The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding













The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Woeful Wedding

Katrina Nannestad

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2022 

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


Imagine being a young girl travelling the world in an old wooden caravan pulled by a horse that decides where they will go and which seems to have magical powers that mean borders and mountains and oceans are no barriers.  And that caravan is full of books, because it, too, has a magic that means that it is like a Tardis with so much more on the inside than appears on the outside. 

That is the life of 10-year-old Miriam-Rose Cohen (who prefers Mim), her father and little brother Nat, Coco the cockatoo and Flossy the horse.  They travel to wherever they are needed, wherever there is a child in need of a book to make their world right again because “the line between books and real life is not as clear as people suppose.”

This time, in the second in this series,  Mim has arrived on a charming Greek Island, where a wedding is about to take place. Everyone is excited – everyone, that is, except the bride and groom. Mim knows they’re here to help Anjelica, the bride. To stop the wedding. To set her free to follow her dreams. If only Anjelica would read the right book, the one Mim gave her. If only she would stop reading the wrong book…

The first book in this series captivated me from the get-go and this one was no different.  Young readers will delight in meeting Mim and Nat and their dad again as well as travelling to a completely different country and they have the third, due in early August, to look forward to.  Could there be a better life?

Tashi and the Stolen Forest

Tashi and the Stolen Forest

Tashi and the Stolen Forest











Tashi and the Stolen Forest

Anna & Barbara Fienberg

Kim Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A2.99


Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a little boy was finally born to a couple who so desperately wanted a child that after consulting Wise-As-An-Owl the wife sipped a special mixture made for her and within a year, Tashi was born.  Right from the start he proved to be very clever and had many adventures before finally fleeing from a wicked warlord, arriving in this land on the back of a swan where he became Jack’s special friend.  Every now and then he would share an adventure with Jack and then Jack recounted these to his incredulous parents.  And so the adventures and legend of Tashi were born…

For over 25 years, the stories have fascinated young, independent readers as they are the perfect introduction to the world of fantasy and the fantastic, including almost every Year 3 class I’ve taught since the stories were first published.  Presented in a paperback format that each contained two stories, they were perfect for real-alouds as well as read-alones, so much so that in 2001 my Year 3 classes led a national Book Rap that had students from all over the country answering the questions my students had posed about the stories via online activities and emails as the power of the Internet was gradually harnessed to connect children beyond the school walls.

And now it is time for another wave of emerging, newly-independent readers to get to know this magical little fellow who has such big adventures with a new story published at a special Australia Reads price so that more children can start reading. In this stand-alone, Tashi tells about the time the old forest disappeared, and Much-to-Learn was in danger of disappearing with it! And then the whole village was threatened … Could magic sand and a certain spell help save them all? Only someone as clever as Tashi could find a way to outwit the Baron – and solve the mystery of the disappearing trees.

For those who are unfamiliar with Tashi, or who want to make sure they have all the books ready for renewed interest, you can check the list of books here – promote them to your emerging readers who will appreciate the quality stories as they begin  their journey through novels which give them the confidence and satisfaction of reading a “chapter book” for themselves.



Women Who Led the Way

The Women Who Led the Way

Women Who Led the Way











Women Who Led the Way

Mick Manning

Brita Granstrom

Otter-Barry Books, 2022

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


“From Aud the Deep-Minded, an early voyager to Iceland, and Sacagawea who guided the Lewis and Clark expedition across the USA, to Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space and Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest, this book shows the incredible courage, determination and power of women explorers over the last 1200 years. These women have led the way exploring lands, oceans, mountains, skies and space, but have also made pioneering discoveries in the fields of science, nature, archaeology, ecology and more. The lives of these women, told as personal stories, are an inspiration to us all.”

As I looked back over the increasing number of reviews for books that showcase women who have changed the world in some way, none of them have focused on female explorers breaking through that traditionally male domain peppered with names like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Abel Tasman, James Cook, Robert Falcon Scott and Edmund Hillary. (Even the Australian Museum’s Trailblazer collection is predominantly men.)

