Hot on the heels of the successful launch of the junior version of her autobiography comes the latest two in this series for young, newly independent readers.
As with the others, they feature themes that are likely to be familiar to the audience – getting a puppy, and having to put the greater good before your own desires – and encouraging the reader to consider what they would do in a similar circumstance. Part of learning to win is learning to lose, and it is refreshing to have plots where the main character, who in real life we all seem to expect to win all the time, actually faces difficulties and defeat and has to handle that. It is also refreshing to read stories where, even for champions, success doesn’t come easily – there is a lot of trial and error and practice that has to be endured, and not just with sport. So many children who find something like learning to read comes easy naturally expect things like maths or music will also require little effort and when faced with a challenge either turn away or label themselves as “no good at that”.
As sports stars come and go, much in the same way as new waves of young readers discover they can read by themselves, series like this also come and go and are very popular and useful at their time. Students discover that those they admire most face similar dilemmas and choices as they do, making them more real and, at the same time, showing them that they do have power to determine things for themselves. And with their subject matter and format carefully designed for those emerging readers, regardless of the celebrity on the masthead, they also show them that they can read independently, that reading is something they can master and enjoy and that it will open a whole variety of new worlds and pathways. So this is another important addition to your Stepping Stone collection with application and attraction beyond just those who like tennis.
After Lily lost her mum, life was a little ordinary and sad, but things changed when her Dad decided they could be a family of three again by getting a dog – something both Lily and her mum had wanted for ages. At the animal shelter, Lily chose JJ, who was kind of clumsy, but something about his smiley face made her really happy inside. They changed even more when Lily discovered that JJ could talk and is actually super smart. He can speak a number of languages, and knows the answers to maths and geography questions.
Now the family is healing and is back again in a third adventure with this extraordinary dog who has just declared that he want to be a firedog, following a visit to Lily’s school by Chief Firefighter Do and his son Weirdo. But, like many little ones fascinated by the noise and speed and sirens of fire engines, and the wonder of where they are off to, when fire threatens to burn down a local building, Lily and JJ realise there’s more to firefighting than just driving a big red truck. Will JJ and his latest invention save the day?
Sadly, for too many of our children the sights and sounds of the fire trucks have already been heard this summer as bushfire season shows its hand early, so this is a timely release to focus their thoughts on being prepared and knowing what to do if they are in danger, because unlike JJ, they probably won’t have a mini-copter at the ready.
With its intriguing hologram covers, this is a series for young independent readers whose older siblings are reading Anh Do’s other series and they want some of the fun, too.
When George the puppy is introduced to Tao the kitten, The two of them “look at each other and wag their tails,” and it is not long before they are best friends. playing and together all day long. But when George chases him up the curtain in the living room, and Tao falls, George is bereft. While the kitten is scooped up and taken to the vet, George has no idea where his friend is. He searches in all the usual spots but Tao is nowhere, and so he sits at the door and waits and waits, and waits…
This is a tiny book just made for little hands and being shared with a little one, that focuses on friendship and fun and what happens when things get out of hand -as they often do when little ones play together. The text is simple, but the watercolour artwork carries so much making George’s loss when Tai disappears, palpable.
It all began when Etta decided to take a bath . . . And realised she wasn’t alone. In the bath sat Oswald. Etta had never had an octopus in her bath before. At first, Etta thinks it might be fun to have Oswald around. But she soon learns that octopuses are not very good at being tidy . . . or cooking . . . or sharing . . . or even playing nicely. Just as Etta has almost had enough, someone comes to claim Oswald. Oswald isn’t perfect, but does Etta really want to send him away?
This is another in the collection of books for emerging independent readers that focus on a young person being befriended by an unusual creature – in this case, an octopus. It has all the structures like a larger font, short chapters and plenty of illustrations that a young person needs; it contains instructions for the game that Etta and Oswald play, and Andrew Joyner has included a step-by-step guide to drawing Oswald. But what sets it apart is that Etta starts making a list of the pros and cons of having an octopus as a pet, a strategy that our young readers can learn and adapt as they venture into the realm of persuasive writing. Their growing maturity allows them to view a problem or situation from more than their own perspective and to be able to stand back and look at the advantages and disadvantages and then list these so they can make an informed opinion is the basis of a quality argument which is at the heart of persuasive writing and being a critical thinker.
So, having shared the story with the students, it offers opportunities to set up similar situations such as a dragon having taken up residence in the school playground, so they can start to explore and develop this strategy for themselves.
The ending of this story sets it up to be a series so perhaps there will be more to come that those who like quirky adventures can enjoy.
Harriet Hound is pretty much like other girls her age – she is eight years old; she has short curly hair; her favourite letter is H; she lives in a town called Labrador; and she loves dogs. She lives with her grandparents, her mum, and her older brother Hugo in a huge home especially built to be dog-friendly and now it is a dog rescue shelter. BUT – she is also autistic and has a superpower that allows her to summon the dogs from her family’s rescue shelter every time there’s trouble afoot… Whether it’s a carnival catastrophe, a sudden storm, or vanishing vegetables, Harriet and her best dog friends use their super special talents and problem-solving skills to save the day!
