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
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 +
In this new picture book from Shae Millward we meet Ziggy, a rabbit who was once companion to The Amazing Albertino, a most marvellous and magnificent magician. They travelled the world together, delighting and surprising audiences. Albertino would make things disappear and then reappear, and when he tapped his wand three times and spoke the magic words, Ziggy would jump out of Albertino’s hat to the amazement of the crowd. After each performance, Alby (as Ziggy affectionately called him) would gaze up at the moon, and once told him, ‘The moon is a master of illusion Ziggy. It’s a dusty old rock. . . yet we see it as beautiful. It appears to shine but makes no light of its own. It seems to change shape, yet it is always whole.’ Albertino began spending a lot of time in his room, and Ziggy was certain he was working on a really BIG trick. Then one day when Ziggy woke up, Alby was gone. Alby had made all kinds of objects vanish before, but had never made himself disappear. And so Ziggy waits, and waits, and waits for him to reappear. As he waits, he meets Owl, and tells him how worried he is that something has gone wrong with the trick. Owl reassures him that the trick was a success, his greatest ever, and that he is not gone, but all around them. Albertino has simply changed from one form into another, and is now part of the moon, the stars, the rainbows and flowers. But most importantly, he will always be part of Ziggy's heart.
This is such a quietly emotive and beautiful tale of friendship, loss and acceptance. With the moon as a metaphor for being ever changing but at the same time always there, Shae Millward offers a gentle explanation of losing someone in the physical sense, but still having them with us in the memories and everyday reminders all around us. Andy Fackrell’s gorgeous illustrations are perfect support for the story, with his use of bold, bright colours when Ziggy and Alby are together, and subtle nighttime hues as Ziggy waits for his friend to return. Ziggy’s expressions from his sadness and confusion about Alby’s disappearance, to his pure joy at the realisation that he will always be with him, are enchanting and poignant in their simplicity. THE RABBIT’S MAGICIAN is an uplifting tale of love, comfort and remembrance, and would make a wonderful addition to collections and picture books dealing with grief.
Supporting teaching themes could include friendship, loss, grief, love, magic, rabbits, animals, magicians, the moon, phases of the moon.
Find out more about Shae Millward.
Find out more about Andy Fackrell.
Link to author interview with Shae Millward.
Link to lesson activities.
Published by Ford St.
ISBN: 9781922696076 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 3 - 8
Avery's Hat-Tastic Adventures Bk 1: how Does A Hat Save The Day? by Ellie royce. Ill. by Mardi Davies.
Seven year old Avery loves hats. She has forty-nine of them in her room! There is her chef’s hat that helps her make the best cheese toast, her thinking hat that her Dad made that helps her concentrate, her hat with earflaps, her floppy purple hat with corks, and of course, her very special stripey sunshine yellow and bright pink gardening hat, with a green band a big, beautiful sunflower on the brim that helps her grow things. The latter was definitely the hat Avery needed to wear today. She was going to The Patch with her best friend Olivia and Olivia’s dog Gatsby, to help Granny Irene and the other community gardeners pick the vegies for their annual feast. One of Avery’s favourite things in the garden was Sam the Scarecrow, or Sam the un-Scarecrow as they called him. Sam’s face always looked hopeful which is why Avery liked him so much. But today, Mr Laverty was going to take Sam away and make him look scarier. The birds were not frightened of Sam at all and they were eating all the new seeds. Avery pleaded with Mr Laverty not to change him, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. In the middle of their very own sit-down peaceful protest to save Sam, Avery came up with a simple but brilliant idea. A new hat would do the trick! She raced home and brought back all the ones she thought would be suitable but, in the end, decided her own special gardening hat was the obvious choice. But rather than use Avery’s beautiful hat, Mr Laverty remembered he had an old, floppy straw hat they could use instead. It shaded Sam’s face a little so the birds couldn’t see his kind expression. It was perfect!
