Archives

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Sloth: Revenge of the Chick-Oats

Aleesah Darlison

Cheri Hughes

Big Sky, 2024

140pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781923004948

On a remote itty-bitty island off the coast of Panama there is an itty-bitty community of itty-bitty creatures. And while the rest of these pygmy sloths are content to dwell in the trees and move around “as slow as a rainy winter weekend”, Romeo Fortez, is different.  At his naming ceremony, the heavens do spectacular and amazing things and  Romeo is imbibed with powers of speed, intelligence, and irresistibly hypnotic good looks. As he grows up, Romeo craves speed and adventure and even his parents know that Escudo Island would never be big enough for him. But then he overhears a reference to New York – the city that never sleeps – and he knows that that is where he must be…

In the second episode of this action-packed series for newly independent young readers, ,Romeo’s nemesis, the unhinged Professor Ian Weird-Warp, is at it again. Bent on revenge, he concocts a quirky catastrophe. Mixing chicken and goat genes, he spawns a gang of eccentric chick-oats and they’re on the loose in the Big Apple, destroying everything in their path all the while chanting, ‘Berk-berk-baa!’

As the team faces off against Professor Weird-Warp’s sinister demands for Romeo’s surrender, they must hatch a brilliant plan to thwart the mad professor’s wicked schemes once and for all. Can this unlikely crew save the city from the clutches of the chick-oats?

Apart from being a fun read, it ends with the professor obviously intending more shenanigans so readers might like to have fun imagining what his next mutations might be – firstly it was a shark and a wolf, now chickens and goats so what could be next?  Perhaps they could even draw what they visualise and develop their own story based on what they already know of the resident characters, Weird-Warp’s motivations and their own imaginations.  

Bluey: Trains

Bluey: Trains

Bluey: Trains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluey: Trains

Puffin, 2024

80pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761041105

There would be few little ones in Australia who do not know who Bluey is, either through the television series or the many picture books that are now available.  But now, there is a new format of stepping stone readers – those that have all the supports that the emerging independent reader needs to continue consolidating their skills – so that they can now read about Bluey and her family’s adventures for themselves.

The first in this new series focuses on Dr Glenda and Poppy catching the train, Glenda to go to her job as a vet and Poppy to  Mother Duck Day Care.  But sometimes catching the train is much more than staring out the window and listening to the wheels go clickety clack.

With Bus and Taxi both being released in the next two months, this would be the ideal series for young readers to hone their skills as they are already familiar with the characters and their relationships, and they may also be familiar with the situations they find themselves in.  

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daredevil Princess and the Golden Unicorn

Belinda Murrell

Rebecca Crane

Puffin, 2024

144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781761340437

Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mathilda Amalia Charlotte Adelaide Rose – known to all as Tillie except for Mr Grimm the pompous stickler-for-manners royal steward – lived a relaxed life with her parents, Queen Cordelia who ruled the queendom of Blumenfeld, King Edwin her absent-minded inventor father and Prince Oskar, her younger brother, a would-be, swashbuckling knight. 

Even though her mother has to wear the heavy, uncomfortable crown today because her everyday crown is missing, she is more concerned about the theft of roses from the royal gardens, particularly because tomorrow is the Summer Harvest Festival  and the palace roses are the feature.  She orders the thief to be found and to be thrown in the dungeon for a year and a day.  But who is the thief? And why steal roses AND the palace peacocks?   Princess Tillie is determined to discover them before the festival is ruined…

Belinda Murrell who gave a previous wave of newly independent readers the wonderful Lulu Bell series, has created a new collection for the next generation of young girls who are consolidating their skills, this time building on that recurring dream of being a princess, but being bold and brave and independent and encouraged to do so despite the presence of Mr Grimm and Miss Prim. With all the supports that these emerging readers need including short chapters, larger font, and a few strategic illustrations, this is one that will have wide appeal, with The Goblin King already available, and The Fire Dragon and The Grumpy Goblin due in the next few months

The Big Book of Little Lunch

The Big Book of Little Lunch

The Big Book of Little Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Little Lunch

Danny Katz

Mitch vane

Walker Books, 2024

464pp., pbk, RRP $a19.99

9781760658816

That break known as “little lunch” or “recess” is only 15 minutes in the school day so really, what can happen in such a short time?  Ask any teacher who has ever been on playground duty and you will discover the answer is – a lot! And in this collection from the Little Lunch series are 18 stories that are perfect for those venturing into the world of novels because of their relatable characters and events and text/image balance, the reader discovers what teachers already know- it can be the most significant 15 minutes of the day.

