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Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Worlds in Nine Nights: A Journey Through Imaginary Lands

Hiawyn Oram

David Wyatt

Walker Studio, 2019

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781406377705

Theoretical physicist, Professor Dawn D. Gable Ph.D., MRI, MInsiP, deals only in facts and shuns the world of stories and imagination.  So when she is interrupted on her birthday by her niece and nephew whom she hasn’t seen for years and doesn’t even recognise, she is not pleased. Even moreso when they present her with a gift from her brother, and she tosses the unwanted present aside. But as midnight draws close, she finds herself being drawn to it as if by an unseen force, and tearing off the wrapping she discovers a book, a childhood favourite called Lost in the Imagination, written and illustrated by “dreamers, fantasists and folklorists”, and which took her and her brother to amazing worlds when they were young, but which she has no time for now.

Tossing the book on the fire, she is surprised that it does not burn – and the strange magic begins. 

This is the journal of that magic, as led by the strange creature Hyllvar, descendant of Nidhogg, the ancient Norse dragon, who emerges from the flames, Prof Gable realises she is alone, bereft of new ideas and inspiration and in need of a challenge…

Superbly crafted and beautifully illustrated, both the professor and the reader are taken on a journey to explore a city of robots, the ancient city of Kor, the miniature world of Lilliput and flying island of Laputa, a mountainous home of mythical beasts, the primeval island of Buyan, Atlantis, Valhalla and more. From cover to cover this is a mystical and magical book that even non-fantasists like me are drawn into in a way that I was drawn into both Middle earth and Hogwarts. It is captivating and a must for all those whose imaginations know no bounds and who delight in exploring the mythical places of the ancients, the literary creations of minds long gone but whose fantasies linger.  Miss 8 and Miss 13 are going to love this and perhaps venture into more classical tales of fantasy as their imaginations will be piqued to read more. In fact, Grandma might make up a package of the stories that go with the worlds just to entice them!

Mermaid Holidays (series)

Mermaid Holidays series

Mermaid Holidays series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Talent Show

9780143796510

The Magic Pearl

 9780143796497

The Bake-Off

9780143796480

The Reef Rescue

9780143796473

Delphine Davis

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2019

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

 

Sophia, Willow, Chloe and Olivia have been best friends since they were merbies. Even though they don’t go to school together, whenever they come home to Turtleville for the holidays, they are inseparable. And these school holidays, their home town Turtleville is holding its first ever talent show, and of course the mermaids have to enter.  But Sophie insists that their act has to be led by her singing, even though none of the others can sing and dislike doing so. Chloe prefers to rap, Willow plays the shell trumpet and Olivia loves to dance.  But when even Sophia’s compromise act still focuses on her singing, there is a danger of their entry being all about Sophia…

This is the first in a four-book series, each episode featuring on a different mermaid and their cast of ocean family and friends and each with underlying themes of friendship, teamwork, individuality and compassion.  Written in short, easy-to-read chapters and with lots of illustrations, it will appeal to young female readers who are transitioning to novels from their instructional readers. The second in the series, The Magic Pearl was released in July, the third,The Bake-Off in September and the fourth, The Reef Rescue will be here before Christmas, so readers don’t have to wait too long in between one story and the next. 

Mermaids, along with unicorns, are very much part of the lifestyle of young girls these days, so this is a series with characters that will appeal immediately and encourage our emerging readers to keep reading. 

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unicorn Academy (series)

Julie Sykes

Lucy Truman

Nosy Crow, 2019

112pp., pbk, RRP $A12.99

9781788004565

Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together! That’s what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island. There are 12 books in the series  (some still to be released), the latest being Ariana And Whisper.

Written for younger independent readers, the series appeals to those for whom unicorns remain a fascination and who dream of having their own one day, a fascination that shows no signs of abating.  Such series are very popular with younger readers just starting their reading journey through novels as they associate with and invest themselves in the characters, putting themselves in their shoes and truly immersing themselves in the experiences.  They form relationships with them that mean they are eager to read and re-read each one in the series, honing their skills and understandings of reading as they do so. So this is a series that will have a strong following because it features all those characteristics that hook these emerging readers in.  Worth the investment, not just for themselves but the reading pathways  that keen readers will then follow.

