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Funny Kid Snowballs

Funny Kid Snowballs

Funny Kid Snowballs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Kid Snowballs

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2023

288pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780733342004

Now that his mum’s campaign for mayor has been unsuccessful , Max and his parents, and his friend Hugh have been invited by the well-known (and extremely rich) actor George Khan to have a break in his chalet at the Beauty Peaks Ski Resort (Winter Holiday Destination of the Rich and Famous). Snow and skiing and all that they entail is a new phenomenon for Max, and he is convinced that all you need for happiness is money.  The more money you have, the more happiness you can buy, however fleeting it might be because there is always the means to buy more.  His parents try to persuade him that happiness comes from somewhere deeper, but this is going to be a hard lesson for Max to learn when he and his friends are surrounded by such opulence and indulgence. 

Despite the crazy situations that Max finds himself in, including trying to impress his first love, frozen pyjamas, fast cars, falling gracefully off cliffs, a wild mountain man, impossible chairlifts and a high-end fashion parade from Lost Property, Stanton always weaves a food-for-thought message amongst the hilarity, and this is no exception.  At a time when largesse is at its most prominent, and many parents going without essentials so their kids can “have a good Christmas” this is a particularly topical theme as gifts are opened and often discarded and forgotten as soon as their batteries run out and their appeal wains.  Is biggest and brightest always the best? If not, what is?

This is the 12th in this series whose popularity continues to grow because Stanton knows just what boys of a certain age want to read and see themselves in, and whether this is the first  introduction or the 12th that is read, it is a series that has a deserved place in any collection, home or school.  Because of that serious thread weaving its way through the humour, it can be a conversation starter especially if adult and child are reading it together or even just the opportunity for some reflection and affirmation that who we are as we are is enough.   

 

 

The Blunders

The Blunders

The Blunders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blunders

David Walliams

Adam Stower

HarperCollins, 2023

384pp., pbk., RRP $A22.99

 9780008614393

Blunder: a stupid or careless mistake or to make one

That pretty much sums up the family in this new release from one of the most popular authors for young readers. “The Blunders are the most blundersome family in the blundering history of blunderdom.  They live in a crumbling country house named Blunder Hall.  It has been in the family for hundreds of years in the heart of the English countryside. “

And like so many stately homes of its ilk, it is slowly crumbling and the family is constantly and desperately seeking ways to raise funds to maintain it. For Lord Bertie Blunder (“a classic upper class twit”), this means inventing something that will make the family a fortune but sadly, his inventions tend to be so silly and impractical that they cost more than they raise. But if he is to keep his family together and his home his castle, he needs to do something before The Man from the Bank who has his own plan to seize Blunder Hall can close everything down.

Fans of David Walliams will appreciate finding this either in their Christmas stocking or on the school library shelves, as will those who are just embarking on their independent reading journey because of its easy-to-read text liberally illustrated with line drawings that not only support the story but are also LOL in themselves.  The characters are caricatures, the humour is slapstick and the whole read one that will support the young reader in their belief that they can read, even thick books like this one.  

The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie Albert and the Amazing Animal Gang: The Curse of the Smugglers’ Treasure

Paul O’Grady

Sue Hellard

HarperCollins, 2022

272pp., pbk., RRP $A11.99

9780008446857

Somewhat-unhappy and never-quite-fitting in 10-year-old Eddie Albert is the only one who knows he can speak to animals, including his pet dog Butch, his hamster and his two goldfish (who claim they were once pirates). But when Eddie is sent to stay with his aunt in Amsterdam, who, rather than being the miserable old lady who stank or cats and peppermints that he expected,  turns out to be a wealth, eccentric spinster called Lady Buddelia Sprockett who prefers to be called Aunt Budge he discovers that not only does she enjoy adventures but she too has this gift…

Now, Eddie is living in a new old house in London with is dad spending their time doing it up,  and with the Easter holidays approaching, he is looking forward to staying with her on the English Romney Marshes in an old cottage she has renovated, and she has even invited him to bring his best friend Flo, and his animals Butch the dog, Bunty the hamster and pirate goldfish Dan and Jake. The Romney Marshes has a rich history of smugglers and pirates, so when the terrible Rancid Twins arrive in town, set on uncovering the secret mystery of the smugglers’ treasure, Eddie and Flo are drawn into a thrilling new adventure. Eddie must use his ability to speak to animals to enlist the help of two elegant alpaca, a friendly sheep called Doris and a famous film-star rabbit to save the day and reveal a treasure of epic proportions…

This series has wide appeal for independent readers who like adventures, mysteries mixed in with an affinity for animals.  Unlike other series, it is not assumed that the reader has read previous episodes and  much of the background of the characters and their relationships are woven into the easy-to-read narrative.  Readers might like to seek out the first in the series, or even be drawn into reading the classic Dr Doolittle series by Hugh Lofting or perhaps the adventures of either the Famous Five or the Secret Seven, both by Enid Blyton – all stories that have proved their appeal and endurance over generations by still being in print and readily available..  

