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Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008343071

Imagine appearing to be a regular young girl but in reality you are a werewolf with powers that make you super-fast and super-strong and give you x-ray vision.  Lottie Luna is just that and although she doesn’t like to use her powers, preferring to be just the regular young girl,  but if she finds her friends in a pickle she will use them to help them out.

In this fourth adventure in the series, when Lottie’s school holds its yearly talent competition, she finds that she might just have to use them… if she’s going to help her friends save the day and win first prize…

Written for  for young, newly independent readers who see themselves as just like Lottie – being just regular little girls on the surface , but with a heroine not too far below the surface, each story is richly illustrated with all the supports needed to carry their reading journey forward making this is an ideal series to offer those looking for something new and different. 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface’s Stories

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface's Stories

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface’s Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silky’s Story

Enid Blyton & Jeanne Willis

Mark Beech

9781444956290

Moonface’s Story

Enid Blyton & Emily Lamm

Mark Beech

9781444957989

 

Hodder Children’s, 2021

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

The Magic Faraway Tree with its ladder at the very top leading through the clouds to wondrous lands of adventure and magic has been a favourite for generations and has always been my go-to read-aloud when introducing young children to the concept of series with their continuing settings and characters. 

Now, almost 80 years later , two new stories about two of the favourite residents of the Faraway Tree have been created to introduce this magical world to a new generation of  young readers and have them clamouring to read more.

In Silky’s Story, the children arrive at The Tree to discover it silent, its leaves on the ground, its fruit eaten and, as they climb, they follow a trail of mess, mud and fruit stones.  Their friends are all frightened and Silky the fairy is missing!  It seems that the Land of Roundabouts and Swings has arrived at the top of the tree and an unusual and seemingly unpleasant visitor has come down the tree causing havoc and taken Silky back to the Land with him…

Meanwhile, in Moonface’s Story, it is Moonface’s birthday and he wants to hold a party for all his special friends. Of course, birthday parties always require cake but when he tries to bake a cake  it ends up burnt. Will he find help in one of the wonderful lands at the top of the Faraway Tree?

Lavishly illustrated in bold colours, both books make both the perfect bedtime story as well as taking the child to ‘old worlds, new worlds and other worlds.’  The perfect entrée to the main course of the complete collection – The Enchanted Wood ,  The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Enid Blyton

Hodder Children’s, 2020

638pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781444959437

Imagine being able to walk to the woods at the bottom of your garden where the leaves of the trees whisper to each other that you are there and find yourself at the bottom of a tree that has the most remarkable inhabitants like Moonface, Silky and Dame Washalot living in its branches and a revolving world of magical lands at its top, high in the clouds.  That is what Joe, Beth and Frannie (PC’ed from the original Fanny) discover when they move to the countryside and  discover that their new house lies next to the Enchanted Wood! And in that wood stands the Magic Faraway Tree where they have so many amazing encounters and adventures.

This collection comprising all three books in the series – The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree – is now, once again, on offer to parents, teachers and independent readers to share.  Over my 50+ years in teaching, I’ve lost count of how many children I have shared this magic with. Apart from transporting the children to new worlds of imagination and wonderment, it was my go-to read-aloud when they were ready for a serial that had continuous characters and settings so they were familiar with the background, but still needed a complete story within each session.  

There is a reason that Blyton’s stories (over 700 books and about 2,000 short stories) have not dated and have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children’s author and remain in print more than 50 years after her death.  Apart from being childhood favourites of previous generations and thus handed down through families like fairytales, her imagination gave her readers the wings to fly away from whatever circumstances they were in to a world where anything was possible, anything could happen and usually did.  In series like The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven,  Malory Towers and Noddy, there were no everyday constraints on the characters and they could become heroes in the most mundane of circumstances, resonating with the audience in ways many authors have envied and tried to emulate since. 

Visiting a new world every read, this is truly a perfect collection for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and because my own grandchildren have had this series on their bookshelves for many years, I know just which family needs this copy to start their tradition. 

 

Unipiggle (series)

Unipiggle

Unipiggle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unipiggle

Unicorn Muddle

9781474972178

Dragon Trouble

9781474972185

Hannah Shaw

Usborne 2020

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

Welcome to Twinkleland Kingdom, where everything is 100% perfect. Except Princess Pea – she loves getting muddy and having fun and she’s not keen on choosing her own perfect unicorn at the Royal Unicorn Parade. Until the final unicorn turns out to be a podgy, pongy, proud, magic-horned…pig? And so the adventures of Princess Pea and Unipiggle begin!

