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Rainbow Grey

Rainbow Grey

Rainbow Grey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Grey

Laura Ellen Anderson

Farshore Fiction, 2021

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

9781405298728

Ten-year-old Ray Grey lives in the magical Weatherlands, high in the sky in the City of Celestia and where the Earth’s weather is created. She is surrounded by Weatherlings with astounding weather power at their fingertips  The Sun Weatherlings look after the great Sunflower in the sky that provides light and warmth for humans, and there are Snow, Rain and Wind Weatherlings who use their magic to give Earth its weather.. . . but she doesn’t have any such magic! However she longs to be just like her friends, Snowden Everfreeze who is the cleverest Show Weatherling in the Sky Academy, Droplett Dewbells who sploshes any one mean to her friends and have adventures like her hero Earth explorer La Blaze Delight. 
 
Then, after a forbidden trip to Earth through when a map in an old book, Ray’s life changes forever. She and her friends discover Ray and her friends discover a crystal which unleashes a power that hasn’t been seen in the Weatherlands for centuries and she is transformed from Ray Grey into Rainbow Grey! With the help of her best friends  and her exploding cloud cat Nim, now all Ray has to do is master those powers, dog deep to find her inner strength so her true colours can shine so she can save the world from a mysterious, powerful enemy who also wants the powers…

Even though this book feels thick with its 304 pages and thus a little daunting, young readers need not be concerned because it is packed with illustrations and other design techniques that break up the text and make it accessible and manageable. Like Monster Hunting for Beginnersthe story centres on an ordinary everyday character who could be any one of the readers and her friends who are the sorts of friends everyone wants,  giving it an appeal to those who enjoy adventure stories, fantasy and the traditional good versus evil theme. Humour softens the anxious, nail-biting cliff-hangers so it becomes a great read-aloud and with the sequel Eye of the Storm  due in March 2022, this is a series that will be perfect for a birthday or Christmas gift. 

The Super-Secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson

The Super-Secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson

The Super-Secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Super-Secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson

This is going to be a Fiasco

Charlie P Brooks

Katy Riddell

HarperCollins, 2021

336pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9780008328085

These are the memoirs of ME, Holly Hopkinson, aged almost ten. I am writing the, so that, in the future, historians will have a real account of what life was like in the twenty-first century except without any of the rubbish adults usually put in, thank you very much. My dad just lost his job, which means me and the rest of my family have to leave London and move to the middle of nowhere, which is a TOTAL DISASTER! There’s no Wi-Fi, the local kids are FERAL and there’s animal poo EVERYWHERE.

But then for my birthday, my eccentric aunt gave me a magic pocket watch, which I can use to hypnotise and CONTROL people. I actually wanted a new phone, but I won’t complain because this new power is REALLY FUN and has led to the MOST unexpected things – including a visit to the QUEEN.

Maybe the countryside isn’t so bad after all…

This is the first in a new series (the second, A Little Bit Of A Big Disaster is due in early 2022) that will appeal to independent readers who will put themselves into Holly’s story and ride the rollercoaster with her. With text features interspersed with line drawings, this is one that is definitely going to Miss 10 as she battles being in isolation in lockdown.  (They’re allowed gifts by post so she will like that too!) She is the social butterfly who is missing the contact with her classmates the most and so this will be a new set of “friends” for her to engage with. 

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully

Katrina Nannestad

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2021 

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

9780733341656

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.”

In this first episode of this new series inspired by her childhood dream of living in a double-decker bus, the author of the 2021 CBCA shortlisted We Are Wolves and the Lottie Perkins series, we are taken to a pretty Dutch village where Mim meets Willemina, a kind and gentle child, who is being bullied by Gerda. Mim is convinced that Willemina will be much happier if her dad would just find her the right book, but is it really Willemina who needs it? 

This is a brand new series that had me at its title, took a greater hold at the image of little Nat being secured to the caravan’s roof because his dad nailed his pants to it, and held me right through to the end with its quirky characters and madcap adventures that will transport any reader far away from this gloomy, long winter. It’s the stuff that allows the imagination to run wild and starts dreams -that just might come true. 

