Monthly Archives: November 2018

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes – Kate Knapp



Harper Collins Australia


The delightful Ruby is back. The little white hare with the endearing personality has created quite the following in her previous books. Now even tiny people can enjoy her adventures while learning some basic concepts at the same time.

Knapp’s delicate illustrations offer a wealth of exploration and cosy talk while reading and carers and children will return to these time and time again to find their favourites and expand on their conversations


1 2 3 Counting Book


ISBN: 9781460756911

ISBN 10: 1460756916

November 2018

List Price: 14.99 AUD

One is for me. I’m one of a kind.

I’m separate from you and

I know my own mind.

Ruby and her flock of chickens teach little ones how to count up to twelve using buttons and teapots, peaches and hats – and, of course, eggs.


Alphabet Book


ISBN: 9781460756904

ISBN 10: 1460756908

November 2018

List Price: 14.99 AUD


Ruby and the chickens continue their classes with this equally sweet alphabet book. Each lovely illustration and letter features on its own page and truly it is very difficult to choose a favourite but I thought this was the most apt to share.

R is for Reading

It’s fun to be busy, to learn and to play,

And it’s also important to rest in the day.

To relax with a book and take time to read

Is just the thing a young hare needs.

And after all, so do old hares!


If you have some little people in your circle the two of these would make a special addition to a Christmas parcel and did you know you can also buy Ruby Red Shoes (Ashdene) dinnerware for tinies? Just think of the kudos in store for the one who puts together such a beautiful gift! *wink from a granny hare*

Check out more of Kate’s wondrous work here


Fiona the Hippo – Richard Cowdrey



Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780310766360

ISBN 10: 0310766362

Imprint: HarperCollins – US

List Price: 13.99 AUD

When a tiny hippo was born prematurely at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in January 2017 she became an internet sensation. Weighing only 29 pounds this little fighter survived and thrived and has become an inspiration to many for her plucky personality and perseverance.

Now Fiona’s story has been brought to children by acclaimed New York Times artist, Richard Cowdrey via what could well be the most endearing board book ever.

Taking inspiration from Fiona’s own adventures as she grew from undersized newborn, not expected to live, to healthy happy hippo youngster this charming book details milestones such as learning to walk and swim and being introduced to her parents.

Fiona’s first year, filled with loving support from her caregivers and her legion of fans, has been translated into a joyous expression of her tenacity and grit.

Just as Fiona online captured the hearts of many so too will this book, giving children not only a fascinating and fun look at the little hippo baby but a meaningful lesson in perseverance and friendship.

Highly recommended for little ones from baby upwards.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea


The Tiger Who Came To Tea actually came to lunch this week much to the delight of some of our younger students. We have celebrated this favourite book’s 50th Anniversary with a book-reading by the ‘Tiger’ (thank you Mrs Hansen!), making masks, games and activities and pom-pom mini-tigers. Children were very excited to take home a party treat as well, thanks to Harper Collins Publicity.

Dragon Post – Emma Yarlett



Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406379716

Imprint: Walker
October 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Some might argue that letter writing is a dying skill and in one sense they could be write – oops right. But good communication is more vital than ever and teaching children to write letters of varying formats is not only an extremely useful task but enjoyable. ‘Letter’ writing was a regular focus of my classrooms – thanking other classes for their assembly presentations, inviting parents and friends to events, sending notes to classmates and so on. With so much pressure on classroom teachers these days with an increasingly overwhelming (and often superfluous) curriculum to accommodate this is one of those things that is often neglected.

When I suggested to the Year 3 teachers this term that we might work in library time on ‘letters’ they were thrilled – so was I as I had just come across all my ‘letter’ books and it would save me putting them away again!

Of course I’ve used old standard favourites such as the Jolly Postman series, I Wrote a Monster a Letter and Dear Mrs LaRue and also included the more recent Meerkat Mail. We have written invitations for playdates, greetings to favourite characters, postcards from exotic locales and persuasive letters – and the plan is to finish off with The Father Christmas Letters – and write letters to Santa (replies from Year 8).

So this delightful new addition to the collection is both timely and welcome. Alex is astounded when he discovers a dragon in the cupboard under the stairs and quickly perceives that there could well be issues with such a creature in a regular house though he is quite taken with the beast. He proceeds to send letters asking for advice from such as the fire department, the meat board and of course his best friend Hillary. Following the instructions from all the replies the dragon (and the house) is safe but it is clear that the dragon is way too big for a normal sized house so an alternative is found. The very last missive is a postcard sent by dragon post from a happy dragon in a very suitable new home.

I know my kiddos will love this and I’m very sure yours will as well whether as part of a teaching unit or just for pure fun.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.

The Puffin Book of Summer Stories



Penguin Random House


October 29, 2018



RRP: $29.99

Here’s another beautiful gift book which would delight a little person in your life – just in time for Christmas stockings!

