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Super Sidekicks (series)

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

9780143795865

Super Sidekicks 2: Ocean’s Revenge

 9780143795889

Gavin Aung Than

Puffin, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

 

“Superheroes have it easy. They don’t have to clean their secret headquarters, wash the alien bloodstains out of their costumes or be responsible for taking Super Mutt out for a walk. No, they leave all that for their sidekicks like me, while they get all the credit! “

But Junior Justice (aka JJ) is tired of all that – “Being a superhero sidekick isn’t as fun as you think. You do all the work, beat the bad guys and save the planet, only for your grown-up partner to get all the credit.”  So he and his sidekick pals, Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo, have decided to form their own super team. But before they can start saving the world they’ll have to prove to the adult heroes that they’re more than just sidekicks. And once the evil Dr Enok discovers his favourite pet Goo has left him to join a super team, the world might need saving sooner rather than later!

This is the first in a new series that will appeal to those who like lots of action and adventures in their stories and a graphic novel format making it an easy read for the newly independent reader. Given the popularity of superhero movies and the anticipation for Avengers: Endgame  with young and not-so-young projecting themselves into the roles of world saviours, this is a series that has the protagonists at a similar age to the reader so they will be able to take on their favourite role as they immerse themselves in it. 

The second, Ocean’s Revenge focuses on a problem that is thankfully getting more and more publicity – the pollution of our ocean with rubbish, particularly plastics, and the devastating effect that is having. The Mother of the Seas is sick of humans using the oceans as a junkyard, so she decides to give the land dwellers a taste of their own medicine. Children of the age that this series is aimed at are very aware of their environment and the impact that humans are having on it so this is an ideal discussion starter to raise awareness of the impact of plastic on it and perhaps even begin with some small projects to make a difference, because even a little helps. And knowledge is empowering and for young children to feel they have any power at all has to be the way forward because too many adults still have their heads in the sands and dismiss the issues. Introduce them to young fictional heroes like JJ and his Sidekicks and then to real-life ones like Greta Thundberg and show them they CAN  make a difference and the local, national and international media will take notice.

A timely series with an important message and the potential to have a huge impact.

Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

Laura James

Emily Fox

Bloomsbury, 2019

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

9781408889343

In a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee lives the world’s greatest flamingo detective. His name is Fabio. He’s not tall or strong, but slight and pink. And he’s very, very clever.

It’s the height of summer and Fabio and his associate Gilbert are taking a relaxing holiday journey on the fastest train in the world! But no sooner does the conductor call ‘All aboard’ than a very expensive ruby necklace disappears and the great detective is back on the case!

This is the second book in the hilarious illustrated mystery series by the author of PiratePug, and it is perfect for newly independent readers who require a larger font. short chapters and illustrations to support their reading.  The second in the series  – the first is The Case of the Missing Hippo ,  the third Peril at Lizard Lake will be available in the new year – it introduces young readers to the mystery genre as Fabio tries to discover who stole the necklace with slightly offbeat characters. Can they solve the mystery before Fabio?

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

Cats and Robbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats and Robbers

Russell Ayto

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781408876503

While inside the house everything appeared to be as it should, outside three robbers were spying on it and making a list of things they would take once they were inside. They had dismissed the paintings, the vases, the sculptures and the sweets and their primary goal was the safe! So in they crept intent on their mission.

But they did not know they were being watched by two cats. Two cats who had their own reasons why the safe was sacred and would not be taken, and who put into place a plan to protect it.

This is a delightfully funny story that will have young readers in stitches as the slapstick comedy plays out and they want to discover who wins! The twist in the end is perfect…

Written with repetitive phrases and clever use of bold font, it is made for reading aloud with the reader using the cues to build up the tension and suspense. This is not a book that can be read in a monotone with no passion or engagement. Lots of fun and lots of scope for ideas to foil the robbers and their plans.

Kensy and Max: Undercover

Kensy and Max: Undercover

Kensy and Max: Undercover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kensy and Max: Undercover

Jacqueline Harvey

Random House Australia, 2019

400pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791904

The third in this series which includes Breaking News and Disappearing Act , twins Kensy and Max have adjusted to the disappearance of their parents, and are comfortable in their new life as part of the important Pharos organisation, headed up by their grandmother, Cordelia. 