The first in a three-part junior fiction series by author, podcaster and storyteller Ellie Royce, HOW DOES A HAT SAVE THE DAY is a superb addition to the early reader genre. Children who are looking for their first chapter books will easily relate to the characters, friendships and setting of this delightful tale. The sometimes complex ideas of community, inter-generational relationships, multiculturalism and activism have been expertly woven into the story using insightful, unambiguous and engaging language. Mardi Davies’ playful, black and white, cartoon-like illustrations are a wonderful compliment to the writing. Move over Billie B. Brown, here comes Avery and her hats!
Supporting teaching themes could include community gardens, community, gardening, inter-generational relationships, friendship, activism and millinery.
Find out more about Ellie Royce.
Find out more about Mardi Davies
Published by We Are All Made of Stories
ISBN: 9780646857121 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 5 – 8.
Matty has everything going for him - a loving family, great friends, great skills on the soccer field and pretty good grades at school - which should add up to a great life right? Well they did, until recently. When soccer season started this year Matty found he couldn't get himself onto the pitch without sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat and a mind that kept telling him he wasn't good enough. And he couldn't figure out why. Things got worse when he began dodging his friends calls and texts, missing birthday parties, not doing homework and avoiding school. He felt guilty, scared, angry and sad with himself, and all he really wanted to do was sleep the world away. But one morning his dad convinced him to go for a walk in the local national park where they came across an abandoned dog. Matty felt an instant connection to this small, frightened creature. After coaxing him into their car, taking him to the vet and eventually being allowed to adopt him and bring him home, 'Cliff' and Matty become inseparable. Cliff has 'good days and bad days', and as the dog begins to heal, Matty realises that he needs help to heal too. He summons up all his courage to eventually tell his dad that he thinks he might be depressed, to which his dad replies 'You've no idea how brave you're being by telling me that.' This is one of my favourite moments of the book. Kate Foster writes with such clarity, compassion and understanding about Matty's struggles. There is a beautiful empathy and strength that shines through in this story, and the relief Matty feels after he finally tells his closest friends about his depression is palpable. As is the surprise when he discovers that someone else his own age, whom he would never have suspected, is suffering from severe anxiety. This is my other favourite moment in the book as it is Matty's realisation that he is not alone.
Animals, especially dogs (sorry but I'm totally biased about this!) are the perfect listeners and companions for when we're not feeling great. They know when we need a snuggle and will goof around with us when we're happy. They are like mirrors into our souls, emotional soothsayers, and seem to have an innate understanding of exactly what we need at any given time. Cliff was Matty's ideal companion.
Kate's own experience with depression has no doubt given her an invaluable, first hand insight into this illness. Her writing is filled with emotion, and the story is meaningful and transparent without being patronising or reductive. This is an important, must have, highly recommended novel for upper primary and middle school.
Matty is not alone as a young man suffering with depression as, according to the Beyond Blue organisation, one in seven young men aged between 16 and 24 experience depression or anxiety each year. If you are suffering from mental health issues you can contact Headspace, Kids Helpine or Reachout.
Themes for teaching could include mental health, depression, anxiety, friendship, courage, self awareness, dogs, pets as therapy, families and father-son relationships.
Find out more about Kate Foster.
Release date May 4, 2022. Published by Walker Books Australia
ISBN: 9781760654719 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 9 +
School's out for the summer and eleven year old Alberta Bracken (or Birdy for short) is looking forward to sun, surf and hanging with her friends at the beach. But something's not right. Her best friend Sylvie is 'ghosting' her and not returning any calls or texts, her mum and dad are acting weird and her little sister, Clementine, is even more annoying than usual. Then she gets pushed off her bike by Seth Cromby and brakes her arm and has to have it in plaster for six weeks! There go her summer holiday plans. Things get even worse when her mum (bestselling author of Tammy Bracken's Guide To Modern Manners) and dad separate because he has been having a 'thing' with someone in town. Now she knows why everyone has been acting strange. How will she get through the holidays with no friends, a broken arm and a family that is falling apart? Enter Mikki Watanabe. He's from Birdy's school but they don't really know each other - yet. Mikki has just returned from Japan and invites Birdy to hang out at his place. He's is a budding film maker and really loves trees. He tells Birdy about 'forest bathing' and how trees communicate with each other, and the more Mikki tells her, the more curious Birdy becomes. They begin making YouTube nature shorts about a pine grove they discover hidden deep in the local forest, only to be shocked to learn it will be cut down soon! They HAVE to save these beautiful, ancient trees, but how?
