Megan is not like her other sisters. They are loud and love sport, whereas Megan is quieter and loves to draw. It’s not that she doesn’t love them, or her mum and dad, it’s just that the broom cupboard offers a quieter place to get away and draw her fantastical creatures. So does her friend Li’s place. Ever since Li moved in across the road two years ago, the girls have been inseparable. Li is an only child with a single mum, and things are a lot calmer at their house. Plus, Li is a creative too. She loves to write, especially about aliens, and brings Megan’s creatures to life by giving them their own names and backstories. Then one Friday, everything changes. A blue glow takes over the town and everyone in it, except for Megan, Li and Megan’s dog Callie. People stop and quietly stare in a zombie like state. And when Megan tries to draw, it seems the pencil takes on a life of its own and she can’t control her hand. The same happens when Li writes her stories. On their way to get help, Callie leads them to the Talora Caves where they see an eerie blue glow emanating from the cavern. It tries to capture their minds and pull them in. The girls will have to use all their courage and awaken their fantasy beasts to defeat the creature that is The Glow.
This is a fast-paced, supernatural tale of adventure, friendship and heroism, set against a background of creativity and fantasy. Two ordinary girls are caught in an extraordinary situation and must use all of their creative skills to save their town. The story is extremely well written with short chapters, engaging language and plenty of mystery and excitement to keep the reader wanting more. The illustrations, especially those of the creatures, are very intricate with a hint of danger and menace, and will have huge appeal to those who loved the Deltora Quest series and the dragons, orcs, and other beasts from Middle Earth, Harry Potter and Hayao Miyazaki. As a lover of fantasy, I couldn’t put this one down and highly recommend it for upper primary and middle grade readers.
Supporting teaching themes could include mythical creatures, dragons, fantasy, friendship, apocalypses, monsters, dogs, bravery, creativity, illustrating, writing.
Find out more about Sofie Laguna
Find out more about Marc McBride
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released March 2023
Highly recommended for ages 9 +
Mole. Max Mole. Secret agent. Well, not quite a fully-fledged secret agent - yet.
Max is on a mission to save the world from the bad guys – specifically Dr Nude and the extremely evil Eric Goldfish-Finger – so he can become the 007 of the animal world. But first, the secret agent judges have to agree that he has passed their tests. This is not as easy as it sounds for someone who thinks he has a foolproof, masterful plan to thwart the evil villains. If you ask his partners, Helena Hippo (the muscle) and June Bug (the brains), that’s not always – if ever - the case. He’ll have three chances to prove himself and, if he gets it wrong, they all fail.
In this hilarious new graphic novel from the very talented James Foley, we’ll see Max, Helena and June, try their best to defeat a despicable, robot suited mole rat and a maniacal, tank driving, bank robbing fish with a poisonous side kick. There are lots of explosions, tricky situations, toilets and laugh out loud moments that will engage and entertain readers. Two of my favourites are Mr W’s new acronym for the agency – The Official International League Exterminating Terrorism (T.O.I.L.E.T.), and the very clever play on words and images when the team figures out Goldfishfinger’s next move will be to try and steal the priceless, sold gold fishfinger, the new art work by Andy Warthog.
This is sure to be a much sort after graphic novel series for tweens and spy fans. So as Max says, 'Let's Rock and Mole!'
Supporting teaching themes could include friendships, spies, secret agents, animals, perseverance.
Watch the trailer for Book 1 below.
Find out more about James Foley
Published by Scholastic Australia.
Release date 1 March, 2023.
ISBN: 9781761200151 (PB)
Highly recommended ages 9 - 12.
Ben has lived with his aunt Samantha ever since he suffered a brain injury six years ago. His injury caused memory problems which means he can't remember anything about his past or his parents, or why his aunt seems to resent him so much. There are no photographs or keepsakes in the house to give him clues about his parents, except for a postcard, sent from Barcelona, that he salvaged from the bin when Samantha wasn’t looking. And lately, he seems to be forgetting things a lot more. He's so worried he could lose his memory forever, that he's taken to drawing his ideas on paper and keeping them hidden.
