Archives

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson 1: Pumpkins and Aliens

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2020

176pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760893347

Nelson hates vegetables. He hates the smell of them, he hates the look of them. Most of all, he hates eating them, which can be tricky when you live in a family that loves them.  His grandparents grow them, his father cooks them and the family devour them – all except Nelson who has the grossest pile of smuggled, uneaten vegetables stored under his bed. His greatest hate is pumpkins but this is pumpkin season and his grandfather has grown his best crop ever – which he brings to town weekly so Nelson’s dad can cook them in every way imaginable.  

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. But when his grandmother tricks him into swallowing an entire bowl of pumpkin soup, and he discovers that he has superpowers, will he us them to save the school and Mr Shue from aliens from Neptune – aliens that he invented in a moment of desperation?

This is the first in a fast-paced series that 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 pumpkin recipes and then cook them and share their opinions with their friends in this time of stay-at-home. 

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. 

 

 

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.

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proudest Blue

Ibtihak Muhammad

SK Ali

Hatem Aly

Andersen Press, 2020 

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

9781783449712

The first day of the new school year is fast approaching and so Mama takes Asiya to buy her first-day hijab for her first day in Year 7.  Asiya chooses the brightest blue one because if you squint your eyes there is no border between the water and the sky, just as thereshould be no borders between people.  Her little sister Faizah is so proud of her but sadly not everyone understands what hijab is or represents and so both girls are teased and tormented because they are different.  But guided by their Mama’s wise words that echo in their head, both manage to navigate the day proudly, determined to keep the ancient tradition of covering the hair from puberty. 

Written by one who has been Asiya, Ibtihak Muhammed is the Olympic fencer who became the first Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab while competing for Team USA, this story is not only an insight into the wearing of hijab as a testament to the faith and love of Allah, it is also about being proud of who you are and what you believe in regardless of whether that is based on religion, culture, colour or any other dimension that can be perceived as setting us apart. (Try being a round redhead with glasses in a world that was in love with Twiggy!) There will be many Asiyas and Faizahs in our classrooms this year, Asiyas wearing hijab and navigating the taunts of the ill-informed, and Faizahs fielding questions while feeling enormously proud so this is a book to share across the year levels to help the acceptance and understanding. 

Regardless of the reason that someone may be isolated by their peers, perhaps the most memorable part of the story are the words of the girls’ mother… “Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them.  They are not yours to keep. They belong only to those who said them.” Wise words that we can all learn from.

An Internet search will bring up many resources for using this book in the curriculum.

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. 

The Besties (series)

The Besties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Besties show and smell

9781760890988

The Besties to the rescue

9781760890971

The Besties party on

 9781760890995

The Besties make a splash 

9781760890964

Felice Arena

Tom Jellett

Puffin, 2020

80pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

This is another new series to entice our emerging readers as they make the transition from levelled basal readers to the world of independent reading, created by an author and illustrator who are both in touch with what young children want in their stories. Oliver and Ruby have been best friends for ever and their everyday adventures that their audience can relate to are recounted in this series – two available now, two coming in April. 

In an article written by Arena, he talks about the critical importance of play in children’s lives before “we age into doom-and-gloom-and-bills-to-pay-bah-humbug adults” and he draws on his own childhood  experiences of playing the ukulele and drawing to bring the children to life.  In Show and Smell we learn that Ruby is an accomplished ukulele player and Ollie likes to draw and to emphasise this each book has the music to the song that Ruby sings as well as a comic strip of Ollie’s perception of the story. There is even an album with Ruby’s songs (and more) available to enhance the reading experience.

Written, illustrated and designed with the express purpose of engaging this particular audience with its focus on real kids, play and imagination, this is a series that our emerging readers will devour as they continue their reading journey.  And being in print rather than a one-off screen experience, they can return to the stories again and again.

 

I’m Ready for Preschool

I'm Ready for Preschool

I’m Ready for Preschool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Preschool

Jedda Robaard

Puffin, 2019

14pp., board book., RRP $A12.99

9781760891602

I’m trying something new soon. Something new and exciting . . .

