Showing posts with label series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label series. Show all posts

Monday, 4 February 2019

Kensy and Max Undercover

Kensy and Max Undercover by Jacqueline Harvey (Random House Australia) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 978014379104

Reviewed by Max Emmerson

This is the third book in a series about twins, Max Grey and his sister Kensington who are undercover agents-in-training at Pharos, a covert international spy network. In the first book, the twins’ lives are turned upside down when they are whisked off to London and discover their parents (both agents) are missing. In attempting to uncover the truth, strange things happen as they enter a weird new school, come across bizarre grannies on their street, and keep finding coded messages and adults who keep secrets. Who can they trust?

In the latest book of the twins’ adventures, the prolific Australian author Harvey helps any reader new to the series with clues at the front of the book: two maps, one of Sydney, the other of Cherry Tree Farm. As well, there are three comprehensive pages of the cast of characters (so many!), and then over seven pages of ‘Case Note 17’ which fills the reader in on what has preceded the current book. Again, these notes are comprehensive and filled with characters and places, recounting fieldwork undertaken by the twins, their skills, strengths and vulnerabilities, their training and more.

This is a lot to take in before moving on to the current state of play. The Undercover book starts with Kensy and her science partner in class almost burning down the lab and causing the evacuation of students. The next chapter switches to (Granny) Cordelia Spencer, who, the earlier notes tell us, is a Dame and Head of Pharos. More characters appear…There’s so much to take in. Next Granny ships the twins off from England to Australia on an undercover mission. There the two are enrolled in a posh Sydney school where their spying skills are used to infiltrate and befriend students.

Every chapter of the book begins with an incomprehensible row of letters: if the reader wants to decipher them, there’s a code-breaker at the back of the book.

Many characters, twists and turns, mysteries and fast-paced action: these abound in this book which no doubt will be followed by yet another in the series. Suitable for ages 9+ years.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Max Booth Future Sleuth Stamp Safari

Max Booth Future Sleuth Stamp Safari by Cameron Macintosh, illustrated by Dave Atze (Big Sky Publishing) RRP $12.99
ISBN 9781925675368

Reviewed by Wendy Haynes

Cameron Macintosh brings the third instalment of Max Booth Future Sleuth to his readership of 8 to 10-year olds. Max and his trusty companion Oscar a Beagle bot head off in search for some answers to a sticky object Oscar found. What is it?

Set in the future, 2424, Max lives in Skyburb 6, in fact he lives in the Bluggsville Museum thanks to his friend Jessie. Max helps Jessie identify object from the past.

This chapter book takes the reader on a fun journey back to when tennis was a popular sport, and stamps were used to send parcels and letters. It is a great way to reengage a child’s imagination and in turn building on how life is full of possibilities. Well placed illustration by Dave Atze, help form the story and give the reader a glimpse of what Cameron imagines into a well told story.

The author reminds us of the value of money, the possible changes in transport to come, electricity all underground and junk yards full of vehicles.

On his journey to discover what the sticky object (the stamp) is used for, Max escapes the clutches of Squad Captain Selby but with the help from Jessie and an old friend Brandon, Max saves Oscar and finds out the mystery of the sticky object.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Interview with Alison Reynolds

Can you tell readers about your book?

These are the latest two picture books in the Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds series aimed at children 4- 8. They explore social etiquette and positive behaviour in a light, humorous way. The Playground Meanies is about bullying and The Big Snow Adventure tackles respecting rules.

Each book features a Handy Guide to Good Deeds on the last page, which can be used as a discussion point for adults and children.

What is the book’s history to publication?
The Five Mile
Press commissioned these books as part of an ongoing series. The editor approved my initial concepts after a bit of toing and froing.
                                                                                            Do you have an agent?
I don’t have an agent, but having a husband who is an accountant helps me a lot. He is a whizz at examining contracts and chasing up royalties.

Why did you choose Five Mile Press as your publisher?
I’ve worked with The Five Mile Press for many years and value highly my relationship with them. They’ve offered me many wonderful opportunities to write many different style books. They’re perfect match for somebody like me who enjoys a challenge.

How long did it take from submission of your manuscript to receipt of advance copies?The whole process from initial concept to being edited took about five months.

