Gleebooks Education 

March 2016

Gleebooks Bookshop - Thursday, February 25, 2016
To the Librarians and Teachers

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from Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke, Austral Ed No 52 , March 2016

Greetings from Kate, Mandy and Maija.

A very belated welcome to the new school year for our Australian customers, Easter is almost upon us! We may have been quiet but by no means idle, changes are afoot at Austral, the first of which is that the newsletter is now being sent from Gleebooks, more information to follow in our next newsletter. Whilst Maija has been wrestling with logistical matters, Kate & Mandy have taken the opportunity to read and review a wonderful selection of books that we hope will more than make up for the long delay.

We wanted to let everyone know about the next Conference organised through the Literature Centre in Fremantle Western Australia. The Celebrate Reading National Conference: Insights into Quality Australian Literature for Young Adults will be held from 28th to 29th October 2016. This is the fifth Conference organised by the Literature Centre and the focus this year will be for the secondary school. This is a popular Conference where there are no concurrent sessions and there are plenty of opportunities for discussion. For more information check out the website:

Vale Kim Gamble 1953-2016. I was so sad to hear of the passing of Kim Gamble, aged only 63. He was such a well-loved Australian illustrator of children's books, both picture books and fiction. Probably most well-known for illustrating the popular Tashi and Minton series by Anna Fienberg, he also illustrated many lovely picture books, including First Day by Margaret Wild and Our School Fete by our very own Louise Pfanner. His long-term collaboration with Anna Fienberg also produced two Tashi picture books: There Once Was a Boy Named Tashi and Once Tashi Met a Dragon. Kim visited many schools in Australia and internationally, and was widely known for his inspiring and engaging talks during which he would create magnificent pictures with seeming great ease while he chatted! After a visit to the British School in Tokyo, Richie Steven said that the students were so enthused that they all wanted to be illustrators.
His wonderful illustrations always perfectly complemented the text of the many authors he collaborated with, and he will be sadly missed by us all. 

Picture Books

Pig the Winner by Aaron Blabey hardback 9781760154288 $16.99
That naughty pug, Pig, is at again, showing us exactly what he’s made of as he cheats his way to the podium. Poor long-suffering Trevor is happy to just play for fun, but if Pig doesn’t win he turns on such a tantrum that Trevor gives in and says ‘OK. You win’. In a race to gobble his dinner down first, Pig actually swallows his bowl and we’re treated to the hilarious sight of Trevor administering the Heimlich manoeuvre. It seems Pug has learnt his lesson as he sits quietly, with his head bandaged, playing cards; but hang on, what are those cards he’s holding behind his back……..?
Australian (3-6 year olds) MC
See also: Pig the Pug hardback 9781743624777 $16.99 (Shortlisted 2015 CBCA Awards) Pig the Fibber hardback 9781743629062 $16.99

New Year Surprise! by Christopher Cheng & Di Wu (illus) hardback 9780642278838 $24.99
Little Brother has a special job to do during the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, but he doesn’t yet know what it is. As he wonders, the text and illustrations show his family making traditional preparations for the Festival in a snowy village in northern China. The detailed, colourful illustrations show us many aspects of family life in this small village. Several pages at the end of the book give additional information about Festivals in China.
Australian (4 – 6 years) KS

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc, translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone hardback 9780994109873 $30.00
So often children’s books that have been translated have a different sensibility. This one, originally Le lion et l’oiseau, has a delightful charm which will bring a smile to both child and adult. The illustrations are simple, naive even, but provide much of the charm in their depiction of the lion who lives in a small house and tends his garden. When a small bird falls from the sky, away from the other migrating birds, the lion cares for the bird through the long winter. They enjoy each other’s company. The bird is often depicted perched on the lion’s mane or tucked into his slippers near his bed. The lion is so sad when the bird flies off with the other migrating birds at the beginning of spring and so happy when he returns again at the beginning of autumn. This is a delightful story from an Award winning author and illustrator. (3 – 6 years) KS

Nannie Loves by Kylie Dunstan hardback 9781921504839 $24.99 Nannie lives on a farm and she loves everything about it! She loves her woolly sheep, her bouncy dog, her lazy cows, her hungry chooks and her lovely garden full of fruit trees, flowers and vegetables. And she loves grandpa, who is tall and strong and has lots of checked shirts. Most of all she loves it when her family comes to Sunday lunch and every seat at the table is filled. This warm, uncomplicated picture book is a celebration of family and nature, and the bold, colourful collage, gouache and pencil illustrations are absolutely delightful. Australian (3-6 year olds) MC

Miss Mae’s Saturday by Justine Flynn & J Yi (illus) hardback 9780857988577 $24.99
Mae loved Saturdays because Grandma came to visit and they went on marvellous adventures to the ballet, the zoo, and picnics in the park. However, this was a rainy Saturday and Mae’s convinced it’ll be a boring afternoon, stuck inside, until Grandma produces a big, empty cardboard box. With a bit of imagination they can go anywhere in the world! They climb in and the next thing you know they’re in Africa, bumping along a dusty road in a jeep. After a close encounter with a rhino they make their escape in an aeroplane, flying through blossom trees in Korea, drinking tea at a tea ceremony before zooming off to the moon in a space rocket. This has been their best adventure ever! A celebration of imagination and the bond between a little girl and her grandmother.
Australian (3-6 year olds) MC

