Archives

What Zola Did on Wednesday

What Zola Did on Wednesday

What Zola Did on Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Wednesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895174

Zola is getting very busy after school these days.  She has her gardening club on Mondays and her knitting group on Tuesdays and she still has to find time to play with her cousin Alessandro and the dogs while trying to keep out of trouble.  But when her neighbour Leo’s mum, who is a police officer, brings home a new sniffer dog for training, things can only get interesting – particularly when her friend Sophia’s little turtle goes missing and Lola hatches a plan to find it…

This is the third in this series about Zola and her friends – a diverse group of kids who could live in any neighbourhood, anywhere. Their everyday lives are just like those of the readers who can see themselves, understand and relate to the friends, while being a stepping stone for  consolidating their new reading skills with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour.  Because the characters and events are so common,  the stories could be the inspiration for children to get together in ways they did in previous generations and be the foundation blocks of a new community as we find new ways to get together in these COVID times. Perhaps our new lives may not be so frantic that we don’t have time for the simpler pleasures of yesteryear.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one is as entertaining as the others. 

Aussie Kids series

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Dooley on the Farm 

Sally Odgers 

Christina Booth

9781760893682

Meet Matilda at the Festival

Jacqueline de Rose Ahern

Tania McCartney

9781760894511

Puffin Books, 2020

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

These are the final two books in this series first launched in February, and continuing in April and September, meaning newly independent readers can complete reading about this diverse group of kids within the year.  Featuring a story from each state or territory, readers have journeyed around the country learning about its diversity through the children and their adventures.  In these final two, Dooley’s cousin is coming to visit him on his farm in Tasmania where they are planning to sleep out in the barn,  and Matilda takes us to a festival at the Japanese embassy in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory as she bids farewell to her special friend Hansuke is returning home with his family.

At a time when travel between the states and territories has been all but impossible, this series has allowed young readers to visit various parts of the country from the comfort of their favourite place to read enjoying stories about kids just like them specially written and illustrated by leading Australian creators for those who have new skills they need to consolidate.

This is a unique series which lends itself to all sorts of activities and with all eight now available, there is scope for each student to individualise their learning by choosing the one that resonates with them the most.  

 

Marshmallow Pie (series)

Marshmallow Pie (series)

Marshmallow Pie (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cat Superstar

9780008355852

The Cat Superstar on TV

9780008355890

The Cat Superstar in Hollywood

9780008355913

HarperCollins, 2020

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

Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is a big, fluffy (and grumpy) cat. He LOVES the easy life: lazing in the sunshine, eating Shrimp Crunchies and annoying Buster, the dog downstairs, from the safety of the balcony above. Now living with the shy Amelia in a top floor flat in the city, instead of the quiet country life he was used to, he already thinks he is a star, but Amelia is determined to make it official when she sees an advertisement for cats to audition to join a casting agency for film and television.  And so begins a life of grooming and training and the limelight…

This is a great new series for newly independent readers who still need some support and who love cats.  Given the photos that one sees on social media of cats in all sorts of finery, that would seem to be a very broad target market and so this series is going to please a lot of young readers.  Told by Marshmallow Pie himself, in the supercilious , no-fools-entertained, I’m-entitled voice that you just know matches his personality, the author of the Dotty Detective series brings her characters to life in a way that will delight those who have cats and who have been dreams for them.

With the first two available now, and the third due in time for that January holiday slump, this series will be a just-right introduction to the world of novels and the fun of getting to know characters over a period of time and adventures. 

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

What Zola Did on Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Zola Did on Tuesday

Melina Marchetta

Deb Hudson

Puffin, 2020

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781760895167

Cousins Zola and Alessandro live next door to each other – there’s even a gate cut into the fence by their Nonno Nino before he died so they could be together as much as they want, so most afternoons after school they play together. 