In fact, when I looked through the contents page, there were only three names of more than 30 that were familiar, yet here are the stories of women who broke new ground in so many areas including being the first to cycle round the world, the first black woman into space,  the first to look into space and discover eight comets…  One wonders why they are not household names like their male counterparts.

However, apart from a brief mention of Nancy Bird Walton, there were no Australian names suggesting that perhaps there have been so many women to choose from that Australia’s heroes were overshadowed.  Where are Kay Cottee, Jessica Watson, Emily Creaghe, Lady Jane Franklin, Jade Hameister, Robyn Davidson,.. even my own mum, Dorothy Braxton, the first female journalist to travel to Antarctica and the first female to set foot on some of its hallowed places in 1968 (although, to be fair, she was a Kiwi through and through)?

Dorothy Braxton, Scott's Cross. Antarctica, 1968

Dorothy Braxton, Scott’s Memorial. Antarctica, 1968

So, as well as learning about these trailblazers, the book needs an Australian companion so we can set students the challenge of not only researching someone suitable and retelling their story in the same format as the book – brief personal accounts and which include an inspirational quote – but also pitching for their contribution to be included. Obviously, such a book can only have limited entries so students would have to argue why the contribution of their selection changed the world while the rest of the class would take on the role of the editor choosing.

Alternatively, it could be ties to this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Dreaming With Eyes Open and students could write about why, in the future, they would be included in such a collection.  What will be their legacy? 

Books like this, apart from always introducing the reader to new heroes, open up so many more possibilities that can make each of us an explorer in our own way.  


News Hounds: The Dinosaur Discovery

News Hounds: The Dinosaur Discovery

News Hounds: The Dinosaur Discovery











News Hounds: The Dinosaur Discovery

Laura James

Charlie Alder

Bloomsbury, 2022

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


Gizmo is a city dog, so when he moves to the village of Puddle with his journalist human he doesn’t know what to expect but, luckily he had Jilly, the wolfhound next door, to show him around. Even though Gizmo might not know the difference between a cow and a tractor he’s got a nose for a story, and so he starts The Daily Bark, a newspaper for the dogs of Puddle. Gizmo is the editor, Jilly (who knows everyone) is the lead reporter, and Bunty is the weather reporter.  Lola is the sports reporter, Bruno is the fashion and beauty expert while Bob, who is the station master’s dog, writes the travel news.

In this, the second in this series for young, newly independent readers transitioning to novels, Bob helps Diamond, a seemingly aristocratic Afghan hound jump off the train as she arrives with her new master, Mr Marcus, owner of the Curiosity Shop, and reputedly a cat person.  But in his efforts to outdo the other dogs in trying to impress Diamond, he unwittingly digs up a dinosaur bone… So he not only has the scoop of the century for The Daily Bark but also having to keep it same from others who want it so much more!

An engaging read for all those young readers who love dogs, who know they do more than snooze in the sun when their owners are absent and who are looking for a fast-paced story that is just right for them. 


Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance











Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance

Renee Treml

Allen & Unwin, 2022

288pp., graphic novel., RRP $A14.99


Sherlock Bones, a talkative tawny frogmouth skeleton,  his companion Watts, a mute, stuffed Indian ringneck parrot and Grace, a sassy raccoon return in the third in this series, with a new mystery to solve in their natural history museum home.  This time there is a new exhibition called “The Art and Science Alliance” and the rumour is that the painting of the ancient Greek hydra – an enormous snake-like monster with nine heads – comes alive at night, hissing and Sherlock and his cohorts are determined to find the truth. 

Once again Treml has drawn on her degree in environmental science and passionate love of natural history to craft an intriguing story that informs as much as it entertains. Using the technique of Bones telling the story as a conversation with the reader, interspersed with lots of humour mostly consisting of puns better classified as ‘dad jokes’, she has crafted a graphic novel for young readers who have the skills to follow a story in this format. 

This story opens up lots of different avenues for the interested reader to follow from the relationship between art and science (an initial discussion between Sherlock and Grace) to the intrigue of Greek mythology while being an engaging story in its own right.   



