Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Sonmg of Roland Smith by Jenny Koralek

This is Jenny Koralek's first children's novel and it is enjoyable, funny and moving. Peter Rush adds to the delicate humour and feel of the story with his appealing illustrations. Roby and Judd are friends. One day, they secretly borrow a young puppy from the Tyler family pet shop and the three of them have a marvellous time running and jumping and playing on the common. It is when they lose the puppy that disaster strikes; but is this event which also leads them to their first fateful meeting with Percy and to the events which quickly follow on. Percy is a blind girl whose bravery enables them to see their own problems in perspective. It is a little slow to start but I became more and more interested as I read on.

The Meaning of Life by Bradley Trevor Greive

It's an age-old question that has stumped the great minds of history: What is the meaning of life? In his hilarious and uplifting style, best-selling author Bradley Trevor Greive finally provides the answer: Figure out what you love and do it. Bradley was born in Hobart and has been a very busy man. He was a paratrooper and soldier. Eventually he left the military due to asthma. He worked in television and radio and published cartoons. This book is very witty and though-provoking and will definitely give you a laugh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

After the Storm/Helping Out by Sheryn Dee

This is the second title in a series of books, each often containing two stories in one is great for those children making the transition into chapter books. Theses pony stories are laden with details and instructions about horses and would certainly be appreciated by horse-lovers. There are detailed ink drawings which accompany the text. The stories are about Jessia and her pony, Magic, set on a beautiful property in the South Australian Riverland area. This little book is now out of print. Read more about these two stories by clicking on the link under the book.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just Disgusting by Andy Griffiths

Will you be interested in this book?

Do the following survey to find out:

Do you do any, or most of the following things?

Do you ever pick your nose?

Do you talk in burps?

Do you wee in swimming pools?

Do you wear your undies two days in a row?

Do you wish you knew the most disgusting thing in the world?

Do you think brussel sprouts are a delicious mouth watering treat?

Do you like stories about dead flies, giant slugs and mysterious brown blobs?

SCORE: One point for each ‘yes’ answer.

3-5 You are completely and utterly disgusting. You will love this book.
1-2 You are fairly disgusting. You will love this book.
0 You are a disgusting liar. You will love this book.

Click on the link to see Andy interacting with some students.

They've Put Custard in My Bone by Murray Ball

Published in 1983 the humour has not dated and students will appreciate the rivalry between Dog, the pampered corgi Prince Charles, and the ever-intimidating and invincible Horse, the cats who rules the roost. Most of the regulars are there: Cooch, Wal, Pongo and Aunt Dolly. Murray Ball from New Zealand does amazing comic strips. He well-known for his Footrot Flats series. This is but one of a staggering twenty-seven. These strips are based around the life of Wal Footrot's sheep dog, called the very original name of "Dog" and also other characters both human and animal that come into their lives. The humour comes through the day to day adversity of farming life. Dog likes to think of himself as tough and intelligent but often he is soft and a bit of a coward. Wal lives on 400 acres of swamp and is unmarried, but he does have an interest in Darlene, a hairdresser. There are many other characters but a memorable one is Prince Charles, a very spoilt corgi belonging to Aunt Dolly whose life is infinitely easier than Dog's life.

Here is a clip about the making of the film Footrot Flats:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Paul Jenning's Spookiest Stories by Paul Jennings

The author Paul Jennings is a former teacher and university lecturer who believes that kids who don't like to read are just disinterested. To prove it, he came up with an approach that appeals to even the most reluctant reader. This book, like his other collations of stories won't disappoint. This anthology boasts twenty of Paul's spookiest, fun-filled yarns, hand picked by Paul himself from his 'UN' collection. Below is a link to Paul talking about himself and his suburb:

Lucky Star by Cathy Cassidy

"Don't judge a book by its cover." Now in regards to this particular book this is pretty good advice. I own a copy with this first cover and to me it doesn't look like it would attract too many male readers. The cover below this one might. The book is all about high school student Mouse, a budding graffiti artist, who likes to take a few risks every now and again and is not afraid of what people might think of him. However, he soon learns that some of the risks that he takes have such traumatic consequences that could change his life forever. One of the messages in the novel is about respect and the idea that it has to be earned and not bought or demanded. It also examines the importance of friendships and relationships. If you enjoyed our class novel Driftwood, then I think you would enjoy this one too. For more information about the author check out her website:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Pinballs by Betsy Byars

