Archives

Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium

Pippa's Island: Puppy Pandemonium

Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium

Belinda Murrell

Random House, 2018

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143793267

Life could hardly be more different for Pippa.  From a seemingly happy family living in a Victorian terrace house in London to a caravan in her grandparents’ backyard on a tropical island off the Australian coast.  Forced to make changes when her husband decided to work in Switzerland without them, Pippa’s mother has uprooted the family to a totally new environment where she is now running the increasingly popular Beach Shack Cafe created from an old, abandoned boat shed – a huge contrast to being a stockbroker in London!.

But the end of caravan life is in sight as Pippa’s mum finally has enough money to get the apartment finished – the children have even given up their pocket money to add a few more dollars to the pot. So when Pippa is overcome by a wave of unexpected jealousy because she is still wearing her daggy English school swimmers and doesn’t have a bike to go to other parts of the island with her friends, she decides to turn the negative feelings into a positive, particularly when she sees a beautiful pair of swimmers on sale.  And so Pippa’s Perfect Pooch Pampering is born.  Offering dog-walking, pampering and pooper-scoopering, what could possibly go wrong?

As this review is published, Miss Now 12 will be on her way to the Australian Scout Jamboree, on a bus for 15 hours with electronic devices banned.  But no doubt she will have her nose buried in this latest episode in her favourite series which she loves because the story “sounds just like me and my friends and the things we do.”  

For those who are new to the series, they don’t have to have read the others first (although it would be time well spent) because Murrell introduces Pippa, her family and friends and circumstances in an easy-to-read introduction meaning each episode is a stand-alone.  With its theme of just appreciating the pleasures found in friendships and simple things, and reflecting the lives of regular kids, even those who don’t live on a tropical island,  this is a glorious series for girls who are independent readers but who are not quite ready or interested in the contemporary realistic fiction that features in many stories for young adults. 

Even though she is a year older than when I first introduced her to Pippa and her friends, I know Miss 12 will be delighted to have them accompany her on that long bus trip! 

 

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Deep Dark Forest

Sue Whiting

Anne White

Walker Books, 2018

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

9781742032344

People say that the deep dark forest is thick with danger – carnivorous plants and venomous snakes are just two of its threats – but when Rosie’s little pup Tinky runs into it, she knows she has to face its fearful reputation and rescue him.  Despite the strange noises that made her knees wobble and made her eyes as round as the moon, she put her brave on and in she went, going further and further into the unknown, calling for Tinky.  But then she came across something worse than a venomous snake or a carnivorous plant…

Echoing the perils that heroes have to encounter in traditional fairy tales and illustrated in a style that brings the creepy scariness of the woods to life, this is a story for young readers who like a bit of tension in their tales but no so scary that it can’t be a bedtime read.  There is plenty of scope for the young reader to predict what could be scarier than a venomous snake or a carnivorous plant or how Rosie might cross the “dizzily, dangerously, dreadfully, deep ravine”, encouraging them to let their imaginations roam and reveal a little of their own fears.

As well as immersing themselves in the stunning illustrations which add the atmosphere as well as the detail, they can explore the meaning of the vocabulary which certainly doesn’t talk down to them.  Knowing what words like ‘venomous’ and ‘carnivorous’ mean and investigating why animals and plants have such mechanisms can be very empowering, like being able to say the names of the dinosaurs.  And having them put themselves in Rosie’s shows as she encounters the problem of the ravine enables them to be active listeners rather than passive participants while being Rosie and shouting at the troll would just be pure fun! So much scope for follow-up activities too!

Stories that engage and involve readers so they become part of the action are my favourites – this would be one of those. 

 

 

Catvinkle

Catvinkle

Catvinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catvinkle

Elliot Perlman

Laura Stitzel

Puffin, 2018 

240pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780143786368

Catvinkle lives in Amsterdam, with her barber-owner Mr Sabatini, and she likes to think that the world revolves around her, as cats generally do. From her basket near the fireplace in what she considers to be her room, she watches the legs and feet of the passers-by as they walk past her window, delighted when she sees someone with socks that don’t match and occasionally swishing her tail that has a big red bow tied to it. All is well with her world.

But one day, kindly Mr Sabatini brings home a stray Dalmatian to live with them and Catvinkle’s life is not only interrupted but is irrevocably changed.  Even though cats and dogs are not supposed to like each other, Ula’s politeness and meekness impress Catvinkle and gradually they become friends.  But when they present their friendship to others of their species, they find that what they have is not necessarily acceptable to all.

