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Hattie

Hattie

Hattie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattie

Frida Nilsson

Gecko Press, 2020

160pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776572717

Hattie is a street-smart country girl in her first year of school. She lives just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all. Although she has a dog called Tacka and two outdoor cats, Havana and Stick, as well as ducks and chooks, she lives in a place so remote that she is lonely. Luckily she’s starting school and that brings new adventures.

There would be many Australian children who could relate to the isolation of Hattie and who long to go to school for the social contact that is so critical, and while her adventures at school are set in the Scandinavian world they are not so different from situations our children might find themselves in. However, this book is probably better as a read-aloud rather than a read-alone because its format is not as supportive for those reading about six-year-olds as other books are.  Perhaps that reflects the Scandinavian school experience where kindy kids can read independently with regular fonts and few illustrations. That aside, it is an engaging story that introduces young readers to a world that is very different from theirs yet remarkably similar. 

 

 

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Jennifer Bell

Alice Lickens

Walker Books, 2020

184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781406388459

Daughter of world famous botanists who were killed on a flower-collecting expedition in Australia, 8-year-old Agnes now lives with her uncle who doesn’t understand her and certainly doesn’t understand her need or demand for a pet.  For although she now lives in a flat on the 26th floor of an apartment block in a big grey city, she has her parents’ love for the outdoors and being with the creatures in the local park is her favourite thing to do. So when she discovers a mysterious creature on her bed – one who informs her he is an elephant shrew, Rhynchocyn petersi,  Attie (short for “Attenborough”) a field agent for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Atlantic forest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? 

This is a new series for newly independent readers who have an interest in the environment and its preservation, as they can put themselves in the story as they venture into foreign places on important missions.  Avid readers are always looking for new series while those who are more reluctant will appreciate the short chapters and many illustrations. Both will enjoy having a meaty, meaningful story to engross them as they transition from set basal readers to novels.

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

Jackie French

Angus $ Robertson, 2020 

272pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460757727

 

Butter O’Bryan lives in a Very Small Castle with his father and three aunts – Aunt Elephant, Aunt Cake and Aunt Peculiar. These aren’t their real names, of course, just as Butter’s father isn’t really called ‘Pongo’.

And even though Butter is only twelve years old, and the grandson of one of Australia’s most successful Jam Kings, he is very aware of the hardship many people are experiencing.

Butter has been told there are ghosts at the nearby isolated Howlers Beach, but are there? And how can the children Butter plays cricket with on the beach simply vanish? Who are these children and why do they refuse his help?

The Ghost of Howlers Beach just sounds like one of those old-fashioned Secret Seven or Famous Five stories that generations have enjoyed for years, and in a way, it is. But this one has the unique Jackie French touch of magic, and rather than being a contemporary novel as those adventures were, this one takes the independent reader back to The Depression of the 1930s when the ramifications of World War I were still very evident and the realities of being unemployed, or worse, being a woman without a man but with a family, or even worse, being an indigenous person, are brought to light. With a light hand and intriguing characters, French brings to life life in the “susso camps” ; the great divide between the haves and the have-nots and the ever-present threat of diseases like polio before vaccines were available.

Read against the backdrop of today’s coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide economic collapse, it is very clear how far we have come in less than 100 years in both health, economic and social support and perhaps put things in perspective.

The subtitle to this novel is The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries, #1 and with the cast of characters now set hopefully more will follow quickly as we not only enjoy a good, meaty story but one that teaches us about a time not that long ago but eerily familiar all the same.

The timing of its release is remarkable (set long before the current virus was even heard of) and while there are comparisons that can be made between now and then, knowing that its setting and background are based on reality there is a sense of optimism that current times will pass and we will come out of the other side. Perhaps changed, but definitely intact.

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

Aleesah Darlison

Puffin, 2020

128pp., pbk., RRp $A9.99

The Golden Llama 

9781760894160

Llama Impossible

9781760894184

Undercover Llama (July 2020)

9781760894191

Rogue Llama (July 2020)

9781760894207

The League of Llamas (LOL) are a group of secret llama agents and they’re on a mission to save the world – if only Agent 0011 Phillipe Llamar could stop looking in the mirror at his luxurious fringe and Agent 0013 Lloyd Llamanator could resist the temptation to eat everything in his path!

