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Shockingly Good Stories

Shockingly Good Stories

Shockingly Good Stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shockingly Good Stories

R. A. Spratt

Puffin Books, 2021

240pp/. pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761043376

Begin a collection of short stories with the foreword…

This collection of short stories was created to be shared during a challenging time. They were written to be read aloud, preferably in silly voices. So be brave, set dignity aside and go for it.”

Couple that with tips like inserting family members into the roles of the wicked and the weird to personalise the stories and adding in a shouted BOOM or KAPOW deliberately to startle the child so they don’t fall asleep before the end and you know this will be collection that will engage and entertain,  But better still, have the creator of the stories be the same person behind such memorable characters as Nanny Piggins, Friday Barnes and the Peski Kids   and immediately you are building anticipation  for a fun family reading time. 

Fractured fairytales, new adventures with Friday Barnes and a host of other weird and wacky adventures make this a great collection to share and there is also a collection of 75 stories on Spratt’s Spotify channel. Details are on her website.

And having shared and laughed your way through all the tales, the backword encourages the reader to make up some “outrageously silly and unbelievably wild’ stories of their own, even providing a blank page to get them started!!!

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing D’Lila LaRue

Nette Hilton

A. Yi

Walker, 2021

128pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760652562

D’Lila LaRue lives in the smallest house with the neatest fence and the rosiest garden in the street with her trusty sidekick, Nanny-Anny (who is probably very old but it doesn’t matter). This trilogy of stories features D’Lila and Nanny-Anny sharing many fun-filled adventures, whether it’s by building an award-winning rose garden, becoming an artist, or attending a favourite play. Even if things don’t go exactly to plan . . .

Books with engaging characters and modern scenarios for newly independent readers are always welcome particularly if, like this one, they engage the reader immediately and support them on their continuing reading journey. But Nette Hilton is a very experienced author and knows just what is needed for this age group starting with a feisty young miss whose parents are absent so there are no constraints apart from Nanny-Anny whom D’Lila has twisted around her little finger. Short snappy chapters and stories, humour and could-happen-to-me circumstances mean this is one that young girls will love. 

The Book of Hopes

The Book of Hopes

The Book of Hopes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Hopes

Bloomsbury, 2021

400pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781526629883

Even though much is being made of the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine rollout and the messages of hope and optimism that are being spread with it, Australia, although in a “comfortable” position, is not out of the woods and the effects of lockdowns, job losses and uncertainty, and the breakdown of family relationships is still affecting many families at a personal level. 

And as has been shown in other crises like floods and bushfires, the adults get busy doing adult things as they must and sometimes the children are left to sort their own feelings and emotions and imaginations. 

When the UK went into lockdown, recognising that in difficult times, what children really need is hope. author Katherine Rundell emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work she loved most:
‘I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile. The response was magnificent, which shouldn’t have surprised me, because children’s writers and illustrators are professional hunters of hope … I hope that the imagination can be a place of shelter for children and that The Book of Hopes might be useful in that, even if only a little.’

First published online to comfort, entertain and inspire the children, this print collection, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the very best children’s authors and illustrators, aims to provide just that. Within its pages you’ll find animal friends from insects to elephants, high-flying grandmas, a homesick sprite, the tooth fairy, and even extra-terrestrial life.

There are 133 contributions from authors and illustrators, including Anthony Horowitz, Axel Scheffler, Catherine Johnson, Jacqueline Wilson, Katherine Rundell, Lauren Child, Michael Morpurgo and Onjali Q. Raúf. There is also a reading list so the reader can explore more books by the contributors thus offering not only comfort (and often a laugh) now but also a pathway forward for more entertainment. who could resist wanting to find out about the washing machine that went to the moon (David Solomons) or the hungriest caterpillar (Isabel Thomas).

Proceeds from this book will be donated to NHS Charities Together, but regardless, it is a wonderful new addition to the teacher’s toolbox for those times when you want to fill both a few moments and a little heart.

Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Wishes

Enid Blyton

Hachette, 2020

316pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

 9781444957198 

After a year like no other, when things that have been taken for granted for decades have suddenly become novelties, Christmas is coming again -almost the one certainty – and people are returning to the old classic rituals and routines in a way unseen for many years. It is as though the security of the past is bringing comfort in this uncertain present and so it seems logical that we should also turn to the stories that have endured and given such joy in previous times.

