Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal











Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2019

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


“Rowley’s best friend Greg Heffley has been chronicling his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals . . . and counting. But it’s finally time for readers to hear directly from Rowley in a journal of his own. In Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, Rowley writes about his experiences and agrees to play the role of biographer for Greg along the way. (After all, one day Greg will be rich and famous, and everyone will want to know his life’s story.) But Rowley is a poor choice for the job, and his “biography” of Greg is a hilarious mess.”

There would be few primary school readers (and even those a little older) who do not know the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , one of the pivotal series to get boys reading that I’ve encountered throughout my teaching career. So this new addition to the collection, in which Greg’s life is viewed through the lens of his best friend, is a welcome new chapter with a twist.

But as well as just being a fun read, one that so many can relate to, it’s also a chance to explore the concept of perspective.  Do others see us as we see ourselves? It reminds me of an advertisement on television where a fellow is called to a meeting and is giving himself negative self-talk  – this one…

But the reality is significantly different. So this book could be an opening into examining how others perceive us and perhaps tapping into someone’s mental health by having friends write about their friends. A skilled teacher who knows the students really well might have them write about themselves first and if necessary have conversations with the school counsellor.  Food for thought that might get someone who is struggling to open up.

But for those who just adore Greg and Rowley and their adventures, they can find out more about their creation here.



The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers









The Three Musketeers

Russell Punter

Matteo Pincelli

Usborne, 2019 

104pp., pbk, RRP $A19.99


In 1844 Alexandre Dumas gave the world his story of Les Trois Mousquetaires and now 175 years on it is again being made available to young readers in graphic novel format so they, too, can share the adventures of  young  d’Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Although d’Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, “the three inseparables,” as these are called – and gets involved in their adventures. Set in the France of 1626 when there was fierce rivalry between the republicans and the monarchists, and bound by the famous cry of “All for one and one for all” 

Graphic novels have proven to be an invaluable way of introducing young readers to the classic stories of old and this is no exception, and with the current thirst for high action, high adventure with superheroes, this is the perfect way to lead children’s reading on to something just as exciting while opening up a new world of literature.  To help with understanding the context because it is set in the real world but a different time, there are pages at the back that set the scene and Usborne have their usual Quicklinks page to help the reader explore even further. 

A must for independent readers seeking to expand their horizons, as well as an addition to a unit comparing superheroes past, present and future!!

Marvel Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World

Marvel Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World

Marvel Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World











Marvel Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World

Sam Maggs, Emma Grange & Ruth Amos

DK, 2019

128pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Superheroes continue to be as popular as they first were when they were introduced in comic form in the 1930s.  The historic nomination of Black Panther for the Golden Globes Best Picture award, the first in this genre to be nominated, and the current success of Aquaman at the box offices around the world, attest to this and this new release from DK focusing on the female heroes of the Marvel world demonstrates that women can also save the world.

It features 50 of the incredible female Super Heroes from the Marvel Comics universe, classified according to whether they are predominantly determined, daring, compassionate or curious , and inspires women of all ages to be powerful, passionate, and persistent.

In graphic novel format, the collection profiles dozens of aspirational female comic-book characters, all of whom use their strength, intelligence, and courage to help others. Fierce fan-favourites such as Captain Marvel, Gamora, and Jessica Jones feature alongside little-known faces from all corners of the Marvel comic-book universe. Young girls will also discover modern, diverse heroes they can relate to and look up to, including America Chavez and Kamala Khan. 

Illustrated with stunning comic-book artwork, each short biography is carefully curated to focus on the character’s abilities and achievements. This book for girls and women of all ages will create new fans of comics, as well as inspiring comic-book creators of the future. Further reading suggestions are given for each character, so readers can follow the adventures of their favourite hero into the panels of Marvel’s finest issues.

While all of those featured were created in the imagination of an author,  nevertheless they can encourage our girls to think about real-life heroines – those that inspire them to be braver, stronger, more influential – and examine how they achieve this without those superhuman powers of their fictional counterparts.  And while people like Anne Frank, Helen Keller and Florence Nightingale will always feature in “famous women” studies, there are thousands of more contemporary figures whose stories can be investigated and told, perhaps in the style of those in this book. Perhaps such investigations may even persuade our girls that they themselves are mighty and have the qualities that will make them their own superhero.

One for inspiration and aspiration.

Good Rosie!

Good Rosie!

Good Rosie!










Good Rosie!

Kate DiCamillo

Harry Bliss

Walker Books, 2018 

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


Rosie loves living with George and going for walks with him, but she is lonely.  The dog in the bottom of her empty silver food bowl does not talk back to her, and when George sees historical figures in the clouds, Rosie just sees squirrels to chase – never another dog.  But when George does point out a dog-cloud and Rosie barks at it, he realises she wants company and takes her to the dog park.  

But there are too many dogs who are loud and boisterous for Rosie until…

This charming story in graphic novel format by the author of such outstanding books like Because of Winn-Dixie is perfect for any little person who loves dogs, or who is a little like Rosie and not sure how to go about making friends.  And it’s not just Rosie who learns to navigate the obstacles, but George himself finds some new people for his life too. Bliss manages to give each dog its own personality with compassion and humour so that even Maurice is portrayed as awkward rather than a bully. 

