Literature for discussion of the IB Learner Profile for the Primary Years Programme 

This is a list of literature which we hope will provide books which can be used to generate thought-provoking discussion of these attributes. In many of the books chosen, there is a strong element of irony and many of them are amusing. We hope that all the books will be enjoyable to read and will give students and teachers greater understanding of varying aspects of the ‘characteristics’ of the Learner Profile. We are sure the list will be of value not just to teachers of the PYP but to any teachers interested in a wide range of good literature for discussion. After each review we have listed some of the most obvious characteristics which could be discussed with each book. However many of the books are complex and we are sure students will suggest further characteristics which can also be found in the books.

The characteristics are: inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced and reflective.

We have given an indication of reading levels to each of the titles. It is worthwhile noting that many of the picture books listed can also be used in worthwhile discussions with older students. Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke

Picture Books

Marianthe’s Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories by Aliki hb 9780688156619 $32.00
Aliki returns to her own childhood for the inspiration for this exceptional book. In Painted Words, Marianthe struggles to learn English and adapt to a culture very different from her own. A supportive teacher encourages her to communicate through her drawings. In Spoken Memories, Marianthe has learnt English and is able to tell the class the story of her life before the family came to the United States. (6 – 10 years) KS
communicators, reflective

Mr Archimedes' Bath by Pamela Allen pb 9780207172854 $14.99
Mr Archimedes is having a bath with various animals. Every time they get into the bath, water splashes over the side. Pamela Allen has great fun in getting children to think about what is happening. (5 years up) KS

Our Daft Dog Danny by Pamela Allen pb 9780143503446 $14.99
Going to the beach with Uncle Peter and his dog Millie should be such fun for the two children but their dog Danny gets over-excited and just wants to bite and hang on to Millie’s tail. And that is no fun for anyone. They try hot chilli sauce on Millie’s tail but that just makes Danny miserable. At last Toby has the brilliant idea of getting a long rope which Danny can bite and tug and soon everyone joins in this new game and they all have fun again at the beach. A very entertaining book with a lively text and exuberant illustrations showing how Toby worked out a great solution to the problem of an over-excited dog. (4 – 9 years) KS
thinkers, caring

Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey pb 9780143504108 $16.99
I found the strong cartoon style illustrations a little confronting at first but any reservations quickly fell away on reading this lively, engaging and exuberant story. Sunday Chutney is always starting new schools because her family shifts frequently to different places round the world. This has many advantages which Sunday lists, but she can’t help hating her first days at a new school even though she has developed her own idiosyncratic ways of coping with this. I think that kids would love to read about Chutney’s life and her quirky ideas. (7 – 10 years) KS
Communicators, risk takers, reflective

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford illus. by Sarah Davis hb 9781921529177 $19.95
Violet has fallen in love with a beautiful blue china bird she saw at the Saturday markets, but how to make it hers? This is a VERY IMPORTANT IDEA and Violet proves herself to be a girl who knows how to THINK OUTSIDE THE SQUARE. The discovery of a dusty red button sparks a BRILLIANT PLOT that brings her heart’s desire, in more ways than one. A charming, gentle and thoughtful story about a creative, resourceful little girl with lots of big ideas. Although Violet’s mum is a single parent, the theme of family is strong. Black and white pencil illustrations throughout. Other titles in the series are: Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery: Book 2 hb 9781921529184 Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat: Book 3 hb 9781921529191 Violet Mackerel's Personal Space: Book 4 hb 9781921529207 Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend Book 5 hb 9781921977565 Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion: Book 7 hb 9781922244369 Violet Mackerel's Formal Occasion: Book 8 hb 9781925081091 $19.95 each. (7 – 9 year olds) MC
Inquirers, thinkers, caring

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown hb 9780316200639 $32.00 pb 9781447253280 $12.99
Mr Tiger was fed up with everything always being so proper. He wanted to loosen up, have fun, go wild! And so he does, becoming a little wilder each day, he eventually sheds his stuffy suit, bow-tie and top hat. He felt magnificent. The other animals thought he’d gone too far and so he ran off into the wilderness. Then he got lonely; missed his friends, his home, the city. Upon his return he was delighted to find that things had changed, standards had relaxed, and so he felt free to be himself. And so did everyone else. An absolutely delightful, celebratory book with excellent illustrations by this Caldecott Honour illustrator. (4-7 years) MC