Eight simply gorgeous stories are included including some of my very favourites:
Summer by June Factor and Alison Lester
Max by Marc Martin
Grandpa and Thomas by Pamela Allen
Castles by Allan Baillie and Caroline Magerl
My Hippopotamus is on our Caravan Roof Getting Sunburnt by Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland
Seadog by Claire Saxby and Tom Jellett
There’s a Sea in My Bedroom by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner, and
Eve and Elly by Mike Dumbleton and Laura Wood

Personally I love all of these but Max and Seadog are truly stand out for me as are the exquisite illustrations of Caroline Magerl in Castles.

Any young reader will be delighted by this collection in its very attractive and sturdy binding (all the better to withstand the repeaed readings!) whether to read themselves or as a ‘snuggle up on a lap’ read-aloud.

Could not recommend this anymore enthusiastically – a truly superb choice for a special gift.

Favourite Enid Blyton Stories: chosen by Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Holly Smale and many more…



By Enid Blyton
Illustrated by Mark Beech



October 2018

     ISBN: 9781444948561

RRP: $39.99


Is there anything better than an Enid Blyton book? The answer to that is only when it is a superb new gift book of excerpts and stories especially selected by some of our favourite authors – including our very own Andy Griffiths!


Just in time for Christmas this is an absolutely beautiful book richly illustrated and with each piece lovingly introduced by its celebrity selector including such notables as Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Danny Baker and Holly Smale.


With selections from The Secret Seven, Famous Five, Magic Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair, the Naughtiest Girl and many more there is something to appeal to all Enid Blyton fans. For children who are just starting out on their EB journey this would be a fabulous introduction to help them choose the start of their exciting explorations into the many worlds created by this remarkable woman.


For those of us who grew up on a staple diet of Enid it’s a wonder chance to re-visit some old favourites including some we may have forgotten in the mists of time.


Whether the reader will curl up and read independently or randomly dip into it for a cosy read-aloud there will be plenty of takers for this one.


Highly recommended for readers from seven years upwards and for loving parents or grandparents to share with their favourite little people.


The complete list of contributors is:
Danny Baker
Pamela Butchart
Gemma Cairney
Mel Giedroyc
Andy Griffiths
Allegra McEvedy
Lucy Mangan
Michael Morpurgo
Laura Mvula
Holly Smale
Robin Stevens
Nicola Sturgeon
Katie Thistleton
Jacqueline Wilson
Levison Wood


Ariki and the Giant Shark – Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Nicola Kinnear.



Walker Books Australia

July 2018

ISBN: 9781406369793
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $12.99
New Zealand RRP: $14.99

It can be difficult to find fiction that focuses on the Pacific/Polynesian cultures particularly for younger readers but this first book in a new series promises to be rich material for this aspect of HASS as well as being an entertaining mystery/adventure.

Ariki was washed up on the shores of Turtle Island as a baby and has been raised by Arohaka, the village ‘Star Walker’ or wise man. One day Ariki hopes to be his apprentice but fears he is dismissive of her in part of course because she’s a girl.

The ocean is not just Ariki’s playground but also her spiritual home. It is where she feels most alive and is intuitive to the creatures that inhabit the tropical seas around her island home. Lack of rain has meant the island is suffering from a food shortage and when Ariki is out coaxing fish into her canoe one day she encounters a massive shark, one she has never seen before. Unlike the usual nihui sharks often encountered who were quite likely to eat a girl as much as a fish, this giant of the ocean seems to be bonded to Ariki.  But when a giant shark tooth washes up on the beach, the island people’s ineffectual but excitable young Queen rallies the people to kill the intruder, blaming it for the shortage of fish.

It is up to Ariki to save not only the beautiful giant shark but it’s babies and in turn her island people. This she does after uncovering long ago rock paintings which show that this event has happened in the past and persuading her guardian and friends to help her in the rescue.

This is a charming story with plenty of memorable characters, humour and adventure to keep readers entertained throughout. Additionally young people will gain a sense of the island life and culture which although it differs from one locale to another, still has many common threads.

I strongly recommend this either for independent reading or read-aloud for children from around seven years upwards.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #13 : The Meltdown – Jeff Kinney



Penguin Random House


October 30, 2018


RRP: $14.99


There is not much more embarrassing than being an adult of a certain age in public and snort laughing as you read the newest Wimpy Kid book, attracting strange looks from wary observers.  But it does seem to happen to me every time and this is no exception.


Fans of the hapless Greg Heffley have been waiting for the newest book to arrive and won’t be disappointed in the manic mayhem of a neighbourhood in full-blown snowed-in battle mode.


“Snow days” are a rather foreign concept for Australian kids but many could probably related to other weather events impeding their attendance at school. And like most kids (and teachers) an unexpected holiday is to be relished.  The severity of the winter weather has already been quite a trial for Greg with lost gloves, melted boots, unploughed sidewalks and bossy Safety Patrol girls combining to make the daily slog to school a complete nightmare. So when the weather becomes even worse and the cold snap enforces a school close-down, Greg is pretty jubilant until that is both his mother and the other neighbourhood kids all seem to conspire to make the unexpected luxury of ‘free time’ into an endless round of chores and full on snow warfare.  Greg and Rowley attempt to best their rivals in a series of side-splitting moments that certainly all the WK fans will relish.

