Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake

Peril at Lizard Lake

Peril at Lizard Lake










Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake

Laura James

Emily Fox

Bloomsbury, 2020

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


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

Most of the time. But when an unusual lapse of judgement leads Fabio to accept a ride in his associate Gilbert’s plane, little does he know he’ll be nose-diving into a new mystery!

When the tiny plane crash-lands near a remote village in the savannah, all Fabio wants is a pink lemonade to calm his nerves. But the town well has dried up, and the water didn’t just disappear on its own! Fabio’s on the case, and it’s going to take a daring sting operation to set things right.

With its hot pink and citrus yellow colour scheme in both the illustrations and pages, this is a  series that will appeal to newly independent readers who like something a bit wacky in their reading diet. Flamingoes are up there with unicorns on the popularity charts right now, so for that reason alone it will be appealing  but as the third in the series, it offers more than just offbeat characters with  a mystery to solve through an engaging storyline while still supporting readers who are transitioning to the complexity of novels. 

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection










Lottie Perkins: The Ultimate Collection

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2020

240pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

Charlotte (you can call me Lottie) Perkins is an exceptional child – well, that’s her belief anyway.  She has a range of talents -each different in each story – but most of all she has drive, determination and a confidence in herself that is remarkable for a seven year old.  In each episode of the series, Lottie becomes a different character, one that is determined by the events that get her into strife and how she extricates herself from it. 

Aided and abetted by her best friend Sam Bell, who believes in her as much as she does herself, her goat Feta and her pet rabbits, she slips into new roles while managing to circumvent the blocking efforts of mean-girl Harper Dark and her cronies, using her unique talents to emerge triumphant and even more confident than ever.

Included in this compendium are the first four books in the series – Movie Star, Ballerina, Pop Singer and Fashion Designer – offering  young girls who are becoming independent readers some great reading while supporting their new skills with  large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. 

Collections like these are always good value and during this stay-at-home time, four stories for the price of one will be welcome.

Aussie Kids -series

Aussie Kids - series

Aussie Kids – series








Meet Eve in the Outback

Raewyn Caisley

Karen Blair



Meet Katie at the Beach

Rebecca Johnson

Lucia Masciullo 



Puffin Books, 2020

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

Two more fabulous stories in this new series for newly independent readers that focuses on the diversity of the lives of kids in this country.

We first met Eve in Hello from Nowhere, one of the most isolated towns on the planet far out on the Nullabor Plain in Western Australia, and were delighted by her joy and optimism as she revelled in the isolation, finding fun in the creatures that live around her and the strangers who pop into the family’s roadhouse.  But today is going to be  special day because her cousin Will is coming to visit and she is looking forward to showing him all the sights and sounds that make her home so special.

Meanwhile, Katie lives on the opposite side of the country in an apartment tower overlooking one of Queensland’s beautiful beaches. Being in the surf, beach cricket  and building sandcastles are daily occurrences but no matter where you are, having a wobbly tooth and then losing it can be a miserable experience.

This really is an excellent series that will capture imagination of our younger readers who are ready to curl up and read by themselves. And even better, there are more on the horizon ( Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in July, and Dooley and Matilda in September.) and a free activity pack available now so the fun can continue, perfect for following up the reading during this stay-at-home time. 


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


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.

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. 

The Besties (series)

The Besties











The Besties show and smell


The Besties to the rescue


The Besties party on


The Besties make a splash 


Felice Arena

Tom Jellett

Puffin, 2020

80pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

This is another new series to entice our emerging readers as they make the transition from levelled basal readers to the world of independent reading, created by an author and illustrator who are both in touch with what young children want in their stories. Oliver and Ruby have been best friends for ever and their everyday adventures that their audience can relate to are recounted in this series – two available now, two coming in April. 