In this adventure they are back in London for no time at all before things begin to heat up – quite literally. As a result, Granny Cordelia ships them off to Australia on an undercover mission. The twins find themselves planted in a posh Sydney school where first appearances prove to be deceiving.

What seems like a straightforward assignment turns into something so much bigger. Kensy and Max must employ all their spy skills – the fate of their parents, and who they’ve been searching for, depends on it.

When I gave Miss 12 the first two in this series all other Christmas presents were forgotten as she sat and devoured them, and then re-read them on the long bus trip to the Australian Jamboree near Adelaide just a couple of weeks later. Regardless of what anyone else might say, there is no more powerful review than that of the intended audience and to me, Miss 12, who is a discerning reader, has said it all.

Perfect for your up-and-coming independent readers who want characters they can relate to and events that they can picture themselves being involved in and emerging victorious of course, as they  try to solve the clues as they read and using the mysterious Caesar code to encrypt the chapter headings.

 

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse The Official Guide

Shari Last

DK, 2018

96pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

9780241347843

 

“Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into the one and only Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his special, high-flying talents. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other universes and pull different versions of Spider-Man into our world.”

This is the synopsis of the new Spider-Man movie about to be released in Australia on December 26 and so this official guide to the story and the new characters will be a must-have in any fan’s Christmas stocking.  They can discover everything they ever wanted to know about his astonishing costume, loyal allies and frightening enemies, and find out about his amazing origin story and his fiercest clashes as  he juggles high school life with his status as a Super Hero.

Written in graphic novel format crossed with the usual DK clarity for accessing information, this is the perfect way to combine what is likely to be a blockbuster movie with the power of print to provide more information, particularly as reviews from the movie suggest it is likely to be very popular these holidays.

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

Liz Marsham & Melanie Scott

DK, 2018

200pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99

9780241314241

Founded in the US in 1934 by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, DC Comics, named from an original series called Detective Comics which introduced Batman to the world in 1939,  is one of the world’s oldest comic publishing companies.  Now a subsidiary of Warner Bros, DC is the home of many popular superheroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman,  Green Lantern and Green Arrow;  supervillains like The Joker; Lex Luther,  Brainiac, and The Penguin; and fight-for justice teams like The Justice League and Teen Titans. 

While they have always been popular in comic format, the magic of technology and special effects have seen a surge in popularity of all these characters as they garner new audiences through movie screens.  In this new publication from DK, all the known and unknown of the goodies and baddies has been gathered together so young readers can learn more about their heroes and their enemies and get a better understanding of who they are, what they do and how and why they do it.. Reflecting the comic format of their origins but touched with DK publishing magic to make the range of information easily accessible to young readers, this publication takes the stories back to their print origins, albeit in full colour these days, turning them full circle and encouraging fans to read as well as view. 

With events like Comic-con  pulling massive crowds of young and not-so around the world; regular news stories of sick children being lifted by a visit from their heroes and new-release movies breaking box-office records, the pull and power of those original characters has not dwindled over the last 80 years.  Thus, this would be an investment for the library collection or the Christmas stocking as there is already a captive audience who could boast that reading is their superpower.   

Help Around the House

Help Around the House

Help Around the House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Around the House

Morris Gleitzman

Puffin, 2018

198pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143793236

Eleven-year-old Ludo is on his way to live in Canberra because his father has just been elected as the new Independent federal representative for Culliton, but beginning with being seated in business class he is overwhelmed by the luxury and ostentation that come as part of a federal Member’s salary and entitlements.