Mother Bruce by Ryan T Higgins hardback 9781484730881 $29.00
Bruce is a grumpy, anti-social bear who only likes one thing – eggs. He collects them from all over the forest and looks up fancy recipes on the internet. One day he had a most unwelcome surprise when the goose eggs he’d collected hatched and ‘Bruce became the victim of mistaken identity’. The goslings thought he was their mother and no matter how hard he tried or how grumpy he got, he just couldn’t get rid of them! He tried to make the best of a bad situation, but it was hard work looking after four annoying baby geese. As the seasons passed, they turned into stubborn teenage geese, then boring adult geese. In a last-ditch effort, Bruce explained migration but still they stayed. With a big sigh, Bruce gave up. Now, every winter, he packs their bags and they all head south to Miami where they ‘laze about at the beach in tacky shirts, sipping ice-cold lemonade…..’. The humour is intensified by the excellent illustrations, such as Bruce walking in the forest with a shopping trolley, sourcing local ingredients. Laugh-out-loud funny! (4-6 or 7 year olds) MC

Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Lindsay Mattick & Sophie Blackall (illus) hardback 9781408340233 $24.99
This is such a lovely story, which happens to be true, about the original real bear called Winnie, which inspired Christopher Robin to call his own bear Winnie. Lindsay, the author, is telling the story to her own small son Cole. A vet named Harry was travelling by train with other soldiers from Winnipeg on their way to the fighting in Europe. On the way, he saw a small brown bear on a railway platform and bought her in order to ensure that she was well cared for. She became the mascot of his company and went with them all the way to England. Before Harry left for the fighting in Europe, he took Winnie to the London Zoo where Christopher Robin saw her and was able to play with her. The illustrations are engaging and expressive and perfectly match the heartwarming story. At the end of the book it is explained that Cole was Harry’s great-great grandson. There is also an Album containing photos of Harry and Winnie and also a company photo of the other soldiers, Harry and their mascot Winnie. Very surprisingly there is also a photo of Christopher Robin with Winnie in the bear enclosure at the London Zoo! A most engaging story which will delight fans of Christopher and Winnie-the Pooh. (4 – 8 years) KS

Joey Counts to Ten by Sally Morgan & Ambelin Kwaymullina (illus) hardback 9781760121266 $24.99
This lovely, rhythmic picture book by indigenous Australian mother and daughter team Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina is a joy to read. On one level it is a simple counting book, with mother kangaroo asking on each page “Little Joey, what can you see?”. Little Joey’s replies “One kookaburra laughing”, “Two frogs splashing”, “Three emus nesting” and so on, introduce a variety of Australian birds, animals and reptiles, all depicted in the colourful illustrations. The brief but poetic text introducing each number takes us through Joey’s day, from the moment the “sun glides, dark hides, and Joey wakes”, a thunderstorm, followed by a rainbow, dusk, and then “moon beams, stars gleam, and Joey sighs. Ten kangaroos dreaming. Sssssh…” I think this is one of their best! Australian. (2-5 year olds) MC

The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, the Bard and other dramatic tales by Gregory Rogers hardback 9781760112394 $29.99
This book combines the three delightfully expressive textless picture books about the Boy. In The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, the Bard the boy is suddenly cast into the world of Elizabethan England. Through Rogers’ joyful, detailed and funny illustrations we join the chase with the boy and the bear. In The Hero of Little Street while escaping from some bullies, the Boy finds himself in an Art Gallery and as he wanders past one of Vermeer’s famous paintings a little dog suddenly jumps out of the painting. They explore together and then hop into another of Vermeer’s paintings and find themselves in the streets of Delft in the time of Vermeer. More adventures follow. In each of these stories, there is so much to observe and so much action which is very easily followed in spite of the fact that there are no words. Gregory Rogers has created some remarkable characters and a wonderful world through his vibrant and expressive illustrations. Midsummer Knight is the other story included.
Australian (6 – 10 years) KS

Stanley by Colin Thompson hardback 9780733332852 $24.99 Stanley, a chunky lop-eared dog, loved four things: his bed, his dinner, his red rubber ball and his human, Gerald. Stanley lived with Gerald and his Mum. Gerald, a shy, awkward lad, loved three things: his Mum, Stanley and lego. Their life was very routine and peaceful, but sometimes Stanley felt quite lonely. Then one day at the park Lulu the dog ran off with his beautiful red ball, and their lives were about to change completely, because the next day Lulu’s owner and his daughter Felicity returned the ball and soon became regular visitors. Stanley forgave Lulu for stealing his ball, Gerald stopped blushing every time Felicity spoke to him, and Gerald’s Mum and Felicity’s Dad started baking biscuits together. Before long there was a wedding and the “house was filled up with a whole family”. As with many of Colin Thompson’s picture books, this one is imbued with a sense of melancholy, accentuated by the colour palette. Much like Raymond Briggs, he depicts ordinary people living ordinary lives; there’s nothing shiny here, but there is a lovely warmth and depth to the story with its satisfying happy ending.
Australian. (5-8 year olds) MC

