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Pests: Mouse in Training

Pests

Pests:Mouse in Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pests: Mouse in Training

Emer Stamp

Hodder Children’s, 2020

190pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781444949629

Stix is the size of an egg cup, can jump the width of a dog’s bottom, and LOVES cheese. That’s because Stix is a mouse. He probably lives behind your washing machine, but you wouldn’t know it, because his grandma taught him to always stay out of trouble and NEVER let the humans know he’s there. But disaster strikes and now Stix is left adrift until he stumbles across PESTS – the Peewit Educatorium for Seriously Terrible Scoundrels – in the basement of his building. Along with a whole host of new pesty friends (and enemies), he’s about to rip up Grandma’s rule book – strict rules like ‘never poop in places mans will see’ ensure the deadly Nuke-A-Pest are never called ensuring a peaceful and happy life- and make a REAL pest of himself because a different set of rules apply. 

This year may be the year that our students discover the joys of reading as they look forward to a winter indoors with very little outside activity, so this would be a good story to recommend to newly independent readers who are still bridging the gap between stepping stone “chapter books”and full-text novels. Supported by its own website and  YouTube channel which has lots of videos and activities, including learning how to draw Stix, it will have lots of appeal that should extend over time., particularly as it’s a series.

One to recommend to parents as a read-aloud or a read-alone.

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Kate Knapp

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

 9781460758885

Ruby Red Shoes lives with her grandmother Babushka Galina Galushka and they have a most wonderful relationship because her grandmother wears fluffy slippers to the shops and doesn’t care what others think;   she tells stories from the time of the dinosaurs when she was a little girl; she says big words like ‘quandary’ and ‘hullabaloo’; she belongs to a Book Club that meets once a month and sometimes laugh more than it talks; and she keeps fit through aqua aerobics.  But mostly she’s wonderful because she has x-ray spectacles and she can see deep inside Ruby and knows just what she’s feeling.

In these times when so many little ones are separated from their grandparents, as mine are from me, because of being in that high-risk age group, this could be the perfect opportunity to reflect on the relationships and consider why they are so important. In fact, Ruby invites the reader to do just that.  Perhaps the reflection might inspire a letter or a phone or video call so that connections can be maintained, or maybe the creation of a book just like this one full of special thoughts and memories that can be shared when all this is over and we can get together again.

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother

Peppa Loves Our Planet

Peppa Loves Our Planet

Peppa Loves Our Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppa Loves Our Planet

Ladybird Books, 2020

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

9780241436721

Peppa and her friends are learning about caring for the planet at playgroup and Madame Gazelle asks them each to make a scrapbook that shows the everyday things they do at home to help the planet.  So from walking to school to recycling bottles to using scrap card for their scrapbooks, Peppa and George embrace the task enthusiastically learning that even little changes can make a difference.

This would be an excellent story to share with our youngest readers, particularly at this time when so many are not able to attend school because they, too, could create a Love Our Planet scrapbook and share photos and explanations of what they are doing each day.  Keeping students engaged in their learning could be tricky for parents who are not used to taking on the teacher’s role so having an authentic task such as this and featuring such well-known characters who are already role models will be most welcome.  And sharing new ideas can expand both the task and the learning.

Here’s today’s contribution to my scrapbook – providing our local crimson rosella population with water to drink and bathe in.

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet

Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury 2020 

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

9781408899298

Many of our students now know the name of Greta Thunberg,  but do they know the names of the women on whose shoulders she stands?  With its very visual, colourful layout, this is one of a series from a creator whose own name is synonymous with women who changed the world, and introduces just a handful of the women who have made it their mission to respect and protect the planet.

Young readers are introduced to people such as  Isatou Ceesay  whose recycling of plastic waste into beautiful objects became the beginning of the ban on single-use plastics;. Jane Goodall’s whose work with chimpanzsees is legendary; Anita Roddick and The Body Shop who highlighted the need for fair trade and cruelty-free products;  Wangari Maathai who recognised the dangers of devastating deforestation and planted seeds of change and the two Aboriginal women Eileen Kampakuta Brown and Eileen Wani Wingfield who led the campaign to stop the building of a nuclear waste dump near their desert home of Woomera in South Australia. 

