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The King’s Birthday Suit

The King's Birthday Suit

The King’s Birthday Suit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King’s Birthday Suit

Peter Bently

Claire Powell

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408860144

King Albert-Horatio-Otto the Third
had SO many clothes it was simply absurd 

He had clothes for every occasion, even changing just to go to the loo, so when his birthday was on the horizon it was obvious he was going to need a new outfit.  But when fashion designers came from all over the kingdom with their finest collections, he could find nothing suitable. But then two arrived who declared they could  make an outfit of only the very BEST and most special cloth, one that only the most clever and wisest of all could see. So of course the vain king could not resist but the results were not what he expected…

This is an hilarious makeover of Hans Christian Andersen’s  traditional tale The Emperor’s New Clothes with Bently’s clever rhyming text and Powell’s illustrations bringing it to life for a whole new generation of readers.  It is rich, engaging and will have young readers utterly enthralled as they become engrossed in the details and they will love the risqué ending, because it is just a little bit naughty!  So much fun from cover to cover, yet offers so much to talk about whether “clothes maketh the man” and even the meaning of “sycophant”.  

 

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. 

 

Stop That Dinosaur!

Stop That Dinosaur!

Stop That Dinosaur!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop That Dinosaur!

Alex English

Ben Cort

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781408888414

I was in my Granny’s kitchen eating extra-special cake,
when the walls began to tremble and the roof began to SHAKE.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Ring! Ring! Ring! Oh MY – a dino’s at the door.
And now it’s taken Granny … SOMEONE STOP THAT DINOSAUR!

Grabbing her scooter, the little girl races off after the dinosaur careering through the park, the town and the woods, all the time shouting. But to no avail.  Finally, the inevitable happens and she falls, grazing her knees and bruising her bum.  And when she shouts for her Gran, suddenly the dinosaur re-appears with her and explains why he stole her in the first place.

Using rhyme to develop a pace as fast as the little girl on her scooter and convey the sense of urgency and drama of the situation, and big, bright, bold illustrations that have lots of humorous details to discover, this is a story that will appeal to everyone who likes dinosaurs and/or grandmothers.  They will be able to join in the chorus to stop the brontosaurus and have much fun in doing so as they follow the chase. It highlights the special relationships little ones have with their grandmothers and the things they do together, (although this grandmother cannot lay claim to baking apple pie or cakes!)  

One to share and just got the delight of the words rolling off the tongue!

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. 

 

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.