What is a Virus?

What is a Virus?

What is a Virus?









What is a Virus?

Katie Daynes

Kirsti Beautyman

Usborne, 2021

14pp., board book, RRP $A19.99


If there is one word that children of today know as well as their name it is “virus”. So much of their lives have been affected by this tiny, invisible thing that has had such huge impact.  But what is a virus? Using the successful Lift-the-Flap Q&A format of others in this series, readers can investigate just what a virus is, discovering that there are many more than just COVID 19! They also learn the importance of the rules like social distancing, washing their hands and other personal hygiene issues, important because if they understand the why about the what they are more likely to comply. it also alleviates some of the fear that their imaginations can conjure up.

In the past we have been teaching our littlies about why they need to eat well, sleep long and play hard to have a healthy body and preventing illness has been a peripheral, but things have changed and this is an important addition to the collection so they can better understand this thing that is going to shadow their lives for a long time to come.

Noisy Tom

Noisy Tom

Noisy Tom









Noisy Tom

Jane Martino

Annie White

Puffin, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


No matter what he does, Tom is noisy.  There is not an activity that he does that is not accompanied by boisterous, enthusiastic sound effects. “When I’m playing, noise just spills out of me. “

But one day at the park when he sees two girls playing on the swings and not making any noise at all, he is puzzled. When he asks them whether they enjoyed the swings because they did not make a sound, they tell him that they enjoy the feel of the movement, the sensation of the cold air on their faces and although Tom also enjoys that, he is still confused.

Although he learns that there are lots of ways to express your feelings, loudly and quietly, and it is different for each person, for him loud wins.  

This is the third in this series that focuses on young children, enabling them to understand their feelings and responses and be a pre-emptive strike towards positive mental health. Our youngest readers will enjoy its exuberance and will see themselves either as Tom or one of the quieter characters.  Most importantly, they will begin to understand that being different is OK and being yourself is paramount.  

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)

The Grade Six Survival Guide (series)










School Rules are Optional 


A Class Full of Lizards


Alison Hart

Allen $ Unwin, 2021

208pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

In the first in this series which takes a fun look at life in Year 6, Jesse is in his final year of primary school and should be living it up as one of the ‘Kings’, but he can’t even get his Prep buddy to follow school rules. There is a a plumbing problem the size of Niagara Falls, not to mention the dreaded compulsory school camp.

“It’s the first day of school and I’ve already got three problems:
1) Mrs Leeman is my classroom teacher. She’s so ancient she taught my dad.
2) I might have accidentally been voted school captain. I had an unusually popular day when the class voted last year.
3) Somehow I’ve lost my Grade Six jumper between receiving it and Mrs Leeman’s lecture about being responsible.

That’s a lot to go wrong in half an hour. On top of that, it’s a million degrees. So that’s four problems. It’s worse than I thought! At least things can only get better, right?

In the second book his problems continue as he returns from holidays, not the least of which is the class being overrun by lizards.

Although focused on that final year of primary school, this is a duo that will appeal to those independent readers who are looking for something similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid  with characters and situations that are familiar and thus relatable.  A funny, light read that will take the mystery out of Year 6 and entertain even the most reluctant readers. 

















Christopher Cheng

Liz Duthie

Walker Books, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99


Even though they can be destructive, ornery and bite the unwary really hard, wombats still rank high among children’s favourite Australian animals. So this new addition to the Nature Storybook series,  released today,  will be a welcome addition to the collection.

Given the bushfires of last summer and now the floods of this autumn, the plight of Australia’s native creatures has never been so precarious or prominent as young readers begin to understand the impact of these natural disasters on habitat and food supplies.  Therefore, this story about the life of a wombat, looking at the interesting way these animals build their homes, look after their family and protect themselves from predators is very timely. From the day breaking as she snuggles down in her burrow where the tree roots mesh to marking her territory as she is a solitary creature, to having to defend herself and her little jellybean-like baby against the dingo, Cheng has crafted the most compelling story, accompanied not only by stunning illustrations from Duthie but also lots of wombat facts as imagination and information sit comfortably side by side in this narrative non fiction format that makes so much available to our young readers. 

