Archives

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

384pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760891039

Alice-Miranda and her friends are off to the Australian Outback! They’re going to help an old family friend who’s found himself short staffed during cattle mustering season. The landscape is like nothing else – wide open and dusty red as far as the eye can see. It’s also full of quirky characters, like eccentric opal miner Sprocket McGinty and the enigmatic Taipan Dan.

As the gang settles in at Hope Springs Station, mysteries start piling up. A strange map is discovered indicating treasure beneath the paddocks, a young girl is missing and there are unexplained water shortages. Can Alice-Miranda get to the bottom of this desert dilemma?

It’s been 11 years since we first met Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, and, in that time she has had many adventures around the world, entertaining so many young girls over that time with her positivity and perseverance.  Even those who started their own reading journey when Alice-Miranda first organised her own admission to Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies like to pop back and enjoy her new adventures.  This new adventure takes them into the Australian Outback, a new experience even for many Australian kids, and, within the context of an engaging story, offers them an opportunity to learn about the history of the country that extends beyond the First Fleet and the ugly, dirty streets of early Sydney.

So whether your girls are already avid fans or newcomers to this series, there is much to absorb them and the good news is, that unlike Clementine Rose,  Jacqueline Harvey is already planning new adventures. 

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie Kids

Meet Sam at Mangrove Creek

Paul Seden

Brenton McKenna

9781760894122

 

Meet Mia at the Jetty

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

9781760893668

Puffin Books, 2020

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

The great reading continues in the latest two in this wonderful series which features Aussie kids from a diverse range of backgrounds and settings celebrating something unique about their home state. So far we’ve met Zoe and Zac from NSW and Taj from a Victorian lighthouse; Eve from the outback of WA  and Katie from a beautiful Queensland beach and now it’s time to meet Sam from the Northern Territory and Mia is South Australia.

Sam lives near the beach on the northern tip of the Northern Territory and, having saved his money to buy a new throw net, today he is going to use it for the first time because his cousin Peter is coming fishing too.  They set off to catch the high tide and perhaps catch barramundi following the bait fish into the mouth of the mangrove creek. But Sam gets cross when Peter opens a bag of banana lollies because everyone knows that having bananas on a fishing trip is bad luck for real fishermen. But is there more to catching fish with a throw net than the choice of snack you have?

Meanwhile, Mia is in Victor Harbour in South Australia waiting for Jim, the son of her mother’s friend, to arrive so she can be a super tour guide, especially taking him on the horse-drawn tram ride to Granite Island.   But can she carry out her plan without her big sister Alice taking over?

This really is an excellent series that not only introduces young, emerging readers to the diversity of this country and the children in it, but invites them to think about what is special about where they, themselves , live.  With travel restrictions still in place, and lockdowns back in force in some places, this is the perfect time for children to get to know their immediate surroundings better and consider what it is that makes it such a special place.  If they had a friend or relative coming to stay, what would be the unique things they could show them? Such a question opens up a range of writing and art activities that would be perfectly pitched to the child’s individual interests and abilities because each would have a different response.  For those who want to take a different direction, they could start to examine the circumstances that led them to this place at this time,  making connections with their past. There is a lesson guide available but just using the format of the book with its introductory postcard, identifying the points of interest (in whatever format) and adding some fun facts about something that is significant offers riches in itself.  

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : A New World

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781922265074

On a trip to Sydney before being sent to boarding school in Brisbane, country girl Carly Mills visits the sights and sites of Sydney’s past with her new friend Dora. At Customs House they are refused admission because the exhibits are being changed. but when Carly picks up two shawls that drop off a trolley she is told to keep them as they are probably being discarded.

But what she doesn’t realise is that hers has a magic of its own when she puts it on- it transports her back in time to meet some of the influential women in  history.

In the first in this new series she is taken back to 1841 to the days of Caroline Chisholm and her work with new immigrant women and girls giving them a safe haven in the Female Immigrants’ Home and getting suitable employment. In others she meets Dr Lilian Cooper, Dame Nellie Melba, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Miles Franklin.

Written for newly-independent readers, the series is a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women who have shaped the world bringing history alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. A companion series to Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy, this has great potential to introduce young readers to important people of the past in a way that will engage and educate at the same time.

Bluey: All About …

Bluey: All About ...

Bluey: All About …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: All About …

Bluey

9781760898304

Bingo

9781760898298

Puffin, 2020

12pp., board books, RRP $A14.99

Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC. 

Now these two books add another dimension to the characters by offering a behind-the-scenes look at their lives and loves, thus introducing the concept of characterisation to our youngest readers. Both Bluey and Bingo have their own stories beyond their two-dimensional screen portrayals. Using such familiar faces to not only develop concepts about print and early reading behaviours but also to sow the seeds of literary appreciation is the perfect way to start developing an understanding about how quality stories are built and why certain characters stay with us for a long time.  I know friends with young children have been known to ask, “What would Bluey do?” when their children have been faced with a dilemma!