Ten Minutes to Bed (series)

Ten Minutes to Bed

Ten Minutes to Bed

Ten Minutes to Bed (series)

Little Mermaid

9780241372678

Little Monster

9780241348918

The Little Unicorn

9780241348925

Rhiannon Fielding

Christ Chatterton

Ladybird, 2018

32pp., pbk., $A14.99

Magical creatures live in the Land of Nod, but each of them is not keen on going to bed because they are having too much fun.  But sleep they must if they are to be ready for more fun tomorrow and so using rhyme and enchanting illustrations, author and artist take both the characters and the young reader on a calming countdown to bedtime leading them gently to the land of sleep.

Beginning and ending with maps of The Land of Nod which are subtly different, and the appearance of a tiny creature on each page to encourage attention to detail, each story becomes a gentle lullaby to help draw the curtains on the day and help even the most rambunctious little one understand that everything needs to sleep at some time.

Even though the stories are available on the screen, there is nothing as precious as the bond established between parent and child through sharing stories during those ten minutes to bedtime so this is perfect for parents starting the bedtime story routine and wanting to complete it with the same story each night, this series would be an ideal gift for them or their child to encourage a love for stories and the magic they hold.

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2019 

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760650810

New to the realm of supportive novels for newly independent readers is this title from graphic designer cum author Kylie Howarth. 

Using the popular superhero theme as its foundation, this is a series with a difference because as well as being entertaining, it also teaches those young readers about the ocean environment and its inhabitants.  Bodhi’s parents are right into the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and they travel the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface. But Bodhi isn’t into this world as much as they are, preferring dry land but then he discovers he has magical powers…

Each book is set in a different oceanic environment where Fish Kid befriends an amazing marine creature. As he bonds with his new animal friend, he discovers a new fish power. Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). In this, his family are in the Galapagos Islands and he finds himself stuck on the boat with the captain’s daughter Emely, who likes to play pranks on him, although the innocent looking green smoothie with its secret ingredients would make even the reader have the same reaction as Bodhi. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

Although I haven’t dived the Galapagos Islands, this book took me right back to my experiences on the Great Barrier Reef and for that, this is one destined for Miss 8 so she can share the wonder her grandmother, grandfather and father still have.  Perhaps she, too, will be tempted like Bodhi.

 

Star Wars: Meet the Heroes and Villains (series)

Star Wars: Heroes & Villains

Star Wars: Heroes & Villains

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: Meet the Heroes and Villains (series)

Chewbacca

Ruth Amos

9780241387795

Darth Vader

Ruth Amos

9780241392089

DK, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99

May the 4th and what more appropriate date to review the new Star Wars series from DK as we celebrate 42 years of this enduring series, and even moreso because of the recent death  of Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca. Even more fitting, the first of four in this series which introduces young readers to the key characters of the franchise, features Chewbacca and they can learn of his journey from Han’s smuggling sidekick, to loyal Rebel fighter and co-pilot to Rey in the Millennium Falcon.  They can discover the languages he speaks, why he makes howling noises, which planet he comes from and what makes him lose his temper.

Similarly, they can meet one of the most famous villains of film, Darth Vader and discover who he is; how he becomes a Sith; and why he wears a mask. They can learn fun facts about Sith Lord Darth Vader – including his amazing battles with rebels and Jedi heroes Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker! and follow his journey from Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the Force alongside Darth Sidious. Discover what Force tricks Vader uses, who he works for, which lightsaber he uses, and what planet his secret base is on.

Featuring a simple Q&A format using child friendly language this series, which also includes the lovable R2D2  and the sinister Stormtroopers   includes movie stills from the original trilogy, prequels and the latest sequels, allowing young readers to explore the amazing world of far, far away and a time long, long ago which continues to capture and fascinate their parents and grandparents!

This series can introduce them to the people and places and have them well-prepared for the upcoming release of the ninth and final episode of the film franchise, Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker in December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Nikki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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

9781760523671

In 2017 we were introduced to Zelda Stitch, a new character from the zany imagination of Nikki Greenberg…

“Zelda Stitch isn’t much of a witch – she’s hoping she’ll make a better primary school teacher. But if the vice principal finds out about her, her dream will go up in a puff of smoke. Keeping her magic secret isn’t the only trouble bubbling in Ms Stitch’s classroom: there’s wild-child Zinnia, lonely Eleanor, secretive Phoebe and a hairy, eight-legged visitor called Jeremy. Not to mention the nits… With NO HELP AT ALL from her disagreeable cat Barnaby, Zelda must learn to be a better teacher, a better friend and a better witch – even if that means taking broomstick lessons.”

