One Hungry Dragon

One Hungry Dragon

One Hungry Dragon











One Hungry Dragon

Alastair Chisholm

Alex Willmore

Hachette, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Deep in a dark and gloomy forest, a creature stomps through the trees.

“I am Bernardo, “he roars, ” and I am ONE HUNGRY DRAGON!”

So look out anything that crosses his path including two silly sheep, three hearty heroes, four proper princesses, and a host of other characters straight out of the fairytales of the young readers this is designed for.  But is it the end of the world for all those he swallows or is there a twist in the tale?  Maybe even more than one twist?

Despite Bernardo’s antics, this is a laugh-out-loud book rather than a scary one as both the illustrations and the climax will just delight little ones as they join in the fun, roaring with Bernardo, counting forward and back and learning about the delights of the picture book format.  

If the popularity of any of my storybook cushions featuring dragons is anything to go by, the attraction of dragons in stories remains unabated and this is the perfect addition to the collection. 

How to Hatch a Dragon

How to Hatch a Dragon

How to Hatch a Dragon











How to Hatch a Dragon

Nick Bland

HarperCollins, 2023

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


Bunny has bought his best friend Bird a present.  Carefully, he takes it out of the box and places it on a large rock telling Bird it is a dragon egg, and he knows that because he bought it from the dragon-egg shop.  

Bird has a few questions about his gift so together they sit in front of the rock and work their way through the instructions.  Meanwhile, behind them…

This is the first in a new series for our youngest readers that not only celebrates friendship and fun but is also going to teach them so much about stories, reading and how to use the words and the pictures together because in this story, all the action is happening in the illustrations!  As Bunny is sharing what he is learning from the instruction sheet, magical things are happening in the background that they are oblivious to, but which the astute reader will be marvelling at.  It’s a bit like the old=time pantomime where the lead characters are unaware of other goings-on and the audience has to shout out warnings! Don’t be surprised if that is what your young reader does!

As well as engaging the readers in such a clever way, this has the potential to really open a child’s reading journey because Bland is also the author of the series that began with The Very Cranky Bear which will be familiar to so many so this offers an opportunity to discuss authors and how we often choose new reads because we have enjoyed the author’s work before.  Conversely, if the little one likes How to Hatch a Dragon it offers the opportunity to search out other titles by the same author.

It also introduces the concept of a series to little ones so they can be encouraged to think about what they learn about Bunny and Bird from this story so when the next one is released, they can be prompted to recall that and focus their thoughts and energy into enjoying the next episode.  

Bland says he always wanted to be a cartoonist and a writer, but it wasn’t until he was in his 20s and got a job at a bookshop and then read “every picture book that hit the shelves” that he finally discovered his own style and how to put being both storyteller and illustrator together.  Our youngest readers are so glad that he did.


Our Dragon

Our Dragon

Our Dragon











Our Dragon

Mem Fox

Linda Davick

Puffin, 2023

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


Having a young toddler in the house can sometimes seem like raising a dragon, especially as they start to push boundaries to exert and test  their independence but don’t have the words to articulate their frustration when things go wrong and so there is an explosion.  Particularly if the child is tired or hungry,

In this new book from family favourite Mem Fox, the little one is portrayed as a dragon breathing fire rather than the usual manifestation of a tantrum, giving it a light-hearted touch as the parents remain patient and try to guide it to making better choices. Written in rhyme, Fox shows that the outbursts are unintentional – “And he also tries hard / to behave as required, / but flames often spout / when he’s hungry or tired.” and the parents’ calm responses are teaching the child how to respond to any situation as much as the one at hand.  IMO, if this is an older sibling sharing this story, it also helps them understand that the younger one is still learning so whereas they might get into trouble for doing something similar, that’s because they’ve been through the learning stage and should know better by now.  But what if the little one really were a dragon???? 

Put Mem Fox’s name on a book for Australian children and you know you are going to get a story that is something special – and this lives up to expectations.  

The Fix-it Princess

The Fix-it Princess

The Fix-it Princess













The Fix-it Princess

Janeen Brian

Cherie Dignam

Walker Books, 2023

160pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99


Princess Shona likes to solve problems, the bigger the better and particularly if they involve practical solutions like rebuilding the chook house.  She is a  is a princess with a Can-Do attitude bur right now she is facing the biggest problem she has ever had to solve.