This new story from Marion Roberts focuses on friendship, forests, and family. Her main characters introduce us to the science science of tree communication and their interconnectedness, and the importance of trees to our planet and our own wellbeing. She tackles the difficult issues of separation and kleptomania in a language that is easily accessible and relatable for tween readers, and at the heart of the story is the underlying theme of forgiveness. For young activists the story also provides concrete ideas on how to become involved in and promote a cause they are passionate about, without being didactic or out of reach for that age group. A quirky, warm hearted novel that will strike the right chord with its readers.
Themes for the classroom include families, friendship, social media, activism, forest bathing, the environment, risk taking, resilience, bullying and forgiveness.
Find out more about Marion Roberts
Link to lesson activities
Published 2022 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760526795 (PB)
Recommended for ages 9 to 13
This new rhyming tale from award winning author Graeme Base has something for everyone - vampires, robots, computers, bravery, adventure and a fearless heroine. The story opens with the death of a robot whose battery has been drained in the dead of the night by the evil vampire laptop Voltoid. The robotic townsfolk are consumed with fear and panic as all have heard of the dreaded Curse of Voltoid! PC Web calls for a volunteer to confront Voltoid and erase all files from his hard drive. The only one courageous enough to take on the challenge is Gertie Gif, a lowly cleaning droid. Gertie sets off with determination and resolve up the Hill of Dread towards Voltoid's Gothic style castle. Along the way she manages to delete the terrifying ware-wolf's system and befriends a baby software-wolf. Once in the castle, Gertie finds Voltoid in sleep mode and can see he's in dire need of a system clean and software update. She's almost finished when she realises she has forgotten her software bag! The young software-wolf leaps forward declaring 'I've got the latest updates!' He sinks his teeth into Voltoid's core, and loads him up with V-DOS 10.4. As the vampire's screen changes from sickly green to desktop blue, he reverts back to his normal friendly self. Over time, Gertie and the young software-wolf's success is written into the history of the town, eventually becoming a meme with a total data stream!
I absolutely love Graeme's play on tech terminology and there are lots of humorous character names (PC Web, MacSpam, Gertie Gif) and lines like 'I'm told the thing to do is drive a sharpened vector through his undead CPU', 'A cleaning out is what you need - now open up those ports.' And teachers will totally relate to the line 'No wonder I feel better - you've deleted Comic Sans!' This has to be one of the most overused fonts in education! Graeme's black and white illustrations are a delight and there is something new to discover every time the reader revisits a page. The aerial image of Gertie as she and the young software-wolf enter Voltoids' lair would be a wonderful study in perspective for young artists. A masterful interweaving of old and new that is a must have for school library and home collections.
Use this story in classrooms for poetry studies, storytelling, myths and legends, art studies (perspective, use of black and white for impact, how to bring character to inanimate objects) and of course as a comparison study to the story of Dracula! Themes to be explored could include bravery, adventure and friendship.
Find out more about Graeme Base
Published 2021 by HarperCollinsPublishers Australia
ISBN 9781460754696 (HB)
Recommended by the publisher for ages 5 + but I would suggest 8 + due to style and complexity of language.
I can't tell you how excited I was to find this in my local bookstore the other day! After being totally enthralled and captivated by the first two books - Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning - I couldn't wait to read the final instalment in this thrilling Sci Fi series.
Squad 312 are working together to fight against the destruction of the universe by the Ra'haam - an evil and insidious hive mind organism that not only consumes the bodies but also the minds of those it encounters. This instalment opens with Zila, Finian and Scarlett trying to come to grips with being alive after the Eshvaren Weapon blew itself apart and obliterated anything and everyone in its wake - including them. As the subtitle says 'It's About Time', and they eventually figure out they have been transported back in time but are stuck in a time loop that will soon end, and they have to work out a way to convince their new nemisis, Nari Kim, that they are on the same side.
