Monthly Archives: September 2019

MoonFish  [Poems to make you & Think] – Harry Laing. Various Illustrators



Ford St Publishing

May 2019


RRP: $16.95

Sharing poetry with kiddos is one of my favourite things to do – and even the ones who kind of screw their noses up at first really get into it with the right selection. This will definitely be one of those and I know that many teachers will want to get their hands on it to add some pep to their poetry units.

Harry Laing has compiled a fabulous collection that is fun-filled with catchy rhythm and rhymes, chants, raps, word play, shape poems and more. The illustrators are a stellar cast of our best and brightest in the business, eighteen in all, making this a feast for the eye as well as the ear.

Whether it’s a yummy food poem about cheese or pizza or a city of chocolate or an introduction to some insect life like ants or termites or even a flea this has something to appeal to all children.

There will be many opportunities for kids to get up and use their hands or feet to clap to the beat and no doubt will quickly decide on their personal favourites.

If you are looking to give your poetry collection some updating or purely for the joy of it, this will make a valuable addition and is highly recommended for children from around 7 years upwards.


Shortlisted 2019 – Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year

I am So Clever – Mario Ramos



Walker Books

August 2019

ISBN:  9781776572496
Imprint: Gecko Press

Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99

In my experience kids just love send ups of the Big Bad Wolf and this book will delight those from 4 years upwards with its humorous text and illustrations, along with the references to other fairy tales.

Little Red Riding Hood is out for a stroll in the woods on her way to Grandma’s house when the Wolf sees her and concocts a cunning plan.  He races ahead planning to devour the old grandmother and then LRRH herself. Grandma is nowhere to be seen in the house but her nightdress is so the Wolf – oh so clever! – decides to disguise himself and therefore trick Red. Sound familiar so far? Well yes, but in your traditional versions the Wolf does not find himself locked outside the house wearing a pink nightie which he cannot get off.

The derision of other fairy tale characters who encounter the hilarious sight of the terrible wolf wearing such a garment will send readers into fits of laughter.  Despite the ignominy the BBW remains convinced that he can still best little Red – but sadly the trip over the hem of the nightie is his final fall into shame and humiliation.

Whether just for a general read-aloud or as part of a ‘fractured fairytales’ unit this will amuse your readers and will undoubtedly be requested for repeat performances.

Highly recommended for readers from Prep upwards.

Ravi’s Roar




September 2019

ISBN 9781408892183

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $14.99

This is another of Tom Percival’s splendid picture books which help children to understand and self-regulate their emotions.

Many of us (educators) are finding it increasingly challenging to help children to identify and manage their own emotional issues (which also seem to be increasing – or is that just me?). So books such as this present an ideal way to lead into discussions in a gentle but open and clear way which in turn can assist us in guiding these small humans into ways that will help them adjust to situations without recourse to outbursts.

Of course, this is a topic which is of concern to many but Tom’s books enable us to enter into discussions without pointing the finger at anyone in particular and engender solutions for dealing with such emotions/feelings.

Most young children will readily identify that rising temper whether their own is extreme or not and will most likely offer triggers and solutions for such.

Ravi is the youngest and the smallest in his family and when one ‘catastrophe’ after another occurs his emotions implode and he becomes a raging tiger. While that may be solving problems in the short term, as others are intimidated by him, he soon learns that no one really wants to be friends with a vicious roaring tiger.

The trick is to find a way to manage such situations with an approach that will both resolve the anger and provide a way forward to better management and resolution.

Love this book and can think of several children for whom it will be of benefit – as well as some very frazzled teachers.

Highly recommended for both young readers and also teachers facing some difficult charges.

Maple the Brave – Chloe Jasmine Harris



Walker Books

May 2019

ISBN: 9781925381924
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $24.99


I feel terrible for taking so long to get to this beautiful book on my vast review pile because it really is a joy (what can I say, it was the term from hell!)

Chloe’s debut picture book as both author and illustrator clearly indicates that she will be force with which to be reckoned.

The premise of the book about facing fears and developing resilience is so timely and the detailed illustrations will have children poring over them to gain every beautiful aspect.

Maple is very solitary in her tree house in the woods because she’s scared of everything, particularly the animal noises from below but when she finally steps out of her comfort zone she finds that rather than terrifying her animal neighbours are both kind and friendly.

She finds her courage and returns to her tree house with a new sense of bravery and confidence.  If you are looking for books that will empower children, particularly girls, this is ideal.

It will seem strange to say because the illustrations are quite contemporary in style but they do remind me of artists such as Pixie O’Harris with portrayals of imaginary forest friends and scenes.

I love this and it will definitely be a ‘go to’ and shared with my colleagues in the Junior school enthusiastically.