Which editor did you work with? Was there a lot of work that needed to be done to your manuscript? How was the editing experience for you?
I worked with the super talented Melissa Keil at The Five Mile Press. She manages to point out where the text can be improved with tact and perspicacity. There was not as much work needed as for the first two books, because I know the characters now. With Melissa, I feel we’re working together to make the books the best books they can be.

Who is the book’s illustrator? Why do you like her work?
Mikki Butterley is a brilliant illustrator who lives in the north of England. She comes from a background of creating cards, and her attention to detail is extraordinary. I adore her work for the sense of fun she captures. Whatever wild whacky idea I come up with in the text, Mikki seems to be able to match it up with a gorgeous illustration. I also love her colour palette.

Anything else you’d like to say about your publisher?
I would recommend The Five Mile Press to illustrators and other authors. They produce a range of different fabulous products, which makes it an exciting company to work with.

Have you written other books for children?
I’ve had over 70 books published, including board books, picture books, chapter books, choose-your-own-adventure style books and even a non-fiction adult book.  I work for different publishers, which helps me maintain a flow of work.

Do you belong to a writing group?
I’ve belonged to a few writing groups in the past. One group has transformed into a lunching group of close friends as I’m the only one who still writes on a full-time basis. I firmly believe writing groups can be excellent especially when you’re starting out, but you need to be in one that suits you. If you find you’re in a toxic writing group that makes you feel bad, belittled and if you’re the one who is doing all the work, run. I’m lucky enough to be working with editors who give me thoughtful, excellent feedback, so I’m not in a writing group at the moment.

I had a few outstanding writing tutors/mentors when I studied, for example Janey Runci, Sari Smith, Rachel Flynn and Marg McKenzie. 

What are you working on at the moment? 
I have an idea that I’m playing with for a series for 6- 8 year olds. I’m not at the stage of sending it out to publishers yet, but hope to be there soon. I’ve had a variety of books published, including picture books, board books, chapter books, middle grade books and even an adult non-fiction book.

Anything else you’d like to add?
To aspiring writers out there: never give up; never give up; never give up.
I would love you to check out my website at

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Goldie Makes the Grade

Goldie Makes the Grade (Little Paws series) written by Jess Black, illustrations by Gabriel Evans (Penguin Random House Australia) PB RRP $9.95
ISBN 978-0-14-378183-7

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

Goldie Makes the Grade is one in a series of four short chapter books about the puppies that train to become Guide Dogs and the families who look after them. If I were back in primary school now, I know I would have devoured every one of these! For reviewing purposes I have read just this title in the series.

Author Jess Black has penned all four books, and hopefully illustrator Gabriel Evans has also worked on each. The simple, black and white pencil sketches dotted throughout this story are wonderfully evocative and well-placed to support the narrative. The delightful storyline is engaging and very readable.

Goldie is a fourteen-month old Labrador who is due to leave eight-year-old Abby Agresta and her family soon, to begin her final Guide Dog training.
However, young Abby faces the urgent dilemma of clearing Goldie’s ‘name’ in order to ensure that she will be accepted as a service dog. An unfortunate incident in the Agresta household involving cupcakes, has cast some doubt on Goldie’s ability to control her Labrador eating instincts!

This short chapter book punches well above its weight in terms of providing thoughtful ideas for both individual pondering and further classroom discussion. Without being at all ‘preachy,’ it opens up issues of gender and cultural stereotypes, friendships, loyalty, standing up for what you believe in, self-empowerment and doing the right thing, and, of course, information about looking after a guide dog puppy.

I really enjoyed the fact that although child and dog share a very close bond (Goldie even sleeps on Abby’s bed), the story doesn’t delve into the sadness that the two will feel at the time of separation. It rather focuses on the gifts that will be brought to both Goldie and her future vision-impaired owner.

A section with interesting facts and further information is included at the end of the story. An added bonus is that ‘Buying this book helps me become a Guide Dog!” as claimed by the gorgeous golden Labrador on the front cover.

Both girls and boys of primary school age will enjoy, and be informed by, this book.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The Castle in the Sea (Quest of the Sunfish 2)

The Castle in the Sea (Quest of the Sunfish 2) by Mardi McConnochie, (Allen and Unwin)  PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781760290924

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

The sailing adventures of Annalie, Will, Essie and Pod continue in the second ‘Quest of the Sunfish’ book, as they desperately search for Spinner. The story picks up about three weeks after the foursome escaped from Little Lang Lang Island, armed with the names of four important scientists. This novel focuses on their quest to find and talk to each scientist in the hope they’ll find Spinner. Their journey is highly dangerous. Aside from the ongoing threat of roaming pirates, they need to remain hidden from the Admiralty and, especially, Beckett (who is still pursuing them relentlessly). Then there’s the weather. The book begins with a ripper of a storm that causes two characters to become lost at sea … and the action never loses pace thereafter.