If any writer of previous generations has survived that test of time it is Enid Blyton and in this collection of 30 Christmas tales taken from her series and short story collections of yesteryear, young readers will be taken back to a time when there was just the written word, the imagination and the magic.  Even those who are not as old as me and who don’t recall Blyton being an integral part of their reading history will revel in the sheer innocence and joy of these simple stories. From a dog who discovers the joy of Christmas to Santa Claus who gets himself out of a muddle with a little help from his friends, these stories celebrate shared times, festivities and wonder. Even if there is no opportunity to organise a full-blown Christmas Countdown, sharing just one story a day as a family or a class will bring back that sense of calm and normality in a world that seems to have gone mad. 

This is a collection that holds so many memories for me that I’m passing it on to Miss 14 and Miss 9  knowing they will enjoy them regardless of their ages and that they are likely to hang on to it for that distant day of their own families. Thanks Hachette for adding to the nostalgia.

The Time-travelling Caveman

The Time-travelling Caveman

The Time-travelling Caveman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time-travelling Caveman

Terry Pratchett

Doubleday Children’s, 2020

336pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9780857536020

For the newly independent reader who loves wacky humour, this is a brand new collection of short stories from one of the most popular authors for that audience at the moment.  

When Pratchett was just 17 and a junior reporter for his local newspapers, he started writing the stories in this book, often based on the people and incidents he was sent to cover for the paper, but embellished with a touch of Pratchett magic. With lots of crazy illustrations to enrich the text, this is a collection that will entice those straddling that decision of whether reading for pleasure is going to be a thing for them or not to keep reading.  Being short stories they are quick reads, complete in themselves and in a few minutes; but being Terry Pratchett they are well-written and well-rounded full of imagination and wit, perhaps leading the reader to more of his works like Father Christmas’s Fake Beard .

 

The World’s Worst Parents

The World's Worst Parents

The World’s Worst Parents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World’s Worst Parents

David Walliams

Tony Ross

HarperCollins, 2020

312pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

 9780008430306

In a time when everyone, especially our kids, need some light and bright and fun, this new release of 10 stories about embarrassing parents is very timely.

Walliams and Ross have collaborated again to develop and draw characters that so many kids can relate to – parents who just make you cringe with their words and actions and philosophies. Instead of just blending in with the other children, these kids’ parents make them stand out  and for all the wrong reasons.  Pinch your nose for Peter Pong, the man with the stinkiest feet in the world… jump out of the way of Harriet Hurry, the fastest mum on two wheels… watch out for Monty Monopolize, the dad who takes all his kids’ toys… and oh no, it’s Supermum! Brandishing a toilet brush, a mop and a very bad homemade outfit…

Walliams launched this series in 2016 with The World’s Worst Children. and two further volumes followed in 2017 and 2018.  The World’s Worst Teachers joined the collection in 2019 so this is an established series that has been entertaining children for some years now, once again combining Walliam’s zany humour with Ross’s wacky illustrations. 

Written during the UK lockdown with the explicit purpose of putting a smile on the face of our children, Walliams and Ross have nailed it. 

Evie and Pog (Series)

Evie and Pog (Series)

Evie and Pog (Series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evie and Pog (Series)

Tania McCartney

Angus & Robertson, 2020

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

High in a tree house live two very best friends. One is a girl and one is a dog. And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.

Evie is six years old. She likes knitting and jumping and books and cake. But most of all she loves to roll on the daisy-spot grass because she adores daisies.

Pog is a pug. He is two and likes to drink tea and read the newspaper. But most of all he loves vegetables.  It doesn’t matter if they are baked, mashed or fried, he adores them.

Next to the tree house in a big house lives Granny Gladys whose favourite things are dusting, mopping and sweeping but most of all she loves quiet.

If you were a teacher librarian who had the opportunity to request the perfect series to offer young readers who are transitioning from basal, levelled readers to the wide world of reading whatever they choose then this could well be it.  Using all the support structures that such readers need such as relatable characters and events; large, varying fonts; accessible language in simple, powerful sentences in short chapters within three stories in one book; illustrations galore; maps and a cast of characters;  all crafted together in humorous adventures by someone who knows how to reach their target audience perfectly, then this new series by the versatile Tania McCartney would be the result.  With two already available (Take Off and Puppy Playtime), young readers already have six separate stories to enjoy with three more to anticipate in Party Perfect in April. And with each book being a stand-alone there will be no queues for having to read them in order.

A peek inside....

A peek inside….