This is one of my all time favourites. The unwanted kids. It is a much easier read than the Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson, but has very similar themes and focuses on children in foster care. I have probably read it to at least ten classes over the years and the feedback has been very positive. The author, Betsy Byars, generally writes in third person point of view as she sees into the minds of the characters in her stories. Her main teller is usually one child. In this novel it is Carlie, but there are occasional insights into the minds of Thomas J and Harvey the two other foster children in this story. Carlie knows she's got no say in what happens to her. Stuck in a foster home with two other kids, Harvey and Thomas J, she feels that she’s just a pinball being bounced from bumper to bumper. “As soon as you get settled, somebody puts another coin in the machine and off you go again.” But against her will and her better judgment, Carlie and the boys become friends and the three of them begin to understand that they can take control of their own Iives.

Click on this link to hear what the author Betsy Byars has to say about the process of writing and her books:

Two of a Kind: The Dream Dabate by Megan Stine

This is number 28 in the Mary-Kate and Ashley series which was launched in 1990. Even now the various book series continue to sell well and reflect to the ever-evolving lifestyles of kids, tweens and teens. It is a very girlie book though. In this book the students at White Oak are excited about a new hot game called The Dream Debate. Couple have to answer questions about each other and Ashley is certain that she is set to win. She knows everything about Ross her boyfriend, except there is one secret he has been hiding from her. Mary has knowledge of her own, one of the couples is planning to cheat so she is going to teach them a lesson. Amber has read this so get her opinion.

Sucked in: the Story of an Appendix on the Loose by Paul Jennings

If you enjoy really silly stories, or stories by Andy Giffith, you’ll love this one. It is all about a removed appendix who loves the boy he came from, and cannot bear to live without him. The boy loves his appendix too. They are separated and the appendix goes berserk and escapes his medical jar, wriggling around the town eating animals. It becomes more and more absurd and the ending is pretty nonsensical but it is good fun. The coloured illustrations by Terry Denton really complement the text. There is an appendix at the back of the book which fits nicely with the theme of the book wherein the author and illustrator exchange insults. It’s a very funny read for all ages and adults. Visit Paul's website by clicking on the link below the picture. Little Squirt, taken from his book Unmentionable, is worth a listen.

Violent Volcanoes by Anita Ganeri

This book is from the Horrible Geography series and is a lot of fun. It is a guide to volcanoes with the gritty bits left in. You can read the diaries of volcano survivors, get clued-up with the spotter's guide to eruptions, plan an explosive holiday with the volcano vacation guide, marvel at red-hot volcanic rocks the size of cars. It has excellent diagrams, funny cartoons and is a painless way to learn about natural disasters. There is lots about Mt St Helens, Pompeii and Krakatoa.

Gumbles on Guard by S.A.Wakefield

This is the story of the Gumbles' triumph over their tricky enemies, old and new, continues the saga of the Bottersnikes and Gumbles. Now what are Bottersnikes you might ask. Well, they are lazy bludgers and nasty rubbish-dump dwellers. They have green wrinkly skin, cheese-grater noses and long, pointed ears that go red when they are angry, which is most of the time. Gumbles, on the other hand are kindly creatures who are all too easily taken advantage of. Naive is probably the best word to describe them. Yet the Gumbles are determined never to be grabbed, popped into jam tins, and made to work for the Bottersnikes again, not ever. Both species live in the Australian bush. S.A. Wakefield, the author, wrote four books about the Bottersnikes and Gumbles:

Bottersnikes and Gumbles (1967)

Gumbles on Guard (1975)

Gumbles in Summer (1979)

Gumbles in Trouble (1989)

Michael Rosen's a to Z: The Best Children's Poetry from Agard to Zephaniah

In this book famous British poet, Michael Rosen, is promoting contemporary poetry for children. I found this book at Shiploads whilst looking for Cathy Cassidy books. (Turns out all our girls had emptied the shelves of Cassidy weeks ago). It is an A to Z of British poets. Evidently these poems were carefully selected to show the varied ways that poetry can excite, entertain and intrigue. The poems are haunting, musical, compassionate with the world be looked at from many askew angles. Below is a fantastic link to Michael Rosen's website so you can read and listen to some of his poetry. Some of the videos are very funny and really worth watching. One of the funniest ones is London Airport. Fast Food is also pretty funny.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

