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Moonfish

Moonfish

Moonfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moonfish

Graeme Base 

Puffin, 2019

48pp., hbk. RRP $A26.99

9780143791409

The fish that live in the pond beneath the dragon-moon are happy. They know the moon will keep them safe. But it was not always like this . . . There was a time when they looked to the skies with fear.

In this stunning new picture book, Graeme Base, creator of so many stunning picture books including Animalia , has crafted a story about being and belonging, about having to leave to discover who you are, with undertones of the ugly duckling but so much more than that. Set in China, it tells the story of a baby fish who is found and taken in by a family who care for him, but as he grows and grows and grows, understand his feeling that he doesn’t fit in and needs to undertake a journey to discover where he does. It will resonate with lots of students who feel where they are isn’t quite the best fit for them, whether that is physically, sexually, culturally or whatever is making them uncomfortable, yet despite its dark palette it offers hope and possibility.

You can learn more about the story behind the story here., but expect this one to be on the 2020 awards lists.

Total Quack Up Again!

Total Quack Up Again!

Total Quack Up Again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Quack Up Again!

Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck

James Foley

Puffin Books, 2018

320pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760893583

This time last year, Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck saw the outcome of all their work in getting their mates to write a short story for an anthology whose proceeds would all go to help children through Dymocks Children’s Charities. Total Quack Up featured stories from some of Australia’s leading  authors for kids including Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks,  Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton and became one of the most popular books of short stories for newly independent readers, especially boys, in the collection of a couple of school libraries that I know.

And now they have done it again.  This time they have garnered the services of people such as Nat Amoore, Felice Arena, Adam Cece, Jules Faber, Tim Harris, Kim Kane, Belinda Murrell, A.L. Tait, Shelley Ware, Michael Wagner and Nova Weetman, As with the first, there is also a story from a budding child author – after teaming up with Kids WB and running a competition, The Duck Pond  by Coby Sanchez was selected as the entry to be published in this new collection. Add to that Jacqueline Harvey’s Ten Top Tips for Writing which encourage our students to put pen to paper for themselves and you have another volume of what is hopefully a continuing series.

Totally kid-oriented in its focus, support and outcomes, this is the perfect book for the collection or the Christmas stocking to ensure our readers keep reading.  For those of you able to get to  Camberwell, Vic, there is a charity launch  on October 19.

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Susannah McFarlane

Allen & Unwin, 2019

128pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524715

“Bold: typically describes one who is willing to take risks; who is brave in heart as well as deed.”

In this new collection of rewritten, remastered fairy tales featuring  Jack and the BeanstalkHansel and GretelThe Emperor’s New Clothes and Prince Leo and the Sleeping Princess, Susannah McFarlane  editor of Stuff Happens one of my favourite series for boys,  shows that there is more to brave than brawn and bravado slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress. It’s about doing what’s right, being clever and honest, that how you do something is as important as what you do.

Illustrated by Simon Howe, Matt Huynh, Louie Joyce and Brenton McKenna, four of our leading illustrators, in a style that takes the book beyond the realm of the cutsey, Disneyfied fairytale, it is the perfect companion to Fairytales for Feisty Girls which turns  Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina around to meet the demands of the modern young lady. 

Designed for independent readers in novel format with chapters within each story, it is ideal for re-engaging young students with the traditional tales of childhood literature and start discussions about how things change over time to meet the needs of the audience – these are indeed a long way from the didactic tales of Grimm et al whose purpose was to scare little ones into doing the right thing because of the dire consequences that awaited if they didn’t. 

 

 

 

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Hercules Quick

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2019

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760296827

One day while out shopping with his Aunt Alligator, Hercules Quick spies a magic box in a shop window, one that he knows he would love to own.  And while he is dismayed that he not only doesn’t have any money of his own in his piggy bank, he doesn’t even have a piggy bank, he is not daunted.  He gets out his paints and makes a sign offering to do jobs for his neighbours for 10c a task. He explains to Aunt Alligator that 10 cents a day will be a dollar in 10 days and that’s $310 in 10 months – surely enough to buy the magic box.

But quirky neighbours mean quirky jobs and he has to work hard to  earn his money.  Will he reach his target?  And will he still want the magic box if he does?

An intriguing story for young, newly-independent readers who still need support with short chapters and lots of illustrations, this is something very different that can inspire.  In a world of instant gratification through clicking on this or that, many don’t understand the anticipation of having to wait for something and the thrill when the goal is achieved. So it’s a spark to help them set a goal, explore how they could reach it, track their progress and celebrate when they accomplish it.  A great one, in fact, for Miss 8, who is supposed to be saving for her first Cuboree!!! (Maybe the moneybox I bought her for Christmas will get some use, after all.)

