Total Quack Up

Total Quack Up

Total Quack Up









Total Quack Up

Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck

James Foley

Puffin Books, 2018

262pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Put two of Australia’s favourite authors Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck in charge of gathering together some of their author-mates like Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks,  Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton so each can contribute to a book of short stories to raise funds for the Dymocks Children’s Charities and the result is a Total Quack Up.

Criminal cats, superheroes, pigs dressed in footy gear, crazy robots, hippos who love the beach and birthday parties that end in disaster are all features of this collection of short stories designed for younger independent readers who not only like funny stories but also still need a little support as their reading skills develop.

As part of the process, Penguin Random House ran a writing competition for young writers and the winner, 12-year-old Ella Wallace has her story Who Blocked Up the Dunny included.

All the royalties from this book go to Dymocks Children’s Charities, a group of initiatives created to support children’s literacy within Australia encouraging students from priority schools “to cultivate a love for books and read every day “just because they want to”. Quite simply it’s about getting great books into kids’ hands!”  So, apart from the fun of reading that your own students will have, your money will go to help others experience that too. 

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

Norman the Knight Gets a Fright











Norman the Knight Gets a Fright

Mark Sperring

Ed Eaves

Bloomsbury, 2018

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


Meet Norman the Brave:
He’s in need of some knaves
to help him get ready for royal parades.

It’s amazing just how much work there is to do to get ready for a royal parade – not just catching his horse and squeezing him into his armour, but darning his socks and ironing pants as well!  And if that’s not enough, there are dragons and bandits and brigands to ward off on the way to the parade ground!!!  But there’s a catch – and it may not be the job for you.  In which case…

This is a rollicking rhyme through medieval times that is full of fun and humour that will appeal to a wide range of readers.  The text is superbly set off by the bright. bold pictures which are packed full of detail and fun, but sadly Norman’s behaviour may well resonate with some.  He is the Queen Bee while his knaves are just his drones and his treatment of them is unbecoming but common.  

So if the little ones decide that being a knave for a knight is not for them, they can speculate on what it might be like to work for a …

Fun and funny!



You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger











You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2018

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


Don’t let an elephant drive a digger . . .
Diggers are big – but elephants bigger.
No, if you want to move earth or dig holes,
best not let an elephant near the controls.

So begins this follow-up to You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus which is just as hilarious as its predecessor.  All the animals want to do is help you through your day but with a crocodile wanting to help you with teeth cleaning, a kangaroo assisting you on the loo and a seal preparing your meal, things could get a little chaotic.  Luckily they come up with their own solution.

Winter has been dragging on – record rains in some parts, drought in others and so many minus-many nights where I live that it really is time for a good laugh, and this book provides it.  Sharing a bunk with a skunk brings its own mental images and little ones could have fun making their own suggestions.  What about a giraffe in your bath or a pheasant who’s unpleasant??

Lots of fun to bring a smile to the gloomiest face as the imagination runs wild. 

The Magic Pudding – centenary edition

The Magic Pudding

The Magic Pudding











The Magic Pudding

Norman Lindsay

HarperCollins, 2018

208pp., hbk., RRP $A49.99


Written a century ago to settle an argument with his friend Bertram Stevens who believed children liked to read about fairies while  Norman Lindsay believed they liked to read about food, The Magic Pudding is now celebrating its 100th anniversary with this new slipcover edition.

Written in four slices,  it tells the story of Bunyip Bluegum the koala, Sam Sawnoff the penguin and Bill Barnacle the sailor who have a magic pudding called Albert who reforms into a whole pudding no matter how much of him is eaten. 

Albert is cranky, has bad manners and is always demanding that he be eaten because that is the only thing gives him pleasure. As they travel together, they meet Possum and Wombat who want to have Albert for themselves and the newly-formed Noble Society of Pudding Owners then embark on a series of adventures trying to defend Albert from being stolen regardless of the dastardly tricks that the Pudding Thieves try.


With such an original, funny and intriguing plot it is no wonder that The Magic Pudding is considered one of five great children’s classics in Australian literature along with Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Blinky Bill , The Muddleheaded Wombat and Dot and the Kangaroo.,  This collector’s edition also  includes a section, ‘From the Publisher’s Archives’ that contains a fascinating collection of correspondence between Norman Lindsay and his publishers, Angus & Robertson. The letters have come from the A & R Archives held in the Mitchell Library and were selected with the assistance of Lindsay’s granddaughter, Helen Glad, who also wrote a short biography of him especially for this book.

