Monster Nanny

Monster Nanny

Monster Nanny










Monster Nanny

Tuutikki Tolonen

Allen & Unwin, 2020

304pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Halley, Koby and Mimi have been sent a nanny to look after them while their parents are away. The only problem? Their nanny is a monster! Grah is enormous, hairy, dusty and doesn’t talk. As the three siblings search for answers, they discover that other neighbourhood kids have also been left with similar creatures. So where did they all come from? With no parents around and the fate of their new nanny at stake, the Hellman kids must depend on each other as they solve the mystery of the monsters – and maybe even help them get back to their home.

Inspired by a remark from her 6 year old son, award winning Finnish author Tuutikki Tolonen has crafted a timeless adventure that will appeal to the independent reader. As soon as I read the blurb I knew that it would be just right for Miss Nearly 9 who is working her way through the complete works of Roald Dahl and has asked for The Worst Witch series for her birthday.  Having missed her longed-for Cuboree because of the bushfires and now some long wet weekends coming up, having a good solid read like this to entertain her will be just right with its mix of reality, fantasy and humour.

Something a little left-of-field to entice those who aren’t quite sure that the library’s collection holds anything for them.  

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy

Morphing Murphy










Morphing Murphy

Robert Favretto

Tull Suwannakit

Ford Street, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


Murphy the tadpole likes his life just the way it is – swimming in his weedy pond, slurping up algae and rotting water plants.  In fact he wouldn’t change a thing.  But then things do begin to change – two bumps appear next to his tail and no matter what he does he can’t get rid of them.  But as they develop into legs he finds his life is that much better and so he’s happy with the new Murphy.  Until things begin to change again… and again. And the twist in the ending is unexpected and delightful. 

With its soft palette and expressive illustrations,  this is a charming book for young readers that shows the development of a tadpole into a frog, while, at the same time, gently exploring how unexpected changes in life can become positives rather than negatives. While Murphy was at first fearful of the changes happening to him, with no control over them he has to accept them and get on with it. Perhaps some of our students are experiencing change through a new school or other life-changing event, especially given the fires and floods of this summer, and finding it confronting and need some guidance to search for and find the silver lining.  

More than just another book of many about the transformation of frogs. 

Teachers’ notes are available.

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss









Tree: A Gentle Story of Love and Loss

Lynn Jenkins

Kirrili Lonergan

EK Books, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99


Loppy the LAC  loves the feeling of sanctuary and serenity that the old tree in the park gives him whenever he is feeling anxious.  But when it starts to lose its leaves long before it is supposed to, his friend Curly points out that Tree’s days are numbered.  This makes Loppy very unsettled – how will he calm himself if it dies and disappears? But death is an inevitable conclusion to living and Loppy has to learn and accept that ‘his’ tree will soon be gone.

This is the fifth book in the  ‘Lessons of a LAC’ series, this one created to help children accept loss and process grief. Given the summer holidays that many of our students have experienced where all that was familiar is now blackened and gone, this is an important book to add to your mindfulness collection and share with the children.  While building a seat with a special photo might not be the option for them, nevertheless there are ways we can commemorate things that are important to us so that peace and connection return.  Because it might be in a different way for each person, it’s also an opportunity to acknowledge that we each value different things and how and when we remember this is unique to the individual.  There is no right way or wrong way – just different.

The author is a clinical psychologist whose specialty is early intervention in the social and emotional development of children and the previous books in this series have demonstrated that her words are wise and her stories resonate with their audience. 

Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy



Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg


Puffin Books, 2020 

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

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 



Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Dippy and the Dinosaurs










Dippy and the Dinosaurs

Jackie French

Bruce Whatley

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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


Dippy the Diprotodon  has dug a new hole and the best thing about a hole is that if you have sharp claws you can make it bigger and bigger.  In fact you can make it so big it can take you into another world!    A swimming hole, to be precise, one filled with creatures that Dippy doesn’t recognise but who he is convinced will want to be friends.  But will they?

Right alongside Mothball, Dippy is my favourite literary character because his innocence and expectation that he will be loved epitomises and reflects that of our youngest generation as they learn to navigate the world beyond home and family. It never occurs to Dippy that the creatures that he discovers (and who discover him) will do him harm or be unkind. Both French and Whatley capture this perfectly in text and words demonstrating that while new situations might be different, even strange, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are confrontational and antagonistic. As our littlest ones head off to preschool and big school, they can go with a positive attitude and confidence that yes, it’s a new world but it doesn’t have to be scary. To explore this in the context of a book about dinosaurs which resonated with that age group is just genius.

For those of you who want to explore the world of Dippy, diprotodons and other megafauna there are teachers’ notes (written by me) available. 


Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots

Me and My Boots










Me and My Boots

Penny Harrison

Evie Barrow

Little Hare, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Bronte loves her boots and she wears them all the time.  But they seem to take a role of their own depending on who she is with.

Mum calls them my brave-girl boots.
My bold-as-brass, adventure boots
I’m off to snare the dragon boots.
I’ll drag him home for tea.

My teacher calls them bustling boots.
My buckle-down-to-business boots.
I’m the best at jobs boots.
I’m busy as a bee.