Highly recommended for readers from around 3 years upwards.

The Bookworm – Debi Gliori




ISBN: 9781408893036
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books





What could delight a teacher-librarian’s heart more than a book about a bookworm? Little Max really really wants a pet of his own but his parents are not very keen. They reject his suggestion of a puppy or a kitten because they chew things or they smell stinky and they certainly scoff at his request for a dragon because they don’t exist.

So Max finds his own pet. Not your average pet of course, this is a strange and lumpy worm who it appears just love to be stroked and to listen to stories at bedtime.

But Max’s worm starts to grow and seems to be quite unusual. Its lumpy back develops into spikes and it begins to breathe smoke. It also along the way chews stuff and can be a bit stinky!

Of course Max’s new pet is really a dragon and eventually is big enough to fly away on its own but it does still love to visit and hear a good story so Max in content. Besides he has a new pet on which to focus – he’s taken up his parents’ suggestion of a goldfish but why does that fish have such sharp teeth?

Debi Gliori’s books are always a joy to read and share and this is no exception.

This is a delightful uncomplicated read and children will readily embrace it and I have no doubt, will be able to discuss very animatedly their own ideal pet – whether one they have or one they want.

Highly recommended for readers from around four years upwards.

Think Big! – Kes Gray/Nathan Reed



JUN 25, 2019 | 9781444942132 | RRP $15.99



If you are looking to inspire your little readers to reach for the stars this will be a fun yet still thought-provoking read.

Taking a new twist on the old nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty and his nursery rhyme friends are discussing what they might like to be when they grow up. When HD says he aspires to be a boiled egg, his friends are pretty shocked by such a lowly goal and come up with a range of exciting and challenging alternatives. Perhaps Humpty could become an artist or a famous footballer (surely a precarious choice for someone with a fragile shell – just saying!) and just as Humpty becomes wild with enthusiasm and decides that being an astronaut would be simply stellar – oops! Well that idea might just be scrambled now ☹.

This is quite hilarious and the lively bright illustrations will have children enraptured.

Believe and you can achieve!

Highly recommended for little ones from around 3 years upwards.

How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet – Lee Constable




June 2019

ISBN: 9781760890261

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $19.99

With the world’s attention on Mighty Girl Greta Thunberg and her activism for drawing attention to the critical state of the globe this book will be a timely addition to your collection whether for general borrowing or for your own environmental group (we have Champions for Change at our college – our very dedicated Year 5 cohort).

This is an excellent guide for children who are keen to make a difference and shape the future of our fragile world. It contains scientific knowledge (in readily understandable format), DIY projects, and suggestions for action plus loads more.   Each section deals with a different aspect of the mission our young people are facing and as they progress through each they are moving up another Waste Warrior level until the finale of ‘Graduation’.

The addition of James Hart’s humorous illustrations along with the ‘gross’ factor of information provided makes this is a fun read as well as informative and children of all ages will relish the projects and actions suggested.

Whether the challenge is as simple as learning to sew on a button to salvage an article of clothing or more complex such as being able to create successful compost systems children will be able to find something that fits their abilities and interest.

Starting with an informed and active approach to waste management is a terrific beginning for kids who are keen to prove themselves worthy champions of the environment.

Highly recommended for children from around 8 years upwards.

The Underhills: a Tooth Fairy Story – Bob Graham



Walker Books Australia

October 1st 2019

ISBN: 9781406387612
Imprint: Walker
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Always exciting to see a new Bob Graham story and this one which is a charming companion book to April Underhill, Tooth Fairy will similarly delight young readers of that much-loved title.

Mum and Dad need to be away working so the younger Underhills are having a sleepover with their grandparents and everyone knows what that means! Lots of fun and treats and special love abound.

When a rush job comes through to collect a tooth from a little girl newly arrived from Ghana, it falls to April, Esme and Grandma to sort it at the airport. As well as the tooth fairies there are also angels and cupids on duty – to welcome the happy arrivals and to soothe those who are sad and scared. Clearly we need some angels and cupids in our political ranks!

April and Esme proves themselves to be equal to the challenge of finding little Akuba in the bustling terminal and successfully complete their mission, much to the pride and relief of Grandma and the rest of the family.

As always Bob’s gentle but significant story with its layers of meanings and his inimitable illustrations are a tour-de-force and this will be a joy to many readers from around 4 years upwards.  Naturally, a read-aloud could easily develop into a simple discussion about kindness and the way in which newcomers might be embraced into our society.

Q&A with the AMAZING Mem Fox!



Photo Credit: Penguin Books

Welcome to Just So Stories Mem! What an absolute honour to be able to have this exchange with you – many thanks!

