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The School between Winter and Fairyland

The School between Winter and Fairyland

The School between Winter and Fairyland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The School between Winter and Fairyland

Heather Fawcett

Allen & Unwin, 2021

352pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781760526542

“Twelve-year-old Autumn is a beastkeeper at Inglenook School for Magicians, which she secretly dreams of attending as a student. Instead, she must care for Inglenook’s menagerie of dangerous creatures so the king’s future monster hunters can study them. But when she isn’t mucking out the griffin stalls, Autumn searches for clues about her twin brother’s mysterious disappearance. Everyone else thinks that he was devoured by the terrifying Hollow Dragon, but Autumn isn’t so sure.

Enter Cai Morrigan, the famous young magician prophesied to one day destroy the Hollow Dragon. When Cai comes to Autumn with a secret problem, Autumn agrees to help on one condition: that the ‘Chosen One’ join her quest to find her brother. Together they uncover the dark truth that lies at the heart of Inglenook School – because every school has its secrets…”

This is one for independent readers who are established readers of fantasy, like Miss 10, but who still like to straddle the worlds of reality and magic.  Autumn is one who Miss 10 can relate to, perhaps even put herself in her shoes, and the familiar themes of adventure, family, friendship and self-discovery blend seamlessly with the magical creatures who inhabit a world as cleverly constructed as Hogwarts.  While the foundations of the story are shared with other stories – the traditional tropes on which fantasy for this age is based and why they are so popular- this is a solid read that will have readers looking for a sequel.  In the meantime they could indulge themselves in Fawcett’s other books, Ember and the Ice Dragons , a story about a young dragon turned into a human girl to save her life, or The Language of Ghosts about a young princess in exile who rediscovers a forgotten magic. All three may appear in Miss 10’s Christmas stocking. 

What Zola Did on Sunday

What Zola Did on Sunday

What Zola Did on Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Sunday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2021 

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895228

Ever since we first met Zola a year ago,  readers have been following her adventures as she brings her community together and now all the connections reach their pinnacle at the St Otto’s Community Fete. Their is the stall of the knitting group that Zola and her nonna belong to; her friend Leo’s mum is going to be givng a demonstration about how police dogs work in the community; her other nonna will be hosting the organic produce stall and her mum will have the cake stall.  As well there are competitions and all sorts of other attractions.  Will Zola be able to get through the fete without any of the drama and strife she seems to attract?

This is the final in this series that has had young readers enthralled and Zola and her friends have become friends of the reader too.  And for those who have not yet met Zola, then there is a treat in store.  A must-have for anyone with a reader who is just embarking on novels but needs the textual supports as well as the familiarity of characters and situations to consolidate their skills.

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. 

Making Friends: A Book About First Friendships

Making Friends: A Book About First Friendships

Making Friends: A Book About First Friendships

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Friends: A Book About First Friendships

Amanda McCardie

Colleen Larmour

Walker, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781406394542

Sukie is starting a new school and shares the concerns of every child in the same situation – will she make friends.  But she soon learns that making friends can happen in all sorts of ways, big and small, even unexpected.  However, it is not enough to make friends – you have to work on maintaining the friendships by respecting others’ differences as well as the things you have in common.

So many children who have been restricted by stay-at-home orders in parts of Australia are separated from their friends right now – even though they have visual contact through online sources or audio through the phones, it is the physical, spontaneous face-to-face contact they are missing and which is impacting on their mental well-being.  Even Miss 10, the family social butterfly, is  worried that she will be forgotten and won’t have any friends when school eventually returns.  

If nothing else, this time at home has demonstrated the critical role schools play well beyond the formal academic teaching and this book would be a worthwhile addition to any teacher’s toolkit as they help their students navigate making friends and being friends again after such a long social isolation. It has a wider reach than just supporting those who will be starting a new school as a new year approaches.  Readers are invited to agree, disagree and add to the situations in which Sukie finds herself – should be embarrassed and uncomfortable that Mikkel refuses her help with his jigsaw puzzle or is it OK to say no sometimes? And cleverly, illustrator Colleen Larmour has included a picture of someone sharing kindness on almost every page, opening up not only an opportunity to look closely but also the concept of doing a random act of kindness every day.  

