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Over the Moon: Let Love In

Over the Moon: Let Love In

Over the Moon: Let Love In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the Moon: Let Love In

Colin Hoston

Yujia Wang

HarperCollins, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9780063002418

After losing someone, special, Fei Fei a bright young girl fueled with determination and a passion for science, builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess who may hold the answers  to her questions.  There she ends up on the adventure of a lifetime and discovers a whimsical land of fantastical creatures. 

Based on the Netflix original animated film, this picture books retells the story of Over the Moon. Based on a classic Chinese myth, it is a timeless tale of keeping the faith, keeping the love and embracing the unexpected, and the power of imagination.  Young readers will enjoy reliving Fei Fei’s adventures long after the screen image has faded with its simple, direct text and stunning illustrations, and perhaps encourage them to move on to the novelisation.. 

A Glasshouse of Stars

A Glasshouse of Stars

A Glasshouse of Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Glasshouse of Stars

Shirley Marr

Puffin, 2021

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760899547

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination.

Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing’s entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.

In this intriguing novel, the author has drawn on the good, the bad and the ugly of her own experiences of arriving in Australia in the 1980s after being a refugee on Christmas Island and having to adjust to such a different life and lifestyle.  Her “Western mind and Eastern heart” resonate throughout the story, offering the reader an insight into what it must be like for so many of their peers and perhaps helping them to understand and interact with them better.  

Jessica Townsend, the author of the Nevermoor series, has described this book as “‘Heart-twisting and hopeful, bursting with big feelings and gentle magic. This is a special book from a powerful, compassionate new voice in children’s literature, destined to be read and loved for generations and held close in many hearts (including mine).’  And, really, that says it all. More for the upper end of the readership of this blog, nevertheless it is one that needs to be shared with your mature, capable independent readers who are wanting something that will engage them and stay with them long after the last page is read.  While they will need to have some tissues handy as they ride the rollercoaster of emotions as Meixing faces the changes and the accompanying ‘big scaries’ they will rejoice in her resilience and ultimate triumph. 

 

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Shackleton's Endurance:  An Antarctic Survival Story

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Joanna Grochowicz

Allen & Unwin, 2021 

304pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760526092

After the race to the South Pole ended in December 1911, with Roald Amundsen‘s conquest and victory over Sir Robert Falcon Scott. the fascination with Antarctic exploration was not over. Irishman Ernest Shackleton, a member of Scott’s original expedition in 1901-1904, turned his attention to the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. 

Thus, in August 1914, Shackleton and his men set sail for Antarctica, where they plan to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. But in January 1915, his ship, the Endurance, becomes locked in pack ice, slowly being crushed before the shore parties could be landed and, later, sinking without a trace. With no help available, to survive, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men must undertake a trial even more extreme than their planned crossing of the frozen continent. Their aim is to make it home against tremendous odds, with only lifeboats to cross the heavy seas of the South Atlantic. And so the crew camped on the sea ice until it disintegrated, and eventually launched the lifeboats aiming for South Georgia Island, a stormy ocean voyage of 720 nautical miles (1,330 km). As well as the ice and the ocean their constant companions were hunger, exhaustion, and uncertainty but  Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills drive them on.

This is an extraordinary tale of leadership, courage and teamwork made all the more remarkable because it is a true story, and while at the upper end of the readership for this blog, a story that will entice and engage those who crave these sorts of real-life adventures.  Told using narrative non-fiction the reader becomes one of the characters experiencing the events as the meticulously researched historical facts are woven into a compelling story.

A companion to Into the White – Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey a journey which inspired my own mother throughout her life and led her to become the first female journalist to visit the ice , and Amundsen’s Way,  this is the third in this trilogy of tales from that Age of Antarctic Exploration that take the reader back into a world of curiosity and faith, courage, determination and resilience, well before technology made such exploits “safe”.  

Oona

Oona

Oona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oona

Kelly DiPucchio

Raissa Figueron

Katherine Tegen Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A 29.99

9780062982247

Oona the mermaid and her best friend Otto the pufferfish love to search for treasure on the ocean floor, … but often they find trouble instead.

Messy trouble.

Tricky trouble.

Even shark-related trouble.

That’s never stopped them though! So when Oona spies a beautiful crown caught in the sand at the bottom of a narrow crack she was determined to have it.  But does she have the courage to dive right in and fetch it from the dark, murky depths where who knows what might be waiting for her? 

This is an engaging story that has the unusual twist of Oona actually giving up on retrieving the crown but then continuing with how that made her feel and her resolve returning.  We all know the feeling of dissatisfaction when something we desire, tangible or not, remains just out of reach. We have to consider whether it is a walk-away thing or whether it’s an occasion to rethink our strategies so we can attain or achieve it. So, by not having Oona reach her goal, the author opens up the discussion about what we can do it we don’t win.  In this success-oriented world where children are rewarded just for turning up to something they have committed to, they don’t often have the opportunity to learn to lose, to experience the feelings that that entails and how to not only deal with the loss but also those feelings. 