 

 

 

 

 

The Wish Sisters: The Christmas Wish

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish

The Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish

Allison Rushby

Karen Blair

UQP, 2023

108pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780702266362

When Flick and Birdie’s Grandma Aggie found an imp in an old bottle and wished for her granddaughters to have unlimited wishes, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.  But then Imp twisted the wish so that only  Birdie could have the wish. But Birdie is a baby and that can get tricky when one so young and immature and isn’t yet talking has so much power.  So Flick has to be really careful how things are handled.

Christmas without Grandma Aggie is making everyone sad and while Flock knows that her gran would want this to be a special time for them all, particularly Birdie, she’s finding it hard to find her Christmas spirit.  To cheer them up, Mum and Dad invite the neighbours over to decorate gingerbread houses. After a few false starts because Birdie gets confused, all is going well until Mrs Mortlake brings up Christmas wishes, giving baby Birdie all the wrong ideas…

This is the latest in this series  there is an emphasis on family and friendships and the importance of strong, positive connections between them, with the teachers’ notes offering some relevant questions to consider and discuss that not only relate to Flick and her feelings but also those of any students facing their first Christmas without someone special at the table.  Through the story, they can see that their emotions are valid and validated and that it is okay to not have a happy face all the time. With Flick, Mr Tran and Mrs Mortlake all having different reasons for feeling off-kilter it shows that times like this when there is such an emphasis on happiness and ho-ho-ho that it is not necessarily that for everyone and so readers are encouraged to be sensitive to the needs of those around them.

Written for young girls, particularly, who want a bit of escapism without too much tension, especially those with younger sisters who can be troublesome at times, this is a series that is very much a book about being careful what you wish for. 

Here Comes a Merry Christmas

 

 

 

Here Comes a Merry Christmas

Here Comes a Merry Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Comes a Merry Christmas

Justine Clarke

Arthur Baysting & Peter Dasent

Heath McKenzie

Puffin, 2023

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

9781761049521

There’s a feeling in the air,
We’ve been waiting all the year…

Heath McKenzie has used his iconic stylised digital illustrations to bring to life this cheerful song about the excitement and anticipation of families on Christmas Eve as preparations are made. for the big day.. There are all the things that we associate with the celebration – Christmas lights, special food, the tree, decorations, traditional songs – all bound together like a tangle of lights in the love, joy and fun shared by the family. and all overseen by a new bright star “like the angel sitting on top of the tree, looking down from above, shining her love”. 

As well as learning the words to the song, little ones will love seeing all those things that are so familiar to their family as much as they are to the book family, but they might like to talk about those things they do, say and eat that are different too.  

One to share after your family night of decorations and preparations. 

 

 

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2023

216pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780733342080

According to the official government report, Gilbert’s dad disappeared in outer space but Gilbert knows that the truth is his dad died while defending the Earth from an aggressive army of aliens that wanted to turn the planet into a poo-processing plant.   Whatever the reason, Gilbert’s dad doesn’t live with them any more and to compensate, Gilbert’s mum gave him a big fluffy bunny toy.  But this is no ordinary squishy soft toy – Fluff can talk and he has attitude.  

So when Gilbert’s underpants are found hanging from the school gate – everyone knows they’re his because his mum has written his name on them – it is time to get revenge on the bully who put them there, especially as every gate in the street sports a pair of them too …

And so begins another series from the popular Matt Stanton, written for young readers embarking on their independent reading journey with minimal text on each page and lots of illustrations that carry the story forward.  With series like The OddsFunny Kid  and Bored to his credit, Stanton his continuing the legacy of authors like Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths who turned kids, especially boys, of a previous generation on to the fun of reading by knowing just what it was they wanted to read about and how they wanted to read – pared down text that wasn’t complicated and didn’t take a lot of time.  And with the second in the series due early next year, this is another win not just for Stanton but also all those boys who are still looking for a reason to read. 

Silver Linings

Silver Linings

Silver Linings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Linings

Katrina Nannestad

ABC Books, 2023

304pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780733342257

Rural New South Wales in 1952 – a new monarch is about to be crowned and for five-year-old Nettie Sweeney life is almost perfect.  She has a dad, three big sisters, a farm full of cows and a cat called Mittens, can read and write and even does spelling with Second Class because she is so clever.  But Nettie longs for a mother.  Her own passed away when she was born (leaving her with all sorts of misconceptions about babies and storks) and she would love to have one who has a gentle touch, sparkles in her eyes and lots of love and hugs to give.  But instead she has cranky Aunty Edith who is quick with her hands and even quicker with her tongue as she clings to the old ways.  