Perfect for starting a child’s collection of quality Australian stories so they learn about their literary heritage.

Are You My Bottom?

Are You My Bottom?

Are You My Bottom?









Are You My Bottom?

Kate & Jol Temple

Ronojoy Ghosh

Allen & Unwin, 2018

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


Little Panda wakes up to find his bottom is missing!  Where could it be?  He searches here and there, high and low and even pastes Wanted posters on the wall, but there is no sign of it anywhere.

Oh, wait?  There it is – it’s black and white like his, but no – this one is long and stripy and belongs to Lemur.  Well, perhaps that’s it, up in the tree.  No Panda, you’re being absurd.  That is the bum of a fine feathered bird.

As each bottom turns out to belong to something else, nevertheless each creature joins in the crazy romp to help Panda out.  Will they be successful? Or will Panda be bottomless forever?

With its distinctive illustrations and its rhyming text, this is a funny book that will have young readers laughing and trying to predict whose bottom Panda has spied and just just where his might be.  But it is also a good way to introduce the concept of bottoms and their essential role in the anatomy and health and well-being of every living creature.  Simply asking, “Why does Panda need his bottom?” can start an interesting discussion that can lift the common taboo of this subject among little people. It might even start speculation about why all the creatures in the story (and others) have tails, whereas humans don’t.  Fun, entertaining and offering teachable moments all at the same time. 

Lottie Perkins (series)

Lottie Perkins (series)

Lottie Perkins (series)







Lottie Perkins (series)

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2018

64pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Movie Star




Pop Singer


Fashion Designer



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 book – 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 this new 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.

This is a new series for young girls who are becoming independent readers, with its large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations supporting their efforts.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. Something new for this age group who are transitioning between basal readers and novels with the first two books available now and the next two to come in November 2018.


The Peski Kids 1, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach

The Peski Kids 1, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach

The Peski Kids 1, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach











The Peski Kids 1, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach

R. A. Spratt

Puffin, 2018

275pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Feisty, feminist April is twelve; pedantic, peace-loving Fin is 13;  shy, stuttering Joe is 16 and they are the children of a brilliant paleontologist mother and a bumbling botanist father.  When their mother is captured at an Eastern European airport and imprisoned for being an international spy, her boss Professor Maynard intervenes, blows their house up and whisks the children away just seconds before the Kolektiv come to do the same thing.

Driving through the night, they are taken to their father’s farm near the tiny town of Currawong, a man who is as vague as their mother is smart and whom they haven’t seen for eleven years and scarcely remember because he is terrified of his wife. He is so nervous and passive that he lets his young neighbour Loretta Viswanathan practise her show jumping in his garden, despite her crashing into and ruining his carefully collected and nurtured plants.

Forced to change their name, and urged by Professor  Maynard to fit into the community so they are safe, they find themselves having to don a school uniform – which includes a skirt for April which deeply offends her principles of choices – and rushed off to school along with Pumpkin, April’s companion dog to help her with her anger management issues but which has more issues than she does.

But how are they going to fit into a town that has a giant potato (that looks like a big poo) as its main tourist attraction and where the Currawong Annual Cockroach Races are one of the biggest events of the year and the greatest hero to have emerged was a long-ago lawn bowls champion who is still honoured?  Can independent, street-wise city kids become country kids? Can they put their personal differences and continual squabbling aside to unite and keep themselves safe?

This is the first in a new series from the author of Friday Barnes and Nanny Piggins and which promises to be just as engaging and intriguing as its predecessors.  Because she draws on her own experiences, family, and surroundings, Spratt has a knack of making the quirkiest of characters credible so that the reader immediately connects with them and wants to find out what happens as they navigate their way not only through “normal life” but also the adventures and mysteries that befall them.  Inwardly, they want to be like Friday and her cohort and it will be no exception with this new family.  Funny, sassy, smart, independent, resilient with a strong sense of their own self and their place in the world, April, Fin (aka Sharkfin) and Joe (aka Peregrine but he forged a new birth certificate)  will quickly become the new aspirational heroes for the 10+ age group who are independent readers.

With two more additions already planned for release in January and August next year, Miss 12 (who adored Friday Barnes and begged me to buy her the whole series) is going to have her Christmas holiday reading sorted, as will all the other Friday Barnes fans!

The Peski Kids, The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach will be launched at The Little Bookroom in Melbourne, today August 22.


Splat the Fake Fact

Splat the Fake Fact!