Written in response to what the author describes “as a ‘surge in, and tolerance for, racism and bullying’ in public discourse” this is a gentle story that addresses  that racism and bullying and promotes social inclusion while remaining on the surface, a story about an unlikely friendship between a cat and a dog. If they can accept a llama who plays backgammon, why can’t others?

Perlman has been short-listed twice for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and his skill with putting words onto paper is very evident – this story, while intended for young independent readers, engages adults so it makes a perfect bedtime read-aloud to younger children too.

Something different for those who like something different. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Good Rosie!

Good Rosie!

Good Rosie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Rosie!

Kate DiCamillo

Harry Bliss

Walker Books, 2018 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781406383577

Rosie loves living with George and going for walks with him, but she is lonely.  The dog in the bottom of her empty silver food bowl does not talk back to her, and when George sees historical figures in the clouds, Rosie just sees squirrels to chase – never another dog.  But when George does point out a dog-cloud and Rosie barks at it, he realises she wants company and takes her to the dog park.  

But there are too many dogs who are loud and boisterous for Rosie until…

This charming story in graphic novel format by the author of such outstanding books like Because of Winn-Dixie is perfect for any little person who loves dogs, or who is a little like Rosie and not sure how to go about making friends.  And it’s not just Rosie who learns to navigate the obstacles, but George himself finds some new people for his life too. Bliss manages to give each dog its own personality with compassion and humour so that even Maurice is portrayed as awkward rather than a bully. 

As a new school year looms on the horizon and many children will be facing new adventures in new schools, and perhaps with some trepidation, they may well relate to this little terrier as she enters a new environment which is overwhelming but manages to find her place within it. Because of its format with some quite small panels, this is one to be shared one-on-one with a child so Rosie’s anxiety and how she dealt with it can be talked about, and perhaps give reassurance and confidence that, on the whole, the big wide world of school is a friendly place and that each child is like Maurice, Fifi and Rosie – they just want a friend if only they could learn now to make one. 

The Tales of Mr Walker

The Tales of Mr Walker

The Tales of Mr Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tales of Mr Walker

Jess Black

Sara Acton

Puffin Books, 2018 

192pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99

9780143793076

On a beautiful autumn day, Mr Walker sat in the back seat of the car feeling very excited because he was going to be the Guide Dog ambassador of a park.  Even though he didn’t know what “ambassador” meant, he loved parks, especially rolling in the dirt and playing fetch with sticks.  

So he was really confused when the car stopped outside a tall building, and when he got out his paws slipped and slid on tile floors instead of gripping the grass he was expecting.  Turns out Mr Walker was going to be the ambassador for the Park Hyatt hotel in Melbourne. Because of his larger-than-life personality it had been decided that he would be better meeting and greeting the hotel’s guests, including important people and celebrities and raising awareness of Guide Dogs Australia

Written in a chatty narrative that will appeal to all those who love stories about dogs, especially true ones, this book contains four illustrated stories about Mr Walker’s adventures at the hotel -where he still remains lounging on his custom-made Tasmanian oak bed.

  

All royalties from the sales of the book are being donated to Guide Dogs Victoria

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes

One Shoe Two Shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Shoe Two Shoes

Caryl Hart

Edward Underwood

Bloomsbury, 2018

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

9781408873052

One shoe
Two shoes
Red shoes
Blue shoes

Wet shoe
Dry shoe
Old shoes
New shoes

Shoes, shoes and more shoes . . . this book is bursting with them. From party shoes and flip-flops to cowboy boots and clogs, there’s a pair here to suit everyone. There’s even a shoe house for a little mouse!

Reminiscent of Ffrida Wolfe’s poem Choosing Shoes this story follows a dog out for a walk with its master noticing all the different types of shoes and then switches to its discovery of a family of mice who have made their home in a shoe! Its bouncy rhyme and rhythm will appeal to young listeners as they are introduced to colours, patterns and numbers in an engaging way.  

Great for preschoolers who will chant along with you and can have fun exploring colours and patterns by matching the shoes in the family’s wardrobes!.

 

 

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Spot at the Zoo

Eric Hill

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

9780141373850

Spot and his family enjoy exploring  the wildlife park and meeting lots of new animals along the way but when he disappears, his parents have to search for him, looking behind the flaps to see if he is hiding.  Where can he be?