But today when he woke up, things felt different. The dream he frequently had about a dark cave with no way out had changed. He had seen a shaft of light ahead in the blackness and hurried towards it but, when he was almost there, his bedside alarm went off. As he rushed downstairs to help his aunt get ready for school, the sound of the clocks in the house intensified and then suddenly, stopped. His aunt didn’t seem to notice. Ben hadn't realised it was his twelfth birthday until he had began organising Samantha's notebooks and saw the date on the first page. September 15th. That’s when it started again. All the clocks in the house began ticking and clanging at once, the radio screeched, and the drips from the kitchen taps sounded like hail. The hands on the clocks started winding backwards, a storm began to brew outside, and he felt an intense tingling sensation run through his body as he fell to the floor. Then there was silence. When he opened his eyes, he was not in the kitchen anymore.
And so Jayben’s journey begins into the Elf world. He discovers that he is the Ninth Dreamer, the one prophesised to reignite the torch and bring peace to the land, and help the elves regain their memories instead of having to hang them in jars on trees so they don’t forget. With the help of his new-found friends Phee, Peggro, Maggie, Raynor and Yespa, they must get to the last rock, find Jayben’s memory chord, avoid getting caught by the agents, defeat the evil Snaggis, and destroy Null – the false Ninth Dreamer. But things are not as easy as they seem, and treachery hides in places where they least expect.
This is a fast paced, exciting, thrill a minute adventure into a new fantasy realm created by Thomas Leeds. A whole world of creatures and magic opens up from the very beginning. Evil witches, fantastic beasts, strange lands and powerful magic entice the reader deeper into the story with every page turn. A powerful new series from an author who has experienced the trauma of brain injury and memory loss himself, this has the potential to become the next sought-after fantasy classic for upper primary/middle grade readers. The cover art is both gorgeous and intriguing, and captures the essence of the story beautifully. There is so much more of this adventure waiting to be told!
Supporting teaching themes could include friendship, courage, fantasy, magic, magical realms, memory loss, neurological disorders, witches, families.
Find out more about Thomas Leeds
Cover Illustration Teo Skaffa
Published by Hodder & Stoughton (an imprint of Hachette UK)
Release date 2 February 2023.
ISBN: 9781444968637 (HB)
Highly recommended ages 9 - 13
This colourful and fun filled board book is the perfect read aloud for preschoolers, especially those who love sport and ball games. Each page is packed with action, showcasing the skills of the game, and the friendship and collaborative spirit inherent in team sport. Playing with friends, having fun, trying your best, and cheering for your team mates when they do something great on the field are important social emotional attributes articulated throughout the text. Children will see themselves represented in the story through the diversity of the characters, with the bright, cartoon style images encouraging all young readers to participate in the sport. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup being held in Australia and New Zealand this year, this celebration of ‘the beautiful game’ is both timely and engaging, and will hopefully inspire a new generation of socceroos!
Supporting teaching themes could include soccer, team sports, perseverance, friendship, persistence, socceroos, FIFA World Cup, women in sport.
Find out more about Kyla May
Published by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia.
Release date 7 February 2023
ISBN: 9781761048883 (BB)
Highly recommended ages 3 - 5.
From the dust cover to the end pages, this book will captivate and enchant you. Step into the first page and be transported to faraway lands and worlds where anything can (and does!) happen. This story will take you on a magical journey where you’ll meet bears, dragons, pirates and unicorns. You’ll sleep on top of the tallest palm tree, dine with merfolk and be serenaded by clams, glide across rainbows and be granted the very special gift of a giant’s friendship. You’ll be trapped in a tower, saved by a bee and challenge the cosmos. You might also have the chance to meet the moon mouse and help polish the stars. For when you hold a book, you hold the key to so many wonderful adventures. Then, when you are ready, you only have to close the cover of the book to return home. Can you go back to experience more adventures? Why yes you can! Wonders await when you open a book.
