Paddington Bear – 60th anniversary

Paddington at St Pauls

Paddington at St Pauls










Paddington at St Pauls

Michael Bond

R. W. Alley

HarperCollins, 2018 

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


Sixty years ago today, on October 13, 1958 a small bear with a blue coat, a red hat, a suitcase and a note pinned to his coat which read “Please look after this bear” was found by the Brown family at Paddington Station London.  Sent from darkest Peru by his Aunt Lucy who has gone into a retirement home, the little bear was a stowaway on a lifeboat where he survived on marmalade until the Browns renamed him Paddington and took him to their home at 32 Windsor Gardens near Notting Hill. 

And so began a great series of adventures culminating in this final addition, completed before Bond’s death in June 2017 and issued to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Paddington’s arrival.

Also being released are anniversary editions of the main Paddington Bear series, each of which has a number of chapters which work either as a continuing story or a stand-alone episode, making them perfect as read-alouds to get the child used to the concept of the continuing characters in novels or read-alones for the newly independent reader.


The Paddington Collection

The Paddington Collection

With more than 35 million copies sold worldwide, translated into 40 languages, television and features movies, Paddington Bear is arguably one of the most favourite bears in the world.  To have the stories republished, an exquisite gift edition of the first story with the original illustrations by Peggy Fortnum, and this final chapter is indeed a fitting anniversary gift to introduce a new generation to this series inspired by a lone teddy that Bond saw on a shelf in a London toy store and the children who were evacuated from English cities during World War II. 

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare










The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

Shannon Hale & dean Hale

LeUyen Pham

Candlewick Press, 2018 

96pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


On the outside, Princess Magnolia looks like the perfect princess – a pretty face, golden curls, sparkly tiara, glass slippers, and conventional-princess pink-on-pink ensemble – but she has a secret.   Her castle is near a hole in the ceiling of Monster Land and so she frequently has to fight and vanquish the monsters that sneak out, and when she does so she turns into her alter ego, the Princess in Black. Whenever her glitterstone ring sounds an alarm that a monster is near, she dons a black costume even though “princesses don’t wear black”, presses a switch to turn her sceptre into a staff and jumps onto Frimplepants her unicorn who becomes Blacky her fearless steed whenever its glitterstone horseshoe rings!

In this, the sixth episode in this popular series, Princess Magnolia is excited and nervous because she is going to the Interkingdom Science Fair to present her poster about seeds and plants. When she arrives, she sees that her friends are there too, each with their own entry. Princess Honeysuckle has made a mole habitat, Princess Sneezewort has built a blanket fort, and Tommy Wigtower has a talking volcano that’s saying “EAAAAT!” Wait, what? Surely there are no monsters here! But a surprise goo monster makes this a job for the Princess in Black…

Combining princesses and superheroes, short chapters and lavishly illustrated,  this is a popular series that young girls who are newly independent readers will like and look forward to as it offers protagonists who are resilient, resourceful, and inclusive. 

For those who want to use this as a teaching tool to compare the stereotypical view of princesses with the new emerging picture there are some useful teaching notes available


Lemonade Jones

Lemonade Jones

Lemonade Jones










Lemonade Jones

Davina Bell

Karen Blair

Allen & Unwin, 2018

64pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Lemonade Jones is stating Year One at a new school and as confident and self-assured as ever, she is sure she will be fine and indeed, knowing as much as she already does, she will be a help to her teacher. But this school is quite different from the one where she spent her Kindergarten year and which has closed down.  For starters, she and best friend Clark Dark are not in the same classroom and  her new teacher is more formal than she is used to.  There are classroom rules to conform to but viewing the world in the black-and-white, literal way of six-year-olds, Lemonade has trouble accepting these, challenges them and finds herself in the Quiet Corner before the end of her very first day! Will she ever fit in?

This is a new series – this one has two separate stories – designed to appeal to the young Year One reader and presented in a way that they can either read it alone or hear it as a read-aloud.  Either way, young girls will relate to Lemonade as they recognise familiar scenarios, support Lemonade’s perspective and learn that things can be different and they may not always be the centre of attention.  There are plenty of charming colourful illustrations that means it straddles the line between picture book and stepping-stone novel and two stories in one book mean young readers do not have to wait too long for the sequel.

A new series for fans of Junie B. Jones, Billie B. Brown, Lottie Perkins and Clementine Rose.