This would have to be one of my all time favourites. I did it as a book study when I was in grade 7. I also love the film in which Dakota Fanning stars as Fern. I have added a link to the trailer and also to an interview with Dakota who incidentally has always loved this classic. The book begins when John Arable's sow gives birth to a litter of piglets. One of them is a runt and he decides to kill it. However, Fern is outraged, and Wilbur, as she names him, becomes her pet. However, later on Wilbur discovers he is going to be eaten at Christmas and luckily Charlotte his spider friend writes a message praising Wilbur "Some Pig" which amazes all he he can live a little longer. Templeton, the rat, keeps the story interesting. What eventually happens to Wilbur and Charlotte? Read the book to find out. There are now three copies of this novel in the Little Library of Rescued Books, so you could read it with a couple of your friends.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

This little gem was published right back in 1963. It is the first in a series featuring a lad with the unusual name of Stanley Lambchop. Imagine going through life with that name as well as being half the person you used to be. You see, Stanley and his younger brother Arthur are given a big bulletin board by their dad for displaying pictures and posters which he hangs it on the wall over Stanley's bed. During the night the board falls from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep. Stanley somehow miraculously survives and makes the best of his altered state. Soon he is discovering that he can enter locked rooms by sliding under the door, and can be used as a kite, (flying high). Stanley helps catch some art museum robbers by posing as a painting on the wall. One special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends by mail.

Students in the class have made their own Flat Stanleys to take on adventures. They will make each adventure into a PhotoStory to share their holiday experiences.

Here is a nifty clip about Flat Stanley:

Jake and Pete and the Magpie's Wedding by Gillian Rubinstein

This is the fourth in the Jake and Pete series and it is an easy small chapter book to read, and fun. It has quirky ink drawings by Terry Denton. In the Garden of Lost Things, Jake finds his sense of smell, but Pete can’t find any glasses and Bog is too busy getting ready for the Magpie’s wedding to help him look. I believe the four stories can now be bought in the one book. It is probably good to read the three preceding stories first: Jake and Pete, Jake and Pete and the Stray Dogs, and Jake and Pete and the Catcrow Bats.

Secret Sister by Martha Tolles

This novel would probably appeal to girls around the age of twelve. The characters, dialogues and actions are realistic. Secret Sister is a program at this school a bit like our Book Buddies to encourage friendships. Can you imagine leaving notes to a secret sister at school? Darci is assigned to send notes to Crystal, a popular student and tv star. But will Crystal want to be friends with Darci once sh finds out who she is? And, who is sending Darci notes? It seems to be someone very strange. Can you work it out?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sticky Beak by Morris Gleitzman

"I put my face close to the cocky's and gave it a look. Don't be scared, you poor little thing,' the look said. 'I want to help you. 'Rack off,' said the cocky." (The cocky reminds me of Claude the Crow from Shirl's Neighbourhood).

Now, the very last thing Rowena wants in her life is a cockatoo with a bad temper. She's got enough problems of her own. For a start, she's just spattered two hundred grown-ups with jelly and custard. However, Rowena comes to discover that a crazy cockatoo could actually be just what she needs. This is the hilarious sequel to to Blabber Mouth from one of Australia's best known authors. Click on the link under the picture to read and hear the first chapter of the book.

Blinky Bill Runs Away by Dorothy Wall

This book is now out of print. This copy is a little scruffy but freshly covered' Blinky Bill has become a true icon in Australian literature. Blinky Bill the central character is a koala who wears red dungarees with a yellow button. Blinky is always up to mischief so much so that Mrs Grunty thinks he should be smacked for all the naughty things he does. Now that's not considered very politically correct these days.
There is a feature film by Yoram Goss, I must get hold of it.

