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The Lost Library

The Lost Library

The Lost Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Library

Jess McGeachin

Puffin. 2020

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

9781760892715

Oliver has just moved house and is surprised to find a book left behind in his new cupboard, one that is inscribed “Please return to The Lost Library.”  Being a book lover he knows he needs to do that, but where is this Lost Library? His family is too busy to help but his new friend Rosie knows who to ask and so they head to the local library to talk to the librarian. 

Before Rosie has a chance to ask, Oliver slips the book in the Returns chute and suddenly the floor opens up beneath them! Suddenly they find themselves hurtling down into the hidden depths of The Lost Library and all sorts of adventures as they try to find their way back again.  It’s amazing where your imagination, a good friend and the power of stories can take you…

This is another enchanting and different story from the author of Fly that will be read over and over as a new layer is revealed each time. 

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus 3: The Treasure of Treasures

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760892869

Continuing the adventures of Atticus and his brave crew of The Grandnan,  this next episode in this rollicking series for newly independent readers who are looking for an escape from the confines of the bedroom to the high seas and the possibilities of their imagination takes them into a world of  rattling skeletons, ghosts, monsters from the deep, killer sands and a boiling hot tub as they try to figure out the Map of Half Maps in search of certain treasure. .. 

What began as a way to escape life in the coal mine when Atticus chose a pirate ship from his Grandnan’s treasure pile has turned into a journey of adventure, confrontation and self-discovery for Atticus and his band of ragtag friends that is proving to be the perfect escape from this year of uncertainty and unexpected events.  Will Atticus ever find the treasure and save his family or will this just be an ongoing adventure that keeps us entertained for many more episodes?  In this current world of day-to-day, just let’s enjoy it while we have it and wait for the next adventure. You can be sure Atticus has spotted one on the horizon with his trusty telescope.

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2020

224pp., pbk., RRp $A14.99

9781760897888

For the fans of Greg Heffley , the wimpy kid who has struggled so hard to fit in with his peers in middle school, this second adventure told by Greg’s best friend Rowley will be welcome light relief as the days of winter and restrictions march on and on and on.  In this, Rowley imagines an epic adventure in which Roland and his best friend, Garg the Barbarian, leave the safety of their village and embark on a quest to save Roland’s mom from the White Warlock.

Using all the humour and visual techniques of the originals, this will appeal to Wimpy Kid fans as well as reach out to new ones – those newly independent reluctant readers who still need a lot of support and are happy to be part of the in-crown reading one of the most popular series for the age group in a long time.

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

Bear in Space

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear in Space

Deborah Abela

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781760651510

Bear is different. While all his friends were noisy and busy and never seemed to stop, Bear preferred his own company and the quietness and solitude of his books – particularly his books about space.  Because even though the other bears sometimes laughed at him and called him names, Bear was absorbing all he could learn about the mysterious place beyond the planet because he had plans…

This is a charming story for early readers that has so many layers.  Firstly, it is a tribute to those children who are more introverted, who are happy and complete in their own space and who single-mindedly pursue their dreams, prompting discussions about how there are all sorts of people in the world who may have different values and dreams to us. But it also shows how those dreams can be enriched and enhanced when they are shared with like-minded souls and friends, changing perceptions of relationships and how the world works.  It also has lots of facts about space embedded into it so as well as sharing Bear’s adventures, the reader also learns a little on the journey.

This is one of those perfect pictures books where the text and illustrations are seamless and one would be so much less if the other weren’t there.  Even though both themes of being a loner and having dreams of space travel have been visited in children’s stories before, this is a stand-out because of the story’s layers and that integration of words and pictures that entertain and educate at the same time. A marriage of imagination and information.

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Tuesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760895167

Cousins Zola and Alessandro live next door to each other – there’s even a gate cut into the fence by their Nonno Nino before he died so they could be together as much as they want, so most afternoons after school they play together. 