Our children are negotiating a tricky time at the moment, different but just as confronting as children in past generations, and the strategies and coping mechanisms we help them to develop now will play a large role in how they will survive and thrive. This book has a role to play in that. 

Nelson:: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Nelson:: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Nelson: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson: Eggplants and Dinosaurs

Andrew Levins

Katie Kear

Puffin, 2021

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

 9781761042294

Tucked into a bumbag around his waist was a variety of stuff that Nelson hated most, but which he needed often.  Because although he hated the taste and smell of vegetables (tricky when you are in a vege-loving and growing family) they gave him superpowers. So in that bumbag were broccoli  (for invisibility), pumpkin for a super strong voice and strength, a radish for teleportation (and a feather to make himself sick if he ever had to eat them.)

In this, the third adventure in this series for young independent readers, Nelson discovers the benefits of eggplants as he is called on to track down some of the worst thieves in town, thieves who have been stealing every book about dinosaurs from the local libraries. The only one left is his favourite from Kindergarten in the school library. But trialling the effects of eating an eggplant has disastrous consequences… Will Nelson be able to control his inner beast and use it to get out of danger?

This is the third in this fast-paced series that will appeal to those who are ready for novels but still needing the short chapters and liberal illustrations for a little extra support  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. Who knows what superpowers might be hidden in the rainbow on the plate?  At the very least the kids will be healthier! 

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

Let’s Get Ready for School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Ready for School

Jane Porter

Carolina Rabei

Walker, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781529502343

It’s time to go to big school but what will it be like?  How will the day be filled?  What are the expectations?

Using a double-page spread for topics such as getting ready, how to get there, what will happen and even why we go to school, this book follows six children as they begin this new adventure in their lives. The text speaks directly to the child and there are plenty of illustrations to help them imagine this new adventure they are about to embrace.

Even though it is an English production, both the anxiety that children feel and the activities of the new entrants’ classroom are universal and so this translates to the Australian situation well, including a page for the children to talk about the concerns they have..  

With big school getting larger on the horizon for our little ones but visits to those early childhood classes limited in some states, this is an opportunity for parents to start preparing their child for what can be expected and if there are online orientations, for classroom teacher to use it as a way to guide their viewers through the first days.  They might not be able to show their own classes in action but this is a suitable substitute. 

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankie Goes to Kindergarten

Peta Baxter & Connie Hemmens

Marjorie Gardner

Ford Street, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95

9781925804683

It’s an exciting day for Frankie – it’s his day for kindergarten.  But Frankie isn’t a timid, shy child about to take his first step on a new adventure – he’s a dog who goes with his owner, the Kindy teacher, to join in all the fun of meeting up with friends, playing inside and out, visiting the pets. listening to stories, having lunch and quiet time and learning all sorts of new things.  His mate George the cat would like to go too but he is deemed too little, so he hops in a box…

Written by two experienced kindergarten teachers based on their own kindy – Frankie belongs to Miss Peta – this is a joyful introduction to the kindy/preschool day that will be a new adventure for many of our littlest readers very soon. Many of them will experience trepidation rather than anticipation so this story with its bright, bold illustrations will be excellent for helping to prepare them and pave the way.  Even though there might not be a Frankie (or a cheeky George) to join them, nevertheless all the activities will be there awaiting them as will the welcoming teachers and lots of new friends to play with.  

With lockdown and restrictions, preventing many of the face-to-face orientations that usually start about this time, so this would be the ideal story to share as alternative preparation.  

Weird School

Weird School

Weird School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird School

Damian Callinan

Adele K Thomas

Puffin, 2021

256pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760893446

Welcome to Wally Park Primary, the Weirdest School in Australia!

Some people think that all schools are the same. They might have different uniforms, slogans and emblems but in the end, there isn’t much difference between them … THESE PEOPLE ARE WRONG! They have not been to Wally Park PS.  A normal day at Wally Park would be the weirdest day in any other school’s history. There’s an annual Extreme Walkathon that is not for the faint-hearted, a talking Naughty Tree and an Out-of-Bounds Area you might truly never return from and the meanest (and most vain) principal in Australia.

