Baby wants to grow up as cute as a kitten like his Aunt Daisy said, and as strong as lion just like his Uncle Dan. But as much as he loves his family, there are some attributes from the others he’d rather not inherit – like Uncle Max’s bushy eyebrows, Uncle Ted’s hairy legs and Aunty Fern’s wild hair! Will he grow up just right, just as he should be?
In this hilarious new picture book from author Frances Mackay, we watch as Baby’s relatives welcome him to the family, commenting on how they hope he will inherit a little something from each of them as he grows up to be his own person. Everyone has a personal attribute they hope to see reflected in him, but Baby is not so sure and reacts in a way that baby’s tend to when things get overwhelming – with a huge wail! Both young and older readers will relate to comparisons being made within families and the very funny situations this can lead to. This is a brilliantly simple but engaging story with lots of laugh out loud moments. Dotti Colvin’s wonderful, cartoon like illustrations with outlined, colourful characters who possess those all-important accentuated attributes, are the perfect complement to the text. A great addition to any school or home library.
Teaching themes could include families, physical characteristics, babies, humour in stories, relatives, growing up, emotions & feelings.
Find out more about Frances Mackay
Find out more about Dotti Colvin
Published by Frances Mackay.
Release date 2 November, 2022.
Recommended for ages 3 to 8.
Shona is a princess who lives in the Castle-by-the-Woods with her parents Mum-Queen and Dad-King. She also loves to invent and fix things. Dad-King had even built her a small bench in the shed that was supposed to read 'The Fix-It Princess', but actually read 'The Fox-It Princess', because they'd run out of ink. Lately things hadn't been going so well for the fix-it princess. Shona's parents had taken off a few days ago in the Wing-Thing she had made for their joint birthday presents, and hadn't been seen since. Plus there was no money in the royal chest and no servants to make the yummy food that had always been specially prepared for the Castle Feasts that were held each year. Shona did have chickens for eggs and Wildfire, her father's horse, and an abundance of turnips, but not much else. She managed to keep herself fed and upbeat about her parents homecoming (although she thought it was highly irresponsible of them to be away this long), and chatted to the picture of her Nana that she'd drawn to keep her company. On the third day of her parents being missing, Shona had an idea. She was the fix-it princess after all, and she knew she could solve this problem. She would take Wildfire and embark on a Royal Quest! But before that could happen she needed to get the drawbridge to work, fix the chicken pen that was falling apart after the fox had gotten in, and draw some posters with pictures of her mum and dad on them to hand out in the Village. That was a LOT of fixing, but once it was all done, she still had one more problem to solve. Who was that singing in the woods? She knew for sure it wasn't Mum-Queen so she went to investigate, and found herself face to face with an enormous dragon with the most beautiful voice, and one very large and very sore tooth! Think it through carefully, sweetheart. Slow down, darling, and take things steadily. Things will turn out better if you don't rush them, she could hear her parents saying. Could the dragon be the solution to helping Princess Shona find her parents?
This is a delightful tale by well known Australian author Janeen Brian, of a princess with a can-do attitude, a dragon who needs help learning to fly again, a horse whose name is definitely not a reflection of his character, and two missing parents who are stuck on an island with no way of getting home - unless their fix-it daughter can solve the problem. Readers will love the humour and mishaps in this fairytale like story, and the wild and wonderful ways Shona goes about solving her problems. Told with warmth, compassion, and a message of persistence and caring for all, both animal and human, this story will captivate readers from the very first page. Supported by wonderfully detailed and comical illustrations from Cherie Dignam, this is a highly entertaining story for ages 7+.
Teaching themes could include princesses, queens, kings, inventions, persistence, problem solving, flying, castles, fairytales, families.
Find out more about Janeen Brian
Find out more about Cherie Dignam
Published by Walker Books
Release date 8 March, 2023
Highly recommended for ages 7+
Thanks to Books On Tour Aus and Romi Sharp for the review copy
From the creators of ALLERGIC comes a new graphic novel centered around Avery Lee, an eleven year old from Hibiscus Gardens. Avery loves living there with her mum, dad and six siblings, but the thing she would love even more is to have a room of her own. She shares a room with her younger sister Pearl, and is not happy when her older brother, Theo, gets to have his own room, because that means she'll have to share with her baby brother Max too! After visiting one of her best friends, Cameron, she learns that they are turning his basement into a room for his grandma who is coming to stay. Avery thinks that would be a great idea for the basement at their house too. Avery's mum and dad don't have enough to renovate, so she comes up with the perfect way for an eleven year old to make money - dog walking! But that doesn't work out too well when the first dog she walks runs away. She then decides on a lemonade stand and, with a little help from Pearl, they make some money, but definitely not enough for a room in the basement. Then she discovers that her other best friend Dani, has become close friends with another girl, her brother is being bullied by Dani's older brother AND her mum has got a new job - in Oregon! Worst summer ever! Until two of her younger siblings run away. The whole family searches for them and, when Avery eventually finds them at a neighbours house, she realises that whatever the problem might be, it will be okay, as long as they are all together.