After her adventures trying to help her Nonna and the school gardening club, Zola has been trying to stay out of trouble joining Nonna at the community gardening club, trying to learn to listen and even giving Alessandro’s dog Gigi obedience lessons so she will be allowed to play in Nonna’s garden with the children. But new neighbours, cats and dogs that aren’t yet friends,  Nonna learning to knit and a new school project to help the homeless can really only have one outcome when Zola gets involved…

This is another joyous romp about Zola and her friends doing ordinary everyday things  in which the reader can see themselves, understand and relate to, while forming a stepping stone for newly independent readers with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour. This could be any neighbourhood anywhere and it could be the inspiration for children to get together in ways they did in previous generations and be the foundation blocks of a new community as the children in this series are. Most children, regardless of the heritage, understand “Nonna” is the Italian word for grandmother and now they can add the Arabic word Teta to their vocabulary – just another subtle way that diversity is celebrated in the story.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one promises to be just as engages and entertaining.

 

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me

Maggie Hutchings

Evie Barrow

Affirm, 2020

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

9781925972825

Often, as adults rushing to be where we aren’t yet, we miss the little things on the way, but no so kids. They see and they notice because they are so much more in the moment so when the little boy sees the homeless man begging on the footpath he does not hurry on like the adults who are either not seeing or choosing not to.  Instead he stops and is rewarded with a chat and a beautiful yellow bird drawn in chalk on the path.  And that chat leads to his mum seeing Pete and others in the community who had not seen him before…

But one day Pete gets sick and disappears. No one has seen him and all the little boy wants is a sign that he is OK….

This is a charming story, at times confronting, that really resonated with me because earlier this year a little person at a school that I have been associated with was just like the boy in the story.  She saw, she thought and she acted, initiating a schoolwide fundraiser that raised enough money to purchase some sleepwear for those who were about to endure the coldest of winters on the streets of the national capital. 

Homelessness is a significant issue in this country and sadly our students are likely to know someone not much older than them who will not sleep in their own bed tonight. While its causes and solutions are as diverse as each individual, nevertheless stories like this (dedicated to the author’s great-great  grandmother who was homeless) can start to build social awareness in the same way we are actively promoting environmental awareness.  While the issue itself is hard and spiky, this is a gentle story of caring, unselfishness and hope accompanied by equally engaging illustrations  that might encourage all of us to look and really see, not to avert our eyes if we don’t like the scenery and have the courage of both the little boy and my little girl to act. 

Small Town

Small Town

Small Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Town

Phillip Gwynne

Tony Flowers

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760893484

Milly loves her little town – in fact it is so nice, they named it twice.  But sadly, others don’t find it as attractive and fulfilling and families keep moving to the city.  Within just a short time her basketball team comprising the four Chloes and Milly shrinks as both Chloe P and Chloe B leave – they might even have to let the boys play!

But then Milly learns about the refugees who have had to leave their own countries and who have nothing – and she has an idea.  Can one letter and a video made by Granny Mac save the town?

This is a unique, charming story about the resourcefulness and resilience of a young girl who sees an opportunity and acts on it.  Echoing the plight of many little towns in this vast country as the appeal and perceived opportunities of the cities beckon, Gong Gong could almost be renamed Anytown, Australia and its scenery, so artfully depicted by Tony Flowers will be recognisable everywhere. But not every town has a Milly who really just wants more players for the basketball team but starts a change that will turn empty houses into homes once more and vacant shopfronts into hubs of employment and breathe new life into a community looking for a focus.

With the story echoing those of many places such as Nhill in Victoria, but making a child the protagonist, Phillip Gwynne has put a national issue into the realm of children’s understanding perhaps sparking the imagination of some other child looking to bolster their sports team.  

Compelling reading that may start something, particularly as we emerge from lockdown and look for alternatives to crowded city life.

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie's Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edie’s Experiments 2: How to Be the Best

Charlotte Barka

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760891763

Edie has settled into her new school and is starting to make friends, despite her somewhat catastrophic early attempts to treat the process like a science experiment.  Her love of science and concern for the environment is as strong as ever – even though it causes the ire of her family when she turns the hot water off if their showers exceed four minutes – and she and her friend Annie B are looking forward to presenting their work at the upcoming Eco Fair. 