I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child hb 9781846169052 $28.00 pb 9781846168864 $14.99
Charlie’s little sister Lola is a fussy eater. However Charlie works out an ingenious way of encouraging her to eat, even the foods she doesn’t like. Charlie says that these are not peas, “of course they are not, these are green drops from Greenland.” And “These are not carrots. These are orange twiglets from Jupiter.” Lola can’t resist just tasting them and finally she joins in the game and asks for the round red moonsquirter (she wouldn’t eat a tomato of course but moonsquirters are her favourite.) (5 - 8 years) KS
thinkers, communicators

Counting on Frank by Rod Clement pb 9780207173226 $14.95
This is the story of a boy who is a true enthusiast about mathematics and is always estimating, calculating and working things out. How many Franks would fill up the bedroom? (Frank is a dog). Striking illustrations add to the fun. (5 – 10 years) KS
inquirers, communicators

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech & Harry Bliss (illus) hb 9780060277369 $32.00 pb 9780060007287 $13.00
An amusing story about a school where the principal is so enthusiastic about his school and the way the students love to learn that he decides to have lessons on Saturday and Sunday too. It is Tilly who summons up the courage to tell the Principal that children must do other things as well. This strong message is very amusingly presented through a witty text and amusing illustrations. (6 – 9 years) KS
inquirers, risk takers, balanced

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers (illus) hb 9780007513758 $24.99 pb 9780007513765 $14.99
This is a novel and delightfully different idea. Duncan wants to do some colouring but when he goes to take out his crayons he finds a pile of letters all voicing the crayons’ complaints about the way they are being used. Red writes that he is worn out with being used so much to colour fire engines, Santas and apples. Purple is going crazy because Duncan isn’t neat enough. Beige is jealous of Brown because Brown gets to colour bears, ponies and puppies whereas Beige only has wheat and turkey dinners. Grey is tired of colouring huge animals like elephants. White feels ignored while Black is sick of only doing outlines. Blue is so short and stubby that it desperately needs a break. And poor Pink is hurt because it hasn’t been used all year. This is great fun but it also makes us think about how we use colours and our preferences. (5 – 8 years) KS

The Little Refugee by Anh Do and Suzanne Do illustrated by Bruce Whatley hb 9781742378329 $24.99
This is the picture book version of a very popular adult book, The Happiest Refugee, about Anh Do and his family's escape from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat, and their very dangerous journey to Australia. They survived a terrifying storm, which ruined their meagre food and water supplies, and an attack by pirates, before being rescued by a German cargo ship. The book also describes his childhood in Australia, and his family’s efforts to fit in and make a new life for themselves. The power of optimism and hope is strong. Bruce Whatley uses a mixture of illustration styles, with sepia and grey-toned realistic sketches reflecting the trauma of the war and the boat journey, contrasting with simpler, comic-style coloured drawings once the family reaches the safety of Australia. (5 – 10 years) KS MC
Risk-takers, reflective

I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! by Jill Esbaum & Gus Gordon (illus) hb 9780670077106 $24.99
A very funny picture book about a boastful cow named Nadine, who claims to be afraid of nothing. When she leads her meek-hearted friends on an excursion, she almost causes a disaster but her friends think that she has rescued them. Back at the farm Nadine is hailed as a hero and, although she feels a little bit guilty, decides not to tell anyone what really happened. As well as being laugh-out-loud funny, the rhyming text is full of wonderful words and the illustrations are a delight. There’s also room for discussion about honesty, integrity and misrepresentation. (4 – 7 year olds) MC

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman & Bagram Ibatoulline (illus) hb 9780763646011 $27.95 pb 9781406355352 $16.95
This is an entrancing picture book. It is so simply written while at the same time is full of ideas and gives wonderful portraits of a little girl and her great grandfather. Her great grandfather’s room is full of mementoes and when asked to choose something she chooses a cigar box. This turns out to be a treasure as it contains many small matchboxes, in each of which is a memento of her grandfather’s life. It is really his dairy as he couldn’t read when he was young and so this was his way of keeping his memories. In one box there is an olive pit, in another a bottle top and in another some lead type. Each object has a story and together they recount her great grandfather’s trip from life in a poor Italian farming family by ship to America. The drama of immigrating is told in the words of her great grandfather and also through beautiful sepia coloured illustrations showing the difficulties and dangers of the voyage as well as the poverty of their life at first in America. This beautiful book can be read to young children. However there is also so much detailed information in the text and illustrations about immigration by boat to the United States of America that the book could be used for discussion with older students. (6 – 15 years) KS
Reflective, risk-takers

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox & Julie Vivas (illus) pb 9781742990682 $15.99
A young boy helps an old woman whose memory is fading to remember by gathering various objects which remind her of times in her youth. (5 – 8 years) KS