This book has quickly become one of my favourites. The story is beguiling, charming and expertly rhymed. Caroline Derlatka has a true gift for storytelling. Readers will find themselves drawn into a story that encapsulates all the wonder of childhood fairy tales with the imagination of stories yet to be told. The gorgeous illustrations are a visual treat. Sara Ugolotti uses a palette that is at once soft, but also bold when it needs to be. The gentle lines of the creatures and the joyous expressions of the two children upon each magical encounter are an absolute delight. See if you can find the golden hummingbird that appears on each page!
This book is everything you want a young child to feel and experience as they embark upon, or continue, their reading journey. What will you find there? What will there be? When you’re in a book, just read, and you’ll see.
This book proudly supports The White Feather Foundation, a charity that support projects across the globe that foster education and good health for young girls in developing nations; protect and preserve indigenous cultures; conserve and sustain the environment; and give access to clean water.
Supporting teaching themes could include fairy tales, magical creatures, dragons, pirates, sea creatures, giants, bears, space, the moon, imagination, storytelling, diversity, rhyming books, poetry.
Find out more about Caroline Derlatka.
Find out more about Sara Ugolotti.
Published by Bushel & Peck Books.
Distributed in Australia by New South Books.
Release date October 2022.
ISBN: 9781638190943 (HB)
Highly recommended ages 3 to 6.
This fourth installment in the Cat Kid Comic Club series from Dav Pilkey is another triumph, not only because of its trademark graphic format, but for the inspiration within for young writers and illustrators. Join Li'l Petey, Molly, Flippy and the baby frogs, as they share their successes and failures in story creation with the world. They also provide an insight into the process of writing, with each chapter using either a slightly different graphic format and/or a different writing technique. In Wendy and Raine’s chapter about their dad’s life story, they use a traditional comic format in the illustrations, but have incorporated A LOT of exaggeration in the actual story. Gilbert and Curly learn about copyright and parody in their creation of Frogzilla. Summer and Starla use photography and the art of Haiku for their story.
There are chapters highlighting storyboarding, recycling toys to create completely different characters, using real life sequential images instead of illustrations, 3-D modelling, being an agent, getting published, and all the while learning to be respectful, resilient, creative and collaborative. My favourite chapter is Billie and Corky’s story Run Little Baby, Run!!! because it incorporates mondegreens – the misinterpretation or mishearing of phrases to create totally new meanings – and an order of two large French fries and a supa-sized shake becomes two large French flies and a supa-sized snake with hilarious consequences.
The thing I love about the Cat Kid stories is that readers won’t even know they are absorbing and learning all of these creative insights because of the very clever and thoughtful way Dav Pilkey writes and presents the books. Bright, colourful, humorous illustrations with large, colourful fonts, and funny, engaging stories that are quick and easy to read, are what capture the children’s imaginations. And the graphic novel format has been such a drawcard for reluctant readers. Many children who found chapter books a struggle are now avid readers, thanks to authors and illustrators like Dav Pilkey who make reading accessible, appealing and most of all - fun!
Watch the trailer for Melvin and Naomi's comic creation Chubbs McSpiderbutt: Easy Spider below
Supporting teaching themes include family, persistence, resilience, collaboration, respect, copyright, graphic novels, photography, recycling, storyboarding, story writing and publishing.
Find out more about the Cat Kid Comic Club series.
Find out more about Dav Pilkey.
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Release date November 29th, 2022.
ISBN: 9781338846621 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 7 - 10.
'The tree was decorated, the cards were hung. Lights twinkled, dancing merrily and bright.' It's Christmas Eve, and father and daughter are all prepared for Santa's visit. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an old oak door appears in the living room. But this is no ordinary door. It's large and laying flat on the floor. Father pushes and pulls and tries to open it but it just doesn't budge. Both are wondering what it's for and why it's there when the young girl grasps the handle and the door flies open! Eight reindeer clambered up and out and are ushered into the family's backyard. What - or who - else might be hiding there? And what is the meaning behind the door?