The other element that sets this apart from other stories about mermaids is the illustrations, for Oona is not the stereotypical pretty white mermaid with long golden locks and fish-scale tail and Otto is not a cute rainbow-fish type companion, so that also could lead to an exploration of stereotypes, their impact on our perception and how something that is completely different from what we were expecting can impact on our reading.  Does the diversity enhance the experience or distract from it?

This is a book for a range of ages – it could be just a story about a mermaid or even a discussion about how the “treasure” she finds ends up in the ocean, it could be the springboard to much more. 

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Monster and the Extremely Big Wave

Rachel Bright

HarperCollins, 2021

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

9780008408329

Love Monster is going on an exciting adventure with his friends… to the beach! He can’t wait to be THE BEST SURFER IN THE WORLD! But as Love Monster gets closer to the extremely big waves, the less sure he is. Will he even have the courage to dip a toe in the ocean? Of course he does – after a bit of trepidation and consideration.  But that first wave dumps him so does he have the courage to try again?  

This is a story featuring a character who now has his own series on CBeebies, thus making him familiar to many young readers and encouraging them to read. It has a familiar theme of being afraid to try something new but having the courage to eventually have a go, perhaps inspiring those same young people to tackle something that has seemed like a mountain to them so they too, can feel the thrill and empowerment of achievement.

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Coco, the Fish with Hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coco, the Fish with Hands

Aleesah Darlison

Mel Matthews

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760899226

Deep in the estuary where the river meets the sea of the Derwent River in Tasmania lives one of the most endangered species in Australia – the tiny spotted handfish, so named because they use their “hands”  to walk along the sand and silt of the sea floor rather than using their fins to swim. So endangered that it is the first marine fish in the world to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  

It is Spring when we first meet Coco and it is a busy time for her because she needs to find a  sea squirt that will be safe to lay her eggs and she only has a few weeks in which to do so, find a mate and then guard them until they hatch.  And even then they are not safe because even though she can lay 80-250 eggs each year, there are still only about 3000 spotted handfish in the wild in the world – all in that remote river in Tasmania! Existing since the time of the dinosaurs, yet now threatened by invasive seastars, pollution and climate change, Coco and her babies have more than hungry fish to worry about.  

This is the first in a multi-book series that will introduce our youngest readers to some of Australia’s most vulnerable wildlife, particularly those that are scarcely known.  And with her usual gift for words, Aleesah Darlison has crafted a story that is full of information (and supported with fact boxes) while being entertaining in itself.  Coupled with illustrations that are visually appealing whilst still being biologically correct, this is a fascinating introduction not only to this little-known creature but also to the power of print in non fiction.  So many of our littlest readers are fascinated with the unusual world around them (talk to my friend’s little person about pangolins) yet there is not yet a lot that reaches down to their level of literacy so they can access it for themselves.  Simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence and knowledge, a large font, engaging illustrations and attractive layout, with a page summarising the key points as the finale make for a combination that will be a winner with readers and teachers alike. Given there is another book on the same subject shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for 2021 this will be an excellent addition to the collection to satisfy the curiosity of those clamouring to know more. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

 

Goal!!!

Goal!!!

Goal!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goal!!!

Lydia Williams

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760526146

When we first met Lydia Williams in Saved!!!, she was trying to master all sorts of sports with only the native animals to help her.  Now her family have moved to the city which is big and intimidating and without her old friends, she couldn’t practise her goalkeeping skills. Feeling lonely and alone, she goes to the city zoo to cheer herself up but even the animals don’t want to know her, until the fleetingly fast gibbon steals her ball…

Using the metaphor of the zoo animals with their superior skills to show how listening to and learning from others is the best path to self-improvement, Lydia shows how she worked on her game so that she is now the Australian Matildas first-choice goalkeeper making her debut at just 17, and plays for Arsenal in the UK.  With the Tokyo Olympics on the near horizon and hopefully the Matildas making the nightly news regularly, they have become the role models for so many of our young girls and their matches around the world are eagerly followed.  Thus, this and Saved!!! are both perfectly timed for sharing with them to inspire their aspirations.

How did those NSW and Queensland representative rugby league players rise to shine above the rest? 

Even for those whose dreams may be as far from being a champion soccer player as you can get, the message of listening, learning, friendship and teamwork permeates everything so it is one for everyone. 