Greetings from Sandy Beach by Bob Graham pb 9780850915211 $16.99
Bob Graham is able to bring into a simple picture book about a family trip to the beach wonderful observations about family life, the difference between the city and the country and also some of our preconceived ideas concerning people and the way they look. (6 – 9 years) KS

Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten by Bob Graham pb 9780744598292 $16.95
Rose is a little frightened of fierce old Mr Wintergarten but she overcomes her fears and her delightful spontaneity and the fairy cakes baked by her mother have a surprising effect on the grumpy old man. (5 – 8 years) KS
risk takers, open-minded, principled

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide & Ted Lewin (illus) pb 9780688140236 $13.00
Ahmed is very pleased with himself as he goes about Cairo’s bustling streets delivering gas bottles to his many customers who call out his name and greet him. He is very much a part of the life of this colourful and noisy city and he is proud that he is helping earn money to support his family. And his secret is that he has learned to write his name. (6 – 9 years) KS
inquirers, caring, reflective

When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest & P J Lynch (illus) pb 9780763612740 $13.00
This beautifully illustrated picture book vividly describes a young girl’s journey from eastern Europe when she migrates to a new life in America at the turn of the nineteenth century. Jessie has left behind her beloved grandmother and is determined to work out a way that they can be together again.  (7 –13 years) KS
thinkers, principled, caring

Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban & Lillian Hoban (illus) hb 9780060223274 $32.00 pb 9780064430081 $13.00
When Albert tells Frances that girls can’t come along on a wander and can’t play baseball with him and Harold because baseball is a no-girls’ game, she uses her considerable ingenuity and efforts of persuasion to show him how friendship should work. Hoban is a very amusing and witty writer.
(5 – 8 years) KS

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban & Lillian Hoban (illus) hb 9780060223595 $32.00 pb 9780064430968 $13.00
This story is a classic. Frances does not like to try anything new in her food. She likes to stay with bread and jam but when given bread and jam for every meal, even she finally tires of it and wants to try a variety of foods. The mouth-watering descriptions of food add to the humour and delight of this book. (5 – 8 years) KS

The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman & Karin Littlewood (illus) pb 9780711219915 $16.95
Hassan is miserable at school in England where everything is grey, and where he can’t talk to anyone since he doesn’t speak English. When he paints a picture of his far away home, he remembers the terrible time when the soldiers came. However the next day he talks to an interpreter and paints another picture in bright colours for his mother of their happier times, of the country which used to be their home. (6 – 8 years) KS
communicators, caring

Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw hb 9780805089462 $32.00
Two little boys, Elliot and Kailash, are pen-pals who live in very different worlds. Through their exchange of drawings and simple letters, they discover that they both live with their families, catch the bus to school and love climbing trees; there’s too much traffic in both their cities – in one the streets are full of taxis, buses and cars, while the other has few cars, but has elephants, oxen, chickens, bicycles and carts. Same, same but different! The cultural differences in their everyday lives in America and India can be discovered in the details of the boys’ drawings. (4-7 year olds) MC
Communicators, reflective, balanced

Celia and Nonna by Victoria Land & Kayleen West (illus) hb 9781925000603 $24.95 pb 9781925000610 $14.95
Celia loves sleeping over at her Nonna’s house where they do special things together. Then Nonna starts to forget things and she has to move to a home so she can be taken care of. Celia can’t sleep over anymore. So every week she draws a picture, creating memories of the old house and the things they used to do together, and soon the walls of Nonna’s room are filled with happy memories.  (5-7 year olds) MC

Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan & Roberto Innocenti (illus) pb 9780099439509 $18.99
This is an extremely moving portrayal of the horrors of war seen though the eyes of a young German girl who, when she discovers children in a concentration camp in the woods, secretly takes food to them. Innocenti’s illustrations portray much of the greed and desolation of wartime and about the others who did not see what was happening. (For older children 9 years up) KS
principled, caring

Ten Tiny Things by Meg McKinlay & Kyle Hughes-Odgers (illus) hb 9781921888946 $24.99
Mum drives Tessa and Zachary to school every day in air-conditioned comfort in their shiny, swift, splendiferous machine. One morning the machine won’t work and they have to walk. Their bags were heavy, their legs hurt, they huffed and puffed, for it was such a long way. Then Tessa noticed a tiny, tiny, red, sparkly thing, and Zachary saw another, smooth and blue and secret. With their eyes wide open and the sun warm on their backs, they saw many secret somethings and hidden happenings. From that day forth, they walked to school and every day they looked for ten tiny things. I love this book! The text is full of rhythm, alliteration and wonderful words, the illustrations unusual and really striking. (5-8 year olds) MC
Inquirers, thinkers

