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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

 9780763688271

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

9781925266733

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.

Lottie Perkins (series)

Lottie Perkins (series)

Lottie Perkins (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lottie Perkins (series)

Katrina Nannestad

Makoto Koji

ABC Books, 2018

64pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Movie Star

9780733339059

Ballerina

9780733339066

Pop Singer

9780733339073

Fashion Designer

9780733339080

 

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 book – 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 this new 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.

This is a new series for young girls who are becoming independent readers, with its large font, short chapters and liberal illustrations supporting their efforts.  They will relate to the feisty, resilient Lottie and readily imagine themselves in her shoes. Something new for this age group who are transitioning between basal readers and novels with the first two books available now and the next two to come in November 2018.

 

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

9780062445834

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. 

 

 

 

 

Mummy Fairy and Me

Mummy Fairy and Me

Mummy Fairy and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummy Fairy and Me

Sophie Kinsella

Marta Kissi

Puffin, 2018

166pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9780141377889

“Hello. I’m called Ella Brook and I live in a town called Cherrywood. My best friends at school are Tom and Lenka. My worst enemy is Zoe. And then there is my mummy. She looks normal, like any other mummy . . . but she’s not. Because she can turn into a fairy. She just has to shut her eyes tight, say ‘Marshmallow’ . . . and POOF! She’s Mummy Fairy.

Ella’s family has a big secret – her mummy is a fairy! She can do amazing spells with her computawand. Only, sometimes the spells go a bit wrong, and that’s when Ella steps in to the rescue.”

This is a new series for those readers who are newly independent from the author of the Shopaholic series as well as a number of other books for adults.  It is her first children’s book and she has nailed just the sort of thing that these young girls like to read and written it in a style that is similar to the way they write so it will engage them immediately.  Short chapters, large font and lots of line drawings to support the text will support the reader as skills are honed and its future as live-action movies for television  will ensure its future.  There is already a sequel available.

Fairy-in-Waiting

Fairy-in-Waiting

Those of us of a certain age will remember the popularity of Bewitched, and this could have a similar future. 

Dotty Detective (series)

Dotty Detective (series)

Dotty Detective (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dotty Detective (series)

Clara Vulliamy

Harper Collins, 2017+

176pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Super Secret Agent

 9780008132491

The Paw Print Puzzle

 9780008132453

The Midnight Mystery

9780008132422

The Lost Puppy

9780008248376

The Birthday Surprise

9780008248413

The Holiday Mystery 

9780008248451

Meet Dorothy Constance Mae Louise, or Dot as she prefers to be called! She and her best pal Beans and TOP DOG McClusky love to solve mysteries and in this new series written especially for the young almost-independent reader, there are plenty of mysteries to be solved!

Inspired by their favourite television character Fred Fantastic, Ace Detective, Dotty and her best friend Beans have formed the Join The Dots Detective Agency.  They have special badges that they wear underneath their coat collars so they don’t blow their cover and are ably assisted by Dotty’s dog McClusky to solve mysteries that seem to occur.

Guided by Fred Fantastic’s tenets of

  • Stay Frosty. Always be on the lookout
  • Follow That Hunch. If you’ve got a funny feeling you may be onto something important
  • Use Your Noodle. Think
  •  A Light Bulb Moment. A sudden genius idea
  • Get Proof.  You must have the evidence before you can solve your case
  • Jeepers Creepers Use your Peepers

In Super Secret Agent  mean girl Laura seems set on sabotaging the school talent show, Dot is determined to find out how, and save the day…

In The Paw Print Mystery  Dot starts hearing strange noises at night she’s convinced there must be something SPOOKY afoot. But before they can prove there’s a ghost on the loose, Dot and Beans have to follow Ace Detective Fred Fantastic’s golden rule: GET PROOF. Easier said than done when the suspect appears to be invisible!

In The Midnight Mystery Dot and Beans can’t wait for their school trip to Adventure Camp where they will do lots of exciting activities like zip-wiring, grass tobogganing and roasting marshmallows round a campfire! But once they arrive, strange things start happening. Could mean girl Laura could be up to her old tricks in a bid to win the Adventure Camp Prize…? It’s up to the Join the Dots Detectives to find out!  Meanwhile, TOP DOG McClusky is entered into a local dog show! Will he keep up his training while Dot’s away and win the prize for handsomest pooch?

