This evening I will be chatting with Sarah Howells on the 612ABC show, Bookworms. Once a month on a Tuesday I am let loose on a radio microphone (me…live…seriously) and allowed to talk books. Each month I whinge to David Curnow that I actually need an hour…but funnily enough this request has yet to be granted.
Tonight I’m going to be talking about some of my favourite new books in the world of children’s and YA publishing, and adding in one extra that defies categories, the new Tara Moss, ‘Speaking Out’.
To purchase any of the books I’m talking about this evening, click on title links.
‘Boomerang and Bat’ by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton.
‘Gary’ by Leila Rudge
‘Incredibilia’ by Libby Hathorn and Gaye Chapman
‘This Girl, That Girl’ by Charlotte Lance
‘Did You Take the B from my _ook’ by Beck and Matt Stanton
‘One More Friend’ by Bill Condon
‘The Bad Guys Episode 3: The Furball Strikes Back’ by Aaron Blabey
‘The Lost Sapphire’ by Belinda Murrell
‘Speaking Out’ by Tara Moss
‘Boomerang and Bat’ by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton. This is a new ‘faction’ (fiction based on fact) picture book for middle to upper primary readers, which is similar in format to their last collaboration, ‘Jandamarra’, shortlisted for a 2014 CBCA award. ‘Boomerang and Bat’ is set in 1868 and details the story of the first Australian cricket team to tour England. This truly amazing team was made up of Aboriginal stockmen and horse breakers, shearers and station hands who were taught the basics of cricket. Led by star all-rounder Johnny Mullagh, and wearing caps embroidered with a silver boomerang and a bat, they delighted crowds in the hallowed grounds of Lords with their exceptional skill. Johnny Mullagh and his Aboriginal teammates were not given a heroes welcome home and they were not allowed to use their own Indigenous names, but they did show colonial settlers that they were supremely talented and could take on ‘skills’ that colonialist called their own. Johnny Mullagh’s real name was Unaarrimin, and despite having few rights, his talent was undeniable, as stated on the Johnny Mullagh Cricket Centre website:
Spectators considered him the equal of any English batter… Few contemporary cricketers better merited the title of all-rounder. His performances were impressive enough for him to join the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) as a professional, although he did not remain there for long.
I love the work of Terry Denton in the insanely popular ‘Treehouse’ books, created with Andy Griffiths, but if I’m honest? I think his work on ‘Jandamarra’ and ‘Boomerang and Bat’ is some of his best, and testament to his great skill as an artist. The visual literary elements encoded into these books is complex right from the front endpapers. His use of perspective and the way in which framing of elements of the story is used to highlight or extend the text is quite beautiful – the final frame depicting Johnny beside a billabong is particularly poignant. This is a work which is rich in visual detail and will engross readers young and old. Mark Greenwood is one of my all-time favourite historical fiction writers and the research that these two creators have done is evident, as is their passion for this story. I hope to see more from this creative duo.
This is the remarkable story of the real first eleven, and a book that all young and old cricket fans should have in their home library. It is a story of both triumph and tragedy, highlighting the incredibly complex, and often uncomfortable history of Indigenous culture in a white society. The mark of a brilliant faction or non-fiction story for me is when it sparks an interest in a reader, a curiosity that leads them off on a journey of discovery about the topic. ‘Boomerang and Bat’ had me googling the story of this Aboriginal cricket team long into the night and young readers will be equally as enthralled. There are excellent teachers’ notes by Robyn Sheahan-Bright as a starting point for discovery here.
‘Gary’ by Leila Rudge is a gorgeous picture book for early childhood aged students up to middle primary. Gary the pigeon can’t fly. When his racing pigeon friends head off in their travel basket, Gary stays at home. He organises his scrapbook of travel mementos and dreams about the adventures the other pigeons are having. But when Gary accidentally ends up a very long way from home, he discovers that flying is not the only way to have adventures. This is a story of bravery and of great adventures….and scrapbooks!
‘Incredibilia’ by Libby Hathorn and Gaye Chapman is another title for the younger age group, by two of my favourite book creators. As a former early childhood teacher who could watch young children in their imaginative play worlds for hours on end, this book struck a particular chord with me as it celebrates all things wonderful about the imagination. It also looks at that particularly difficult role of being the youngest child in a group of friends and family – so often ignored or forgotten, but so often fierce, resourceful and full of pluck!
‘This Girl, That Girl’ by Charlotte Lance. This is this girl, and that is that girl. This girl likes to do things like this, and that girl likes to do things like that. Even though they’re next-door-neighbours, this girl and that girl are miles apart. Or are they? One day, with a little help from their dads, they make a surprising discovery. A funny and heart-warming story about this and that and everything in between. Author/illustrator Charlotte Lance has two son’s that are quite different, as I have two daughters who are vastly different. ‘This Girl, That Girl’ was the book that rather struck a chord with me, as my two small and feral children are just at each other lately, constantly niggling and getting cranky at how the other does things. I love the ‘this girl does that’ and ‘that girl does this’ but we can all find some common ground. Great messages about celebrating and accepting differences.
