They invited me back! He of the lovely voice, Mr David Curnow, emailed me recently to invite me back for another year of monthly chats about all things children’s and YA books. I really do need to *chop* some commitments out of my life, but 612ABC Bookworms is not one I’m willing to sacrifice because it is beyond exciting to be let loose with a mic for half an hour to talk about books.
This evening I’m going to be talking about some of my new favourites which were published over the December/January period. I will be coming straight from the school swimming carnival (at which I’m apparently a timekeeper)…so forgive slurred/exhausted speech!
To purchase books, click on cover images or title links.
‘At the Zoo I See’ by Joshua Button and Rosemary Wells, published by Magabala Books.
For our youngest readers, a really gorgeous new board book. Board books are wonderful for introducing babies to the way a book functions – they can learn to turn the pages, become accustomed to the direction (left to right) of a story and can even taste their book without causing too much damage. Older children just starting to read can also still engage with board books as the text is usually simple sentences or even single words. Magabala Books is Australia’s leading indigenous publisher and they produce some of the best board books I’ve ever across. ‘At the Zoo I See’ is their latest and is a collaboration between young indigenous artists Joshua Button and Rosemary Wells and is part of the ‘Young Art’ series, where young artist like Joshua are mentored to produce books. The vibrant illustrations are accompanied by a soft lyrical text and together they introduce some of the diverse native and exotic animals to be found in Australian zoos. A ‘surprised lion’, ‘pacing jaguar’, ‘grinning gorilla’, ‘devoted elephant’ and a ‘queenly cassowary’ are just some of the featured zoo animals.
‘Mopoke’ by Philip Bunting, published by Scholastic Australia.
This one has gone straight to our favourites shelf at home and we’ve had such fun reading it, which is just what local Queensland author/illustrator, Philip Bunting intended. The text is super sparse and the sophisticated images are pared right back, creating space for the adult reader to add their own personality to this very clever and funny book about our most common Australian owl, the Southern Boobook, commonly known as the Mopoke. ‘Mopoke’ tells the story of a little Mopoke and its struggle to find peace and quiet and has a subtle message about not always being able to get exactly what you want. Everything about this book just works – it’s a must-have and I look forward to seeing more from Philip Bunting in the near future.
‘The Fabulous Friend Machine’ by Nick Bland, published by Scholastic Australia.
I actually spoke about this book late last year, but I want to mention it again as it’s pertinent for little people now back at school and on their screens! I so love a book with a valuable message that doesn’t speak down to children or preach at them. Messages in books are especially nice when woven throughout age appropriate language, humour and beautiful illustrations. ‘The Fabulous Friend Machine’ does all of this and delivers a very timely cautionary tale about online screen time and the ‘friends’ behind screens. Popcorn is the friendliest chicken on Fiddlesticks farm and she even has the awards to prove it! One day Popcorn stumbles upon a dazzling little screen and very soon, her priorities shift, as she becomes more and more dazzled by her mobile device and the online friends it contains. But are they really who they say they are and are they really that friendly? Oh so clever and definitely one to be read often and discussed at length. A nice companion book to ‘The Internet is Like a Puddle’, which I’ve reviewed here.
‘Jinny & Cooper’ series by Tania Ingram, published by Penguin Random House.
Well the first thing that my eight year old noted about this series was that Tony Flowers was the illustrator and consequently she was sold from the start; ‘they are Tony Flowers guinea pigs! I can tell!’. Well spotted Pud as Tony Flowers is indeed the illustrator of Cooper, the talking, reading, teleporting, trouble making guinea pig owned by main character, ten year old Jinny, short for Jinnifer. Cooper is not the guinea pig Jinny dreamed of…as seen below in the book trailer.
There are four books in the ‘Jinny and Cooper’ series thus far; they romp along and are perfect for readers who are ready for a bit more depth from early chapter books. There are some supernatural elements to the stories, as well as mysteries to be solved and a hefty dose of humour – they tick all the boxes for an engaging series for readers 7+. Also to be noted is the really lovely brother/sister relationship between Jinny and Tyrone – a nice change from the warring siblings often depicted in books!
‘The Grand, Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler’ by Lisa Shanahan, published by Allen and Unwin.