As a new school year looms on the horizon and many children will be facing new adventures in new schools, and perhaps with some trepidation, they may well relate to this little terrier as she enters a new environment which is overwhelming but manages to find her place within it. Because of its format with some quite small panels, this is one to be shared one-on-one with a child so Rosie’s anxiety and how she dealt with it can be talked about, and perhaps give reassurance and confidence that, on the whole, the big wide world of school is a friendly place and that each child is like Maurice, Fifi and Rosie – they just want a friend if only they could learn now to make one. 

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know











DC Comics Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

Liz Marsham & Melanie Scott

DK, 2018

200pp., hbk., RRP $A39.99


Founded in the US in 1934 by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, DC Comics, named from an original series called Detective Comics which introduced Batman to the world in 1939,  is one of the world’s oldest comic publishing companies.  Now a subsidiary of Warner Bros, DC is the home of many popular superheroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman,  Green Lantern and Green Arrow;  supervillains like The Joker; Lex Luther,  Brainiac, and The Penguin; and fight-for justice teams like The Justice League and Teen Titans. 

While they have always been popular in comic format, the magic of technology and special effects have seen a surge in popularity of all these characters as they garner new audiences through movie screens.  In this new publication from DK, all the known and unknown of the goodies and baddies has been gathered together so young readers can learn more about their heroes and their enemies and get a better understanding of who they are, what they do and how and why they do it.. Reflecting the comic format of their origins but touched with DK publishing magic to make the range of information easily accessible to young readers, this publication takes the stories back to their print origins, albeit in full colour these days, turning them full circle and encouraging fans to read as well as view. 

With events like Comic-con  pulling massive crowds of young and not-so around the world; regular news stories of sick children being lifted by a visit from their heroes and new-release movies breaking box-office records, the pull and power of those original characters has not dwindled over the last 80 years.  Thus, this would be an investment for the library collection or the Christmas stocking as there is already a captive audience who could boast that reading is their superpower.   

Athena: The Story of a Goddess

Athena: The Story of a Goddess

Athena: The Story of a Goddess











Athena: The Story of a Goddess

Imogen Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg

Bloomsbury, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A27.00


Greece’s Mount Olympus is the home of the gods and goddesses, including Zeus, Poseidon, Hera and Aphrodite.  It was also the home of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War and in this new picture book readers are introduced to her. From her extraordinary birth – sprung from the head of her father, in the midst of a thunderous headache – to her refusal to take no for an answer, she inspired powerful gods, goddesses and humans and determined the terrifying fate of those who dared to cross her path. 

Illustrated in graphic novel style, similar to that of The Story of Tutankhamun, it is more suited to independent readers who can manage the small cursive font. The stories associated with the Greek gods and goddesses, their amazing feats and their legacy continued in modern literature references have proven popular with the Year 3+ crowd over the years, and once they know about them they are hooked.  Perhaps this is the book that will spark a run on your 292.2 section! 

Teaching notes are available.

Parvana – a graphic novel

Parvana - a graphic novel

Parvana – a graphic novel











Parvana – a graphic novel

Deborah Ellis

Allen & Unwin, 2018

80pp., graphic novel, RRP $A19.99


In 2000, Canadian author Deborah Ellis told the story of Parvana, an 11 year old girl who living in  Kabul, Afghanistan with her mother Fatana, her father, her older sister Nooria, and two younger siblings, Maryam and Ali when Taliban soldiers enter her house and arrest her father for having a foreign education and beginning a fascinating, intriguing, award-winning series of books which include Parvana’s Journey , Shauzia  and Parvana’s Promise that shone a spotlight on the conditions of women and girls in Afghanistan that continues to this day.

As a series it is an amazing, true-to-life story of a young girl living in circumstances that the rest of the world knew little about but which has now led to the establishment of international organisations which support not only Afghan women but the recognition and provision of education for girls in male-dominated countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan.  As a story, it is one of courage, resilience, determination and grit that is inspirational as well as educational.  So many young girls that I know who have read this have commented about how it puts their own issues into perspective.

Renamed The Breadwinner in the US, it was made into a film of the same name and now that has been adapted into graphic novel format which will enable so many more to learn about Parvana’s story and perhaps continue to read the entire series.

If this series is not on your shelves for your Year 5/6+ readers, it should be.  If it is but has not circulated, perhaps it is time to promote it to a new audience.   In my opinion, it is a modern classic that should be read by all as an introduction to the world beyond the Australian classroom.


NB If you are searching for the series it also has the titles The Breadwinner (1),  Mud City (3) and My Name is Parvana (4)

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts – Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts - Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts – Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods











Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts – Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods

Craig Phillips

Allen & Unwin, 2017

192pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99


Ever since there have been children there has been children’s literature and having children learn lessons about life through this literature has been a constant thread in every culture across the globe.  Since the earliest days of mankind, stories have been created and told from generation to generation not just to explain the unknown but also to inspire better, more mature and moral behaviour in children with dire consequences inflicted by fearful creatures if boundaries were breached.  Didacticism was alive and well with stories featuring giants, trolls, witches, beasts and other fantastic figures achieving amazing things, wreaking havoc, surviving disasters or decreeing punishments so that adults as well as children lived in fear of retribution for misdeeds.

