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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…  

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unicorn Academy (series)

Julie Sykes

Lucy Truman

Nosy Crow, 2019

112pp., pbk, RRP $A12.99

9781788004565

Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together! That’s what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island. There are 12 books in the series  (some still to be released), the latest being Ariana And Whisper.

Written for younger independent readers, the series appeals to those for whom unicorns remain a fascination and who dream of having their own one day, a fascination that shows no signs of abating.  Such series are very popular with younger readers just starting their reading journey through novels as they associate with and invest themselves in the characters, putting themselves in their shoes and truly immersing themselves in the experiences.  They form relationships with them that mean they are eager to read and re-read each one in the series, honing their skills and understandings of reading as they do so. So this is a series that will have a strong following because it features all those characteristics that hook these emerging readers in.  Worth the investment, not just for themselves but the reading pathways  that keen readers will then follow.

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hackathon

 9780143795056

Game On

9780143795063

Alex Miles

Puffin Books, 2019

192pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

From the Girl Geek Academy website…

What would the internet look like if there were more women building it?

  • By the age of 6, children classify jobs as male and female.
  • By the age of 8, they are limiting aspirations
  • By 13 many of them have already ruled out career options that don’t fit with gender stereotypes.
  • By ages 16-17 60% of girls aspire to stereotypically ‘female’ jobs.

So the mission of the Girl Geek Academy is to increase the number of women and girls in tech, games, making, robotics, 3D printing, aviation, drones and space by teaching one million women
to learn technology by 2025. Launched by five women with the aim of making girls in STEM and IT the norm, they are developing a series of initiatives aimed at those from five years old up to mature women, one of which is this new series of books that put geek girls in the spotlight and in charge.  They show that technology is fun and girls are awesome, with each focusing on each of the girls, Hamsa, Eve, Niki and Maggie and their particular talents – hacker, hipster or hustler. With characters that young girls such as my Miss 13 will recognise, they take everyday situations that arise in schools and show how the girls use their strengths to solve them, demonstrating that being a ‘geek girl’ is as normal as being any other sort of girl.  It’s just one part of who they are.

As well as this new series (four in the pipeline so far) there are many other programs and resources available on the academy website to support and enable the development of digital technologies in the school and across the curriculum so this is both a series and a website that could and should be promoted widely to staff and students.  So often, geeks don’t see the library as having anything for them, particularly when there is still such an emphasis on books and reading, so this is yet another way to reach out to that long tail – all those potential patrons that a library has but who don’t use the facility because they don’t believe it has anything to offer them.

Well-written, illustrated and as perfect for the newly-independent reader as it is for those whose appetite for reading is never sated, this is a series with a difference and with huge potential. 

 

Detention

Detention

Detention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detention

Tristan Bancks

Puffin, 2019

240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791799

Sima and her family are pressed to the rough, cold ground among fifty others. They lie next to the tall fence designed to keep them in. The wires are cut one by one. 

When they make their escape, a guard raises the alarm. Shouting, smoke bombs, people tackled to the ground. In the chaos Sima loses her parents. 

Dad told her to run, so she does, hiding in a school and triggering a lockdown. A boy, Dan, finds her hiding in the toilet block. 

What should he do? Help her? Dob her in? She’s breaking the law, but is it right to lock kids up? And if he helps, should Sima trust him? Or run?

Whatever decisions are made will change their lives forever.

With the rise and spread of nationalist, right-wing conservative governments around the globe, xenophobia is alive and well in communities and countries around the world. In Australia it is always a hot topic particularly around election time and especially since former prime minister John Howard declared, “It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people, taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” in an election speech just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.

Having just had another federal election with the rhetoric of asylum seekers, detention centres and people’s rights claiming a lot of media space and votes, this new book from Tristan Bancks is very timely. In it, through the students in the Reading Superstars class and their teacher Miss Aston, he asks the questions that need to be considered about the plight of refugees, particularly as much of what the children say is the echo of their parents’ perspectives. Bancks says he has tried to tell the story as “a human one, rather than a political one” and he has achieved this as the reader becomes very invested in the plights of Simi and Dan and constantly wonders what would they do if they were either of those characters.

In my opinion, the greatest power of this book is in the hands of a class teacher reading it aloud and discussing the issues as Miss Aston does while she and her charges are in lockdown. That way, a range of points of view can be explored and explained, taking the story to a whole new level, rather than being an individual read that throws up questions but for which the reader doesn’t seek answers. And that teacher should be prepared to answer the inevitable, “What would you do if you were Miss Aston?”

Books for this age group are rarely the focus of reviews on this blog, but I believe that this is such an essential read as part of any study about migration and refugees, it deserves all the publicity it can get. Superb.