While it is not the teacher librarian’s role to be a reading teacher, it is our role to support the programs that are happening in the classroom and students. teachers and parents alike will be thrilled to have this series recommended because it is so strong in promoting that independent, voluntary reading we are all seeking. 

Eight Princesses And A Magic Mirror

Eight Princesses And A Magic Mirror

Eight Princesses And A Magic Mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight Princesses And A Magic Mirror

Natasha Farrant

Lydia Corry

Zephyr, 2019

209pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99

9781788541152

Mirror, mirror on the wall… what makes a princess excellent?’ The enchantress’s mirror travels through time, from east to west, to find the answer. Reflected in it are princesses who refuse to be pretty, polite or obedient. These are girls determined to do the rescuing themselves. The Arabian princess of the desert protects her people from the king with the black and gold banner; Latin American Princess, Tica, takes a crocodile for a pet; a Scottish princess explores the high seas; African Princess, Abayome, puts empathy and kindness above being royal; and in a tower-block, Princess saves her precious community garden from the hands of greedy urban developers.

While the traditional princesses of familiar fairytales still remain popular with many girls, others are demanding stories about those who are not helpless and dreaming of the handsome prince to rescue them and live happily ever after.  So this collection of original stories about princesses who are bold, empowered, full of curiosity, adventure and determined to be true to themselves will appeal to those ready to move beyond Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora and company. With its relatively short meaty stories and full colour illustrations, it is perfect for newly independent readers and with the magic mirror connecting the stories throughout it has a continuity that encourages them to keep reading each new adventure.

Something different to entice readers into the library for a new year of reading adventures or to suggest to parents looking for something a bit different to share at bedtime..

 

Total Quack Up Again!

Total Quack Up Again!

Total Quack Up Again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Quack Up Again!

Sally Rippin & Adrian Beck

James Foley

Puffin Books, 2018

320pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781760893583

This time last year, Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck saw the outcome of all their work in getting their mates to write a short story for an anthology whose proceeds would all go to help children through Dymocks Children’s Charities. Total Quack Up featured stories from some of Australia’s leading  authors for kids including Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks,  Jacqueline Harvey, Paul Jennings, Alex Miles, Oliver Phommavanh, R.A. Spratt and Matt Stanton and became one of the most popular books of short stories for newly independent readers, especially boys, in the collection of a couple of school libraries that I know.

And now they have done it again.  This time they have garnered the services of people such as Nat Amoore, Felice Arena, Adam Cece, Jules Faber, Tim Harris, Kim Kane, Belinda Murrell, A.L. Tait, Shelley Ware, Michael Wagner and Nova Weetman, As with the first, there is also a story from a budding child author – after teaming up with Kids WB and running a competition, The Duck Pond  by Coby Sanchez was selected as the entry to be published in this new collection. Add to that Jacqueline Harvey’s Ten Top Tips for Writing which encourage our students to put pen to paper for themselves and you have another volume of what is hopefully a continuing series.

Totally kid-oriented in its focus, support and outcomes, this is the perfect book for the collection or the Christmas stocking to ensure our readers keep reading.  For those of you able to get to  Camberwell, Vic, there is a charity launch  on October 19.

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bold Tales for Brave-hearted Boys

Susannah McFarlane

Allen & Unwin, 2019

128pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760524715

“Bold: typically describes one who is willing to take risks; who is brave in heart as well as deed.”

In this new collection of rewritten, remastered fairy tales featuring  Jack and the BeanstalkHansel and GretelThe Emperor’s New Clothes and Prince Leo and the Sleeping Princess, Susannah McFarlane  editor of Stuff Happens one of my favourite series for boys,  shows that there is more to brave than brawn and bravado slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress. It’s about doing what’s right, being clever and honest, that how you do something is as important as what you do.

Illustrated by Simon Howe, Matt Huynh, Louie Joyce and Brenton McKenna, four of our leading illustrators, in a style that takes the book beyond the realm of the cutsey, Disneyfied fairytale, it is the perfect companion to Fairytales for Feisty Girls which turns  Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Thumbelina around to meet the demands of the modern young lady. 

Designed for independent readers in novel format with chapters within each story, it is ideal for re-engaging young students with the traditional tales of childhood literature and start discussions about how things change over time to meet the needs of the audience – these are indeed a long way from the didactic tales of Grimm et al whose purpose was to scare little ones into doing the right thing because of the dire consequences that awaited if they didn’t.