The Dance Teacher by Simon Milne & Chantal Stewart (illus) hb 9781743313312 $24.99
Isabelle really wanted to be a ballerina. Luckily she had a wonderful teacher and she became a famous ballerina. But this isn’t the ending, for when Isabelle comes back home she buys the old dance studio from her former teacher and loves teaching her young students. “Teaching” she says “is the best job in the world.” Teachers will be delighted to find this book which pays tribute to the role inspirational teachers can play in our lives. Engaging, lively illustrations by Chantal Stewart add life and humour. (5– 8 years) KS
Knowledgeable, communicators, caring

The Three Bears Sort Of by Yvonne Morrison & Donovan Bixley (illus) pb 9781775430681 $14.99
This is a laugh aloud book. A parent or someone is attempting to read aloud the traditional and well-known story of the three bears. However there are frequent interruptions from the child who is listening and who asks extremely practical and knowledgeable questions about what sort of bears they were and why did they live in a cottage since grizzly bears live in caves, and wouldn’t bears prefer salmon to porridge? Bright lively illustrations add more humour to the text, at times contrasting the fantasy of the traditional text with realistic sketches or photo-realistic illustrations. The book is even more entertaining when a child reads the part of the questioning child and an adult (or another child) takes the part of the slightly exasperated narrator. (4 – 8 years) KS
Inquirers, knowledgeable

Shake A Leg by Boori Monty Pryor & Jan Ormerod (illus) hb 9781741758900 $24.99
Boori Monty Prior is a dancer and a storyteller and he succeeds in sharing some of his lively enthusiasm about his performances with school groups in this vibrant picture book. When three young boys go into a pizza shop they are amazed that the man making the pizzas is an Indigenous man who then proceeds to tell them about pizzas and also Aboriginal stories and song and dance. Jan Ormerod’s striking illustrations add life and colour to this joyous celebration of food, dance and cultural understanding. (6 – 12 years) KS
Open-minded, knowledgeable

This is Our House by Michael Rosen & Bob Graham (illus) pb 9780763628161 $14.00
George has decided that he is the only one who can play in the big cardboard house but the other children are determined that everyone shall play in it. A charming and humorous picture book about sharing and cooperation. (4 - 8 years) KS
principled, risk-takers

Lucas and Jack by Ellie Royce & Andrew McLean (illus) hb 9781921504662 $24.99
Lucas gets so bored waiting for his mother when she goes to visit his great grandfather in the nursing home. However when Jack comes to talk to Lucas, Jack explains that people in the nursing home may look old but underneath they are just the same as they used to be. Leo is an old man in a wheelchair but he used to be a detective and Evelyn a ballerina. The text is very simple, however the warmth and life of Andrew McLean’s illustrations fill in many details of their former lives. This simply written picture book could be used to encourage discussion about any older people that children know.  (4 – 6 years)
Inquirers, communicators

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say hb 9780545176866 $32.00
Allen Say wanted to be a cartoonist and was fortunate to be accepted at the age of thirteen as an apprentice of Japan’s leading cartoonist. This sophisticated picture book is a tribute to this man who became Say’s spiritual father. The story seems at times part memoir, part graphic novel and part narrative history. It is a beautiful book rich in its description of a young boy’s aspirations and hopes, the skill and kindliness of his sensei and beautiful in its range of illustrations and their use in telling this story. (9 years up) KS
Reflective, thinkers, knowledgeable

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say hb 9780544050501 $24.99 pb 9780547076805 $12.99
A beautifully illustrated picture book for older students. Allen Say’s grandfather made the journey from Japan to the United States when he was a young man and this story beautifully describes through text and illustrations the love that he and his grandson feel for both countries. Many students will relate to the feelings of longing expressed. (8 years up) KS

The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson & Kazumi Wilds (illus) hb 9781885008336 $32.00
Nanami has two grandmothers: Baachan who lives in Japan with Nanami’s family and Gram from Maine in the US. When Gram comes to visit her granddaughter in Japan Nanami is the translator between the two grandmothers who discover they have much in common since they both live near the sea and have a love of sea life and things to do with the sea. They go gathering wakame, a type of seaweed which is dried and then eaten in a variety of recipes (some of these are given at the end of the book). (6 – 10 years) KS
inquirers, communicators, caring

Frog is Frog by Max Velthuijs pb 9781783441419 $18.00
Frog wants to be able to fly like his friend Duck and bake wonderful cakes like his friend Pig but his attempts end in failure. However after deep reflection, Frog realises that his friends love him for being himself, that is for being a beautiful green frog who can leap so high it is almost like flying.
(5 – 8 years) KS