Here is a trailer, a bit slow to start, but not bad:

Here is are two other clips about the making of the film and about the author, Dorothy Wall, who is actually a New Zealander. I found them very interesting.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Games by Robin Klein

There are three three copies of this wonderful book in the Little Library of Rescued Book, and my preferred one is the hardback edition which also has a map of the house in it. Three friends could all read it together if they wanted to. When Patricia (a not so popular but very bright girl) is invited for a weekend away without adult supervision at Genevieve's aunt's house in the country she is flattered. Desperate to fit in at her new school, she goes along hoping to make new friends. However, not all goes to plan, things start to go wrong. The girls discover an old diary and decide to hold a seance. The weather is foul and there are other foul things afoot. Suddenly their game turns into something very sinister. Their nervousness turns to panic...what is happening in the house? This thriller is hard to put down. It is very descriptive so you feel you know the characters and the isolation of the house and you can really feel the tension.

Furry Logic by Jane Seabrook

I bought this book for my dear mum about five years ago but she has no need for it now so it has become part of the little library. It is part of the bestselling series, Furry Logic Wild Wisdom and presents a new medley of adorable animals from the tip of expert water-colourist Jane Seabrook's tiny paintbrush. Impalas, pandas, penguins, and more share wild wisdom in the form of sharp yet heartening quotations that give a new spin on life's little and big questions. It is captivating and funny and can be enjoyed again and again. It is a good book to look at and read if you are feeling a little down in the mouth. It is full of untamed animals paired with insightful and thought-provoking phrases, some of which will you nodding in agreement. Click on the link below to find out what other books she has done:

101 Cat and Dog Jokes by Katy Hall & Lisa Eisenberf

Some of these jokes are a little corny, others might just make you smile or laugh inside.

Did you hear about the cat who swallowed the ball of yarn?
She had mittens.

Where does a dog go when it loses its tail?
To a re-tail shop.

There are Did you knows, puns, riddles, dialogues, knock knocks and much more.

A light-hearted read you could read in one or two sittings.

People Might Hear You by Robin Klein

A riveting Robin Klein book with sinister undertones. “Don't ever let them know you are here." Frances is told. "Don't ever let them know you're here...You mustn't raise your voice or call out...people outside might hear you."If you enjoyed Grace by Morris Gleitzman, you will most likely enjoy this novel. France's aunt Lois marries a stern, forbidding Mr Tyrell. Frances is then introduced to a mysterious temple, with its strange, fanatical beliefs. At first she easily accepts her aunt's new life, and tries to be a “worthy” member of the temple. However, slowly she uncovers its terrible secrets and realises she has to escape. The rules meant that nobody can enter or leave the house at will. All daily life is regimented and supervised. This book focuses on the fear, seclusion and propaganda that is sometimes used to retain people in cults. It is quite a complex novel but well worth the read.

Want to know more, ask Simon. There are now two copies of this novel in the Little Library of Rescued Books so you could read along with a friend.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Rainbow Sandwich by Marjorie Darke

This little book is now out of print. It is an easy read suitable for 9-12 year olds. The little ghost called Grey is just having a snooze in the cellar, when suddenly there's a terrible noise and the place falls in around him. He finds that his old haunting place has disappeared, but when he meets Mark, someone who can actually see him, his bones begin to feel at home again and they search for his old haunting-ground. It is hard to find information about the author.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowlings

This book was written in 2001 book written by J.K. Rowlings about the magical creatures who appear in the world of Harry Potter. It purports to be Harry Potter’s copy of the book of the same name mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It contains the history of Magizoology and describes 75 magical species from around the world. Rowlings name does not appear on the cover and the work is credited to Newt Scamander. Over 80% of the money raised from the sale of each book goes to Comic Relief which distributes the money to poor children in various countries around the world.

The Ghost on Saturday Night by Sid Fleischman

If you like Tim Burton you will probably really like this little book, especially the illustrations by Eric Von Schmidt. In fact, it was the cover of the book which made me pick it up and look at in a St Vinnies Store in the first place. The story is really quirky. The main character, Opie, lives in a western-style old America and meets a pair of madcap ‘ghost-raising’ magicians. Opie and his aunt know there is some funny business going on when Professor Pepper announces that he is going to raise the ghost of a dead robber, Crookneck John, live on stage. However, the unseen ghost escapes from his coffin during the presentation, and on top of this, the town bank is robbed! What is going on? This little book is filled with hyperbole, piquant phrasing and bravura and it is a lot of fun to read. Unfortunately Sid, the author, passed away last year at the grand age of ninety, but his website lives on and is a real tribute to him and well worth a look.

