Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Introducing D’Lila LaRue










Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Nette Hilton

A. Yi

Walker, 2021

128pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


D’Lila LaRue lives in the smallest house with the neatest fence and the rosiest garden in the street with her trusty sidekick, Nanny-Anny (who is probably very old but it doesn’t matter). This trilogy of stories features D’Lila and Nanny-Anny sharing many fun-filled adventures, whether it’s by building an award-winning rose garden, becoming an artist, or attending a favourite play. Even if things don’t go exactly to plan . . .

Books with engaging characters and modern scenarios for newly independent readers are always welcome particularly if, like this one, they engage the reader immediately and support them on their continuing reading journey. But Nette Hilton is a very experienced author and knows just what is needed for this age group starting with a feisty young miss whose parents are absent so there are no constraints apart from Nanny-Anny whom D’Lila has twisted around her little finger. Short snappy chapters and stories, humour and could-happen-to-me circumstances mean this is one that young girls will love. 














Chris Haughton

Walker Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


As Mother Monkey leaves her three babies high in the tree, she warns them not to go to the mango tree because of the tigers that are lurking.  But the mangoes look delicious and the babies are very tempted.  
“Maybe we could just look at the mangoes…”

“Maybe we could just get that little one…”

“Maybe we could just go down there anyway…”

How far are they prepared to push the boundaries? Are there tigers lurking?  Do the babies learn their lesson?

In the dedication, Haughton quotes Aristotle …”For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing,” and he has encapsulated this perfectly in this cautionary tale that young readers will love because they will all remember a time when they have been warned but the temptation has proved too great.  With its repetitive text that little ones can join in with, there is a sense of suspense built up as well as a sense of urgency when they discover that their mother was right all along. Nevertheless, it also emphasises the need to be willing to take risks, perhaps not as dangerous as this, if we are to learn and move forward. 

With his signature illustrative style, and its bold colours, the creator of Don’t Worry, Little Crab has gifted our younger readers another engaging story that will become a firm favourite.  

A peek inside...

A peek inside…


The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)










School Rules are Optional 


A Class Full of Lizards


Alison Hart

Allen $ Unwin, 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

In the first in this series which takes a fun look at life in Year 6, Jesse is in his final year of primary school and should be living it up as one of the ‘Kings’, but he can’t even get his Prep buddy to follow school rules. There is a a plumbing problem the size of Niagara Falls, not to mention the dreaded compulsory school camp.

“It’s the first day of school and I’ve already got three problems:
1) Mrs Leeman is my classroom teacher. She’s so ancient she taught my dad.
2) I might have accidentally been voted school captain. I had an unusually popular day when the class voted last year.
3) Somehow I’ve lost my Grade Six jumper between receiving it and Mrs Leeman’s lecture about being responsible.

That’s a lot to go wrong in half an hour. On top of that, it’s a million degrees. So that’s four problems. It’s worse than I thought! At least things can only get better, right?

In the second book his problems continue as he returns from holidays, not the least of which is the class being overrun by lizards.

Although focused on that final year of primary school, this is a duo that will appeal to those independent readers who are looking for something similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid  with characters and situations that are familiar and thus relatable.  A funny, light read that will take the mystery out of Year 6 and entertain even the most reluctant readers. 


Unipiggle (series)













Unicorn Muddle


Dragon Trouble


Hannah Shaw

Usborne 2020

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Welcome to Twinkleland Kingdom, where everything is 100% perfect. Except Princess Pea – she loves getting muddy and having fun and she’s not keen on choosing her own perfect unicorn at the Royal Unicorn Parade. Until the final unicorn turns out to be a podgy, pongy, proud, magic-horned…pig? And so the adventures of Princess Pea and Unipiggle begin!

This is a new series that will appeal to younger readers who prefer their princesses and unicorns to be a little bit different – definitely not your stereotypes. whether read independently or as a bedtime read-together, the bright bold illustrations will capture the imagination and have the readers seeing themselves as Princess Pea. 

With a new addition due in June, this is a series that can help younger readers transition from picture books and basal readers to the next step of their reading journey.


Where’s Brian’s Bottom?

Where's Brian's Bottom?

Where’s Brian’s Bottom?










Where’s Brian’s Bottom?

Rob Jones

Pavilion Children’s, 2021

12pp., board book, RRP $A12.99


Brian is a very long sausage dog. So long he’s lost his bottom!  Can you find Brian’s bottom? Where could it be? Have you looked in the hallway? Has Pauline the parrot seen it? Maybe it’s in the living room, with Alan the hamster? Or perhaps in the kitchen with hungry Dave the tortoise? In the bathroom with Gavin the goldfish? Oh where could it be?

Regular readers of my reviews will know that I am a fan of board books that tell stories and engage our very youngest readers in the fun of them, developing an expectation that the written word will bring something special as they snuggle up with others in their lives to share. So this one with its l-o-n-g concertina foldout that winds through the house from front door to bedroom is a must-share and as a bonus, on the reverse side is another body adventure that invites the child to add their description of  where Brian’s bottom might be. 