When Dad marries Alice, all Nettie’s dreams come true and the Sweeney home overflows with laughter, love and a new philosophy of looking for the silver linings in everything rather than the dark clouds.  When her baby brother. Billy, is born he becomes  the light of Nettie’s life and her world is perfect.  Until it isn’t…

Those who are familiar with five-year-olds, and even those who aren’t , will laugh out loud all through the beginning of this book as we see life through the unfiltered lens of Nettie and her doll Fancy Nancy.  And they will empathise with the unsophisticated five-year-old who has to handle the family tragedy in her own way because she just isn’t mature enough to know of any other. Her naivety endears her from the beginning and her resilience and courage as events play out inspire. While the big issues of PTSD, loss and depression that are confronted could be anywhere, anytime,  by placing them in the early 50s Nannestad distances them enough from the reader’s here and now for them to be acknowledged but not necessarily absorbed. And for those of us old enough to know better, how will we ever think of Queen Elizabeth II as anything but “the mongoose of the British Umpire” again? 

It’s a rare author who can write a story for young children in a way that has adult readers turning page after page because there has to be a solution, and Nannestad is one of those.  As with The Girl who brought Mischief, this one had me reading past my bedtime because I was so enamoured of Nettie and needed to know there was a happy ending.     

This is one for independent readers who like real-life stories (it is based on family happenings) and if you are preparing a list of books for Christmas stockings, this should be on it.         

Bluey: Cricket

Bluey: Cricket

Bluey: Cricket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: Cricket

Bluey

Puffin, 2023

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

9781761049415

Backyard cricket is every Australian kid’s rite of passage – every summer there are games going on somewhere as the sun sets and the joys and benefits of daylight saving are acknowledged.  The rules are the same everywhere – the garbage bin is the stumps and over the fence is out!  And everyone groans when that one player who is really good gets a turn at batting because they are never going to get them out.

Bluey would much rather play tiggy than cricket and her dad says that’s what they will do as soon as they get Rusty out.  But Rusty would play cricket 24/7 if he could and despite everything they try, he remains obstinately at the crease until…

This year has been a big one for international cricket and with the ODI World Cup just finished and the domestic men’s Bog Bash about to start, interest in the game is reaching a peak, so this is a timely release. Based on the episode of the ABC series of the same name, this is another is this very popular collection of stories in print format that allows young readers to return to the story time and again, cementing in their minds the value of print as a medium as well as learning some of life’s necessary lessons – and there are several lessons in this one, not the least of which is learning some of the unique terminology associated with the sport.

And just to make sure everyone’s summer is Bluey-based, for those who aren’t so keen on cricket there is the new Bluey At the Beach colouring book as well. Christmas stockings sorted! 

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

Rebecca Lim

Cai Tse

Albert Street Books, 2023

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

9781761180637

Starting on  February 10, 2024 will be the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar, and the family, like so many around the world, are making all the traditional preparations ready for this special celebration.  The house is clean so all the bad luck is outside with the rubbish, special foods have been cooked, and so much else has been done as the anticipation of the dragon’s arrival reaches fever point. 

The advent of the Lunar New Year is celebrated not just in Asia but around the globe as people from many nationalities honour the traditions and customs of their heritage and this new picture book is the perfect introduction to this time as its sense of expectation and energy builds through both words and pictures. As both a classroom teacher and teacher librarian, this was always one of the richest festivals to draw on, not just because of all the teaching and display opportunities that it offered but also because it touched so many children and their families. Then, as well as exploring all the possibilities that that topic offers, it can be extended into a broader investigation of how and when New Year is celebrated by the school’s families.

Many of our students will be starting the new school year with the excitement of such an important occasion looming, and this is a great way to share that joy as well as acknowledging their culture. 

 

A Chinese New Year display

A Chinese New Year display

 

What’s In A Dumpling, Grandma?

What's In A Dumpling, Grandma?

What’s In A Dumpling, Grandma?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s In A Dumpling, Grandma?

Linda Meeker

Sandra Eide

Thomas Nelson,2023

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9781400244225

It’s a special day for  Grey and his cousin Mila because they are going to  Grandma’s and she is going to teach them how to cook bánh loc, traditional Vietnamese dumplings.  But it becomes more than just a cooking lesson as Grandma tells of her memories of sharing this heritage comfort food with other loved ones.

Celebrating the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, this is a story that shows that there is so much more in traditional family recipes beyond the physical ingredients. As well as inspiring young readers to investigate their traditional family recipes so they too can learn to make them and pass on their heritage, it has the recipe for Grandma’s fish sauce and a guide to the pronunciation of some of the key Vietnamese words used in the story, perhaps an encouragement for them to learn their ancestral language too. 

The names we have, the way we look and the food we share are perhaps the most important cultural ties that families share, so used with Joanna Ho’s Say My Name , Eyes that Kiss in the Corners,  and Eyes that Speak to the Stars, this could form the basis of a significant unit that not only welcomes all children to the class but encourages each of them to explore and share their heritage.