Here is a video clip of Sid so you can have some idea about him:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mind Master by Clive Gifford

Clive Gifford is an award-winning author of more than fifty books on the subjects of sports and soccer. In this novel the main character, Peter, is hooked on arcade games, so when a new game appears, he can't wait to try it. Little does he realise that it will trap him endlessly in time, locked in the game to which there is only one right answer. A great novel for 9-12 year olds. The books is part of the Usborne Spinechillers Series if you are after more scary reading. To find out more about this author, click on the following link:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So You Think You Know Harry Potter by Clive Gifford

So you think you know all about Harry Potter, his friends, enemies and amazing adventures? Put yourself to the test with this fabulous quiz book, crammed with over 1000 questions about the world's favourite wizard!

Try these two:

What is the name of Dumbledore's pet bird?

What part of the body is Scabbers the rat missing?

Fawkes the Phoenix
Scabbers is missing a toe

Captain Pugwash and the Birthday Pary by John Ryan

John Ryan's Pugwash started out as a cartoon strip over fifty years ago. Many of his stories were also made into simple animations. In this book that most unusual pirate, the greedy, selfish Captain Pugwash is at the helm once more. His familiar crew are all aboard. "Battering barnacles! It's a birthday cake!" he cried. "From a friend." It's Captain Pugwash's birthday and he's planning a huge party. His worst enemy Cut-throat Jake has not forgotten either and he has planned a very special surprise. The second story in the book,Captain Pugwash and the Sunken Silver,is probably the better of the two stories. Both stories have detailed, humorous ink illustrations. This is an easy read suitable for middle and upper primary students.

Here is a clip of a more recent version of Pugwash. Some would say it's not as good as the old series.

Answers to Brut by Gillian Rubenstein

I think this story would be suitable for young people between the ages of 11 to 14 years. This story is about a boy named Caspian and his bull terrier,Brut, which he really adores. Kel, a neighbour, decides to "borrow" Brut intending to only have him for the weekend. However, Kel's dad decides to sell the dog much to his distress. The adventure really begins when Caspian finds out what has happened. Brut has been sold to a dog fighting syndicate. This book won the NSW Premier's Award for Children's Literature in 1988 and also was Book of the Year for the Children's Book Council the following year.
Click on the following link to hear a review done by an upper primary child:

The Darkroom by Gerard Ross and Steven Woolman

If you like the Goosebumps series then this book will most likely appeal to you.The Darkroom could be classified as light horror. The reader can see that something threatening is coming through the whole story, but is surprised by what. The central character is thirteen year old Annie and we follow her as she gradually discovers the secret of her dead father's camera. He had told her, before he died, that a good photographer and a good camera could look into people's souls. Annie gradually unravels the hidden secret of his old camera and discovers how caught up in the mystery she is. The ending certainly leaves the reader thinking.This book could easily be read in one sitting and is appropriate for 12-14 year olds

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest

Antonia Forest, the author's real name was, wait for it, Patricia Giulia Caulfield Kate Rubenstein. She said of herself that she was "middle-aged, narrow-minded and anti-progressive and proud of it." Now that has to make you wonder what this book is like. I do know it is out of publication and not cheap to buy if you want a copy.

I haven't read this yet but will do so soon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Body in the Basement by Norah McClintock

This Canadian author was a huge fan of Nancy Drew as I was in my early teens. McClintock writes primarily for 16 year olds . This is is the first book of hers that I have read and I found it very riveting. It was the winner of the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Novel. It is all about a 15 year old girl called Tash who is about to lose all she loves. After a fire, a body is discovered underneath the cafe which Tasha's parents used to own and the police start looking for the murderer. The body turns out to be her mother whom she thought had abandoned her and soon the investigation leads them straight to Tasha's dad. She is devastated but she is sure her dad didn't do it. She tries to find out who did it but it seems everyone seems to have so many secrets to hide. Click on the link under the novel to find out more about the author.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Different Sort of Real by Kerry Greenwood

As the horrors of the First World War are drawing to a close, a danger has arisen that will kill more people around the world than the Great War itself-an influenza pandemic. This historical novel written in the style of a young girl's diary features teenager Charlotte McKenzie as the protagonist who shares her experiences of this influenza pandemic. She provides the reader with an insight into the post World War I period especially the daily goings-on in a working class Australian suburb. Charlotte assists the doctor next door and finds herself experiencing at close hand the effects of this devastating disease. When it finally attacks her own family, how can Charlotte cope? The book is written as a diary and I read it in one night. I couldn't believe the responsibilities this young girl had.

