Block out the blood. Remember. Think. I am still here . . . I must hold on.
My name was Rath. This I remember.
Rath had long ago taken his sons Bayat and Oyan to a safe place outside the city when he found out the truth behind his wife’s experiments. Kalina was ruthlessly kidnapping the homeless and using them as test subjects to carry out ideations of the virus she hoped would turn them into some kind of hybrid being that had the heightened senses, awareness, and strength of a cougar-like animal, whilst retaining human emotional capabilities and understanding.
Fast forward to the present where Rath has been infected with the virus by one of the ‘chimera’ or ‘ferals’ as the creatures are called and is struggling to retain his own humanity.
The chimera had eventually broken free from Kalina’s laboratory and infected almost the entire city with the virus. Those who had managed to flee and secretly returned to find a cure, realised they were not safe, for the cure was short lived and the chimera were now creeping ever closer. The River, Mountain and Desert Peoples sought to protect themselves by barricading their villages, but Bayat knew this would not work. Now a grown man, he had seen friends consumed by the virus and die at the hands of the chimera. Bayat and Pandora, the River girl he has come to love, undertake a final journey to the city to find the last of the precious cure ZarVex for their friend Emmaline, in the hope that a high enough dose will kill the virus in her. Bayat is determined that any chimera encountered will be killed on sight. But Pandora, whose visions have both haunted and guided her, has looked into the eyes of the chimera, and seen an empathy others have not. Will they be able to save Emmaline? Will Pandora be able to convince Bayat and the other villagers that there is a way both chimera and humans can survive? Or will all hope for the future be lost?
Set in a post-modern, pandemic inflicted, dystopian world that has collapsed into ruin due to environmental degradation, mismanagement of resources and medical autocracy, City Knife reveals the secrets and truths of those who created the chimera, and the strength and determination of those who came after. This is an intricate and intriguing story of despair and hope, love and loss, and hatred and empathy, told through a series of character driven, interwoven, individual chapters. It is a timely reminder that whatever our future holds, we need to be ready for its challenges and to keep hope alive, no matter how fragile it seems, so that humankind and life on earth, will endure. City Knife will have you on the edge of your seat from the opening lines to the very last pages.
Teaching themes could include dystopian futures, pandemics, environmental issues, medical ethics, family, survival, and relationships.
Find out more about Rachel Hennessy
Published by MidnightSun Publishing
Distributed by NewSouthBooks
Release date: 14 September 2023
ISBN: 9781925227970 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 12+
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 +
When a little girl asks ‘Are you there? It’s so lonely in the dark!’, her older sister tells her to imagine they are feathers on a wing, and takes her on a journey of imagination to help her realise that she is never alone. Whether they are links in a daisy chain, stitches in a scarf, branches in an ancient tree, or stones in a bridge standing strong together, the older sister reminds the younger that they will always be connected, and always be part of a bigger whole in some way.
This is such a beautiful story and the words have a gentle, soothing quality to them that immediately draws the reader in. The lilting, rhythmic style is reminiscent of a hushaby song which is supported by the music, written in a minor key, that Maria Speyer has included in the endpapers. The stunning illustrations, also by the author, add to the dreamlike quality of the story, and the palette of soft blues, coral pinks and mustard yellows accentuate its ethereal nature. The hint of gold in the feathers and title text makes for a striking and dazzling cover.
Supporting teaching themes could include sisters, families, relationships, dreams, rhyming stories, music.
Find out more about Maria Speyer.
Published by University of Queensland Press (UQP)
ISBN: 9780702263255 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 4 - 7
Isabel and her family couldn't afford a lot of things like heating, going to the cinema, scooters or brand new clothes, but she always noticed the beautiful things around her, like the ice patterns on her window and the snow flakes falling outside. And really she had everything they needed - her books and her family. But when their wasn't enough money to pay rent or bills, they had to move to the other side of the city and for the first time Isabel couldn't find anything beautiful. It seemed people on this side of the city didn't even know she was there. She felt herself becoming more and more invisible as people drove or walked straight past her. Eventually, Isabel faded away altogether. That's when she started to notice the other invisible people around her and decided to help. Soon others joined in and '. . . the more people came together . . . the more they could all be seen.'
This is an important story. It is one that needs to be read to children all over the world. It is a story of belonging, of hope and community, and truly seeing what and who is around you.
There are few picture books that tackle the issue of poverty as well as this one. Tom Percival has written a book that draws from personal experience, and is poignant and beautifully simple, yet conveys such a powerful message of making a difference in the lives of others by just acknowledging they exist.
Kindness, community, poverty, family, relationships and empathy are all topics that can be explored as teaching ideas through this warm, wonderful, and highly recommended picture book.
Find out more about Tom Percival
Published in 2021 by Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN 9781471191305 (PB)
Recommended for ages 4 - 8