As per the first book, this is a highly gripping page-turner. The chapters are short, and there’s action aplenty. Mardi McConnochie slips in a few more details about the Collodius Process and why the research must be kept hidden from the government at all costs. She also clearly sets the direction for the closing novel in the trilogy, to be released in September 2017 – the foursome must make their way to the final scientist on the list, who lives on a mysterious island with extremely guarded borders. 

McConnochie occasionally offers the occasional recap as to what happened in ‘Escape to the Moon Islands’, but reading the first book is necessary to appreciate the background of the journey. There is also very little focus on the personalities and background stories of Annalie, Will, Essie and Pod in this one. The characters might not seem particularly interesting, or even likeable, without having read the first novel in the series. (The first novel has, incidentally, been shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book Prize 2017.) The novel should appeal to 9–12-year-olds who like adventure stories, along with readers who have an appreciation and love for science.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Hungry Isle: Star of Deltora Book 4

The Hungry Isle: Star of Deltora Book 4 by Emily Rodda (Omnibus Books) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 978-1-74299-133-7

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

All trades are completed, the contestants have done as much as they can, and it is now time to turn the Star of Deltora towards home. But the magic Staff of Tier has sensed Britta and her companions and is drawing them all towards the Hungry Isle. The shadowy wraiths who dance around Britta are growing in their excitement, becoming more visible, and increasing the tension between the ship’s crew and Trader Mab and her would-be Trader Rosalyn apprentices. What should Britta fear more, mutiny or the King of Tier? Is there any escape from the Hungry Isle?

The Hungry Isle is the fourth book in the wonderful Star of Deltora fantasy series, by popular Australian author Emily Rodda whose writing is varied and prolific. The Hungry Isle is a thrilling action-packed adventure, but it is also evocative and richly richly written.

The wraiths swooped around him, wild in their mourning, bright as exotic birds in the rainbow light. Their grief had made them daring. The king knew     he had to quell them.

Britta and her companions continue to grow throughout the series. As secrets are uncovered, intricate webs of untruths are picked apart.

Britta, Jewel and Sky were all characters I wanted to keep reading about when the story ended. In fact, I wanted to follow their lives beyond the pages of this book, even though the ending was totally satisfying with a wonderful twist I did not see coming.

The Star of Deltora is an absorbing and spellbinding series for middle grade readers. Its occasional links with other series by Rodda are subtle but add a depth to the stories and will delight Rodda fans when they come across them.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Seven Signs, Book 1: Skyfire

 The Seven Signs, Book 1: Skyfire by Michael Adams (Scholastic Australia) PB RRP $7.99   ISBN 978-1-74362-801-0

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

The Seven Signs is a new explosive and action packed series for middle grade readers by Australian author Michael Adams. Skyfire kicks the series off with the seven winners of the mysterious DARE competition all meeting for the first time and receiving amazing prizes. But this group of 15 year old geniuses are about to discover that there is something sinister lurking beneath the glitter, wealth and prestige of the award. That something will not only put their own lives in peril, but also the lives of those close to them. Will their combined intelligence be enough to solve the cryptic ‘signs’ being texted to them? And is there a connection between these signs and the shocking public attacks which are throwing whole countries into chaos?

By combining thrilling adventures, edge-of-your-seat action, exotic locations and unshakable friendship bonds, this series promises to deliver the same satisfying ‘teens save the world’ experience as The Last Thirteen series. The seven central characters are all likeable, not perfect and quirky enough to be interesting. Once you suspend your disbelief enough to allow for the post apocalyptic world which includes Space Skimmer ultra fast-jets, driverless taxis and other futuristic advances, it is not a big leap to fifteen year-olds who can save the world. And within this context, they do act in a believable way.

