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Egg Marks the Spot -A Skunk and Badger story

Egg Marks the Spot

Egg Marks the Spot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg Marks the Spot- A Skunk and Badger story

Amy Timberlake

Jon Klassen

Allen & Unwin, 2021

160pp., hbk., RRP $A22.99

9781760877057

In the first in this series, Skunk and Badger,  Skunk moves in with the solitary rock-loving Badger and both find their lives changed forever as the two navigate a way to live together in harmony.

In this new adventure, they set out on an expedition to find the missing piece of Badger’s alphabetical rock wall – the mysterious A for agate, stolen years ago by Badger’s treasure-hunting cousin, Fisher … “Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it’s the Spider Eye Agate he found as a cub, stolen years ago by his crafty cousin, Fisher. For Badger’s roommate, Skunk, the treasure is Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G. Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the Book Review as soon as it thumps on the doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve Badger’s problems as well as his own. Surprisingly, Badger agrees. Together they set off on an agate-finding expedition at Badger’s favourite spot on Endless Lake. But all is not as it seems at Campsite #5. Fisher appears unexpectedly. Then a chicken arrives who seems intent on staying. Something is up! Indeed! Secrets, betrayals, lies … and a luminous, late-Jurassic prize.”

What follows is an engaging read for those who enjoy a good old-fashioned story with no super powers, timeslip or other devices that many modern stories are reliant on.  Yet there is adventure, intrigue, drama, mystery, anticipation and all those core qualities of stories well-told that will capture the imagination, absorb the reader and pass the time in a most pleasant way.  With illustrations, some full-colour plates, and easily accessible text, this is one for independent readers as well as being a good family or class story to share.

Something both wistful and whimsical to delight.

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. 

Hattie and Olaf

Hattie and Olaf

Hattie and Olaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hattie and Olaf

Frida Nilsson

Stina Wirsen

Gecko Press, 2021

184pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781776573189

Hattie, the  street-smart country girl who lives “just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all” has wanted a horse more than anything. Her friend Ellen has three ponies. So when Hattie’s father finally comes home with a horse float, Hattie is ecstatic. But instead of a horse, out stomps Olaf—a donkey. Now Hattie not only has horse fever, she suddenly catches lying sickness as well.

This is the second adventure in this series about this young Scandinavian girl whose life is so similar to so many of her peers in Australia – they will relate to the isolation and the joy of being able to go to school because of the social contact it brings.  The banter between friends, the laughs, the pleasure in just being with others are all on offer in this funny story that is a great read-aloud or read-alone for independent readers. Even the longing for a horse is familiar and we all know the disappointment when a gift or experience turns out not to be what we imagined. 

Nilsson is an award-winning children’s writer from Sweden who has her finger on the pulse of what young readers relate to, no matter where in the world they live. 

Where Are You, Magoo?

Where Are You, Magoo?

Where Are You, Magoo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Are You, Magoo?

Briony Stewart

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760896911

The lovable Magoo is back in another hilarious story that epitomises the fun and mischief that a puppy can get into.  Just how many places can a dog hide?  And what mischief can he make while he is there?

Like its predecessor, shortlisted for the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year 2021, this has the repetitive text, rhyme and rhythm that appeal so much to young readers and which are such an important foundation of their early reading behaviour as they are encouraged to pick up the book and read it to themselves. Its sturdy format, clear text and engaging illustrations will endear it to child and parent alike, but most importantly its strong, funny storyline with a lovable character already known to them will make it a go-to favourite to be read again and again.

The Boy and the Moonimal

The Boy and the Moonimal

The Boy and the Moonimal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy and the Moonimal

Debi Gliori

Bloomsbury, 2021

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

9781408892916

When the boy discovers the moonimal in the toyshop, straight away the boy hugs him tight and because moonimals are made to be hugged tight,  they become inseparable.  They played together and went everywhere together. But one day the boy trips over in the woods and because he broke his glasses he couldn’t see Moonimal lying amongst the leaves.

