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Whose Poo?

Whose Poo?

Whose Poo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whose Poo?

Daisy Bird

Marianna Coppo

Andersen Press, 2022

44pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781839132285

The two baby mice are fascinated by poo and even though their dad tells them it is an off-limits conversation while on their zoo trip, they can’t help themselves.  As they walk to the zoo, they see lots of different people and their imaginations run wild as they picture the sort of poo the person would do – but once they get there, there’s no stopping their fantasies.  “Chameleons do sneaky, camouflage poo.  They can hide it anywhere they want to!” 

But the greatest insight is when Father Mouse takes them to meet the Pookeeper…

While this is an hilarious story in rhyme that will have young readers laughing out loud that might have them imagining what sort of poo those around them would do, this story also has a serious side.. It shows that going to the toilet is an everyday occurrence for everybody and everything and is a necessary part of being healthy, sparking conversations about the digestive system and how it works. .  By normalising it in this way, the stigma that has been attached to getting rid of body waste for centuries as though it is something nasty and naughty may be diminished so that if there is a change in the habit or the product, it can be addressed without embarrassment.  It may also minimise the advent of toilet humour that seems to grip young boys and often lasts into adulthood.  

A fun read with a serious side. 

Tashi and the Stolen Forest

Tashi and the Stolen Forest

Tashi and the Stolen Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tashi and the Stolen Forest

Anna & Barbara Fienberg

Kim Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A2.99

9781760878566

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a little boy was finally born to a couple who so desperately wanted a child that after consulting Wise-As-An-Owl the wife sipped a special mixture made for her and within a year, Tashi was born.  Right from the start he proved to be very clever and had many adventures before finally fleeing from a wicked warlord, arriving in this land on the back of a swan where he became Jack’s special friend.  Every now and then he would share an adventure with Jack and then Jack recounted these to his incredulous parents.  And so the adventures and legend of Tashi were born…

For over 25 years, the stories have fascinated young, independent readers as they are the perfect introduction to the world of fantasy and the fantastic, including almost every Year 3 class I’ve taught since the stories were first published.  Presented in a paperback format that each contained two stories, they were perfect for real-alouds as well as read-alones, so much so that in 2001 my Year 3 classes led a national Book Rap that had students from all over the country answering the questions my students had posed about the stories via online activities and emails as the power of the Internet was gradually harnessed to connect children beyond the school walls.

And now it is time for another wave of emerging, newly-independent readers to get to know this magical little fellow who has such big adventures with a new story published at a special Australia Reads price so that more children can start reading. In this stand-alone, Tashi tells about the time the old forest disappeared, and Much-to-Learn was in danger of disappearing with it! And then the whole village was threatened … Could magic sand and a certain spell help save them all? Only someone as clever as Tashi could find a way to outwit the Baron – and solve the mystery of the disappearing trees.

For those who are unfamiliar with Tashi, or who want to make sure they have all the books ready for renewed interest, you can check the list of books here – promote them to your emerging readers who will appreciate the quality stories as they begin  their journey through novels which give them the confidence and satisfaction of reading a “chapter book” for themselves.

 

 

Return to FACTopia!

Return to FACTopia!

Return to FACTopia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to FACTopia!

Kate Hale

Andy Smith

Britannica Books, 2022

208pp., hbk., RRP $25.99

9781913750398

Did you know that bacteria from between people’s toes has been used to make cheese? Or that the world’s most expensive cheese is made from donkey milk? Or that the milk from one species of cockroach is the most nutritious substance on Earth? Or that a cockroach can survive for weeks without its head?

In this choose-your-own adventure journey through more than 400 facts, all of which have been verified by Encyclopedia Britannica, every fact  is connected to the next in an ingenious trail of information, where you will hop from topic to topic in unexpected and hilarious ways. And there’s not just one trail through these pages: sometimes your path branches and you can choose to jump to a totally different (but still connected) part of the book. Let your curiosity lead you through this witty wonderland of facts!

There are connections made between a vast range of topics from history and geography to science and nature, including astronauts, polar bears, rollercoasters, sabre-toothed cats, shipwrecks, bananas, pirates, orangutans, medieval knights, and more, all accompanied by more than 300 fabulously witty colour illustrations and photographs.

And while disclosing that bacteria from between people’s toes has been used to make cheese may not be quite the best to share at the family dinner table, nevertheless these are the sorts of weird and wonderful things that kids of a certain age love to pore over and absorb for just the right (or wrong) occasion.  The format of taking your own path which is indicated by a dotted line and then branching out with diversions to other pages is unique to this series which includes FACTopia and the upcoming Gross FACTopis and ensure that each time the reader devles into it, new discoveries are made. 