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

Denis Knight & Cristy Burne

Lothian Children’s, 2021

250pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

 9780734420190 

Wednesday Weeks never wanted to be a sorcerer’s apprentice. She’d rather study science than magic. But when her cloak-wearing, staff-wielding grandpa is captured by a power-hungry goblin king, Wednesday must find a way to embrace her magical heritage and rescue him from the dreaded Tower of Shadows.

Luckily, she’s not alone. Her best friend Alfie is a prime-number fan and robotics expert who’s all-in on Wednesday’s epic plan involving parallel universes, swords of power, and a wise-cracking talking skull.

But it’s going to take more than science, magic, and the world’s cutest robot to take down this bad guy. Because the goblin king is playing for the ultimate prize – and Wednesday and Alfie just walked into his trap…

In a world of magic, can science save the day?

Independent readers who love a story that combines magic and science with great adventure will adore this new series that does just that.  Drawing on the skills of Knight who loves science fiction and fantasy, and Burne who loves science and who has a mission to ” blend STEM and creativity to enthuse, engage and empower” this is a story featuring a smart, feisty female and her best friend who find themselves having to use real-life science to save themselves from the predicament they get into as they travel the Nine Realms, inspiring the reader to perhaps take a greater interest themselves.  This is made possible with the addition of a few activities included at the end of the book and with several more in the teachers’ resources, it is an ideal story to promote to your science and maths enthusiasts. 

Described as being perfect for those who love  Nevermoor, Artemis Fowl and The Witching Hours, the even better news is that Wednesday Weeks and the Crown of Destiny, the second in the series, will be out in September, so not long to wait.  

Eliza Vanda’s Button Box

Eliza Vanda's Button Box

Eliza Vanda’s Button Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eliza Vanda’s Button Box

Emily Rodda

HarperCollins, 2021

288pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781460759608

Buttons three, attend to me!

Take me where I want to be!

It was a miserable rainy day in Tidgy Bay and no one saw Eliza Vanda arrive .The sign advertising ‘Cabins for Rent’ was almost hidden by a pile of builder’s rubble, but Eliza Vanda didn’t seem at all put out by the mess. In fact her eyes twinkled when she saw the small cottage called Spindrift that sat at the head of the cabins “like a mother duck leading a line of ducklings.” 

‘”This is a nice little pocket,’ she said. ‘It should suit us very well.”

No one, that is, except Milly Dynes who rubbed a patch in the misty window at just the right time to see a small, brown, sturdy woman, neatly clad in a long green coat which was buttoned to her chin, a brightly patterned scarf around her head and black boots, clutching a squishy green bag bulging with who knew what in each hand. And when the woman knocks on the door wanting to rent a cabin and signs herself as a “travelling dressmaker, no fixed address” you just know that this is going to be another cracker story from Emily Rodda – and so it is. 

Perfect for independent readers who like to have one foot in a fantasy world while keeping the other in the real world so they feel they can ‘come home” at any time, this new adventure from the author of the classic Deltora Quest is so engaging and intriguing that even a non-fantasy reader like me became engrossed.  The accompanying teachers’ notes  make it an excellent read-aloud to accompany this year’s CBCA Book Week theme. 

 

Spellbound Ponies (series)

Spellbound Ponies (series)

Spellbound Ponies (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spellbound Ponies (series)

Magic and Mischief

9780008402815

Sugar and Spice

9780008402907

Wishes and Weddings

9780008402938

Fortune and Cookies

 9780008402969

Stacy Gregg

HarperCollins Gb, 2021

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

The ponies of Pemberley Stables have been bound by magic and each of them is trapped in time. Can two brave girls help get them back?

Each story in this new series for newly independent readers focuses on the plight of one of the ponies… Bess the highway pony is very good at robbing the carriages and loves life just the way it is; Prince the racehorse isn’t as speedy as he used to be and his love of fine dining isn’t helping matters; Sparkle the white pony has been magicked to be messy and can’t stop rolling in mud; and Champ the palomino pony has been magicked to be exceptional – or that is what he is telling everyone! How can Olivia and Eliza help each one?.