Last week of term in The Lost Puppy and the children are looking forward to the School summer fair. Dotty and best pal Beans will be looking after pet’s corner, starring McClusky and his two canine pals: Geoffrey and the little sausage dog puppy, Chipolata. But just days before the fair disaster strikes – Chipolata has gone missing.

The Birthday Surprise has Dot’s trusty sidekick, Beans and TOP DOG, McClusky are keeping secrets from Dotty while The Holiday Mystery (due July 2018) Dotty and Beans are SUPER excited about their summer holiday together. It’s going to be SO much fun. Beaches, BBQs and best of all NO SCHOOL! But there’s no rest for the Join the Dots Detectives who soon have a campsite case to solve…

This is a new series that is perfect for the newly independent reader with its layout, illustrations, larger font, shorter chapters and humour.  The pace is rapid and the use of a variety of fonts highlights key ideas and actions without the need for a host of words.  Girls will relate to her feisty nature but boys will also find the situations familiar and appealing. 

Barney and the Secret of the French Spies

Barney and the Secret of the French Spies

Barney and the Secret of the French Spies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barney and the Secret of the French Spies

Jackie French

HarperCollins, 2018 

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

 9781460751305

Barney first met the mysterious Elsie hiding under a rock and, like him, eking out an existence on the shores of Port Jackson in 1791 where he was an orphaned child, son of a convict and with no one and nowhere to call home.  Like Barney, she was eventually taken under the wing of the Reverend and Mrs Johnson but she remained an enigma for she never spoke.  On one or two very rare occasions, Barney did hear her utter something but it was so fleeting he thought he was hearing things. 

Now, in this 4th in this series that features Barney telling of his life while uncovering some of the secrets of this country’s early beginnings, Elsie’s story is told at last.  While Barney is beginning to prosper on his farm on the Parramatta River, Elsie has stayed in Sydney Town with the Johnsons and become a sought-after cook by the colony’s elite like Mrs Macarthur. But when word comes that she is desperately ill, perhaps with typhus, Barney hastens to her side in the isolation hut at the hospital and while she doesn’t have typhus it soon becomes clear why she has been put in isolation.  For in her delirium she cries out and while to Barney’s ear she is speaking gobbledygook, both Mrs Johnson and Mrs Macarthur recognise it as French!  They also recognise the dire consequences if Elsie’s nationality is discovered for once again, England and France are at war.

Acknowledging his  enduring love for Elsie and his intention to marry her, Barney stays by her side as she recuperates, encouraged by both women for they believe that he is the only one one that Elsie is likely to divulge her secrets to.  And what a secret it is….

The very best historical fiction weaves fact and fiction so closely together that the reader is left not only wondering what is true and what is imagined, but also wanting to discover more.  And so it is again with Jackie French’s masterful storytelling only this time the secret that Elsie discloses opens up so many pathways to wander down and explore that it is almost overwhelming.  Traditionally history has been told by men because only men were listened to and only the things men did were deemed important and so women and their achievements have been all but invisible. 

But they were there – often in disguise as Elsie’s great-aunt was – and making their mark in life if not in the history books! In the prologue the reader is warned that there are two secrets in this book – not just the story of Elsie but another one “every person needs to yell out loud” – the stories of the women in history that have been kept secret for centuries and generations; secrets that are slowly being uncovered and secrets that will never be discovered.   For it is only in this generation of women alive now that so many barriers have been battered down – even my own mother was expected to give up her hard-fought for job in journalism so a man returning from war could have employment –  that we can learn about the role of the women in our past and acknowledge and celebrate it. Through Elsie’s story and her author’s notes, Jackie not only builds awareness that the role of women goes far beyond anything we can imagine but also challenges us to expose it!

Whose secret will you share?

Butterfly Wishes (series)

Butterfly Wishes

Butterfly Wishes

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Wishes (series)

Jennifer Castle

Bloomsbury, 2018 

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

Sisters Addie and Clara have just moved to a new house in the country, where they discover that their backyard is a gateway to the enchanted realm of magical butterflies called Wishing Wings. These special butterflies have the power to make wishes come true! 

Each story is complete with plenty of illustrations (the covers alone will inspire imagination) and contain a gentle life lesson as the problem and its resolution are explored.