Offering inspiration and evidence that even small things can lead to large outcomes with the most ordinary people doing extraordinary things, it also challenges the reader to consider how they will speak up for the planet. Perhaps these women will become as well-known as today’s activists, but what is more important than their names is the work they did and why we, as a planet, are so much better for that.

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agents of the Wild: Operation Honeyhunt

Jennifer Bell

Alice Lickens

Walker Books, 2020

184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9781406388459

Daughter of world famous botanists who were killed on a flower-collecting expedition in Australia, 8-year-old Agnes now lives with her uncle who doesn’t understand her and certainly doesn’t understand her need or demand for a pet.  For although she now lives in a flat on the 26th floor of an apartment block in a big grey city, she has her parents’ love for the outdoors and being with the creatures in the local park is her favourite thing to do. So when she discovers a mysterious creature on her bed – one who informs her he is an elephant shrew, Rhynchocyn petersi,  Attie (short for “Attenborough”) a field agent for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Atlantic forest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? 

This is a new series for newly independent readers who have an interest in the environment and its preservation, as they can put themselves in the story as they venture into foreign places on important missions.  Avid readers are always looking for new series while those who are more reluctant will appreciate the short chapters and many illustrations. Both will enjoy having a meaty, meaningful story to engross them as they transition from set basal readers to novels.

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost of Howlers Beach

Jackie French

Angus $ Robertson, 2020 

272pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781460757727

 

Butter O’Bryan lives in a Very Small Castle with his father and three aunts – Aunt Elephant, Aunt Cake and Aunt Peculiar. These aren’t their real names, of course, just as Butter’s father isn’t really called ‘Pongo’.

And even though Butter is only twelve years old, and the grandson of one of Australia’s most successful Jam Kings, he is very aware of the hardship many people are experiencing.

Butter has been told there are ghosts at the nearby isolated Howlers Beach, but are there? And how can the children Butter plays cricket with on the beach simply vanish? Who are these children and why do they refuse his help?

The Ghost of Howlers Beach just sounds like one of those old-fashioned Secret Seven or Famous Five stories that generations have enjoyed for years, and in a way, it is. But this one has the unique Jackie French touch of magic, and rather than being a contemporary novel as those adventures were, this one takes the independent reader back to The Depression of the 1930s when the ramifications of World War I were still very evident and the realities of being unemployed, or worse, being a woman without a man but with a family, or even worse, being an indigenous person, are brought to light. With a light hand and intriguing characters, French brings to life life in the “susso camps” ; the great divide between the haves and the have-nots and the ever-present threat of diseases like polio before vaccines were available.

Read against the backdrop of today’s coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide economic collapse, it is very clear how far we have come in less than 100 years in both health, economic and social support and perhaps put things in perspective.

The subtitle to this novel is The Butter O’Bryan Mysteries, #1 and with the cast of characters now set hopefully more will follow quickly as we not only enjoy a good, meaty story but one that teaches us about a time not that long ago but eerily familiar all the same.

The timing of its release is remarkable (set long before the current virus was even heard of) and while there are comparisons that can be made between now and then, knowing that its setting and background are based on reality there is a sense of optimism that current times will pass and we will come out of the other side. Perhaps changed, but definitely intact.

We Catch the Bus

We Catch the Bus

We Catch the Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Catch the Bus

Katie Abey 

Bloomsbury, 2020 

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

9781526607195

A companion to We Eat Bananas and We Wear Pants this is another interactive picture book for young readers encouraging them to find their favourite characters driving or riding on all sorts of transport.  Monkeys flying planes, llamas riding scooters – whether it’s buses, planes, trucks, trains, diggers, cars, bikes, boats, emergency vehicles, tractors or rockets; little ones can hunt for their favourites and hone their visual perception skills as they search the highly detailed illustrations for all sorts of things, including Monkey who is the star of the earlier books. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

As with the others, each double-spread contains speech bubbles, many of them questions that readers can respond to such as counting the red vehicles or searching for the chameleon.  