Now, in this recently released sequel. Zelda is preparing to face term 2. With her secret exposed, she is hoping that it will be easier and has set herself some goals – 

1. Be the best teacher I can be.
2. Keep my spells to myself. 
3. DO NOT UPSET MELODY MARTIN.

But of course, nothing goes to plan and readers are plunged into another maze of magic, mischief and mayhem. Written in diary format with lots of illustrations for support, this is an enchanting read for the newly independent reader who is looking for some fun and fantasy.  So even though it looks thick and daunting it is actually suitable for those who are moving beyond the more traditional stepping stone novel but are not quite ready for the full-blown item.  Miss 8 will adore it and will no doubt be looking forward to Term 2’s adventures!. 

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie: Have Sword, Will Travel 2

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie: Have Sword, Will Travel 2

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie: Have Sword, Will Travel 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie: Have Sword, Will Travel 2

Garth Nix & Sean Williams

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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

9781743439937

Independent readers who are lovers of fantasy, particularly tales of yore, will love this second in the series about Sir Odo and Sir Eleanor.  

First introduced in Have Sword, Will Travel, when Odo and Eleanor stumble upon an ancient sword in a river outside their village, and much to Odo’s dismay he discovers that he’s awoken a famous enchanted blade called Biter, and thus has instantly become a knight, this new adventure begins with an action-packed scene when Sir Odo and Sir Eleanor defend an old man named Egda, a warrior named Hundred  from the bilewolves who have already attacked their village. But Egda and Hundred are not who they appear to be at first sight, and with their trusty and talkative swords, Biter and Runnel, they are plunged into a quest that will take them to unfamiliar lands, where they will fight unseen enemies and unlock unbelievable secrets in order to prevent an unbearable impostor from taking the crown.

Not being a great fantasy fan – Harry Potter and the tales from Middle Earth being my limit – I was nevertheless engaged to the end with this new series by these master storytellers who have written several series in collaboration as well as their independent writing.   So those who like this genre will be more than thrilled with this new release that is exciting, fun, and which could so easily have them as the super hero characters.

 

Mummy Fairy and Me

Mummy Fairy and Me

Mummy Fairy and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummy Fairy and Me

Sophie Kinsella

Marta Kissi

Puffin, 2018

166pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780141377889

“Hello. I’m called Ella Brook and I live in a town called Cherrywood. My best friends at school are Tom and Lenka. My worst enemy is Zoe. And then there is my mummy. She looks normal, like any other mummy . . . but she’s not. Because she can turn into a fairy. She just has to shut her eyes tight, say ‘Marshmallow’ . . . and POOF! She’s Mummy Fairy.

Ella’s family has a big secret – her mummy is a fairy! She can do amazing spells with her computawand. Only, sometimes the spells go a bit wrong, and that’s when Ella steps in to the rescue.”

This is a new series for those readers who are newly independent from the author of the Shopaholic series as well as a number of other books for adults.  It is her first children’s book and she has nailed just the sort of thing that these young girls like to read and written it in a style that is similar to the way they write so it will engage them immediately.  Short chapters, large font and lots of line drawings to support the text will support the reader as skills are honed and its future as live-action movies for television  will ensure its future.  There is already a sequel available.

Fairy-in-Waiting

Fairy-in-Waiting

Those of us of a certain age will remember the popularity of Bewitched, and this could have a similar future. 

LEGO Ninjago Ultimate Sticker Collection

Lego Ninjago Ultimate Sticker Collection

Lego Ninjago Ultimate Sticker Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGO Ninjago Ultimate Sticker Collection

DK, 2018

pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780241340325

Ninjago is one of 16 connected realms in this themed collection from Lego. Its capital, Ninjago City is protected by Kai, Cole, Zane, Jay, Nya and Lloyd from the powerful enemies including the Vermillion and the Sons of Garmadon.

Young readers are encouraged to read the captions and then use their visual acuity to select the appropriate stickers from the large collection to complete the scenes.  There are also extra pages and extra stickers where they can build their own scenes of battles.

While these sorts of books may be seen as just another way of marketing the LEGO merchandise, they can play an important role in the young fan’s literacy development as they have to read the captions and make the appropriate selections as they learn more about the underlying plot and the characters.  By having the opportunity to build their own battle scenes they can retell the story or make up their own, explaining and justifying their choices – all critical elements of understanding and telling stories.

This may be one of those special treat books that you have in your collection ready to engage or settle a child who needs some distraction.