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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.  

Two Dogs

Two Dogs

Two Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Dogs

Ian Falconer

HarperCollins, 2022

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

9780008399863

Two dogs, dachshunds

Dignified, slightly imperious

with aquiline noses and noble profiles.

Indeed, they look like Roman emperors…

Everyone loved Augie and Perry when they were puppies and played with them all the time, but as the years passed and the children went to school and the adults were at work, the dogs were left to their own devices during the day.  Most days they were fine but one day they found a way to get through the screen door and outside and soon they’re diving into the swimming pool, digging an enormous hole in the lawn, and causing all kinds of chaos… But then they hear the family car pull up… 

Many of our young readers will have got a pet for Christmas and while that’s all well and good during this long summer break, just what will those pets get up to when school goes back? This is an hilarious story that will entertain young readers but plant seeds of doubt as to what might be really happening when they are not there.  

Funny Kid Catastrophe

Funny Kid Catastrophe

Funny Kid Catastrophe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Kid Catastrophe

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2022

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

9780733341991

Absolutely, definitely, does not under any circumstances does Max want a cat. So why did Mum and Dad just bring one home? And it’s about to ruin his life.

With the prospect of  being First Kid of Redhill because his mum has decided to run for mayor, and thus retiring as Funny Kid, 11 year-old Max is contemplating all the power, attention and kudos he will have in that position when his parents return with something for him.  But it’s not a security detail, a limousine, the keys to the city or even a five dollar note with hi face on it – it’s a cat from the local animal shelter. But Max is not a cat-person – he thinks such people should seek medical help – so how is he going to cope with this gift and still maintain his dignity, integrity and position as First Kid?

As Christmas and New Year fade into the distance, this is the ideal read for young independent readers- those who have met Max already in his previous 10 adventures and those who are about to get to know one of the most successful characters in Matt Stanton’s amazing collection.  Stanton is very much in tune with what kids in those middle years like to read about, particularly characters that they can relate to and secretly wish to be.  The place that the edgy humour of Jennings, Gleitzman and Milne played in their parents’ childhood is now being filled by him with great success, demonstrating that good stories with lots of humour and over-the-top situations are always winners, particularly if they have a slightly serious side that anchors them in reality and adds depth to the story. In this one Max learns about being open-minded – perhaps he converts to being a “cat-person” after all- as well as the power and pitfalls of social media.

Apart from being an entertaining read in itself, it sets the reader up to explore not only the others in the series, thus taking care of their holiday reading, but also exploring some of Stanton’s other works  including his new series, Bored.

 

The Christmas Bum Book

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Bum Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Bum Book

Kate Mayes

Andrew Joyner

ABC Books, 2022

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

When I was a kid, just after the days of the dinosaurs, we felt very risqué chanting “yum, yum, pig’s bum, makes good chewing gum” just out of the earshot of adults.  To be heard meant mouths washed out with soap, or a smacked bum.

Now, there are whole books written about bums and bottoms – a healthy way to make this anatomical feature as natural as it is for everyone.

So in this hilarious book “for anyone who has a bum” author and illustrator have taken a host of the concepts we associate with Christmas and applied them to posteriors amplifying that bums come in all sizes, shapes and colours. From the big, red-covered plumpness we associate with Santa to Dad’s glittery underpants, there are derrieres galore, each celebrating the fun and joy of Christmas – most welcome in this year of gloom and doom after years of gloom and doom and when adults seem hard-pressed to work up the enthusiasm for their kids’ celebrations. 

Bright and colourful and just good fun – this is one to put a smile on any… face!!!

 

Cats in Chaos

Cats in Chaos

Cats in Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats in Chaos

Peter Bentley

John Bond

HarperCollins, 2022

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

 9780008469184

In the dark of night, as their owners sleep, the cats of the city are all headed to one place: Catsby’s Great Circus! Step this way and see conjuring cats, felines that fly, Siamese that swing from above, and don’t miss the mighty PURRCULES CLAW. But with so much activity, it only takes one little mouse in the wrong place to put the whole circus in chaos…

I have to confess to not being  a “cat person”  although I have always loved T. S. Eliot’s Macavity’s Not Therethat lingers in the back of my childhood memories as one of the few poems I truly loved from my schooldays.  But this rhyming, tumbling jumble of cats would be up there too, now, as one to share with students just for the fun of the language, let alone the storyline.  Bright, eye-catching pictures capture the chaos as the story hums along with humour and madness – all the qualities that are going to engage young readers who are going to wonder what their cats do at night.  Are they cunning criminals in league with Macavity, the Hidden Paw, or are they secret circus artists with talents hidden from their owners? 

Diper Överlöde: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diper Överlöde

Diper Överlöde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diper Överlöde: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (17)

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2022

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

9780143778417

 

When Greg Heffley decides to tag along with his brother Rodrick’s band, Löded Diper, Greg doesn’t realize what he’s getting into. But he soon learns that late nights, unpaid gigs, fighting between band members, and money troubles are all part of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. That it’s not all fame and glory and adoring fans. 

Can he help Löded Diper become the legends they think they are? Or will too much time with Rodrick’s band be a diper överlöde?

This is the 17th in this series that follows Greg Heffley and his friends through the trials and tribulations of middle school and remains as popular today as it was when it was first released in 2007 as  new waves of readers relate to his adventures.  And with a new movie Rodrick Rules  being released on Disney+ on December 2, it is likely to gather many more fans, particularly among boys.  Written in the first person that echoes the voice and thoughts of so many boys like Greg, full of humour and heavily illustrated with cartoon-like figures, this is a series that will appeal to your reluctant readers as not only is it an easy read, but its popularity puts the reader in the in crowd, important to those who might feel marginalised because they’re struggling academically.

