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The Goody

The Goody

The Goody

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goody

Lauren Child

Orchard Books, 2020

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

9781408347584

Chirton Krauss is a good child – the very goodest. He does everything he is told, when he is told. He even does good things without being told. He eats his broccoli,  cleans the rabbit hutch without whingeing, he goes to bed on time and he never, ever sticks his finger up his nose. His parents are so impressed with his behaviour that they gave him a badge with Goody on it.  Chirton’s motto is”If people have decided you are good, don’t disappoint them by being bad”.

Meanwhile, his sister Myrtle is just the opposite.  Her motto is “If people have decided you are bad, do not disappoint them by being good” and she goes about living up to their expectations by doing as she pleases. On the outside, it doesn’t seem to bother her that she is not invited to parties, because the pay-off is not having to eat your broccoli, not having to clean the rabbit hutch and being able to stay up all hours because the babysitter has given up fighting with you about bedtime.

But one day, Chirton discovers the benefits of Myrtle’s philosophy and things start to change…

Lauren Child is well-known and well-recognised for writing children’s books that have an edge to them and this is no different.  Accompanying the storyline is an independent commentary in  red text, aimed squarely at the reader and challenging them to think more deeply about the story. Indeed, it should spark discussion about whether one should follow Chirton’s example or Myrtle’s or whether there might be a middle road…

Little ones do not often chooses a story because of the author – their reading experience is not broad enough for that yet – but Lauren Child is one whose work is well-known even by our youngest readers and this one will be snapped up as soon as they discover that it is a new one from the creator of the infamous Charles and Lola. 

Ling Li’s Lantern

Ling Li's Lantern

Ling Li’s Lantern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ling Li’s Lantern

Steve Heron

Benjamin Johnston

Midnight Sun, 2020

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

9781925227673

Da Zhi often set his children challenges to help them become good, kind and honest and build their wisdom. But this challenge would prove to be the hardest yet – each was given the same amount of money and with it, they were to each fill an empty pagoda with anything they chose but they had to spend wisely.  

Jingming, the eldest, completed the task first, filling his pagoda with bamboo.  Miao , the middle child, filled his with duck feathers and down. Both pleased their father.  But on her way to market, Ling Li spent her coins on helping others in need so that she only had two left by the time she got there.  What could she buy with so little that would please her father as much as her brothers had?

Told in the voice of old didactic stories whose job was to teach the listeners, this is a beautifully illustrated story that might seem to have come from yesteryear but which has great application for today’s strange times.  Given the extraordinary events of 2020, if our students were set the same task as Ling Li and her brothers, what would they fill their pagoda with?  Books? Games? Toilet paper?  Even without their experiences of the last few months, it is unlikely they would have made the same choices as the brothers, so why did Jingming and Miao choose bamboo and duck down? Is Ling Li’s choice still relevant to this time and place.

While the theme of this story may be familiar, it’s refreshing to read this modern interpretation which demonstrates that some values are timeless and universal. 

The World’s Worst Parents

The World's Worst Parents

The World’s Worst Parents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World’s Worst Parents

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins, 2020

312pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

 9780008430306

In a time when everyone, especially our kids, need some light and bright and fun, this new release of 10 stories about embarrassing parents is very timely.

Walliams and Ross have collaborated again to develop and draw characters that so many kids can relate to – parents who just make you cringe with their words and actions and philosophies. Instead of just blending in with the other children, these kids’ parents make them stand out  and for all the wrong reasons.  Pinch your nose for Peter Pong, the man with the stinkiest feet in the world… jump out of the way of Harriet Hurry, the fastest mum on two wheels… watch out for Monty Monopolize, the dad who takes all his kids’ toys… and oh no, it’s Supermum! Brandishing a toilet brush, a mop and a very bad homemade outfit…

Walliams launched this series in 2016 with The World’s Worst Children. and two further volumes followed in 2017 and 2018.  The World’s Worst Teachers joined the collection in 2019 so this is an established series that has been entertaining children for some years now, once again combining Walliam’s zany humour with Ross’s wacky illustrations. 