Bouncing along with a rhythm that is as engaging as Bronte, with clever language and joyful illustrations, Bronte learns that who she is when she is wearing them is shaped by the relationships and circumstances at the time. But most importantly, she knows that all of these personalities make her who she is, even if she does have more layers than a triple-chocolate cake. 

This is the first in a new series about this thoroughly modern young girl who is confident and assertive and very comfortable in her own skin. The endpages and illustrations show she is not restricted by gender stereotyping or other artificial boundaries, complementing the text perfectly as she rejects the notion that her boots make her bossy or stubborn.

Looking forward to many more in the series.



Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Edie's Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends











Edie’s Experiments 1: How to Make Friends

Charlotte Barkla

Sandy Flett

Puffin, 2020 

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


“If there is one piece of advice I can give you for your first day at a new school, it’s this: avoid sliming your entire classroom. Even if it’s only an accident, you’ll probably end up in trouble with your new teacher…or your classmates… or your new principal. Or with all of them, like I did.” 

Edie loves science so when she starts at a new school she decides to treat it like a giant experiment but after a number of debacles she realises that making new friends isn’t an exact science. 

This is a new series for the independent young reader and perfect for this time of the year when there will be many like Edie who are starting at a new school and whose greatest concern is how they will make friends in this new environment when friendships groups are long established.  Interspersed with experiments and illustrations, this would make the perfect read-aloud to explore how to make new friends when you are just that bit older and inhibitions and uncertainties have already started to creep in. It works for both sides of the fence – those who already know each other and are unsure of how a new person might change the group dynamic, as well as the newcomer who might not resort to sliming the classroom but who feels they have to prove their worth in this new situation.  It might even inspire an interest in science – can making friends become an experiment? Is there a list of ingredients or elements and a procedure to follow?  And if there are, what could go wrong and why? How do human characteristics intervene on even the best plans? 

I’m Ready for Preschool

I'm Ready for Preschool

I’m Ready for Preschool









I’m Ready for Preschool

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2019

14pp., board book., RRP $A12.99


I’m trying something new soon. Something new and exciting . . .

Like many young Australians, a new adventure is on the horizon for Master Koala as the new school year looms (less than three weeks away for most) and it’s time to take the next step towards independence – preschool! There is much to do and prepare but he is convinced he is ready, even though there are some nervous butterflies in his tummy.  But it’s OK – everyone else feels the same and with a teacher who is smiling and more toys than he has ever seen, his day passes quickly and he’s not ready to go home.

This is another in this series of books designed to mirror the lives of Australia’s youngest children as they encounter milestones in their lives, demonstrating that any anxieties are common and normal and that there are ways to deal with them.  They can compare their own experiences with those of the characters as well as learning that books can be useful sources of information as well as entertainment as parents work through each page as they share them.  

The perfect gift for the little reader in your life. 
















Steve Worland

Puffin, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Fifteen-year-old Jack has just discovered the one thing he loves, and is really good at: go kart racing. With the support of his mentor, Patrick, an old race-car driver with a dark past, and his best mates Colin and Mandy, Jack must learn to control his reckless streak. Only then will he be in with a chance to defeat the best drivers in Australia, including his ruthless rival Dean, and win the National title.

Written by the author of Paper Planes and based on the movie this is a story that will appeal to a wide range of students, whether as a read-alone or a read-aloud. The movie has been billed as  “one for the family” thus many will have seen it so having the print version available will be an encouragement for those who enjoyed it to delve deeper and really get to know the characters .   There is an inset of photographs from the movie to bring back memories and it would make the perfect centrepiece of a display focusing on books that have been turned into movies and vice versa, perhaps sparking a discussion on which format is better and why it is preferred.

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules










The Princess Rules

Philippa Gregory

Chris Chatterton

HarperCollins, 2019

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Princess Florizella was friends with some of the princesses who had studied the Princess Rules, and behaved just as the Rules said they should. Florizella thought their hair was lovely: so golden and so very long. And their clothes were nice: so richly embroidered. And their shoes were delightful: so tiny and handmade in silk. But their days bored her to death…”

Instead, Princess Florizella rides her horse, Jellybean, all over the kingdom, having adventures of her own…

Originally written for her daughters in 1989 when the concept of rebel princesses as heroines was scarcely heard of much beyond Munsch’s  The Paper Bag Princess Philippa Gregory has reimagined this collection of three stories for her granddaughters and created a thoroughly modern tale.  “I’m much clearer that she’s up against something worse than a bad fairy at a christening – the ‘rules’ that try to persuade bright multi-talented children into stereotype notes. Florizella and her BFF Prince Bennet find their own paths around giants, wolves and (of course) dragons.”

With humour that stabs at convention and stereotypes and their consequences, Gregory has created a feisty heroine who will appeal to today’s newly independent reader who may once have dreamed of life as Aurora or Belle or some other Disney princess but who will no doubt much prefer to be Florizella instead.  

With a growing call for diversity in children’s literature, movies and other arts, the issue of stereotyping is a topical one so while this book may have a predominantly young female audience, it also has the scope to be a platform for exploring this topic among those much older. And Gregory’s experience as a writer shines through so it would not be considered as a twee, sugar-coated read beneath that older audience. It may even lead them to her more grown-up novels.