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark & April Ghu (illus) hardback 9781939547200 $23.00
I had never heard of Ada Byron Lovelace. Amazingly she was the daughter of Lord Byron, but was taken away by her mother when only a small baby to escape her father’s scandalous behaviour. However Ada is famous in her own right as the first person ever to write a computer programme and in recognition of her work a computer programme called Ada was recently named after her. The story of her passion for numbers and science and for inventing things is told through a lively text and lushly coloured illustrations depicting the elaborate fashions of the day. Though her importance is debated, hers was an amazing story of passion for mathematics at a time when this was most unusual for a woman. It may inspire other young girls with a love of numbers. There is a timeline and an author’s note giving additional background information.
(8 – 12 years) KS

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie Walsh hardback 9781406344455 $24.99
In this bright, colourful picture book, Isaac tells us he has special superpowers that make him different to his brother and the other kids at school. He describes his feelings and his view of the world in a clear and positive way, finally confessing that he’s not really a superhero, but has Asperger’s, which just means that his brain works a little differently. This would be a great book to share in a classroom or in a family setting, helping children to understand the behaviour of a friend or sibling who has Asperger’s. (3-7 year olds) MC

Chicken Clicking by Jeanne Willis & Tony Ross (illus) pb 9781783441617 $16.99
I am always pleased to see a new book from this talented pair. They work so well together and combine to produce a special sort of humour which I find very appealing. The ending of this picture book in retrospect is so obvious but somehow it surprised me. Chicken Clicking has worked out how to go online on the farmer’s computer and generously orders things for herself and all the animals on the farm, much to the consternation of the farmer. She is having such fun and finally sets up a meeting with an unknown friend she meets on the internet and you can guess what is waiting for Chicken Clicking in the wood! It is funny, a bit scary and it has a strong message. This book would be a great way to introduce the topic of internet safety to young children but it could equally be used with older children as a way of introducing discussion on this topic.
(5 – 11 years) KS


A Pocket Full of Murder by R J Anderson pb 9781408338933 $15.99 Twelve year old Isaveth and her three sisters Lilet, Mimmi and Anna live together in a little house on Cabbage Street in the city of Tarreton. Struggling after their mother’s death they have to bake magic tablets to earn an income. All was fine until their father was arrested, accused of killing the governor, Master Orien. Isaveth and her friend Quiz need to solve the mystery of what really happened before time runs out. This gripping magical mystery will keep you guessing as each clue is more puzzling than the next. Can Isaveth and Quiz solve the murder or will Isaveth’s dad be TRUTH BOUND! This is a fantastic magical murder mystery and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime fiction or fantasy. (11-14 year olds). Review by Ryan O’Dempsey (Age 11)

The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey pb 9781760150426 $9.99
It is not often that I come across a book written for beginner or early readers that makes me laugh out loud. But Aaron Blabey has an unusual sense of humour and this book is very funny. Mr Wolf has decided that he wants to shed his bad guy image “ just because I’ve got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy.” He really is very nice just like his friends Mr Snake, Mr Piranha and Mr Shark. These friends are not yet convinced that they want to be part of the Good Guys Club but Mr Wolf is most persuasive. The story is written in constantly varying text sizes that leap off the page. Together with the appealing, at times crazy illustrations they make a very engaging and amusing reading experience. The books would also be such fun to read aloud. Mr Wolf manages to convince his friends that they want to do good and to be heroes. They see a cat up a tree and try to rescue it, much to its terror as it sees that its rescuers are a wolf, a piranha, a snake and a shark. In the second book in the series they try to rescue 1,000 chickens trapped in a high-tech chicken farm. Again much laughter, as Mr Snake alias the Chicken Swallower has to be continually persuaded not to eat the chickens.
Australian (5-10 years) KS
The Bad Guys: Episode 2: Mission Unpluckable pb 9781760154127 $12.99
The Bad Guys: Episode 3:The Furball Strikes Back pb 9781760157265 $12.99

Proving to be an extremely popular series! Due end April 2016

Tiny Timmy, Soccer Superstar!: Book 1 Tiny Timmy by Tim Cahill & Julian Gray & Heath McKenzie (illus) pb 9781760158880 $12.99
A new junior fiction series by Socceroos legend Tim Cahill. Soccer-mad Timmy is desperate to make the school team and play alongside his best mate Mike, but Timmy is small for his age and much to the amusement of Studs and Hacker, the school bullies, he’s given the job of orange boy. Coach Roach is really encouraging though, telling him to practice until he can’t practice any more. And so he does, discovering that he has a secret weapon - he can jump REALLY high! Impressed, coach puts him on the bench for their next game, and when Timmy goes on towards the end, he scores the match-winning goal. The text, scattered with different-sized fonts, is friendly and there are black and white illustrations throughout. Girls are part of the team and I like the message that everyone has their strengths and if you practice hard you can hone those skills.
Australian. (6-8 year olds) MC
Also in the series: Tiny Timmy Makes the Grade!: Book 2 pb 9781760273644 $12.99