Just So Stories (series)

Just So Stories

Just So Stories







Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories

John Joven

Usborne, 2018

24pp.,. pbk., RRP $A12.99

How the Camel Got his Hump


Why the Kangaroo Jumps


Since 1902 when Rudyard Kipling began to explain how certain creatures got their distinguishing features as bedtime stories to his daughter Josephine, children have been fascinated by this collection known as the Just So Stories”, apparently because Josephine said they had to be told, “Just so.” 

Continuously in print for almost 120 years, this new collection has been retold by a number of different authors and pulled together into a collection for a new generation by the distinctive illustrations of John Joven.  

Young readers will delight in speculating about why kangaroos jump and why the camel has a hump and then comparing their ideas to those of Kipling.  Just two of a series that includes How the Elephant got his Trunk, How the Rhino Got His Skin. and How the Leopard got his Spots. 

Classics reads that are a must-have in any child’s literary and literature journey.


Boats: Fast & Slow

Boats: Fast & Slow

Boats: Fast & Slow









Boats: Fast & Slow

Iris Volant

Jarom Vogel

Flying Eye, 2018

48pp., hbk., RRP $27.99


A boat is defined as “any vessel that is able to carry people across water” regardless of their size, propulsion, or the water body they are used on.  Since the earliest days of human history, particularly since people settled rather than roamed, boats have had a significant role in the exploration and development of this planet. 

From early rafts of woven reeds and animal skins to canoes carved from logs to the introduction of steam power and with a few stops to explore famous boats like the HMS Beagle and the Titanic, this book introduces young readers to this mode of transportation, highlighting how important it is to everyday life.  Extensively illustrated with short, informative passages of text, young readers can follow the journey of development and begin to consider what Australia, an island continent, might have been like without the invention of floating safely on water.  As they read about the role of boats, they will also learn that there are other significant names apart from those of Endeavour and The First Fleet, perhaps sparking their own investigations into all things nautical including boating sports, lighthouses, shipwrecks, military craft through the ages and so on.  Those with a scientific bent might like to investigate how those huge ocean liners can stay afloat.

Like its predecessor, Horses Wild and Tame, this is a dip and delve book designed to introduce young readers to the importance of some things in the development of civilisation that they might not have thought about or have taken for granted. It is what I call a pebble-in-the-pond book because its core subject can spark the reader into exploring an entire circle of different aspects of the topic leading to diverse and different discoveries depending on their particular interest.  Using a focus question such as Why have boats been important to human development? it is perfect for getting young students to learn to pose their own questions to answer while developing information literacy skills that have context and meaning for them personally and covering every facet of the curriculum. 

A worthwhile addition to the library’s collection or for any child fascinated by water craft, what they can do, and the people associated with them.

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo

Find Spot at the Zoo








Find Spot at the Zoo

Eric Hill

Puffin, 2018

16pp., board book., RRP $A14.99


Spot and his family enjoy exploring  the wildlife park and meeting lots of new animals along the way but when he disappears, his parents have to search for him, looking behind the flaps to see if he is hiding.  Where can he be?

In 1980, a generation of children fell in love with Spot and his adventures in the iconic series with its humour, bold, bright pictures, minimal but bold text and the lift-the-flap features that invited exploration and engagement.  So this new series with its familiar format and humour will appeal to a new generation, likely the children of the original. It is perfect for starting their initial concepts about books and print and its interactivity will encourage not only a lot of re-reads but also sitting down and telling themselves the story.  #unabashedspotfan

It’s also an opportunity to talk about how Spot’s parents feel when they can’t find him and the importance of sticking together in unfamiliar places.



Lulu at the Zoo

Lulu at the Zoo

Lulu at the Zoo









Lulu at the Zoo

Camilla Reid

Ailie Busby

Bloomsbury, 2018 

20pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


Lulu is visiting the zoo with her mummy and her favourite toy, Rabbity.  With everything packed, they catch the bus and off they go, ready to meet all sorts of creatures. But when Lulu discovers she has lost Rabbity, she is very upset and they have to hunt for her.

This is another in the Lulu series designed to introduce preschoolers to new adventures and help them talk about those they have already experienced.  There are lots of flaps to lift to discover what’s underneath, engaging the young child not only in the story but offering them the opportunity to share their own stories. 

Stories about going to the zoo are not new but this one will be new to our youngest readers and they will learn that books have lots of fun inside them.

Ariki and the Giant Shark

Ariki and the Giant Shark

Ariki and the Giant Shark










Ariki and the Giant Shark

Nicola Davies

Nicola Kinnear

Walker Books, 2018

144pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Washed up on the shores of Turtle Island in her cradle, no one knows quite where Ariki has come from and the islanders wanted to put her back on the waves, but Arohaka said she was a gift from the ocean and a gift should never be refused.  So he becomes her guardian although no matter how long she lives there, she is not accepted as one of them – by the adults or the children.

