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Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake

Zoë Norton Lodge

Georgia Norton Lodge

Walker Books, 2020

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

 9781760651855

Excitement is in the air as Elizabella – poet, fixer of fairytales and the biggest prankster in the history of her school – heads off to camp with the rest of her class. But when Larry the Lizard learns she’s headed to Lizard Lake he stows away in her suitcase, dreaming of discovering the other sentient lizards rumoured to be living there. Soon, Elizabella begins having strange dreams and wonders if Lizard Lake is haunted. Meanwhile back at Bilby Creek, Martin madly searches for Larry, eventually stumbling on another lizard who looks exactly like him. After discovering who is really haunting Lizard Lake, Larry and Elizabella return home to solve another mystery. Who is the imposter hanging out with Martin? 

This is the third in this series for young independent readers – Elizabella Meets Her Match and Elizabella and The Great Tuckshop Takeoverhave already been published and Elizabella Breaks a Leg will be available in September. Described as a ” messy mix of Matilda, Pippi Longstocking and Horrid Henry”, this is a lively series for girls who like a light-hearted read but with a bit of substance as they see themselves in the situations that Elizabella manages to get mixed up in.   Told from the perspectives of Elizabella, her father, her pet lizard and her principal Mr Gobblefrump, the adventures of Bilby Creek Primary School’s camp at Lizard Lake will entertain as the camp’s motto is “Don’t Worry, Be Happpy” (distorted for copyright reasons) and everything has a positive spin on it.  While Elizabella and her friend Minnie really want to devise the greatest prank of all time, they are confronted by real-life issues that provide a serious side that makes for a story that offers more than the blurb would suggest.

This is a series worth promoting to your students in that Year 3-4 range who are ready for the next step on their reading adventure.   

 

 

 

Weird Little Robots

Weird Little Robots

Weird Little Robots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Little Robots

Carolyn Crimi

Corinna Luyken

Walker Books, 2020

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

9781406387988

In a new town with only the robots she creates in a sagging backyard shed from the treasure she finds on her walks for company, it only takes a little bit of magic to change everything for eleven-year-old Penny Rose. With her new friend Lark – an eccentric tinkerer herself – the promise of joining a secret science club and her newly sentient robots, Penny Rose can’t imagine how she was ever lonely. But a fateful misstep means Penny Rose will have to choose between the club she’s always dreamed of and the best friend she’d always hoped for. And in the end, it may be her beloved little robots who pay the price

As the world waits in anticipation of the first manned space launch from US soil in nearly a decade, it is a very different one from the one I remember in 1969 as we waited for the launch of Apollo 11 and man’s attempt to land on the moon. In those days, it was very much man’s attempt for science, on the surface, appeared to be a man’s world – certainly very little, if any, public recognition was given to the women behind  the scenes. But this engaging, 21st century novel demonstrates so many changes the world has seen in those 50 years, not the least of which being that my granddaughter can openly engage in her passion for science, technology and construction and read about herself in a mainstream novel, The dreams I had for her in 69 have come true, not that at the age of 18 I was projecting myself forward to being a grandmother!  But for those of us with an interest in “boys’ subjects” at high school but who had been directed down other paths simply because of our gender, reading a book like this would not have been possible. 

Written for independent readers, there are indications that Penny Rose could be on the autism spectrum but even so, neither that nor her passion for science overwhelms that key theme of friendship and the choices that have to be made, that are so important to that age group.  Miss Amost-14, while still passionately interested in science and its possibilities, has moved beyond these sorts of illustrated novels, but had this been available three years ago she would have loved it!

Super Sporty Girls

Super Sporty Girls

Super Sporty Girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sporty Girls

Puffin Books, 2020

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

9781760896058

The publication date of this book was timed to capture the inspiration for sport that would be generated by the 2020 Olympics, but, as we know, even bigger world events have overtaken that one and they have been postponed.  Nevertheless, the timing is still appropriate as we emerge from the more rigid parameters of lockdown and people are itching to get back outside, connect with others and  get moving.

Using the format of a young girl wanting to get involved in something but not sure what and musing on what she likes to do and how that could marry with a sport, the reader is introduced to 18 of Australia’s young, contemporary sportswomen who are at the top of their game and providing inspiration for young girls. Apart from the household names like Ash Barty and Sam Kerr, there are others who are not so well known yet, including Paralympians. individuals and team-players.

