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


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. 

Antiracist Baby

Antiracist Baby

Antiracist Baby










Antiracist Baby

Ibram X. Kendi

Ashely Lukashevsky

Puffin, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


“Antiracist Baby is bred, not born.”

Beginning with this premise, this book takes the reader through nine steps to ensure that they and their offspring can learn how to be tolerant, compassionate individuals “to make equity a reality.”

  1. Open your eyes to all skin colours
  2. Use your words to talk about race.
  3. Point at policies as the problem, not people.
  4. Shout.  There’s nothing wrong with the people.”
  5. Celebrate all our difference.
  6. Knock down the stack of cultural blocks.
  7. Confess when being racist.
  8. Grow to be antiracist.
  9. Believe we shall overcome racisms.

Each principle is expanded by a rhyming couplet and, given the recent disclosures within the Royal Family as well as this being Harmony Day, there is scope for discussion and debate as we are encouraged to consider the things we say and do, often without thought, that could be deemed racist by another. The author has included additional discussion prompts to help readers recognise and reflect on bias in their daily lives as well links to US organisations that can offer more support.  A teachers’ guide is also available.

Despite looking like and being promoted as a book for babies, this is more one for those who understand the concept of racism already and are ready to learn more.  Reviews are very mixed mostly because while the intentions and purpose are valid, the confusion over who the intended audience is, is strong.

Rise of the Mythix (series)

Rise of Mythix (series)

Rise of the Mythix (series)











Rise of the Mythix (series)

Golden Unicorn


Mighty Minotaur


Flight of the Griffin


Anh Do

Allen & Unwin, 2020-2021

200pp.,. pbk., RRP $A15.99

The tyrant known as the Soul Collector (who is a physically weak man filled with greed who boosts his energy with his daily rituals) hunts down anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique. Among is his collection are  The Holy Grail and Lucifer’s Ring, artefacts of Heaven and Hell which he has united in defiance against their creators.

Stanley is the Collector’s finder. He hates his master and wants to change his situation. He discovers an ancient text on Prophesies and Portents that speak of three instruments of power – The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin, that will return in human form, unite, and restore balance and harmony to the Kingdom.

Kelly, who is trying hard to be an ordinary teenager and fit in with her peers,  finds that every day her powers are growing: she can run faster than the wind, she can hear people’s thoughts, she is not normal. So when he captures Kelly Smith’s mother and holds her hostage after Kelly and Stanley escape his attempts to capture them,  she knows she can’t linger in the shadows any longer. But who is she really? Can she be the one in the prophecy? Is she…the Golden Unicorn?

The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin – Only these three united to a common purpose can fell him who seeks to triumph over all. 

Kelly didn’t believe in ancient prophecies. But now she must. And she needs to find the Minotaur.

Meanwhile, Minh knows something epic is going on. His body is changing; his strength is otherworldly. But he has no idea that this is just the beginning…

Kelly and Minh must help each other if they are to have any hope of rescuing the people they love. )The king of beasts and the lord of birds, together once more, will know a third companion, as the days grow dim.  The Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin are united at last. Surely together they will be unstoppable!

But the Collector is not going to give up without an epic fight, and not all the beasts of legend are on the side of good …

Have Kelly, Minh and Jimmy met their match? Will the prophecy fail just when it looks most like coming true?

Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular writers for young, independent readers for good reason  and this series is one that may well tempt the lover of Weirdo and Ninja Kid up to the next level of their reading journey, just because of his name alone. Fast moving, well-illustrated and moving within that superhero domain that is so popular right now, with characters that appeal to a wide audience, it is a series for more mature readers which may open them up to discovering more about these mythical creatures of ancient times. 


Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Over the Moon










Over the Moon

Wendy Wan-Long Shang

HarperCollins, 2021

208pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99



Fueled with determination and a passion for science, a bright young girl named Fei Fei builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess. There she ends up on the adventure of a lifetime and discovers a whimsical land of fantastical creatures.

Based on the Netflix original animated film, this illustrated novel retells the story of Over the Moon and includes original concept art!

Directed by animation legend Glen Keane, and produced by Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou, Over the Moon is an exhilarating musical adventure about moving forward, embracing the unexpected, and the power of imagination.

Although I am unfamiliar with the screen version of this story, this novelisation offers an engaging tale of a modern young miss who likes both sides of the story – the one her mother used to tell her of the fantasy and the scientific explanation of the same phenomenon given by her father.  Does the moon change its shape because the Space Dog bites chunks from it until the Moon Goddess Chang-e makes him spit it out, or is there another explanation? There is a delicate balance that keeps the reader entertained as Fei Fei fulfils her quest, at the same time as offering the reader another, deeper layer to accompany the screen version.  

Just as very young readers like to connect with the print versions of their favourite screen characters, so too those who are older and independent.  The subtle nuances of the written word add substance to what might be lost in the whizbangery of the animation. 