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell illus by Helen Oxenbury pb 9780744536607 $16.95 big book 9780744547795 $44.95
This Award winning book has overtones of Animal Farm for littlies. The animals use their initiative and take over the running of the farm from a domineering, lazy and bossy farmer. (6 – 13 years) KS

Dr Xargle’s Book of Earthlets by Jeanne Willis &Tony Ross (illus) pb 9781849392921 $18.00
A hilarious look at human babies or “earthlets” from the point of view of an alien teaching his class of alien children. Truly a very different perspective that will ensure that babies will never look quite the same again. (7 – 9 years) KS


Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander pb $13.00 each
This is a very entertaining fantasy series. In the first book of the series, Taran knows only that he is an assistant pig keeper, but he meets a group of varied and wonderful friends and together they fight against the evil that is threatening the land. Over the five books in the series, Taran gains in knowledge, ability, compassion and wisdom.
The five books in the series are The Book of Three 9780805080483, The Black Cauldron 9780805080490, The Castle of Llyr 9780805080506, Taran Wanderer 9780805080513 and The High King 9780805080520 (9 – 14 years) KS
Risk-takers, principled, balanced, reflective

Rain May and Captain Daniel by Catherine Bateson pb 9780702233371 $16.95
Daniel writes his account of his new friendship with Rain in the form of a Star Trek journal. Rain corresponds with her mother through fridge poems. A highly entertaining account of a strong friendship between two eleven year olds in the country. (9 – 13 years) KS
thinkers, communicators, caring, open-minded, reflective

Christophe’s Story by Nicki Cornwell pb 9781847802507 $16.00
Christophe is an eight-year-old boy from Rwanda who flees the fighting in his country to come to England as a refugee with his family. His problems in settling in are described but the book is also about different ways of telling stories. Christophe doesn’t want to read stories in books because his grandfather had always told him stories aloud, and had said that if stories are written down then their spirit is lost. Christopher tells aloud to his class the story of how he came to England and of the violence in Rwanda but decides he is happy for it to be written down word for word so that many children can hear his story.  (7 – 10 years) KS
communicators, risk-takers

Flour Babies by Anne Fine pb 9780140361476 $16.99
An entertaining novel in which a class is given a lesson in responsibility when they have to care for their “flour babies” which are really six pound bags of flour, as if they were real babies. The project has a surprising effect on Simon and his resulting reflections about himself and his family are at times surprising and hilarious. (9 – 13 years) KS

Moon Station by Rachel Flynn & Judy Watson (illus) pb 9780143304524 $12.95
Williams has to do a project on designing a moon station. Some enterprising kids outsource their projects to their parents since this is the modern way or “best practice.” Williams has a suspicion that this might be cheating. This is a very amusing story about the hazards of doing projects (but certainly not an example of PYP best practice.) One of the popular Aussie Bites. (7 – 9 years) KS
Inquirers, thinkers, principled

The Goat Who Sailed the World by Jackie French pb 9780207200779 $14.99
This book has two narrators, a young twelve year old boy called Isaac Manley and a much travelled and superior Goat. This narrative device gives us two very different perspectives on Cooks’ amazing voyage around the world from 1768 to 1771, when Australia was discovered and the ship was almost wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef. Isaac is a caring and very sensible young boy who learns a huge amount on this voyage. Very entertaining and informative. (8 – 14 years) KS
inquirers, risk takers, principled, caring

Hitler’s Daughter by Jackie French pb 9780207198014 $15.99
When Anna makes up a compelling story about Hitler’s daughter, Mark finds the story disturbing and questions if children can be blamed if their parents do something evil. Thought provoking.  (9 – 14 years) KS

Samurai Kids 1: White Crane by Sandy Fussell pb 9781921150203 $15.95
I am surprised that this series works so well. The kids in the series are training to be samurai but one has only one arm, one only one leg, one is blind, one is very big and strong but refuses to fight and a girl has white hair and 6 fingers and toes. Their sensei or teacher is old but very wise in the way of Zen and Zen sayings provide much of the humour of the book. The characters come to life and the story is exciting, lively and often very funny. We learn a lot about the way of Zen and Chi, Jin and Yu or Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage. Other titles in the series are: Book 2 Owl Ninja 9781921150371 Book 3 Shaolin Tiger 9781921150906 Book 4 Monkey Fist 9781921150913 Book 5 Fire Lizard 9781921529467 Book 6 Golden Bat 9781921529474 Book 7 Red Fox 9781922077509 Book 8 Black Tengu 9781922077622 $15.95 each (9 – 13 years)
Principled, open-minded, balanced