To take the power and impact of the books a step further, children might like to do a shape book of themselves, sharing their likes and dislikes so they can start to see that they, too, are made of many different layers. Then, if they share their books with their friends, they can begin to understand that each is unique with many similarities while still being different and that just adds to the reasons  they like each other.

Tell ’em!

Tell 'em!

Tell ’em!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell ’em!

Katrina Germein, Rosemary Sullivan with the children of Manyallaluk School

Karen Briggs

Working Title Press, 2020

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

9781921504921

It starts with a little girl answering a question asked by an unseen asker  – I know what you should tell ’em – and, apparently prompted by that unseen asker asking ‘what else?”, continues with a joyous celebration of the lives of the children as they share the activities of their community and country.  And even though the children of this remote community live about an hour east of Katherine, NT much of what they do and enjoy is very similar to what all children enjoy because kids are kids, everywhere.

Tell ’em how us kids like to play.
We got bikes and give each other rides.
Tell ’em about the dancing and singing,
And all the stories the old people know.

Yes, there are things that may be unfamiliar like the buffalo and the crocodiles – “just freshwater ones” – and maybe families hunting for bush turkey, goanna and kangaroo for dinner might not be the norm for city kids but dancing and listening to stories and hunting for phone reception will all resonate.

But what threads through this achingly beautiful picture book apart from those similarities is the sheer delight and joy that these children have in their lives, the respect they have for their elders and their country and their understanding of the intertwining of the past, present and future.

I wonder what the children in our communities would share if they were asked the same question!

Maybe the first step could be figuring out the question these children were asked, and then given that most were so keen to get back to school after their enforced weeks at home, build a class response that helps them focus on why! 

A stunning, exuberant joyful celebration of being a child that has to make you smile.

 

 

Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire

Tippy and Jellybean

Tippy and Jellybean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire

Sophie Cunningham

Anil Tortop

Albert Street Books, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760878474

Tippy and Jellybean live in the beautiful eucalypt forests bordering Australia’s high country in Victoria. Life is as it should be for mum and bub until one day in Summer 2019 just as it is turning over to 2020, they wake to smell smoke on the hot, windy air. While the kangaroos and wallabies bound away, the wombats crawl deep into their burrows and the cockatoos take off in noisy flight, Tippy and Jellybean can do none of those things.  As koalas, their only sanctuary is to climb to the top of the tree and hope they will be safe from the fire dragon that is on the warpath.

Curling herself around Jellybean, Tippy protects her baby from the flames even though she herself is burned…

Amidst the horror that was the summer of 2019-2020 , one of the enduring stories for our young readers is that of the impact on the wildlife. So to have this charming true story that not only tells of Tippy and Jellybean’s recovery but also of the dedication and expertise of veterinary professionals to preserving what they can offers a feel-good followup that will go a long way to helping the children heal too. And we are desperately in need of feel-good stories right now.

As fate would have it, Gelantipy was on my list of go-to places after having seen a documentary about in on ABC Back Roads, (it’s a comfortable drive from here) and we had a trip planned, but the fires beat us to it. Then we ourselves had to evacuate… So to know that there is a happy news story, the words interpreted in gentle, non-threatening illustrations by Anil Tortop, and that this is just one of so many creatures saved and treated by carers (many volunteers, some from overseas) strengthens my desire to explore this area as soon as.

To show our young readers that there can be happy endings, that in a time that seems so relentlessly harsh and tough there can be hope and help on the other side, and that Mother Nature can rise up no matter how beaten she is is what our students who have endured the fires, both first-hand and vicariously need right now.  Reassurance can sometimes be the greatest gift and this book provides that.

Dedicated to all the creatures that were not as lucky as Tippy and Jellybean, the publisher will donate $1 from every copy sold of this book to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund, to help fund emergency veterinary assistance and scientific intervention.

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

Roma the Road Train's First Road Trip

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roma the Road Train’s First Road Trip

Debbie Camps

David Clare

Little Steps, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925839524

The road from Darwin to Alice Springs is almost 1500 km long and travels through some of Australia’s most scenic but inhospitable country.  Getting freight between the two centres can be arduous and hazardous even for the huge road trains that make the trip regularly.

This story about Roma the road train’s first journey takes young readers through that  outback country showing off not only the countryside but also the life of the driver who makes it, one typical of the men and women who do it frequently as they earn their living.  Driver and truck become one as the journey unfolds, the driver attuned to every nuance of the motor, every sensation felt through the steering wheel and then every night time sound as he curls up in the bunk behind the cab.

If you have young students, boys or girls, who have a hankering to be a truckie, or are just wanting to demonstrate another different lifestyle found in this vast country, then the road train drivers, the distances they travel, the country they travel through and the sort of freight they carry offer that. 