The world after Covid-19 is predicted to be very different, perhaps one where the value of movement, exercise and fresh air will not be taken for granted and we will find our young girls with a thirst for activity, adventure, friendships, and developing new skills that could take them down new paths well beyond their dreams. 

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Cinders and Sparks (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinders and Sparks (series)

Magic at Midnight

 9780008292119

Fairies in the Forest

9780008292140

Goblins and Gold

9780008292171

Lindsay Kelk

Pippa Curnick

HarperCollins, 2019-2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Cinders lives a boring life with her selfish stepsisters and mean stepmother, doing the chores and tending to their every need, just like her traditional counterpart.  While they prefer to stay indoors all day listening to their mother read, Cinders would dearly love to be outside playing and although they can’t see the value of that she is allowed to do so once her chores are completed.  But something strange happens while she is outside –  her dog Sparks starts talking to her, her wishes start coming true and her fairy godmother, Brian, materialises.  (It’s been hard to track Cinders down because she is not on social media.)

And so begins a new series for young independent girls who are ready for a solid adventure story but still believe in magic and the characters of their childhood.  Easy to read, engaging and funny in parts,familiar characters and an ongoing quest make this a great read but at the same time, it has an underlying message that celebrates diversity and reaffirms that it is OK to be different. 

Miss 9 asked for The Worst Witch series for her birthday six weeks ago, and she is going to be thrilled when she discovers this series in her letterbox as a follow up because it will be perfect for her.  Thoroughly modern, thoroughly entertaining and just right for a winter read.

 

How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Pirate

Isaac Fitzgerald

Brigette Barrager

Bloomsbury, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99

9781681197784

Ticked off that the neighbourhood boys refuse to let her join their game telling her she can’t be a pirate, presumably, because she is a girl, CeCe decides to talk to her grandfather about what it takes to be one.  After all, he has been on a ship, unlike those boys, and he has lots of tattoos.

And of course Grandpa knows.  Using his tattoos to take her on adventures and share his stories, he tells CeCe the qualities she needs to be a pirate.  She has to be brave, be quick, be independent and be fun. But the most important thing a pirate can have is love.  Will knowing this be enough to let CeCe join the boys in their pirate games?

This is a joyous celebration of the relationship between a little girl and her grandfather and the power of story and love.  Each adventure that Grandpa shares is just a glorious burst of colour with lots of detail enabling the reader to put the words to the story Grandpa is telling, engaging them in a special way that helps them reflect on how they too, could be brave, independent, quick and fun, while teasing them with the veracity of Grandpa’s recollections.  Was he really a pirate? One thing that is true is the love between the two, and really, that’s all that matters.

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I Don’t Want to Be Quiet!

I Don't Want to Be Quiet!

I Don’t Want to Be Quiet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Want to Be Quiet!

Laura Ellen Anderson

Bloomsbury, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781526602442

Being quiet is not on her agenda.  She wants to be loud.  Chatting, humming, stomping, drumming, slurping, burping – whatever the activity it has to be done at the maximum number of decibels. Until she goes to the library, picks up a book and learns the lessons of silence…

While “put yourself on mute” is likely to be a widely understood and commonly used phrase in the weeks to come, it probably wouldn’t have any effect on the little girl in this rollicking rhyme which is the antithesis of children being “seen but not heard!”  She barrels through her days at the top of her lungs creating the sweet sounds of silence once she has passed but making those around her wish they could mute her while she is there.  She reminds me of me when I was little, the only girl amongst eight boys and needing to be noticed! 

In fact, Laura Ellen Anderson seems to have such a knack of reminding me of my childhood in her stories with I Don’t Want to Be Small  and I Don’t Want Curly Hair that I’m beginning to wonder if she is, in fact, my mum writing using  nom-de-plume. (Only because I know she is no longer with us, am I sure it’s not!)  In the meantime, our young readers are treated to another fast-paced story that will resonate with them, and perhaps they too, will learn the value of listening.  It’s an important lesson to learn.

