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Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson

Jack Noel

Farshore Fiction, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781405294065

The classic tale of Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Squire John Trelawney, Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and an assortment of other characters who set out on the Hispaniola to find Captain Flint’s long-buried treasure is brought to a new audience in this adaptation by illustrator Jack Noel to graphic novel format.

Adapted into numerous films, plays and other productions, this epitome of pirate stories really belongs in every child’s literary repertoire and using all the visual techniques that attract today’s young readers, the once-difficult language of the late 19th century storyteller is now accessible to today’s generation. So much of what we believe about pirates, their vocabulary and actions stems from Stevenson’s imagination so even if the student can’t manage the original, this interpretation will give them some insight and understanding of a story that they are expected to be familiar with in their later studies. 

This is the second in this series – the first is Great Expectations – and it would be a worthwhile addition to any library collection that seeks to extend children’s reading into the realm of stories to be read again and again. 

 

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

9781760652562

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. 

Night Ride into Danger

Night Ride into Danger

Night Ride into Danger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Ride into Danger

Jackie French

HarperCollins, 2021

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

 9781460758939

Braidwood, NSW.  June, 1874 and a typical cold, wet winter’s night.  But despite the weather, the Cobb & Co coach to Goulburn carrying passengers and mail must run on schedule and so, as usual, as they do night after night, Jem and his father are preparing to leave. But this is not the modern-day hour’s run on sealed roads between the two towns – this is an overnight journey with a uncomfortable coach and four horses that involves many twists and turns, each with its own danger. And added to the regular perils  like fording the Shoalhaven River, tonight each passenger has their own particular secret, each of which is gradually exposed as the journey continues and each of which shapes the way events will unfold. 

Nevertheless, with a mission to achieve, a contract to fulfil and a timetable to keep, Jem and his Paw set out as usual until disaster strikes and Jem finds himself in a situation that not only puts his physical strength, courage and determination to the greatest test, but also exposes Paw’s own secret, one which has a profound bearing on Jem’s life.

There are few authors whose new works I pick up and read as soon as they arrive, but Jackie is one of them, because I know I will be in for an engrossing read, meticulously researched and one that will have more layers than an onion. This is not just a story about Jem needing to dig deep to draw on his knowledge and skills and self-belief. It is about self-discovery, finding out who and what we are really made of, how our heritage has shaped our present and will influence our future and understanding that the public face is often a mask for the private persona. 

Competent, independent readers who crave a story that will engage them, entertain and educate them, challenge them and stay with them long after the final page is read will thoroughly enjoy this read, and if it is their first encounter with Jackie’s works, have them seeking more such as The Ghost of Howler’s Beach.

If you are looking for a new class read-aloud over the cold wet, wintery days to come, this is it. 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Enid Blyton

Hodder Children’s, 2020

638pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781444959437

Imagine being able to walk to the woods at the bottom of your garden where the leaves of the trees whisper to each other that you are there and find yourself at the bottom of a tree that has the most remarkable inhabitants like Moonface, Silky and Dame Washalot living in its branches and a revolving world of magical lands at its top, high in the clouds.  That is what Joe, Beth and Frannie (PC’ed from the original Fanny) discover when they move to the countryside and  discover that their new house lies next to the Enchanted Wood! And in that wood stands the Magic Faraway Tree where they have so many amazing encounters and adventures.

This collection comprising all three books in the series – The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree – is now, once again, on offer to parents, teachers and independent readers to share.  Over my 50+ years in teaching, I’ve lost count of how many children I have shared this magic with. Apart from transporting the children to new worlds of imagination and wonderment, it was my go-to read-aloud when they were ready for a serial that had continuous characters and settings so they were familiar with the background, but still needed a complete story within each session.  