This is a new series for the newly independent reader who is looking for something a little different as the LOL set out to protect the world from the evil badger General Bottomburp – but in a bumbling style somewhat akin to Maxwell Smart of yesteryear rather than the suave smoothness of James Bond, things don’t always go according to plan., providing a lot of laughs along the way. Darlison herself loves llamas, which is why they are the unusual heroes, but her love of language and clever use of it and her ability to hone in on what young emerging readers want to keep them engaged mean that this is a series that will have wide appeal that should hook those enjoying the new-found power of being able to read whatever catches their eye.. 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Kid and the Mega Manta Ray

Kylie Howarth

Walker Books, 2020 

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

9781760651138

In this sequel to Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja,  Fish Kid is holidaying at Ningaloo and keen to show his friend Emely not only the reef but also his secret superhero-like powers. But things don’t go according to plan and he is torn between obeying his parents and using his powers or becoming shark bait.

With Bodhi’s parents being underwater specialists – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer  – discovering what is under the surface is just what the family does, and the author has carefully woven all sorts of interesting information about the creatures there into the story so that is as educational as it is entertaining.  Every chapter contains a rollicking fiction romp (with illustrations to match) plus a focused nonfiction animal fact box (with more realistic illustrations). 

This is a series that will appeal to newly independent readers still needing a bit of textural support and with each episode featuring a different part of the oceanic world and its inhabitants, the scope for unique and interesting adventures is broad. There is already a new addition in the pipeline. 

 

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon

Edwina Wyatt

Katherine Quinn

Walker Books, 2019

160pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760651541

From the publisher…

Magnolia Moon is nine years old, likes Greek mythology, her best friend Imogen May (who understands the importance of questions like, “If you could be one fruit, any fruit, what would you be?”), wishing trees, and speaking crows. She knows instinctively that buffadillos are armadillos crossed with buffalos and believes there are walramingos living in her garden. She’s also the kind of person who can be entrusted with a great many secrets. Each chapter in this novel, which captures Magnolia’s year of being nine and ends on Chapter Almost 10, reveals a secret that Magnolia is keeping. But the novel also chronicles a year of change for Magnolia. From her best friend moving to the birth of her little brother Finnegan, Magnolia navigates every challenge and secret that comes her way with the kind of authenticity and innocence that comes from being nine years wise.

I have been deliberately sitting on this book till now because as soon as I got it to review I knew it would be perfect for Miss About-To -Turn-9 and I needed to keep it a secret. But the day is nearly here and with it being listed as a CBCA Notable for Younger Readers for 2020 it is time to share.  While the book spans a year in Magnolia’s life giving the story continuity, each chapter is a separate entity so it is perfect for that bedtime read when just a chapter is enough to transition to the world of dreams. With its recognisable hero mixed with just a touch of fantasy, it is just right for newly independent readers who are reading on and consolidating their love for reading and honing their skills each day. The writing uses twists of phrases such as “It was only Tuesday, but Magnolia felt hungry enough for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s lunch too. Plus a hot chocolate. ” that not only stay in the reader’s head but also inspire them to broaden their own writing style., and there is a balance of illustrations that continues to support those budding skills and understanding.

Miss About-To -Turn-9 is going to love this and with a Canberra winter looming, the more books she has the happier she will be. 

Derek Dool Supercool 1: Bust a Move

Derek Dool Supercool

Derek Dool Supercool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Dool Supercool 1: Bust a Move

Adrian Beck

Scott Edgar

Puffin, 2020

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

9781760892951

Think of the COOLEST, FUNNIEST, most HANDSOME kid in school, times it by a gazillion and you get DEREK DILBERT DOOL. At least he thinks so . . . Pity he’s the only one.

Life’s tough when your name’s Derek. You’re destined to be uncool. But Derek is determined to find something – anything – that will change that. He’s sick of being picked last in PE, of not being invited to parties, and of all the cool kids using his freckles as dot-to-dot challenges. Derek is going to find something that will make him SUPERCOOL and nothing is going to stop him.