This is a new series for newly independent readers, particularly girls, who are looking for something with sparkle, magic and the beginnings of fantasy.  While the first, The Wishing Wings,  is available now the others will be released in quick succession so these young readers do not have to wait too long to revisit this new magical world. 

A delightful new series that will encourage young readers to keep coming back for the next episodes.

 

The Susie K Files (series)

The Susie K Files

The Susie K Files

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life of the Party

9781760296681

Game Changer

9781760296698

Shamini Flint

Sally Beinrich

Allen & Unwin, 2018

112pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

Susie K is nine years old and says she has mega-huge problems – problems as big as the Sydney Opera House, as tall as the Eiffel Tower and as massive as the pyramids of Egypt. But she is OK with that because she likes to use her scientific mind to solve them, and understanding the importance of keeping records of the trials she has to solve the problem, she has decided to keep a file on each one that she solves. 

Her first problem is that she loves animals but is allergic to fur so she has the class goldfish for her only pet.  Problems 2, 3 and 4 come in the shape of her family – firstly her dad who is a mad sports fanatic and Susie is not; then her brother Jack who is constantly putting her down;and  #4 is her mum who is a Sri Lankan refugee who had a very tough childhood and refers to it often so she now wants Susie to be a huge success at everything she tries, which would be impossible even if she didn’t have the ridiculous name of Susanna Saathiavanni Kanagaratnam-Smith. Why couldn’t she just be Susie Smith? But being like most little girls, Susie is keen to please her mum and does her best to do so.

At school, Susie prefers the people in books to the people in real life so she’s not the most popular person, which she doesn’t mind and is relieved when she is no longer invited to parties and other social occasions. But when her mum discovers she was the only one not at a class pool party, her mum decides to do something about it even though Susie begs her not to get involved because parents sticking their noses in does not always have a happy outcome. And so Operation: Life of the Party begins…

In the second in the series, Game Changer, her mother is thrilled that Susie is competing in the school sports carnival but when you are no good at sport and actually hate them, the problems start.

This is a new series that will really support newly-independent readers with its graphic-novel type format as much of Susie’s thoughts  and conversations are in a cartoon-like style that not only moves the action along but adds greater depth to Susie’s character as she works her way through the issues.  Many girls will see themselves in Susie’s shoes, if not with the family background but definitely with the problems she has and they will gain insight and perhaps hope that with some lateral thinking, there isn’t anything that can’t be negotiated or solved – without a parent interfering! 

A read-alone rather than a read-aloud, this is an intriguing new series that deserves a place in your collection.

One Christmas Wish

 

 

 

One Christmas Wish

One Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Christmas Wish

Emily Sutton

Bloomsbury, 2017

64pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781408885734

It’s Christmas Eve and once again, Theo’s parents are at work and he is left home alone with the babysitter – not even his regular beloved Mrs Goodyere – and even she has fallen asleep with her nose in her phone.  

While there is a tree, the only thing under it is an envelope with gift vouchers that no matter how hard he tries to fold into an interesting shape, still remains an envelope with gift vouchers.  Theo decides to decorate the tree using baubles that have seen better days – his parents have had no time to buy a turkey, let alone new decorations – and a tin soldier, a robin, a rocking horse and an angel, each as decrepit and neglected as everything else.  The angel’s’ wings are moulting; the robin has a bald patch, the rocking-horse’s runners have been half-eaten with woodworm and the soldier’s drum is rusted.

As Theo looks out the window because it is better than looking at the saddest Christmas tree ever, he spots a red and green light soaring across the star.  “A shooting star,” he whispers and immediately closes his eyes, clenches his fists, crosses his toes, bites on his tongue and makes a wish.  If wishes are to come true, you have to wish for your whole body and all Theo wanted was to be un-alone. He wishes so hard that his skins prickles and his head spins and…

With its retro theme and look, this is more than a picture book but not quite a novel that could become a regular read-aloud in the lead-up to Christmas.  It tries to transition between the olde-worlde Christmas of times past where families gather around the tree lovingly decorated with familiar trinkets with each holding memories and the frantic lives parents choose to have, so much so that they can’t even be home on the one night of the year that is so special for so many children.  It’s a reminder that we need to value the underlying meaning of Christmas, even if just for a few hours, and make and share the magic that  our children enjoy for such a short time.