Protected by her distinctive tattoos which are different from those of the other children, Ariki loves to spend her days in the sea rather than doing chores.  An excellent swimmer, her favourite game is to catch the tail of the baby yellow moon sharks and hitch a ride around the lagoon while they are too young to turn and bite her.  She is more at home in the sea than on the land, and on the day her life is saved from the jaws of the nihui by a shark bigger than she has ever seen, life changes for her.  Struck by drought, the islanders are struggling to find food and when two of the island’s fishermen tell a tale of a large creature that scares the nihui and almost bites their boat in half, leaving behind a tooth bigger than a man’s hand, then fear strikes and the islanders are frightened to go into the sea. They are determined to kill this monster but Ariki, her friend Ipo, Arohaka and the children have other ideas…

This is the first in a new series from zoologist Nicola Davies and as well as being an entertaining read, her knowledge of the ocean, its ways and its creatures gives an added dimension of authenticity.  Ariki is a strong, independent feisty heroine who is content with herself despite the ridicule of her peers and her friend Ipo also shows similar resilience as he deals with his own issues. Highly original, well-written and utterly engaging, this is the perfect read for those who are independent readers moving on from beginner novels. 


The Champion Charlies (series)

Champion Charlies

Champion Charlies






The Champion Charlies

Adrian Beck

Random House, 2018 

152pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


The Mix-Up


Boot It


The Knockout Cup


The Grand Finale



Charles was the best player in the boys’ football team and Charlotte was the best player in the girls’ side.  But this season they’re both playing in the same mixed team.

Is there room for two champion Charlies on the one side? Can they get past their rivalry to help form the greatest football team Jindaberg Primary has ever seen?

Developed in partnership with Football Federation Australia and released in time for the FIFA World Cup, soccer fans will enjoy this new series, particularly those who are newly independent readers as there is a lot of textual and graphic support to sustain their efforts. With characters the reader can relate to, familiar obstacles to overcome and an in-built rivalry as well as the external one of playing another team, each episode builds up into a page-turning climax that makes you want to find out what happened.

There are four in the series – The Mix Up, Boot It, The Knockout Cup and The Grand Finale – each leading on from the other and fans will be happy that the final two have now been released! 

Currently soccer-mad Miss 7’s favourite series, they have been the perfect bridge into novels for her and she is eagerly waiting for these new ones to be in her mailbox so she can find out what happens and put what she learns into practice on the field! 

Another great series focusing on Australian sports and familiar names that not only encourages our children to read but also get outdoors and play.

A Boy Called BAT

A Boy Called BAT

A Boy Called BAT










A Boy Called BAT

Elana K. Arnold

Charles Santose

Walden Pond, 2018

208pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


Bixby Alexander Tam, known to those who know him as BAT because of his initials, his love of animals and the way his arms and hands flap when he gets excited, prefers life to be logical, predictable, routine and without surprises. He’s not good with noise (so wears his sister Janie’s earmuffs often), doesn’t like the mushy texture of some foods, is sensitive to the feel of fabrics on his skin and finds it difficult to make eye contact and hold casual conversations. Clearly, to even a non-teacher who doesn’t know the signs of being on the autism spectrum, this is a little boy with  special needs. But Bat is not unhappy or frustrated – his mum, sister and teacher are sensitive to his needs, his peers seem to accept him for who he is, and although his father, whom he stays with “every-other-Friday” seems to struggle a little with his non-sporty son, generally Bat is content and just gets on with things.

But when his mum, a vet, brings home a newborn skunk that needs special care, Bat comes into his own, devoting his life to caring for the kit and planning how he will be able to keep it and care for it beyond the initial few weeks before the local wildlife refuge can take over. He needs to show his mum that he is responsible and committed enough, even contacting a skunk expert for advice. 

This is an engaging story that shows the reader the world through Bat’s eyes but which is not patronising, sentimental or emotional.  Bat’s autism adds a different and interesting perspective to the relationships between the characters but the concept of an eight-year-old taking care of an orphaned animal and hoping to keep it longer is a story that could be about any young person.  I believe that all children should be able to read about themselves in stories, and those about autistic children are rare, so this one which has such a solid, familiar storyline so every reader can relate to it while learning about the world through unfamiliar eyes, is a must-have.  Its sequel Bat and the Waiting Game is also available in hardcover.