In an article written by Arena, he talks about the critical importance of play in children’s lives before “we age into doom-and-gloom-and-bills-to-pay-bah-humbug adults” and he draws on his own childhood  experiences of playing the ukulele and drawing to bring the children to life.  In Show and Smell we learn that Ruby is an accomplished ukulele player and Ollie likes to draw and to emphasise this each book has the music to the song that Ruby sings as well as a comic strip of Ollie’s perception of the story. There is even an album with Ruby’s songs (and more) available to enhance the reading experience.

Written, illustrated and designed with the express purpose of engaging this particular audience with its focus on real kids, play and imagination, this is a series that our emerging readers will devour as they continue their reading journey.  And being in print rather than a one-off screen experience, they can return to the stories again and again.


Aussie Kids – series

Aussie Kids (series)

Aussie Kids (series)

Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo

Belinda Murrell

David Hardy



Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Maxine Beneka Clarke

Nicki Greenberg


Puffin Books, 2020 

64pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

A new school year and a new bunch of nearly-independent readers who are looking for a new series on which to hone their skills.  Enter the first two in this new eight-book series from some of Australia’s leading authors written especially to entice young readers into the world of print through stories about kids they know and kids they would like to meet.  From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia. Each features a child from a diverse background celebrating a special event or visiting somewhere unique and is supported using all the textual and illustrative features forming the stepping stones that this group of newly-confident readers need including maps and facts that can take the reader beyond the story. 

Taj and Zoe and Zac are available now (February) and they will be followed by Eve (from Nowhere) and Katie (from Queensland) in March.  Sam from Mangrove Creek and Mia  come in June and there will be two more before the end of the year, so the pacing is just right. I wonder who will come from the ACT! 



Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses










Running with the Horses

Alison Lester

Puffin, 2019

96pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99


Nina lives with her father above the palace stables at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses. She loves watching the famous white stallions as they parade for the crowds, but her favourite horse is a mare called Zelda – an old cab horse Nina often pats on her way home from school.

When Nina’s world changes dramatically, she and her father have to flee from the city. Their journey over the mountains with Zelda and the stallions seems impossible, with danger at every turn. It will require all of Nina’s bravery, daring and faith in an extraordinary old horse.

This is a new edition of the picture book first released 10 years ago, now in a format that will attract newly independent readers to enjoy this story inspired by the rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during the Second World War, offering yet another story and insight into that conflict. although Lester insists it is a work of fiction.

With all the original illustrations – the main characters being in  black and white line drawings set against lavish colourful backgrounds – this is an intriguing read that justifies its re-release and promotion to a whole new generation.  

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick

Ask Hercules Quick










Ask Hercules Quick

Ursula Dubosarsky

Andrew Joyner

Allen & Unwin, 2019

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


One day while out shopping with his Aunt Alligator, Hercules Quick spies a magic box in a shop window, one that he knows he would love to own.  And while he is dismayed that he not only doesn’t have any money of his own in his piggy bank, he doesn’t even have a piggy bank, he is not daunted.  He gets out his paints and makes a sign offering to do jobs for his neighbours for 10c a task. He explains to Aunt Alligator that 10 cents a day will be a dollar in 10 days and that’s $310 in 10 months – surely enough to buy the magic box.

But quirky neighbours mean quirky jobs and he has to work hard to  earn his money.  Will he reach his target?  And will he still want the magic box if he does?

An intriguing story for young, newly-independent readers who still need support with short chapters and lots of illustrations, this is something very different that can inspire.  In a world of instant gratification through clicking on this or that, many don’t understand the anticipation of having to wait for something and the thrill when the goal is achieved. So it’s a spark to help them set a goal, explore how they could reach it, track their progress and celebrate when they accomplish it.  A great one, in fact, for Miss 8, who is supposed to be saving for her first Cuboree!!! (Maybe the moneybox I bought her for Christmas will get some use, after all.)

This could have been a rather ordinary story but Dubosarsky’s imaginative spin on the characters takes it on a whole new journey, and Joyner’s illustrations are just the perfect match!



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.