Splat the Fake Fact









Splat the Fake Fact

Adam Frost

Gemma Correll

Bloomsbury, 2018

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


When it comes to free reading choices, young boys, particularly, tend to go for the non fiction titles about sharks, dinosaurs, motor vehicles and the Guinness Book of Records. They are fascinated by the world of the weird and wonderful that they can pore over and learn so much from in discussions with their friends as they examine the pictures even if they can’t read the text yet. They are laying their foundations of the basic concepts of information literacy but their interest is driven by the illustration rather than a need for specific information.

Splat the Fake Fact takes this interest up a notch, encouraging the reader to actually think about what they are being told, discover the correct answer through some research and then do something about it.  On every page there are incredible, hilarious, unlikely facts that are completely true… and one fact that isn’t!  The reader is invited to find the imposter fact and reveal it before it goes out into the world – and then take some action like scribbling on them, lasering them, drawing silly hats or crossing them out.While that might not be the recommended action for a community library book, nevertheless the combination of humour and cartoon presentation will engage young readers into understanding that not everything they read is true; that there is real “fake news” and the need to verify what they see and hear through some basic research.

While this would make an ideal read for that young person moving on to independent reading and research, it could also have a place in information literacy levels with each page being a jump start for an aspect of the information literacy process.  Starting with “What do we already know?” and “What more do we need to know?” and “Where could we find that information?” students can be led on that journey of lifelong learning, developing those core concepts in a way that connects to the interests of the age group.  

While many teachers like to use websites like Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus to have students to learn to test what they are reading and evaluate the validity of it, Splat the Fake Fact is a  few steps before this with its accessible language, funky illustrations, and graphic layout.  Each fake fact is identified, often in another crazy puzzle that requires more learning to decipher, but more complete explanations are given at the end of the book.  

Some students might even like to use the puzzles as models to create their own fake facts, setting up a weekly challenge for library users to investigate, learning to use the library’s resources as they do.

What looks like a book that might be used as a child’s Christmas stocking stuffer, might just be the best investment you make in your library collection this year!!!


Grandpa’s Space Adventure

Grandpa's Space Adventure

Grandpa’s Space Adventure











Grandpa’s Space Adventure

Paul Newman

Tom Jellett

Viking, 2018

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


“I’m afraid of the dark… But Grandpa says there’s nothing to be afraid of, so tonight we’ll be camping out.”

Grandpa is the ultimate grandpa for understanding little ones’ fears and ever since he taught his grandson to swim , you can sense that the bond has been growing and it’s time for the next big adventure.

He says that if you don’t have the dark you wouldn’t be able to see the stars, the planets or the moon and, snuggled into their tent, he launches into the most hilarious tale of the time he and his dog Rover went to the moon.  Building their rocket ship in the backyard (which meant Grandma couldn’t hang out her washing for weeks) there follows the most jaw-dropping adventure based on wicked puns which will tickle the adult reader’s fancy and make the young listener LOL. Everything from launch boxes and cooking unidentified frying objects not only make this funny but they distract the young boy from his fears as night falls and darkness creeps over the land.  

The tone for the book is set from the outset with the covers  showing the planets and constellations with their unique names; the endpapers with the phases of the moon just inviting questions about why it changes shape; to Jellett’s illustrations which add so much zing to the text  and you just know it is going to be a firm favourite in no time.  Grandpa’s solution to not getting burned when they undertake their trip to the sun is just perfect and you know that there is going to be much love and many tall tales to come (next one is about going on safari) as Newman and Jellett explore the very common fears of little people and exploit the special bond between grandfather and grandson to dispel them.  

Just perfect for sharing and encouraging young readers to share their fears and understand that they are not alone with them.  















Meg McKinlay

Nathaniel Eckstrom

Walker Books, 2018

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


It was a quiet afternoon on the farm with the horse, cow, pig and sheep going about their horse, cow, pig and sheep business when the tranquility was interrupted by a little duck shouting “Duck!”  Annoyed at being disturbed and so egocentric is each creature that they are more intent on pointing out their differences from and therefore superiority over the duck that they don’t notice the darkening sky or that Duck has donned a bucket-helmet.  Until…

Those familiar with the other meaning of the word ‘duck’and who have keen eyes will pick up on what is about to happen and those familiar with that classic tale by L. Frank Baum will delight in the final page.

Meg McKinlay, author of No Bears  and Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros always tells a great story that is worthy of a dozen reads and this is no exception.  The illustrations are so perfect for the story you would think that the two were in the same room collaborating on each spread, rather than being on opposite sides of the country.

Pure charm!