For their joint birthdays, she made Mum-Queen and Dad-King a wing-thing and they were last seen two days ago soaring over the castle walls and haven’t returned.  Because hard times have fallen, there is no staff left at the castle and so Shona is on her own with 15 chickens (who at least lay eggs so she has food) and an old horse called Wildfire.  To make matters worse, the drawbridge is up and so she can’t get out to start looking for them, because surely if they could get back, they would be…

With all the elements of a good story about princesses including gloomy, scary woods nearby, a dragon who sings but apparently can’t fly, shysters who pretend to be her parents and so on, this is a great novel for any young independent reader who has dreamed of being a princess – but one who is resilient and resourceful rather than waiting for some handsome prince to rescue her.  They will relate to her bubbly personality that refuses to be daunted and like me, will want to keep reading to find out what really did happen to Mum-Queen and Dad-King and whether they are safe. Have they been kidnapped or has her Wing-Thing gone horribly wrong, as so many of her other “solutions” do? 


Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters

Miss Mary-Kate Martin's Guide to Monsters

Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters











Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters (series)

The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm

Karen Foxlee

Freda Chiu

Allen & Unwin, 2022

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


The earth trembled as the creature left its lair at night.  It wound its way across the fields and slunk over the town bridge.  It slithered across the churchyard and its skin shimmered as it slid past the windows of the sleeping children,  Its shadow raced along the stone walls by the light of the mood.  It glided across the village green and then silently through the cobblestoned streets,  It went past the pub and the tiny teashops, past the village library, searing. It had known the place for centuries. In the market square it stopped.

It let out a screech that was wild and full of rage.

That cry echoed down the laneways, through the thatched roof cottages, reverberated over the fields.

It was a noise that had not been heard for many years. 

“Meanwhile, dressed in sparkly red shoes with her matching backpack, and carrying her strawberry-scented notebook, Mary-Kate is accompanying her archaeologist mother to the tranquil English countryside to investigate some interesting bones found in an old well. But once they arrive, they realise that the village of Woolington is not as peaceful as it seems. Mysterious noises, earth tremors and a terrifying legend have the locals frightened.

Could there be any truth in the myth of the beast who lives in the ancient well? And if so, why would it return? Mary-Kate might be anxious, but she is not afraid to get to the bottom of this monstrous mystery.”

However, Mary-Kate is not the intrepid adventurer that the publisher’s blurb portrays.  In fact, she is a rather anxious child who likes to make lists so she can plan and manage her life because she doesn’t cope with change well, and while her mother may be used to going off on these sorts of expeditions, Mary-Kate usually stays with her grandmother, which she much prefers. Even the few days away from school which has been Triple H lately – horrible, horrendous and hideous- are little consolation So, reluctantly, she packs her bag with her lucky items – the seven pieces of gum left by her father before he disappeared on Mt Shishapangma; her torch shaped like Big Ben, her little jar with 33 international coins in it and her stress ball shaped like a miniature world globe – and heads off to Woolington Well with her mother. 

This is a new release from the author of Lenny’s Book of Everything  winner of the 2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature, and Dragon Skin. shortlisted for the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers and it is ideal for those who like a fantasy-adventure in which they can put themselves into the story as a character rather than an observer.  Being a sucker for anything set in ye olde English villages, it had me at the prologue but I remained hooked and read well past my bedtime as I willed Mary-Kate and Arabella on as they gradually work out why the wyrm, a “huge limbless and wingless dragon or dragon-like creature” has emerged again and is causing so much destruction, while both learn much about themselves as they do.  

Something different to share as a class read-aloud that will be followed by another in the series  The Trouble with the Two-headed Hydra- so readers can continue sharing Mary-Kate’s adventures. 

Dragon Storm

Dragon Storm

Dragon Storm

Dragon Storm

Tomas and Ironskin


Cara and Silverthief


Ellis and Pathseeker


Mira and Flameteller


Alastair Chisholm

Nosy Crow, 2022

160pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

In the land of Draconis, there are no dragons. Once, there were. Once, humans and dragons were friends, and created the great city of Rivven together. But then came the Dragon Storm, and the dragons retreated from the world of humans. To the men and women of Draconis, they became legends and myth.

But in this new series for newly independent readers, the dragons show that it is their extinction that is the myth! But only a few special selected children can see them, befriend them and work with them.

Tomas has always been told that now, dragons are extinct, and so he can’t believe it when a mysterious stranger invites him to join a secret society, the Dragonseer Guild – and tells him that not only do dragons still exist, but also that Tomas has a very special power… he can summon his very own dragon! But Tomas faces a difficult choice, and he and his dragon, Ironskin, must learn to trust each other – and together, they have to save their home from a deadly threat.