 

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island (series)

The Tindims of Rubbish Island

9781838935672

The Tindims and the Turtle Tangle

 9781838935696

The Tindims and the Ten Green Bottles

9781838935719

The Tindims and the Floating Moon

9781838935733

Sally Gardner

Lydia Corry

Zephyr 2020-2021

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Since the days of the Vikings, the Tindims have lived on Rubbish Island, recycling debris salvaged from sunken pirate ships and galleons. They have always lived in secret, caring for the creatures of the sea and helping messages in bottles to find the right tides. But now as plastic threatens to overwhelm their island home, the Tindims make contact with children for the first time ever to show them how to turn rubbish into treasure…

Join Skittle, her furry pet Pinch, her parents, Admiral Bonnet, Mug, Jug, Brew, Captain Spoons,  Granny Gull and Barnacle Bow on  Rubbish Island where they seem to find a use for every piece of rubbish that the ‘Long Legs’ throw into the water. For years they have lived by their motto: ‘Rubbish today is treasure tomorrow’.  Wander through its warren of underwater rooms, including a toothbrush library and a hospital for sick fish, climb its terraces overlooking the sea and scale Rubbish Mountain. Set sail with them on their first ocean adventure as they show keen young human ecologists how to help protect our planet for the future.

With the current focus on the environment and its sustainability, this is the perfect series to share with newly independent young readers who are looking for an engaging read that relates to their world but with a little bit of magic and escapism thrown in.   Described as The Borrowers-on-Sea , these tiny creatures turn trash into treasure. The first in the series introduced the characters as they deal with the menace of plastic; the second  is about Ethel B Dina, who looks after the fish hospital and loves to sing, needs ten green, glass bottles to complete her musical Bottleramma. But she is surrounded by too many plastic bottles which do not make music.  The third continues the tale of the bottles and finds Barnacle Bell and Granny Shell in trouble  as the terrifyingly tall Bottle Mountain tumbles into the sea and they are left clinging on tightly as they float off over the waves; while the fourth, due in September 2021, features a glow-in-the-dark squid, drawn by the light of the moon, has wandered far from its friends on the ocean bed to the lake on Rubbish Island. The Tindims are puzzled by their new shiny lake, but with the help of Spokes, Barnacle Bow and a rather special invention, they discover the squid and try to help it on its way home again.

The series is modern ,focuses on a theme that is close to the heart and minds of its target audience, that of making this world a better place by thinking globally and acting locally. There are not a lot of things that our youngest readers have the power to improve or change, but being environmentally conscious is one of them so this book which inspires them to be more aware is certainly within their realm. As well as the usual supports for young readers transitioning to more complex novels,  it is printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader.

 

Eliza Vanda’s Button Box

Eliza Vanda's Button Box

Eliza Vanda’s Button Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eliza Vanda’s Button Box

Emily Rodda

HarperCollins, 2021

288pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781460759608

Buttons three, attend to me!

Take me where I want to be!

It was a miserable rainy day in Tidgy Bay and no one saw Eliza Vanda arrive .The sign advertising ‘Cabins for Rent’ was almost hidden by a pile of builder’s rubble, but Eliza Vanda didn’t seem at all put out by the mess. In fact her eyes twinkled when she saw the small cottage called Spindrift that sat at the head of the cabins “like a mother duck leading a line of ducklings.” 

‘”This is a nice little pocket,’ she said. ‘It should suit us very well.”

No one, that is, except Milly Dynes who rubbed a patch in the misty window at just the right time to see a small, brown, sturdy woman, neatly clad in a long green coat which was buttoned to her chin, a brightly patterned scarf around her head and black boots, clutching a squishy green bag bulging with who knew what in each hand. And when the woman knocks on the door wanting to rent a cabin and signs herself as a “travelling dressmaker, no fixed address” you just know that this is going to be another cracker story from Emily Rodda – and so it is. 

Perfect for independent readers who like to have one foot in a fantasy world while keeping the other in the real world so they feel they can ‘come home” at any time, this new adventure from the author of the classic Deltora Quest is so engaging and intriguing that even a non-fantasy reader like me became engrossed.  The accompanying teachers’ notes  make it an excellent read-aloud to accompany this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. 

 

Pear of Hope

Pear of Hope

Pear of Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear of Hope

Wenda Shurety

Deb Hudson

EK Books, 2021

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

9781925820867

At the bottom of Anna’s garden is an old pear tree that is her favourite place and secret hideout.  She loves being up in its branches, where it gives life and shelter to all sorts of creatures and allows her imagination to wander.  But as autumn and then winter roll in, it loses its magic and wonder, just as Anna does as she succumbs to a deadly illness. The tree stands bare and alone until one day Anna returns and gives it a soft hug. And together they start the journey back to wellness and fullness… 

Using the pear as a symbol of hope, as it is in many parts of the world, this is a delicate story of a young girl’s battle with cancer and chemotherapy tracing Anna’s journey in its illustrations more than its words so the reader really focuses on the parallels between tree and child. Just as the tree loses it leaves in winter but returns to its full glory as the warmer weather returns, so does Anna’s hope and resilience build until she is back able to celebrate her 10th birthday with her friends and family, under the shelter of the pear tree. 

While some of our students may be in Anna’s particular situation, there are many more who are facing other challenges and who need the reassurance that time will pass, and like the pear tree, they will prevail.  So this is one to share and talk about so each can take what they need from it.