Like many young Australians, a new adventure is on the horizon for Master Koala as the new school year looms (less than three weeks away for most) and it’s time to take the next step towards independence – preschool! There is much to do and prepare but he is convinced he is ready, even though there are some nervous butterflies in his tummy.  But it’s OK – everyone else feels the same and with a teacher who is smiling and more toys than he has ever seen, his day passes quickly and he’s not ready to go home.

This is another in this series of books designed to mirror the lives of Australia’s youngest children as they encounter milestones in their lives, demonstrating that any anxieties are common and normal and that there are ways to deal with them.  They can compare their own experiences with those of the characters as well as learning that books can be useful sources of information as well as entertainment as parents work through each page as they share them.  

The perfect gift for the little reader in your life. 

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Collection

Alice-Miranda collection

Alice-Miranda collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice-Miranda 3 in 1

640pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760894962

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever- the official movie script

288pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

 9781760896867

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Activity Book

16pp., pbk., RRP $A6.99

 

Alice-Miranda Friends Forever Journal

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

 9781760896874

 

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2019

When we were first introduced to Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, a young student at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies,  nearly 10 years ago, she became an instant here for many newly-independent readers who were looking for a heroine they could relate to and her popularity has continued to grow with not only many books in the series, but diaries, journals, her own website and blog, and now a movie .  

To celebrate its release on November 14, The publishers have organised a series of events as well as the official movie script, an activity book, a journal and a compendium of the first three stories in the series.  Not only will these appeal to Alice-Miranda’s established legion of fans, it is the perfect time to reboot the series as a new generation of young readers come through.  Perfect for recommending to parents as a collection for the Christmas stocking. 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve Days of Kindness

Cori Brooke

Fiona Burrows

New Frontier, 2019

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

9781925594751

Nabila is the new girl in school and like many new kids, she’s finding it hard to fit in with the established crew, particularly when she looks different to them and eats her strange lunches alone. But Holly comes to her rescue as their common love for soccer takes over.  But when both Holly and Nabila are picked for the school team, there is still disunity and the two girls realise if they are to come together to play well, they need a plan…

A search for “Twelve Days of Kindness” on the Internet brings up a number of projects and resources, mostly connected to Christmas but this is something that could be developed by a group or an individual at anytime to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and build something harmonious. Some schools like to take students on camp in the early days of Term 1 to build bonds for a successful year, but if this is not viable, organising something like Twelve Days of Kindness could be an alternative.  Having students directly involved by having them articulate those things they don’t like and identifying how such behaviour can be changed and the environment they would like to be in gives ownership and helps them understand the power to change is in their hands.  Promoting empathy activities  rather than always focusing on the ‘don’ts’ of bullying can be a new approach that has an impact by making it personal.  Again, the solution is theirs to decide and implement.

Author of the CBCA shortlisted All I Want for Christmas is Rain, (as appropriate now as it was in 2016) Brooke has again delivered a story that promotes thought and inspires action.

 

Miss Kraken

Miss Kraken

Miss Kraken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Kraken

Nicki Greenberg

Allen  $ Unwin, 2019

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

9781760637743

It’s the beginning of the new school year and the children are looking forward to meeting their new teacher.  But this one is very different – she’s strict, she imposes rules and confiscates contraband and is no fun at all.  So when she disappears on an excursion to the aquarium because the students have reverted to their usual abominable behaviour, it seems like a good thing…at first.  But having to be fetched by the principal and her replacement for Miss Kraken who never returns is not necessarily the outcome the children were wanting…

There are those who think that teachers should always be like Miss Kraken – after all, there is no discipline in schools these days and boundaries never hurt the proponents who have all turned out perfectly – and there are those who think that there is room for change, a happy medium between fear and anarchy because rule by fear does not bring about sustained behaviour change but no boundaries breeds confusion and confrontation. So apart from the humour in the story, and the surprising solution that could spark debate, this is a great discussion starter about why society needs rules to guide it and whether these should be imposed or negotiated for greatest success. Classes will see themselves in the story and there could be great debate and greater understanding if a “what if…?” question were posed, as they examine the impact of the class’s behaviour on those working or visiting the aquarium, even the creatures themselves. How does their personal behaviour affect those around them?

The more often you read this story the deeper the questions that can be asked and explored…