Meanwhile, Cara has spent her life on the streets, relying on her wits – and a mysterious voice that seemed to live inside her head – for survival. She’s amazed when she learns that the voice actually belongs to a dragon – her dragon – and she’s also invited to join, the Dragonseer Guild, for those who can summon their own dragon. But Cara isn’t used to having friends, and so when she and her dragon Silverthief uncover a dangerous secret, they must decide who they can trust… and their lives will depend on it.

Adding to these already published episodes are two more coming soon…

It’s the Maze Festival in the city of Rivven, and young dragonseer Ellis and his dragon Pathseeker are determined to be the first to complete the three mazes in the grounds of the king’s palace and win this year’s tournament. But after they discover someone secretly using dangerous dragon magic, Ellis and Pathseeker face a far greater challenge – and it will take all of their skills and courage to find their way back home, and keep the existence of the dragons a secret from the king.

The fourth story tells the tale of young dragonseer Mira and her dragon Flameteller love finding out how things work and fixing them, and so they’re excited to learn about the ancient magic that powers the home of the Dragonseer Guild – and helps keep its existence a secret. But when the King of Draconis announces a plan to hunt down and destroy all dragons, and the magic that powers the Dragonseer Guild begins to fail, threatening to expose it to the world, Mira and Flameteller must find a way to fix it – before the Guild, and the dragons, are found by King Godfic’s soldiers.

And to top it off there are two more scheduled for 2023 –  Kai and Boneshaow and Erin and Rockhammer. 

The long, cold days of winter are always a good time to introduce newly independent readers to new series, as they have the time and inclination to snuggle down and read.  And if the episodes in the series are published close together so they don’t have to wait too long to meet their new-found friends again, even better. As a read-alone, it is aimed at the 7-9 year olds who still need the support of a  larger font, short chapters and illustrations but who want an absorbing plot that has characters to whom they can relate as well as a touch of the extraordinary.  But it would also work as a read-aloud to younger readers, offering a gentle, safe introduction to not only the world of dragons but also to fantasy in general.  While the first, Tomas and Ironskin is more of a world-building, scene -setting story it is the perfect foundation for young readers who still need to orientate themselves in the world of fantasy and its particular characteristics while building a platform for the stories in the rest of the series.  Using it as a taster -read-aloud to build desire and anticipation to know what happens to the rest of the children is a great way to keep young readers reading.

I think your collection will need more than one copy of each of these to satisfy demand. 

Brave the Storm: Skydragon 4

Brave the Storm: Skydragon 4

Brave the Storm: Skydragon 4











Brave the Storm: Skydragon 4

Anh Do

A & U Children’s, 2022

200pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99


When a mysterious glowing purple ball ignites their home while they are innocently making pizzas for tea, only Amber and her brother Reggie emerge from the inferno alive but both are badly injured, Reggie in a coma. Weeks later, watching from her neighbour’s fence Amber sees what remains of her home demolished in a very hush-hush operation.

Five years later, with Reggie still in a coma and Amber reminded daily of the events because of the scar on her face, she is  the butt of nasty comments and bullying from her peers who refuse to see the girl beyond the scar. The only constant is her fascination with dragons and her only joy, the beauty of the insect world. But something very strange happens when she trips and falls while on an insect-watching excursion with her class and is surrounded by a swarm of deadly hornets…

Afterwards, Amber knows she has been given an incredible power, but was it a freak accident, or was there something she was supposed to do with it?  Controlling her new ability might be the hardest thing Amber has ever done. Especially when she is running for her life.  Who is her mysterious enemy? What connection does he have to Amber’s past? And, most importantly, does Amber have what it takes to truly become . . . Skydragon?

In this fourth episode in this series, Amber discovers that she cannot see the familiar purple glow that indicates the presence of insects. She has become used to summoning her insect friends and transforming into Skydragon at the first sign of danger, but now her powers are gone, and she’s just back to being just Amber again. Will she be able to get her powers back in time to help new friends defeat an old enemy?

Put a new Anh Do title on the New releases table and there is soon a list of reserves as children wait their turn to borrow it.  But put one from a really popular series and you are likely to be mobbed!!  Anh Do continues to be one of the most requested authors for those who are independent readers – he is one of a handful who needs nothing more than his name as the author to be a surefire hit.  So offer your students this new release and stand back and watch the negotiating and bargaining to be the first to read it… 

Wondermere (series)











Do Not Disturb the Dragons


Do Not Mess with the Mermaids


Michelle Robinson

Sharon Davey

Bloomsbury, 2020-2021

224pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

In the first book in this series, the reader is introduced to “Two intrepid girls go from ladies-in-waiting to knights-in-action when they rip up the rule book and go searching for adventure!”