Convinced the boy will come back for him he lies there for many days and nights until he is discovered by some rabbits, who see him as special because although he looks like them, he has three ears.  And so, instead of snuggling in with them he sleeps alone, rather than being hugged tight.  The adventures for Moonimal are just beginning … snatched by a large bird, dropped in the river, discovered by deer… will he ever be found by the boy again?

Again Debi Gliori has created a charming story for our youngest readers that will resonate with them as the tale of a lost toy is all too familiar.  But telling it from the toy’s point of view is unique and while there is sadness and even intrigue, it is always tinged with hope through Moonimal’s belief that he will be reunited.  The illustrations are full of details that not only enrich the text but offer something new to discover each time the story is read – as it will be, over and over. 

Shockingly Good Stories

Shockingly Good Stories

Shockingly Good Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shockingly Good Stories

R. A. Spratt

Puffin Books, 2021

240pp/. pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761043376

Begin a collection of short stories with the foreword…

This collection of short stories was created to be shared during a challenging time. They were written to be read aloud, preferably in silly voices. So be brave, set dignity aside and go for it.”

Couple that with tips like inserting family members into the roles of the wicked and the weird to personalise the stories and adding in a shouted BOOM or KAPOW deliberately to startle the child so they don’t fall asleep before the end and you know this will be collection that will engage and entertain,  But better still, have the creator of the stories be the same person behind such memorable characters as Nanny Piggins, Friday Barnes and the Peski Kids   and immediately you are building anticipation  for a fun family reading time. 

Fractured fairytales, new adventures with Friday Barnes and a host of other weird and wacky adventures make this a great collection to share and there is also a collection of 75 stories on Spratt’s Spotify channel. Details are on her website.

And having shared and laughed your way through all the tales, the backword encourages the reader to make up some “outrageously silly and unbelievably wild’ stories of their own, even providing a blank page to get them started!!!

The ABC of Cuddles

The ABC of Cuddles

The ABC of Cuddles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC of Cuddles

Sophy Williams

Gavin Scott

A & U Children’s, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760526115

A is for airport cuddle, when it’s time to go away.
B is for bear hug, when teddy goes astray.
C is for crying cuddle, a scary ghost went boo!
D is for daddy cuddle, when only Dad will do.

In these times when even the littlest person knows the phrase “social distancing”,  in fact, especially  in these times, the need for and the warmth of a cuddle is paramount.  And in this beautiful book for those littlest learners, cuddles between family members are celebrated in an entire alphabet of reasons. Using a menagerie of animals, Gavin Scott has captured the clever text perfectly making this a lilting lullaby that little people will relate to as they share the joy of contact with those they love, whether there is a reason or not. 

Alphabet books are a common part of a young child’s library and come in many formats, but regardless of whether this is used as a formal educational tool by getting them to suggest other reasons, the language has that connection and cadence that is so important to their literacy learning and the joy of the love that is demonstrated is palpable.

Ideal for giving to new parents to share. 

Who Fed Zed?

Who Fed Zed?

Who Fed Zed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Fed Zed?

Amelia McInerney

Adam Nickel

Allen & Unwin, 2021

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

9781760524432

This is  a picture book about Ted, Ned and Fred, Fred’s dog, Jed, and Fred’s fish, Zed.

Zed the fish is white and red.
His poo hangs down in one long thread.
The main thing, though, is what Fred said,
‘NEVER, EVER FEED ZED BREAD.’

Because feeding fish bread can kill them and although Zed survives this incident there are other problems that he is faced with.

This is a clever story that will engage young readers with its rhyming text and retro feel.  Teachers may well pick up on it because it appears to feed perfectly into the current push for phonics and “sounding out” to be THE way to teach reading but within the first eight lines there are three different ways of spelling the “ed” sound demonstrating not only the complexity of the English language and its spelling, but also the trickiness in teaching by this method and the confusion children feel when confronted by it, particularly as English is full of such anomalies.

