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Ratbags 2: Midnight Mischief

Midnight Mischief

Midnight Mischief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight Mischief

Tim Harris

Shiloh Gordon

Puffin, 2023

192pp.,graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9780143777458

Rats, in general, do not have a good reputation for being friendly and kind, and The Ratbags are no exception.  Their goal in life is to make trouble and to look for naughty things to do.  They ream of mayhem and believe rules are for losers.  Except for one – Jigsaw.  He got his name because he does not fit in, like a puzzle piece that won’t squeeze into place no matter how much you twist and turn it. Jigsaw likes both rules and humans so he doesn’t fit in with the other rats and they shun him. 

But things might change when a new pizza shop opens in town…

This is the second in this  new series from the author of titles like Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables and this time he has joined with illustrator Shiloh Gordon to create a series that is likely to appeal to young boys, particularly those who don’t choose reading as their first choice for free time.  With minimal text, cartoon-like illustrations, and lots of laughs,  the story moves along at a fast clip more like an animated television program than a print resource, driven by the characters rather than events.  

This time, having gained a reputation for being good because of rule-loving, leaf-collecting, piano-playing Jigsaw’s actions in the first book, the other Ratbags need to change this immediately and Ripple and Onion are the best ratbags for the job. But while performing some ratty mayhem, they fall into Cracker the cat’s claws… Will their midnight mischief turn them into a midnight snack? Or will Jigsaw find a way to save them? Again!

Despite the fun and naughtiness, just below the surface there are subtle messages about friendship,  peer pressure and having the courage to stand your ground.  ‘It’s not preached at all, but there’s a nice subtle message that we can be friends with other people, no matter what our belief system or no matter how different we are to them,’ says Tim Harris.

If the first one in the series captured your reluctant readers, they will be glad that this one is hot on its heels and there are at least two more to come… Best of Pets in July and Take Flight in September.

 

Garlic and the Witch

Garlic and the Witch

Garlic and the Witch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic and the Witch

Bree Paulsen

HarperCollins, 2023

160pp., graphic novel, RRP $A24.99

 9780062995124

Brave little Garlic is back in this standalone companion to Garlic and the Vampire, with another tale of friendship, magic, and self-discovery. 

Garlic loves spending time with Witch Agnes, Carrot, and her new friend, the Count, who has proven to be a delightful neighbour to the village of vegetable people rather than the scary vampire the village feared in the first story,. But despite Agnes’s best attempts to home-brew a vegetarian blood substitute for Count, the ingredient she needs most can only be found at the Magic Market, far from the valley.

Before she knows it, with a broomstick in hand, Garlic is nervously preparing for a journey.

But Garlic is experiencing another change too—finger by finger, she appears to be turning human. Witch Agnes assures her that this is normal for her garden magic, but Garlic isn’t so sure that she’s ready for such a big change. After all, changes are scary…and what if she doesn’t want to be human after all…

As with the first one, this is not a complex read,- cheerful rather than chilling – with a subtle message about believing in stereotypes and rumours, readers will still need to have the reading skills necessary to interpret a graphic novel, seamlessly integrating the illustrations with the plot because there are many passages where there is no speech.  That said, with its warm colours, and faces which are friendly rather than frightening, this is a gentle introduction into both the format and fantasy. 

A fresh, new series to entertain readers who are looking for something a bit different. 

Ratbags 1: Naughty for Good

Ratbags 1: Naughty for Good

Ratbags 1: Naughty for Good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ratbags 1: Naughty for Good

Tom Harris

Shiloh Gordon

Puffin, 2023

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

: 9780143777441

Rats, in general, do not have a good reputation for being friendly and kind, and The Ratbags are no exception.  Their goal in life is to make trouble and to look for naughty things to do.  They ream of mayhem and believe rules are for losers.  Except for one – Jigsaw.  He got his name because he does not fit in, like a puzzle piece that won’t squeeze into place no matter how much you twist and turn it. Jigsaw likes both rules and humans so he doesn’t fit in with the other rats and they shun him. 

But things might change when a new pizza shop opens in town…

This is a new series from the author of titles like Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables and this time he has joined with illustrator Shiloh Gordon to create a series that is likely to appeal to young boys, particularly those who don’t choose reading as their first choice for free time.  With minimal text, cartoon-like illustrations, and lots of laughs,  the story moves along at a fast clip more like an animated television program than a print resource, driven by the characters rather than events.  

It’s the first in the series and there’s a quiz that readers can take to see which character they themselves are most like, because every little one dreams of being brave enough to not toe the line, unless they are Jigsaw.  But just below the surface, there are subtle messages about friendship,  peer pressure and having the courage to stand your ground.  Despite the rats’ bad behaviour, however, there are several heartwarming messages buried beneath the surface. ‘It’s not preached at all, but there’s a nice subtle message that we can be friends with other people, no matter what our belief system or no matter how different we are to them,’ says Tim Harris.

Buy the first one and give it to your reluctant readers to determine if you should get the rest in the series.  You may well hook them into reading not only this, but reading in general. 

