has fiery eyes and floppy ears, and twenty pointy teeth!

Soon the whole town is on the hunt for the Boo-Woo… police officers, firefighters and so many more join in the search, each getting more and more concerned as Dexter describes the Boo-Woo.  They are very relieved when they find it,  but have they?

At first glance, this is a story written in fast-paced rhyme for very young children about finding something precious that has been lost and the emotions that that engenders, but it has the potential to be so much more because as the locals join the search, Dexter adds more and more information building up the picture of what his Boo-Woo looks like.  So much like The Dudgeon is Coming, young students can build group or individual pictures adding features as they are revealed, particularly if the first reading of the story is read aloud without showing the illustrator’s interpretation of the words (wrap the cover in brown paper) so the listeners really have to engage with the text as each new detail is revealed.  

It not only provides an excellent opportunity to focus on description and descriptors which will enrich their own writing, but also on perception because each drawing will be different and none will be the same as that of Ben Mantle.  You can talk about how our experiences shape our mind’s eye, and perhaps even introduce the classic poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe. Extend the experience by having them draw the king in The King’s Breakfast by A. A. Milne, Dahl’s BFG as he walks down the street blowing dreams through the windows, or even Gandalf’s first meeting with Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Each has a description that lends itself to be interpreted in a graphic and because each of us interprets what we see and hear differently can lead to discussions about perception, what is truth and how it is shaped by our beliefs, values and even our role in an incident.   

But to be able to hang such a series of lessons on a story, you first need an engaging story that appeals to its audience on the surface, and Dexter and his Boo-Woo is certainly that, with the ending lending itself to even more possibilities!  

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats












Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Aleesah Darlison

Cheri Hughes

Big Sky, 2024

140pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


On a remote itty-bitty island off the coast of Panama there is an itty-bitty community of itty-bitty creatures. And while the rest of these pygmy sloths are content to dwell in the trees and move around “as slow as a rainy winter weekend”, Romeo Fortez, is different.  At his naming ceremony, the heavens do spectacular and amazing things and  Romeo is imbibed with powers of speed, intelligence, and irresistibly hypnotic good looks. As he grows up, Romeo craves speed and adventure and even his parents know that Escudo Island would never be big enough for him. But then he overhears a reference to New York – the city that never sleeps – and he knows that that is where he must be…

In the second episode of this action-packed series for newly independent young readers, ,Romeo’s nemesis, the unhinged Professor Ian Weird-Warp, is at it again. Bent on revenge, he concocts a quirky catastrophe. Mixing chicken and goat genes, he spawns a gang of eccentric chick-oats and they’re on the loose in the Big Apple, destroying everything in their path all the while chanting, ‘Berk-berk-baa!’

As the team faces off against Professor Weird-Warp’s sinister demands for Romeo’s surrender, they must hatch a brilliant plan to thwart the mad professor’s wicked schemes once and for all. Can this unlikely crew save the city from the clutches of the chick-oats?

Apart from being a fun read, it ends with the professor obviously intending more shenanigans so readers might like to have fun imagining what his next mutations might be – firstly it was a shark and a wolf, now chickens and goats so what could be next?  Perhaps they could even draw what they visualise and develop their own story based on what they already know of the resident characters, Weird-Warp’s motivations and their own imaginations.  

The Knight of Little Import

The Knight of Little Import

The Knight of Little Import











The Knight of Little Import

Hannah Batsel

Carolrhoda Books, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A37.99


Compared to the big and boisterous city of Biggerborough, Charlie’s home town of Little Import is very staid and sedate, which is extremely embarrassing for someone who is supposed to slay monsters and keep people safe.  But in reality, Charlie had never even seen a monster, let alone fought one, and she spent her days reading about them in her Big Book of Beastly Brutes and imagining them.


