The Old Kingdom is a place of great magic, and one that eighteen-year-old orphan Terciel, the Abhorsen-in-waiting, has to understand and navigate if he is to take over from his great-great- aunt Tizaneal. Tizaneal is the current Abhorsen and a master of the Charter – ancient magic cultivated and practised to ensure the Dead do not return to life. Terciel must learn the art of the Charter and the secrets behind the seven bells that have somehow chosen him if he is to become the next Abhorsen. On the other side of The Wall that separates the Old Kingdom and the non-magical land of Ancelstierre lives a young woman, Elinor, who knows nothing about the mark on her forehead, or about magic and enchantment. She has been raised by Mrs Watkins, her governess, and Ham, an old theatre and circus performer, at Coldhallow House. Elinor’s mother has always been distant, even more so now she has taken to her bed. She doesn’t speak but sometimes hums softly. As she hums, a thin layer of ice seems to form over her skin. When Elinor informs the doctor and Mrs Watkins of this peculiarity, they exchange worried glances and the doctor simply says, ‘The North.’ Elinor has no idea what has just passed between the two, but when Terciel suddenly appears at Coldhallow and begins questioning both Mrs Watkins and Ham, Elinor realises there is much she has not been told about her past. Little does she realise that from now on, hers and Terciel’s lives are inextricably entwined, and she will play a pivotal role in the Abhorsen’s fight against Kerrigor, the most powerful of the Dead.
This is the prequel to Sabriel, the first in the Old Kingdom series. Terciel and Elinor are Sabriel’s parents, but we are not made aware of how this came to be until this, the sixth book. Here we follow the story of how Terciel and Elinor met, their journeys into the Old Kingdom, how they became masters of their magical crafts, and how they fell in love. Garth Nix never fails to engage readers with superbly crafted characters and storylines. He is a master at weaving together complex and intricate backstories along with important secondary characters to create an enthralling, fast paced fantasy adventure that will have you hooked from the very first page.
Find out more about Garth Nix
Find out more about The Old Kingdom series
Published by Allen & Unwin
Release date: 30 May, 2023
ISBN: 9781761069970 (PB)
Highly recommended ages 14 +
Teaching themes could include fantasy, magic, kingdoms, relationships, playwrights, theatre, circus performers.
Matty’s dad is in prison and he and his mum don’t have enough money to pay the rent anymore. Plus the school bully, Noonan, has it in for him. But he still has Asha, his best friend in the whole wide world. One afternoon when he gets home from school, Matty finds mum has packed his things in the car and tells him they’re leaving tomorrow. They can’t pay the rent anymore and money – or the lack of it – is a big problem. Matty is devastated. She tells him they’re going to Crawley Creek to stay in the old house that his grandpa built but never got to live in. But what about Asha? They were planning on spending the summer together, before he went to the local high school where there were a thousand Noonans, and she went to the selective high school her adoptive parents were pushing her to go to. She was his only friend - apart from the magpie that warbles hello every day. When would he see her again? ‘Just for the summer,’ his mother assures him. ‘Just until we can get back on our feet a bit. Can you do this for me? For us Matty?’
This is a story about survival, renewal and forgiveness. The author writes with such depth, insight and understanding of the landscape, the sea, and the specialness of the world and those around us. He encourages us to look deep inside and find the strength to take care and pride in ourselves, our communities, and our country. His descriptions of the landscape and the creatures and spirits that dwell there, are hauntingly beautiful, and draw the reader further into country and the lives of those in the small township by the sea that is the backdrop for the story. Matty’s interactions with Old Bill, the town outcast, and his father who turns up unexpectedly, become increasingly complex as the tale unwinds. Yet they are also simple, and full of an inner yearning to belong, be seen as, and find, your true self. A nuanced, heartfelt and absorbing story of the interconnectedness of the people and places that enrich our lives.
Find out more about Bradley Christmas
Published by Walker Books Australia
Release date: 08 March, 2023
ISBN: 9781760656393 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 10 +
Teaching themes could include: father-son relationships, families, coming of age, resilience, communities, friendship, change, compassion, sustainability, looking after country and indigenous culture.