This could have been a rather ordinary story but Dubosarsky’s imaginative spin on the characters takes it on a whole new journey, and Joyner’s illustrations are just the perfect match!

 

 

Australian Sea Life

Australian Sea Life

Australian Sea Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Sea Life

Matt Chun

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2019

36pp, hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781760504694

Even though Australia is surrounded by ocean, not everyone has the chance to visit it regularly and even fewer have had the opportunity to explore it as a scuba diver and really see the diversity of life under the waves.  (Believe me, it is a fascinating world and even more diverse at night.) So in this companion to the 2019 CBCA  shortlisted Australian BirdsMatt Chun has taken his talents beneath the surface to give us a peek at what is in the waters that enclose us.  

From the Great White Shark to the Dugong to the Weedy Sea Dragon, readers can explore and discover pictorial and textual descriptions of familiar and not-so creatures that are part of our natural seascape. The attention to detail is again superb, and while most children won’t recognise as many of the species as they might have in Australian Birds, this is the perfect time, with summer and beach holidays around the corner, to pique their curiosity raise their awareness and inspire thoughts of conservation.  

If Australian Birds inspired your class to be involved in this year’s Aussie Bird Count later this month, then perhaps there could be an in-school project to identify the marine creatures the students discover over summer. 

If we are to protect our planet and its inhabitants, knowing about them first so they are valued is essential and this is the perfect starter.

Children Who Changed the World: Incredible True Stories About Children’s Rights!

Children Who Changed the World

Children Who Changed the World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children Who Changed the World: Incredible True Stories About Children’s Rights!

Marcia Williams

Walker Books, 2019

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

9781406384109

Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai?  What about Baruani Ndume?  Or Ryan Hreljac?

Forty years ago the UN declared that 1979 was to be the International Year of the Child  and as part of that. in 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was proclaimed, setting out 54 equally important articles that 196 countries have agreed to follow so that each child, no matter where they live, has the support and protection they deserve.  

Using her iconic graphic format, Marcia Williams has explored the lives of 13 children, all born since the Declaration and all of whom have made a significant difference to the lives of the children in their home countries and beyond.  Each double spread is devoted to the pivotal work of the child under the banner of one of those UN rights.

Deliberately designed to inform children of their rights, Williams speaks directly to the reader in the introduction and encourages them to not only be aware of those rights but to take action when they see injustice or something that needs changing.  With our students being so aware of the global picture these days, and being involved in actions like School Strike 4 Climate this is an important and timely release to help our students know that they can make a difference and will.  Perhaps one of them will become the new Greta Thunberg, who has risen to prominence since the book was prepared but who not only deserves a place in it but also demonstrates that kids can be heard and supported and change can happen. 

This is a book that needs to be promoted to kids everywhere, to give them inspiration and hope that their voices will be heard.

Animology: The Big Book of Letter Art Alphabeasts

Animology

Animology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animology : The Big Book of Letter Art Alphabeasts

Maree Coote

Melbournestyle Books, 2019

72pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99

9780992491796

Every part of me’s a letter!

Does that help you find me better?

Look very closely- can you see

The hidden letters that find me?

Sometimes letters may repeat

To make more eyes or fur or feet

Look back-to-front,

Look upside down,

Every letter can be found!

This is one of the most unusual books I’ve reviewed for a long time and one of the most fascinating. Paired with an informative verse about its subject, each illustration is created by using the letters of the creature’s name and the reader is challenged to find each one. From the vibrant mandrill on the front cover, the challenge is set to take a journey through the natural world discovering everything from swans to budgerigars, all cleverly constructed from their letters.  

Readers have to examine the details in each illustrations, honing their visual acuity skills amongst others, as Coote has had fun with fonts, their shapes and sizes to tease even the most discerning eye. One for those boys who like to gather round the same book and test themselves.  And having got the concept by looking, students can then be challenged to try for themselves, remembering that they not only have to spell the name correctly and use all the letters, but make the finished design resemble to creature!! Something very different for an art/biology lesson that could be a shared activity as the artists draw and the wordsmiths research to create the verse!

A significant step up from the usual look-and-find books for younger readers.

 

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Turns Into a T-Rex

Sam Copeland

Sarah Horne

Puffin, 2019

320pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780241346228

Charlie McGuffin is a 9-year-old boy who can change into animals when he gets nervous, and once again Charlie is very nervous.