Set in a suburban primary school in Australia each highlights  the adventures of a class of Year 5 students  Manny, Debra-Jo, Tamara, Rory, Atticus and their friends and their teacher Mrs Gonsha during morning recess as relationships ebb and flow over what seems like the most innocuous events. And whether it’s Tamara Noodle hogging the monkey bars, fighting over what kind of sandwich Manny was eating or Batty becoming SUPER BATMAN GUY, each provides an engaging read that not only has heads nodding but also offers opportunities to discuss how the issue was or could be solved without argument or violence.   

The series was first released 20 years ago, was made in to a TV series, still available on iView, in 2015-2016 and is as popular now as it was then because the characters and the things that happen essentially don’t change.  The issues a teacher deals with on the playground today at recess will be similar to those I dealt with all those years ago.  Now bound into a big book, it also includes all sorts of bonus activities to stretch the brain.

Apart from just being a fun read, Danny Katz shows that writing about every day stuff, the stuff you know about and have done can be just as entertaining as the most far-fetched fantasy, and thus the stories in the book could be a basis for a writing exercise for a class. Start as a class exercise by posing a common problem and then asking, “What if ABC said or did XYZ instead?” “How else could the situation have been dealt with?” offering scope for individual scenarios and responses.  Then have them really observe what happens in the playground, analyse the relationships among those involved and how the dynamics made the incident worth watching, show them how to disguise real-life by giving the characters new identities and then have them create their own story for an extra addition to the series. 

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Commander: The Blues-day Tuesday

Coral Vass

Heidi Cooper-Smith

Wombat Books, 2024

80pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781761111266

Amanda Caomhánach (aka Amanda Commander)  is nearly nine and likes nothing more than hanging out with her two best friends Lucia Cazzoli (aka Rainbow Fudge) and Mai Le (aka Plum Flower). Together they make up the Dolphin Squad meeting at their beachside HQ and solving problems like why Amanda didn’t receive an invitation to Eve’s birthday, the only one in the class not to have one.

This time, Amanda has a tough time fitting back into the friendship groups at school after having a sick day, and so, when Eve has several days off, Amanda is determined she will not face the dame issues, even if it means she, herself, is excluded.

This is the fourth in this series for the newly independent reader, particularly girls, which focuses on the sorts of issues that eight and nine year olds face as they navigate the world of greater independence and making and maintaining friendships. Thus, it will resonate with many who will see themselves in the stories, and start to think about what they might do in the same circumstances.  If someone returns to school after an absence or is new to the school, how will they respond so the transition is smooth and welcoming.

Using all the textual devices that support those making the transition to novels, this is a series that will be a sound stepping stone.  

Murray the Viking

Murray the Viking

Murray the Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murray the Viking

Adam Stower

HarperCollins, 2024

192pp., pbk., ill., RRP $A11.99

9780008561253

Murray the cat enjoys living the good life with Fumblethumb the wizard, a life made even better when Fumblethumb accidentally turns one of Murray’s favourite buns into a bunny, complete with a cherry for a tail.  But when he messes up again and turns the cat flap into a gateway to adventure, instead of just the garden, then the fun really starts…

In this new series for newly independent readers consolidating their skills, the cat flap takes Murray and Bun back to the times of the Vikings.  where they are given an important mission  to travel to Troll Island to rescue Eggrik the Viking… if he hasn’t already been gobbled up by the trolls, that is. 

Simple text,  humour and full of illustrations that carry the story along at a rapid pace, this is a great stepping stone between everyday readers and novels that will have wide appeal because of its outlandish characters and original adventures, as well as introducing them to historical fiction, perhaps sparking an interest in the time period.  Something new to offer those moving forward on their reading journey as they go through their own cat flap of adventure to the world of stories.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: No Brainer

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: No Brainer

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: No Brainer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: No Brainer

Jeff Kinney

Puffin, 2023

224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

 9780143778448

Up until now, middle school hasn’t exactly been a joyride for Greg Heffley. So when the town threatens to close the crumbling building, he’s not too broken up about it.

But when Greg realizes this means he’s going to be sent to a different school than his best friend, Rowley Jefferson, he changes his tune. Can Greg and his classmates save their school before it’s shuttered for good? Or is this the start of a whole new chapter for Greg?

Greg Heffley has a legion of fans as his popularity grows from when we first met him more than 15 years ago  and this 18th book in the series will not only delight them but also garner him a lot more as new readers learn about this young lad who struggles to fit in with his peers in middle school (Years 5-8 in the USA) and his loyal best friend Rowley Jefferson.  With their first-person narrative that echoes the voice and thoughts of so many boys like Greg, their cartoon drawings and humour, this addition to the series is available in paperback, hardback, audio book and ebook so regardless of the format that most appeals to a young reader, they can access it.  