But what she didn’t realise was that the slow demise wasn’t being caused by the brashness of Biggerborough and the knights there fighting mile-high monsters and ogres, but by a host of little monsters  that were hiding in plain sight in her own town.  It starts with her helping the baker get rid of the Triple-Tier Hungerbeak who has been eating his pastries every night for a week and the word of her knowledge and bravery spreading…

This  is one of the most original stories I’ve read and reviewed for a long time, one that will have readers of all ages engaged in Charlie’s adventures.  As each character presents Charlie with their problem, there is a description of the monster in a separate box and so astute readers will want to use the clues to see if they spot it before Charlie does.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

The ending is a delightful surprise demonstrating that solving small problems can lead to big changes, not only in Little Import but also in life itself, offering a subtle message that having the courage to confront small issues when they arise can prevent bigger problems.  The old adage “A stitch in time saves none” comes to mind and older readers might want to probe the meaning of that. 

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta











The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Vicious Vendetta

Katrina Nannestad

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2024

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Imagine being a young girl travelling the world in an old wooden caravan pulled by a horse that decides where they will go and which seems to have magical powers that mean borders and mountains and oceans are no barriers.  And that caravan is full of books, because it, too, has a magic that means that it is like a Tardis with so much more on the inside than appears on the outside. 

That is the life of 10-year-old Miriam-Rose Cohen (who prefers Mim), her father and little brother Nat, Coco the cockatoo and Flossy the horse.  They travel to wherever they are needed, wherever there is a child in need of a book to make their world right again because “the line between books and real life is not as clear as people suppose.”

In this, the fifth in this series, Mim has arrived in wonderful Venice, city of canals, palaces, bridges, boats and … quarrels. Gondolier battles, cat-nappings and laundry theft are just the beginning. The Magnifico family and the Forte family are at war. Mim knows they’re here to help the feuding families. To show them a better way to behave. To bring an end to the vicious vendetta. But can she find just the right book to stop the fighting so that life becomes better for all of them?

So many of of younger readers will envy Mim and her lifestyle, literally being able to be lost in books and so this is a series for them, the perfect prelude to Pages & Co which is for slightly older, more confident readers, and which, itself, could lead them to a new author with a new series, Losing the Plot.  Katrina Nannestad is really leaving her mark on stories for young readers , each so original and this series is definitely one to be offered to your emerging independent readers who would swap places with Mim in a heartbeat. 


Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer











Pages & Co.: The Last Bookwanderer

Anna James

HarperCollins, 2024

416pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


“From outside on the busy north London high street, Pages & Co looked like an entirely normal bookshop. but once inside it didn’t quite make sense how everything fitted inside its ordinary walls. The shop was made up of five floors of corners and cubbyholes, sofas and squashy armchairs, and a labyrinth of bookshelves heading off in different direction.  A spiral staircase danced up one wall, and painted wooden ladders stretched into difficult-to-reach corners.  Tall arched windows above made it feel a little like a church when the light spilled in and danced on the air. When it was good weather the sun pooled on the floor and the bookshop cat – named Alice for her curious nature- could often be found dozing in the warmest spots.  During the summer the big fireplace behind the till was filled to bursting with fresh flowers, but at is was October, a fire was roaring there…”

Does this not conjure up every booklover’s dream of a magical place, a bookstore where magic and mysteries, adventures and escapades beckon?  And for it to be the home of Tilly who prefers the company of book characters to the people in real life and, although not having been outside London, is a seasoned traveller within the pages of the books that abound on the shelves just shouts that this is going to be a series for booklovers and readers that will deliver all that is expected and more.

But what if your favourite characters could not only come out of the books and have real-life conversations with you but could also take you back into the book to have your very own adventure within the story? Tilly discovers that this is part of her relationship with her books and that, unlike other series where it is a secret power, this one is shared by her family,  There is much more to her grandfather and grandmother and the family’s history and lives than she ever imagined. Bookwandering is what this family does, and it might explain the mysterious disappearance of her mother and the absence of her father.