 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Super Adventures of Ollie and Bea

Bunny Ideas

9781761068119

Otter-ly Ridiculous

9781761068126

Renee Treml

A&U Children’s 2023

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

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet, but, despite their differences they are best friends who work together to solve mysteries. 

These are the two latest adventures in this graphic novel series  for young readers transitioning from the basal readers of commercial reading schemes to less-controlled books offering a stepping stone to more complex “early chapter books”. Following the format of the previous four where the emphasis is on the conversation between the characters, Treml again places her characters into situations that are familiar to her audience.  In Bunny Ideas Bea is planning some fun games to play with her friends but they must follow her rules while in a game becomes a quarrel that threatens friendships, offering opportunities for the reader to consider what options there are for harmony and what choices they might make in a similar situation.

In a recent media interview I was asked why I thought it was important for little ones to read and apart from fueling their imagination and inspiring their dreams, I emphasised the need for them to read about children and characters who were just like themselves so that they could not only see themselves in stories and thus affirming who they are as they are is enough, but that they could encounter and solve problems such as those in these stories from a distance.  Contemporary realistic fiction has been defined as  “real stories that could happen here and now [in which] the author attempts to weave a story based on believable characters, a plausible plot and a recognisable setting so that young readers … can vicariously live through the story’s characters while they read” (Travers, B. E. & Travers, J. F. (2008) Children’s literature: A developmental perspective. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley) and while it is a term usually applied to literature for young adults, IMO Treml has nailed it in this series for much younger readers.  

Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

Sunny the Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny the Shark

Surviving the Wild 3

Remy Lai

Allen & Unwin, 2022

112pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9781761065460

Usually Sunny the whitetip shark is a fierce predator, cruising the ocean with a shoal of pilot fish friends, looking for food. However, when she mistakes a plastic ring for food and it gets wrapped around her fins making  it tricky to hunt her life is in danger.   

For despite their willingness to help her, even following whale songs to try and find food while being terrified of the presence of any boat, Sunny is cranky and snappy – emotions provoked by fear rather than anger. So will she be able to break free by herself, and find food before winter sets in, or will she need to accept her friends’ help?

This is the third in this new graphic novel series  designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it.  The new NSW English syllabus, particularly, requires students to be able to “to express opinions about texts and issues… both objectively and subjectively”, so as well as empathising with Sunny whose problems may be similar to those they are facing,  they also learn about the perils of things like pollution, the dangers of plastics for wildlife and why we all need to be responsible consumers as well as disposers. Being in the shoes of the main character – this one inspired by a true story about another shark, Destiny, who was found in similar circumstances – helps them be more engaged and understand the situation better, hopefully inspiring them to become not only more aware but more active in environmental protection. 

Hallmarks of quality literature include having characters and a plot which are engaging and interesting for the students, offering layers and levels of complexity that are revealed with multiple readings and which enrich discussion and challenge perceptions, thinking and attitudes.  Add to this the appeal of a graphic novel format and this is another winner for this talented creator. 

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot

Sam Cotton

Puffin, 2022

256pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

9780143778547

On a sunny Sydney wharf, Stacey and Stanley watch enviously as customers feed on as many hot salty chippies as they want. Fed up with having to scab for scraps with all the other seagulls, they seek out legendary chippy thief Steve-O to help them pull off the ultimate heist . . .

But first they’ll have to get past a seagull-hating chippy chef, deal with some bully bin chickens, and convince the World’s Best Chippy Chaser to overcome his dark past and join the team.

There would be few children in Australia who were unfamiliar with seagulls – even those who live far from the sea.  And anyone who has ever had hot chips at the beach knows that that is like a mating call to these birds, who, incidentally, have been my favourites since I was a tiny tacker.  Add their familiarity to a creator who is already well-known on social media and this becomes an instant must-read for young readers who like silliness, fun and graphic novels,.  Told by Grandgull, it is likely to have readers as enthralled as those listening to the story. particularly young lads who are transitioning from instructional readers and finding novels daunting.

No one who reads this will view seagulls and their passion for hot chips in the same way again. 

 

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remarkably Ruby

Terri Libenson

HarperCollins, 2022

384pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

 9780063139183

Ruby is moving to middle school, a whole new environment with a whole lot of new people to meet.  Which for some, will be an exciting opportunity, but very daunting for one who doesn’t have “the greatest social skills” , whose not into dances, social media or sports, and who is as tall as their money tree. 

More for the upper end of this readership, nevertheless it is a story that will resonate with many who find themselves having to change schools, and its first-person voice, diary-like entries and a format resembling a graphic novel make it accessible to any independent reader.

It is the 6th in the Emmie and Friends series, written to help young girls navigate those tricky tween years by showing them that the problems and issues they face are common and there are ways to work their way through them.  So while some may not resonate so much with Ruby (although many will),  there are others in the series that will definitely speak to them, making it a series that needs to be in the library’s collection as our young girls seek books about those just like themselves, with the same insecurities, confusion and peer pressure.