That said, young children will love to listen to the poem as it carries them along on a wave of rhythm and they will be surprised by its ending.  They might even be ready to explore how the author created that rhythm paying attention to elements such as the number of syllables, whether they are long or short, stressed or unstressed to make a beat and thus the cadence of our language.  They might even want to create a list of other words that rhyme with Zed that the author might have chosen, thus building their vocabulary and spelling knowledge.   

But above all, and most importantly, it’s a story that will resonate with any young readers who have either a goldfish or a dog with fleas, or perhaps both. 

 

Music for Tigers

Music for Tigers

Music for Tigers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music for Tigers

Michelle Kadarusman

Pajama Press, 2021

192pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781772781892

“The first sound I hear in the forest at the bottom of the world is Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons. There’s a movement in the violin concerto that’s meant to mimic the sound of birds. When I step off the bus in the Tarkine bush, that’s exactly what I hear. An orchestra of birdsong descends like musical rain from the Tasmanian treetops.”

Shipped halfway around the world from Toronto to Tasmania to spend the summer with her mother’s eccentric Australian relatives, middle schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is prepared to be resentful. All she wants to be is a violinist, not a biologist like her mother but her mother has discovered that the family-run sanctuary is about to be destroyed and thinks Louisa needs to know more about her heritage.

Life at the family’s remote camp in the Tasmanian rainforest is intriguing, to say the least. There are pig-footed bandicoots, scary spiders, weird noises and odours in the night, and a quirky boy named Colin who cooks the most amazing meals. Not the least strange is her Uncle Ruff, with his unusual pet and veiled hints about something named Convict Rock. 

Finally, when Uncle Ruff gives Louisa her great-grandmother’s diary, she learns the truth: Convict Rock is a sanctuary established by her great-grandmother Eleanor-a sanctuary for Tasmanian tigers, Australia’s huge marsupials that were famously hunted into extinction almost a hundred years ago. Or so the world believes. Hidden in the rainforest at Convict Rock, one tiger remains. But now the sanctuary is threatened by a mining operation, and the last Tasmanian tiger must be lured deeper into the forest. The problem is, not since her great-grandmother has a member of the family been able to earn the shy tigers’ trust. 

As the summer progresses, Louisa forges unexpected connections with Colin a young lad on the autism spectrum; with the forest;  and-through Eleanor’s journal-with her great-grandmother. She begins to suspect the key to saving the tiger is her very own music. But will her plan work? Or will the enigmatic Tasmanian tiger disappear once again, this time forever? 

This is an intriguing read for independent readers who are looking for something different, and something that will stay with them long after the last page is read. The Tasmanian Tiger remains an mysterious, elusive creature which fascinates because of the sporadic “sightings” and suggestions that it may not have become extinct when the last one died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. Acknowledging the expertise of the land’s traditional owners, it is one that has the preservation of the environment at heart, but also the changing nature of people and families as they learn more about who they are.

Written for readers at the upper age limit of this blog, I, as an adult, was engrossed and I could hear myself reading it to a class of entranced listeners. 

 

The Silly Seabed Song

The Silly Seabed Song

The Silly Seabed Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silly Seabed Song

Aura Parker

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9781760899394

Jelly flubber! Wobbly gong!
It’s the Silly Seabed Song!

As the Rock Oysters sing their final song of the evening, and all the sea creatures sing and dance along, all little Turtle Hatchling Fred wants to do is sleep.  But how can he with all this laughing and giggling and NOISE??? It seems everyone who lives under the water has come to join in and the result of this “lullaby” is just a cacophony.  Or is it?

Once again, the author of Goodnight Glow Worms, and Meerkat Splash offers our youngest readers a charming story for bedtime with its lyrical rhyming text and appealing illustrations. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As well as introducing them to a range of creatures that dwell in the ocean that they are probably not familiar with, there is also the challenges to find a range of them as they frolic with the party-goers amongst the seaweed and sand.  There’s a new little person coming to our family soon and this will be the perfect bedtime story for a proud grandfather to read!!