Now, with modern communication and science, while such creatures do not have the power of fear they once had, nevertheless they are still a central part of today’s literature with stories like the Harry Potter series and Game of Thrones commanding huge audiences as well as a continuing fascination for those stories in which the modern have their origins.  But until now, these have been retold and republished in formats that tend to scream “younger readers” and from which those who see themselves as more mature than the “picture book brigade” shy away from regardless of the quality of the content.  So to have ten traditional tales from ten countries brought together in graphic novel format as creator Craig Phillips has done is going to create a buzz of excitement.  Here, in one superbly illustrated volume, are stories featuring giants, trolls, witches and beasts with all their magical powers and chilling feats and universal messages of courage and obedience. that will appeal to those who are fascinated by this genre in a format that will support and sustain their reading.

Phillips has kept his audience in mind as he has drawn – the imaginary creatures are all sufficiently gruesome and grisly so their characters are clear but not so much that they will inspire nightmares. The mix of familiar and unfamiliar characters offers something for each reader to explore and perhaps think about why stories from such diverse origins have such similar themes.  Is there indeed, a moral and ethical code that links humans regardless of their beliefs and circumstance?

One that will appeal to a wide range of readers and deserving of its place among the 2018 CBCA Notables.


Freaks on the Loose

Freaks on the Loose

Freaks on the Loose









Freaks on the Loose

Leigh Hobbs

Allen & Unwin, 2018

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


When you pick up a book that not only has Leigh Hobbs’ name on the front cover but also a warning to the reader that if they see the characters within they should report them to the Education Department and run, as well as another to prospective teachers to reconsider their career choice, then you know you have a gem in your hands – one that your students are going to love.

Populated with the most amazing and diverse Year 4 students that a teacher could ever dread to have, Freaks on the Loose is a combination of 4F for Freaks and Freaks Ahoy! In typical Hobbs’ style with compelling line drawings and minimal text he sets out to portray the class from hell, drawing on people he has met over time to create a novel that will appeal to all those who share his quirky sense of humour and like a bit of subversion.  He admits that he likes to go into bat for the underdog and while his characters may be somewhat extreme in their portrayal, underneath there is something that we can all relate to, all having felt freakish at some stage in our lives.

As the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016-2017, Hobbs did a magnificent job of spreading the word about the critical importance of reading, of reaching out to those for whom stories might not be entertaining or accessible, of showing that print is just as entertaining as the screen, and in this collection of two of his funniest books, he is spreading his message to even the most reluctant readers in our classes.


The Susie K Files (series)

The Susie K Files

The Susie K Files







Life of the Party


Game Changer


Shamini Flint

Sally Beinrich

Allen & Unwin, 2018

112pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Susie K is nine years old and says she has mega-huge problems – problems as big as the Sydney Opera House, as tall as the Eiffel Tower and as massive as the pyramids of Egypt. But she is OK with that because she likes to use her scientific mind to solve them, and understanding the importance of keeping records of the trials she has to solve the problem, she has decided to keep a file on each one that she solves. 

Her first problem is that she loves animals but is allergic to fur so she has the class goldfish for her only pet.  Problems 2, 3 and 4 come in the shape of her family – firstly her dad who is a mad sports fanatic and Susie is not; then her brother Jack who is constantly putting her down;and  #4 is her mum who is a Sri Lankan refugee who had a very tough childhood and refers to it often so she now wants Susie to be a huge success at everything she tries, which would be impossible even if she didn’t have the ridiculous name of Susanna Saathiavanni Kanagaratnam-Smith. Why couldn’t she just be Susie Smith? But being like most little girls, Susie is keen to please her mum and does her best to do so.

At school, Susie prefers the people in books to the people in real life so she’s not the most popular person, which she doesn’t mind and is relieved when she is no longer invited to parties and other social occasions. But when her mum discovers she was the only one not at a class pool party, her mum decides to do something about it even though Susie begs her not to get involved because parents sticking their noses in does not always have a happy outcome. And so Operation: Life of the Party begins…

In the second in the series, Game Changer, her mother is thrilled that Susie is competing in the school sports carnival but when you are no good at sport and actually hate them, the problems start.

This is a new series that will really support newly-independent readers with its graphic-novel type format as much of Susie’s thoughts  and conversations are in a cartoon-like style that not only moves the action along but adds greater depth to Susie’s character as she works her way through the issues.  Many girls will see themselves in Susie’s shoes, if not with the family background but definitely with the problems she has and they will gain insight and perhaps hope that with some lateral thinking, there isn’t anything that can’t be negotiated or solved – without a parent interfering! 

A read-alone rather than a read-aloud, this is an intriguing new series that deserves a place in your collection.