 

 

 

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

Imogen Greenberg

Isabel Greenberg

Bloomsbury, 2022

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781526625700

Imagine you made something that was so beautiful and powerful that everyone wanted to take it for themselves. And then you had to watch them destroy it. Would you fight for it?

Meet Gaia, the ancient Greek goddess who created the Earth and the universe that stretched beyond it. She raised trees from their roots to the sky, sent waterfalls tumbling over cliffs and created the tides that sloshed on the shore. She gifted her creation to animals and mortals, and watched as they made it their home.

But she also created a force she couldn’t control: the ambition of gods. Gaia watched as the gods fought brutal wars and manipulated mortals such as Hercules and Achilles, disturbing peace on Earth. Storms raged, fires blazed and people, animals and plants suffered. Gaia begged the gods to look after her creation, but no one listened.

But Gaia never gave up fighting for a better world. This is her story.

From the sisters who gave us the remarkable Madame Curie and her Daughters, and Athena: the Story of a Goddess comes another journey into Greek mythology with this modern take on the story of Gaia, told by the Fates, -Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos – in a graphic narrative that is designed for independent readers.  With a poignant environmental message that the pursuit of power damages our natural world, and we all have to work together to protect it, it is a relevant today as it was during the time of the Ancient Greeks 3000 years ago.  

But not only does it offer an introduction to Greek mythology that forms such a strong platform of our beliefs and values, it can also be a companion to those books that you might have been using to investigate the origins of this planet. For every civilisation has its creation myths which make for intriguing studies in themselves, let alone comparing and contrasting the lore with the science. 

Fascinating.

Lightfall (series)

Lightfall (series)

Lightfall (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightfall (series)

The Girl & the Galdurian

 9780062990464

Shadow of the Bird

9780062990501

Tim Probert

HarperCollins, 2021=22

256pp., graphic novel, RRP $A19.99

Welcome to Irpa, a world in which humans live and work alongside animals, where the sun no longer shines, and an ancient, forgotten terror is stirring.

When the sun was extinguished 500 years earlier, the Galdurians invented and built floating Lights to ward off the overwhelming darkness, and now, though the Galdurians are believed to be extinct, the Lights shine on.  

Deep in the heart of the planet stands the Salty Pig’s House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea, studying, foraging and making potions together for the people of their once-prosperous world, and, as keepers of the Endless Flame, living a quiet and peaceful life. 

All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it’s the Pig Wizard. And so these two unlikely friends get swept up in an epic quest to save their world from falling into eternal darkness.

When they arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found—all that’s left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard’s safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light.

Will these two unexpected friends find the beloved Pig Wizard and prevent eternal darkness from blanketing their world Or has Irpa truly seen its last sunrise?

In the second in this new series, Bea and Cad continue their quest to stop Kest, the mythic bird who stole the sun. After a battle that nearly cost them their lives, they awaken in the hidden settlement of the Arsai, mysterious creatures who can glimpse into the future. The Arsai’s vision paints a dire picture for their planet, as the bird Kest Ke Belenus—now awoken from a restless slumber—threatens to destroy all the Lights of Irpa. Desperate for a solution, Bea and Cad seek out the help of a water spirit known as Lorgon, whose ancient wisdom may help them find a way to take down Kest and save Irpa from utter destruction.

But when their time with Lorgon presents more questions than answers, Bea and Cad must decide what’s more important . . . stopping Kest or uncovering the truth.

Both episodes end on a cliff-hanger leaving the reader to wait for the next installment, making this an engaging series for those who enjoy this sort of story in graphic novel format.  Probert has built a whole new world with intriguing characters that young independent readers will relate to as they face the sorts of dilemmas and decisions that the reader does, but in a parallel setting that adds an extra dimension, yet remains familiar so the leap isn’t too great for their imaginations.   

 

Cranky Chicken

Cranky Chicken

Cranky Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cranky Chicken

9780734420954

Cranky Chicken Party Animals

9780734420985 

Katherine Battersby

Lothian, 2021-2022

104pp., graphic novel, RRP $A14.99

 

In the first book, the reader is introduced to Cranky Chicken. Everything about Chicken is cranky. Cranky eyes, cranky eyebrows, super-sharp cranky beak, even cranky scratchy feet. And everything makes Chicken cranky. The sun is too bright, the dirt is too dirty…

By why is Cranky Chicken so angry? Could she be lonely? So what happens when a very cheerful worm named Speedy, who just wants to be friends, comes along? Could it be the end of the worm or a new start for Cranky Chicken?

In the second episode , Cranky Chicken is super hungry and the crank-O-meter is on high. What can Speedy the worm do to help? How about … a yummy snack? A day at the beach? An unsurprising party? It’s party time for Cranky and Speedy, two Best Feathered Friends!

This is a new series about mismatched friends who bring joy, companionship and a new perspective to each other’s lives for newly independent readers who are dipping their toes into the graphic novel format and are able to follow a story that is based on speech between the characters rather than having lots of extra descriptive test or illustration.  The action is carried in the conversation and captions in separate but connected stories that demonstrate that there are many ways to be a friend, particularly accepting each other for who they are as they are what is offered as friendship for all that it is.