When his dad’s business takes a sudden turn for the worse, the McGuffin family face the terrible prospect of having to sell their house and move in with Aunt Brenda and her seventeen cats (and wooden leg). Only Charlie and best friends Flora, Mohsen and Wogan can save the day. If they can break into the fortress-like offices of Van Der Gruyne Industries and recover the McGuffins’ stolen gold, maybe Charlie won’t have to move away after all.

Trouble is, the pressure is getting to Charlie, making it harder for him to control when he changes into an animal – and harder still to change back. Can Charlie’s friends help him master his powers once and for all, or will he end up stuck as a pigeon forever . . . ?

This is the sequel to Charlie Changes into a Chicken  and is just as funny and will be just as popular as the original with newly independent readers who like a bit of quirky in their reading. Even though it is 320 pages long, it is not a daunting read because it is liberally illustrated and with footnotes offering extra information, the well-spaced prose is broken into manageable chunks.  And for those who missed the first one, there is more information about Charlie and his friends here.  A nice set to set aside for the Santa sack for young boys who need to read. 

The Runaways

The Runaways

The Runaways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Runaways

Ulf Stark

Kitty Crowther

Gecko Press, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A18.99

9781776572342

Grandpa is stuck in hospital with a broken leg and a heart that is coming to the end of its working life.  Used to being an engineer on the great ships of the seas,  being confined to a bed is making him cranky and cantankerous and he swears at everyone, continually pushes the alarm buzzes because he is bored and complains about the food.  “Not even the water tastes any good.” Only young Gottfried, his grandson, finds pleasure in visiting him and understands the reason for his moods.

And so he hatches a plan to get Grandad out of there, on one last adventure…

This is a heart-warming family story that captures the frustration of the elderly who know their end is coming and want to be anywhere but in a hospital as well as the ideality of youth whose imaginations are not constrained by the realities of what is safest – they think of ‘what if” and deal with ‘what now ‘ and ‘what next’ if and when it arises. Gottfried’s plan to give his grandfather one last simple pleasure has to be complex and he does worry about whether sometimes it’s OK to lie and the consequences, but his love for Grandpa is stronger than any obstacles.

Written by a renowned Swedish author and set in Stockholm, this is, nevertheless, a universal story, one that many of us with ageing parents and grandparents will relate to. The unusual illustrations done with coloured pencil bring colour into what is otherwise a drab life for Grandpa but Gottfried’s love for him shines through, making it an uplifting story about how both deal with end-of-life issues. Something special.

 

Super Sidekicks (series)

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sidekicks 1: No Adults Allowed

9780143795865

Super Sidekicks 2: Ocean’s Revenge

 9780143795889

Gavin Aung Than

Puffin, 2019

144pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

 

“Superheroes have it easy. They don’t have to clean their secret headquarters, wash the alien bloodstains out of their costumes or be responsible for taking Super Mutt out for a walk. No, they leave all that for their sidekicks like me, while they get all the credit! “

But Junior Justice (aka JJ) is tired of all that – “Being a superhero sidekick isn’t as fun as you think. You do all the work, beat the bad guys and save the planet, only for your grown-up partner to get all the credit.”  So he and his sidekick pals, Flygirl, Dinomite and Goo, have decided to form their own super team. But before they can start saving the world they’ll have to prove to the adult heroes that they’re more than just sidekicks. And once the evil Dr Enok discovers his favourite pet Goo has left him to join a super team, the world might need saving sooner rather than later!

This is the first in a new series that will appeal to those who like lots of action and adventures in their stories and a graphic novel format making it an easy read for the newly independent reader. Given the popularity of superhero movies and the anticipation for Avengers: Endgame  with young and not-so-young projecting themselves into the roles of world saviours, this is a series that has the protagonists at a similar age to the reader so they will be able to take on their favourite role as they immerse themselves in it. 

The second, Ocean’s Revenge focuses on a problem that is thankfully getting more and more publicity – the pollution of our ocean with rubbish, particularly plastics, and the devastating effect that is having. The Mother of the Seas is sick of humans using the oceans as a junkyard, so she decides to give the land dwellers a taste of their own medicine. Children of the age that this series is aimed at are very aware of their environment and the impact that humans are having on it so this is an ideal discussion starter to raise awareness of the impact of plastic on it and perhaps even begin with some small projects to make a difference, because even a little helps. And knowledge is empowering and for young children to feel they have any power at all has to be the way forward because too many adults still have their heads in the sands and dismiss the issues. Introduce them to young fictional heroes like JJ and his Sidekicks and then to real-life ones like Greta Thundberg and show them they CAN  make a difference and the local, national and international media will take notice.

A timely series with an important message and the potential to have a huge impact.