'The tree was decorated, the cards were hung. Lights twinkled, dancing merrily and bright.' It's Christmas Eve, and father and daughter are all prepared for Santa's visit. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an old oak door appears in the living room. But this is no ordinary door. It's large and laying flat on the floor. Father pushes and pulls and tries to open it but it just doesn't budge. Both are wondering what it's for and why it's there when the young girl grasps the handle and the door flies open! Eight reindeer clambered up and out and are ushered into the family's backyard. What - or who - else might be hiding there? And what is the meaning behind the door?
This tale is a great read aloud addition to Christmas story time. Part rhyme, part prose, early readers will have fun discovering the rhyming phrases and the alliteration included on some of the pages. The colourful, cartoon-like images by Paul Nash are a vivid compliment to the text, with a big red Santa and an even bigger, green tree decorated with baubles, tinsel and a star. The message of family and bringing joy to others at special times like Christmas is a universal one, and will resonate with all who sit together to read this charming story - especially on Christmas Eve!
Find out more about Penny Macoun
This book is self published and was released on October 4, 2022.
For ages 3 - 5
Thanks to Romi Sharp and Books On Tour PR & Marketing for access to the book images.
Follow Just Write For Kids Blog for more information on the campaign and special media features.
'I don't want this yucky roast. I just want some cheese on toast.' The child in the story finds something unpleasant about every vegetable on his plate and refuses to try the healthy food in front of him. The refrain on each page of 'What I really want the most, is some yummy cheese on toast' is a familiar one many parents will recognise at dinner time! As the child goes through each of the items on his plate, the patient mum finally asks '. . . don't you want to grow up strong? Every mother can't be wrong!' The boy then reluctantly tries the food and discovers that roast and vegies are actually extremely yummy - maybe even better than cheese on toast!
This new story by Kelly Louise Jarris is one every family will relate to. The sparse, simple text combined with the repetition of 'What I really want the most, is some yummy cheese on toast', is highly engaging and perfect for beginning readers. The cartoon-style illustrations are large and colourful, and the perfect compliment to the text for this age group.
Published by KLJ Books
ISBN: 9780645535136 (PB)
Recommended for ages 3 - 5
Thanks to Romi Sharp and Books On Tour PR & Marketing for access to book images.
Follow Just Write For Kids Blog for more information on the campaign and special media features.
Bin Chicken and the Christmas Turkey by Kate & Jol Temple. Ill. by Ronojoy Ghosh.
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
The Last Kids On Earth and the Forbidden Fortress by Max Brallier, Ill. by Douglas Holgate
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 +
From the opening lines of ‘School’s done. Ride, roll, run!’ to the final ‘Ride, roll, run. Friends and fun!’, this simple but action-packed rhyming story, takes the reader on a joyful afternoon of possibilities after school has finished for the day. Skateboarding, bike riding, playing basketball and sidewalk games are just a few of the many fun activities these friends get up to. Although not specified in the text, the illustrations highlight the diversity and inclusion of those three words ‘ride, roll, run’ and showcase activities all children love to participate in, no matter their background or ability.
Ride Roll Run is Valerie Bolling’s third picture book, written in her distinctive style of sparse, engaging, rhyming text, and readers will connect from the very first page. The playful nature of the story, and clever use of slant rhyme, encourages readers to listen closely, and perhaps even pre-empt the words associated with the actions described in the story. Sabrena Khadija’s bold, uncomplicated and colourful illustrations are the perfect complement to the text. Her use of simple shapes and lines add an exuberant strength to each of the characters, enticing the reader to join in the fun.
Ride Roll Run is a celebration of community, friendship and neighbourhoods, and is a wonderful addition to any library collection.
Supporting teaching themes could include friendship, community, sports, neighbourhoods, children with disabilities and rhyme.
Find out more about Valerie Bolling
Find out more about Sabrena Khadija
Published by Abrams Books Appleseed Imprint
Release date October 4, 2022.
ISBN: 9781419756290 (HB)
Recommended for ages 3 – 5.
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
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
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
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.
The New Dog by Chris McKimmie
Chris McKimmie has a knack of being able to capture the essence of a story with language and images that are simple yet also have an underlying complexity that goes beyond what is on the page. His latest picture book is no exception. In The New Dog we meet Kiddo. Kiddo is very happy with the two snuggly futon beds, the water and food bowls, the king size bed he shares with his humans and the box full of stuff that Teddy has left behind. From this very first page Chris McKimmie reveals another layer to the story and gives us a subtle insight into the reason Kiddo has become part of this family. Kiddo loves to chew, dig, play, bark and eat anything left lying around or within reach on the kitchen bench! He’s also afraid of storms, hates baths and loves lying in the warm patches of sunshine in his yard. All the things you would expect from a loveable canine. Chris’s illustrations are a joy with bright colours and a slightly imperfect perspective that children love and see reflected in their own artwork. There is also a little help from his family for some of the drawings which adds to the feeling of warmth and inclusion in the images. There are clever plays on text direction and font changes which add to the fun and involvement for the reader. This warm and engaging story is a must have for anyone who has ever lost a canine friend and then experienced the delight of welcoming a new, playful, mischievous and instantly loveable family companion.
Chris McKimmie is an award-winning writer, illustrator and artist whose book I NEED A Parrot, won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2020. His stories are always quirky, eye catching and totally relatable for younger readers. The New Dog, aimed at readers aged 4 +, could almost be seen as a sequel to Me, Teddy, the story of the family’s beloved black Labrador, and would make a wonderful addition to any collection of animal stories.
This review can also be found online in BuzzWordsMagazine
Supporting teaching themes could include animals, dogs, loss of a pet, families, grief and stylized artwork.
Find out more about Chris McKimmie
Published by Ford Street Publishing
ISBN 9781922696038 (HB)
Highly recommended for ages 4 +