Jumping from character to character and location to location, keeps the action tight and constant. This is a book to speed-read cover to cover, with cliff hangers making it hard to put down. Skyfire is a thrilling read, perfect for adrenaline junkies and lovers of mystery, good versus evil plots and epic races to save the world.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Jinny and Cooper: Revenge of the Stone Witch

Jinny and Cooper: Revenge of the Stone Witch by Tania Ingram (Puffin Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143308997

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is the fourth in a series of chapter books suitable for readers 7 to 10 years. The narrator of this book is Jinny (short for Jinnifer) while Cooper is her scruffy, teleporting and talking guinea pig – a very greedy one at that with a preference for junk food.

During the school holidays too-polite Katie comes to stay next door to Jinny which is nice at first but soon Jinny is feeling jealous. Even brother Tyrone (who calls himself Super Booger) thinks Katie is ‘super awesome’. More trouble arrives when Miss Morgan moves into the nearby house last occupied by a witch: is the new neighbour a witch, too? (In the previous book, there is an adventure about a teacher who is a witch living in this house.)

Suspicions are aroused when a cloaked woman is seen digging in Jinny’s front garden at night. Who is the woman? Jinny and Tyrone discover a series of knotted strings where the woman dug. This is a clue which they follow – only to find that Miss Morgan was the culprit. She reveals much information to the children about a coven of witches and lets it be known that there is mischief afoot. Who is the real witch?

With Cooper’s help, the children find themselves in the home of elderly Mrs Goodfellow, Katie’s grand-mother. Females are turned to stone! Can the salt and potatoes – said to ward off witches – help save the day? And how does Cooper work to prevent more trouble?

There are lots of possibilities in this story which are sure to have young readers guessing, and too there is a lot of humour. The action moves quickly and the characters, especially Cooper, are idiosyncratic and engaging. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Ruby Redfort: Blink and You Die

Ruby Redfort: Blink and You Die by Lauren Child (Harper Collins Children’s Books) HB RRP $19.99  
ISBN 978000734285

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Award-winning English author Lauren Child has written the last book in her thrilling Ruby Redfort series. Blink and You Die is the sixth book in the fascinating world of super sleuth extraordinaire Ruby Redfort.  

Both boys and girls who are into code-cracking puzzles, reading maps and who also love a mystery to solve will find this book a perfect read. Readers enter the fictional world of secret agent Ruby who lives as an ordinary child in an ordinary world… until you look closer and scratch the surface.  All is not what it seems. Readers from 8 to 14 years would enjoy entering a children’s world full of mystery and becoming a secret agent.

The Count is a dark figure who wants Ruby dead. He is always lurking in the background shadows.  You can feel he is there but you can’t see him.

‘And one should always, in the words of Mrs Digby:
Fear the wolf that other wolves fear.’

Ruby knows to trust no one at Spectrum the spy agency, but characters who offer love and support surround her such as Mrs Digby the ever-faithful, rock-solid housekeeper who comes to Ruby’s rescue. Then there is Clancy, her bestie who is not a secret agent, but the most honest and reliable friend a girl could ask for. Hitch is the house butler, but really like a bodyguard to Ruby and a secret agent, too. He says, ‘Jeepers, kid relax a little. Anyone would think you were about to meet with the Grim Reaper.’

Without giving too much away, although there is evil around, Ruby is surrounded by goodness, too.  All is revealed at the Eye Ball.     

The story is set in the 1970’s back in the day before iphones and Internet so it is not as easy to source information.  The skills of note-taking and observation are crucial to solving the mysteries but you need the skill set of a genius master code cracker. ENTER RUBY’S WORLD IF YOU DARE!


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Squares & Other Shapes

Squares & Other Shapes with Josef Albers (Phaidon) HB RRP $14.95 
ISBN 9780714872551

Reviewed by Stephanie Ward

Focused on Albers’ modern series Homage to the Square, the second book in the First Concepts with Fine Artists series, Squares & Other Shapes, introduces young readers to shapes. From wobbly rectangles to sunny side up squares and bouncing circles, the most basic shapes are highlighted within Albers’ modern masterpieces.

Seeing various types of shapes in different formats creates a unique learning opportunity for the youngest readers. Squares sit within squares, circles come in many colours and sizes and triangles are oblong as well as flattened to reinforce the concepts of shapes. In addition, the back page with facts about Josef Albers life allows adults to expand on the lesson with information about the artist and his art.