This is a series of books that keeps on giving as there is so much on offer there is something new to look for and discover with each reading. Even without adult guidance, little ones can pore over the pictures and maybe imagine themselves as part of their favourite.  They learn to search for the details that offer clues to the meaning of the text in a very humorous setting, an important early reading behaviour. 

A great one for preschool or parent recommendations. 

 

I’m Ready… (series)

I'm Ready for Easter

I’m Ready for Easter

I'm Ready for the New Baby

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Ready for Easter

9781760891596

I’m Ready for the New Baby

 9781760891626

14pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

 The days are getting cooler and coloured leaves are falling so Easter must be on its way.  There are lots of things to do in preparation and Master Platypus is very busy choosing colourful treats, hot cross buns, painting eggs and making special hats. Meanwhile Miss Wombat is also very busy preparing for the arrival of a new baby reading stories to the bump and decorating the nursery…

These are the two latest in this charming series (the final two are due in November 2020) that feature young anthropomorphic Australian animals doing the everyday things that young readers resonate with. There is a feeling of anticipation as the big events arrive, just as there is in any family, and our youngest readers will be happy that any concerns they might have are echoed elsewhere – they’re not alone.  

Building on the new development of providing our very earliest readers with stories that engage rather than one-word concept books, in a format that is the right size and robust enough for little hands to manage themselves, these two new episodes will delight as well as encourage those early reading behaviours , particularly role-play reading, that are the foundation of reading success.

Bumblebunnies (series)

Bumblebunnies (series)

Bumblebunnies (series)

BumbleBunnies (series)

Graeme Base

Angus & Robertson, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

The Pond

9781460753941

The Sock

9781460753972

The Gate 

9781460754009

The Balloon

9781460754030

This is a new series by the amazing Graeme Base, written for our earliest readers. Featuring some superhero bunnies , who generally reside in their hutch looking like ordinary white rabbits, and the Wuffle the dog, Lou the cat and Billington the duck, Base uses  simple text and his exquisite detailed artwork to bring everyday incidents to life in story. When Wuffle, Lou and Billington are confronted by situations they can’t handle, the superhero bunnies morph into bees and use their intelligence and unique skills to get the heroes out of potentially dangerous situations.

Apart from being entertaining stories in themselves, the nature of series means that even little ones can learn about each character and carry what they know of them over to the next book.  They will delight in helping the BumbleBunnies choose what is needed for each situation, giving them a sense of power over the words that most stories don’t have, and suggesting the ways that the BumbleBunnies can each use their skills to rescue the situation.

While this is quite a departure from his works for older children, nevertheless, Base’s attention to detail in the illustrations makes them so rich that they demand to be read over and over again with something new to discover each time.

 

 

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

League of Llamas (series)

Aleesah Darlison

Puffin, 2020

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

The Golden Llama 

9781760894160

Llama Impossible

9781760894184

Undercover Llama (July 2020)

9781760894191

Rogue Llama (July 2020)

9781760894207

The League of Llamas (LOL) are a group of secret llama agents and they’re on a mission to save the world – if only Agent 0011 Phillipe Llamar could stop looking in the mirror at his luxurious fringe and Agent 0013 Lloyd Llamanator could resist the temptation to eat everything in his path!

This is a new series for the newly independent reader who is looking for something a little different as the LOL set out to protect the world from the evil badger General Bottomburp – but in a bumbling style somewhat akin to Maxwell Smart of yesteryear rather than the suave smoothness of James Bond, things don’t always go according to plan., providing a lot of laughs along the way. Darlison herself loves llamas, which is why they are the unusual heroes, but her love of language and clever use of it and her ability to hone in on what young emerging readers want to keep them engaged mean that this is a series that will have wide appeal that should hook those enjoying the new-found power of being able to read whatever catches their eye..