In a few short weeks, Callie would be starting at Birchwood High, and if they were all calling her Calliope-Jean from day one, she’d be Calliope-Jean – super nerd – until the end of time. This week at In The Rip would be her one chance to change that. In her wildest dreams she’d be CJ McGee – cool, daring, adventurous. But if Callie was what she could get away with, then Callie would do just fine. Surely if other people knew her by a different name, then she’d be different on the inside as well?
Every summer was the same at In The Rip. They’d been renting the house for as long as she could remember with family friends The Lanes and The Kensingtons. Callie asked why they couldn’t rent a separate house this year, but her mother had laughed and said you don’t mess with tradition. Trouble was ‘tradition’ also meant sharing the summer with Sasha, Cody and the twins. Sasha who, now that she was fifteen, had the sass and attitude to match, and had switched from being her ally to hardly noticing her. The one person Sasha was noticing was Ned, one of the local surfers. And then there was Mitch Lane and his younger brother Billy. Mitch was the same age as Callie but had made it his life’s mission to find ways to upset her. This year Mitch had brought along his cousin Owen, who seemed to have lots in common with Callie and the ability to keep Mitch in check. The three decide to investigate the series of recent robberies in the quiet coastal village of Sawyer’s Point, but it is when Sasha goes missing after sneaking out, that Callie must live up to her name and use her tenacity, perseverance, and resilience to save Sasha and discover the unexpected identity of the thief.
This coming-of-age story cleverly manages to bridge the gap from childhood to teenager. The pressures of having an overprotective mum, being an only child and trying to navigate your early teen years are not easy, and many readers will empathise with Callie as she tries to establish her own identity. The clandestine meetings to determine who the thief is will engage even the most reluctant of readers, with a possible ghost sighting and a near encounter with the local teenage gang in the dead of night keeping readers guessing and on the edge of their seats. Annual holidays with relatives and lame dad jokes will resonate with many, as will the feelings of frustration at not being taken seriously.
This is a brilliantly written middle grade novel about resilience, growing up, and navigating the sometimes confusing and complicated changes along the way to becoming who you want to be.
Teaching themes could include families, friendships, family vacations, theft, robbery, gangs, resilience, teenagers, individuality, summer, water safety, coastal towns.
Find out more about A.L. Tait
Published by: Scholastic Australia.
Release date: 1 August 2023
ISBN: 9781760260163 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 11+
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.
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