Audrey of the Outback Bk1 by Christine Harris & Ann James (illus) pb 9781742977959 $14.95
Audrey is determined, inquisitive, and has a vivid imagination. She and her family lead an isolated life in the outback and her Dad, a dingo trapper, is away for weeks at a time. In her search for identity and independence, Audrey tries being a swaggie, a teacher and a man. She also ponders loss as she contemplates life without Stumpy, her invisible friend. And what if her Dad never comes back? An exuberant and engaging story with a very Australian flavour. (thoughtful 8-10 years) MC
Inquirers, thinkers

Shahana (Through My Eyes series) by Roseanne Hawke pb 9781743312469 $15.99
Shahana lives near the Line of Control, the border controlled by Pakistan and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. This is an area where there has been continual conflict since 1947. Fourteen year old Shahana and her younger brother Tanveer are trying to survive living in the forest after the death of their parents and older brother. Shahana earns a little through her embroidery and they have a goat. Islamic militants have a camp not so far away and there are soldiers on both sides of the Line of Control and there is often shelling or exchange of gun fire. Shahana is a vibrant, strong character who tries to do her best in extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances. There is an afterword by the author, a timeline, a glossary and suggestions for further reading and a series website. (11 – 14 years) KS
Risk-takers, caring

Taj and the Great Camel Trek by Rosanne Hawke pb 9780702238772 $16.95
Told through the eyes of 12 year old Taj, this is the fascinating story of explorer Ernest Giles’ second attempt to cross the Australian desert to the coast of Western Australia. Taj is accompanying his Afghan father and helps to look after their camels which provide the key to their chances of surviving this very dangerous journey with its constant quest for water. A convincing and very interesting account of the dangers and also of the relationships between the explorers, Taj and his father and a young Aboriginal tracker. (9 – 12 years) KS
Risk-takers, communicators

Naveed (Through My Eyes Series) by John Heffernan 9781743312483 $15.99
A very moving story of a young boy’s struggle to provide for his widowed mother and little sister in war-torn Afghanistan. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog, this provides a link to an Australian soldier who works with dogs able to search out explosives. Nasera shows skills in this work and this gives Naveed hope that they will both be able to work together. This is a compelling novel giving us a glimpse into the complexities, difficulties and dangers of life in Afghanistan where there is an ever-present threat of explosions. There is an afterword by the author, a timeline, a glossary and suggestions for further reading and a series website. (11-14 years) KS
Risk takers, caring

Pookie Aleera is not my Boyfriend by Steven Herrick pb 9780702249280 $16.95
A verse novel in which each of the characters describe themselves and tell their stories. The kids are in the sixth grade in an Australian country school, 422 kms from the sea. Through their individual voices, we gradually get to know them and their new teacher. The book is often very funny. Herrick succeeds in vividly bringing to life this story about a small community and how people can make a difference through their actions. (9 – 12 years) KS
Thinkers, risk takers, reflective

Hazel Green by Odo Hirsch pb 9781741144376 $15.99
Hazel Green is a spirited heroine and the Yak is an introverted boy who is a mathematical whiz and together they make a formidable team. (8 – 12 years) KS
inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded

Sing to the Dawn by Minfong Ho pb 9789812610010 $12.95
This story is set in a marginal rice growing area of Thailand. It reveals some of the frustrations, difficulties and injustices of village life by describing Dawan, a 12 year old girl who strives to continue her education at a city high school in Thailand in spite of competition from her brother and opposition from her father. (10 years up) KS
thinkers, principled, risk-takers

To the Boy in Berlin by Elizabeth Honey and Heike Brandt pb 9781741750041 $15.95
This is the story of an intriguing email correspondence between Henni who lives in Melbourne, Australia and Leo Schmidt in Berlin. The emails fly backwards and forwards providing much amusement and also glimpses of the difference and similarities between their lives. They both become involved in working on Henni’s school project which involves fascinating historical documentation about early German immigration to Australia and the treatment of Germans in Australia during the two World wars. I especially liked the humour, especially humour concerning the difficulties of translation and also some of the extraordinarily long German words that exist. This is an excellent book for discussion on a variety of topics. (10 – 14 years) KS
inquirers, thinkers, communicators, principles, caring, open-minded

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson pb 9781447265689 $14.99
A very English eccentric extravagance gives a sense of exhilaration to this story of a young orphan girl who at the turn of the century goes to the Amazon with her governess. This is a place of horror to some because of the all-pervasive insects, heat, fearsome Indians and steamy lushness but for others like Maia and her governess it is a place of endless wonder, of amazing creatures, plant life and people. Maia is a most resourceful heroine who shows her ingenuity time and again. A richly satisfying adventure story with humour and a sense of the fantastic. (9 - 14 years) KS
inquirers, risktakers, caring, open-minded