 

 

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Juno Jones Word Ninja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juno Jones Word Ninja

Kate Gordon

Sandy Flett

Yellow Brick Books, 2019

92pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780994557094

A disaster is on the horizon! Muttonbird Bay School might be closing. 

Juno Jones loves her school, but the Men in Suits want to close it down! With three schools in the area, including a posh school and a public one near the sewerage system (known as the poo school) , and not enough children, one of the schools has to go. And, according to their principal,  there’s only only one thing Juno and her classmates can do to stop it… show they are smarter and dedicated and so they need to READ! Which is perfectly fine for people like Perfect Paloma, Smelly Bella and Genius George, but Juno Jones is a kid who doesn’t like reading. She prefers being a secret ninja, telling jokes and drawing so she strikes a deal with her teacher to write a book rather than reading one. She needs to become a Word Ninja.

And the result is this new addition to the series scene for newly independent readers for those who like something different with a quirky, feisty female lead in a setting they can relate to, but with a balance of male and female characters that means its appeal is not limited to girls. Each character has talents and skills that contribute to the development of the story, setting the series up for a whole range of new adventures.

 

 

 

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch

Nikki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2019

288pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760523671

In 2017 we were introduced to Zelda Stitch, a new character from the zany imagination of Nikki Greenberg…

“Zelda Stitch isn’t much of a witch – she’s hoping she’ll make a better primary school teacher. But if the vice principal finds out about her, her dream will go up in a puff of smoke. Keeping her magic secret isn’t the only trouble bubbling in Ms Stitch’s classroom: there’s wild-child Zinnia, lonely Eleanor, secretive Phoebe and a hairy, eight-legged visitor called Jeremy. Not to mention the nits… With NO HELP AT ALL from her disagreeable cat Barnaby, Zelda must learn to be a better teacher, a better friend and a better witch – even if that means taking broomstick lessons.”

Now, in this recently released sequel. Zelda is preparing to face term 2. With her secret exposed, she is hoping that it will be easier and has set herself some goals – 

1. Be the best teacher I can be.
2. Keep my spells to myself. 
3. DO NOT UPSET MELODY MARTIN.

But of course, nothing goes to plan and readers are plunged into another maze of magic, mischief and mayhem. Written in diary format with lots of illustrations for support, this is an enchanting read for the newly independent reader who is looking for some fun and fantasy.  So even though it looks thick and daunting it is actually suitable for those who are moving beyond the more traditional stepping stone novel but are not quite ready for the full-blown item.  Miss 8 will adore it and will no doubt be looking forward to Term 2’s adventures!. 

The Incurable Imagination

The Incurable Imagination

The Incurable Imagination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Incurable Imagination

Paul Russell

Aska

EK Books, 2019

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

9781925335972

Right from when she was born Audrey was different to other children because she had the most amazing imagination.  When other children painted their parents, she painted an ogre who lived under her bead drinking tea.  Other children sang songs about black sheep while Audrey made up her own songs.  And when she started school and was supposed to learning her alphabet and counting her numbers, Ausdey had much more fun letting her imagination run riot. Her teachers diagnose “imaginitis” which is not only incurable but it is also contagious and before long it is starting to spread among the children and the adults in her life.

Little children always have such wonderful imaginations that seem to disappear when the formalities of school kick in and this is an interesting look at what might happen if we just let kids develop in their own ways in their own time.  The bright pictures are really appealing as they bring the weird and wonderful daydreams alive. Imagination is critical if society is to survive – we need to encourage our children to ask ‘what if…?” and see over hills and horizons to what could be beyond, to become the storytellers, the writers, the artists, the poets so books that celebrate “imaginitis” while showing how the formal curriculum, outcomes, accountability and reports stifle this are to be welcomed, themselves celebrated and shared.  We are among the significant adults in children’s lives – what can we do to spread imaginitis? How can we join our children in their world, rather than dragging them into ours?

 

All Are Welcome

All Are Welcome

All Are Welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Are Welcome

Alexandra Penfold

Suzanne Kaufman

Bloomsbury, 2019

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

9781526604071

Regardless of where you come from, what you wear, how you get around, all children are welcome in this classroom and this book celebrates individual’s diversity as well as inclusivity.  This could, and should, be a snapshot of any classroom anywhere, as families of all types and origins connect to share their children’s education. It clearly shows that however different the children’s home lives are (and we get a glimpse of those in the illustrations) children everywhere love to do and learn about the same things.

Though the rhyming text might be a bit saccharin in some places (although other reviewers have called it “almost radical in our polarized time”) there is much that the teacher librarian and classroom teacher can take from the illustrations particularly to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse heritages of our students. From creating a display of national flags and sharing the various words for hello, to having students create displays of their homelands to coincide with national days or having parents who are fluent in another language come in and tell stories in their language to other students, it all helps the student feel that they are indeed welcome here.