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Tom's Midnight Garden won The Carnegie Medal when it was first published in 1958. It has been a bestseller ever since. Tom is sent to live with his great aunt and uncle's place when his brother contracts the measles. There is not a lot for him to do there but he is fascinated by the strange grandfather clock in the hall of the big house. It seems to have ideas of its own about time and after midnight it strikes thirteen. Whilst everyone else sleeps, he slips out the back door garden and finds it strangely transformed. from a boring yard with rubbish bins to a magical summer garden in full bloom. It is there he meets Hattie who thinks he is a ghost and the adventure begins. I am trying to get the DVD. Below is a preview of the movie:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Buzzard Breat & Brains by James Moloney

This is the humorous, moving sequel to James Moloney's award-winning Swashbuckler. What has happened to the two bullies Rex and Tony since the first novel? When the Principal's prized rose garden was vandalised, Rex and his mate Tony copped the blame. But it was a set-up and Tony is now making inquiries over the episode. Rex's cousin Natalie is on the case as well. Now which which way will Rex jump, as he discovers a new friend, an age-old dilemma and even netball. If you thought Rex had an attitude problem, wait till you meet Natalie, queen of the netball court and an absolute horror to anyone who dares to mess with her. Rex and Natalie are on opposing netball teams in the "great netball massacre," boys versus girls. Who is going to win? And what is the weasel Tony up to now?

See what James Moloney has to say about writing stories:

The Riverman by Allan Baillie

I bought this hardback copy off the man himself, Allan Baillie when he came to promote his book in Queenstown. There is an inscription from him on the inside cover. The book is set on the rugged west coast of Tasmania at the time of the Mount Lyell mine disaster in 1912. Twelve year old Tim is forced into adulthood when his father dies and has to learn to overcome his grief and resentment to become a riverman in the wilderness. I would recommend this book to readers from 11-14. Below is a link to Allan Baillie's website:

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Maxwell Kane is a lumbering grade eight student who describes himself as a "butthead goon," has lived with grandparents Grim and Gram ever since his father was imprisoned for murdering his mother. He is bullied at school despite his size and has been kept back due to poor grades. He meets Kevin, aka Freak, when he is receiving tutoring with his reading. Keith is a genius with a serious birth defect which has left him in braces and using crutches. Max is uplifted by Freak's imagination and booming confidence, while Freak gets a literal boost hoisted onto Max's shoulders, he shares Max's mobility. Together they become Freak the Mighty, an invincible duo. I have the DVD which students can borrow when they have read the novel. It seems popular with the grade 6 boys. Simon found the sequel called Max the Mighty at the local library.

Here is a clip from the movie entitled The Mighty

Thunderwith by Libby Hathorn

Following the death of her mother Lara is reunited with the father she hasn't seen since she was a toddler. He is kind and understanding but lives in the Australian Outback with his second wife and their four children He often has to spend long times away from home to earn a living. Not only does Lara's stepmother make it clear she is not welcome, but there is barely room for her (she sleeps on the verandah), and money is very tight. Even though there is some acceptance from her new siblings she has a difficult time at school where a cruel boy torments her on a  daily basis, trying to force her to give him the cherished coin collection she had shared with her mother. Lara's only confidantes are an elderly Aboriginal storyteller and a beautiful dog, Thunderwith, the latter with whom she meets regularly on the hill near her house, and who seems to appear whenever she needs comfort. I would recommend this book to upper primary girls. There is a sequel to this book called Chrysalis which I have not read as yet. I must track it down. There is a movie about the book called Echo of Thunder. Here is a clip with Libby talking about her books.

Now by Morris Gleitzman

This novel would appeal equally to boys as to girls and moves along at a fast pace. Set in the current day, this is the final book in the series that began with Once,continued with Then and is... Now. Felix is a grandfather. He has achieved much in his life and is widely admired. He has mostly buried the painful memories of his childhood, but they resurface when his granddaughter Zelda comes to stay with him. Together they face a cataclysmic event armed only with their with gusto and love – an event that helps them achieve salvation from the past, but also brings the possibility of destruction. To listen to the first chapter click on the link below the book.

