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


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


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


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


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! (series)

Sophie Beer

Little Hare, 2018

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


Alpha Pups


Pup and Down


Naughty Pups


Rainbow Pups


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


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!


Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas

Pugs Don't Wear Pyjamas

Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas









Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas

Michelle Worthington

Cecilia Johansson

New Frontier, 2018

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


Tom is excited to go to stay with Aunt Roz because he knows she has a new friend called Ellie for him to play with.  But he is a little dismayed when he finds Ellie is a pug, and even more so when he discovers Aunt Roz treats Ellie like a human.  Perched between Tom and Roz wearing new pyjamas, Ellie listens to the bedtime story and the next day at the beach she wears a beautiful wide-brimmed straw hat.  

Wherever Roz and Tom go, so does Ellie pampered and acting like the furbaby she is.  Tom remains somewhat mystified but gradually he accepts Ellie as his friend, particularly as she makes friends wherever she goes – something that is difficult for Tom to do.  So one afternoon, when he is supposed to be looking after her in the backyard but is more intent on playing soccer and Ellie slips out through the unlatched gate, he is as worried as Aunt Roz about her and together they hunt through all the familiar places.  But neither he nor Aunt Roz expect to find her where she is…

There are lots of kids who, for lots of reasons, can’t have pets but who long for one and Ellie would be just the one they would choose.  A dog that is willing to be dressed up, can skateboard and climb trees would be the answer to many child’s prayers, particularly those who are lonely.  So this story will resonate with many and they will delight in Ellie’s adventures, especially the ending, and have lots to say about what they would do if they had an Ellie. Superbly illustrated with pictures that capture both Tom’s emotions and Ellie’s joy, this is a charming story about owning a pet and caring for it, possibly sparking discussions about whether treating pets as humans is the best thing for them.  Where is the line between animal and human drawn? Are there any human things (like chocolate) that dogs should not have?

A fabulous story for introducing a unit of work for early childhood about caring for pets and meeting their needs more than our own.   Children could create a photo wall of their pets explaining the things they like to do and share with them while learning about the no-nos. 


Dotty Detective (series)

Dotty Detective (series)

Dotty Detective (series)











Dotty Detective (series)

Clara Vulliamy

Harper Collins, 2017+

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

Super Secret Agent


The Paw Print Puzzle


The Midnight Mystery


The Lost Puppy


The Birthday Surprise


The Holiday Mystery 


Meet Dorothy Constance Mae Louise, or Dot as she prefers to be called! She and her best pal Beans and TOP DOG McClusky love to solve mysteries and in this new series written especially for the young almost-independent reader, there are plenty of mysteries to be solved!

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 Super Secret Agent  mean girl Laura seems set on sabotaging the school talent show, Dot is determined to find out how, and save the day…

In The Paw Print Mystery  Dot starts hearing strange noises at night she’s convinced there must be something SPOOKY afoot. But before they can prove there’s a ghost on the loose, Dot and Beans have to follow Ace Detective Fred Fantastic’s golden rule: GET PROOF. Easier said than done when the suspect appears to be invisible!

In The Midnight Mystery Dot and Beans can’t wait for their school trip to Adventure Camp where they will do lots of exciting activities like zip-wiring, grass tobogganing and roasting marshmallows round a campfire! But once they arrive, strange things start happening. Could mean girl Laura could be up to her old tricks in a bid to win the Adventure Camp Prize…? It’s up to the Join the Dots Detectives to find out!  Meanwhile, TOP DOG McClusky is entered into a local dog show! Will he keep up his training while Dot’s away and win the prize for handsomest pooch?

Last week of term in The Lost Puppy and the children are looking forward to the School summer fair. Dotty and best pal Beans will be looking after pet’s corner, starring McClusky and his two canine pals: Geoffrey and the little sausage dog puppy, Chipolata. But just days before the fair disaster strikes – Chipolata has gone missing.

The Birthday Surprise has Dot’s trusty sidekick, Beans and TOP DOG, McClusky are keeping secrets from Dotty while The Holiday Mystery (due July 2018) Dotty and Beans are SUPER excited about their summer holiday together. It’s going to be SO much fun. Beaches, BBQs and best of all NO SCHOOL! But there’s no rest for the Join the Dots Detectives who soon have a campsite case to solve…

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. 

Little Dog and the Summer Holiday

Little Dog and the Summer Holiday

Little Dog and the Summer Holiday









Little Dog and the Summer Holiday

Corinne Fenton

Robin Cowcher

Black Dog, 2017

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


“The long, lazy  days of summer holidays waited like parcels in a lucky dip” and under Little Dog’s supervision Jonathan and Annie are packing their shiny new caravan ready for the summer road trip!  From Melbourne to Sydney and back there are many places to visit and things to see – crossing the Murray River into NSW, visiting the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox five miles from Gundagai, battling Sydney traffic to cross the Harbour Bridge, swimming at Bondi Beach, taking the ferry to Manly… but when it all comes down to it, there is one place that Little Dog likes better than any other!.

While the text alone could be that of a story today, Robin Cowcher’s gentle watercolour illustrations take this story back to the late 50s when caravans were rounded and there were no New Year’s Eve fireworks on the harbour.  Just as Little Dog and the Christmas Wish celebrated Melbourne, this new adventure celebrates Sydney.  Road trips remain a popular way to holiday for many families – mine included – and readers will have fun comparing their experiences to those of Jonathan and Annie and Little Dog.  Has anything really changed? If the story were written for 2018, what would be different?

The shape and inclusions may have changed, but has the fun?

The shape and inclusions may have changed, but has the fun?

A great story to share as students return from holidays and have their own stories to share.

Rescue & Jessica: A life-changing friendship

Rescue & Jessica

Rescue & Jessica










Rescue & Jessica

Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes

Scott Magoon

Candlewick Press, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Rescue thought he would grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog – after all, that’s what his family does.  However, his handler thinks he would be better as an assistance dog and Rescue is worried that he wouldn’t be any good at that.  He did not want to let anyone down.

Meanwhile, Jessica has had to have one of her legs amputated and will need either a prosthetic leg or a wheelchair to be mobile.  This is not what she thought her life would be like and she worried about whether she will be able to manage the changes.  And then she and Rescue are teamed up…

Based on the true story of a young woman injured in the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, just five years ago, this is a story of how Jessica and Rescue manage the unexpected changes in their lives and how they rescued each other.  Five years on, it is not only a tribute to assistance dogs the world over,  it also highlights the struggles of those who survive these disastrous events and continue to cope long after the headlines have moved on – in this case, more than 260.  

As well as the personal story of Jessica and Rescue, it also highlights the resilience, the perseverance, and the continuing hard work that it takes to go forward from such a life-changing event including those that do not make world headlines. The cause of Jessica’s unhealthy legs is not disclosed within the story and so there are many children who, sadly, can relate to the realisation that life as they know it has changed and life as they had dreamed is irrevocably altered.   Divorce, family break-ups,illness,  car accidents, deaths… these (and more) are part of the fabric of our students’ lives that they may be dealing with in silence and while they might not require an assistance dog, we need to be mindful of their struggles. Sharing this story and discussing Jessica’s feelings of despair and hope, taking one step at a time, one day at a time may help them progress just a little further.