The Rig by Joe Ducie pb 9781471402197 $16.99

Joe Ducie’s debut novel is a riveting sci-fi, prison break teen-fic that you won’t be able to put down. Will Drake is a 15 year old boy who has bounced around the world’s worst juvenile prisons, and effectively managed to escape from all of them. His actions have landed him on the Rig, an isolated oil rig turned prison in Arctic waters. Its purpose? To house the worst of the worst. But Drake is an escape artist, and a creative one at that. He knows there is always a weak link. But the Rig is a much more brutal prison than anything he has experienced, and he knows it’s going to take some serious smarts to make it out this time. Drawing on friendship, courage and daring, Drake fights off mobs of armed guards and jacked up muscle bound prisoners, all while plotting his escape. He is constantly monitored and tracked and it looks like escape from the Rig really is impossible. That is, until he makes a discovery. The Rig hides secrets beneath the icy waters, ones which, if delved into, will put everyone in lethal danger. I blasted through this book in a single night, unable to put it down. This is an excellent prison break story with many elements of the teen-fic genre such as characters with superpowers struggling in a dystopian world run by an authoritarian private government. The plot, with its many twists, just kept on building suspense until the thrilling climax. Definitely recommended. (13/14+ year olds). Kai Cook-Pedersen (age 14) 

Mutant City by Steve Feasey pb 9781408865088 $15.99 On a scorched earth destroyed by chemical warfare, a boy named Rush grows up on a farm outside the walls of C4. He was one of the five illegal experiments created by President Melk. The world is divided into those who are mutants and those who are pure. Jax, a mutant, sends a telepathic message to all the mutants that they are in grave danger. All the mutants must travel to Jax to unite against President Melk and demand rights for the mutants. Will they get Melk or will he get them first? I recommend this book for those who like adventure, fantasy or superhero fiction.
(11-14 year olds) Review by Ryan O’Dempsey (Age 11)

A Friend and A Pet: Book 2 The Cleo Stories by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood (illus) hardback 9781743315286 $16.99
Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood have collaborated on some lovely, award-winning books over the years. This is their second book in a series for young readers, and contains another two stories about 6 year old Cleo, a thoughtful, creative little girl, and her family. The first story explores themes of friendship as Cleo is bored and, finding her friends and family are all busy, she invents a friend in the mirror. In the second story Cleo longs for a pet just like Peanut, her friend Nick’s cute little puppy. Her parents are reluctant, citing the responsibilities that come with a pet, so Cleo lines a shoebox with shiny green leaves and grass and adopts five of the snails that are eating Dad’s veggies. Young readers, and their parents, will find these simple, charming stories about everyday life to be familiar and easy to relate to, and the gorgeous illustrations are an added bonus!
Australian. (6-8 or 9 year olds) MC Also in this series: The Necklace and The Present: Book 1 The Cleo Stories hardback 9781743315279 $16.99 Winner 2015 CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers

The Princess in Black: Book 1 Shannon & Dean Hale & LeUyen Pham (illus) hardback 9780763665104 $19.99 pb 9780763678883 $9.99
Perfect, prim, pink Princess Magnolia has a HUGE secret (and so does her ‘unicorn’ Frimplepants, with his golden hooves and horn and sparkly mane). She lives near the entrance to Monster Land and when trouble strikes she transforms into her alter-ego, the Princess in Black, galloping off on her trusty, fearless steed Blacky (yep, you guessed it) to stop the hungry monsters eating Duff’s goats. Duff the goat boy is ever-so grateful. Full of admiration for the feisty Princess in Black, he throws together a costume and starts training, dreaming that one day he’ll fight by her side. She sort of reminds him of someone ………. Delightfully funny and feisty, with a great balance of text and colourful illustrations, this series has been so popular with early readers (and their parents). We’re regularly asked by our customers, both big and small, when the next book is due!
(5-7 year olds) MC Also in the series: The Princess in Black & the Perfect Princess Party: Book 2 hardback 9780763665111 $19.99, pb 9780763687588 $9.99 (due April 2016) The Princess in Black & the Hungry Bunny Horde: Book 3 hardback 9780763665135 $19.99

Iluminae (The Illuminae Files 01) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff pb 9781760113803 $19.99
This is a very large, bulky book which I found intimidating because of its size and format. It is one of those books which has a huge variety of types and page formats and includes diagrams, black or blank pages with just a tiny bit of print and has long ribbons of thin text running in waves across the page. I find this daunting but I know that many young adults find it appealing. It has also just been shortlisted for the Science Fiction section of the Australian Aurealis Awards and has received many rave reviews from young adults. The book is supposedly a series of documents, many of them hacked, describing the horrific attack on a small planet on the edge of the universe in 2575. Kady and Ezra are in the middle of an unhappy break up at the time of the attack, but manage with thousands of others to fight their way onto the evacuation fleet where they end up on different space ships. While being pursued by an enemy warship, they discover that a deadly mutating virus is ravaging one of the fleeing spaceships and they are uncertain if the fleet’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) is protecting them or is their enemy. All this is told through various hacked documents, including emails, communication records of conversations, reviews, and military and medical files. Kady is a hacker extraordinaire and through her efforts, she and Ezra keep up a stream of conversation and continue their romance. This provides much back-chat and at times eccentric humour contrasting with the descriptions of death and destruction elsewhere. Many young adult readers will be attracted to the innovative narration and design of Illuminae, the first in a series of three books.
Australian (12 – 17 years) KS

