Mermaid Holidays (series)

Mermaid Holidays series

Mermaid Holidays series








The Talent Show


The Magic Pearl


The Bake-Off


The Reef Rescue


Delphine Davis

Adele K. Thomas

Puffin, 2019

128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99


Sophia, Willow, Chloe and Olivia have been best friends since they were merbies. Even though they don’t go to school together, whenever they come home to Turtleville for the holidays, they are inseparable. And these school holidays, their home town Turtleville is holding its first ever talent show, and of course the mermaids have to enter.  But Sophie insists that their act has to be led by her singing, even though none of the others can sing and dislike doing so. Chloe prefers to rap, Willow plays the shell trumpet and Olivia loves to dance.  But when even Sophia’s compromise act still focuses on her singing, there is a danger of their entry being all about Sophia…

This is the first in a four-book series, each episode featuring on a different mermaid and their cast of ocean family and friends and each with underlying themes of friendship, teamwork, individuality and compassion.  Written in short, easy-to-read chapters and with lots of illustrations, it will appeal to young female readers who are transitioning to novels from their instructional readers. The second in the series, The Magic Pearl was released in July, the third,The Bake-Off in September and the fourth, The Reef Rescue will be here before Christmas, so readers don’t have to wait too long in between one story and the next. 

Mermaids, along with unicorns, are very much part of the lifestyle of young girls these days, so this is a series with characters that will appeal immediately and encourage our emerging readers to keep reading. 

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)

Unicorn Academy (series)











Unicorn Academy (series)

Julie Sykes

Lucy Truman

Nosy Crow, 2019

112pp., pbk, RRP $A12.99


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.

Ravi’s Roar

Ravi's Roar

Ravi’s Roar











Ravi’s Roar

Tom Percival

Bloomsbury, 2019

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


Ravi is the smallest one in his family – smaller and younger than Kiran, Jaya and Anil – and most of the time, he is OK with that.  But sometimes it wasn’t the best thing – being last to get a seat on the train, too small to find the others during hide-and-seek; too little for the giant slide… After a most frustrating day at the park, Ravi’s frustration gets the better of him and he lets out the loudest roar.  A roar so loud that he turns into a tiger!!!

At first, Ravi likes his tiger-power and makes the most of it but soon, the novelty wears off as he discovers its consequences…

A companion to Perfectly Norman and Ruby’s Worry , Percival has once again hit the nail on the head by focusing on real issues that are common to his readers and turning them into a story which helps them to deal with the emotions and understand and manage their feelings. It’s a great discussion starter for letting little ones talk about what makes them really angry and, while learning that anger and frustration are normal human emotions, how they can express their feelings without giving into full-blown temper tantrums that only upset them and everyone else, and don’t get them what they want. They can learn that anger is usually born from frustration and that perhaps rather than roaring like a tiger, they might be able to find a way through the frustration. One for the mindfulness collection.

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas

Searching for Cicadas










Searching for Cicadas

Lesley Gibbes

Judy Watson

Walker Books, 2019

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


It is one of the distinctive sounds of summer in Australia and Grandpa and Child are going in search of its creator – the cicada.  Packing up their tent and other supplies in the little wagon, they head off to Apex Reserve to wait and watch with the other families. At sunset the noise starts  – the male calling for a mate – and the hunt begins.  Last year they saw Green Grocers, Yellow Monday sand a Floury Baker.  Will they be lucky this year and find the elusive Black Prince?

Packed with facts both in the story and in the accompanying  information paragraphs, this is another in the stunning Nature Storybooks collection that teaches our young readers about our unique fauna within the context of a picture book story.  In this case it highlights one of those special relationships children have with adults, that when they themselves are an adult, they will look back on with fond memories and perhaps try to replicate them with their own offspring.  I know my memories of time spent with my grandfather have shaped my relationships with my granddaughters. 

As well as the information within the story, there is also a summary about the cicada and an index to take the reader back to the relevant pages so that even from a very young age, little ones can begin to understand the structure of non fiction and how to use it to learn more.

Fact or fiction? This is a line-crosser that is quite simply, brilliant.  Loved it (even though I’m not a fan of anything with more than four legs.)

My Dad is a Dragon

My Dad is a Dragon

My Dad is a Dragon










My Dad is a Dragon

Damon Young

Peter Carnavas

UQP, 2019

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

Some dads pull billycarts

painted blue and black.

But my dad is a dragon…

I sit upon his scaly back!

Dads do some amazing things in their lives and this is a celebration of their diversity whether they have “pointy pencils for designing bridges” or “tough trolleys for hauling heavy fridges” but what if your dad was really different? What if he were a dragon?

Often the acknowledgement of Father’s Day in schools is overshadowed by the celebrations of Book Week or it is kept low-key because so many children do not have live-at-home fathers, but nevertheless the role of a dad in a child’s life is critical and so this is the perfect book to add to your collection about families and diversity.  Superbly illustrated by Peter Carnavas, who himself might be considered a dad who is different because his daily life is not that of many fathers, this opens up the scope for a discussion on how dads are different and how they show us they love us.  Because even if the dad is not on the scene full-time for whatever reason, it is a rare dad who does not love his kids. Maybe it is that very absence that is the demonstration – protecting his children from a life of arguments and hostility after a relationship breaks down.  It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on how our dads influence our lives and the choices we make.  How many sporting heroes have followed their father’s footsteps?  How many budding architects or musicians or whatevers have fathers who have led the way?