After her adventures trying to help her Nonna and the school gardening club, Zola has been trying to stay out of trouble joining Nonna at the community gardening club, trying to learn to listen and even giving Alessandro’s dog Gigi obedience lessons so she will be allowed to play in Nonna’s garden with the children. But new neighbours, cats and dogs that aren’t yet friends,  Nonna learning to knit and a new school project to help the homeless can really only have one outcome when Zola gets involved…

This is another joyous romp about Zola and her friends doing ordinary everyday things  in which the reader can see themselves, understand and relate to, while forming a stepping stone for newly independent readers with a solid text combined with lots of illustrations, short chapters and humour. This could be any neighbourhood anywhere and it could be the inspiration for children to get together in ways they did in previous generations and be the foundation blocks of a new community as the children in this series are. Most children, regardless of the heritage, understand “Nonna” is the Italian word for grandmother and now they can add the Arabic word Teta to their vocabulary – just another subtle way that diversity is celebrated in the story.

There are seven stories in the series altogether and each one promises to be just as engages and entertaining.

 

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

Aussie Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie Kids

Meet Sam at Mangrove Creek

Paul Seden

Brenton McKenna

9781760894122

 

Meet Mia at the Jetty

Janeen Brian

Danny Snell

9781760893668

Puffin Books, 2020

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

The great reading continues in the latest two in this wonderful series which features Aussie kids from a diverse range of backgrounds and settings celebrating something unique about their home state. So far we’ve met Zoe and Zac from NSW and Taj from a Victorian lighthouse; Eve from the outback of WA  and Katie from a beautiful Queensland beach and now it’s time to meet Sam from the Northern Territory and Mia is South Australia.

Sam lives near the beach on the northern tip of the Northern Territory and, having saved his money to buy a new throw net, today he is going to use it for the first time because his cousin Peter is coming fishing too.  They set off to catch the high tide and perhaps catch barramundi following the bait fish into the mouth of the mangrove creek. But Sam gets cross when Peter opens a bag of banana lollies because everyone knows that having bananas on a fishing trip is bad luck for real fishermen. But is there more to catching fish with a throw net than the choice of snack you have?

Meanwhile, Mia is in Victor Harbour in South Australia waiting for Jim, the son of her mother’s friend, to arrive so she can be a super tour guide, especially taking him on the horse-drawn tram ride to Granite Island.   But can she carry out her plan without her big sister Alice taking over?

This really is an excellent series that not only introduces young, emerging readers to the diversity of this country and the children in it, but invites them to think about what is special about where they, themselves , live.  With travel restrictions still in place, and lockdowns back in force in some places, this is the perfect time for children to get to know their immediate surroundings better and consider what it is that makes it such a special place.  If they had a friend or relative coming to stay, what would be the unique things they could show them? Such a question opens up a range of writing and art activities that would be perfectly pitched to the child’s individual interests and abilities because each would have a different response.  For those who want to take a different direction, they could start to examine the circumstances that led them to this place at this time,  making connections with their past. There is a lesson guide available but just using the format of the book with its introductory postcard, identifying the points of interest (in whatever format) and adding some fun facts about something that is significant offers riches in itself.  

Puffin Littles (series)

Puffin Littles

Puffin Littles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puffin Littles

Snacks

9781760897000

Composting

9781760897017

The Solar System

9781760897031

The ANZACs 

9781760897024 (Sept 2020)

Robotics

9781760897680 (Sept 2020)

The Ocean

9781760897666 (Sept 2020)

96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

 

A familiar symbol in and on children’s literature for 80 years, Puffin introduces our young readers to a whole range of interesting information in this new series of non fiction titles, the perfect size for little hands. In them, he talks directly to the reader sharing information in manageable chunks in a layout that not only appeals but also supports their reading skills and their interests.

Little Cook: Snacks focuses on the fundamentals of cooking and preparing food; Little Environmentalist: Composting teaches them about composting and recycling to make a difference while Little Scientist: The Solar System takes them on a journey around the planets. Planned for September are three more which explore the ocean, robotics and the ANZACs. 

Not all children like to read fiction and so this series caters for both the newly independent reader and those who are almost there using its narrative style voiced by that iconic character to offer more than just a book of facts and figures. The contents page to help them navigate to a specific page and the glossary to build and explain vocabulary help develop those early information literacy skills while the quiz on the final page consolidates what has been learned.

Young readers will appreciate this series because there has clearly been a lot of thought put into addressing their unique needs as emerging readers as well as tapping into subjects that appeal. 

 

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

9781408889374

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

9781760894108

 

Meet Katie at the Beach

Rebecca Johnson

Lucia Masciullo 

 9781760893675

 

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

 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.