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2020

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

Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway.  She has a range of talents -each different in each story – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old.  In each episode of the series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it. 

Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.

Included in this compendium are the first four books in the series – Movie Star, Ballerina, Pop Singer and Fashion Designer – offering  young girls who are becoming independent readers some great reading while supporting their new skills with  large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. 

Collections like these are always good value and during this stay-at-home time, four stories for the price of one will be welcome.

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 1: The Crumbling Castle

Brenda Gurr

New Frontier, 2020

88pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781925594973

Zoe Jones has a hidden talent and a secret identity.  Daughter of one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world, sadly dead now, and a secret globe-trotting international food critic, at the age on nine, she has inherited her mother’s interests and talents, and when she is not at school she creates masterpieces that are highly sought after, aided and abetted by her guardian Aunty Jam.  

In this, the first in the series, she gets a new pastry order for a special medieval crumbling cake, but she has no idea where to start! It needs to be ready in less than a day for the school fair and the clock is ticking. Will she deliver it on time and remain the undercover secret pastry chef everyone talks about?

Given the shortage of eggs, flour and other baking ingredients on the supermarket shelves at the moment, it can be assumed that there might be many budding pastry chefs like Zinnia Jakes emerging from kitchens and so this is a timely release that should have widespread appeal to young, newly independent readers.  While different to the Sage Cookson series, it nevertheless caters to a similar audience of younger readers with an interest in food, and while they wait for the second episode, The Tumbling Tortoises,  due in October 2020, they could indulge themselves with that collection.  

 

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

Edwina Wyatt

Katherine Quinn

Walker Books, 2019

160pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760651541

From the publisher…

Magnolia Moon is nine years old, likes Greek mythology, her best friend Imogen May (who understands the importance of questions like, “If you could be one fruit, any fruit, what would you be?”), wishing trees, and speaking crows. She knows instinctively that buffadillos are armadillos crossed with buffalos and believes there are walramingos living in her garden. She’s also the kind of person who can be entrusted with a great many secrets. Each chapter in this novel, which captures Magnolia’s year of being nine and ends on Chapter Almost 10, reveals a secret that Magnolia is keeping. But the novel also chronicles a year of change for Magnolia. From her best friend moving to the birth of her little brother Finnegan, Magnolia navigates every challenge and secret that comes her way with the kind of authenticity and innocence that comes from being nine years wise.

I have been deliberately sitting on this book till now because as soon as I got it to review I knew it would be perfect for Miss About-To -Turn-9 and I needed to keep it a secret. But the day is nearly here and with it being listed as a CBCA Notable for Younger Readers for 2020 it is time to share.  While the book spans a year in Magnolia’s life giving the story continuity, each chapter is a separate entity so it is perfect for that bedtime read when just a chapter is enough to transition to the world of dreams. With its recognisable hero mixed with just a touch of fantasy, it is just right for newly independent readers who are reading on and consolidating their love for reading and honing their skills each day. The writing uses twists of phrases such as “It was only Tuesday, but Magnolia felt hungry enough for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s lunch too. Plus a hot chocolate. ” that not only stay in the reader’s head but also inspire them to broaden their own writing style., and there is a balance of illustrations that continues to support those budding skills and understanding.

Miss About-To -Turn-9 is going to love this and with a Canberra winter looming, the more books she has the happier she will be. 

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lola Dutch I Love You So Much

Kenneth Wright

Sarah Jane Wright

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781547601172

Lola Dutch‘s friends are not having their best day.  Gator is cranky and cold; Crane can’t find her favourite picture book and Pig is positively peevish.  But she knows just what each needs to cheer them up and goes about setting things right in her usual cheerful way. But what about Bear?  Has she left him out?  Or is it that she can’t decide how she can show him how much he means to her?

This is another in this series about this over-the-top little girl who seems to live life at full-speed. Based on the creators’ own family, it seems nothing is too much trouble or too difficult to achieve to make her friends happy and so there is a strong message about thinking about others, being unselfish and matching deeds to needs.  Little ones might like to think of a special person in their life who deserves a special something, one that can be given without a monetary cost while others might like to reflect on something they have received and learn about Pay It Forward, setting up a positive class or school culture.

A charming picture book series for young readers, most likely to appeal to girls.