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Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Aleesah Darlison

Cheri Hughes

Big Sky, 2024

140pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781923004948

On a remote itty-bitty island off the coast of Panama there is an itty-bitty community of itty-bitty creatures. And while the rest of these pygmy sloths are content to dwell in the trees and move around “as slow as a rainy winter weekend”, Romeo Fortez, is different.  At his naming ceremony, the heavens do spectacular and amazing things and  Romeo is imbibed with powers of speed, intelligence, and irresistibly hypnotic good looks. As he grows up, Romeo craves speed and adventure and even his parents know that Escudo Island would never be big enough for him. But then he overhears a reference to New York – the city that never sleeps – and he knows that that is where he must be…

In the second episode of this action-packed series for newly independent young readers, ,Romeo’s nemesis, the unhinged Professor Ian Weird-Warp, is at it again. Bent on revenge, he concocts a quirky catastrophe. Mixing chicken and goat genes, he spawns a gang of eccentric chick-oats and they’re on the loose in the Big Apple, destroying everything in their path all the while chanting, ‘Berk-berk-baa!’

As the team faces off against Professor Weird-Warp’s sinister demands for Romeo’s surrender, they must hatch a brilliant plan to thwart the mad professor’s wicked schemes once and for all. Can this unlikely crew save the city from the clutches of the chick-oats?

Apart from being a fun read, it ends with the professor obviously intending more shenanigans so readers might like to have fun imagining what his next mutations might be – firstly it was a shark and a wolf, now chickens and goats so what could be next?  Perhaps they could even draw what they visualise and develop their own story based on what they already know of the resident characters, Weird-Warp’s motivations and their own imaginations.  

Elephants Can’t Jump

Elephants Can't Jump

Elephants Can’t Jump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elephants Can’t Jump

Venita Dimos

Natasha Curtin

Walker Books, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781760656140

All the animals have had fun at Mini the elephant’s birthday and now it is time to open the presents.  She deliberately saved opening her best friend Mila’s present until last because Milo always gave the best presents and this one, wrapped in her favourite shade of pink was very big and bulky.  

But she was SO disappointed when she opened it because it was a trampoline  and while all the others could have fun, Milo should have known the elephants can’t jump!  So what use was the present to her?  And she was so angry with Milo she stopped talking to him.  And she got angrier and angrier as Milo suggested other games like hopscotch and hide-and-seek that were no fun for elephants, and so she decided to have nothing to do with Milo, even running away from him.  The final straw came when she went to Milo’s place on Friday afternoon (because Milo always had the most scrumptious food) and all her other friends were having fun on a jumping castle. Will the two ever resolve their differences and be friends again? 

The tag on this book is “Big Skills for Mini People” and it is a series written for our youngest readers to not only help them manage their emotions but help them navigate their way through relationships as they venture into the world of friendships beyond family and have to learn about competitiveness, managing inner voices, learning to listen, and communicating effectively. Learning to negotiate, compromise and consider others as they emerge from that egocentric world of toddlerhood can be tricky and so books like these, read with sensitive adults who can ask questions like “What could Mini have done instead of getting angry?” can help develop skills and strategies that will provide well for the future.  

One for the mindfulness collection that will help young people learning about the issues associated with assuming things.

How to Be Invisible

How to Be Invisible

How to Be Invisible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be Invisible

Nick Bland

HarperCollins, 2024

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

9781460764060

When Bunny arrives at the park wearing Grandpa’s hat, he thinks it has made him invisible. But Bird can still see him!  The more Bunny tries, the less invisible he seems. The best friends enjoy the hat even if it’s not magical. But are they sure it’s not a magical hat? Grandpa has a surprise for them!

This is the second in this series for our earliest readers who are just learning about the joy of stories in print, and they are going to be delighted to meet up with characters they already know, while impressing the grown-ups around them by not only saying the word “invisible” but knowing its meaning!  Can there be anything more empowering than learning and using such a big word? And in such an enjoyable way?

In my opinion, the real heroes in this world are those who can entertain, engage and educate our little ones so they have a strong platform on which to base their future formal learning, and Nick Bland is among those. His ability to take something simple and everyday and spin it into something magical through the clever use of words and pictures is amazing, the envy of others, and a gift that our youngest readers are grateful for. On their behalf, I say thank you.

 

 

 

Dragonboy and the 100 Hearts

Dragonboy and the 100 Hearts

Dragonboy and the 100 Hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragonboy and the 100 Hearts

Fabio Napoleoni

Little Brown, 2024

40pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780316462211

It’s raining outside and Dragonboy and his stuffed-animal friends are stuck at home, feeling as gloomy as the weather. For them, the only fun is to be exploring outside and they aren’t particularly interested when Dragonboy suggests exploring inside.  And even though Darwin the sloth was noticing something unusual, they paid him no attention. When they venture into the attic and discover a lot of old toys and games, their day brightens and as they play together, but Darwin’s feelings are hurt…

This is another in this series for very young readers who are learning about friendship and kindness and building relationships through everyday acts of kindness that have nothing to do with material things.  Each time one of the characters shows kindness, a tiny red heart appears and they are invited to count how many they find (there are 100) and think about what it was that triggered it. 