A boy who lives (almost) strictly according to Scout Law and his deceased mother’s mandate of helping others, Ludo vows to turn things around and get the politicians to understand and act on how much their generous remuneration would help others who are not so fortunate, particularly the homeless.  But it is not as easy as it seems and while his father is off on a fundraising trip, Ludo, with his new Scout friend Henry, soon finds himself embroiled in the seedier, selfish side of Canberra’s political life, hampered by Mike, his father’s aide who can see no further than votes, the next election and power, but helped by Mrs B, the housekeeper who knows more than a regular housekeeper might. Ludo is determined to ensure that fairness and justice prevail, even though that finds him out late at night, bending some of the rules instilled in him by his mother with whom he has regular ‘conversations’ and who Gleitzman says is modelled on his own mother who died while he was writing the book.  She is certainly a strong guiding presence for Ludo in a place where moral principles seem to have departed, and while the ideals learned from her may get shaken at times, nevertheless, Ludo’s core beliefs about who he is and what he should do are unshaken.

This is the latest release from the current Australian Children’s Laureate (his next is the finale to the Once series) and like all his books since his first, The Other Facts of Life written in 1987, this is a cracker.  Over 30 years of writing for children. children whose  own children will be getting ready to share his work with their children, and Gleitzman still has the rare gift of combining credible, likeable characters in almost-plausible situations with a message softened with humour.  Ludo who sees life through the idealistic eyes of a typical 11-year-old who has been brought up in kindness and selflessness and who has absorbed the tenets of Scout Law into his psyche learns some tough lessons about the reality of life, particularly how personal perceptions shape responses, while his father also has to reassess his future as the truth about political life becomes apparent.  Given the recent events in federal parliament, this is particularly relevant as questions are asked about who among our young people would want to become a politician.

Having spent 30 years living in Canberra, this book has a personal connection and even though some of the places are fictitious,  many of the events in the story are not and Gleitzman’s exposure of the behind-the-scenes machinations and motivations was unsurprising to this somewhat-jaded senior citizen.  But to the young reader, perhaps meeting Gleitzman for the first time,  it may be disappointing that adults are so self-centred but the ending is uplifting and will reaffirm their belief in the basic goodness and good intentions of most adults.  A page-turner! 

Kensy and Max – Breaking News

Kensy and Max

Kensy and Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kensy and Max – Breaking News

Jacqueline Harvey

Random House Australia, 2018

366pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99  

9780143780656

Imagine getting in a car in one country and waking up in a strange place in another!  That’s the beginning of a whole new adventure for twins Kensy and Max who started their journey in Zermatt, Switzerland and 16 hours later find themselves in the grounds of an unfamiliar mansion in England.  While it seems their carer Fitz knows his way around as he follows an unfamiliar fellow wearing a red dressing gown with matching slippers inside and up the stairs, Max is mystified but the warmth and comfort of a large, soft bed is too tempting and he is soon asleep again.  But when they wake in the morning to find themselves locked in the mystery deepens and the adventures begin…

Breaking News is the first in a new series by the author of both Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda series, featuring feisty twins Kensy and Max.  At just 11, Kensy is feisty, impulsive and has two speeds – full-tilt or out-cold – while Max is more measured and perceptive, They are smart and athletic and fiercely competitive, particularly between themselves, but also tough and determined, which seems a perfect combination of characteristics for amateur sleuths who find themselves in a strange and mysterious situation as the real truth about their parents’ employment emerges and they are separated from them for their own safety.

As well as writing another cracking story that will engage independent readers who love a good mystery, Harvey also invites the reader into the story by enabling them to try to solve the clues as they read and using the mysterious Caesar code to encrypt the chapter headings.

With the second in the series, Disappearing Act just weeks away from release this is the perfect time to hook young readers into an intriguing series from one of our best authors for the age group.

 

Friday Barnes: Bitter Enemies

Friday Barnes: Bitter Enemies

Friday Barnes: Bitter Enemies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Barnes: Bitter Enemies

R. A. Spratt

Random House Australia, 2017

254pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780143784197

Friday Barnes is the daughter of two highly-intelligent, eccentric physicists who are so disconnected from her upbringing that they called her Friday even though she was born on a Thursday.  She did have four siblings, all much older than her being born during the four-and-a-half years their mother had allocated for the task.  Friday was not scheduled and her birth was fitted in around a lecture her mother had to give in Switzerland.  Eleven years later, Friday had largely raised herself and she was happy with that.  Her greatest wish was to be unnoticed because you could do so much more that way like eating a whole block of chocolate at once without it being taken off you.    Unfortunately, it also means that you do not develop very good social skills particularly if you spend your time reading scientific tomes and educating yourself beyond the realms of anything a school could offer.