In 1980, a generation of children fell in love with Spot and his adventures in the iconic series with its humour, bold, bright pictures, minimal but bold text and the lift-the-flap features that invited exploration and engagement.  So this new series with its familiar format and humour will appeal to a new generation, likely the children of the original. It is perfect for starting their initial concepts about books and print and its interactivity will encourage not only a lot of re-reads but also sitting down and telling themselves the story.  #unabashedspotfan

It’s also an opportunity to talk about how Spot’s parents feel when they can’t find him and the importance of sticking together in unfamiliar places.

 

 

The Dog With Seven Names

The Dog With Seven Names

The Dog With Seven Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog With Seven Names

Dianne Wolfer

Random House Australia, 2018

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

9780143787457

A tiny dog, the runt of the litter, is born on a remote cattle station. She shouldn’t have survived, but when she is given to Elsie, the station-owner’s daughter as a Christmas gift, and is called Princess, she becomes a cherished companion. Life is perfect … until War arrives.

With Japanese air raids moving closer, Elsie’s family leaves the Pilbara for the south and safety. But the small dog has to stay behind. Found by Stan and Dave, two drovers intent on signing up for the Army, but who have a mob of cattle to deliver to Port Hedland, she becomes just plain “Dog”. But tragedy strikes and she is taken under the wing of a flying doctor,who calls her Flynn, and becomes a hospital dog and experiences the impact of war on north-western Australia. She witnesses wonderful and terrible things and gives courage to many different humans… 

But through all her adventures and many names, the little dog remembers Elsie, who girl who loved her best of all. Will she ever find her again?

Told through the voice of Princess, this is a heart-warming story that not only tugs at the heart-strings but also brings to life the events of the early 1940s and their impact on north-western Australia, a region as historically remote to many as it is geographically,  in a way that alerts children but doesn’t scare them. 

Many of Dianne Wolfer’s books have an historical theme which brings the past to life for young readers (Light Horse Boy was a CBCA Honour Book in 2014 and Nanna’s Button Tin is a Notable for this year) and once again, her thorough research is a hallmark of this new release.  There is a timeline of the events of World War II aligned to the events in the story as well as other historical notes, all of which not only add authenticity to the story but also provide new pathways for interested readers to follow.  

Independent readers who like animal stories will adore this. 

Pups! (series)

Pups!

Pups!

 

 

 

 

 

Pups! (series)

Sophie Beer

Little Hare, 2018

26pp., board book., RRP $A14.99

 

Alpha Pups

9781760501952

Pup and Down

9781760501938

Naughty Pups

9781760501938

Rainbow Pups

9781760501945

Little people love puppies ad so this series of board books for the very young reader will delight them. Once they have been shared, the youngest readers will have fun looking at them time and again and telling themselves all that is happening.  

Alpha Pups introduces a wide range of dog species in alphabetical order- some familiar, others not-so, but each in a colorful caricature doing something crazy and unexpected with a familiar object starting with the same letter. Pup and Down explores the concept of opposites. Rainbow Pups introduces colours while Naughty Pups has them trying very hard to be good but not quite succeeding.

The colours, concepts and quirkiness of the illustrations make this a charming new series that will help very little ones start to understand what a book is about. 

 

 

Cat Spies Mouse

Cat Spies Mouse

Cat Spies Mouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Spies Mouse

Rina A. Foti

Dave Atze

Big Sky Publishing. 2018

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

9781925675344

When Cat spies mouse, he grabs him and tells him he is going to gobble her up.  But being a feisty mouse, she disagrees and asks, “Why would you do that?” And so begins a back-and-forth conversation about the fairness of bigger being allowed to eat smaller because “that’s the way it is”. Mouse, who must be terrified, nevertheless has courage and tries to convince Cat that it would be better to be friends, but Cat is not interested until along comes D-O-G!

Told entirely in conversation with different coloured text identifying each speaker, this is a charming story about assumed power invested by size – just because you’re bigger doesn’t make you in charge – and it will promote discussion about whether being little means giving in or having rights. Is Cat (or Dog) a bully? Mouse’s arguing against the status quo is very reminiscent of little ones who feel injustice keenly but who don’t quite know how to get something sorted, although they are determined to win and make their own world fairer. Having the courage to speak up for change is a big lesson in assertiveness, and while parents might end the conversation with “Because I said so!” it is nevertheless a sign that their little one is maturing and gaining independence. 

The illustrations are divine – set on a white background, all the emotions and feelings are contained in the animals’ body language and facial expressions that even without being able to read the words for themselves, very young readers will still be able to work out the story and participate in that crucial pre-reading behaviour.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity – this is a thought-provoking read that we can all take heed of, regardless of our age!