Something a little different that encourages young readers to understand that there are many ways to be a good friend. 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

11 Ruby Road: 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Ruby Road: 1900

Charlotte Barkla

Walker Books, 2024

192pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760657949

Ever since her Great Aunt Mildred picked the vacant block on the new housing development as a child in 1863 because she loved its giant Moreton Bay fig tree, it has belonged to Dorothy’s family and now they have moved from the country to the city to live in the house and run the store that Mildred’s mother established.

But city life  is very different to the rural one Dorothy has known. Ruby Road is bustling – full of families and children, horse-drawn carts and even a mysterious dog – and there are many other changes such as having to go to school and crossing swords with Miss Armstrong who insists on perfect printing of letters and needlework , despite Dorothy’s love of writing stories which she does in her secret writing room. Meeting a young Asian boy who also likes to write stories, Dorothy not only finds an outlet and audience for her imagination, but is also exposed to prejudice and racism, particularly towards the Chinese who were blamed for “taking all the gold” from the gold rush and inspired the White Australia Policy, as the colonies united to become one country. Inspired by a declaration by her Aunt Esme that she wouldn’t marry and be the possession of a man, Dorothy dreams of being a famous actress and independent and writes a play that she persuades the neighbourhood children to perform. But then a conversation between her mother and Esme about women having the right to vote and have a say in their lives, inspires a change of focus… and hopefully, a change in thinking for many.

Somewhat akin to the concept of Nadia Wheatley’s classic, My Place, this is the first in a series tracing the stories of the occupants of 11 Ruby Road in Brisbane, introducing young independent readers to the lives of those who lived in the times, as well as the genre of historical fiction.  It opens up many avenues of Australia’s history to explore – federation, racism, the status of women- all of which give today’s children an insight into how things were and an opportunity to investigate how and why they have changed.

A series worth following and offering to those investigating or interested in this country’s history in a way that makes it meaningful and accessible.

The Big Book of Little Lunch

The Big Book of Little Lunch

The Big Book of Little Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Little Lunch

Danny Katz

Mitch vane

Walker Books, 2024

464pp., pbk, RRP $a19.99

9781760658816

That break known as “little lunch” or “recess” is only 15 minutes in the school day so really, what can happen in such a short time?  Ask any teacher who has ever been on playground duty and you will discover the answer is – a lot! And in this collection from the Little Lunch series are 18 stories that are perfect for those venturing into the world of novels because of their relatable characters and events and text/image balance, the reader discovers what teachers already know- it can be the most significant 15 minutes of the day.

Set in a suburban primary school in Australia each highlights  the adventures of a class of Year 5 students  Manny, Debra-Jo, Tamara, Rory, Atticus and their friends and their teacher Mrs Gonsha during morning recess as relationships ebb and flow over what seems like the most innocuous events. And whether it’s Tamara Noodle hogging the monkey bars, fighting over what kind of sandwich Manny was eating or Batty becoming SUPER BATMAN GUY, each provides an engaging read that not only has heads nodding but also offers opportunities to discuss how the issue was or could be solved without argument or violence.   

The series was first released 20 years ago, was made in to a TV series, still available on iView, in 2015-2016 and is as popular now as it was then because the characters and the things that happen essentially don’t change.  The issues a teacher deals with on the playground today at recess will be similar to those I dealt with all those years ago.  Now bound into a big book, it also includes all sorts of bonus activities to stretch the brain.

Apart from just being a fun read, Danny Katz shows that writing about every day stuff, the stuff you know about and have done can be just as entertaining as the most far-fetched fantasy, and thus the stories in the book could be a basis for a writing exercise for a class. Start as a class exercise by posing a common problem and then asking, “What if ABC said or did XYZ instead?” “How else could the situation have been dealt with?” offering scope for individual scenarios and responses.  Then have them really observe what happens in the playground, analyse the relationships among those involved and how the dynamics made the incident worth watching, show them how to disguise real-life by giving the characters new identities and then have them create their own story for an extra addition to the series. 

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jawsome: Licence to Rock

R. J. Timms

Albert Street, 2024

272pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781761068607

Deep under the ocean in the Shallow Side of Chumville Finley the reef shark lives with his dentist parents Su and Shi, and his siblings, Dash, Smash, Crash, Flash , Splash and Bash.  During the day Finley goes to school with his mates Hunter the tiger shark, Gnash the pointer shark and Gilleon the lemon shark, but at night, they are secretly the super-famous rock band JAWSOME!

