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.
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.
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