Changing friendship dynamics, moving house, feeling overwhelmed, bullying and sibling rivalry are all touched on in a way that will resonate with young people in all kinds of family situations, big or small. Finding your own way of dealing with, and learning from what can seem like insurmountable problems, is at the heart of this warm and uplifting story about family, friendship, change and resilience. The language and design of the text is engaging and straightforward, making the story easily accessible for the reader. The detail and differences of the family characters in the illustrations really brings out their individual personalities, and the background colours help focus the reader on the situations unfolding in each panel. Another brilliant graphic novel for tweens from this talented duo.
Teaching themes could include moving house, families, siblings, friendship, bullying, feeling overwhelmed, sharing, graphic novels, cartoons.
Find out more about Megan Wagner Lloyd
Find out more about Michelle Mee Nutter
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Release date 1 April, 2023.
ISBN: 9781338568936 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 8 - 12.
Fix-it Ninget is a Space Ninget who loves to build and fix things. Ninget has made lots of weird and wonderful gadgets on her home planet, but now, with encouragement from her grandfather, Ninget is taking some great big ideas to neighbouring planets. When she lands on the rocky Pink Planet, there seems to be lots to fix. Ninget tries to help Snug plant seeds in the forest, but the machine loses control and shoots the seeds up into the sky. Ninget thought she should help Slush, who lives on top of a very mushy mountain in a very drippy house, but the humungous fan she invented blew wind everywhere and created a blizzard! Ninget then found Shroom and used her Robot Digbee to pull him out of the ground, but Shroom needed the moss and the hole he was in, to survive. Shroom, Slush and Snug knew that Ninget really wanted to help, and decided that what she needed was her very own workshop on Pink Planet so that creatures could come to her to fix things, instead of the other way around. And so they built 'Ninget's Help Shed.'
This is such a timely story about global warming, and wanting to make a positive contribution to saving our planet. Told by someone who will inherit the difficult problems of the past, it is such a joyous and uplifting story about the future. The outlined and cartoon like illustrations are bright and colourful, and just right for engaging younger readers. The rhyming text is jaunty and humorous without being didactic, and there are enough subtle hints to enable a connection with current climate concerns. It seems that the moral of this story is that sometimes the best intentions are not always the right ones but, with perseverance and compassion, we will find a solution.
Supporting teaching themes could include climate change, Earth, forests, mountains, polar melting, robots, space, the environment, vegetables, inventions, creativity, the solar system, planets.
Find out more about Luca French
Find out more about Sarah Dabro
Published by Five Mile Press
Release date February 2023
ISBN: 9781922857699 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 3 +
Summer has finally arrived in Hibiscus Gardens, which means it's wedding time! Willa is super excited about her Aunty Jane's upcoming wedding but not so excited about her dress, which she tells her best old-age friend Frank, makes her look like a meringue. Still, it will be loads of fun and her dog, Woof, has the very special job of being the ring bearer. But summer also means bushfire season, and Willa is worried by the smoke rising from the mountains behind the town. Dad tells her not to worry as they head to the beach with her best same-age friend Tae. The wind seems to be changing though, and by the time they are back home, the smoke is bigger and closer. It starts raining - not water - but fire sparks - and they all spring into action packing backpacks, food for Woof and checking to make sure neighbours are safe. Suddenly there's a loud rumbling and raindrops, not fire sparks, fall from the sky. Everyone gathers in the middle of the road clapping and cheering and thankful they are safe. But not everything in the town was saved. Brookside Barn where the wedding was to take place, and where all the wedding dresses were being kept, has burned down, so the wedding is called off. Willa is worried about the koalas near the showground too. With the help of Tae and Frank, Willa hatches a plan to save the koalas, and orchestrate the biggest surprise wedding Hibiscus Gardens has ever seen!
Jacqueline Harvey tackles some important concepts for younger readers in this fourth installment of Willa and Woof including bushfires, bullying and wildlife rescue, which she approaches in a way that is meaningful but not confronting. The metaphor of the fire as a dragon is a masterful use of language to impress upon the reader the danger of the bushfire situation. The gravity of rescuing and looking after injured wildlife is portrayed with tension and understanding, with the reader given the opportunity to see the other side of a bully. Seriousness is balanced with humour, and descriptions like 'Ginger Biscuit, the serial killer (cat)', '. . . a giant carrot that looked like it had legs' and 'Her caterpillar eyebrows, Bert and Hilda, . . .' will have readers laughing out loud. Another highly entertaining adventure filled with heart, friendship, compassion and fun, from one of Australia's best known authors.
Supporting teaching themes could include bushfires, seasons, friendship, bullies, wildlife rescue, koalas, intergenerational friendships and dogs.
Find out more about Jacqueline Harvey
Published by Puffin Books an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia
Released 4 April, 2023.
Highly recommended for ages 6 - 9.
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.