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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

9780733340895

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.

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

Helen Castles

New Frontier, 2020

170pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922326010

Scoop McLaren is the thirteen-year-old news editor of her own online newspaper Click! Her role model is her dad  (who runs his own newspaper too) and he has taught her that delivering the news is an extremely important job because people rely on it so they can be properly informed.  Together with Evie, her roving reporter best friend, the girls strive to keep the residents of their seaside village of Higgity Harbour informed while using their sleuthing skills to solve some curious mysteries along the way. 

This is the second episode in this series for independent readers and in it Scoop has another mystery to solve. When Fletcher, her childhood friend enters the Higgity Harbour top surfing competition, strange things start happening… It looks like someone could be out to stop Fletcher from winning! With her roving reporter, Evie, by her side, Scoop investigates all avenues. Can she track down and rescue her friend to solve this monster wave of a mystery once and for all?

Series remain popular with young readers as they become so familiar with the characters they not only see them as friends but also see themselves as being in the story, rather than an arm’s length observer.  So as our readers head back to the library to see what is new and exciting after the long summer break, new additions to favourite series are pounced upon starting the reading journey for the year.  This series is for those who like a mystery that has realistic, relatable characters and the promise of more episodes to come…the last page ends on a cliff-hanger ensuring another one won’t be far away.. 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 2: The Tumbling Tortoises

The Tumbling Tortoises

The Tumbling Tortoises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fabulous Cakes of Zinnia Jakes 2: The Tumbling Tortoises

Brenda Gurr

New Frontier, 2020

104pp., pbk., RRP $A 14.99

9781921928796

Zoe Jones has a hidden talent and a secret identity.  Daughter of one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world, sadly dead now, and a secret globe-trotting international food critic, at the age on nine, she has inherited her mother’s interests and talents, and when she is not at school she creates masterpieces that are highly sought after, aided and abetted by her guardian Aunty Jam and her magical cat Coco.

In the second in this series  for younger newly independent readers, Zinnia has won the Wildside Zoo’s endangered animals competition with her cute tortoise cupcake idea! But when she does more research about tortoises, one of her classmates starts asking too many questions… Can she remain the secret pastry chef everyone loves?

Baking has seen a real resurgence amongst the young in recent months – being a pastry chef is currently high on Miss 14’s to-do list – and given the maths, science and reading involved to create the perfect masterpiece, it should be encouraged. This series (and the Sage Cookson series) are the perfect accompaniments particularly as there are scrumptious recipes included such as the chocolate swirl cupcakes in this episode.

For me, the new school year was an opportunity to hook new readers to new series as well as pair up those who had started and were clamouring for the next episode. So I’d create a display of all the favourites which had had new adventures added and sit back and watch both the reading and the chattering.  What I liked most was how new friendships were formed as unlikely individuals or new-to-the-school students came together over a love for a particular character, proving, again, that books can change lives.

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

9781760893392

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.

Code Name Bananas

Code Name Bananas

Code Name Bananas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Code Name Bananas

David Walliams

HarperCollins, 2020

480pp., pbk. RRP $A22.99

9780008454296

London in 1940, at the height of the Blitz where the city was continually bombed by the Luftwaffe during World War II.  Eleven-year-old Eric has lost both his parents and bereft, bewildered and alone the only place he feels any happiness is at London Zoo.  There, he has befriended one of the zoos oldest inhabitants, Gertrude the Gorilla, who loves to show off for the crowds, in exchange for a banana or two.

Eric, who has sticky-out ears that have earned him the nickname “wingnut” hates school and every day as soon as the bell rings, he detours to the zoo here his great-uncle Sid. a zoo keeper, would smuggle him in for free (provided he knew that day’s secret password)  as Eric liked nothing better than working alongside him with the animals. But his grandmother, with whom he now lives, does not like him spending his time at the zoo and after a particularly nasty argument, Eric runs away and joins Sid. As the bombs rain down, it is clear that the zoo is not safe and they must rescue Gertrude. So the three go on the run. But while hiding out at the seaside they uncover a top-secret Nazi plot…

This is David Walliams at his best.  Unlike his recent offerings , this is a not a collection of short stories but a full adventure that will keep the reader absorbed for hours.  Despite its length, it is an easy read with many illustrations and format techniques that make it easily accessible to the newly independent reader.  Walliams take the reader on a journey to another world, one that actually happened, and introduces them to a time of daily fear where just waking up each morning was not guaranteed, and the bombs were not discriminatory.  It was a dangerous for Eric and all the other children who had not been evacuated as it was for the adults. But with typical Walliams humour the reality is softened somewhat so it becomes manageable.