Chris Cheng is at his best when he meshes his meticulous research with his way with words and this sits very well along Python, his other contribution to this series and his many others stories for children, my personal, long-term, yet-to-be-beaten favourite being One Child

A must-have for any collection that meets the needs of any children with a liking for or an interest in these unique creatures.  

And if you would like to get your students started on writing faction, beginning with a wombat focus, then From Fact to Faction(e:update 011, 2012) written by me is available to Primary English Teachers’ Association Australia members.


Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo










Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

Kylie Howarth

Walker, 2021

160pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Originally, Bodhi did not share his parents’ love of the underwater world – his dad is a marine biologist and his mum an underwater photographer – and while they travelled the world together to explore what really happens beneath the surface, he preferred dry land until he discovered he had magical powers…

In the third in this series that introduces the reader to life beneath the waves and the hazards the inhabitants face,  the reader is taken to the Maldives where Fish Kid’s friendship with bestie, Emely, soon hits a snag during a tricky sea turtle rescue. Secretly wishing for powers of her own, Emely’s strange behaviour leaves Fish Kid wondering if their friendship and the super-sick turtle will survive. And if things weren’t bad enough, another turtle from the sanctuary goes missing. 

Full of action, adventure and humour, and all the techniques proven perfect for supporting those transitioning to longer novels, this series also includes fact boxes about the various creatures encountered and draws on the author’s personal knowledge of the world under the waves enriching the reader’s understanding and awakening an awareness to protect it. 

A powerful series that hopefully will inspire young readers to wonder and find out more, perhaps even be like Miss 14 who is currently studying oceanography and marine biology in Year 9 and undertaking her diver’s qualification!  The power of story to spark the “what if…” and while a mask and scuba tank aren’t quite the same as Bodhi’s powers, they work just fine!


Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force











Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force

Allison Paterson

Big Sky, 2021

72pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


As our nation prepares to honour those who have served this country in both war and peace on ANZAC Day 2021,  once again we will see and hold commemorations that while confronting in their origins are comforting in their familiarity. Regardless of which town or city we are in, there will be many aspects of the services that are familiar because they have been traditionally associated with ANZAC Day (and other remembrance days) for over a century.

In this new book, a companion to Australia Remembers  the author has worked closely with the Department of Defence and History and Heritage units of the Navy, Army & RAAF to deliver answers to questions I have often been asked as a teacher on our major days of commemoration, Beginning with answering the question “Why do we have customs and traditions?,  chapters address items such as mottos, codes, music, parades and drills, flags, banners and pennants, badges and awards, ranks, uniforms, animals and mascots and many other elements that go together to make up these special days.  It is more than just pomp and pageantry – there is a story behind each story!

With hundreds of photos, easily accessible language and all the supports needed to navigate the text easily, this is a fascinating look behind the scenes enabling students to have a better understanding of not just the overall ceremony but why things are done the way they are. Having been a teacher librarian for over 20 years, the author knows just what is needed to make a text student-friendly.

Remembering those who have served has a prominent and rightful place in the ceremonial life of our schools, as was demonstrated in 2020 when thousands stood at dawn in their driveways because COVID-19 prevented them from participating in the traditional assemblies (itself the beginning of a new tradition) and this new volume in this series  is another significant contribution to the library collection so that the memories and the understanding continue.

It will joined by Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly in September, which tells the story of Kamilaroi man Len Waters, who, during World War II became Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.


Little Owl’s Bathtime

Little Owl's Bathtime

Little Owl’s Bathtime











Little Owl’s Bathtime

Debi Gliori

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2021

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Little Owl is back in another adventure that will resonate with our youngest readers as he tries everything he can think of to continue playing King of the Castle and avoid having a bath. Bathtime means the end of the day and the end of the fun. But Mummy Owl has a few tricks up her sleeve and entices him to wallow in Bubble Mountain and play with the Giant Invisible Penguin, so much so that Little Owl doesn’t want to get out. 

As with the others in this series, Gliori and Brown have combined to create a story around a familiar activity that the target audience will recognise and get great fun from.  Even if they can’t outwit their parents who are trying to bather them, they will have a host of new excuses to try out, while their parents may get some tips to deal with the situation without needing tears and tantrums.

