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Maxine

Maxine

Maxine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maxine

Bob Graham

Walker Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99

9781406387636

There are lots of babies being born in the neighbourhood, but now it is Max who is going to have a little brother or sister. And even before the ultrasound can tell if it is a boy or a girl, the traditional family mask is in place!

When she was born there was a hand-knitted Super cape from Grandma and soft leather boots from Grandpa and she grew up to be just like her mother Madam Thunderbolt, her dad Captain Lightning and of course, Max.  She was so clever that she started school early, but there things began to change, because she just didn’t seem to fit in with the other children.  First to go, much to the family’s chagrin, was the cape – jeans were so much more practical – but Maxine kept her mask.  

But will she ever going to be able to break free of her family’s expectations and be herself?

To quote the publisher, this is a book about “a coming-of-age superhero story about growing up and discovering your identity, with the support of a loving family” and while that might be a popular theme in literature for young child, this one has the magic of Bob Graham’s craftmanship.  And even though it is 20 years since we first met Max himself, this one is likely to be just as timeless and relevant in 2041. 

Mummy! Where are You?

Mummy! Where are You?

Mummy! Where are You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummy! Where are You?

Charmaine Oates

Jelena Jordanovic-Lewis

Little Steps, 2021

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

 9781922358912

Mummy! Where are you?’
Today is Charlie’s favourite day of the week – it’s stay-at-home-with-Mummy day!
But it’s Mum’s only day off from work and she has a lot to do! Moving from room to room, Mummy is too quick for Charlie to keep up but by lifting the flaps, he is always able to find her.

This is a charming story that will resonate with both parent and child as sometimes it seems the only escape from the cry of “Mummy, where are you?’ is to take refuge in the loo.  (And even then, it’s not always a hideaway.)  But because it is so familiar it is ideal for sharing with our youngest readers because they can readily recognise the situations, see themselves as Charlie, and by using their existing knowledge of the context, predict  where mummy is and what she is doing before lifting the flaps.   

Before even learning the skills of reading itself, there are many concepts about print to be understood, the first being that stories are fun, and this book offers all the elements of that as well as celebrating the special relationship between  mother and little one, even when doing the most mundane things.   Sharing the book together adds another layer to that bond. 

Kensy and Max 8: High Voltage

Kensy and Max 8: High Voltage

Kensy and Max 8: High Voltage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kensy and Max 8: High Voltage

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2021

384pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760898557

Imagine getting in a car in one country and waking up in a strange place in another!  That was the beginning of a whole new adventure for twins Kensy and Max back in 2018 in Breaking News, the first in this series. 

Now, in the 8th in the series, the twins are back – comfortable in their roles and deeply involved in a new adventure. After a tumultuous school term, a family holiday with sunshine, sleep-ins and Portuguese tarts is just what Kensy and Max need. And Granny Cordelia is adamant: there are to be no investigations while on vacation. But when strange incidents start piling up, the twins are torn between their loyalty and their nose for adventure.

As all leads point to the annual E-Prix championship, Kensy and Max find themselves drawn into the middle of a menacing plot. High-powered sports cars are not the only dangers on the streets of Sintra. Someone wants Wolf Motors and the Formula E car race to go up in smoke, and they won’t let anything – or anyone – get in their way.

When the series first came out, I popped the first two into Miss Then 12’s Christmas stocking and all other presents were abandoned as she buried her nose deep in them, and then three weeks later, re-read them on the long bus trip from Canberra to near Adelaide on her way to her Scout Jamboree.  And now, even though she is 15, deeply into computers, coding and creating her own animated characters, she is still in love with the twins and their adventures and regularly asks if there is a new addition to look forward to.  Won’t she get a surprise when she goes to her letterbox after nearly two months in lockdown to find this!  But, IMO, there is no greater endorsement for an author and their writing, no better testament to the characters and their situations and adventures.  To be so eagerly awaited after such a time by readers who have moved through a major period of development and who seek comfort in the familiar and trusted. 

Thus this is a series to invest in, because you know it will endure with not only those discovering it today and wanting to keep reading, but also the waves of students who will be ready for it in years to come. 