With fairly simple plots  and capitalising on young girls’ love of horses and magic, this is a new series for those who are moving to reading independently yet who still need the support of short chapters and illustrations to consolidate their skills.  With the first two available now, and two more in early July, this is a great series to introduce young readers so they can while away the winter weeks ahead with reading.  They will put themselves in the shoes of either Olivia or Eliza or become their friend and be engrossed in the stories and waiting for more. 

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Luna and the Giant Gargoyle

Vivian French

Nathan Reed

HarperCollins, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780008343071

Imagine appearing to be a regular young girl but in reality you are a werewolf with powers that make you super-fast and super-strong and give you x-ray vision.  Lottie Luna is just that and although she doesn’t like to use her powers, preferring to be just the regular young girl,  but if she finds her friends in a pickle she will use them to help them out.

In this fourth adventure in the series, when Lottie’s school holds its yearly talent competition, she finds that she might just have to use them… if she’s going to help her friends save the day and win first prize…

Written for  for young, newly independent readers who see themselves as just like Lottie – being just regular little girls on the surface , but with a heroine not too far below the surface, each story is richly illustrated with all the supports needed to carry their reading journey forward making this is an ideal series to offer those looking for something new and different. 

 

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface’s Stories

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface's Stories

The Magic Faraway Tree: Silky and Moonface’s Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silky’s Story

Enid Blyton & Jeanne Willis

Mark Beech

9781444956290

Moonface’s Story

Enid Blyton & Emily Lamm

Mark Beech

9781444957989

 

Hodder Children’s, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

The Magic Faraway Tree with its ladder at the very top leading through the clouds to wondrous lands of adventure and magic has been a favourite for generations and has always been my go-to read-aloud when introducing young children to the concept of series with their continuing settings and characters. 

Now, almost 80 years later , two new stories about two of the favourite residents of the Faraway Tree have been created to introduce this magical world to a new generation of  young readers and have them clamouring to read more.

In Silky’s Story, the children arrive at The Tree to discover it silent, its leaves on the ground, its fruit eaten and, as they climb, they follow a trail of mess, mud and fruit stones.  Their friends are all frightened and Silky the fairy is missing!  It seems that the Land of Roundabouts and Swings has arrived at the top of the tree and an unusual and seemingly unpleasant visitor has come down the tree causing havoc and taken Silky back to the Land with him…

Meanwhile, in Moonface’s Story, it is Moonface’s birthday and he wants to hold a party for all his special friends. Of course, birthday parties always require cake but when he tries to bake a cake  it ends up burnt. Will he find help in one of the wonderful lands at the top of the Faraway Tree?

Lavishly illustrated in bold colours, both books make both the perfect bedtime story as well as taking the child to ‘old worlds, new worlds and other worlds.’  The perfect entrée to the main course of the complete collection – The Enchanted Wood ,  The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree

 

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. 

 

Little Gem

Little Gem

Little Gem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Gem

Anna Zobel

Puffin, 2021

240pp., hbk. RRP $A14.99

9781760896089

Sometimes getting a little lost can help you discover who you really are . . .

When her travelling spell at Witchcraft School goes wrong, Gem lands in an unfamiliar, empty, seemingly derelict cottage, outside a strange, colourful town beside the sea, a long way from the school on top of snow-covered mountains where she had begun.  But not only was this somewhere she didn’t know, it was a century on from the time she had been in! Telling herself she is not frightened but she is confused, Gem steps out to discover just what has happened.

Everyone in Ellsworth Pining thinks Gem is their new village witch, even when Gem tries to correct them. And Gem’s new friends do need her. The Weather Worker is missing, and there are tales of a terrifying beast in the woods. So, with the help of her cat Pomelo and the ghost Henry she not only sets out to solve the mystery but starts to believe that maybe she is not the worst witch after all.

This is a charming new series for young readers who enjoy a bit of magic mixed in with reality, and who, like Miss 9, have enjoyed series like Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch.  With all the scaffolding needed to support them including plenty of line illustrations, the reader will quickly be drawn into the life of Ellsworth Pining engaging not only with this first story but building anticipation for new episodes to come. Zobel was inspired to create the characters by children she had met – share this clip to help aspiring young writers understand that stories don’t appear by magic (even if Gem did) and that story starters are all around if we just look for them.