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar












Carly Mills Pioneer Girl : Superstar

Jane Smith

Big Sky, 2021

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.50


When Carly Mills goes to Melbourne with the school choir, she gets more than she expected.  Thanks to her magic shawl that transports her back in time, she takes a trip back to 1867 and a chance meeting with a mischievous little girl who might just grow up to be the world famous opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba. If Carly is to help the little girl achieve her dream, she will have to endure Nellie’s practical jokes, an angry headmaster, and her father’s belief that opera is not a fit career for a lady. Not to mention Simone’s bad moods and Dora’s terrible singing. But at the same time, she discovers her own abilities to persevere if she wants to make her own dreams come true. 

This is the third in this series, written for newly-independent readers who are interested in learning about the lives of women who have shaped history  With a mix of fictional characters like Carly and real-life women it brings them  alive in a more personal way through the narrative and showing how what the characters learn can be applied to the modern world. With her own website, and a host of resources for teachers and students, this is a series that will appeal to young girls in a similar way that Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy appeals to young boys. 


The Couch Potato

The Couch Potato

The Couch Potato










The Couch Potato

Jory John

Pete Oswald

HarperCollins US, 2021

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


There is nothing that Couch Potato likes more that slouching on the couch.  In fact it spends all its free time in the exact spot on its comfy cosy couch, and really, there is no reason to move.  With a range of gadgets – even one that fetches its snacks – and a wall of shimmering screens in front of it,  it can control its entire life all the time with a few taps and a couple of clicks.

Life is perfect until… there is a power outage! Suddenly everything goes dark and Couch Potato is forced to open the curtains to let some light in where it sees the outdoors for the first time in a long time and it is tempted outside…

This is a new addition to Jory John’s collection of modern cautionary tales for young readers joining The Good Egg , The Bad Seed. and The Cool Bean. Encouraging those who prefer to live their lives vicariously through the screen to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and being actively involved with friends, it opens up investigations into a healthy lifestyle and the need for balance. A timely reminder given the events of the past year.


Rise of the Mythix (series)

Rise of Mythix (series)

Rise of the Mythix (series)











Rise of the Mythix (series)

Golden Unicorn


Mighty Minotaur


Flight of the Griffin


Anh Do

Allen & Unwin, 2020-2021

200pp.,. pbk., RRP $A15.99

The tyrant known as the Soul Collector (who is a physically weak man filled with greed who boosts his energy with his daily rituals) hunts down anything that is beautiful, unusual or unique. Among is his collection are  The Holy Grail and Lucifer’s Ring, artefacts of Heaven and Hell which he has united in defiance against their creators.

Stanley is the Collector’s finder. He hates his master and wants to change his situation. He discovers an ancient text on Prophesies and Portents that speak of three instruments of power – The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin, that will return in human form, unite, and restore balance and harmony to the Kingdom.

Kelly, who is trying hard to be an ordinary teenager and fit in with her peers,  finds that every day her powers are growing: she can run faster than the wind, she can hear people’s thoughts, she is not normal. So when he captures Kelly Smith’s mother and holds her hostage after Kelly and Stanley escape his attempts to capture them,  she knows she can’t linger in the shadows any longer. But who is she really? Can she be the one in the prophecy? Is she…the Golden Unicorn?

The Golden Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin – Only these three united to a common purpose can fell him who seeks to triumph over all. 

Kelly didn’t believe in ancient prophecies. But now she must. And she needs to find the Minotaur.

Meanwhile, Minh knows something epic is going on. His body is changing; his strength is otherworldly. But he has no idea that this is just the beginning…

Kelly and Minh must help each other if they are to have any hope of rescuing the people they love. )The king of beasts and the lord of birds, together once more, will know a third companion, as the days grow dim.  The Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin are united at last. Surely together they will be unstoppable!

But the Collector is not going to give up without an epic fight, and not all the beasts of legend are on the side of good …

Have Kelly, Minh and Jimmy met their match? Will the prophecy fail just when it looks most like coming true?

Anh Do is one of Australia’s most popular writers for young, independent readers for good reason  and this series is one that may well tempt the lover of Weirdo and Ninja Kid up to the next level of their reading journey, just because of his name alone. Fast moving, well-illustrated and moving within that superhero domain that is so popular right now, with characters that appeal to a wide audience, it is a series for more mature readers which may open them up to discovering more about these mythical creatures of ancient times.