One of a series of stories that takes a light-hearted look at family relationships, nevertheless, there is more to this than meets the eye.

Ten Minutes to Bed (series)

Ten Minutes to Bed

Ten Minutes to Bed

Ten Minutes to Bed (series)

Little Mermaid


Little Monster


The Little Unicorn


Rhiannon Fielding

Christ Chatterton

Ladybird, 2018

32pp., pbk., $A14.99

Magical creatures live in the Land of Nod, but each of them is not keen on going to bed because they are having too much fun.  But sleep they must if they are to be ready for more fun tomorrow and so using rhyme and enchanting illustrations, author and artist take both the characters and the young reader on a calming countdown to bedtime leading them gently to the land of sleep.

Beginning and ending with maps of The Land of Nod which are subtly different, and the appearance of a tiny creature on each page to encourage attention to detail, each story becomes a gentle lullaby to help draw the curtains on the day and help even the most rambunctious little one understand that everything needs to sleep at some time.

Even though the stories are available on the screen, there is nothing as precious as the bond established between parent and child through sharing stories during those ten minutes to bedtime so this is perfect for parents starting the bedtime story routine and wanting to complete it with the same story each night, this series would be an ideal gift for them or their child to encourage a love for stories and the magic they hold.


Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece (Nursery Crimes: Case 1)

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece









Baaa Baa Black Sheep, The Fleeced Fleece

John Barwick

Dave Atze

Big Sky, 2019

120pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Sheep go to a lot of trouble to grow their wool to keep themselves warm, but as soon as it gets to a certain length the farmer shears it off and sells it, often making a lot of money for it, particularly if it is black like Baaa Baa’s. Surrounded by high fences, spotlights and video cameras so neither she nor her wool could be stolen, Baaa Baa was fed the best food and was shorn twice a year whereas her lighter cousins were only shorn once. Once shorn the wool was stored in a closely-monitored control centre with television surveillance so it is certainly precious. So when Farmer Fred sells one of the three precious bags to the local headmaster, another to Dame Horrida and the third to Theodore Thumpnose, the local bully, when he could have got much for it at the wool market, suspicions are raised….

This is the first of seven stories investigating the crimes in the nursery rhymes that little ones hear so often. Told in an interesting style where the narrator and an imaginary reader engage in a conversation, as  though the narrator is anticipating the questions a real reader might ask, it is engaging and different and designed to appeal to the newly-independent reader who is ready to move on but would still benefit from the familiarity of known characters.  It is reminiscent of the fractured fairytale format where something well-known is turned on its head and examined more closely, told from a different perspective and raises issues that might not otherwise have been thought about. 

Cleverly illustrated by David Atze that takes it out of the realm of the usual cutsie graphics of nursery rhymes, this is fun and perfect for those who like something out of left-field.

Rabbit’s Hop: A Tiger & Friends book

Rabbit's Hop

Rabbit’s Hop









Rabbit’s Hop

Alex Rance

Shane  McG

Allen & Unwin, 2019 

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


Jack Rabbit loved Rabbit Island. He loved his friends and family and all the little rabbits. He loved being the best at hopping and chomping and (nearly the best) at zigzagging. As he taught the little rabbits to hop and chomp and zigzag, he encouraged them to be kind, work hard and enjoy themselves, a mantra that he finds himself putting into practice as he makes his way from his comfort zone of Rabbit Island to the unknown of Big Island at the invitation of his cousin Roo.

This is an entertaining tale that encourages young readers to have the confidence to take risks and explore a world wider than the one they know. A sequel to Tiger’s Roar it continues the positive message of self-belief, unselfishness and perseverance that young readers need to hear and see in practice.  And to add a twist, a series of letters from the key characters on the final page sets up the series for its next episode.  

Just a happy, charming series about friendships and our dependence on one another to be our best selves.


Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)

Girl Geeks (series)









The Hackathon


Game On


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. 


Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express












Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express

Laura James

Emily Fox

Bloomsbury, 2019

128pp/. pbk., RRP $A12.99


In a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee lives the world’s greatest flamingo detective. His name is Fabio. He’s not tall or strong, but slight and pink. And he’s very, very clever.

It’s the height of summer and Fabio and his associate Gilbert are taking a relaxing holiday journey on the fastest train in the world! But no sooner does the conductor call ‘All aboard’ than a very expensive ruby necklace disappears and the great detective is back on the case!

This is the second book in the hilarious illustrated mystery series by the author of PiratePug, and it is perfect for newly independent readers who require a larger font. short chapters and illustrations to support their reading.  The second in the series  – the first is The Case of the Missing Hippo ,  the third Peril at Lizard Lake will be available in the new year – it introduces young readers to the mystery genre as Fabio tries to discover who stole the necklace with slightly offbeat characters. Can they solve the mystery before Fabio?