Written during the UK lockdown with the explicit purpose of putting a smile on the face of our children, Walliams and Ross have nailed it. 

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Tuesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895167

Cousins Zola and Alessandro live next door to each other – there’s even a gate cut into the fence by their Nonno Nino before he died so they could be together as much as they want, so most afternoons after school they play together. 

After her adventures trying to help her Nonna and the school gardening club, Zola has been trying to stay out of trouble joining Nonna at the community gardening club, trying to learn to listen and even giving Alessandro’s dog Gigi obedience lessons so she will be allowed to play in Nonna’s garden with the children. But new neighbours, cats and dogs that aren’t yet friends,  Nonna learning to knit and a new school project to help the homeless can really only have one outcome when Zola gets involved…

This is another joyous romp about Zola and her friends doing ordinary everyday things  in which the reader can see themselves, understand and relate to, while forming a stepping stone for newly independent readers with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour. This could be any neighbourhood anywhere and it could be the inspiration for children to get together in ways they did in previous generations and be the foundation blocks of a new community as the children in this series are. Most children, regardless of the heritage, understand “Nonna” is the Italian word for grandmother and now they can add the Arabic word Teta to their vocabulary – just another subtle way that diversity is celebrated in the story.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one promises to be just as engages and entertaining.

 

Toffle Towers (series)

Toffle Towers (series)

Toffle Towers (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toffle Towers (series)

Tim Harris

James Foley

Puffin, 2020

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Described as “Fawlty Towers meets Treehouse ”  this is an hilarious series for newly independent who like a bit of a challenge but still need some support with their reading.

Toffle Towers, a rundown, family hotel, has been inherited by ten year old Chegwin Toffle, a young lad with an entrepreneurial streak, a wild imagination and just enough common sense to change Toffle Towers from a boring hotel for grown-ups into an incredibly exciting destination for children (and their families). But running a hotel isn’t easy. Chegwin has a lot to learn, and his tendency to drift off into daydreams doesn’t help He has plenty of ideas. But can he turn his madcap daydreams into reality?

In the first in the seriesFully Booked   the reader meets Chegwin who has inherited the hotel from his great-uncle Terence and sets out to transform it so that is a money-spinner rather than a millstone.  Even with the competition from a nearby hotel, with the help of some new friends and the somewhat eccentric staff whose jobs he is determined to save Chegwin and his parents are focused on their goal, come what may.

The Great River Race continues the saga as  one by one, his hotel staff are ‘reverse mugged’ by two mysterious men. Chaos ensues and it’s Chegwin’s job to get to the bottom of these attacks before Toffle Towers loses all its hard-earned guests. Meanwhile, the town of Alandale is preparing for the annual Great River Race. Once Chegwin discovers his saboteur is no other than Brontessa Braxton,(no relation to me) owner of the rival hotel in town, Chegwin find himself preparing to go head to head with her in the Great River Race to save his beloved staff and Toffle Towers.

The latest in the series. Order in the Court sees Toffle Towers facing yet another challenge from Brontessa Braxton setting up a court challenge that can only have one winner.

Many of our students will be familiar with the writings of Tim Harris because they have shared his adventures of Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables   and so they will be delighted that there is another series that continues the fun and hilarity as they either envisage themselves in Chegwin’s shoes or are lining up to make a booking for this remarkable place once these travel restrictions are over.  In the meantime, all they can do is delve into their imaginations and enjoy the ride. At least that’s safe!