Will the pair eventually triumph over their opposition? Will the snow ever thaw? Will Greg ever be able to escape the endless round of household tasks? So many questions to be answered! And the fans will undoubtedly enjoy discovering the results.

As always a high recommendation for kids with a sense of the absurd looking for a light read.

Check out some Meltdown activities here.


The Funny Life of Pets – James Campbell and Rob Jones



Bloomsbury Australia

September 2018

ISBN 9781408889947

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $12.99


This book answers all the big questions, like: do sausage dogs eat sausages? Why has my cat done a poo-poo behind my wardrobe? And, how can I persuade my parents to get me a pet?

If you have some reluctant readers in your pack this would be a perfect book with which to tempt them! For a start, there’s no need to start at the beginning and keep on until the end. This is the sort of book that can be picked up and dipped into at random, choosing the choicest most chortle-provoking snippets.

It could be said that there are numerous facts strewn about throughout the text but they are far outweighed by the total hilarity of some of the passages. For example:


Generally speaking, the only thing a hamster will attack is a sunflower seed, but if you are unlucky enough to get a BAD-TEMPERED hamster, you’ll find that dressing up as a bird of prey and swooping around the utility room should make it run back into its little house. Hamsters can growl though. Search for ‘angry hamster’ online.

As well as James’ very humorous writing the comic illustrations by Rob Jones break up the text with the result that this is a great book for those who are daunted by scads of print – the ‘chunks’ are very well dispersed among the plethora of cartoon-style line drawings.

Anything to do with animals, especially in humorous situations or the focus on the freaky aspects always seems to go down a treat with kids – just look at the popularity of some TV shows on this subject! – so to my mind there is no doubt that this would be a real tempter for those kids that just roll their eyes at the thought of reading a whole book.

Recommended for kids from around eight years upwards though capable younger readers would also enjoy it.

The Secret of the Youngest Rebel (The Secret Histories #5) – Jackie French



Harper Collins

Available: 21st January 2019
ISBN: 9781460754801

RRP: $14.99


If you have not yet set about acquiring Jackie’s enthralling Secret Histories series it is definitely time to catch up to it. As this school year peters out and we limp towards the finish line, some are already thinking about 2019 and our support of our classes.

For the past two years I have shared Birrung the Secret Friend with our Year 4 classes to build their field of knowledge before their First Contact HASS studies. In particular this first in the series addresses directly their inquiry into short- and long-term effects of European settlement on the local environment and Indigenous land and water management practices.  Not only were the students completely engaged with the narrative with much lively discussion, prediction and astonishment (“the piece of meat was HOW big?”) but were already well prepared for their unit of work and receptive to even more delving into history.

Joyfully many of them have continued on with the series and love to tell me which one they have just read and recount the highlights. They all certainly love following the continued story of Barney and Elsie.
Now the series has moved onto to the early 1800s and Sydney Town has developed into an actual town although with dubious quality and is not the only growing settlement. While Barney and Elsie have now built their farm and are happily thriving out at Parramatta things are far from stable in the colony. The recent influx of Irish rebels transported for their part (whether actual or assumed) in the Vinegar Hill uprising has added an extra layer of fomenting discontent in the new colony where poverty, cruelty and injustice abounds. One small orphan, just one of many, is caught up in this. Frog has never known a mother or father and is, instead, a pickpocket in the rather dubious care of a slatternly innkeeper. When young Frog encounters both Elsie Bean and one Phillip Cunningham, momentous events are set in place.

The Castle Hill uprising was an unsuccessful attempt to redress the balance of justice in the corrupt environment of the colony despotically ruled over by such (now) dimly viewed personalities as Governor King, Rev Marsden and the local rabble of soldiery. Betrayed by spies the convicts’ rebellion is not only thwarted but cruelly crushed with merciless reprisals.

Frog, hero worshipping Cunningham, casts the die and joins the rebels, as a small but determined supporter and is injured in the skirmish. Rescued by Barney Bean, Frog’s future unravels into something not to be dreamed of – with the littlest rebel’s deepest secret revealed.

The twist in the tale is brilliant and little Frog, unloved and unwanted, finds a family worth having and along with them moves forward to building the colony into a bigger and better place for all-comers.

This is a story long untold and Jackie French, with her passion for Australian history, has revealed it to readers through her intensive research into eyewitness accounts as well as her imagination.  I for one, cannot wait to introduce this to my students as their next foray into the troubled history of our country. Their fierce sense of justice will be inflamed by the story and they will love to hear the next episode of Barney and Elsie and their growing family.

As if you can’t tell, I cannot recommend this highly enough. Aside from its readability it is easily one of the most valuable adjuncts to teaching primary children real history.

Recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.