Told in a series of short stories, this is a delightful book from the author of one of my favourite recent releases, The Bravest Word and again, she makes Harriet’s autism such a natural part of her life, something Harriet and her family are comfortable with, and it is this authenticity that not only allows those on the spectrum to read a book about themselves but for those around them to understand the condition better. As Harriet says, “I stimmed. I flapped my hands out to the side and clicked my fingers out in front of me over and over again. It’s okay. There’s no need to be worried. Stimming is something I do ALL THE TIME. I do it when I’m worried and when I’m angry. Sometimes I can’t stop my hands from doing it, but I also do it when I’m excited or when I’m happy. I stim to calm myself down.” Can there be a better, more straightforward explanation By showing that being autistic is just a different way of being human, that there is nothing wrong that needs to be “fixed”, and certainly nothing to be ashamed or frightened of, Foster advances the cause of acceptance immeasurably. Indeed, she continues this focus on kids with special needs in her upcoming book, The Unlikely Heroes Club.
Autistic or not, this is a wonderful set of stories for young, independent readers who love dogs and who would desperately like to live where Harriet does, and have her superpower.
Life was a little ordinary for Lily for a while, particularly as she had lost her mum, but things changed when her Dad decided they could be a family of three again by getting a dog – something both Lily and her mum had wanted for ages.
At the animal shelter, Lily chose JJ, who was kind of clumsy, but something about his smiley face made her really happy inside. They changed even more when Lily discovered that JJ could talk and is actually super smart. He can speak a number of languages, and knows the answers to maths and geography questions .
In this second episode of this series, Lily’s teacher, Mr Hosking, agrees that Lily can take JJ to the school camp at Camp Pineapple. Everyone is having fun until glowing eyes start appearing in the shadows. Could it be the legendary Giant Panther?
Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular and prolific authors, and this new series is somewhat of a cross between a picture book and a novel, but not a graphic novel per se. Told by Lily herself , highly illustrated in colour with conversations in speech bubbles and different fonts, it is an ideal stepping stone between basal, instructional readers and the novels newly independent readers are aspiring to. The story is grounded in the familiar situation of going to school camp and the characters are relatable, although of course there is the usual Anh Do twist. Reading a popular author loved by older peers and siblings is an added bonus, as well as enticing them to try other series he has written!
Dog wants in. He’s trying to build blocks, play with his cars and finish his painting masterpiece. Cat wants in. No, Cat wants out. In. Out. In. Out. It’s enough to drive Dog crazy!
Any child with a cat or a dog is going to relate to this hilarious story as they recognise the familiar situation of their pet not being able to make up its mind about being in or out. Whether they have the patience of Dog is another matter.
But the power in this story for our youngest readers is that they can tell the story for themselves just by looking at the picture and thus predicting the simple, large text that accompanies it. They can be “real readers”, strengthening their belief that they will master those squiggles on the page by looking at the context and drawing on their existing knowledge to make sense of what is going on. That, in itself, makes this book worthwhile and the underlying themes of friendship and understanding wrapped up in an hilarious, familiar circumstance just add to the fun.
Everyone loved Augie and Perry when they were puppies and played with them all the time, but as the years passed and the children went to school and the adults were at work, the dogs were left to their own devices during the day. Most days they were fine but one day they found a way to get through the screen door and outside and soon they’re diving into the swimming pool, digging an enormous hole in the lawn, and causing all kinds of chaos… But then they hear the family car pull up…
Many of our young readers will have got a pet for Christmas and while that’s all well and good during this long summer break, just what will those pets get up to when school goes back? This is an hilarious story that will entertain young readers but plant seeds of doubt as to what might be really happening when they are not there.
Life is a little ordinary for Lily right now, particularly as she has lost her mum, but things change when her Dad decides they could be a family of three again by getting a dog – something both Lily and her mum had wanted for ages.
At the animal shelter, Lily chooses JJ, who kind of clumsy, but something about his smiley face makes her really happy inside. They change even more when Lily discovers that JJ can talk and is actually super smart. He can speak a number of languages, and knows the answers to maths and geography questions. This could be the answer to her constant dilemma about having something interesting for show-and -tell, but then things get complicated. It’s one thing to be the centre of attention for a few minutes, another to be accused of something you didn’t do.
Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular and prolific authors, and this new series is somewhat of a cross between a picture book and a novel. Told by Lily herself , highly illustrated in colour with conversations in speech bubbles and different fonts, it is an ideal stepping stone between basal, instructional readers and the novels newly independent readers are aspiring to. The story is grounded in the familiar situation of what to share for Show and Tell, and the characters are relatable, although of course there is the usual Anh Do twist. Reading a popular author loved by older peers and siblings is an added bonus!
A new series that will have a lot of fans and followers.