Classroom notes by Walker Books found here
Ruby was excited when she was given a shiny new pair of red roller skates for her birthday. She slept with them that first night and the next morning was ready to roll. Roller skating was easy peasy – or so she thought. When she tried inside the house she crashed into Dad’s tower of cards. Dad offered to teach her how but Ruby giggled and said, ‘No. It’s easy peasy.’ Dad suggested she try outside. Wobble, wibble . . . bump! Wooble, wibble . . . thump! Wobble, wibble . . . crunch! No matter how hard she tried, roller skating wasn’t as easy peasy as she thought. When Dad tucked her into bed that night she told him, ‘Roller skating is too hard!’.’ But Ruby didn’t want to give up so, the next day she asked Dad to teach her and he offered to take her somewhere special. There were flashing lights, music and lots of other kids whizzing around. They made roller skating look easy peasy. Dad took Ruby’s hand and they skated slowly around the rink until Ruby took a deep breath and let go of Dad’s hand. She was skating all on her own without a wobble, wibble or crunch in sight!
This delightful story from Ky Garvey is a fun and entertaining journey that follows a young girls' experiences as she tries something new. From excitement to disappointment, then determination and persistence, to the final euphoria of mastering something that wasn’t as easy peasy as she thought. Accomplished with the help of a thoughtful and patient Dad, this is an endearing tale about the relationship between father and daughter and a reminder that to never give up on something new. Amy Calautti’s bright and colourful illustrations are the perfect compliment to the text. The huge disco ball on the front cover reminds me of the one that adorned the skating rink I used to frequent as a tween! The final page illustration is a wonderful, exuberant celebration of Ruby’s triumph. Keep an eye out for the duck in the story who is an important companion on Ruby’s path to success.
Find out more about Ky Garvey
Find out more about Amy Calautti
Published by EK Books an imprint of Exisle Publishing Pty Ltd.
Release date: 01 February, 2023
ISBN: 9781922538441 (HB)
Recommended for ages 4 - 8
Teaching themes could include: roller skating, families, father daughter relationships, determination, persistance, trying new things, roller skates.
Thanks to Book On Tour Aus and Romi Sharp for the review copy.
Gone. It was a word that made sense and made no sense at all. How was he supposed to concentrate at school and make sense of anything when his grandma had just . . . well, gone. Not only had grandma been Elliot's connection to his love of music, but she was his best friend too. Now the last thing he wanted to do was play his violin. Music just didn't feel the same without her there.
One afternoon his mum knocked on the bedroom door and handed him an old cassette tape in an envelope that grandma had left just for him. As it played, the loop of four simple notes seemed to be asking him questions and demanding answers that he wasn't ready to give. Finally he let his grief explode and when he was done, he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. But just before midnight, he was awoken by a snuffling sound and when he opened his eyes, it wasn't what he thought it might be. Sitting beside his bed, eating the dinner his mum had left for him was - a dragon!
'I'm your guide for the journey . . .' said Kimorin the dragon.
'. . . I'm not going anywhere,' protested Elliot.
'Are you sure? So you ain't got a ticket?'
Elliot remembered the ticket he had found under his pillow sixteen days after grandma had died. The only thing on it that he had recognised was his name - and now the dragon's. Elliot's journey on The Night Train was about to begin.
From the very first chapter we feel the enormity of Elliot's loss, and sense the love and connection he shared with his grandmother through music. But whilst acknowledging that grief and sadness, Ben Brooks also encourages the reader to embrace the magic of the journey, the importance of friendship and family, and the power of music to heal and inspire hope. A warmhearted and uplifting story for ages 7 +. Highly recommended.
Teaching themes could include grief, loss, dragons, trains, family, friendship, magic, magical creatures, boys, emotions, music, composing, musical compositions.