This one really does encourage those early reading behaviours and concepts about print that are the critical foundations of early reading and deserves to be in every little reader’s library.

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips










Super Geeks 1: Fish and Chips

James Hart

Puffin, 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Zeek and Arnie are best friends. They do everything together. They love solving problems, inventing, playing video games, coding, reading comics, cooking (mostly Arnie) and planning WORLD DOMINATION (mostly Zeek).

But when Zeek puts a microchip in Arnie’s pet fish, Eleanor, things go horribly wrong . . . A super-intelligent Eleanor decides she’s going to become the supreme ruler of the world.

How will Zeek and Arnie stop Eleanor’s fish-bot army and prevent this power-hungry fish from achieving WORLD DOMINATION?

This is a new series likely to appeal to those who prefer screens and coding to print because it crosses both borders.  James Hart is the illustrator behind a number of popular series including Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables but this is debut as an author. The graphic novel format is ideal for the intended audience and the story moves along at a fast clip that has characters readers can identify with and lots of humour.

Something to offer those boys you are trying to reach out to. 


You can’t take an elephant on the bus

You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus

You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus









You can’t take an elephant on the bus

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2021

26pp., board book., RRP $A12.99


You can’t take an elephant on a bus and you shouldn’t put a monkey in a shopping trolley or take a tiger on a train ride.  Because if you do, they will cause havoc and this delightful rhyming story explores the hazards they create.  In fact there is a problem with every mode of transport for these exotic creatures except…

This is a fun-filled story that will have even the gloomiest child laughing out loud and wanting to suggest new ideas.  If you can’t ask a whale to ride a bike, then what would work – or not?  With quirky illustrations that are as funny as the text and a rich vocabulary that has been carefully crafted – the pig’s trotters totter – this is a surefire winner for young readers who are learning about the fun to be had in stories.

Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh









Poo and Other Words That Make Me Laugh

Felice Arena

Tom Jellett

ABC Books, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


There are some words that toll off the tongue so smoothly that you just want to say them again and again for the sheer joy of it.  My own two favourites are mugwump and ragamuffin, and in this hilarious book, Felice Arena has collected a whole lot more. Words like bumbershoot and wishy-washy and hullabaloo and, of course, poo!

Accompanied by Tom Jellett’s bold illustrations, this is a book that celebrates the sounds of our language as well as introducing a whole range of vocabulary for each word is real and has its definition included at the end. It invites the reader to contribute their own favourites and this, in turn, sets up the opportunity to play with rhythm with a voice orchestra.  Have small groups of children repeat a word over and over -its syllables will give the rhythm – and then combine them to make something magical.  Imagine the combinations if your EALD students added their favourite words in their language – and taught the others what they meant.

Books should be entertaining and this is indeed, that!

Funny Kid Next Level

Funny Kid Next Level

Funny Kid Next Level











Funny Kid Next Level

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2020

176pp., pbk, RRP $A4.99


Every kid wants to laugh, but Max is the boy who can make it happen.

He’s not the smartest kid; he’s not the fastest kid; he’s not the prettiest kid; but he might just be the funniest kid you’ve ever met.

In this novella from the unstoppable Matt Stanton, Max, like most of his mates, has been swept up in the craze for the new video game sweeping the school. He really wants to be the champion but can he get the time and access to beat the mystery pro gamer? 

Toilet snoozes, student protests, parent-teacher nights that go horribly wrong and an epic courtroom battle against Max’s baby sister are just some of the things in store for Max and his friends in this Funny Kid adventure.

The perfect length (and price) for a quick holiday read, Funny Kid fans will be happy to spend a few hours with this and then spend some time learning how to draw Max and Duck, the Stanton way.

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Nelson: Broccoli and Spies











Nelson: Broccoli and Spies

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Nelson used to hate vegetables- their smell, their look of them and their taste which was tricky because his family loves them.  His grandparents grow them, his father cooks them and the family devour them – all except Nelson who had the grossest pile of smuggled, uneaten vegetables stored under his bed.

The other thing that Nelson hates is school, particularly Mr Shue who has been his teacher for four years, since Kindergarten.  They are always on a collision course. However when his grandmother tricked him into swallowing an entire bowl of pumpkin soup, Nelson discovered that he had superpowers, and suddenly his relationship with vegetables changes.

In the second in this new series , broccoli  becomes his new best friend and while he is determined to discover why veges give him superpowers, he also wants to know  what is the mysterious flying machine at his grandparents’ farm and finds himself embroiled in a spy mystery!

This series will appeal to newly-independent readers who are ready for something more meaty but still having the short chapters and liberal illustrations to support them.  With its premise that will resonate with many, characters that are easily recognisable and the type of exaggerated humour that appeals to its target audience,  Levins has created a series that children will engage with and parents will love, simply because it may encourage a lot more vegetable eating and the battles about eating the daily requirement may be over. Unlike Nelson who was looking for ways to hide his veges, perhaps readers will even be moved to seek out  recipes and then cook them and find a new taste that appeals – although I have to say there are better places for broccoli than my mouth.