Meanwhile, Tyler is fighting two of his own battles in two different times - one with Saedii the Syldrathian Templar to take him back to the Aurora Academy and stop its destruction, and the other with Auri (the Eshvaren Trigger) and Kal (Saedii's brother) who have joined forces with Kal's heartless father Caesarn (who also happens to be a Trigger) to keep the last vestiges of life in the universe alive and out of reach of the Ra'haam.
Aurora's End is an intricately woven, fast paced story of space, time, end of the universe, and ultimately love, friendship and family. These two fantastic Aussie authors have delivered yet again with another mind bending, galactic adventure.
Find out more about Amie Kaufmann
Find out more about Jay Kristoff
Published in 2021 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781760295752 (PB)
Recommended for ages YA
This book was in my school library but not in my own, and I am thrilled to finally have a copy for my home library. There are so many layers to this beautiful story, and much that can be taught and expanded upon for use in the classroom. A young child becomes separated from family in the aftermath of a huge storm. She calls out for them, but no answer comes back. She runs to the beach hoping they might be there, but instead finds a baby seal who is also alone and frightened. She sees an abandoned boat and pushes the two of them out to sea, desperate to get away in case the storm comes back. They journey together for many days and nights, through cruel and kind weather, providing warmth and comfort for each other. One day, another seal appears, and mother and baby are reunited, and guide the young girl towards land. At first, she is lonely without the baby seal, until she is reunited with her family and feels safe again at last. Robert's heartwarming, poignant text is brought to life by Anna's stunning illustrations. The power and destruction of the storm, the changing moods and vastness of the sea, and the joy of both reunions are captured perfectly in the palette of ocean colours and facial expressions evident on each page. Friendship and hope, refugees, immigrants, marine animals, global warming, geography (islands nations) and extreme weather could all be linked as teaching ideas from this gorgeous book. A must have for any school or home library.
Find out more about Robert Vescio here.
Find out more about Anna Pignataro here.
Published 2021 by New Frontier Publishing Pty Ltd
ISBN 9781922326294 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 6.
Monkey was going on a holiday. He was given a very special present to take with him. He’d never been on a holiday before or owned a camera. Monkey begins packing immediately for an adventure like no other, as he travels by plane and boat to reach the famous floating city of Venice. When he arrives, he meets Clarabella the cat, who offers to take him on a tour of the city she knows so well. They walk across small bridges over the canals that connect the city, take a ride on a gondola and stop for some yummy pizza! At the end of a fun filled day, Monkey cannot resist taking just one more photo but – uh oh! Something happens to his camera and then Clarabella disappears and he’s left all alone. Will Clarabella come back? And what exactly happened to his camera? Monkey’s Great Adventures: Afloat in Venice is a charming story of adventure and friendship by Australian artist and author Tina Wilson. Tina uses her own beautiful photographic images of this iconic city to accompany the playful text. The hand knitted toy characters, made by Tina’s mum Joan Wilson, are immediately loveable and most certainly add to the appeal of this heart warming story.
Not only is Matt Ottley an amazing author and illustrator, but he is also an accomplished and talented composer. His music is the perfect companion to Monkey’s adventures in Venice. There is a childlike quality to the opening, and the interaction between clarinet, horn and strings when Clarabella and Monkey first meet is reminiscent of early singsong nursery rhymes. Different time signatures, tempos, dynamics and instruments are employed to reflect the varying moods and movement of the characters as they explore the city. Most children recognise the sound of a piano, and using this instrument as the connecting and supporting thread for the other instruments, makes for a clever and well-constructed musical accompaniment that creates a wonderful aural and visual experience for the reader and listener.
This is a must have story for preschool and early primary school library collections, and one for your own collection too if you have young ones at home. It is the first in a series of adventures for Monkey, and I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next!
The knitting patterns for the characters and a CD of the music and narration are included at the end of the book. Tina has included some fantastic teaching notes which are available for download on her website. You can also download and listen to the story and music on Matt’s website
Find out more about Tina Wilson
Find out more about Matt Ottley
Due for release September 1, 2021. Published by One Tentacle Publishing
ISBN 9780648511960 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 7