The Flyaway Girls by Julia Lawrinson pb 9780143308652 $14.99
I thought at first that this story would be very predictable – yet another hard-working gymnast whose dedication pays off. However it turned out to be a much more interesting story than I had expected. Chelsea is so dedicated and determined to gain selection to the National gymnast team that she practises to the exclusion of her friends and family. She is devastated when a new girl, Telia, is chosen instead because she has such natural talent. It is interesting how Lawrinson explores the different aptitudes and talents of the two girls. Telia has a natural talent but hates the repetitive routines of the top team where there is so much tension and hard work and no one seems to enjoy themselves. For Chelsea it is a breakthrough when she tries skiing for the first time and discovers that her skills make it easy for her and she finds it so exhilarating and enjoyable. Chelsea’s character develops convincingly as she gradually gets over her jealousy of Telia and through her new-found love of skiing comes to terms with her father’s new partner. The ending of the book is refreshing as the girls work on and adapt a gymnastic performance that Chelsea was going to put on alone at her school and together they give an entertaining performance drawing on their skills but making it more like a circus performance which is so much fun for the two girls.
Australian (8 – 11 years) KS

Talk Under Water by Kathryn Lomer pb 9780702253690 $19.95
I dread to pick up some young adult books nowadays as I find many of them depressing and full of angst. So I was pleased that I found Talk Under Water such a refreshing change. Will and Summer each have their problems in coming to terms with the loss of a parent but they are intrigued by each other and although there are a few glitches, they delight in getting to know each other better. Both Will and Summer have great admiration for Jessica Watson; in fact it was through Jessica’s facebook page that they got to meet on the internet. Will is also a sailor and Summer is thrilled when he offers to take her sailing, one of her dreams. There are many beautiful descriptions of sailing out to Bruny Island on the eastern coast of Tasmania and of the sea, sky and wildlife. Will describes the boat and how to sail and, along with Summer, I found this fascinating. However the main interest of the book is the way communication between Summer and Will develops. Summer is deaf, but Will finds that Summer can express herself in so many ways. There is AUSLAN (the Australian sign language which Will learns), and writing notes and her face and gestures are extraordinarily expressive. There is much to like about this book; the main characters are believable, there are beautiful descriptions of the landscape, sailing and the sea and there are also insights into the very expressive world of the deaf. Australian (12 - 17 years) KS

Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh pb 9781509803569 $16.99 Sully and his mum have no money and could be evicted any day now. In order to stay in New York, Sully must sell mysterious spheres at the flea markets. The Spheres are highly sought after. If you burn a pair of spheres they can make you a little taller, better looking, faster or smarter. Sully meets a girl called Hunter who enjoys finding spheres. The two of them set off to hunt for spheres and what they find will be AMAZING! As the world fights over the spheres, Sully and Hunter will be forced to investigate where the spheres come from and why they are here. I really enjoyed this gripping novel and I recommend it for readers who like action and adventure stories. (12-15 year olds) Review by Ryan O’Dempsey (Age 11)

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay pb 9781925081701 $16.99
This is a chilling, disturbing world that Meg McKinlay has created. It is a matriarchal world where the Mothers try to appease the mountain and young girls are bound and given less food to keep them as small as possible. Seven special girls are chosen to form a line and go into the mountain’s narrow fissures and collect the harvest of mica, so necessary to provide warmth to the village and enable them to survive through the long winter. The story is dark in its depiction of a harsh and often cruel world but the reader is drawn to the main character Jena in particular, as she begins to question the Mothers and their actions. It is a gripping and well-told story. Australian (12 – 16 years) KS

The Beauty is in the Walking by James Moloney pb 9780732299941 $16.99
James Moloney is such a reliable author of well-written and engaging fiction for teenagers. Here his main character Jacob, struggles with his cp (cerebral palsy) and also with trying to work out just how much he can achieve on his own. Jacob is a complicated but likeable character. He has a lot of support from friends and also from family but at times he wonders if the support is a help or hindrance to his finding out just what he is capable of. A terrible crime provides the means by which Jacob takes a stand apart from his friends and family. Because we become so involved with Jacob and his day-to-day struggles we also learn about cerebral palsy and the difficulties it causes to someone who has only a milder version.
An enjoyable read for 12 to 16 year olds. Australian KS

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix pb 9781760112653 $18.99
I was perplexed at first on reading Newt’s Emerald because the plot and characters seemed really so silly. However gradually I found the characters amusing in their silliness and as the plot developed so did the number of fantastical elements which added greatly to the humour and so finally I was able to relax and to read this romance with amused enjoyment. The novel is set in the Regency period and many of the characters and the events are based on fact, however Nix takes great delight in giving some of these events a fantastical twist so that Napoleon Bonaparte is imprisoned, not on the island of St Helen’s but is imprisoned by magic within the Rock of Gibraltar. Much of the twists, humour and excitement of the plot revolve around the fact that the Newington Emerald belonging to eighteen-year-old Lady Truthful Newington has disappeared. Truthful is a feisty young woman and wants to help search for the Emerald in London but as a respectable young woman she cannot go out alone and so at times she disguises herself as a man. This leads to adventures, with many twists of plot and a strong romantic element. Within all of this, there is magic, as well as sorcery and sorcerers, resulting in a romance which would be an entertaining read for 12 – 15 year olds. Australian KS

