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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.

One Lone Swallow

One Lone Swallow

One Lone Swallow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Lone Swallow

Corinne Fenton

Owen Swan

New Frontier, 2020

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

9781922326195

Florence, Italy , around 1805 and as night falls a lone swallow leaves her babies and flies across the city, with the single sole purpose of finding her mate who has not returned.

But it is not the courage and determination of the swallow in her mission that is the hallmark of this story, but the beautiful, lyrical description of her journey accompanied by the exquisite, soft illustrations that are the perfect match. 

For most of us, night comes in each day almost unnoticed in its regularity and sameness, unless there is a stunning sunset or storm to catch the eye. But in this simple story, Fenton and Swan, creators of other sensitive stories like Scrufflenut, turn the reader’s focus to the sights and sounds of nightfall, not just in Florence on this night but their own backyard. What are the sights, sounds, smells and colours that they hear as night falls across their home?  If they were like the swallow and could have a bird’s-eye view what would attract their attention as dusk and then night settles across the city? Is it a swift or lingering event?  Why? Would it be different if we were in a city, the bush, by the sea? Would it have been different in another time? Given this is set in 1805, what is noticeably missing if it were set today?  Perhaps this could inspire an individual, group or class poem focusing on how Fenton has made the ordinary extraordinary through her word choices and phrasing, and with illustrations that, like those of Swan, become an integral part of the tale told.

A perfect opportunity to encourage our students to take a close look at their environment and engage all their senses. 

Snow Ghost

Snow Ghost

Snow Ghost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Ghost

Tony Mitton

Diana Mayo

Bloomsbury, 2020

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

9781408876633

“Snow Ghost came whispering out of the air,

Oh, for a home to be happy – but where?

Snow Ghost is looking for a home. Through the dark winter sky, she swoops and swirls, past the whirling traffic of town, into the dense, tangled wood and to the top of the blustery hill, searching endlessly to no avail, unwanted. And then on the moors she spots a small farm where children are playing in the snow. She has found her home at last.

This is a beautiful story, written in rhyme with rich imagery and exquisitely and delicately illustrated that, on the surface, would appear to be about the weather. T But what if it were a metaphor for the refugees and the struggles they face when they have to flee their country and find it difficult to find friendly shelter, particularly in these times? That theme opens up a whole lot of possibilities that not only take the reader into a different world but raise their awareness of the challenges that have to be faced, racism being just one… It is about hope and an inner knowing that there will be the perfect place to belong, and having the resilience to find it. So even though it is not winter, and there are few places here that see snow, it has a much broader appeal and application.

 

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wizard of Oz

Russell Hunter & L. Frank Baum

Simona Bursi

Usborne, 2020

104pp., graphic novel, RRP $A16.99

9781474968850

The classic story of Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow the Cowardly Lion, the Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of the West has been beautifully reinterpreted in this colourful graphic novel, perfect for younger readers who have not yet made the journey from Kansas to the Emerald City and just in time to be a focus for the 2021 Book Week theme of Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds. 

Declared by the US Library of Congress as “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”, this is a story that all children should be familiar with given the references from it that appear in life today, and so to have it in graphic novel format which makes it accessible to newly independent readers and a whole new generation of children is a bonus. The full plot of the story is summarised here, and it could be wise to have the unabridged classic version available for those who are enticed to read that as well. 

 

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

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

Bill Bryson

Puffin, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A32.99

9780241451946

This is the latest edition of a book first published in 2003 and is Bill Bryson’s attempt to help newly independent readers understand something about everything from” a journey from the centre of the planet to the dawn of the dinosaurs, and everything in between.”

Written in accessible text that has a modern layout and many illustrations by by Daniel Long, Dawn Cooper, Jesús Sotés, and Katie Ponder, it is the ideal starting point for the curious child who wants to know why and how of how the physical world works. A dip-and-delve book it offers explanations that treat the reader as a serious learner but in a style that encourages them to explore their chosen topic further, as well as offering the serendipity of opening a page and discovering something completely new.

Perfect for the budding scientist in your life.