In fact Wally Park has been classified as a Weird School and while every Weird School is unique in its own way with peculiar features or have unusual rules or offer strange subjects, Wally Park is distinguished by having many of these and thus is classified a Class A Weird School.

With this introduction the reader is invited to sign the school’s Visitors’ Book and explore all the reasons that the school has its title. Using a variety of textual techniques, illustrations and short-stand-alone chapters that are loosely linked by a likeable cast of characters who will resonate with the reader, independent readers will enjoy reading this book and feel blessed that their family does not live in the catchment area for Wally Park – although in these days of seemingly endless lockdown, there will be those who would be grateful for any school experience right now.

There are teachers’ notes and a Q&A with the author but overall this is just an entertaining read – which is what it’s all about really.

Megamonster

Megamonster

Megamonster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megamonster

David Walliams

Tony Ross 

HarperCollins, 2021

384pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

. On a volcanic island, in the middle of shark-infested waters, stands The Cruel School. The lessons are appalling, the school dinners are revolting and the teachers are terrifying – especially the mysterious Science teacher Doctor Doktur.

When Larker is sent to the school, she quickly realises something very odd is going on… something involving Doctor Doktur, a pair of strange spectacles, and a ‘Monsterfication Machine’. And ultimately she finds herself face to face with a real life Megamonster.

There seems to be no escape – but for Larker, nothing is impossible…

Walliams has previously said that his current writing for children is done to put a smile on the face of his readers, and while this book appears somewhat dark from its synopsis. nevertheless it is a prime example of Walliams knowing his audience and what they want to read.  Using predominantly dialogue and a range of graphic techniques,  it is easily accessible to the newly independent reader and my informal research shows that Walliams is the go-to author at this time, particularly for boys.  

  One to suggest to your students in lockdown – it’s readily available online – or one to save to welcome them back. 

 

Truly Tan Shocked

Truly Tan Shocked

Truly Tan Shocked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truly Tan Shocked

Jen Storer

Claire Robertson

ABC Books, 2021

288pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9780733334146

Dear Diary

I am writing to you with the aid of my Ballerina Panda pen. You know, the one that makes your words dance across the page.

Guess who is number one on my Secret Spy Watch List?

Go on. Guess!

It’s Miss Dragone.

Miss Dragone has always been an ordinary, boring, Grade Four teacher with no surprises and a loud voice.

But not anymore.

These days she is acting weird, strange and highly suspicious.

I’ve been watching her very closely.

Conclusion: Miss Dragone is in danger.

I just know it!

Truly

Tan

Described by Megan Daley of Children’s Books Daily as “the 21st century version of the Secret Seven”, Truly Tan is a series for independent readers confident with their skills and ready to immerse themselves in more complex novels which feature characters and scenarios that they recognise and relate to. She is  the youngest of four very different sisters, each with their own personality- bossy Emerald, girly Amber, and  Goth-aspirant Rose – while she, herself, loves adventure, new words and making the most out of being a kid.  She loves a mystery and uses her ‘Great Detective’ brain to solve them. But she is also very real with a mix of determination, humour, smarts and quirkiness to appeal to her audience.

The first book in the series  begins…” Dear Diary It’s official. Our whole family has moved to the country. The pets are disturbed and restless. My sisters are disturbed and restless – although that’s normal. What is not normal is a cursed fox and a haunted clubhouse. That is definitely unnormal. At least the country people now have an expert in their midst. Someone with a cool head and a sharp eye. Someone who can solve intriguing mysteries and knows how to keep detailed Secret Spy Files. Really, it’s lucky I came along when I did.” and sets the scene for the seven that have followed. 

With enough intrigue to keep the reader engrossed but not scared, this is a series that will particularly appeal to girls and given the threat of looming lockdowns, would be perfect to have on hand for a binge read if it is new to the reader, or to catch up if it is already a favourite.