There is a reason that Blyton’s stories (over 700 books and about 2,000 short stories) have not dated and have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into other languages more often than any other children’s author and remain in print more than 50 years after her death.  Apart from being childhood favourites of previous generations and thus handed down through families like fairytales, her imagination gave her readers the wings to fly away from whatever circumstances they were in to a world where anything was possible, anything could happen and usually did.  In series like The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven,  Malory Towers and Noddy, there were no everyday constraints on the characters and they could become heroes in the most mundane of circumstances, resonating with the audience in ways many authors have envied and tried to emulate since. 

Visiting a new world every read, this is truly a perfect collection for this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and because my own grandchildren have had this series on their bookshelves for many years, I know just which family needs this copy to start their tradition. 

 

Paws

Paws

Paws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paws

Kate Foster

Walker Books, 2021

252pp., pbk., RRP $A13.99

9781760652685

As Year 6 moves along  Alex has one goal – to make a friend, preferably Jared and the other popular kids, who won’t be mean to him when he starts secondary school. Because this is not easy when you are autistic and have super sensory awareness when sights and sounds, particularly overwhelm your brain, he has developed a plan to achieve this.  It has three components – to be an expert at the computer game Orbs World; to run fast enough so his relay team, which includes Jared, can go to the district competition and for his beloved cockapoo Kevin to win a trophy at the upcoming dog show, Paws. However, when his expectations and plans start to go awry, he pins all his hopes on Kevin being successful… 

Based on her own son’s experience when the family adopted a spoodle, the author has created an engaging story that will engage the reader from start to finish.  Told by Alex himself so that we discover how he thinks, what he does to help himself and why, this is a rare insight into the world of the autistic child and the challenges they encounter just dealing with everyday situations we take for granted.  Unlike the neurotypical brain that comes with ‘templates” for responses to situations, autistic brains are wired differently and Alex’s story shows how they have to build these responses from scratch, learning through mirroring and masking experiencing hard emotional lessons and confusing rejection as they do. Human behaviour being what it is, even his mum and brother can’t always match his need for consistency, and the one constant in Alex’s life is the unconditional love and sensitivity of Kevin.  The bond between them is critical to his well-being.

While it is intended for independent readers, it would also make an excellent class read-aloud particularly for any class that has a child like Alex. If we are to develop empathetic, compassionate children then they need to understand the challenges that others endure, and this does that perfectly in a story that you can’t put down.

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

Russell Punter & Kenneth Grahame

Xavier Bonet

Usborne, 2021 

104pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781474968867

In 1908 British author brought children the story of Mole, Rat and Badger and their efforts to reform the friendly but conceited and mischievous Mr Toad of Toad Hall who is fascinated by the latest fads, particularly motorcars.  But Toad is not the best of drivers and after many mishaps, finds himself in prison for 20 years for stealing a car.  Even though he eventually escapes, during his absence his magnificent Toad Hall has been overtaken by weasels and stoats, and it becomes a battle to get it back.

Now, over 100 years on, it has been interpreted in graphic novel format to appeal to a new generation of readers,  offering them an introduction to this classic story which has delighted so many before.  This is the latest in this series which includes The Wizard of Oz  and The Three Musketeers which opens up a new world of literature from past generations, inspiring independent readers to seek out the original versions. It is fast-paced and funny and has all the ingredients that have enabled it to endure for so long.

Bots and Bods

Bots and Bods

Bots and Bods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bots and Bods : How Robots and Humans Work, from the Inside Out 

John Andrews

CSIRO Publishing, 2021

96pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99

9781486314690

This is a fascinating book which explores the similarities and differences between humans and robots, particularly how the basic features of the human body, such as movement, the senses and thinking,  are copied in bots. 

As more and more of our lives are assisted by what were once the stuff of futuristic cartoon series like The Jetsons, performing everything from mundane chores to intricate surgery, this is an intriguing insight into just how one is translated into the other.  

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

With its appealing layout and straightforward text, this is one that will appeal to anyone with a deeper interest in this technology (and thus is going straight to Miss Year 9) while there are extensive teachers’ notes   focusing on science and digital technologies for those in tears 4-8.

Publications from CSIRO are always original, fascinating and worthwhile and this is no exception. 