My Dad Thinks He’s Super Funny

My Dad Thinks He's Super Funny

My Dad Thinks He’s Super Funny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad Thinks He’s Super Funny

Katrina Germein

Tom Jellett

Walker, 2021

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

 9781760652234

When is a joke a Dad joke? When it’s fully groan. When someone rolls their eyes at Dad, he just rolls them back. My dad thinks he’s super funny. In this follow up to the bestselling My Dad Thinks He’s Funny and My Dad Still Thinks He’s Funny, Dad is up to it again. His audience has grown by one, and family life continues to provide an endless supply of fresh and brilliant comedic material for Dad. At least he seems to think so.

Dad doesn’t limit himself to just telling dad-jokes on Father’s Day-no family member or situation is off limits with this dad who seems to have more dad jokes than there are dads and whether they make you laugh or cringe, each page will bring a smile. And while it is just a fun story on its own, it is also an opportunity to look at humour itself – what makes us laugh, the nature and structure of puns and perhaps even the importance of laughter itself, especially during this tough time.  Humour is as diverse as the population and just as personal, but everyone will find something somewhere in this book to make them LOL or just cringe. 

 

The School between Winter and Fairyland

The School between Winter and Fairyland

The School between Winter and Fairyland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The School between Winter and Fairyland

Heather Fawcett

Allen & Unwin, 2021

352pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760526542

“Twelve-year-old Autumn is a beastkeeper at Inglenook School for Magicians, which she secretly dreams of attending as a student. Instead, she must care for Inglenook’s menagerie of dangerous creatures so the king’s future monster hunters can study them. But when she isn’t mucking out the griffin stalls, Autumn searches for clues about her twin brother’s mysterious disappearance. Everyone else thinks that he was devoured by the terrifying Hollow Dragon, but Autumn isn’t so sure.

Enter Cai Morrigan, the famous young magician prophesied to one day destroy the Hollow Dragon. When Cai comes to Autumn with a secret problem, Autumn agrees to help on one condition: that the ‘Chosen One’ join her quest to find her brother. Together they uncover the dark truth that lies at the heart of Inglenook School – because every school has its secrets…”

This is one for independent readers who are established readers of fantasy, like Miss 10, but who still like to straddle the worlds of reality and magic.  Autumn is one who Miss 10 can relate to, perhaps even put herself in her shoes, and the familiar themes of adventure, family, friendship and self-discovery blend seamlessly with the magical creatures who inhabit a world as cleverly constructed as Hogwarts.  While the foundations of the story are shared with other stories – the traditional tropes on which fantasy for this age is based and why they are so popular- this is a solid read that will have readers looking for a sequel.  In the meantime they could indulge themselves in Fawcett’s other books, Ember and the Ice Dragons , a story about a young dragon turned into a human girl to save her life, or The Language of Ghosts about a young princess in exile who rediscovers a forgotten magic. All three may appear in Miss 10’s Christmas stocking. 

Noah Wild and the Floating Zoo

Noah Wild and the Floating Zoo

Noah Wild and the Floating Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noah Wild and the Floating Zoo

Alexander McCall Smith

Nicola Kinnear

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781526605559

Noah and his sister Hatty live with their aunt and uncle, well mostly with their aunt because Uncle Loafy (a very good baker) is a sea captain and spends most of his time sailing to exotic places. To Noah’s great surprise, he discovers his uncle owns a zoo, given to him many years previously and managed by an old friend.  But the friend wants to retire and there is no one to take over the zoo. While most of the animals have been sold to other zoos, there are four left – Henrietta the llama from South America, Mrs Roo the kangaroo from Australia, Ram the tiger from India and Monkey Robertson from Africa. 

Uncle Loafy has decided he will return each one to their home country but although he has a boat and maps and charts , he doesn’t have a crew…  Before he knows it, Noah and his family are setting sail on a round-the-world trip returning the zoo animals to the places they were born.  But when they try to return Monkey Robertson, they’re in for a whole boat-load of trouble!

This is a light-hearted story that will appeal to young independent readers who like both humour and adventure.  It would also make the perfect read-aloud to younger students who are learning to follow a serialised story -something new to add to the tried-and-true toolbox.  

The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shark Caller

Zillah Bethel

Usborne, 2021

368pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781474966849

Blue Wing is desperate to become a shark caller like her waspapi Siringen. 

“I want to be able to call the sharks. Teach me the magic and show me the ways,” she begs him for the hundredth thousandth taim but he refuses, telling her she knows why he will not. 

Instead she must befriend infuriating newcomer Maple, who arrives unexpectedly on Blue Wing’s island. At first, the girls are too angry to share their secrets and become friends. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, they must journey together to the bottom of the ocean to brave the deadliest shark of them all… and it’s not a great white.