It is a joy and a privilege to read the writing of Lisa Shanahan and I always do a little happy dance whenever a new book by her lands on my desk. Whether writing picture book texts or young adult novels, Lisa Shanahan imbues warmth and gentle humour into her authentic stories and relateable characters. I can recite ‘Bear and Chook’ by heart (using all the funny voices) and have still not recovered emotionally from reading her YA novel, ‘My Big Birkett’, published in 2006. ‘The Grand, Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler’ is one for middle primary readers from about 8+, but will be enjoyed by the whole family and I’d like to read this one aloud with PudStar as there is just so much to discuss and ponder over.
It struck Henry that perhaps he was waiting for the exact right moment to be daring and brave. The exact right moment where he felt no worry at all, not one tiny flicker. But what if that moment never came?
Henry Hoobler is a reluctant adventurer who is worried about his summer holiday camping at the beach: bugs, spiders, snakes, stingers, blue-ringed octopi or sharks. Worst of all, his family and friends are pushing him to ride his new silver bike – without training wheels. But when Henry meets Cassie, he discovers that courage is there to be found when you have a friend who is straight-up and true.
This is just the most lovely exploration of anxiety, catastrophising (I recognize this is Henry as I’m a catastrophiser myself!) and finding some inner pluck – with the help of family, friends and a bit of looking inwards.
‘History Mysteries’ by Mark Greenwood, published by Penguin Random House.
Mark Greenwood’s passion for researching interesting characters of old and delving into little known historical stories shines through in all his writing. His new series, ‘History Mysteries’ is no exception and will utterly engage young history buffs. In fact, Mark Greenwood is such a seasoned storyteller that these tales of some of Australia’s most baffling mysteries will have even reluctant young historians turning pages ever faster and they are the perfect fit for many areas of the Australian Curriculum. ‘Diamond Jack’ and ‘The Lost Explorer’ are out now, and two more titles are to follow in May 2017. Greenwood bring history to life through powerful storytelling and a mix of text, images, timelines and interesting facts.
‘Diamond Jack’…In March 1942, an aircraft prepares for a desperate midnight escape, taking refugees to safety in Australia. Just before take-off, the pilot is entrusted with a mysterious, wax-sealed package. But when the plane is shot down by the enemy and crash lands on the Kimberley coast, the package is forgotten. Until someone stumbles across the find of a lifetime . . .
‘The Lost Explorer’…In 1848 the famous explorer Ludwig Leichhardt sets out on an epic journey. His aim is to cross Australia from east to west, but he never reaches his destination and no one from his expedition is ever seen again. Countless search parties set out to look for the expedition but no trace is ever found. Until a young boy is given an artefact with an incredible story . . .‘Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair’ and ‘A Place Like This’ by Steven Herrick, published by UQP.
These two Australian classics (much studied in high schools!) have been reissued by UQP with stunning new covers and I’m so pleased to see them both back in print. Re-reading them after so many years I was taken back into the world of Annabel and Jack, got teary in all the same places and again marvelled at the power of the verse novel; so much emotion in so few words. First published in 1996, ‘Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair’ was Steven Herrick’s first verse novel for young adults and he’s gone on to be pretty much the king of verse novels in Australia.
Jack is an everyday sixteen-year-old boy. He’s obsessed with Annabel, sport and nose hair. He’s also obsessed with a ghost …
There’s a ghost in our house
in a red evening dress,
and Mum’s sling back shoes.
Her hair whispers
over white shoulders
as she dances through the rooms.
A bittersweet comedy about the infinite promise of first love and the everlasting sorrow of grief, ‘Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair’ was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers and New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards.
And then we follow up with ‘A Place Like This’, when Jack and Annabel have been dating for two years. With high school over they’re about to start university – until Jack decides to chuck it all in.
I think you and Annabel should get out of here
as fast as possible.Have a year doing anything
you want. My going-away present is enough money
to buy a car – a cheap old one, okay? You’ll have to
work somewhere to buy the petrol, and to keep going.
No destination in mind, Jack and Annabel leave town and discover themselves in a place they never knew existed.
An inspiring verse novel about the pursuit of dreams and the realities of life, ‘A Place Like This’ was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers and New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award Sheaffer Pen Prize for Young Adult Fiction.
And FINALLY?! Oh my glory…‘Lucy’s Book’ which features…ME! I’ll gush more about this one next month on Bookworms, but if you’re Brisbane based, come along to the launch – book here. Look at me below! Complete with my pink hair stripe!