Wondermere is the luckiest kingdom in the land, all thanks to the dragons that nest on top of the castle. Nobody wants them to fly away, so everyone has to follow the rules and make sure everything stays the same  to keep the dragons happy.  But Princess Grace hates  the rules. They stop her doing everything she loves, like playing Troll-O and wearing trousers and training to be a brave knight.. Why do boys get all the fun?

Determined to prove that the rules are a load of old swamp-rot, Grace and her sister Princess Portia secretly enter the year’s biggest Troll-O. A couple of rule-breakers couldn’t possibly disturb the dragons … could they?

Then in the second, Don’t Mess with the Mermaids Grace has proved to the kingdom of Wondermere that when it comes to courage, determination, playing TROLL-O on unicorn-back and being a brave knight, she’s just as good as any boy! But now Wondermere is expecting a very important  visitor: the Mermaid Queen of the Outer Ocean. That means frilly dresses and best behaviour – and absolutely no rule breaking.  But when a purple dragon egg falls into the moat of Wondermere castle, Grace and her sister Princess Portia find themselves babysitting a big secret.  One teeny tiny little dragon called Dennis couldn’t possibly disturb the royal visit … could he?

This is a series for newly independent readers who are straddling the fantasy worlds of dragons, unicorns, mermaids and princesses but demanding more of their reading heroes than the traditional knight-on-shining-armour-to-the-rescue plots. So while they still have those things that have fascinated them for a number of years, they are wanting the females in the stories to be more like themselves, to have the can-do attitude and determination that they themselves have and to start showing the independence that they are also exhibiting.  

Incorporating all the formatting supports needed to transition to the independent reading of novels, this series fills the gap nicely, making a strong stepping stone. 


A Tale of Two Dragons

A Tale of Two Dragons

A Tale of Two Dragons













A Tale of Two Dragons

Geraldine McCaughrean

Peter Malone

Andersen Press, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


The kingdoms of Arbor with its lush forests, and Pomosa rich with farmland, are separated by a high, thorny hedge and they have no love between them. But at night, the children have taken to sneaking across the borders to thieve -some to gather fallen branches for firewood, the others to cut the corn and milk the cows to feed families.  But instead of sharing their riches,  the Kings decide to fight, instead… with dragons. But what kind of future will that bring?

This is a tale with an olde-worlde feel about it that carries an age-old message about sharing and co-operating rather than hoarding and fighting. Having the children doing the stealing because they hear their parents lamenting not only demonstrates the power of children living what they see and hear but opens up a discussion about the morals and ethics involved.  Do you do what you know to be morally right or do you do what needs to be done?

An interesting story that could be compared to the good versus evil fairytales that were the moral compass of yesteryear. 


The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons












The Secret Lives of Dragons

Prof Zoya Agnis

Alexander Utkin

Flying Eye, 2021

64pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


“Deep in the cold mountains of a distant land, there was once a magnificent kingdom of dragons. The songs of dragon families echoed across its peaks, and priceless treasures were hoarded in its caves. But what happened to this kingdom?” 

From stories like The Paper Bag Princess to the drama of Smaug’s arrival in the opening scenes of The Hobbit, both before and beyond, dragons have been a common entry to the world of fantasy for our young readers, sparking the imagination to go on wondrous adventures. For some, just being engrossed in the particular story is enough, but for others, there is a desire to know more and for them, this book is the answer.

It contains everything a curious mind wants to know to become an expert Drackenosopher just like the esteemed author, Zoya Agnis.  Through clever illustrations and readily accessible text, they can learn to identify the different dragon families, name the most fearsome dragon slayers, the bravest of Drackenosophy scholars and everything else there is to know about the beautiful dragons that we share our planet with.

About 20 years ago, there was another series of books like this (this series also includes The Secret Lives of Mermaids  and The Secret Lives of Unicorns) and it became the perfect vehicle for transitioning young readers into the world of non fiction as we took a topic they were fascinated by and started exploring information books.  In fact they came up with the slogan, Fiction = Imagination; Non Fiction = Information, something I have used in many instances since then. This would serve the same purpose. 

Whenever I make a storybook cushion or a journal or author kit featuring a dragon, I know I will only have it for a short time, such is the popularity of these fantastic beasts. Adults and children snap them up immediately, such is the fascination with and popularity of this creature.  So this is the perfect book to be the centrepiece of a display and promotion featuring fantasy promising to take readers on magical adventures. A must-have if you have fantasy lovers amongst your readers.