The Timberfield Talent Show: Book 5 Lola’s Toybox series by Danny Parker & Guy Shield (illus) pb 9781760126742 $12.99
When Lola and Buddy climb out of the toybox in their latest adventure, they find themselves in Timberfield, a land in The Kingdom where wooden toys are made. In fact, everything is made of wood. They’re just in time for the Timberfield Talent Show and toys are arriving from all over The Kingdom to take part. Amidst the excitement however, there’s a problem. The Timberfield Treasure, a special collection of silver buttons given as first prize in the show, has been stolen. Lola and Buddy find themselves on stage and are a big hit in more ways than one as they come up with a clever plan to catch the thieves. Australian. (6-8 year olds). Also in the series: The Patchwork Picnic: Book 1 9781760124366 $12.99 (reviewed in Oct 2015 Book News), On the Story Sea: Book 2 pb 9781760124373 $12.99, Treasure Trove: Book 3 pb 9781760124380 $12.99, The Plastic Palace: Book 4 pb 9781760124397 $12.99

The Bamboo Sword by Margi Preus hardback 9781419708077 $31.00
In 1853, Commodore Perry and four American steam ships came into the forbidden Edo Harbour in Japan much to the amazement of the Japanese. Japan had been isolated from outside events and technological changes for some 250 years. The USA wanted to use a show of strength to force Japan to open its ports to trade and contact with the USA. The encounter between these two very different countries was documented by numerous Japanese artists who were fascinated by the strange dress and appearance of these barbarians and of the ships belching smoke. Margi Preus makes use of these remarkable drawings to illustrate her novel set in this period. Yoshi is a thirteen year old Japanese boy of humble background who dreams of fighting these barbarians threatening his country. He is befriended by Manjiro on his way to advise the shogun about these western intruders since he had been educated in the US. Many of you may know of the story of Manjiro in non-fiction form in Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese boy by Rhoda Blumberg pb 9780688174859 $16.00 and as a novel by Margi Preus in Heart of a Samurai hardback 9780810989818 $19.95 pb 9781419702006 $11.95, the companion novel to The Bamboo Sword. It tells of Manjiro’s rescue by an American whaler, his education in the US and later return to Japan. Through his contact with Manjiro, Yoshi has many adventures used by Preus to dramatise the momentous happenings during this period of contact. She gives another perspective to the story by telling part of it also through the eyes of a young cabin boy on one of the ships, thus giving an account of the amazement of both the Americans and the Japanese at the very different appearances, language, customs and culture of these two nations. There was much fear and suspicion on both sides. There is a detailed glossary, and the author’s notes provide more factual details about this period. Fascinating. (11 – 14 years.) KS

Mister Cassowary by Samantha Wheeler pb 9780702253881 $14.95 Flynn’s Grandad Barney died about a year ago, and Flynn has to help his Dad clean up Grandad Barney’s banana farm near Mission Beach in north Queensland so it can be sold. There’s quite a bit of mystery surrounding his Grandad’s death and Flynn is frustrated by his Dad’s reluctance to tell him what happened, and also puzzled as to why his Dad is so afraid of cassowarys, the strange, flightless, dinosaur-like birds that inhabit north-eastern Australia. And why does Grandad have a Mister Cassowary certificate hanging in his room? When Flynn finds two baby cassowarys in the undergrowth he shares his secret with local girl Abby, who helps him find the answers to his questions. The arrival of Cyclone Peter, with winds of over 190 kilometres an hour, brings Flynn and his Dad closer together as they batten down the hatches and ride out the storm.
Australian (9-11 year olds) MC

Trouble at Home by Cate Whittle & Kim Gamble (illus) pb 9781742990767 $9.99 Arriving home from school, Georgia was just in time to see a giant green dragon steal their house – it just picked it up in its claws and flew off! Luckily, Gran was outside at the washing line. Upsetting for everyone, especially Mum, Georgia’s little brother Godfrey was inside the house. Georgia was the only one paying attention, an actual eyewitness, but no-one believes her, so when a van delivering potato chips and fizzy sarsaparilla drink (Godfrey’s favourites) disappears into thin air, Georgia decides to take things into her own hands. After doing some research on dragons in the school library, she and her younger brother Henry set off on their bikes, get lost on the mountain after dark and end up face-to-face with Trouble the dragon, who has wedged their house between some rocks in a very scenic valley. The house is stuck, Trouble is lonely and fed up with looking after Godfrey, so he suggests the whole family move in with him. There are a few problems to iron out but overall it works out pretty well; there’s lots of room to play, plant a big veggie garden AND they go to school by dragon express! A fun read for newly confident readers, with lovely black and white illustrations throughout. Australian (7-9 or 10 year olds) MC