Given current events where certain sections are placed into stay-at-home lockdown as COVID raises its head, it puts that experience into some sort of perspective showing our children that even though they can’t go out to play or visit their friends, the experience, while harrowing, could be much worse.  The theme for the CBCA Book Week 2021 is Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds and while that may seem an opportunity to explore the fictional world of science fiction and fantasy, it is also an opportunity to explore the world of children in times gone by and this book, is perfect for that, either as a read-aloud, read-alone or read-along. 

Monty’s Island 3: Elvis Eager and the Golden Egg

Monty's Island 3: Elvis Eager and the Golden Egg

Monty’s Island 3: Elvis Eager and the Golden Egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monty’s Island 3: Elvis Eager and the Golden Egg

Emily Rodda

Lucinda Gifford

Allen & Unwin, 2021

176pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760876999

Fans of this series will be delighted that there is a new release to fill their hours through the holidays, while those who are looking for something new that is pure escapism focusing on life on a tropical isle will be easily able to get the first two in the series – Scary Mary and the Stripe Spell and Beady Bold and the Yum Yams.

This time, Monty’s adventure starts when as usual, he is scavenging along the shore and finds a golden egg washed up on the island, followed by a pair of flying monsters who are very interested in watching the egg hatch. With his friends Tawny the lion, Bunchy the elephant who likes magic, Sir Wise the owl, Clink the pirate parrot, Marigold the human and owner of the Island Cafe, Monty sets out to solve the mystery and between them, Rodda and Gifford hook newly independent readers into an absorbing story that is just plain fun. 

Whether this is used as a read-alone, read-along or read-aloud, the series is perfect for engaging young readers and perhaps introducing them to all of Emily Rodda’s other works such as Deltora Quest, Rowan of Rin, and Rondo series. not to mention the 2020 CBCA Honor Book, The Glimme. There is a reason she has been one of Australia’s favourite authors for some time.

Creating a magical island: Author Emily Rodda shares the inspiration for her new series, Monty’s Island

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus

Steven Herrick

UQP, 2020

228pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780702263002

There are as many stories in 5D as there are students, each with a different perspective on the first day of the new school year and a new teacher. There’s Olivia and Dabir, Jordi, Zoe, Lily and Dylan, Max and Mr Bertolli the lollipop man, each very different but united by the commonality of school, each a thread that makes up the tapestry of the class. But only Olivia is allowed to ride her bike to school – until Miss Dillon suggests a bicycle bus to overcome their parents’ fears about traffic and other possibilities.  And  everything changes.

As they ride, they learn new things about themselves and each other, seeing the world through a different lens. Olivia can fix a puncture in two minutes and Max can ride on one wheel.  Lily wishes she wasn’t quite so wobbly and Jordi’s been waiting forever to ride on the road. Dylan has a speedy getaway from alley cats, Dabir’s glad to be part of a group and Zoe’s bike even has a name (Esmeralda). Everyone loves their new way of getting to school.

But there’s a narrow stretch on Fishers Road with no white line to separate the cyclists from the local traffic, so Zoe and Max decide they need to make it right (even if that means breaking a few rules).

This is a novel written in free verse by the master of this format that not only entertains and resonates, but introduces young readers to a different ways of telling a story. Each character tells their own story, with characters swapping in and out after a couple of pages, the next linked to its predecessor in some way and so the reader makes the connections and the continuity rather than imposed descriptions of setting and activity. 

The sun is shining
and today feels like an adventure,
only one I can go on
whenever I want
because I have a bicycle
and friends
and a city
just waiting to be explored.

The same could be said of this book – it’s an adventure only the reader can go on because it is what they bring to the words that brings them alive.

Teachers’ notes are available.