These early concept board books are the first two in the First Concepts with Fine Artists series from Phaidon featuring famous artists and their art. It’s fantastic to see beautiful artwork re-imagined in a context suitable for the youngest eyes and in a way that helps them take their first steps into the art world. The next title in the series entitled Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso will be published in Spring 2017.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja 3: Rise of the Red Ninjas

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja 3: Rise of the Red Ninjas by Marcus Emerson (Allen and Unwin)  PB RRP $9.99
ISBN 9781760295578

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

A rival ninja clan – the Red Ninjas – is out to make Chase Cooper’s life impossible in this, the third novel in the Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series.

It all begins when a fast-moving, red-hooded thief steals Chase’s backpack right off his shoulder. In a panic, Chase goes after him, desperate to get back his ninja suit, science project … and that little love note to Faith. The red-hooded thief disappears in what can only be described as a notorious ninja move. By the end of the day, copies of the love note are plastered all over the school and Chase has earned the nickname ‘lover boy’.

It’s a social disaster as Chase tries to do some damage control to save his friendship with science partner – and secret crush – Faith. But the two of them have become the laughingstock of the school thanks to a new clan of ninjas, the red ninjas, who are out to humiliate Chase. Faith is mad at him, Zoe is mad at him. His best friend Brayden has been framed for theft … and Chase doesn’t have the courage to help him.

It is not necessary to have read the first two books in the series, because Emerson provides a recap at the beginning. However, readers of the first two books will immediately guess that Wyatt is behind all the trouble in this book.

The Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja stories are very entertaining reads for 7–12 year-olds. (This third novel has a highly amusing reference to the original version of The Karate Kid that sadly might be missed by younger readers though!)

Zoe remains the ever-so-cool cousin who takes the moral high ground to keep Chase in check, but there’s a difference in this third book (and it’s not just in the page length). Though Chase wins victory in an absurdly funny roller-skating spectacle of ‘Shoot the Duck’, justice is not served at the end. Rather:

‘… sometimes people get away with what they’ve done.’

Of course it cleverly indicates that this means war, thus setting the climax for the next book in the series.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Book: Shoot-Out at the Rock & The Horse Thief

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Book: Shoot-Out at the Rock & The Horse Thief by Jane Smith, illustrated by Pat Kan (Big Sky Publishing)   PB RRP $14.99                                                                                                                              ISBN 9781925275940 & 9781925520064

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here are two chapter books in the Tommy Bell series where readers can enjoy fast-paced fictional adventures with real bushrangers. In Shoot-Out at the Rock, Tommy is sent to Grandpa’s farm after getting into trouble at school near Uralla. There Grandpa gives him a horse called Combo to use. Together, horse and riding explore a cave: it is here that Tommy finds a bushranger’s cabbage-tree’ hat. Grandpa tells Tommy about a bushranger called Captain Thunderbolt who roamed around Uralla in the 1860s on his horse also called Combo. Thereafter Tommy is transported back in time to find himself involved with Fred Ward who bails up a coach. This turns out to be Captain Thunderbolt himself.

In the rest of the story, author Jane Smith interweaves Tommy’s journey with his family and Combo to a dressage event, with unpredictable ventures in 1850s Victorian goldfields. At the conclusion of this adventure story, there is an historical note about Thunderbolt as well as a question and answer section.

In The Horse Thief, Tommy again finds himself in trouble at school with a new friend. It transpires that Francis is less trouble than the bushranger Tommy meets while wearing his bushranger’s hat which once again takes him back to the gold rush days. Continuing his time-travel adventures, Tommy finds himself involved in a horse robbery, a police chase and a prison escape. This time he is involved, too, with another bushranger -- Francis Christie, a skilled horse rider whose alias is familiar to Australian history buffs – Frank Gardiner.

For readers who like historical facts, there are footnotes again in this book which tell more about Gardiner and his life. The writing in both books is clear and fast-paced while the illustrations that highlight aspects of the narration are stark and simple, with thick black lines reminiscent of wood-cut prints.

These books would suit readers, particularly boys, aged 9 to 12 years.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $9.99   ISBN 9781760295554

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

Desperate to make friends at his new school, Chase Cooper falls in with the wrong sort of crowd – a secret group of ninjas who are up to no good. In order to be initiated, he has to prove his worth by stealing from one of his classmates. His cousin Zoe, sympathetic to Chase’s struggle to make friends, goes along with it all at first. She quickly feels sickened by their lack of morals though, and angrily leaves the group.