Keen readers have followed the adventures of Tilly and her friends since 2018, and if Ms Now 13 is an indication, they will be as eager to read this final instalment as they were the first, for it is, indeed, “as comforting as hot chocolate” as the blurb says.    In this last adventure, Tilly, Oskar, Milo and Alessia venture into King Arthur’s realm in search of the wizard Merlin, and  discover that the magic of bookwandering is not at all what they thought. Together, they must journey into myth and legend – to bargain with the trickster Loki and unlock their destinies with the help of the Three Fates – and find a way to untangle the Alchemist’s grip on the world’s imagination.  To save Pages & Co. and the very foundations of bookwandering, Tilly and her friends will have to learn the true power of imagination in a thrilling final adventure, but an unexpected enemy stands in their way . . .

If you don’t have the series in your collection, it is available in a variety of formats including a boxed set, but you may have to search beyond your usual suppliers for the five earlier books because it is a series that is best read in order.  It will be well worth the effort because this is one of a handful of series that I have sought out all the additions to review over the years, and one which my granddaughters yelled “yes please” when I told them I had the final, even though they are so much older now. This is a series that, like The Magic Faraway Tree  and Harry Potter,  will be kept for their own children to enjoy.  It is for independent readers with a penchant for magical bookshops and being able to really delve into the world of stories and become part of them. And for those who have to wait their turn, or those who ask, “What next?”  you could suggest The Bookseller’s Apprentice and The Grandest Bookshop in the World.For those a little younger, suggest The Travelling Bookshop series

Dragon Towers

Dragon Towers

Dragon Towers













Dragon Towers

Pip Bird

David O’Connell

Farshore, 2024

160pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99


Ten-year-old Theo LOVES dragons. In fact, he is obsessed by them and he knows every dragon type, has every dragon book there is and has even made his own Dragon Rider jacket. So when he gets his letter inviting him to dragon school it’s a dream come true.

At Dragon Towers every child is paired with their very own dragon best friend, and every dragon has their own special magic power, from fire-breathing to going invisible and even making slime. Theo can’t wait to find out what type of dragon he has. But when he meets his dragon Wanda she doesn’t seem to have any powers at all…

A recent query about books about dragons for a young reader obsessed with dragons revealed that this is a much sought-after topic, particularly among boys in middle primary who are perhaps imagining themselves as the hero that Theo dreams of being at the beginning of the story before he is rudely awakened by his mother. Complete with all the fantastic creatures that one would expect to encounter as well as the adventures and quests as the young students aspire to be First Riders like the famous Ada and Faust, this is one for those transitioning to longer novels but still needing some of the supports of stepping stones.

With the next episode, The Ghostly Surprise, not due until late September this could be one to give to your dragon fanatics to decide whether it is a series worth collecting for the library.  As well as feeding their interest, they will have a reason for reading. 


The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn











The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

Belinda Murrell

Rebecca Crane

Puffin, 2024

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mathilda Amalia Charlotte Adelaide Rose – known to all as Tillie except for Mr Grimm the pompous stickler-for-manners royal steward – lived a relaxed life with her parents, Queen Cordelia who ruled the queendom of Blumenfeld, King Edwin her absent-minded inventor father and Prince Oskar, her younger brother, a would-be, swashbuckling knight. 

Even though her mother has to wear the heavy, uncomfortable crown today because her everyday crown is missing, she is more concerned about the theft of roses from the royal gardens, particularly because tomorrow is the Summer Harvest Festival  and the palace roses are the feature.  She orders the thief to be found and to be thrown in the dungeon for a year and a day.  But who is the thief? And why steal roses AND the palace peacocks?   Princess Tillie is determined to discover them before the festival is ruined…

Belinda Murrell who gave a previous wave of newly independent readers the wonderful Lulu Bell series, has created a new collection for the next generation of young girls who are consolidating their skills, this time building on that recurring dream of being a princess, but being bold and brave and independent and encouraged to do so despite the presence of Mr Grimm and Miss Prim. With all the supports that these emerging readers need including short chapters, larger font, and a few strategic illustrations, this is one that will have wide appeal, with The Goblin King already available, and The Fire Dragon and The Grumpy Goblin due in the next few months

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


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


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


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.