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Kylie Howarth

Walker, 2021

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

9781760652548

Originally, Bodhi did not share his parents’ love of the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and while they travelled the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface, he preferred dry land until he discovered he had magical powers…

In the third in this series that introduces the reader to life beneath the waves and the hazards the inhabitants face,  the reader is taken to the Maldives where Fish Kid’s friendship with bestie, Emely, soon hits a snag during a tricky sea turtle rescue. Secretly wishing for powers of her own, Emely’s strange behaviour leaves Fish Kid wondering if their friendship and the super-sick turtle will survive. And if things weren’t bad enough, another turtle from the sanctuary goes missing. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

A powerful series that hopefully will inspire young readers to wonder and find out more, perhaps even be like Miss 14 who is currently studying oceanography and marine biology in Year 9 and undertaking her diver’s qualification!  The power of story to spark the “what if…” and while a mask and scuba tank aren’t quite the same as Bodhi’s powers, they work just fine!

 

The Valley of Lost Secrets

The Valley of Lost Secrets

The Valley of Lost Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Valley of Lost Secrets

Lesley Parr

Bloomsbury, 2021

304pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781526620521

September, 1939. Jimmy and his little brother Ronnie are “in another country that feels like another world [and] there’s a big scary war on that no one seems to be talking about.”  Evacuated from London to a small coal-mining village in Wales where the landscape is so different; the family they are billeted with are viewed with suspicion by the locals; and London friends are now enemies and vice versa it is no wonder that 12-year-old Jimmy finds it so much harder to fit in than 6-year-old Ronnie.  And on top of that, by accident he finds a human skull in the hollow at the base of an old tree.  What are the secrets it holds?

This is an intriguing read that kept me absorbed from beginning to end as it will any young independent reader who likes a mystery that twists and turns but ends up just as it should. Taking them to a real period in history when the children were sent to stay with strangers in strange places to keep them safe from the expected bombs that would fall on London, the characters, although unfamiliar, are very relatable and the whole thing epitomised this year’s CBCA Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds opening up a different but real way of life.  While it’s not the green lush countryside his Dad promised him, and he can’t read the sign at the train station, to Jimmy nothing feels right  and everything feels wrong. Although Ronnie quickly settles in and embraces his new life with Aunty Gwen and Uncle Alun, Jimmy is reluctant, resentful. and, at time, rude. Confused by the circumstances, and convinced the war will be over by Christmas, he doesn’t want to accept their kindness feeling like it would be a betrayal to his family. Despite being surrounded by people, he feels alone. His best friend has changed and there’s no one he can confide in. Even though he knows that when he finds the skull it is a discovery that is too big to bear alone, and his imagination goes wild, he still keeps the secret close in a town where everyone seems to know everyone’s business and have an opinion about it.

While this is a debut novel, it has the power to send readers on a new reading journey as they seek to find out more about this period and the stories of children who endured so much more than they will ever know. Both Jimmy and Florence learn a lot about themselves and each other as the story evolves, encouraging the reader to perhaps look beyond the surface of their peers and be more compassionate and considerate in the future.

Added to that, the author has embedded another mystery in the pages for the reader to solve, making this a must-have read that deserves all the praise it is getting.

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.50

9781922387646

When Carly Mills goes to Melbourne with the school choir, she gets more than she expected.  Thanks to her magic shawl that transports her back in time, she takes a trip back to 1867 and a chance meeting with a mischievous little girl who might just grow up to be the world famous opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba. If Carly is to help the little girl achieve her dream, she will have to endure Nellie’s practical jokes, an angry headmaster, and her father’s belief that opera is not a fit career for a lady. Not to mention Simone’s bad moods and Dora’s terrible singing. But at the same time, she discovers her own abilities to persevere if she wants to make her own dreams come true. 

This is the third in this series, written for newly-independent readers who are interested in learning about the lives of women who have shaped history  With a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women it brings them  alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. With her own website, and a host of resources for teachers and students, this is a series that will appeal to young girls in a similar way that Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy appeals to young boys.