This is a new series that will appeal to younger readers who prefer their princesses and unicorns to be a little bit different – definitely not your stereotypes. whether read independently or as a bedtime read-together, the bright bold illustrations will capture the imagination and have the readers seeing themselves as Princess Pea. 

With a new addition due in June, this is a series that can help younger readers transition from picture books and basal readers to the next step of their reading journey.

 

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Fang Fairy

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008343040

Lottie Luna is a werewolf. She’s super-fast, super-strong and has X-ray vision. Lottie doesn’t really like to use her special skills, though – she just wants to be like everyone else. But when Lottie and her friends go camping, she finds that she might just need to – if she’s going to find out the truth about the fang fairy…

This is the third in this series for young, newly independent readers who see themselves as just like Lottie – being just regular little girls on the surface , but with a heroine not too far below the surface. Richly illustrated with all the supports needed to carry their reading journey forward, this is an ideal series to offer those looking for something new and different. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Little Gem

Little Gem

Little Gem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Gem

Anna Zobel

Puffin, 2021

240pp., hbk. RRP $A14.99

9781760896089

Sometimes getting a little lost can help you discover who you really are . . .

When her travelling spell at Witchcraft School goes wrong, Gem lands in an unfamiliar, empty, seemingly derelict cottage, outside a strange, colourful town beside the sea, a long way from the school on top of snow-covered mountains where she had begun.  But not only was this somewhere she didn’t know, it was a century on from the time she had been in! Telling herself she is not frightened but she is confused, Gem steps out to discover just what has happened.

Everyone in Ellsworth Pining thinks Gem is their new village witch, even when Gem tries to correct them. And Gem’s new friends do need her. The Weather Worker is missing, and there are tales of a terrifying beast in the woods. So, with the help of her cat Pomelo and the ghost Henry she not only sets out to solve the mystery but starts to believe that maybe she is not the worst witch after all.

This is a charming new series for young readers who enjoy a bit of magic mixed in with reality, and who, like Miss 9, have enjoyed series like Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch.  With all the scaffolding needed to support them including plenty of line illustrations, the reader will quickly be drawn into the life of Ellsworth Pining engaging not only with this first story but building anticipation for new episodes to come. Zobel was inspired to create the characters by children she had met – share this clip to help aspiring young writers understand that stories don’t appear by magic (even if Gem did) and that story starters are all around if we just look for them.

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wizard of Oz

Russell Punter & L. Frank Baum

Simona Bursi

Usborne, 2020

104pp., graphic novel, RRP $A16.99

9781474968850

The classic story of Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow the Cowardly Lion, the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of the West has been beautifully reinterpreted in this colourful graphic novel, perfect for younger readers who have not yet made the journey from Kansas to the Emerald City and just in time to be a focus for the 2021 Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds. 

Declared by the US Library of Congress as “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”, this is a story that all children should be familiar with given the references from it that appear in life today, and so to have it in graphic novel format which makes it accessible to newly independent readers and a whole new generation of children is a bonus. The full plot of the story is summarised here, and it could be wise to have the unabridged classic version available for those who are enticed to read that as well. 

 

Havoc! The Untold Magic of Cora Bell

Havoc! The Untold Magic of Cora Bell

Havoc! The Untold Magic of Cora Bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Havoc! The Untold Magic of Cora Bell

Rebecca McRitchie

Sharon O’Connor

Angus & Robertson, 2020

320pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9781460757659

In Jinxed!, the first in this series, we meet  eleven-year-old Cora Bell who  is a foundling with no memory prior to her life with the elderly Dot and  her cat Scratch. They live in a room hidden behind a wall in the  crowded, industrial city of Urt, where everyone looks out for themselves, and their survival is dependent on scavenging and trading such as rare and exotic things – apple seeds, silver forks, shoe polish amidst fierce competition. Life takes a terrifying turn for Cora when she finds a few words scribbled on a piece of paper. She takes it home and says the words aloud. Suddenly, two plump, hairy fairies named Tick and Tock crash land in her path to warn her that she is in terrible danger. Cora has unknowingly summoned a sinister creature known as a Jinx.  Jinxes eat magical beings and once they have a scent, they never forget it. Cora is thrown headfirst into a world filled with magic, necromancers, shape-shifters, enchantresses, fairies, nightwalkers, witches and giants as her home is destroyed, her family goes missing and she’s pursued by the menacing and powerful Jinx.

Despite the danger she discovers the power of friendship, finds courage, and channels incredible strength against the overwhelming forces seeking to destroy her.