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji Li Jiang hb 9780060275853 $32.00 pb 9780064462082 $13.00
A deeply moving autobiography set during the Cultural Revolution in China. Ji Li Jiang describes her own experiences as a twelve year old girl puzzling to understand the strange and terrifying events that befell her family at that time. An excellent introduction to any study of the Cultural Revolution. (11 years up) KS
risk takers, principled, reflective

Onion Tears by Diana Kidd pb 9780207170287 $12.95
The moving story of a Vietnamese boat girl in Australia who gradually gains friends and confidence in her new country until she is finally able to cry real tears, not just the tears that come when she peels onions. (7 – 12 years) KS

Boss of the Pool by Robin Klein pb 9781862919372 $15.99
Shelley is at first reluctant but feels great satisfaction when she succeeds in teaching a mentally handicapped boy to swim. (8 – 13 years) KS Also available as a play pb 9780868193557 $22.99

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankwiler by E L Konigsburg hb 9780689853227 $32.00 pb 9780689711817 $13.00
A wonderfully fresh and inventive story of a brother and sister who run away from home to live in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and become caught up in a mystery. (9 – 14 years) KS
inquirers, thinkers, risk takers, knowledgeable, reflective

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren hb 9780192782403 $36.95 pb 9780192733061 $11.95
This is an example of an extraordinarily independent and eccentric young heroine who lives on her own with her horse. Students might like to discuss her independence and risk-taking in the light of other characteristics that she lacks. Pippi is a highly entertaining character. (7 – 12 years) KS

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry pb 9780007395200 $12.99
Set in the time of the Second World War, this is the moving story of a young girl and her family who with thousands of other Jews in Denmark were taken secretly at night in boats across the sea to safety by the Danish people. (9 – 13 years) KS
risk takers, principled, caring

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan hb 9780060241018 $31 pb 9780062399526 $13.00
A beautifully written story about a woman who answers an advertisement to come to be the wife of a farmer living on the prairie. She is a wonderfully caring mother to his children but she misses the sea and the younger boy especially is fearful that she will leave. (8 – 14 years) KS
Risk-takers, principled, caring, reflective

Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto by Geoffrey McSkimming pb 9781742378213 $14.99
Phyllis Wong has inherited the magician skills of her famous great-grandfather but her detective skills are also called upon as she and her friend Clement try to solve the mystery of some very perplexing robberies. Phyllis Wong is a lively, smart and engaging heroine of this new series by the author of the popular Cairo Jim titles. (9 – 13 years) KS. I really enjoyed this one too! MC

Secrets in the Fire by Henning Mankell, translated from the Swedish by Anne Connie Stuksrud pb 9781865081816 $17.95
This is the remarkable story of Sofia, a young girl in Mozambique who has suffered immensely. She loses a leg in a land mine explosion and many close members of her family have been killed. However her strength, determination and indomitable spirit are remarkable. (11 years up) KS
Risk-takers, principled, caring, reflective

The Mobile Phone Detective by James Moloney pb 9780143304838 $12.95
This is fun! It is mysteryadventure in which mobile phone technology is the key. Renton is 13 years old and is travelling with his father in France when his father is kidnapped. Renton doesn’t speak French but he manages to send incriminating photos to the French Police showing what has happened, where he is going and where his father is being held. Mobile phones can truly do amazing things in the hands of smart kids! One of the popular Aussie Chomps. (8 – 12 years) KS
inquirers, risk takers, knowledgeable, communicators

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo pb 9781405221740 $14.95 paperback edition with colour illustrations 9781405248563 $16.95
When Michael is washed up on an island he struggles to survive on his own. He is about to give up when food appears. He is not alone. This is a wonderful story of survival and about Kensuke, an elderly Japanese man who lives on the island and has survived for many years using traditional Japanese skills and crafts. (9 – 15 years) KS
thinkers, caring

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters pb 9780857630650 $14.99
Hannah has written a play, and with the help of her best friend Lottie, is determined to enter it into the local arts festival competition. Their theatre is a forgotten hen house on the farm where Hannah, her siblings and their widowed father live - and their plan must be kept top secret. Although set in the present, this book has a timeless quality. Very real dialogue, and vivid details take the reader right into the story, and the characters are completely convincing. The book deals with issues other than putting on a play in the hen house - loss, bullying, adult loneliness, and friendship all are woven into the story, giving it depth without weighing it down with worthy issues. A fantastic first book from this English author. (10-13 years) LP
Reflective, thinkers, risk takers, carers