Squishy Taylor & the Bonus Sisters: Book 1 Squishy Taylor by Ailsa Wild & Ben Wood (illus) pb 9781760126759 $12.99
This is the first book in a new Australian junior fiction/mystery series. Eleven year old Sita, known as Squishy, lives with her dad, her step-mum Alice, baby half-brother and twin step-sisters, Vee and Jessie. She misses her mum, who works for the UN in Geneva, and they talk regularly on Skype. Squishy’s not too keen on her new situation and although her dad says Vee and Jessie are ‘bonus sisters’, she’s yet to be convinced. When Squishy discovers a runaway boy hiding in the storeroom of their underground car park, she sneaks him food, and determined to get to the bottom of his story, she shares her secret with Vee and Jessie. This brings them closer together, and they decide to form a club to take revenge on their cranky neighbour, Mr Hinkenbushel. As with all siblings, they have their ups and downs, and being sassy and impulsive, Squishy doesn’t always do and say the right things. She does, however, learn the value of saying sorry, and they do get to the bottom of the runaway boy mystery, reuniting him with his dad. The story is fast-paced, and a refreshing portrayal of a modern blended family. As Squishy says ‘This is what normal looks like now’. Australian. (8-10 year olds) MC Also in the series: Squishy Taylor & a Question of Trust: Book 2 pb 9781760126766 $12.99, in which Squishy gets to show off her rock-climbing ninja moves, she and the twins help the police crack the case of the diamond smugglers, and they learn some surprising things about their cranky-pants neighbour. Squishy Taylor & the Vase that Wasn’t: Book 3 pb 9781760126773 $12.99 (due March 2016) Squishy Taylor & the Mess-Makers: Book 4 pb 9781760126780 $12.99 (due April 2016)

New & upcoming in brief:

• Dig World: Book 1 Pixel Raiders series by Bajo & Hex & Chris Kennett (illus) pb 9781760159252 $9.99. Australian. New series, set in the world of computer games. Due end April 2016
• Figgy & the President by Janu Tamsin pb 9781742991559 $15.99. Australian, set in Ghana. Sequel to 2015 shortlisted Figgy in the World. Due end April 2016
• The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me by Michael Gerard Bauer pb 9781742991504 $16.99. Australian. Teen fiction (12-15 year olds) from the award winning author of Running Man, Don’t Call Me Ishmael! and its sequels. Due end April 2016
• Bullet Train Disaster: Book 1 Countdown to Danger by Jack Heath pb 9781760159627 $12.99. Australian. Choose your own adventure thriller with 30 opportunities for the reader to change the course of the action. (8-11 year olds) Shockwave: Book 2 Countdown to Danger by Jack Heath pb 9781760159634 $12.99. Due end April 2016
• Friends Not Forever: Book 7 Ella Diaries series by Meredith Costain & Danielle McDonald (ill) pb 9781760159634 $12.99. Australian. Popular series with 7-9 year old girls. Due end April 2016
• The Man Who Loved Boxes by Stephen Michael King pb 9781760157647 $15.99. Australian. This lovely picture book is back in print with this 21st anniversary edition. Many of Stephen Michael King’s picture books have been Shortlisted or awarded Honour Books with the CBCA over the years. Due end April 2016
• Barney & the Secret of the Whales by Jackie French pb 9780732299446 $12.99. The second book in The Secret History series, which explores little-known Australian history.
• Teresa : A New Australian by Deborah Abela pb 9781742990941 $16.99. The fourth book in this series depicting migration to a new country through a child’s experiences. In the aftermath of WW2, Teresa and her family make the long journey from Malta to Australia, seeking a better life. (10-13 year olds) Also in the New Australian series: Bridget by James Moloney pb 9781742990989 $15.99, Kerenza by Rosanne Hawke pb 9781742990606 $15.99, Sian by Dave Luckett pb 9781742990392 $15.99


The Inker’s Shadow by Allen Say hardback 9780545437769 $36.00

This is the companion volume to the excellent Drawing from Memory hardback 9780545176866 $31.00 in which Allen Say tells the story of his life in Japan and how he wanted to become a cartoonist. At the age of just 15 years and with very little English, he set off for the USA. The Inker’s Shadow describes how he struggled over the next three years to cope with the enormous change in his life. In Author’s Notes at the end of the book, Say describes how he picked out some episodes from the bag of memories still floating in his head. These episodes vividly show his confusion, unease, loneliness, frustration and at times anger. These episodes come to life through a simple descriptive text but especially through his extraordinarily expressive illustrations. Say was an artist and just wanted to draw but it had been arranged that he would attend a military academy to learn English and get an education. Of course he did not fit in at all and his frustration at the regimentation and his dislike of many of the people are evident in his drawings. Later by chance a Principal and art teacher at a nearby school come to his aid and the depiction of these people and this period of his life are depicted with great warmth and affection. This is a very moving book which brings to life so clearly the many different memories and raw emotions of this young Japanese boy trying to make his way in America, just 8 years after the end of WW2 when so many Americans had fought against the Japanese. Drawings, paintings, cartoons and photographs all add to the complex and poignant portrait of these three years in Allen Say’s life. (11 years up) KS


Where Do Clothes Come From? By Chris Butterworth & Lucia Gaggiotti (illus) hardback 9781406332964 $19.99
You need different clothes for doing different things. Smart clothes for going out in and clothes to play in, clothes for hot, cold or wet days. This book takes a look at different materials and how those materials are treated before they are made into clothes. In simple steps it shows how cotton is grown, cleaned, combed, spun and dyed, then woven into cloth on a loom, cut into shapes and sewn together to make a pair of jeans; how a sheep is shorn, the wool processed and knitted into a nice warm jumper. It’s surprising how many different long-haired animals people around the world make wool from! Other fabrics covered include silk, synthetics, fleece, and rubber to make wellington boots for rainy days. At the end of the book there are suggestions about how to recycle your clothes instead of throwing them away, and there’s also an Index. (5-8 year olds) MC Also by the same team: Lunchbox: The Story of Your Food pb 9781406319934 $16.99