 

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life

Adrian Beck

Scott Edgar

Puffin, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760892975

Derek Dilbert Dool knows he is supercool -but no one else thinks so.  Thus, he spends his life trying to prove it but none of his escapades ever quite end the way he envisages.  

In this third adventure, he somehow finds himself going from a meatball eating competition in the local food court as part of a celebration of Ruttsmell twinning with a Norwegian city to being determined to win the school cross-country, even though he is far from being a natural athlete. But underneath the bravado and the look-at-me antics, there is a young lad who really just wants to be accepted and liked for who he is, even if his name his Derek.  Written for all those boys who are newly independent readers who like a particular sort of unsubtle, gross humour supported by short chapters and lots of illustrations, this series will resonate with many who are similar to Derek as they struggle with crossing that bridge between who they are and who they think they should be. Underpinned with themes of self-confidence, self-worth, the need for family and friends, and staying true to yourself, it has serious core encased in bravado, humour and crazy antics.  Derek Dool actually DOES what the reader would like to do, if only he were brave (or foolish) enough.

As 2021 gives us a new batch of boys who are looking for something to tempt them to keep reading now that they can, this is a series that is worth introducing them to as another step/pathway in their reading journey. 

 

 

The Angel of Waterloo

The Angel of Waterloo

The Angel of Waterloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Angel of Waterloo

Jackie French

HarperCollins, 2020

422pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99

9781460757918

Henrietta Bartlett, known to everyone as Hen, is working alongside her surgeon father amongst the hellfire and brimstone that is the battlefield of Waterloo.  Circumstances lead to an unexpected and untimely marriage to one of her patients, an event that not only changes her life forever but leads to changing many lives of generations not yet even born.  For on that battlefield a dream of living where it is acceptable to be a female working in medicine is born, and from there to the newly-established colony of New South Wales where anything seems possible, we have the prequel to the fabulous, meticulously-researched, partly-autobiographical Matilda saga 

And this is my Christmas gift to you- hours and hours of put-your-feet-up reading into the world of Australia’s past through the stories of the generations of a family of strong women to acknowledge all the work you, as teachers, have done to keep our kids moving forward during such a difficult year. Hen herself kept me engrossed  with no room for mundane stuff like feeding the family and cleaning the house (the joys of retirement) and re-reading the series itself took care of many confined-to-home Covid hours.  It truly is Jackie French at her best.  

Merry Christmas and happy reading!!!

 

 

Tinsel – The Girls Who Invented Christmas

Tinsel - The Girls Who Invented Christmas

Tinsel – The Girls Who Invented Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tinsel – The Girls Who Invented Christmas

Sibéal Pounder

Bloomsbury, 2020

320pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99

9781526619273

Homeless because her parents died before her memories were made and having vowed to never spend another night in an orphanage of 19th century England,  Blanche Claus hates Christmas.  From her shelter under the bridge she called home, she’d spend the day loudly counting down the seconds until it was over – or she fell asleep in the snow.

This Christmas Day started out as many before it but it was disturbed by the appearance of an old woman with a fancy bauble dangling rom her finger. Giving the bauble to Blanche who protests she doesn’t have a tree to hang it on, the old woman assures her she doesn’t need a tree for this one and as mysteriously as she came, she disappears. Looking at the bauble Blanche sees a snowy landscape decorated with tiny houses and technicolor icicles but it is the giant dancing Christmas tree that catches her eye.  This is the first gift she has ever been given and it changes her attitude and her life forever leading her to first Rudy, an old horse ready for the knackery and then a friendship (also a first) with Rinki.

You get an inkling of where the story is going from the tagline of the title, the byline of the blurb – “”What if somewhere along the way we’ve all got the Santa story a bit wrong…”” and Blanche’s declaration that if she could have or do anything in the world it would be to give every child a gift on Christmas morning so they would also know the joy she felt when that old woman offered her the bauble. 

This is a charming story that draws you in until suddenly an afternoon is gone and you’ve done nothing but be captivated by the magic of the Christmas of your childhood days.  It would make the perfect Christmas Countdown read-aloud or evening read-together as we approach this special time together, and this is another that is going to Miss 9 and Miss 14 who, even at their age, still love that special family time sharing a story.