Yellow Truck Road Train

Yellow Truck Road Train

Yellow Truck Road Train

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Truck Road Train

Mandy Tootell

A & U Children’s, 2020

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

9781760525811

Distances are huge and roads are long in the Northern Territory and so are the trucks that travel them. Yellow Truck Road Train is just one of the vehicles that transport stock and freight across the landscape during the dry season and this book by a truckie’s wife not only gives an insight into that life but celebrates it.

Being the wife of a truckie, I appreciate the story of the drive, its ups and downs, its friendships and loneliness but I must confess it puts the trips hubby makes on the east coast into perspective for distance! Young readers aspiring to make the highway their home will enjoy the uniquely Australian aspects of this book and the h-u-g-e fold out at the end showing the anatomy of a 6-deck road train including a Kenworth T904 prime mover will fascinate them. Trucker language is also unique but there is a glossary to help out.

One to add to your Australia: Story Country collection to entice young lads, particularly, to read. 

 

More than a Kick: Footy, the Photo and Me

More than a Kick: Footy, the Photo and Me

More than a Kick: Footy, the Photo and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than a Kick: Footy, the Photo and Me

Tayla Harris and Jennifer Castles

A & U Children’s, 2020

192pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760525804

Sunday, March 17, 2019 and Tayla Harris goes to work as normal, just as she has every other day. But this was to be no ordinary day – not only was it the last round of the AFLW home-and-away matches to determine which team would be in the finals, but it was the day Tayla was propelled into the media in a way she never sought nor wanted.

During the match, she kicked a goal and photographer Michael Wilson snapped the action as it happened.  Ordinarily, it would be no big deal but when it was published online to showcase her amazing athletic ability, suddenly the faceless trolls who hide behind their keyboards decided she was fair game and the photo went viral, along with a plethora of nasty comments that turned it into something it was not. Rather than being a photo of an athlete at work, it became a war of words – a war that hit the headlines here and overseas. And because 7AFL chose to remove the photo rather than hold the trolls accountable, it attracted even more attention. 

The photo...

The photo….

In this frank and very personal memoir of that time, Harris speaks directly to the reader about the impact that it had on her as an individual and as a footy player and her concerns for herself, her family and the families of those who felt it was OK to write what was essentially sexual abuse. She notes that she was “lucky” because she had a manager, a family and a community who rallied around her to support her through the furore, but she is very concerned for those who suffer similar bullying and do so, alone and often in secret. 

Whether readers are footy fans or not, know who Tayla Harris is or not, this is a powerful story that shows the power of social media and the consequences of those faceless remarks that so many seem to think they have the right to make.  For our girls wanting to aspire to the highest level of sport, it is inspirational; for those who are suffering at the hands of these anonymous cowards it offers hope and guidance; for those who write such trash, it is an eye-opener into what their words can do.  For Tayla, it resulted in a statue in Federation Square and a boost to women’s football that was unprecedented, but sadly, for some like Dolly Everett it is a burden too tough to bear.  That’s why, despite not usually reviewing books for the age group that this is written for, I’m sharing Tayla’s story because this is a story that needs to be heard over and over and over – until the haters and trolls are held accountable and responsible for their actions.

The statue... (Daily Mail, UK))

The statue… (Daily Mail, UK))

 

 

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

Zoë Norton Lodge

Georgia Norton Lodge

Walker Books, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781760651855

Excitement is in the air as Elizabella – poet, fixer of fairytales and the biggest prankster in the history of her school – heads off to camp with the rest of her class. But when Larry the Lizard learns she’s headed to Lizard Lake he stows away in her suitcase, dreaming of discovering the other sentient lizards rumoured to be living there. Soon, Elizabella begins having strange dreams and wonders if Lizard Lake is haunted. Meanwhile back at Bilby Creek, Martin madly searches for Larry, eventually stumbling on another lizard who looks exactly like him. After discovering who is really haunting Lizard Lake, Larry and Elizabella return home to solve another mystery. Who is the imposter hanging out with Martin? 

This is the third in this series for young independent readers – Elizabella Meets Her Match and Elizabella and The Great Tuckshop Takeoverhave already been published and Elizabella Breaks a Leg will be available in September. Described as a ” messy mix of Matilda, Pippi Longstocking and Horrid Henry”, this is a lively series for girls who like a light-hearted read but with a bit of substance as they see themselves in the situations that Elizabella manages to get mixed up in.   Told from the perspectives of Elizabella, her father, her pet lizard and her principal Mr Gobblefrump, the adventures of Bilby Creek Primary School’s camp at Lizard Lake will entertain as the camp’s motto is “Don’t Worry, Be Happpy” (distorted for copyright reasons) and everything has a positive spin on it.  While Elizabella and her friend Minnie really want to devise the greatest prank of all time, they are confronted by real-life issues that provide a serious side that makes for a story that offers more than the blurb would suggest.

This is a series worth promoting to your students in that Year 3-4 range who are ready for the next step on their reading adventure.