This tale is a great read aloud addition to Christmas story time. Part rhyme, part prose, early readers will have fun discovering the rhyming phrases and the alliteration included on some of the pages. The colourful, cartoon-like images by Paul Nash are a vivid compliment to the text, with a big red Santa and an even bigger, green tree decorated with baubles, tinsel and a star. The message of family and bringing joy to others at special times like Christmas is a universal one, and will resonate with all who sit together to read this charming story - especially on Christmas Eve!
Find out more about Penny Macoun
This book is self published and was released on October 4, 2022.
For ages 3 - 5
Thanks to Romi Sharp and Books On Tour PR & Marketing for access to the book images.
Follow Just Write For Kids Blog for more information on the campaign and special media features.
'I don't want this yucky roast. I just want some cheese on toast.' The child in the story finds something unpleasant about every vegetable on his plate and refuses to try the healthy food in front of him. The refrain on each page of 'What I really want the most, is some yummy cheese on toast' is a familiar one many parents will recognise at dinner time! As the child goes through each of the items on his plate, the patient mum finally asks '. . . don't you want to grow up strong? Every mother can't be wrong!' The boy then reluctantly tries the food and discovers that roast and vegies are actually extremely yummy - maybe even better than cheese on toast!
This new story by Kelly Louise Jarris is one every family will relate to. The sparse, simple text combined with the repetition of 'What I really want the most, is some yummy cheese on toast', is highly engaging and perfect for beginning readers. The cartoon-style illustrations are large and colourful, and the perfect compliment to the text for this age group.
Published by KLJ Books
ISBN: 9780645535136 (PB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 5
Thanks to Romi Sharp and Books On Tour PR & Marketing for access to book images.
Follow Just Write For Kids Blog for more information on the campaign and special media features.
Bin Chicken and the Christmas Turkey by Kate & Jol Temple. Ill. by Ronojoy Ghosh.
Ibis (affectionately known as Bin Chicken) has had enough of the noise and crowds of the city at Christmas. ‘Bah humbug! Not this again!’ she grumbles. ‘I can’t find my dinner with that racket below – shoppers and carols and all that ho-ho!’ Even the pigeon is wearing a Santa hat! She decides to gather her chicks and head to the beach. But what she doesn’t realise is that many other Australians have exactly the same idea, and when they arrive there are lots of children creating a very loud hullabaloo!
Out from the shadows of the scrub steps a bush turkey, who knows exactly where to get some yummy food. They wait till the children have left for the beach with their ‘. . . boogie boards, beach towels and inflatable toys!’, and ever so quietly (watch out for the dog!) make their way inside the house, where they find a treasure trove of delectable Christmas delights. They poke their noses into everything – including some of the carefully wrapped presents – which is when their plan begins to unravel. They start pulling on the Christmas cracker from opposite ends and BOOOM! Oh no! This wakes the dog, sends the turkey into uncontrolled flight, and bird poo and feathers begin flying around as the Christmas tree tumbles. They manage to escape and luckily for Ibis, the bush turkey knows that if they wait just one more day, there will be tons of Boxing Day leftovers!
This is another hilarious addition to Kate and Jol Temple’s Bin Chicken stories. The talented duo brilliantly captures the frenetic pace and noise of the holiday season in a city, and the feeling of wanting to get away from it all and head to the coast. The appearance of the bush turkey adds more humour with his ‘in the know’ information about how to get inside the house and start sampling the Christmas Day feast. It is the perfect slap stick companion for the Ibis and the chaos that ensues. The bit about ‘Bird poo flying around!’ will definitely be a winner with readers. The language is also very relatable with words like ‘servo’, ‘hotdog franks’ and ‘boogie boards’ making it very clear that this is an Aussie Christmas. The illustrations are a joy, with the bright colours and attention to detail a delight. Readers will notice something new each time they turn a page from the Christmas baubles and credit cards on the opening spread, the wonderful snaking lights of the highway, the old-fashioned television, and the last double page spread of a game of beach cricket. Plus there’s a sneaky little mouse who pops up on almost every page as well! My two absolute favourite details are the hats – Bin Chicken’s tuna tin and Bush Turkey’s crash helmet fit each creature’s personality perfectly!