This will be a great addition to those who have a focus on screen-print matches this year while offering a quality read to take our girls to new worlds. It also opens up the world of traditional tales that have carried the stories of generations over generations.

Penguin Bloom (Young Readers’ Edition)

Penguin Bloom (Young Readers' Edition)

Penguin Bloom (Young Readers’ Edition)











Penguin Bloom (Young Readers’ Edition)

Chris Kunz, Harry Cripps, Shaun Grant

ABC Books, 2021

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


On a family holiday to Thailand, Noah’s mum has a fall with devastating consequences – confined to a wheelchair for the future.

On a stormy night in Sydney’s Northern Beaches a little magpie has a fall from its nest – a broken wing for a magpie is like a broken back to a human.

But the two are miraculously connected and from that has emerged a story of hope, love, kindness and the lessons we can learn if we are ready to learn them.

Sometimes bad things happen to people and no matter what, you have to deal with it and in this edition of this story for young readers the focus is not so much on the accident and all the medical stuff but how a family had to come together to deal with it.  There is Sam Bloom, angry, bewildered and trying to come to terms with who she was, who she now is and who she thought she would be. There is her husband photographer Cam Bloom, father of Noah, Reuben and Oli who is walking the fine line of holding the family together juggling the balls of dependence and independence; there is Nana Jan whose daughter has catastrophic injuries and she can’t fix them; there are Noah’s young brothers Oli and Reuben, who despite his mother’s predicament still continue to leap off the roof to bounce on the trampoline below.  And there is Noah who is convinced his mum blames him for the accident because he discovered the viewing platform that gave way when she leaned on it,  And binding them together, eventually, is a little magpie chick named Penguin.

Noah tells the story of the family’s healing from his perspective talking directly to the reader, openly admitting that there are bad bits and bad days and exposing these as part of the process of becoming a family again, one that is different to what they thought it would be but still one that is whole.

This story spoke to me on many levels, not the least of which is because my own sister-in-law is in Sam’s situation after an afternoon walk with her dog went so very wrong. We live in the bush with our resident family of magpies who raise their babies on the lawn in front of us each year so Penguin’s antics were so familiar. And there are the kids who have been in my care as a teacher over the years who have had to face similar circumstances and somehow have had to navigate a way through.

Students may well have seen the movie Penguin Bloom – Noah’s story will give them an extra layer of understanding.


Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home

Little Lion A Long Way Home










Little Lion –  A Long Way Home

Saroo Brierly

Bruce Whatley

Puffin, 2020

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Born in Khandwa, India, in 1986 at the age of just 5, Saroo Brierley was separated from his brother at a train station and, not knowing his family name or where he was from, he managed to survive for weeks on the streets of Calcutta before finally being taken to an orphanage and eventually adopted by an Australian family. Even though he was happy growing up in Tasmania, he always wondered about his long-lost family and the story of his search for them has become an award-winning movie based on the adult version of his autobiography.

This incredible story of love, resilience and hope has been exquisitely illustrated by Bruce Whatley in a version for younger readers that will intrigue and inspire as they are touched by his need to discover his roots and what happened, particularly to his older brother whom he was with.  In its own way, it will be the story of many of the children in our care who have two families and who want to know and love both. They might not have the geographical journey that Saroo has to navigate, but  there is the emotional one they have to negotiate as they discover where and how they fit in.  There is the powerful realisation that it is possible to love and be loved by more than one, and that each significant relationship we form will influence our lives and characters.

It also opens up a window to the world beyond their own bubble so they begin to understand that not all children share the life they do, and that poverty and homelessness are real for Australian children as well as India and other countries.

Comprehensive teachers’ notes are available.

For those who want to read further, there is also the co-release of Lioness, by Sue Brierly, Saroo’s adoptive mother.

Dr Karl’s Surfing Safari through Science

Dr Karl's Surfing Safari through Science

Dr Karl’s Surfing Safari through Science











Dr Karl’s Surfing Safari through Science

Karl Kruszelnicki

ABC Books, 2020

192pp., pbk., RRP $A35.00


“The year 2020 has reminded us that science is a bit like a wave. By that , I mean, that science is a dynamic process that ebbs and flows, rather than being something set in stone…. science is NOT a collection of facts- that’s what you have an encyclopaedia for.  Instead science is a process of discovering facts through curious exploration and then using them to understand the Universe around us…Science is an ongoing process,  It’s self-correcting- which, let me emphasise, is a strength not a weakness,,, That might sound confusing at first, but scientists are flexible and willing to look at results and tweak the advice accordingly…”

So like its predecessor Dr Karl’s Random Road Trip Through Sciencethe familiar Dr Karl takes a journey through a broad range of subjects in which the scientific thinking has changed over time or there is a greater understanding of the why because of new thinking and developments. 

Aimed at older, independent readers there is a more in-depth look at some of the more unusual phenomena from what it means to be winded to vegan diets to the 5G network, as he explores all sorts of topics assisted by an augmented reality app which has a hologram of Dr Karl offering a more in-depth introduction and then buttons to explore even further information. 