Grumbelina

Grumbelina

Grumbelina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grumbelina

Esther Krogdahl

Aleksandra Szmidt

Moa, 2020

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

9781869714291

On the day she turned three and a half, sweet, compliant Hazel turned into Grumbelina , a grumpy child, so disgruntled yet small, with a list of complaints that could cover a wall”. Despite being a cranky cross-patch her parents were very patient with her and were sure that she would be better in the morning after a good night’s sleep.  But Hazel/Grumbelina has other ideas…

There are certain ages and stages in a child’s life where they turn from mild to monster and the experts say it’s because of their brains going through rapid periods of change.  But whatever the reason, parents will all relate to Hazel/Grumbelina and her mood swings as they share this rhyming tale with their little ones which takes a humorous look at tantrums and lets everyone relax for a little while.  While tantrums and loud voices might be pictured as spiky and sharp-edged, the soft lines and palette of the illustrations takes the edge off Hazel’s behaviour offering a sense of peace and understanding rather than confrontation and exasperation.  

One to recommend to parents who need a new way through this time. 

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware! Ralfy Rabbit and the Secret Book Biter

Emily Mackenzie

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781408892091

Ralfy Rabbit loves to read but when his new baby brother arrives,  his peace is constantly shattered and he can not find anywhere quiet to read and enjoy his stories.  He finally ventures to the library which works well until he is embarrassed to find a huge bite taken out of his library book!  

Using his special detective kit he sets out to find who is responsible but when he discovers the culprit (along with several other books with bites taken out of them), the solution isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. 

All lovers of books and reading can relate to Ralfy’s dismay when he finds his precious books damaged, and this is a charming story for early readers who have younger siblings who haven’t yet learned about taking care of things.  And once they discover who the biter is, they can have fun predicting how the problem might be solved. What would they do if they were Ralfy?

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie's Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Charlotte Barka

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760891763

Edie has settled into her new school and is starting to make friends, despite her somewhat catastrophic early attempts to treat the process like a science experiment.  Her love of science and concern for the environment is as strong as ever – even though it causes the ire of her family when she turns the hot water off if their showers exceed four minutes – and she and her friend Annie B are looking forward to presenting their work at the upcoming Eco Fair. 

But then a new student arrives, one who also loves science and who is determined to be the best.  Dean Starlight sabotages Edie’s work, but when he sends her an apology card with a hidden nasty message  Edie declares war…

This is the second in this series for independent readers who enjoy school stories, science and characters they can relate to.  Each is an individual and each has flaws, as do we all, but there is a sense that they are real and Edie’s continued positivity is refreshing in a world that seems to carry only bad news these days.  As with the first book, there are line drawings to break up the text and Edie’s experiments are all provided in case a reader might be inspired.  There is also the possibility that the reader will learn something about human nature too, and be more insightful and compassionate when those around them don’t behave as they expect or desire.  Dean has a backstory that drives his behaviour, as do we all. 

A series to spread the word about. 

Clementine Rose Collection Five

Clementine Rose Collection Five

Clementine Rose Collection Five

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clementine Rose Collection Five

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760897437

 Living in the magnificent mansion in Penberthy Floss with her mother, her Aunt Violet, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and pet teacup pig, Lavender, Clementine Rose, the sassy young girl who was delivered not in the usual way at a hospital but in the back of a mini-van in a basket of dinner rolls, has had many adventures that her readers can really relate to, making her a favourite with newly independent readers.

In fact there have been 15 stories altogether in this series, and now in this final compendium, Clementine Rose and the Wedding WobblesClementine Rose and the Bake-Off Dilemma and Clementine Rose and the Best News Yet   have been brought together.

Back in 2012 when we first met Clementine Rose I introduced her to Miss Then 6 and the series was an instant hit.  Now she is Miss 14 she has moved on with her reading choices – she loves Harvey’s new series Kensy and Max- , but Miss 9 has enjoyed them equally as much. Written for the young newly emerging reader looking for characters and circumstances that resonate, it is a series that has broad appeal and the joy of having three books in one without having to wait for the next episode is very appealing. 

Young readers, and older, love series which are well-written so they get invested in the character’s lives, perhaps even seeing themselves as being in the story as they get to know and like them, and this series is certainly one of those.  My grandies were lucky that Clementine Rose was in their lives for that critical time of their reading development, but with these collections, other younger girls can meet her too.