Find out more about Ben Brooks
Published by Hachette Australia
Release date 23 June, 2023
Highly recommended for ages 7 +
Baby wants to grow up as cute as a kitten like his Aunt Daisy said, and as strong as lion just like his Uncle Dan. But as much as he loves his family, there are some attributes from the others he’d rather not inherit – like Uncle Max’s bushy eyebrows, Uncle Ted’s hairy legs and Aunty Fern’s wild hair! Will he grow up just right, just as he should be?
In this hilarious new picture book from author Frances Mackay, we watch as Baby’s relatives welcome him to the family, commenting on how they hope he will inherit a little something from each of them as he grows up to be his own person. Everyone has a personal attribute they hope to see reflected in him, but Baby is not so sure and reacts in a way that baby’s tend to when things get overwhelming – with a huge wail! Both young and older readers will relate to comparisons being made within families and the very funny situations this can lead to. This is a brilliantly simple but engaging story with lots of laugh out loud moments. Dotti Colvin’s wonderful, cartoon like illustrations with outlined, colourful characters who possess those all-important accentuated attributes, are the perfect complement to the text. A great addition to any school or home library.
Teaching themes could include families, physical characteristics, babies, humour in stories, relatives, growing up, emotions & feelings.
Find out more about Frances Mackay
Find out more about Dotti Colvin
Published by Frances Mackay.
Release date 2 November, 2022.
Recommended for ages 3 to 8.
Shona is a princess who lives in the Castle-by-the-Woods with her parents Mum-Queen and Dad-King. She also loves to invent and fix things. Dad-King had even built her a small bench in the shed that was supposed to read 'The Fix-It Princess', but actually read 'The Fox-It Princess', because they'd run out of ink. Lately things hadn't been going so well for the fix-it princess. Shona's parents had taken off a few days ago in the Wing-Thing she had made for their joint birthday presents, and hadn't been seen since. Plus there was no money in the royal chest and no servants to make the yummy food that had always been specially prepared for the Castle Feasts that were held each year. Shona did have chickens for eggs and Wildfire, her father's horse, and an abundance of turnips, but not much else. She managed to keep herself fed and upbeat about her parents homecoming (although she thought it was highly irresponsible of them to be away this long), and chatted to the picture of her Nana that she'd drawn to keep her company. On the third day of her parents being missing, Shona had an idea. She was the fix-it princess after all, and she knew she could solve this problem. She would take Wildfire and embark on a Royal Quest! But before that could happen she needed to get the drawbridge to work, fix the chicken pen that was falling apart after the fox had gotten in, and draw some posters with pictures of her mum and dad on them to hand out in the Village. That was a LOT of fixing, but once it was all done, she still had one more problem to solve. Who was that singing in the woods? She knew for sure it wasn't Mum-Queen so she went to investigate, and found herself face to face with an enormous dragon with the most beautiful voice, and one very large and very sore tooth! Think it through carefully, sweetheart. Slow down, darling, and take things steadily. Things will turn out better if you don't rush them, she could hear her parents saying. Could the dragon be the solution to helping Princess Shona find her parents?
This is a delightful tale by well known Australian author Janeen Brian, of a princess with a can-do attitude, a dragon who needs help learning to fly again, a horse whose name is definitely not a reflection of his character, and two missing parents who are stuck on an island with no way of getting home - unless their fix-it daughter can solve the problem. Readers will love the humour and mishaps in this fairytale like story, and the wild and wonderful ways Shona goes about solving her problems. Told with warmth, compassion, and a message of persistence and caring for all, both animal and human, this story will captivate readers from the very first page. Supported by wonderfully detailed and comical illustrations from Cherie Dignam, this is a highly entertaining story for ages 7+.
Teaching themes could include princesses, queens, kings, inventions, persistence, problem solving, flying, castles, fairytales, families.
