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
When a parcel arrives at the Kelly house, no-one knows who sent it or where it actually came from. The card attached simply says ‘Good luck to you all.’ Inside the plain brown wrapping they find a jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful African sunrise. The family sets about putting the pieces together. Dad even sets his watch to Late Autumn to allow everyone time to get all the pieces in their right places. As they work their way through the cycle of the seasons and Autumn returns once more, the colourful dawn of the puzzle emerges and the jigsaw is almost complete. But then Dad discovers that – oh no – the piece for the hippo’s swim shorts is missing! They search everywhere, even under their dog Lucy, but it’s nowhere to be found. Then mum realises that it must have accidentally been put out with the rubbish! ‘We’ll find it,’ Dad says, and they drive to the recycling centre where they are presented with an enormous pile of rubbish. They start searching and, although they don’t find the missing puzzle piece, they do find other pieces of people’s lives like letters from faraway places, bus tickets, wedding confetti, photos, old socks and lots of shopping lists. Without realising it Dad has actually trodden on the missing piece and it’s stuck to the bottom of his boot. As he walks through the house it slips off and onto the carpet where Kitty, the youngest Kelly member, finds it. ‘Must have been there the whole time,’ she says. With Autumn nearly over, Kitty places the final piece and her sister straightens it. The jigsaw is finished. With enough stamps to cover its travels, Katie and Kitty post it back to ‘Sumwear’, with their own message attached.
From my very first encounter of this brilliant Australian author/illustrator with Greetings From Sandy Beach, through Queenie The Bantam, A Bus Called Heaven, How The Sun Got To Coco’s House and all the others in between, Bob Graham’s latest picture book is yet another superb example of masterful storytelling. With his signature style of softly outlined, colourful illustrations, and underlying themes of family and community, JIGSAW: A PUZZLE IN THE POST is in an uplifting tale of hope, togetherness, and perseverance, and of always being found no matter how lost you think you might be.
Supporting teaching themes could include family, recycling, perseverance, community, connections, jigsaws, puzzles, hope, stamps, seasons, waste, letter writing.
Find out more about Bob Graham.
Published by Walker Books
ISBN: 9781529503319 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 3 - 7
The Glint of Gold is there everyday if you look for it. You can see it in the white plum blossoms, the sparkles Jack Frost leaves and the colours of a sunset. You can hear it when you sing or listen to the song of a magpie, smell it when you walk in the bush after the rain, feel it when you dance in bare feet on the grass or snuggle close to someone. Each glint of gold is like a piece of treasure to be thankful for and remembered at the end of the day, knowing there will be more for us to find tomorrow. This is a beautiful, comforting story about taking pleasure in the every day. Kate's lilting text encourages us to slow down and look around at the small things that fill our hearts and bring a smile to our faces when we least expect it. Patricia's illustrations are full of colour and vibrance and with every page turn the reader discovers a new 'glint of gold'. A wonderful story of gratitude and mindfulness, The Glint of Gold is a celebration of the senses and the heart.
Wellbeing, mindfulness, families and the colours and animals of the Australian bush could all be linked as teaching ideas to this gentle story. With thanks to Books On Tour PR & Marketing and Little Pink Dog Books for access to the digital copy.
Find out more about Kate McGann here.
Find out more about Trish here.
Published 2021 by Little Pink Dog Books.
ISBN 9780648964032 (HB)
Recommended for ages 4 - 7
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.