One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth












One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth

Nicola Davies

Jenni Desmond

Walker Books, 2022

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


It is one minute to midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, April 21 and as the clock strikes midnight there, the reader begins an amazing journey around the world to see what is happening in other places at this precise time, whether that be having breakfast or even afternoon tea.

But this is not the more common snapshot of what people are doing at a specific time. but a glimpse at what the natural wildlife are up to, the threats they face and in some cases, what’s being done to mitigate them.  We travel to the polar bears in the Arctic; to sea turtles in India struggling to the sea after they’ve just hatched;  to kangaroos fighting both the climate and each other in Mutawintji National Park in NSW; and so on around the world as different species respond to the time zone of their environment.

The date was chosen because at that time of the year there is something exciting happening in the animal kingdom around the world, and coincidentally it was Earth Day, celebrated since 1970 “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. and act as a call to action to acknowledge that “the clock has struck and it is time to make a difference together”. Accompanied by stunning illustrations, each of which includes the two little children who are taking us on the journey so that there is a storyline rather than just a time-lapse diary, the reader is introduced to creatures like the polar bear whose plight may be familiar as the warming planet melts their icy home to the not-so familiar owl monkeys of Ecuador whose habitat is being destroyed in the search for oil.  And while it might seem impossible for a young reader in Australia to help them, nevertheless there are things that each of us can do to  daily to make a difference. So books such as these  which raise awareness in interesting, fascinating ways are perfect for helping us to think globally and act locally.  

And there is always the sideline of investigating why it’s midnight in Greenwich but midday in Sydney!

The Astronaughties

The Astronaughties

The Astronaughties












The Astronaughties:  Moon Mayhem

Andrew Cranna

Walker, 2022

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


It’s 2120 and  the Moon has been transformed into the ultimate super-cool intergalactic amusement park. The Astronaughties, the children of some of the park’s designers, get a chance to visit the Lunar Park before it officially opens. But when they arrive, they discover their parents are missing. Now their mission is to find them, defeat the baddies and free a trapped alien. Accidentally strapped inside a 400 megaton thermonuclear rocket, the three children, one pet octopug and their robot minder are on a one-way collision course to the moon.

Told by the children’s nanny who has his hands full dealing with them, this is for younger readers who like science fiction, are looking for something a bit silly and definitely not serious, but  who have the ability to follow a story in monochromatic graphic novel format.  

In a recent Lego Masters episode, the task was to build a window to the future.  Could this be it? Let students dream with their eyes open by challenging them to design their own attraction for a lunar-based amusement park. What would they need to know about the moon for it to be successful? A new slant on an old research topic. 

The Book Club Bank Heist

The Book Club Bank Heist

The Book Club Bank Heist











The Book Club Bank Heist

Ruth Quayle

Marta Kissi

Andersen Press, 2022

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Easter holidays and Joe is on his way to stay with his Granny in Muddlemoor, a quintessential English country village (complete with a vicar fund-raising for a new church roof)  and he’s very excited because not only does he love going there but his Welsh cousins Pip and Tom are joining him. 

But when they  discover that a dangerous gang of robbers is hiding in the local area, it seems like this is another mystery for them to solve, and so they start an investigation straightaway. At first, a number of people and places come under suspicion as they follow the procedures in Tom’s favourite series of books by ace detective Albie Short, but it’s when  Granny’s Book Group seems to be acting RATHER suspiciously that their focus shifts..  Could Granny’s Book Group be the true-life bank robbers? After all, they always seems to be short of cash until Granny seems to start splashing it around, they NEVER talk about books and for another thing they keep going on about a local bank. There’s only one thing for it. The cousins must stop Granny getting arrested, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Told by 9 year-old Joe in the conversational style of the age group with lots of illustrations to break up the text, this is a good story for newly independent readers who like down-to-earth stories that they can feel they are a part of, either as an observer or a participant.  Because they’re straddling the line between working with the concrete and the abstract, having to be involved and being able to be objective, they will probably join the dots like Joe and his cousins do and they will delight in the way the robbers are eventually caught. A great way to introduce this genre that might lead to classics like The Famous Five, The Secret Seven or perhaps Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, each taking them into the world of mystery adventures as well as a time before the internet and mobile phones, maybe even into conversations with their grandparents about books shared and enjoyed. 