This is one of those series that even reluctant readers will want to have because to be talking about it will mean being part of the “in-crowd”, important for those who otherwise struggle to belong, and for that alone it’s worth having in your collection. One to suggest to parents for the Santa Sack.

The Wish Sisters: The Christmas Wish

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish

The Christmas Wish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish

Allison Rushby

Karen Blair

UQP, 2023

108pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9780702266362

When Flick and Birdie’s Grandma Aggie found an imp in an old bottle and wished for her granddaughters to have unlimited wishes, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.  But then Imp twisted the wish so that only  Birdie could have the wish. But Birdie is a baby and that can get tricky when one so young and immature and isn’t yet talking has so much power.  So Flick has to be really careful how things are handled.

Christmas without Grandma Aggie is making everyone sad and while Flock knows that her gran would want this to be a special time for them all, particularly Birdie, she’s finding it hard to find her Christmas spirit.  To cheer them up, Mum and Dad invite the neighbours over to decorate gingerbread houses. After a few false starts because Birdie gets confused, all is going well until Mrs Mortlake brings up Christmas wishes, giving baby Birdie all the wrong ideas…

This is the latest in this series  there is an emphasis on family and friendships and the importance of strong, positive connections between them, with the teachers’ notes offering some relevant questions to consider and discuss that not only relate to Flick and her feelings but also those of any students facing their first Christmas without someone special at the table.  Through the story, they can see that their emotions are valid and validated and that it is okay to not have a happy face all the time. With Flick, Mr Tran and Mrs Mortlake all having different reasons for feeling off-kilter it shows that times like this when there is such an emphasis on happiness and ho-ho-ho that it is not necessarily that for everyone and so readers are encouraged to be sensitive to the needs of those around them.

Written for young girls, particularly, who want a bit of escapism without too much tension, especially those with younger sisters who can be troublesome at times, this is a series that is very much a book about being careful what you wish for. 

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fluff, Bullies Beware!

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2023

216pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780733342080

According to the official government report, Gilbert’s dad disappeared in outer space but Gilbert knows that the truth is his dad died while defending the Earth from an aggressive army of aliens that wanted to turn the planet into a poo-processing plant.   Whatever the reason, Gilbert’s dad doesn’t live with them any more and to compensate, Gilbert’s mum gave him a big fluffy bunny toy.  But this is no ordinary squishy soft toy – Fluff can talk and he has attitude.  

So when Gilbert’s underpants are found hanging from the school gate – everyone knows they’re his because his mum has written his name on them – it is time to get revenge on the bully who put them there, especially as every gate in the street sports a pair of them too …

And so begins another series from the popular Matt Stanton, written for young readers embarking on their independent reading journey with minimal text on each page and lots of illustrations that carry the story forward.  With series like The OddsFunny Kid  and Bored to his credit, Stanton his continuing the legacy of authors like Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths who turned kids, especially boys, of a previous generation on to the fun of reading by knowing just what it was they wanted to read about and how they wanted to read – pared down text that wasn’t complicated and didn’t take a lot of time.  And with the second in the series due early next year, this is another win not just for Stanton but also all those boys who are still looking for a reason to read. 

Riz Chester: The Fingerprint Code

Riz Chester: The Fingerprint Code

Riz Chester: The Fingerprint Code

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riz Chester: The Fingerprint Code

R. A. Stephens

E. Hammond

Wombat Books, 2023

90pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99

9781761111280

Riz Chester has highly tuned senses and notices things that most people don’t, such as the brand of cheese being changed in the tuckshop lunches, the 10gram change in the size of the packets of chips, and the differences between identical twins Sabrina and Jenny.  She keeps a note of the differences in her Weird Stuff Log because when she mentions them, people look at her funny.  

But, by using her observation skills and logical thinking, she was able to detect counterfeit $10 notes in the first in this series for newly independent readers, and in this episode once again she  demonstrates the value of planning, thinking logically and recording what you discover in an organised way as she tries to determine who could have stolen a baby grand piano from the school’s music room.

This time the forensic focus is fingerprints and there is more information about this at the end of the book, enabling students to understand why they leave unique markers all the time that science is beginning to unravel with greater depth and accuracy every day.

There are lots of series published for this age group, but this one particularly appeals to me because of its emphasis on the need to approach a problem in a clear, methodical way thus brining into play all those skills of the information literacy process.  What has happened? What do we know? What do we need to find out? How can we find that out? What would be the best tools to use? How do we use them? Do I need help using them…