But then a new student arrives, one who also loves science and who is determined to be the best.  Dean Starlight sabotages Edie’s work, but when he sends her an apology card with a hidden nasty message  Edie declares war…

This is the second in this series for independent readers who enjoy school stories, science and characters they can relate to.  Each is an individual and each has flaws, as do we all, but there is a sense that they are real and Edie’s continued positivity is refreshing in a world that seems to carry only bad news these days.  As with the first book, there are line drawings to break up the text and Edie’s experiments are all provided in case a reader might be inspired.  There is also the possibility that the reader will learn something about human nature too, and be more insightful and compassionate when those around them don’t behave as they expect or desire.  Dean has a backstory that drives his behaviour, as do we all. 

A series to spread the word about. 

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760891039

Alice-Miranda and her friends are off to the Australian Outback! They’re going to help an old family friend who’s found himself short staffed during cattle mustering season. The landscape is like nothing else – wide open and dusty red as far as the eye can see. It’s also full of quirky characters, like eccentric opal miner Sprocket McGinty and the enigmatic Taipan Dan.

As the gang settles in at Hope Springs Station, mysteries start piling up. A strange map is discovered indicating treasure beneath the paddocks, a young girl is missing and there are unexplained water shortages. Can Alice-Miranda get to the bottom of this desert dilemma?

It’s been 11 years since we first met Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, and, in that time she has had many adventures around the world, entertaining so many young girls over that time with her positivity and perseverance.  Even those who started their own reading journey when Alice-Miranda first organised her own admission to Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies like to pop back and enjoy her new adventures.  This new adventure takes them into the Australian Outback, a new experience even for many Australian kids, and, within the context of an engaging story, offers them an opportunity to learn about the history of the country that extends beyond the First Fleet and the ugly, dirty streets of early Sydney.

So whether your girls are already avid fans or newcomers to this series, there is much to absorb them and the good news is, that unlike Clementine Rose,  Jacqueline Harvey is already planning new adventures. 

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie Kids

Meet Sam at Mangrove Creek

Paul Seden

Brenton McKenna

9781760894122

 

Meet Mia at the Jetty

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

9781760893668

Puffin Books, 2020

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

The great reading continues in the latest two in this wonderful series which features Aussie kids from a diverse range of backgrounds and settings celebrating something unique about their home state. So far we’ve met Zoe and Zac from NSW and Taj from a Victorian lighthouse; Eve from the outback of WA  and Katie from a beautiful Queensland beach and now it’s time to meet Sam from the Northern Territory and Mia is South Australia.

Sam lives near the beach on the northern tip of the Northern Territory and, having saved his money to buy a new throw net, today he is going to use it for the first time because his cousin Peter is coming fishing too.  They set off to catch the high tide and perhaps catch barramundi following the bait fish into the mouth of the mangrove creek. But Sam gets cross when Peter opens a bag of banana lollies because everyone knows that having bananas on a fishing trip is bad luck for real fishermen. But is there more to catching fish with a throw net than the choice of snack you have?

Meanwhile, Mia is in Victor Harbour in South Australia waiting for Jim, the son of her mother’s friend, to arrive so she can be a super tour guide, especially taking him on the horse-drawn tram ride to Granite Island.   But can she carry out her plan without her big sister Alice taking over?

This really is an excellent series that not only introduces young, emerging readers to the diversity of this country and the children in it, but invites them to think about what is special about where they, themselves , live.  With travel restrictions still in place, and lockdowns back in force in some places, this is the perfect time for children to get to know their immediate surroundings better and consider what it is that makes it such a special place.  If they had a friend or relative coming to stay, what would be the unique things they could show them? Such a question opens up a range of writing and art activities that would be perfectly pitched to the child’s individual interests and abilities because each would have a different response.  For those who want to take a different direction, they could start to examine the circumstances that led them to this place at this time,  making connections with their past. There is a lesson guide available but just using the format of the book with its introductory postcard, identifying the points of interest (in whatever format) and adding some fun facts about something that is significant offers riches in itself.