Watch an interview with Morris Gleitzman discussing his books and their themes.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

What if a plane carrying a full load of school boys crashes on a deserted island with no adult survivors? What would happen to those boys? What would you expect to happen? These are the questions William Golding explores in this modern classic and the answers are not what maybe you would expect. There are many memorable characters, most notably Ralph, Jack and Piggy. The pig head scene and the last 50 pages are fascinating and intense. Democracy versus the darkside of human nature makes for a tense and often frightening story. This book is more for the high school student but could be appreciated by mature readers at the upper primary level. This book has been made into a film. To see the trailer click on the link below.

Surviving Sydney Cove by Goldie Alexander

Set in Sydney Cove in 1790 this story revolves around the life and hardships experienced by Elizabeth Harvey as she struggles to survive in a time where food is lacking and disease and crime are on the increase. Lizzie, as she is known, was convicted stealing a linen gown and a silk bonnet worth 7 shillings and transported to Australia on the First Fleet. After trading two onions for a journal, her diary begins. She is employed as a domestic servant on Henry Dodd's farm at Rose Hill. Lizzie intends to post this diary to her younger brother Edward who lives in the Cotswolds in England. As they have been parted these last four years, the entries interweave how she came to be in Botany Bay and present day happenings. She ends up working for a surgeon and looking after his motherless daughter Emily. She is thirteen and how different her life is to that of a thirteen year old Australian girl these days.

This film clip will give readers a background to the book:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Zizzy Zing by Ursula Dubosarsky

The author's name is a real mouthful but she writes amazing and often complex books. This is her third novel. Phyllis, the main character in the book, discovers a shocking secret from the past. Whilst staying at an old convent school in the Blue Mountains, a mysterious letter arrives. It leads her on a funny and frightening journey by train to Katoomba where she meets Elizabeth who is wearing strange attire. The nun who is accompanying Phyllis, Sister Monica, suddenly disappears and then she finds herself in Elizabeth's house staring at the body of a dead child. This book has a sinister tone to it and probably would appeal to girls 11-14 years old. The title of the novel comes from an Italian street song called" Naughty Marietta" which Elizabeth plays on an old record player. Read the lyrics to the song on the following web page:

Or listen to it at this website:

I feel sorry for Phyllis having to listen to this song!

This hardback edition is now classified as "hard to find."

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

I liked the book more the film only because I feel the characters are not really developed enough in the movie.
The book was originally written in German but was translated into English in 2002. If you like Harry Potter books then you will most likely appreciate the novels by Funke. Running away to Venice seemed like a good idea to Bo and Prosper after their mother's death given that she loved the city so much. Following a difficult journey, they find a place with other homeless children who live in an abandoned theatre. Their leader is the charming, slightly mysterious Scipio, known as the Thief Lord. Like Robin Hood, Scipio robs the rich to provide his poor friends with food and the necessities of life. Scipio usually takes jewels, but he's hired to steal a most unusual item for a pawnbroker's wealthy client, a broken wooden wing. The wing as it turns out is part of a magical carousel that has the power to change children into adults, and adults into children. During this adventure, secrets about the characters and their fantastic world are revealed. I have the DVD if anyone in Bay Unit wants to watch it after reading the novel. Here is preview of the film, the trailer:

Boss of the Pool by Robin Klein

One of nine children, Robin Klein has proven herself to be one of Australia's most prolific writers and this slim novel won't disappoint. Shelley, the protagonist is very egocentric and is upset when her mother gets an evening job and she has to stay with her elderly neighbour, Mrs Murray. After a while she reluctantly agrees to go to her mother's workplace, a home for children and adults with special needs. There she meets Ben who much to her chagrin cannot even get her name right; she doesn't even classify him as human but fortunately things change. Ben is petrified of water and Shelley suddenly finds herself in the role of swimming coach. A play script for this novel was written by Mary Morris. It would make a great play.

Read My Mind! by Krista Bell

Krista Bell came to Illawarra Primary a few years back and she had the students very enthralled. I would recommend this book to upper primary and lower secondary girls. It is all about a mother/daughter relationship. I found it hard to put the book down.

Krita Bell has a very extensive website where you can find out much more about this novel as well as her other books.