There are many boys like Derek in our classrooms so his situation will resonate with them, and with its short chapters, punchy sentences and liberal illustrations this is a new series (Going Viral is due in August) that is going to have wide appeal with independent readers who don’t want to have to concentrate on convoluted storylines and complex characters yet.  The popularity of other series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid  has proven there is a strong market for these sorts of books amongst our newly independent male clientele so to have one that has an Australian flavour will have extra appeal.

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atticus Van Tasticus 2: The Map of Half Maps

Andrew Daddo

Stephen Michael King

Puffin, 2020

272pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760892913

1750, when times were tough and teeth were rotten…

As part of an ancient family tradition, young Atticus Van Tasticus narrowly escapes a life down the coal mines – or worse, going to school – when he gets to choose the gift of a pirate ship from his Grandnan’s treasure pile. ..

Having escaped certain disaster on the high seas in his first adventure, he is now on the trail of treasure when he and his crew are lured into a clash with Bjorn Ironhead who is “vicious, mean and mighty unclean.”

Again, Daddo and King have combined to create a story that is going to appeal to young independent readers who see themselves as full of derring-do as they rule the waves rather than their bedrooms. The presentation is very appealing and even reluctant readers will suddenly find themselves having conquered a thick book, built their confidence and looking for the next episode.  Both Daddo and King know just what it is that will appeal to their audience and I predict Atticus Van Tasticus is going to be the next must-read that causes the buzz in your school library. 

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda at School: 10th Anniversary Edition

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2020

288pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760896034

Can one tiny girl change a very big school? Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is waving goodbye to her weeping parents and starting her first day at boarding school. But something is wrong at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies.

The headmistress, Miss Grimm, hasn’t been seen for ten years. The prize-winning flowers are gone. And a mysterious stranger is camping in the greenhouse. Alice-Miranda must complete a series of impossible tests. Can she really beat the meanest, most spoilt girl at school in a solo sailing mission?

Could she camp in the forest all on her own for five whole days and nights? Well, of course. This is Alice-Miranda, after all.

Wow! It’s hard to grasp that it is now 10 years since we were first introduced to the irrepressible Alice-Miranda and that she has gone on to have so many more adventures, a movie and even her own web presence.  Books about girls in boarding schools have been the backbone of the reading for many generations – how well I remember loving the books from Clare Mallory, my mum’s headmistress during her Columba College years and such an influence on her and ultimately me – and the Alice-Miranda series is very much a modern version of that vein. Alice-Miranda is very opinionated and has lots to say provoking food for thought on a range of issues in each episode.   Harvey has drawn on her own experience as a teacher in such a system and this series and Clementine Rose for younger readers have been favourites with Miss Nearly 9 and Miss Year 8 for years. Miss Year 8 is now nose-deep in the latest Kensy and Max adventure Freefall demonstrating Harvey’s ability to entertain and engage readers across the age groups.  In fact, in relation to Alice-Miranda, in a letter to her readers Harvey states that she wanted to create a story that she would have loved reading as a child never dreaming that her character would become so popular and a role model for other girls her age. 

To celebrate this milestone, Puffin have released this special hardback edition perfect for either starting independent young readers off on a whole new series of adventures, or for fans like Miss Year 8 to have as a collector’s item on their shelves. 

Monster Nanny

Monster Nanny

Monster Nanny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Nanny

Tuutikki Tolonen

Allen & Unwin, 2020

304pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760525590

Halley, Koby and Mimi have been sent a nanny to look after them while their parents are away. The only problem? Their nanny is a monster! Grah is enormous, hairy, dusty and doesn’t talk. As the three siblings search for answers, they discover that other neighbourhood kids have also been left with similar creatures. So where did they all come from? With no parents around and the fate of their new nanny at stake, the Hellman kids must depend on each other as they solve the mystery of the monsters – and maybe even help them get back to their home.

Inspired by a remark from her 6 year old son, award winning Finnish author Tuutikki Tolonen has crafted a timeless adventure that will appeal to the independent reader. As soon as I read the blurb I knew that it would be just right for Miss Nearly 9 who is working her way through the complete works of Roald Dahl and has asked for The Worst Witch series for her birthday.  Having missed her longed-for Cuboree because of the bushfires and now some long wet weekends coming up, having a good solid read like this to entertain her will be just right with its mix of reality, fantasy and humour.

Something a little left-of-field to entice those who aren’t quite sure that the library’s collection holds anything for them.