‘Did You Take the B from my _ook’ by Beck and Matt Stanton. The first book in the ‘Books that Drive Kids Crazy’ series was ‘This is a Ball’ and to say I loved that book would be an understatement. I purchased it many, many times over for various family members and friends and I read it to all year levels at school at least twice, and enjoyed it every.single.time. I know the text by heart and I still laugh in all the right places. So I was overjooooooyed at the arrival of ‘Did You Take the B from my _ook’. It had _ig _oots to fill, and fortunately it is just as laugh-out-loud funny, just as _eautifully designed and just as good at driving kids crazy.
Two things you need to know. Firstly, your favourite thing in the whole world is the letter B. And secondly, you’re about to sneeze and all the Bs are going to be blown out of the book. So until you can get your favourite letter back, you’re about to sound really, really silly … And the kids will love it!
According to Instagram :), Matt Stanton has just left his full-time job to _ecome a full-time creator of _ooks, and therefore I am expecting much less of a wait on the next installment of ‘Books that Drive Kids Crazy’ – no pressure at all Matt and Beck.
While I wait for round three I shall continue to frustrate the feralist child of them all, Dear Miss Four AKA The Wild Thing AKA ChickPea. Every time I read one of these books I move a little away from her for fear of being whacked and told ‘this book is just particularly ridiculous mummy’ (her exact words yesterday). She loves and laughs her way through them, but is also so very, very frustrated by the utter craziness of them – win all round I say.
‘One More Friend’ by Bill Condon. Multiple award winning author Bill Condon has written a number of books for the ‘mates’ series and like all the books in this excellent series, ‘One More Friend’ is fast paced, funny and with subtle messages for young readers who are just starting on their chapter book journey. In this one, Jack starts at a new school and within five minutes he manages to make the principal think he’s crazy and ends up with a dead mouse (the previously alive pet of a peer) in his hand. This all happens in chapter one and the pace pretty much continues throughout the story. It’s a lovely story about being ‘the new kid’, about fitting in, and about mates and mateship. There is some poignant messages about being sensitive to peers who are different to you and who struggle academically – but ‘One More Friend’ is never preachy or over the top with its messages. Young readers are supported through the story by illustrations by Lucinda Gifford. I highly recommend this entire series to lower to middle primary readers, particularly reluctant readers.
‘The Bad Guys Episode 3: The Furball Strikes Back’ by Aaron Blabey. Seriously these books are just gold – in fact it seems that Aaron Blabey can do absolutely no wrong with all of his publications – don’t let the pressure get to you Aaron! These ‘Bad Guys’ books can span the ages from lower to upper primary readers, and I know several parents who are rather enamored with them also, thanks in part to their references to spy thrillers such as James Bond.
In this particular story, The Bad Guys are about to have a VERY BAD DAY! Mr Wolf and his bad, bad buddies have messed with the wrong guinea pig. And this nasty little furball wants revenge! Will they survive? Will they be heroes? And will they just stop trying to eat each other?
They don’t need to be read in order, which is always an excellent feature in a series I think, but each book has the same characters. They are a cross between a graphic novel, picture book, chapter book, comic book and film script and they are honestly just laugh out loud funny, pretty subversive and super clever. Perfect for reluctant readers, but really they suit all readers.
‘The Lost Sapphire’ by Belinda Murrell . I run a book club for Year Six students and their mothers and we often read a Belinda Murrell novel as they are always enjoyed by pre-teens and adults alike. My 80 something nan also enjoys a Belinda Murrell novel and has just finished ‘The Forgotten Pearl’ and ‘The River Charm’ and is eagerly awaiting this latest one from me! Belinda’s books appeal to all ages and her historical fiction novels are some of hte best around. ‘The Lost Sapphire’ is a fascinating time-slip novel, and, as usual, Murrell handles the time-slip beautifully – I do love picking ‘holes’ and problems in time-slips but there is none to pick here! Belinda weaves these two stories together with skill and ‘The Lost Sapphire’ is set to become another firm favourite in my school library.
Main character Marli is staying with her dad in Melbourne, and missing her friends. Then she discovers a mystery – a crumbling, abandoned mansion is to be returned to her family after ninety years. Marli sneaks into the locked garden to explore, and meets Luca, a boy who has his own connection to Riversleigh. A peacock hatbox, a box camera and a key on a velvet ribbon provide clues to what happened long ago . . .
In 1922, Violet is fifteen. Her life is one of privilege, with boating parties, picnics and extravagant balls. An army of servants looks after the family – including new chauffeur Nikolai Petrovich, a young Russian émigré. Over one summer, Violet must decide what is important to her. Who will her sister choose to marry? What will Violet learn about Melbourne’s slums as she defies her father’s orders to help a friend? And what breathtaking secret is Nikolai hiding? Violet is determined to control her future. But what will be the price of her rebellion?
‘Speaking Out’ by Tara Moss
I was lucky enough to hear Tara Moss speak *twice* last weekend, and to one of the events I took Pudstar, 8 years old. I figure no female is ever too young to hear the wisdom of Tara Moss. She is an eloquent, academic and engaging speaker and her writing is likewise. ‘Speaking Out’ is a handbook of ‘things I wish I knew’ advice from Tara Moss – with messages that pertain to all ages, but probably aimed at YA to adult readers. In this handbook she offers advice on preparation, speaking out and negotiating public spaces. With a special focus on public speaking, social media and online safety, she offers tips on how to research, form arguments, find support and handle criticism.Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.