Supporting teaching themes could include Christmas, celebrations, birds, the Ibis, the bush turkey, hats, summer, beach life, friendship and resilience.
Find out more about Kate and Jol Temple
Find out more about Ronojoy Ghosh
Published by Scholastic Australia Pty Ltd.
Highly recommended for ages 3 - 7
The Last Kids On Earth and the Forbidden Fortress by Max Brallier, Ill. by Douglas Holgate
An impenetrable fortress and a cosmic hand that is beginning to take on a mind of its own, are just the beginning of Jack’s problems in Book 8 of this graphic novel series. He and June have been staking out the fortress for weeks trying to find a way in so they can stop the evil warlord Thrull, from getting the schematics to The Tower. Thrull captured Ghazt and took him to the fortress so Wracksaw could extract the plans from Ghazt’s brain. Once finished, The Tower will allow Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, access to their world where he’ll do exactly what his name suggests – destruct their world!
While Jack and June were being attacked by a not-so-tiny Splotcher, Quint, Dirk and Skaelka reappeared and saved the day! With the friends reunited, Skaelka reveals that the fortress fell through from her dimension, and that she was held prisoner there. She also knows there is only one way in because when she escaped, there was only one way out – the Cliff of Infinite Fatalities. As they try and come up with a plan to scale the cliff and infiltrate the fortress, Jack feels the cosmic hand, a new and not so welcome physical addition, start to pulse and tighten, and realises he has to be the one to somehow scale the cliff.
And so begins The Best Buddies Mission Force to break into the Fortress and save the world. Zombies, explosions, swamp monsters, fierce winds, Razorkaws and monster guards abound, but the most surprising discovery is that Skaelka wasn’t just speaking poetically about the heart of the fortress. The Fortress is actually alive! The group manage to scale the cliff and get inside where fights ensue with monster guards and, after almost being outnumbered, Jack’s much-loved monster dog, Rover, reappears with some new friends, The Goon Platoon, who add much needed monster fire power. They win the battle and penetrate the inner sanctum. Here they watch, stunned, as Wracksaw attaches armacles to the ceiling, his body glowing as he begins extracting the information from the brain of a motionless Ghazt. Suddenly Thrull appears, sucks the schematics into his own brain, and leaves triumphant.
Jack feels the cosmic hand pulsing, drawing him towards Ghazt who, with his dying breath, reveals the purpose and power of the cosmic hand. The story finishes with three important cliff hanger questions which will only be answered in the next exciting episode: Will Thrull build The Tower? Will Rezzoch be released? and Will Jack master the power of the cosmic hand?
Max Brallier and Douglas Holgate have delivered yet another epic, fast paced, thrill-a-minute ride in The Last Kids on Earth and the Forbidden Fortress. This will be a winner with fans of the series, and although it’s probably best to have read at least some of the other books, there are enough hints in the first few chapters to enable those who haven’t done so to catch up on previous dangerous, heart-stopping encounters. This story is packed with sci-fi fantasy adventure, humour, and fantastic illustrations, but also delivers on the important themes of friendship, bravery, loss, acceptance and relationships.
The graphic novels have made a very successful crossover from page to screen as a Netflix original TV series.
Supporting teaching themes include friendship, bravery, loss, zombies, monsters, relationships, science fiction, comics, graphic novels and cartoon illustrations.
Watch the trailer for The Last Kids On Earth and the Forbidden Fortress below.
Find out more about The Last Kids On Earth Series
Find out more about Max Brallier
Find out more about Douglas Holgate
Published by HarperCollins and released through HarperCollins Australia & New Zealand
Release date October 5th, 2022.
ISBN: 9780008582340 (BPB)
Highly recommended for ages 8 +