ABC Radio: Bookworms


Tuesday evening I spoke on ABC Radio Brisbane with Trevor Jackson about my favourite titles of the last month or so. I’ve listed the titles below. Click on titles to purchase.

‘Once Upon an ABC’ by Sophie Masson and Christopher Nielsen

‘Archie and the Bear’ by Zanni Louise and David Mackintosh’

‘Looking Up’ by Sally Murphy

‘Sporty Kids’ series by Felice Arena

‘Life is Like the Wind’ by Shona Innes

‘Say Yes: a story of friendship, fairness and a vote for hope’, written by Jennifer Castles and illustrated by Paul Seden

‘Too Many Friends’ by Kathryn Apel

‘Vet Cadets’ series by Rebecca Johnson

‘The Boy and the Spy’ by Felice Arena

‘Once Upon an ABC’ by Sophie Masson and Christopher Nielsen.

A romp through both the alphabet and the world of folk tale! An ABC book for the young with every letter having a fairytale or folk lore connotation. A really clever introduction to some of the words and characters of folk tales and a fabulous addition to a unit of work on fairytales in primary schools. Sophie Masson’s lively verse gathers together a dazzling range of folklore, made vividly contemporary with Chris Nielsen’s striking artwork.

‘Archie and the Bear’ by Zanni Louise and David Mackintosh

Archie has something to say, but no one is listening. So Archie leaves home … and discovers someone else with something to say. And because they both know how that feels, they both listen. This is a quirky story about being who you are (even when you’re not), with a word perfect text by Zanni Louise and illustrations by the wonderful David Mackintosh; this is a picture book that just works, on so many levels. I love the themes of friendship and acceptance of others, but more than this I adore the exploration of the joy and frustrations of the imaginative world of young children.

There is also nothing better than a book trailer by David Mackintosh too (see below and check out the ‘Lucky’ one here).

And this is a gorgeous little clip by Zanni, talking about the concept of the book, Zanni is the most divine person and I really love seeing what she comes up with in the world of writing.

‘Looking Up’ by Sally Murphy

Pete lives with his mum. His dad lives far away and, as far as Pete knows, that’s all the family he has. Pete is absolutely busting to get a telescope for his birthday but it is going to be a stretch for his mum to afford one. The day before Pete turns ten, a birthday card arrives in the mail with stars on the front and signed ‘Love, Grandad’. Mum reveals the card is from her own father, but when she won’t give Pete more information he decides to locate this mysterious Grandad for himself. Without his mum knowing, Pete visits Grandad and is thrilled to discover they share a passion for the night sky. ‘Looking Up’ is a moving story about family, forgiveness and the stars. Sally Murphy is an exceptional writer and I eagerly anticipate each new offering from her. I devoured ‘Looking Up’ in one sitting (okay it’s not that long) and the mystery and suspense will keep readers younger than I turning page after page. As an adult reader, I was worried about what might be revealed, but as with all Sally Murphy books, the content is utterly age appropriate, tear inducing and deeply moving. I’m not someone that cries over books but I think Sally has made me cry with every book she has ever written. ‘Looking Up’ is a slim volume packed full of heart and soul and is sure to entice both reluctant and voracious readers from 7+.

‘Sporty Kids’ series by Felice Arena

Look it’s no secret that I’m not really a fan of sweating, moving my body fast or being in involved in team sports. It’s just ‘not my thing’. However I have become firm friends with the PE teacher at school, and thus she has dragged my children kicking and screaming into the world of netball and other sports which involve training sessions. Author Felice Arena does enjoy sport, which is abundantly evident in his excellent ‘Sporty Kids’ series which is aimed an early childhood – lower primary audience. Since his recent visit to our school, these books have been back on high rotation and the prep students in particular are beside themselves about reading each of the titles, all of which focus on a different sport but with the same characters. I have no understanding of the sporting parts of the book but I DO love the ‘tips’, ‘facts’ and character information contained in each as these different text forms extend the reader and give an insight into both the writing process and the clever characterisation which has been achieved in each book.

‘Life is Like the Wind’ by Shona Innes

This series of books, ‘The Big Hug’ series, has been in a staple in our house for some years now. Each book looks at a different problem which young people may be dealing with, or will have to deal with in the future. The books aim to give children, and the people who care for them, a way to talk about problems. Topics include: internet safety; family breakdown; worries; body image; love; anger; and grief. As many of you would know, my husband passed away recently, and the girls and I have had ‘Life is Like the Wind’ on high rotation in the house. Sometimes its not a book they want to read, as the pain is too great and they just want to read something full of laughter, light and fart jokes, but I slip this one, and others like these titles in whenever I can. Books like these provide words when I have none to offer but need to. They are perfect and I believe very strongly that every family with young children should own this entire series.

‘Say Yes: a story of friendship, fairness and a vote for hope’, written by Jennifer Castles and illustrated by Paul Seden

Once there were two little girls who were best friends. They did everything together. As they got older they weren’t allowed to do the same things anymore. Because they looked different. Because of the law.

This is a story about the landmark 1967 Referendum, the two women who came together to change the law … and how the Australian people said YES.

‘Too Many Friends’ by Kathryn Apel

A really gorgeous verse novel rejoicing in the innocence of young friendship.

At school

I have lots of friends.

I have so many friends that

sometimes I

don’t know





Tahnee wants everyone in her Year 2 class to get along and be happy. But what happens when all of Tahnee’s friends want her attention at the same time? And how can Tahnee be friends with Lucy, when Lucy doesn’t seem to want any friends? A novel about friendship and school life, and the balance we all need to find to be the best friend we can be.

‘Too Many Friends’ is warm, funny and insightful, and it explores all the complex intricacies of schoolyard friendships. The text is sophisticated yet accessible to young readers. There are so many ‘quotable quotes’ throughout that I’d love to plaster across the walls of classrooms and I’m sure this book will be much used in Year Two  – Year Four classrooms for social learning lessons.

‘Vet Cadets’ series by Rebecca Johnson

Abbey, Hannah and Talika are new recruits at Willowvale boarding school’s Vet Cadets program. They are excited to learn all about caring for farm animals and the work that country vets do. Riding horses, shearing sheep and treasure-hunting for parasites are all just part of their normal school day. But when something starts attacking the school’s sheep, the three vet cadets must their scientific skills, animal knowledge and teamwork to try and catch the culprit before it’s too late.

Rebecca Johnson is one my favs. She writes texts which have child appeal but are still full of really meaningful subject matter and bucketfuls of science fun, which, given she is an award winning Science teacher is no surprise. Rebecca weaves STEAM content through fast paced, child friendly narratives and her commitment to ensuring girls have equal access to stories involving Science is testament to her own love of all things Science. In fact I don’t even know that she sets out to write ‘Science for girls’, it is just what she does best.

‘The Boy and the Spy’ by Felice Arena

Full review of this title is here.

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The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore 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.


  1. I love these recommendations! My two littlies can’t get enough of ‘Nomax’ by Shannon Horsfall. It has been to kindy twice and every night for the past week they have died in anticipation of yelling ‘NOMAX!’. So cute.


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