Definitely one for the library’s collection, and one to recommend to parents for the Santa Sack. 

 

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

Battle Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Mum

Zoē Foster Blake

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2022

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

 9780143779681

Ana and Louis are tired after a long day at school and kinder. They just want to watch TV . . . but Mum wants to play battle! She has a whole bunch of new moves to try out and there’s simply no stopping her.
‘Just FIVE minutes!’ pleads Mum. ‘Pleasepleaseplease?’
So the kids drag themselves off the couch. Mum PROMISES not to be too rough and that there will be absolutely NO TICKLING.
So Ana and Louis prepare to take on Battle Mum! Hopefully they can complete the game before Dad gets home . . . and wants to play too!

This is another hilarious story from Zoē Foster Blake in which she takes an everyday situation and turns it on its head.  Just as in Scaredy Bath and Back to Sleep, she has reversed the roles of the characters so this time, instead of it being the children who want five minutes more to indulge in some raucous, boisterous play, it is the mother.  Once again,  young readers who will see themselves and their nighttime antics in the actions of the parents- although whether that will actually change things is problematic because “just five minutes more” is genetically programmed into preschoolers in my experience.  

Inspired by her own children’s actions, the author strives to teach children “to empathise, how to respect others and themselves and deal with life events”, using the humour that comes with role reversal to temper the lessons and put imagination and entertainment at the forefront.  Accompanied by action-packed illustrations  this is a bedtime story that will more likely invoke more laughter and tickling than the regular sleep-inducing lullaby. Perhaps it is one for a little earlier…

Smarty Pup (series)

Smarty Pup

Smarty Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smarty Pup: Friends Fur-ever

Anh Do

Anton Emdin

A & U Children’s, 2022

160pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781760526399

Life is a little ordinary for Lily right now, particularly as she has lost her mum, but things change when her Dad decides they could be a family of three again by getting a dog – something both Lily and her mum had wanted for ages.  

At the animal shelter, Lily chooses JJ, who kind of clumsy, but something about his smiley face makes her really happy inside. They change even more when Lily discovers  that JJ can talk and is actually super smart. He can speak a number of languages, and knows the answers to maths and geography questions.  This could be the answer to her constant dilemma about having something interesting for show-and -tell, but then things get complicated. It’s one thing to be the centre of attention for a few minutes, another to be accused of something you didn’t do. 

Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular and prolific authors, and this new series is somewhat of a cross between a picture book and a novel. Told by Lily herself , highly illustrated in colour with conversations in speech bubbles and different fonts, it is an ideal stepping stone between basal, instructional readers and the novels newly independent readers are aspiring to. The story is grounded in the familiar situation of what to share for Show and Tell, and the characters are relatable, although of course there is the usual Anh Do twist. Reading a popular author loved by older peers and siblings is an added bonus! 

A new series that will have a lot of fans and followers.  

 

Digging Up Dad And Other Hopeful (And Funny) Stories

Digging Up Dad

Digging Up Dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging Up Dad

And Other Hopeful (And Funny) Stories

Morris Gleitzman

Puffin, 2022

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

9781760890940

Over 30 years ago, Morris Gleitzman was so overtaken by an idea for a story that he says came from nowhere that by the time the afternoon was up he had the outline completed and the journey of Two Weeks with the Queen had begun. Not only was it life-changing for Morris, but it had a profound effect on children’s literature at the time for while there were many authors writing wonderful stories for young readers, this one was contemporary, featured characters and situations that resonated with its audience, and his way with words appealed to boys who were on the cusp of being able to read but turning away from it as a leisure time activity.  

As well as a host of other novels, his iconic Once  and Toad series, Boy Overboard and Girl Underground, and his collaborations with Paul Jennings, Gleitzman has also written anthologies of short stories including Snot Chocolate , Pizza Cake , Give Peas a Chance, and Funny Stories and Other Funny Stories Digging up Dad is the latest addition to that collection and once again, readers are treated to short stories that are contemporary, realistic, real-life incidents that focus on children helping adults to be their best selves.  The title story is particularly poignant as Rose battles the problem of having to leave their rented house – the only home she has ever known – and leave her dad behind because his ashes are scattered in the garden. 

Gleitzman says he enjoys writing short stories. “You get to play with enjoyable and interesting and sometimes silly ideas that are not quite big enough for a longer work. Perhaps ‘not quite big enough’ isn’t the right way of saying it. Perhaps ‘not quite sensible and believable enough’ is closer. Some short stories grow out of very big ideas, but when you’re only asking readers to hang in for a few pages you can present those ideas in a slightly more exaggerated and comedic way. In a way that, if stretched over a couple of hundred pages, might well have readers thinking, hang on, that’s not very believable and not even that funny any more.”

And so are they perfect for readers who need a break from intense novels, often analysed until there is no enjoyment left, or who just want a short interlude from life while they re-gather their thoughts.  Teachers also love them because they’re perfect for filling in those final few minutes and with Gleitzman’s work, you know you are presenting quality literature that is likely to build a taste for his other works.  

There is a reason that books by Morris Gleitzman did not stay on the shelves and there was always a long reserves list;  why he won the Young Australian Readers’ Award in 2002 for Boy Overboard among many other awards over time; and why, 20 years on, he is still writing for kids and entertaining and delighting them.  If your students haven’t met him yet, then now is the time to ensure they do. 

 

 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

Patricia Cleveland Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2022

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

9781526635402

It’s Grand Final weekend for the AFL and next weekend is the NRL’s turn so what better time to share the latest in this series which focuses on what happens if you let animals loose in the sporting arena.

While weight-lifting wombats and cricketing kangaroos might not win any medals, the animals do learn and important message, and if by chance the reader is still gloomy at the end then there is always a universal solution.

Just for fun.