Can a Skeleton have an X-Ray? By Kyle Hughes-Odgers hardback 9781925162691 $24.99
This is a delightfully quirky book, not at all what would be expected from the title. Instead of providing answers, the book asks lots of questions to spark the imagination, such as How does sound taste? Or What spins the earth? Or who controls a traffic light? Or How do boats float? There are no factual answers but on each page next to the question there is a quirky illustration showing, for example, an elaborate machine under the boat supposedly keeping it afloat, or showing the moon blowing hard and causing the earth to spin around. Children who have a little scientific knowledge will laugh at some of these imaginative solutions and hopefully it will spark equally imaginative responses from the children or they will be inspired to seek out a more scientific answer. Australian (6 – 9 years) KS

The Greatest Gatsby: A Visual Book of Grammar by Tohby Riddle pb 9780670078684 $24.99
On the back cover, there is an image of an elephant wandering across the page with a sign on his back saying “PICTURES ARE REMEMBERED BETTER THAN WORDS” And underneath are the words “The fundamentals of GRAMMAR as VISUAL INFORMATION.” And so this is the very interesting idea that Tohby Riddle is trying to convey in this unusual book. The images at the beginning of the book do convey a vivid picture of how grammar provides order, structure and gives sense to a group of words. Many other examples appeal to our senses with very different fonts, colour, texture and humour and certainly make particular grammatical points striking and I would hope memorable. However, in later instances, the grammatical terms themselves are complex and are not easily remembered, and it isn’t easy to convey this complexity through visuals. All the same the book is fascinating and I am sure teachers and parents would find that it would be very interesting to discuss many of the images with children and see their reactions. I found the book intriguing as it provided such a different way of looking at grammar. My understanding of English grammar was gained while learning French grammar during my French studies. I would hope that all children now learn some grammar at school but teachers could find this lively book could provide some very good examples of teaching some aspects of grammar. For those teachers unlucky enough to go through their own school years with very little grammar, the book could provide a very entertaining way to a greater understanding. Australian (10 years up) KS

William Bligh: a stormy story of tempestuous times by Michael Sedunary & Bern Emmerichs (illus) hardback 9780994289537 $29.95
Michael Sedunary writes in such a lively way about the fascinating story of William Bligh. Bligh still has a poor reputation due to his portrayal as a villainous ship’s captain in two Hollywood films. Sedunary focusses on the two times that Blight was arrested; once in Sydney when he was governor at the time of the Rum Rebellion and the other after the Mutiny on the Bounty and his extraordinary six week journey of 5,800 kilometres in a small boat with eighteen men. The story of the Bounty is especially interesting as it is so well written and gives a vivid portrait of ship life at the time. The story comes to life through the intricate, quirky and at times beautiful illustrations of acclaimed ceramist painter Bern Emmerichs. This is the third book in the series published by Berbay publishing. The others are What’s Your Story? by Rose Giannone hardback 9780980671155 $27.95 and The Unlikely Story of Bennelong and Phillip also by Michael Sedunary hardback 9780980671186 $29.95 and deserve recognition for the innovative way they tell stories about people and events in history but also how they invite discussion about history since they show that there can be many different stories and interpretations. In this latest book on Bligh, Sedunary compares Bligh’s writing in the ship’s log to a modern day blog and the posters and printed pamphlets can be compared to modern day tweets. Australian (10 – 14 years) KS

Professional Resources

The Power of Inquiry: Teaching and learning with curiosity, creativity and purpose in the contemporary classroom by Kath Murdoch pb 9780975841211 $55.00 published in 2015
It’s so exciting to see a new book by Kath Murdoch. Teachers will be delighted as her books are so highly regarded, especially by those teachers with an interest in teaching through Inquiry. Her books are sought after and I enjoy reviewing them since I find her descriptions of working with children so interesting and her methods of engaging them fascinating. She has had over 30 years experience as an educator and I was interested to see that over the past few years she has been running workshops with International schools as well as with schools in Australia. I especially enjoyed the Introduction where Kath discusses how children naturally use inquiry as they try to make sense of their world. Children are forever exploring and questioning. Kath Murdoch writes that in this book she wants “to share important shifts in thinking and offer fresh insights into quality practice”. Inquiry has at times been accused of lacking structure, depth and clarity and the teacher has been perceived as letting children explore anything that interests them. This extremely detailed practical guide shows just how wrong that assessment is. It is a comprehensive guide to the implementation of quality inquiry practices. It is organized around ten essential questions and each chapter provides a theoretical and practical overview of the elements that combine to create learning environments. Kath Murdoch wants to help students grow as thinkers, collaborators, self-managers, communicators and researchers as they inquire. Each chapter is just brimming with ideas that teachers will enjoy applying in their own classrooms. They will find it an extremely useful resource and I am sure will continue to refer back to it for many years. The book is of most relevance to primary teachers but secondary teachers would also find much that is of interest. Australian KS

KS Kate Shepherd
MC Mandy Clarke
Ryan O’Dempsey
Kai Cook-Pedersen

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