Find out more about Janeen Brian
Find out more about Cherie Dignam
Published by Walker Books
Release date 8 March, 2023
Highly recommended for ages 7+
Thanks to Books On Tour Aus and Romi Sharp for the review copy
From the creators of ALLERGIC comes a new graphic novel centered around Avery Lee, an eleven year old from Hibiscus Gardens. Avery loves living there with her mum, dad and six siblings, but the thing she would love even more is to have a room of her own. She shares a room with her younger sister Pearl, and is not happy when her older brother, Theo, gets to have his own room, because that means she'll have to share with her baby brother Max too! After visiting one of her best friends, Cameron, she learns that they are turning his basement into a room for his grandma who is coming to stay. Avery thinks that would be a great idea for the basement at their house too. Avery's mum and dad don't have enough to renovate, so she comes up with the perfect way for an eleven year old to make money - dog walking! But that doesn't work out too well when the first dog she walks runs away. She then decides on a lemonade stand and, with a little help from Pearl, they make some money, but definitely not enough for a room in the basement. Then she discovers that her other best friend Dani, has become close friends with another girl, her brother is being bullied by Dani's older brother AND her mum has got a new job - in Oregon! Worst summer ever! Until two of her younger siblings run away. The whole family searches for them and, when Avery eventually finds them at a neighbours house, she realises that whatever the problem might be, it will be okay, as long as they are all together.
Changing friendship dynamics, moving house, feeling overwhelmed, bullying and sibling rivalry are all touched on in a way that will resonate with young people in all kinds of family situations, big or small. Finding your own way of dealing with, and learning from what can seem like insurmountable problems, is at the heart of this warm and uplifting story about family, friendship, change and resilience. The language and design of the text is engaging and straightforward, making the story easily accessible for the reader. The detail and differences of the family characters in the illustrations really brings out their individual personalities, and the background colours help focus the reader on the situations unfolding in each panel. Another brilliant graphic novel for tweens from this talented duo.
Teaching themes could include moving house, families, siblings, friendship, bullying, feeling overwhelmed, sharing, graphic novels, cartoons.
Find out more about Megan Wagner Lloyd
Find out more about Michelle Mee Nutter
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Release date 1 April, 2023.
ISBN: 9781338568936 (PB)
Highly recommended for ages 8 - 12.
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.
Megan is not like her other sisters. They are loud and love sport, whereas Megan is quieter and loves to draw. It’s not that she doesn’t love them, or her mum and dad, it’s just that the broom cupboard offers a quieter place to get away and draw her fantastical creatures. So does her friend Li’s place. Ever since Li moved in across the road two years ago, the girls have been inseparable. Li is an only child with a single mum, and things are a lot calmer at their house. Plus, Li is a creative too. She loves to write, especially about aliens, and brings Megan’s creatures to life by giving them their own names and backstories. Then one Friday, everything changes. A blue glow takes over the town and everyone in it, except for Megan, Li and Megan’s dog Callie. People stop and quietly stare in a zombie like state. And when Megan tries to draw, it seems the pencil takes on a life of its own and she can’t control her hand. The same happens when Li writes her stories. On their way to get help, Callie leads them to the Talora Caves where they see an eerie blue glow emanating from the cavern. It tries to capture their minds and pull them in. The girls will have to use all their courage and awaken their fantasy beasts to defeat the creature that is The Glow.
This is a fast-paced, supernatural tale of adventure, friendship and heroism, set against a background of creativity and fantasy. Two ordinary girls are caught in an extraordinary situation and must use all of their creative skills to save their town. The story is extremely well written with short chapters, engaging language and plenty of mystery and excitement to keep the reader wanting more. The illustrations, especially those of the creatures, are very intricate with a hint of danger and menace, and will have huge appeal to those who loved the Deltora Quest series and the dragons, orcs, and other beasts from Middle Earth, Harry Potter and Hayao Miyazaki. As a lover of fantasy, I couldn’t put this one down and highly recommend it for upper primary and middle grade readers.
Supporting teaching themes could include mythical creatures, dragons, fantasy, friendship, apocalypses, monsters, dogs, bravery, creativity, illustrating, writing.
Find out more about Sofie Laguna
Find out more about Marc McBride
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released March 2023
Highly recommended for ages 9 +