Papua New Guinea is just as a mysterious land now as it was when I lived there 50 years ago, steeped in history, legends and traditions going back to the earliest civilisations and when the author moved from there to the UK (and had to wear three jumpers even in summer) she was peppered with so many questions about her life there that she wrote this book to help answer them.  And in doing so, she has woven an intriguing tale of adventure, friendship, forgiveness and bravery with such a real-life background that I was taken back to the days when I was there with all sorts of memories that I thought were forgotten, including the pidgin phrases.  

Even though physically it is at the upper end of the readership for this blog, competent independent readers of all ages will immerse themselves in the story which, even though it has such a diverse backdrop, still has a universal theme threaded through it. For those interested in finding out more there are the usual Usborne Quicklinks, as well as a most informative note from the author and some questions for book clubs that delve deeper.  One for those who are ready to venture into something a little different.  

What Zola Did on Sunday

What Zola Did on Sunday

What Zola Did on Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Sunday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2021 

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

9781760895228

Ever since we first met Zola a year ago,  readers have been following her adventures as she brings her community together and now all the connections reach their pinnacle at the St Otto’s Community Fete. Their is the stall of the knitting group that Zola and her nonna belong to; her friend Leo’s mum is going to be givng a demonstration about how police dogs work in the community; her other nonna will be hosting the organic produce stall and her mum will have the cake stall.  As well there are competitions and all sorts of other attractions.  Will Zola be able to get through the fete without any of the drama and strife she seems to attract?

This is the final in this series that has had young readers enthralled and Zola and her friends have become friends of the reader too.  And for those who have not yet met Zola, then there is a treat in store.  A must-have for anyone with a reader who is just embarking on novels but needs the textual supports as well as the familiarity of characters and situations to consolidate their skills.

The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Camping Trip

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2021 

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

9781761040092

Henry’s greatest delight is finding out about things, particularly the animal world, from his Big Book of Animals.  Even when he is outside amongst nature, he uses his book to discover new things about the creatures he sees.   But on a camping trip in the bush with his dads, brother and best friend Ruby and her family, Henry discovers his book is missing! How will he learn about all the fantastic things he finds and sees on the trip without it? At first he sulks and misses out because he doesn’t have his book to consult but then he discovers there are other ways to learn. 

This is the final in this series which includes The Inside Day, Noisy Tom Super-Me and The Thank You Present  developed in collaboration with Smiling Mind, Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation in the pre-emptive mental health space. Like its predecessors it includes activities to engage the child after the book is read, in this case inviting them to explore nature using all their senses.  There is also a three-minute Nature Sounds meditation written especially for 3-6 year olds available on their free app.

The mental health of our little ones who have been deprived of their friends’ company at such a crucial time of their socialisation development is finally being recognised with NSW now allowing a “friends bubble” and so any guidance that enables parents to keep their little ones emotionally okay as well as physically safe is to be welcomed.  The suggestions for the senses scavenger hunt outdoors when picnics are making a huge comeback is perfect and so this is a title that parents need to be made aware of. That the stories features a two-dad family, the norm for many of our students these days, is an added bonus. 

Grandude’s Green Submarine

Grandude's Green Submarine

Grandude’s Green Submarine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandude’s Green Submarine

Paul McCartney

Kathryn Durst

Puffin, 2021

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

9780241472934

Imagine if the person who gave the world Yellow Submarine was your grandfather and he branched out from music-making to story-writing.

That’s how it is for Lucy, Tom, Bob and Em . Grandad, known to his grandchildren (chillers) as Grandude, lives in a very normal house in a very normal street, but when the four children come to visit they have adventures that are far from normal.

On this hot summer’s day he whisks them into his Inventions Shed which is not only full of unusual cooling devices but also mysterious other creations and a photo of Nandude who loved adventures as much as the children.  And because they miss her, they decide to try to find her – on Grandude’s latest invention – a green submarine.  With that and his magic compass they’re off!

With clever references to Beatles’ history known by those who were fans in the day, and the magical word-craftery that we associate with him, McCartney takes the children and the reader on a magical mystery tour in search of Nandude.  Down into an octopus’s garden and then up following the music…

This is the second book based on Sir Paul McCartney’s own experiences as a grandfather and it celebrates that special relationship that they share. At a time when many remain separated,  it is perfect for reliving the special times they have had as well as dreaming about those to come.  Loved it.