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson pb 9780140366181 $16.99
This is the story of a very close friendship between Jess Aarons and a new girl at the school. Together they develop a secret world, based on other fantasy worlds, which is hidden in the woods. When Leslie drowns, it takes Jess a long time to accept her death and to try to give back some of the beauty and caring that she had given him. (9 – 14 years) KS
inquirers, thinkers, principled, caring

A Dinner of Smells by Humaira Rashid & Jamie Lenman (illus) hb 9781408155806 $21.99 pb 9781408156490 $10.99
This is a story about the wisdom and wit of Nasruddin whose tales are known from Turkey and through the Middle East to Morocco. When a very poor old man and his wife smell delicious aromas floating across the village, the old man stands outside the restaurant breathing in the delicious smells. To his dismay the restaurant owner comes out and demands to be paid for the smells. Nasruddin has a clever solution which makes the restaurant owner realize how selfish he has been. A good story for discussion. (5 – 7 years) KS
Principled, balanced

Just One Wish by Sally Rippin pb 9780143304463 $12.95
When Little Pumpkin arrives in Australia from Shanghai, everything is so difficult.
Her cousin Betty is hateful and Little Pumpkin feels very isolated. However she meets the art teacher who is deaf and they communicate very well through their drawings. She gradually understands that there are many different ways of communicating and later discovers that there are many kind people. (7 - 10 years) KS

Bungawitta by Emily Rodda & Craig Smith (illus) pb 9781862918337 $12.99
The small country town of Bungawitta is stricken by drought. There’s no rain in sight and only twelve people left in town. Young Jay comes up with a plan to hold an earth sculpture festival. The town swings into action, baking scones and cakes, making jams, and setting up a big barbecue. After an anxious wait, the tourists arrive, followed shortly afterwards by the pouring rain. Despite or because of the rain, a wonderful time is had by all. This is a fun read, with lots of laughs and larger-than-life characters. (8 – 10 year olds) MC
Risk takers, communicators, caring

Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda pb 9781862916357 $15.99
This series contains many of the elements of the traditional fantasy - the quest, the dragon, misty swamps and walls of spiders. Rowan is a courageous, modest fantasy hero who grows in experience and strength of character with each new adventure. Sequels are Rowan and the Travellers pb 9781862916364, Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal pb 9781862916371, Rowan and the Zebak pb 9781862916388 and Rowan and the Bukshah pb 9781862916395 $15.99 each title (7 – 10 years) KS
thinkers, risk takers, principled, caring, open-minded, reflective

Nips X1 by Ruth Starke pb 9780734401137 $15.99
This is the very entertaining story of Lan, who loves cricket, and his very determined effort in getting together a cricket team of kids from many ethnic backgrounds. As the novel develops, there are fascinating cross-cultural interactions between kids and adults. (9 – 12 years) KS
thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded

Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke pb 9781862917637 $17.99
When Andy and his father make a trip to Vietnam to visit relatives, it is for Andy’s father his first trip back since he escaped from the country in a rusty fishing boat when he was just 15 years old. For Andy who is 11 years old and was born in Australia, it is his first visit to Hanoi and the first time he has met any of his many relatives in Vietnam. The book is written mainly from Andy’s point of view and at first much seems very strange to him. Gradually as Andy comes to understand more about this family, we also understand so much more about Vietnam, its recent history and its people. A marvellous book written with humour and insight. (9 – 12 years) KS
inquirers, communicators, risk-takers, caring

Stella by the Sea by Ruth Starke pb 9780143300663 $12.95
Stella is a most resourceful young girl whose parents are both very busy with their work. She finds and rents a cubby house of her own, in the backyard of a rather lonely elderly man. She fixes up the cubby house, decorates it and arranges to take the neighbours’ dogs for walks and she is also the catalyst for a new community spirit in the neighbourhood. This is a most engaging and amusing story.  (7 – 11 years) KS
thinkers, risk-takers, principled, open-minded, balanced, reflective

On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells & Bagram Ibatoulline (illus) hb 9780763637224 $19.95 pb 9780763658151 $16.95
This is an evocative, beautifully written story involving a boy, Oscar Ogilvie, at the time of the Great Depression in 1931 in the US. It is a mixture of fantasy and dramatic real life. His father has had to sell their cherished model trains and head west in search of work. Oscar is witness to a terrible crime which somehow catapults him onto an incredible train journey from coast to coast and from one decade to the next. This absorbing and suspenseful story involves a number of time slips. The novel contains much warmth and humour. It is very unusual in that it also contains beautiful colour illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline. (9 – 13 years) KS
Principled, caring