In this, the second in the series, the band is off to play at Euro-fishin, and international music competition, where there will be bands like Swim Shady and Mertallica. But at the airport as departure time draws closer, Gnash (aka Gnarly Gnelson) hasn’t turned up, and a phone call to his parents reveals that he is missing. Immediately suspicious, and the police not taking the matter seriously, the band members find themselves deep in mystery and intrigue which includes  stopping evil A.B.B.A. (Alliance of Brutally Bad Anglerfish) agents from destroying the ocean. Then, in the second story, unmasking a strange new band called the Killer Wails, that everyone seems to follow, and having to use all their rockstar skills to save Chumville from becoming mindless zombies.

This is a fun series for those emerging readers who like a light-hearted read, peppered with pun humour and plenty of illustrations.  Verging on a graphic novel because so much of the action happens in the illustrations as it does in the text, it will also appeal to those students who like to be seen with thick books – it has over 300 pages because of the large font and copious graphics.  With most of the puns printed in bold, it is also a good opportunity to investigate that literary technique and how its use adds humour to many situations, as well as identifying the common elements and themes of such stories so readers start to understand the concept of genre, in this case the tropes of spy stories. 

Released at a time when so many of our students are swept up in the Swifties craze as Taylor Swift tours the nation, this is an engaging and enjoyable read on many levels that will have wide appeal. 

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Coral Vass

Heidi Cooper-Smith

Wombat Books, 2024

80pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781761111266

Amanda Caomhánach (aka Amanda Commander)  is nearly nine and likes nothing more than hanging out with her two best friends Lucia Cazzoli (aka Rainbow Fudge) and Mai Le (aka Plum Flower). Together they make up the Dolphin Squad meeting at their beachside HQ and solving problems like why Amanda didn’t receive an invitation to Eve’s birthday, the only one in the class not to have one.

This time, Amanda has a tough time fitting back into the friendship groups at school after having a sick day, and so, when Eve has several days off, Amanda is determined she will not face the dame issues, even if it means she, herself, is excluded.

This is the fourth in this series for the newly independent reader, particularly girls, which focuses on the sorts of issues that eight and nine year olds face as they navigate the world of greater independence and making and maintaining friendships. Thus, it will resonate with many who will see themselves in the stories, and start to think about what they might do in the same circumstances.  If someone returns to school after an absence or is new to the school, how will they respond so the transition is smooth and welcoming.

Using all the textual devices that support those making the transition to novels, this is a series that will be a sound stepping stone.  

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits

Two Rabbits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Rabbits

Larissa Ferenchuk

Prue Pittock

EK Books, 2024

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

9781922539656

On a dark rainy night, in a cold wet field, Little Grey Rabbit and Little Brown Rabbit had an argument, their words carried away on the wind. And as you do when you have had an argument, each stormed off – Little Grey Rabbit into the street towards her home, and Little Brown Rabbit into the lane towards hers… Will they be able to come back together and find a way to save their friendship?

Using a clever textual technique where the actions and thoughts of each are mirrored in the text, this is a charming story for little ones who are still feeling their way with forming friendships beyond the family and learning that you can still be friends even if you disagree on some things.  Yes, there is anger and sadness and even loneliness, but these become reasons to mend the friendship rather than destroying it.  Apologising is being smart and grown up, not a weakness, and with the reason for the original argument not disclosed, the focus is on those feelings and the coming together again.  

The endpapers are interesting – see if the child can spot the difference – and they will have fun spotting places and tracing journeys of the map.  

One that is perfect to add to the collection exploring how to make and maintain friendships, particularly in those early months of school. 

Dog Squad: The Race

Dog Squad: The Race

Dog Squad: The Race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Squad: The Race

Clara Vulliamy

HarperCollins, 2024

128pp., pbk., RRP $A11.99

9780008565428

Eva has always wanted to be a journalist, and, together with her friends Simone and Ash, the she produces  the Newshound newspaper for her school readers.  Their first big story came when a whippet followed her home – so thin that she called him Wafer – and Eva set out to discover its owner, and found out more than she bargained on. 

Now she wants to help Wafer makes some doggy friends and so she takes him to the local whippet races,  And again, there is more to the story than meets the eye when she realises that there is some cheating going on.  Along with Simone and Ash, she decides to investigate because this might be their next big story, but can they crack the case and is it safe to do so?

This is the second in this new series for young independent readers that has broad appeal for those who love animals, those who love mysteries and those who like to write.  The diversity of characters, their relationships and interests makes for an engaging read, but it is interesting that many reviewers have pointed out that Ash is non binary.  While it is important for kids to see themselves represented in stories, it also demonstrates that we still have some way to go before gender diversity is accepted without comment, in the same way that nationalities are.  As illustrated in As Bright as a Rainbowthere are many ways to be a kid, and my experience is that they accept each other regardless of looks, clothes, gender, religion, language or any other barriers.  It is the adults who impose the labels. But the more there is inclusivity featured in stories the easier it will be for those who may be “outside the norm”. In this interview, the author, herself, speaks about why she includes diverse characters in her stories as she recognises the need for such diversity to be normalised, and, unsurprisingly, it is  adults who feel they have to vilify her.

Regardless, this is an engaging series that is being enjoyed by many and they will look forward to The Show in April.