Something a little different for your non fiction lovers. 

 

 

Specky Magee

Specky Magee

Specky Magee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specky Magee

Felice Arena & Garry Lyon

Puffin, 2022

192pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143777168

Twenty years ago when the AFL season was being dominated by the team from Port Adelaide but two less-likely contenders, Brisbane Lions and Collingwood  fought out the premiership, one of the most popular series that wouldn’t stay on the shelf was Specky Magee – the story of a 12-year-old footballer whose off-field challenges almost surpassed his on-field exploits.  

Nicknamed Specky because he takes such spectacular marks, the young Specky can’t understand why there is a photograph of him in footy gear in pride of place in the family home yet the family can’t stand football. And so he decides to investigate… It is Specky’s backstory that made this such a popular read because suddenly the boys particularly, were reading about their own challenges as they navigated puberty and family interactions and the bridging that child-adolescent chasm.  They found themselves in the story.

And while Felice Arena’s name wasn’t well-known at the time, Garry Lyon’s was.  As captain of the Melbourne Demons from 1991-1997,  three All-Australian nominations and an emerging media career, Lyon was a leading personality whose name on the front cover of a book would draw in even the most reluctant reader.  For it to evolve into a series of eight books was just the icing on the cake. There are many who owe their reading prowess today to that series, girls as well as boys, because this was also a ground-breaking series that was written for both. While the AFLW was still 15 years away, nevertheless the girls are strong characters who help shape Specky off the field. And Christina introduces him to the notion that girls can play as well as boys.

It is testament to the quality and strength of the story that it is being re-released 20 years on from its debut and it will have as much appeal now as it did then.  While the series spans Specky’s life from 12-14, and thus perhaps is at the upper end of the readership of this blog, nevertheless there will be younger readers who will cherish it for being one of just a handful available about their beloved game. 

Meanwhile, having read the series all those years ago, I’m looking forward to Arena’s new title – The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan the story of a young girl who used her football skills to raise funds for the troops in 1942… perhaps the origins of AFLW go back much further than we think. 

 

Round the Twist

Round the Twist

Round the Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round the Twist

Paul Jennings

Puffin, 2022

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

9780140342130

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to capture the kids’ attention, particularly boys, through books, no teacher was without a copy of one of the latest Paul Jennings short story collections.  Unreal, Uncanny, Unmentionable, Un-anything – pull it out at any time and you immediately had their undivided attention.  Here, in a few short pages, was someone who mentioned the unmentionable and who brought a blush to the face of many a sensitive teacher (part of the appeal of the stories).

And then Jennings invented the Twist family, fourteen-year-old twins Pete and Linda, eight-year-old son Bronson, and father Tony, a widowed artist who makes sculptures. They live in an old lighthouse on a rugged part of the Victorian coastline and their madcap adventures became one of the most popular on television at the time, and which is now enjoying a resurgence on streaming services.  Beginning in print form first (the new release has the original cover) Jennings agreed to work on the television series in partnership with Esben Storm and this gave him the unique insight into how the series was made that is included in this latest release which includes three of the original stories.

Because of the popularity of both Jennings himself, and the series which ran for 11 years, there is a generation of Australians who not only know his name but can attribute their reading success  to his works and so they will be delighted that such a significant part of their childhood is now opening up for their own children – if, indeed, it ever disappeared.  Fun for fun’s sake! 

 

 

Space Detectives (series)

Space Detectives (series)

Space Detectives (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Detectives

9781526603180

Extra Weird Creatures

9781526603203

Mark Powers

Dapo Adeola

Bloomsbury, 2021

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world’s first orbiting city, Starville , a gigantic space station sailing silently as it orbits Earth and home to over a million humans and aliens. This single city,  brimming with skyscrapers, parks and even an artificial sea is enclosed by a huge, strong glass dome  like a vast snow globe, and is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights.

However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery -they had solved many back home on Earth – and when they discover the space station is overrun with cosmic chaos! Boys have two heads, dogs have three tails and even aliens who normally have six arms are growing extra ones!  What is going on? Can Connor and Ethan get to the bottom of this intergalactic mystery?

This is the second in this  series  for young, newly independent readers who like the idea of a mystery mixed with science fiction so anything can happen. With the third episode, Cosmic Pet Puzzle,  coming in August 2022, the beginning of the new school year is the perfect time to entice those emerging readers into continuing their reading with series written and formatted just for them.  This is one to recommend. 