The ninjas decide to retaliate by stealing the school fundraising money for the ‘Student Hunger Drive’ and framing Zoe for the theft – but they want Chase to be the one to set her up. Chase must work out whether belonging to a group is more important to him than hurting Zoe, his truest ally.

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja is the first book in a series currently featuring ten titles, all to be released for publication between the months of January and March, 2017. Author, Marcus Emerson, self-published the series first and achieved amazing success with over 200,000 copies of the books sold worldwide.

Readers aged 7–12 years will find this story fun and engaging. It is told from a first-person perspective and is rich in dialogue, making it easy to read. The sheer quirkiness of the tale also makes it hard to put down! (Chase describes it best when he says ‘I just lived through it, and even I don’t believe that tale.’) In amidst the fast paced action, Emerson explores themes of loneliness and social anxieties in a school-based setting.

The book does feature occasional black and white illustrations throughout, to complement the story. Its formatting is far more traditional compared to, say, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the Weirdo books, but I believe fans of those novels will enjoy this series also.

Emerson gives the series a strong sense of direction with this first novel, which finishes off with a leadership upset and an impending new adventure that ties in with the second book.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kids: Double Down

Diary of a Wimpy Kids: Double Down by Jeff Kinney (Puffin Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143309338

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Introducing book 11 in this phenomenally successful series which kids from the ages of 8 to 12 can’t seem to get enough of, especially boys who love humour! In fact the series is so popular it’s one of the most successful of children’s series ever published in world history, having won handfuls of children’s choice book awards. As millions of children will tell you, the Wimpy Kids books are animated diaries of Greg, an ordinary school boy. Of course they are formulaic but it’s testament to the American author that he has his pulse on how children think and the kinds of experiences they have in their lives.

In Double Down, Greg’s mum thinks that video games are ruining Greg’s mind: she wants him to stop playing them and to explore his ‘creative side’ instead. While practicing with his school band on his French horn, Greg, with a rip in his pants, is being helped by Rowley to disguise the hole when Dad comes in. Dad says that Greg and Rowley were ‘goofing off’ instead of performing with the band, and bans television and video games for two weeks. Greg subsequently discovers a bag of gummy worms which inspire him to get his mum off his back by making a movie. Perhaps he’ll become rich and famous as a result!

Typically, the story is told throughout from Greg’s point of view, with any speech, thoughts, or sound effects shown in balloons. There are frequent uses of font sizes and shapes to add interest to the reading experience. Here is a poem in an anthology which includes Greg’s poem: ‘My turtle Fred/He is not dead/He sleeps in his shell/And when he dies/I guess he will smell. 

The text is always written on ruled lines such as one would see in a child’s school exercise book, and there are black and white cartoon illustrations on most pages which break up the text and make it look more readable for a reluctant reader.

Kinney has explored many aspects of childhood in his Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and doubtless he will find more to continue this world-popular series. Who knows how many titles he can come up with? The latest statistics are that the series has sold over 165 million books globally and in 54 editions in 49 languages.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Miracle Goal

The Miracle Goal by Tony Wilson (ABC Books) HB RRP $14.99   ISBN 978-0-733335-46-4

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

The Miracle Goal is one of those books written from the heart.  It is based on the antics of the real life footy mad Selwood Boys, which makes it not only easy to read, but genuine and warm.  If you are an AFL fan and love footy, this is the book for you.  The book targets the 7 years plus age group and would also suit classroom teachers due to its broad range of topics so skillfully  covered.

Tony Wilson is a well-loved Australian author who inspires children to read and love books.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book to ignite a love of reading in a child and who needs to find a book that suits a child’s interests.  Boys in particular will gravitate to this story, but girls will also soak it up.

The Miracle Goal is part of a series of books based upon the Selwood boys’ childhood growing up in Bendigo, Victoria and is based upon the funny things that happened to the boys.  The topics covered include footy, family, sibling rivalry, competitveness, pranks, school, friendship, fairness, twins and having a disability, so you get a lot of bang in one story.  There is madness, mayhem, mischief and mateship.

The sign of a good writer is the ease in which you can read and enjoy the story and this book does that.  The first few chapters introduce each boy and their individuality and little quirks.  Then the scene is set around footy and school by portraying all the characters to paint a vivid picture. I won’t give too much away as I think you need to read the book.