However, as well as the non-fiction her parents library consisted of, Friday had a penchant for detective novels because “being a detective allowed a person a licence to behave very eccentrically indeed” and she had honed her powers of observation and logical thought over the years.  But the time has now come for Friday to go to high school and given her parents haven’t even realised she is no longer in preschool, it was up to her to sort it.  She would have preferred not to go at all because she saw it as being all about “bullying, dodge ball and having to find a date for the prom” but the government was insistent that she do.  She tried to compromise by applying for university and passed the exam to study medicine but was knocked back on her age. 

So rejecting the idea of the Foreign Legion, the Peace Corps and being smuggled out of the country by people traffickers, after helping her ex-cop, private investigator Uncle Bernie solve a case she finds herself with the means to send herself to Highcrest Academy the best and most expensive boarding school in the whole country.  Her intention is to stay under the radar, do what she has to do and leave.  But things do not work out that way.  But right from the start, her nondescript self-imposed uniform of brown cardigans, grey t-shirts and blue jeans makes her stand out among the fashion parade that is the elite, wealthy students who also attend the school.

And so, in this the seventh episode in the series, Friday is well-known to all at the school , either having got them into trouble or out of it at some stage.  

But all is not well at Highcrest Academy because it is the start of the new academic year and Friday is not there.  She has been whisked off to a school in Switzerland by her parents leaving best friend Melanie and “boyfriend” Ian bereft and bewildered.  How will they get through the year?  

Luckily for them, Friday does turn up and all are immediately embroiled in a new adventure as the school celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of its founder Sebastian Dowell, and as part of the celebrations four previous principals return, each with very different ideas and plans.  

Miss 11 had this series at the top of her reading wishlist for Santa this year as she has discovered a character not too unlike herself – intelligent, quirky, and a bit different from her peers but very comfortable in her own skin, yet deep down wanting to be just like them – and is eagerly reading her way through the earlier episodes.  She will be thrilled to see #7 in her Santa Sack and know that #8 Never Fear will be out in time for those long January days.

The Chocolate Monster

The Chocolate Monster

The Chocolate Monster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chocolate Monster

Pip Jones

Laura Hughes

Faber & Faber, 2017

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780571327515

 

Oh my goodness!  A mighty tricky, sticky thief has been spotted on the loose.  It’s The Chunk.  He’s silent like a cloud, walks on tippy-toes, has HUGE hands and feet and a bulbous twitching nose.  His purple fur streaked with pink covers his gleaming eyes and even though he is very tall, he’s very good at disguise!  And his passion is chocolate – no matter where it is or how it is, he can find it and steal it.  

This is a lovely romp in rhyme searching out that elusive chocolate monster, that mysterious, invisible creature who manages to discover and devour any chocolate in the house or even the neighbourhood. Everyone is warned to be on their guard because who knows where he will turn up next – and with 100 000 chocolate bars as a reward, who wouldn’t be watching for it.

This is a hilarious standalone story that little ones will love but it also offers some great teaching opportunities, the first being to give the children the description of the monster without showing them Laura Hughes’s interpretation and challenge them to draw what the words suggest.  Even though they are all working with the same words, each picture will be different because of each individual’s previous experience so it is a great introduction to the notion that we all perceive events in a different way depending on what we already know and believe and our role within them.  As a follow-up, share A. A. Milne’s The King’s Breakfast and have the children draw the King!  

Back in the days when we could have fun at school, Year 3 did an investigation into chocolate which transcended curriculum borders and this book would be an ideal starting point for a similar investigation,  Why is chocolate so loved?  Would the book have the same appeal if it were a broccoli monster?  Does a chocolate a day keep the doctor away? Why, if not for a fly no bigger than a pinhead, would there be no chocolate? 

There are riches more yummy than chocolate itself in this book!