 

Nelson:: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Nelson:: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Nelson: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 9781761042294

Tucked into a bumbag around his waist was a variety of stuff that Nelson hated most, but which he needed often.  Because although he hated the taste and smell of vegetables (tricky when you are in a vege-loving and growing family) they gave him superpowers. So in that bumbag were broccoli  (for invisibility), pumpkin for a super strong voice and strength, a radish for teleportation (and a feather to make himself sick if he ever had to eat them.)

In this, the third adventure in this series for young independent readers, Nelson discovers the benefits of eggplants as he is called on to track down some of the worst thieves in town, thieves who have been stealing every book about dinosaurs from the local libraries. The only one left is his favourite from Kindergarten in the school library. But trialling the effects of eating an eggplant has disastrous consequences… Will Nelson be able to control his inner beast and use it to get out of danger?

This is the third in this fast-paced series that will appeal to those who are ready for novels but still needing the short chapters and liberal illustrations for a little extra support  With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience,  Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Who knows what superpowers might be hidden in the rainbow on the plate?  At the very least the kids will be healthier! 

Space Detectives

Space Detectives

Space Detectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Detectives

Mark Powers

Dapo Adeola

Bloomsbury, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781526603180

Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world’s first orbiting city, Starville , a gigantic space station sailing silently as it orbits Earth and home to over a million humans and aliens. This single city,  brimming with skyscrapers, parks and even an artificial sea is enclosed by a huge, strong glass dome  like a vast snow globe, and is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights.

However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery -they had solved many back home on Earth – and when they discover the space station is hurtling on a collision course with the moon they know they need to step in. This is a case for the SPACE DETECTIVES!

Can Connor and Ethan find the culprit and save Starville from its impending doom?

Fitting perfectly into this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds, this is a new series for young, newly independent readers who like the idea of a mystery mixed with science fiction so anything can happen.  And concluding with an epilogue that sets up their next adventure it promises to deliver for those who like to get to know their heroes better as the series unfolds. 

When someone recently asked for recommendations for series for this demographic to help them consolidate skills and grow their reading, all the old-familiars were suggested – many popular when I was in the library full-time 20 years ago- and while they remain quality reads, this is a new series that could be added to the list. It has all the right ingredients to engage those young lads looking for excitement and adventure. 

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Geeks 2: Planet Pancake

James Hart

Puffin. 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781760895143

Zeek and Arnie are best friends. They do everything together. They love solving problems, inventing, playing video games, coding, reading comics, cooking (mostly Arnie) and planning WORLD DOMINATION (mostly Zeek). 

In the second in this series,  Zeek and Arnie hear about a heap of TREASURE at the edge of the world, so they decide to investigate. Zeek wants to use the treasure to fund his quest for WORLD DOMINATION! But how will they get there? After using their inventing skills to build a ship, the Enchilada, they sail off with Eleanor. But there’s trouble brewing on the horizon . . . What will Zeek and Arnie find at the edge of the world? Will it be TREASURE or TROUBLE? And . . . are they really alone?

The graphic novel format of this book with a minimum of text carrying the story along at a fast pace will appeal to those who prefer screen to print and who, themselves, relate to the geekiness of the boys.  Those who enjoyed the first in the series will appreciate not having had to wait too long to meet their friends again and join in another madcap adventure. 

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Rules are Optional 

9781760525712

A Class Full of Lizards

9781760877378

Alison Hart

Allen $ Unwin, 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

In the first in this series which takes a fun look at life in Year 6, Jesse is in his final year of primary school and should be living it up as one of the ‘Kings’, but he can’t even get his Prep buddy to follow school rules. There is a a plumbing problem the size of Niagara Falls, not to mention the dreaded compulsory school camp.

“It’s the first day of school and I’ve already got three problems:
1) Mrs Leeman is my classroom teacher. She’s so ancient she taught my dad.
2) I might have accidentally been voted school captain. I had an unusually popular day when the class voted last year.
3) Somehow I’ve lost my Grade Six jumper between receiving it and Mrs Leeman’s lecture about being responsible.

That’s a lot to go wrong in half an hour. On top of that, it’s a million degrees. So that’s four problems. It’s worse than I thought! At least things can only get better, right?

In the second book his problems continue as he returns from holidays, not the least of which is the class being overrun by lizards.

Although focused on that final year of primary school, this is a duo that will appeal to those independent readers who are looking for something similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid  with characters and situations that are familiar and thus relatable.  A funny, light read that will take the mystery out of Year 6 and entertain even the most reluctant readers.