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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.

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Sam Copeland

Sarah Horne

Puffin, 2019

299pp., pbk., RRP $A7.99

9780241346211

When the draft copy of this book first arrived in the post, it came with a flurry of yellow feathers and straight away it was apparent that it was going to be something a little different and lots of fun.

Charlie is an optimist, but things are conspiring against him. His brother SmoothMove is in hospital waiting for an operation, his parents are trying to hide how worried they are, and the school bully is upping the ante in Charlie’s direction.

The thing is, Charlie’s never really been stressed before – not properly, sweatily, heartpumpingly, stressed – and with everything going on at home, plus all the normal worries at school, he’s starting to panic. And this is bad, because Charlie’s just learnt that when he gets properly, sweatily, heartpumpingly, stressed, he turns in to an animal, all sorts of animals. A flea. A pigeon. A rhino. Who knows what’s next?

The school play is only a couple of weeks away, and Charlie is starting to worry. What if he transforms in front of the whole school, while he’s on stage playing Sad Potato Number 1? What if he turns into a naked mole rat or a John Dory in front of everyone he knows, with the spotlight on him? Will he get sent away for Science to deal with? Will his parents crack up with all the extra stress? Will everyone know he’s a freak?

With the help of his three best friends, Charlie needs to find a way to deal with his extraordinary new talent. And fast.

With its eye-catching bright gold cover, zany illustrations and informative footnotes that add extra information about the story without intruding into it, this one will be a winner with independent readers looking for the fun in stories.  They can learn more about Charlie’s friends, who are introduced here

The new year is bringing forth a wealth of new novels and series for young independent readers who just want to curl up and read a quality story and this is one of them.  Hook your boys with this one, with at least two more to come.

Kensy and Max: Undercover

Kensy and Max: Undercover

Kensy and Max: Undercover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kensy and Max: Undercover

Jacqueline Harvey

Random House Australia, 2019

400pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780143791904

The third in this series which includes Breaking News and Disappearing Act , twins Kensy and Max have adjusted to the disappearance of their parents, and are comfortable in their new life as part of the important Pharos organisation, headed up by their grandmother, Cordelia. 

In this adventure they are back in London for no time at all before things begin to heat up – quite literally. As a result, Granny Cordelia ships them off to Australia on an undercover mission. The twins find themselves planted in a posh Sydney school where first appearances prove to be deceiving.

What seems like a straightforward assignment turns into something so much bigger. Kensy and Max must employ all their spy skills – the fate of their parents, and who they’ve been searching for, depends on it.

When I gave Miss 12 the first two in this series all other Christmas presents were forgotten as she sat and devoured them, and then re-read them on the long bus trip to the Australian Jamboree near Adelaide just a couple of weeks later. Regardless of what anyone else might say, there is no more powerful review than that of the intended audience and to me, Miss 12, who is a discerning reader, has said it all.

Perfect for your up-and-coming independent readers who want characters they can relate to and events that they can picture themselves being involved in and emerging victorious of course, as they  try to solve the clues as they read and using the mysterious Caesar code to encrypt the chapter headings.

 

Old Friends, New Friends

Old Friends, New Friends

Old Friends, New Friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Friends, New Friends

Andrew Daddo

Jonathan Bentley

ABC Books, 2018

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

9780733338137

It’s a new school year and there is a whole class full of old best friends to greet and play with.  But excitement and fizzy tummies disappear when she realises that her new class is full of children whom she doesn’t know.  There is not one familiar face amongst them.  The happy tummy bubbles pop, turning to cartwheels instead; her smile dims and her hands are soggy.

But then she remembers some advice from her mum about being brave, and her grandfather about finding a smile somewhere, and tells herself that her very best BFF will always be herself and suddenly the light begins to shine and a whole world of possibilities opens up.

As the new school year gets underway, many children will be finding themselves in a classroom where they know no one whether that’s because of the way things have been sorted or moving to a new school and it can be a daunting and overwhelming proposition. So this is the perfect book to share to help children like that feel they can make the first step towards making friendships and that a class of 30 kids they don’t know is just 30 opportunities to open up new possibilities.  This is the advice I’ve given to Miss Moving-On-To-High-School because the strategies are just as relevant there.

When someone has lost their smile, give them one of yours.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for a focus on friends and friendships and so the team who gave us When I Grow Up and First Day have done it again, with their finger on the pulse of what it is like to be a littlie.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Jeff Kinney

Puffin Books, 2018 

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780143309352

Lots of kids live on Greg Hoffley’s street, but because it is partly on the flat and partly on the hill, loyalties are fiercely divided and any peace is an uneasy truce. Those on the flat think they own the street, refusing to let those from higher up play there, but then the tables are turned when it snows and those from down below want to come uphill to enjoy sledding.  “if you live on Surrey Street, you’re either a HILL kid or a NON-hill kid and there’s no switching sides.”

After a miserable week of bitterly cold days which have been a trial for Greg as he had to face walking to school while other friends’ parents drive past; indoor recesses where people sneeze their germs over him; worrying about frostbite because he is so skinny; navigating perilous footpaths and a host of other dangers that made his life more than difficult, his life is made more miserable because he’s in trouble for not digging the driveway clear, even though he did have it done but because he tried to renege on the deal he had made with some neighbourhood kids, they piled all the snow back again! So when the weekend comes and he’s looking forward to a lie-in and playing a few video games, he’s dismayed to discover that his mother decides he needs to spend the day outside being active, and even locks the door so he can’t come back inside.

And that’s when the conflict starts… but the end result is a great lesson in dealing with differences, problem solving,  strategising, co-operating, knowing when to compromise, all life skills that are so important.

Greg Hoffley has a legion of fans as his popularity grows from when we first met him more than 10 years ago  and this 13th book in the series will not only delight them but also garner him a lot more as new readers learn about this young lad who struggles to fit in with his peers in middle school (Years 5-8 in the USA) and his loyal best friend Rowley Jefferson.  With their first-person narrative that echoes the voice and thoughts of so many boys like Greg, their cartoon drawings and humour, this addition to the series is available in paperback, hardback, audio book and ebook so regardless of the format that most appeals to a young reader, they can access it.  

This is one of those books that even reluctant readers will want to have because to be talking about it will mean being part of the “in-crowd”, important for those who otherwise struggle to belong.