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.