Frankie Best Hates Quests

Frankie Best Hates Quests

Frankie Best Hates Quests











Frankie Best Hates Quests

Chris Smith

Puffin, 2022

400pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Frankie Best is not in a good mood.  Apart from the fact that her dad keeps calling her Princess, she was looking forward to spending a week with her Aunt Fi while her parents went off to the Arctic and spending the week eating pot noodles and watching You Tube but now her aunt is in hospital with a burst appendix and they’re heading to her grandfather’s house instead.  And she and her brother Joel are not looking forward to that because they hardly know him.

They are even more dismayed when they discover he lives in a ramshackle old cottage in the centre of an overgrown garden, has long white hair held in a pony tail and even though it’s 3.23 in the afternoon, he’s outside, in his pyjamas and dressing gown peering in through the window  of his house and holding a net!  How eccentric or crazy can this old man be? Things get worse as she is confronted by not only no phone signal but her grandfather doesn’t even know what wi-fi is, let alone have a code for her to access it. Or even a television.  How on earth is she going to entertain herself without her precious screen?

Well, she soon finds out when her grandfather is  kidnapped by gnoblins  and she is forced  to embark on a rescue mission across a magical realm filled with strange creatures and dangerous enemies that require her to use her ingenuity, and imagination and find inner reserves she didn’t know she had.. Can there actually be more things in the world than those that come via an internet connection? And could they actually be more important than what her ‘friends’ think?

This is another story for those who are independent readers who enjoy the currently popular genre that embraces parallel worlds populated by weird, fantastic inhabitants and becomes a good vs evil battle between them and the hero/heroine who is as ordinary as they are.  As well as the narration, the story is interspersed by Frankie’s journal entries telling the story from her perspective and the lessons about life and herself that she learns along the way – lessons that can also apply to the reader as they navigate the tricky pre-teen path to independence.   

But the serious is tempered with humour in the author’s choice of words, particularly place and creature names, and every now and then there are also detailed descriptions of some of the creatures encountered, which, if this were used as a class read-aloud, lend themselves to being used as examples for students to imagine and describe other creatures that might live in the world of Parallelia.

There are many books in this genre for this age group available at the moment – this is one of the better ones.


The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

The Encyclopedia of STEM Words












The Encyclopedia of STEM Words

Jenny Jacoby

Vicky Barker

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

112pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99


Not so long ago, the word ‘stem’ referred to the major vertical shoot of a plant that bears buds and shoots with leaves and with roots at its lower end to anchor it. (It had other meanings too, but that’s the one with which primary school kids were most familiar.)  Now though, in schools  it more commonly refers to the interdisciplinary approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, thus bringing these topics and their vocabulary into the realm of even our youngest students.

So words like ‘hypothesis’, ‘viscosity’ and even ‘yangchuanosaurus”  now roll off tongues as a matter of course, and concepts such as inertia, electromagnetism and bioluminescence sit alongside the more traditional ones of the primary classroom like photosynthesis, evaporation and metamorphosis. But sometimes such words are easier to say than understand so this encyclopedia explains 100 words that are common to young scientists, arranged in alphabetical order and each with its own page so there is space for illustrations and text so the meaning and the concept’s application is clear.  To make it even easier, there is a contents page, an both an index and glossary so navigation is simple if the reader is looking for a specific term.  

But as well as being a ready reference in itself, it just begs to be a model for students to build their own definitions and explanations.  Imagine the power of a Word Wall that has more than just vocabulary, one that is built and added to at point of need, written and illustrated by the students themselves. Maybe even extending the Word Wall to a display of working models so that as well as the science there are also the technology, engineering, and maths aspects that can be exploited.  And who wouldn’t want to watch an episode of Lego Masters and try to explain the STEM as well as the story? 

Books like this that actively engage readers in building on them are essential tools in the kits of teachers, libraries of schools and bookshelves of families.  This one is a must-have.