Now in this second episode, Cora Bell has accepted she is full of magic b without her protection bracelet, she is struggling to hold onto all the powers she has gained, especially the dark magic she took from the warlock, Archibald Drake. When she begins to have nightmares and visions, and unusual cracks appear on her skin, it is a race against time for Cora and her fairy friends to not only find a way to fix her magic, but also escape the hunters now chasing Cora, and search the magical world for her family.

Can Cora do it all before her magic takes control? Will she find her family? Or will she become . . . a Havoc?

Continuing the popular trend for storylines about ordinary children having extraordinary powers, this is a series for independent readers consolidating their skills and starting to explore the power of words that take them into worlds other than those they know. Miss 9, who started her fantasy adventure a few years ago listening to Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men is thoroughly enjoying it, being proud of her ability to read it to herself. The short chapters and the illustrations support her developing independence.

With the summer holidays on the horizon, this is a series worth recommending to parents who are looking for something special to put in the Santa Sack. 

Pages & Co (series)

Pages & Co (series)

Pages & Co (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilly and the Bookwanderers 

9780008229863

 

Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales

9780008229900

 

Tilly and the Map of Stories

9780008229948

HarperCollins, 2018-2020

400+pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

 

 

“From outside on the busy north London high street, Pages & Co looked like an entirely normal bookshop. but once inside it didn’t quite make sense how everything fitted inside its ordinary walls. The shop was made up of five floors of corners and cubbyholes, sofas and squashy armchairs, and a labyrinth of bookshelves heading off in different direction.  A spiral staircase danced up one wall, and painted wooden ladders stretched into difficult-to-reach corners.  Tall arched windows above made it feel a little like a church when the light spilled in and danced on the air. When it was good weather the sun pooled on the floor and the bookshop cat – named Alice for her curious nature- could often be found dozing in the warmest spots.  During the summer the big fireplace behind the till was filled to bursting with fresh flowers, but at is was October, a fire was roaring there…”

Does this not conjure up every booklover’s dream of a magical place, a bookstore where magic and mysteries, adventures and escapades beckon?  And for it to be the home of Tilly who prefers the company of book characters to the people in real life and, although not having been outside London, is a seasoned traveller within the pages of the books that abound on the shelves just shouts that this is going to be a series for booklovers and readers that will deliver all that is expected and more.

But what if your favourite characters could not only come out of the books and have real-life conversations with you but could also take you back into the book to have your very own adventure within the story? Tilly discovers that this is part of her relationship with her books and that, unlike other series where it is a secret power, this one is shared by her family,  There is much more to her grandfather and grandmother and the family’s history and lives than she ever imagined. Bookwandering is what this family does, and it might explain the mysterious disappearance of her mother and the absence of her father.

Created for independent readers or perfect for classroom read-alouds, this is a series that really needs to be read from the first one in order so that the subsequent adventures have context but it will have the book lover hooked from the start, regardless of their age, and wishing they too could bookwander into the magical, mystical world of their favourite characters.  I just loved it!!! Once your students know about it they will be queuing up!

 

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn

Kate Gordon

UQP, 2020

184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780702262821

Lonely orphan Wonder Quinn lives in the attic of Direleafe Hall with only a gloomy crow for company. Every year she hopes to make a true friend and every year her heart breaks when she doesn’t.

But when a spirited new student, Mabel Clattersham, befriends her in class, Wonder’s dreams seem to be coming true. As the girls grow closer, Wonder discovers her friend has a list of strange wishes: Throw a pie, leap into the sky, break someone’s heart…

What is Mabel’s big secret? Can Wonder protect her heart from being broken all over again?

This is a beautifully written ghost story with a difference.  Rather than being scary, this is a gentle ghost who craves a friend and becomes one, celebrating friendship, love, acceptance and belonging while embracing grief as a natural emotion that we all experience. This is a sensitive story, and despite its larger font, illustrations and short chapters, probably more suited to more mature readers who are able to read between the lines as well as along them.  The reader is not told that Wonder is a ghost, although there are clues from the get-go that perhaps she is not an ordinary schoolgirl for the astute reader to pick up – that fact that she is watching the girls arrive at school from her perch on the roof yet is unseen and undetected by either the students or the staff is one such indicator. It is also what I would have told my students is a tissue book – be prepared to shed some tears.

Normally, this is not my preferred genre but its evocative title, superb selection of vocabulary and imagery, its sensitivity and its uniqueness kept me engaged till the end.  One to look for and put into the hands of just the right reader.