For some light hearted fun with learning along the way give ‘The Miracle Goal’ a whirl and remember to be the best that you can be. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Alby and the Cat All Holed Up

Alby and the Cat All Holed Up by Leanne Davidson (LJD Books) PB RRP $9.95 ISBN 9780980724134

Reviewed by Ashling Kwok

Alby and the Cat All Holed Up is the third instalment in this delightful series about a clever guide dog and his mischievous feline friend.
In this book for children aged 5 to 7 years, Alby, Jim and Ellen visit a local school to talk to children about what it is like to be blind and to share their experiences with having a guide dog,

While they are there, Alby notices a familiar face in the crowd, a young boy who previously terrorised him and caused him great distress. Alby is agitated and can’t stop thinking about the boy.

Cat advises Alby to take revenge but in an unexpected turn, Alby gains the upper hand and has to make an important decision. What should he do? Forgive and forget, or make the boy pay?
Leanne Davidson wrote this series based on her father’s experience with guide dogs. Leanne’s dad was blinded in an industrial accident years ago and had a beautiful black guide dog called Duke for 13 years who changed his world.

Leanne wanted the readers, and children in particular, to know how wonderful and special guide dogs are, and the difference they make in the life of a visually impaired person.

Alby and the Cat All Holed Up is a lovely book about friendship, courage and the power of forgiveness. It a great tool for educating young children about how to behave around visually impaired people and guide dogs, and is highly recommended.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Ruby Red Shoes goes to London

Ruby Red Shoes goes to London by Kate Knapp (Angus & Robertson) HB RRP $19.95   ISBN 978-0-732297-62-6

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London is the third book in Australia’s popular and most well travelled series that 4-8 year old children are sure to love.

Ruby the hare loves to travel and this time, wearing her ruby red shoes of course, she’s off to London with its red phone boxes, red letterboxes and red buses.  Maybe she’ll meet the Queen? Maybe she’ll have a delightful afternoon tea?  But there is more to this clever book than travel tales. It warms your heart from the inside out with family love and an understanding of death.  This book shows that we are all connected to the vast universe.  Ruby is full of wonder as she embraces the magic of living in and exploring London.  Most of all, there is gratitude for the place she calls home.

Kate Knapp’s illustrations shine with a whimsical touch that has superbly illustrated the story.  The soft colours have a very English feel and show life in London so well from the trains that run along burrows and swoosh alongside platforms to the hop on, hop off, red buses and all the London sights along the way. There are little snippets of information through the illustrations which help add to the story.  The sheer wonder of Buckingham Palace is so beautifully illustrated with detail.   London looks truly delightful.

The text paints London accurately with descriptive words and verbs -- for example ‘Ruby receives their affections with open arms, so much so that she is soon off-balance and sitting in a joyful pool of corgi cuddles and kisses.’

The book touches upon the topics of adventure and travel, family and friends, the universe, our global connection to the world and so much more.   Ruby Red Shoes is a book to be loved and treasured forever.  It is well worth a read for both children and adults.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Ella Diaries: Worst Camp Ever

Ella Diaries: Worst Camp Ever by Meredith Costain, Illustrated by Danielle McDonald (Scholastic Australia) PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 978-1-76015-718-0

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

In the safety of her diary pages, Ella writes about her life, events, fears, triumphs and biggest secrets, many of which will be totally recognisable for the young girls – between the ages of seven and eleven years – who will read the Ella Diaries series. From her struggles at school to tackling the complicated tangles of social relationships and navigating the currents of friendships, Ella bares her soul on the pains of growing up and grade six.

In Worst Camp Ever, Ella goes on school camp with her class and discovers it is not all fun and excitement. Firstly, she has to share a cabin with scheming Peach Parker and her mean girl clique. Then there are scary noises at night. Not only that, she has to face the flying fox, one of her greatest fears.

And then it was my turn next.
And then the butterflies started fluttering around inside my stomach.
And whirlpools started whirling around in my ears.
And my brain went all fizzy, like it was going to explode into a gazillion trillion pieces.
So I swapped places in the line with Zoe. And then with Cordelia. And then with all the other Barracudas who hadn’t had a go yet.

Filled with doodles, drawings and the occasional poem, this is a light and humorous look at just how hard primary school can be. Ella has a delightful and entertaining voice and the intimacy of the diary text comes off naturally.

A popular series already, Ella Diaries is similar in feel to the well-known and loved series for boys, Tom Gates.