Mist students are familiar with Dr Karl and know he not only talks sense but he speaks in a language that is easily accessible to them – you don’t have to be a scientist to understand what he says.  So this book, which stands alone without the technology but is definitely enriched by it, is one for both the novice and the more experienced with an interest in the world around them.

Yorick and Bones

Yorick and Bones

Yorick and Bones










Yorick and Bones

Jeremy Tankard

Hermione Tankard

HarperCollins, 2020

144pp., pbk., RRP $A34.99


This is an hilarious story about a skeleton who is roused from his death when a hot dog vendor collides with a witch causing a potion she’s carrying to spill from her hands and seep into Yorick’s grave. He awakens, surprised to find he has slept so long that he has lost his memory until a dog digs him up. All that Yorick wants is a sausage and someone to share it with but while he finds the sausage easily enough, finding a friend is a harder task. 

Subtitled “The lost graphic novel by William Shakespeare”, this is a graphic novel for the upper end of the readership of this blog because the text has been written in Shakespeare’s language and iambic pentameter rhythm, making it one for those independent enough to cope with that.  At the same time, it may well capture older readers’ imagination, particularly those familiar with Shakespeare’s works as there are references that have been cleverly adapted throughout. 

Something different to offer those who declare that they have ‘read everything”. 

Vote 4 Me

Vote 4 Me

Vote 4 Me











Vote 4 Me

Krys Saclier

Cathy Wilcox

Wild Dog Books, 2020 

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


The students at Mount Mayhem school are about to hold an election to form a committee to make some long-wanted changes at the school.  But the Year 6 class can’t decide on who should represent them and so Ms Sparks decides it is an excellent opportunity to teach them about Australia’s system of preferential voting.

Written by an expert in teaching students about elections, this book provides an explanation of the system within a context that the children will understand and carry with them into later life when they are involved in local, state and federal elections. It clearly shows how the process works and why it is fairer than a first-past-the-post count, offering the opportunity for all voices to be heard equally. 

At a time when elections are being held and getting a lot of publicity and coming into the period when school-based elections for leadership teams for 2021 are held, this is a book that has a place in any collection that focuses on democracy and how it works.  Sharing it when there is a real-life context to relate it to gives it extra punch and helps create more-informed voters of the future.  

Untwisted: The Story of My Life

Untwisted: The Story of My Life

Untwisted: The Story of My Life











Untwisted: The Story of My Life

Paul Jennings

Allen & Unwin, 2020

336pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


When you give a story to someone else to read, it is like sending out your love. If it is rejected it is a horrible experience. It takes courage to reveal your own soul to just one person, let alone put it into print. You make yourself incredibly vulnerable.” 

But since 1983 when he was searching for a lighthouse in a stormy sea of a marriage breakdown, being a single dad to four children, and an uncertain professional future because of the change in his personal circumstances, Paul Jennings has been making himself vulnerable and to the harshest of critics – children. 

And since 1985 when his first short story collection Unreal was published, generations  of kids have been grateful that he has had the courage to show his vulnerability. He has shared 125 individual stories and sold 10 000 000 copies of them, changing the reading lives of hundreds of thousands of kids. And I, as a teacher and teacher librarian for 50 years have been privileged to see those changes and the impact they have had.

Forty odd years ago the children’s literature world was starting to change and while there were the established authors like Southall and Thiele (both heroes of Jennings) there was  no one like this person who offered short stories that could be read in a sitting that brought a world of kids’ humour and interests to life. No one who touched on “unmentionable” subjects in a way that challenged more conservative teachers to read them aloud when the kids demanded them and certainly no one had reluctant readers, mostly boys, demanding time to read, lining up at the library door to be the first to get the new release, talking about books and reading in a way they never had before.  But here, in my classrooms, it was happening – this former lecturer in Reading Education and Children with Special Needs put his professional knowledge to work, wittingly or not, and wrote the sorts of stories that these readers were craving (even if they didn’t know it because they had already written themselves off as readers.)

And perhaps, with this memoir that shows that Jennings was no silver-spoon kid, the reading journeys of another generation will take a new turn as they explore new ground.  This is not a book written for children specifically; it is not one of those that picks out the salient turning points in a life and condenses the achievements into a quick-read factual account but it is one about someone whom the children know and love; whose work they are directly familiar with and which may open up the world of autobiographies and biographies to them. 

There have already been many reviews and articles and so forth written by luminaries of the literary world about this book, its contents and quality, that I don’t need to add to them. Suffice to say that it is as engaging as his stories and that in the hands of an independent aficionado of even a young age, it could be a turning point. Jennings himself says that he believes his journey as a writer has been a journey about seeking love and acceptance starting as a six-year-old dressing as a pirate for the attention it afforded him, a journey that cast him as the “silly son” who finally returns home to discover himself because he has learned what is important. So, if him, then why not me? As he says, a real story is told, not plotted.