  • I’ve had the great pleasure of attending various of your presentations and PD events over the years and every time have come away energised and re-enthused. Your passion is always so infectious. Perhaps you could share your thoughts on maintaining our enthusiasm for our work with children and reading?

So far, I have never experienced a lack of passion for reading aloud to children. I adore it when they sit at my feet, listening, sometimes hardly breathing, and at other times laughing so much they’re on their backs with their legs in the air. I think the secret to maintaining our passion is finding fantastic books that set us alight as adults, and similarly send children into transports of delight. Boring books do nothing for anyone, nor does boring expression when we’re reading. Zest and enjoyment in our voices and on our faces pays dividends in keeping the children in the palms of our hands. I’ve found it’s best not to engage in any preliminary talk before I begin to read a story. I cut to chase, open the book and go for it, trusting that the writer’s words will grab the children’s attention and hold it to the end. It always does.


  • I’ve always wondered if your childhood years in Africa were a spur for your imagination and creativity. It seems to me that today our children are so completely surrounded by noise, distractions, screens, endless organised activities and so on that there is little time left for imaginative play or creating one’s own ‘magic’. What are your thoughts on this?

It’s true that I grew up (a long time ago!) without much external distraction, and became a creative, imaginative person. I can’t deny that. But It’s perfectly possible for children to be just as imaginative and creative today if screen time is severely limited and children are allowed to get bored. Boredom is a great fillip to creativity and the imagination, but most kids aren’t left alone long enough to get bored. I don’t mean physically alone. I mean being without any overt stimulation.  I love it when I see my grandson teetering on the edge of boredom. (I allow it to happen, even though I want to jump in sometimes and suggest things.) I know the result will be some incredible game that might begin with an old tablecloth and my dad’s ancient walking stick, and go on for a self-entertaining hour.


  • Your body of work comprises so many iconic picture books, all of them much loved. If I ask friends and colleagues to name a favourite there is always such a wide response (my own would be Tough Boris and Wombat Divine!) but I also enjoyed greatly your autobiography Mem’s The Word and I wonder if you have ever considered writing a novel for children?

I like writing picture books for young children and non-fiction books for adults, although both are hard work and take a long time, but I have no desire to write a novel for any age group. I read them all the time—I hate to be without one, but writing one? No thank you!


  • Your beautiful new book The Tiny Star (so lovely it made me teary) is inspired by your bond with your grandchild. As I am raising my granddaughter since the death of her mother, I can completely and whole-heartedly connect with this. Please tell us more about your decision and emotions behind the writing.

Because you are raising your grandchild after the death of her mother, I will say very little in reply, except that you are awesome. Need I say more?  You totally understand the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren, let alone children and their own parents. I hope your grand-daughter knows her mother is now a star shining brightly and loving her from afar, forever.


  • Aside from your family and the memories they will carry in their hearts, how would you want to be remembered by the world at large?

I hope people remember that I was fun to be with and that I wrote some great books that touched people’s hearts for generations. (I hope they forget the not-so-great books. Hah.)


  • Though you have been ‘semi-retired’ for quite a long time now there seems to be no stopping the unstoppable Mem Fox so what’s the next delight in store for us?

Amazingly, although The Tiny Star hits the shelves on October 1st, I have yet another new book arriving on November 5th, a dramatic sibling rivalry story: Roly Poly, about two polar bear brothers. You can guess the rest…


Mem, again I thank you for taking the time to share your words with my audience. It is truly an honour.


And thank YOU very much for your kind interest!


Mem Fox

Visit Mem’s website for more!

The National Archives: World War II The Story Behind the War that Divided the World – Nick Hunter




ISBN: 9781526605580
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $17.99

Given the continued interest shown by young people in the history of the World Wars, not to mention those students who are studying this period of modern history, this book is a valuable addition to any shelves.

Nick Hunter holds a degree in modern history and has produced over 50 books for young people on a wide variety of topics. Crammed full of photographs, original documents, artefacts and more this is a cornucopia of information for any reader interested in the war that split the world and has had so much bearing on the global situation of contemporary times.

Covering both the war in Europe and that in the Pacific all aspects are included from the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to espionage, coding to the Blitzkrieg, from the lives of women and children in wartime to propaganda as well as occupation and resistance and tales of heroism as well as much more. Despite its slender size the amount of information contained within is amazing and so written that any reader from around ten years upwards will be able to grasp the significant facts.

The book also includes a timeline, glossary, links to further reading as well as an insight into physical reminders such as preserved buildings and monuments.

Personally I found it quite a fascinating read and enjoyed seeing items and photographs previously unknown/unseen.

Highly recommended for your lovers of nonfiction as well as your history buffs.