Category Archives: Adventure

The Golden Swift – Lev Grossman

Standard

Bloomsbury

July 2022

ISBN9781526647634
ImprintBloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $14.99

A couple of years back I enthusiastically endorsed The Silver Arrow and I am very pleased to say that this second instalment is equally as enchanting for your middle school readers.

A year after they first encounter The Silver Arrow and begin their mission to save the world’s endangered animals via the Great Secret Intercontinental Railway, Kate and Tom are back on board as conductors, but this time things are different. The pair come across a very different train on the secret railway – The Golden Swift – which is also dropping off animals at stations. The problem is that these other conductors are delivering animals to the wrong stations and Kate is determined to find out the whole story.

The ensuing adventures range across the globe from the outback wilds of Australia to the depths of the Bering Sea in a magical submarine and once the identity of the rival conductors is known, Kate feels that they have formed an undeniably positive partnership – one which will change the course of nature for the better. But there’s a huge realisation coming their way – insights into themselves and their new friends, but also a deeper understanding of the complex intertwinings of the natural world – past, present and future.

Like the first, this is not simply about the exciting adventure and quirky characters (where else would you encounter a bossy cassowary who is the dispatcher for the railway or indeed a completely crazy wolverine?) but offers up much food for thought with rich discussions on ethics, brainstorming possible solutions to the terrible castrophe with which the world is faced, and strategies to avoid further damage.

Beautifully imaginative once again, this is a must to add to your collection and your astute readers from around ten upwards will adore it.

Spark – M.G. Leonard

Standard

Walker Books

September 2022

Imprint:Walker Books

ISBN13:9781406389388

Australia RRP:$18.99

New Zealand RRP:$21.99

There is something quintessentially English about a group of children who are into bird-watching I think, especially when combined with all the other great things going on in this series. A diverse cast of characters, an appealing setting where the kids can roam in their own private forest at will, navigating the sometimes not clear-cut avenues of friendship, thrilling adventures and a mystery to solve, all combine to make this an irresistable read to middle school kiddos.

We know that mystery and crime stories for younger readers are booming at present but the point oif difference with the focus on children who care for nature and apply their knowledge in a positive way makes for a thoroughly charming twist.

When Jack comes across a badly hurt cat he suspects that the injury is deliberate – but who could be responsible for such a cruel act? He knows this is another opportunity for the Twitchers to do some investigating but there is soon even more to investigate when the expected arrival of one of the most rarely seen birds is threatened by a local wildlife poacher. The children rally their full force and put their minds to a well thought out plan that will, with any sort of luck, save both the local cats and the magnificent lammergeier.

This is a top notch adventure for readers from around Year 3ish upwards especially those that like their stories action-packed! It would be best read after the first so that your kiddos know the characters and backstory but this is not completely necessary.

Pearly and Pig and the Great Hairy Beast – Sue Whiting

Standard

Walker Books Australia

March 2022

ISBN: 9781760653590
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $15.99

This is quite simply, really good fun! For some reason, it put me very much in mind of the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons (which those elderly people such as myself will recall) especially with the almost absurd characters and situations.

Pearly Woe is the epitome of anxiety-ridden child. From a long line of stealth adventurers, of The Adventurologists’ Guild, she feels she can never live up to the exploits or expectations of her parents or grandparents. Her constant worrying will certainly provide a fine opportunity to discuss mental hwell-being with children – increasing numbers of whom are becoming more and more prone to anxiety.

When her parents are kidnapped, it falls to Pearly and her trusty companion, Pig, to mount a rescue. Her ability to speak to animals is her greatest skill and Pig’s ability to literally sniff out danger, as well as truth, make them a potentially formidable pair – if only Pearly can find some self-confidence.

The nasty Emmeline Woods (every bit as despicable as Natasha Fatale ever was!) is not in pursuit of The Great Hairy Beast to film it for a documentary. She’s a big game hunter intent on the kill of the century and is completely ruthless about achieving her goal.

How on earth can one small girl and a talented pig defeat such a nemesis? Luckily, Pearly and Pig stumble across the Professor and once they do, the game plan changes, and plucky Pearly demonstrates that she is most worthy of membership of the Guild.

This really will delight your young readers from around Year 3 upwards – with its humour as well as the concepts of trust, self-belief, friendship and family.

Seven Days- Fleur Ferris

Standard

Penguin Australia

May 2022

  • ISBN: 9781761043352
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99

I really do love a good countdown action/adventure and Fleur Ferris has brought her masterful manipulation of tension into a fantastic new narrative for middle school readers. In similar fashion to her hugely successful and popular suspenseful stories for YA kiddos, this one follows a cracking pace from the very first page.

Ben is really angry with his father, who seems to be far more interested in his high-flying corporate job crushing people and the environment, than in Ben. And now, much to his complete disgust, Ben is being packed off to the country to spend a week with his aunt, uncle and cousin – a fate too horrible to contemplate from this teen’s point of view. It’s not that he thinks his aunt and uncle are awful, it’s just that his cousin is so much more adept than him dealing with country type stuff like animals and motorbikes and physical activity. Ben is really far more citified than he cares to admit at times.

The very last thing that Ben imagines happening is to become embroiled in a generations-old family feud, a murder mystery and a treasure hunt which ends up in the enclosure of two very cranky hippos at the nearby zoo. Ben has set his watch the minute he arrives in Manibee to countdown until it’s time to go back home, but now that seven days ticking away is how long he has to solve a century-old crime, work out the location of an almost mythical cache of stolen jewelry – oh, and actually survive the dangers on all sides.

With the unexpected assistance of his cousin Josh, with whom he finally develops a far more friendly relationship, as well as the even more surprising aid from Josh’s crush, Olivia, of the very family that despises their own (a nice little Romeo & Juliet twist here), Ben manages to unearth the long lost stolen goods, prove the solution of the crime, and resolve the family feud but not without a dramatic plot twist that will make readers’ heads spin!

With lots to say about family, misleading appearances, values and beliefs, friendship and acceptance of differences, your readers from around Year 6 upwards will truly relish this fast-paced thrilling ride.

Highly recommended for middle primary/lower secondary – this is an author to whom your kiddos will love an introduction!

Not a Book Review!

Standard

We all know the last two years have, at times, been quite fraught and definitely frustrating. The Kid and I had a trip to Thailand that buckled in the first few months of Covid (still waiting on perhaps some refund from Thai Airways after them going belly-up) ……..our usual annual trip to NSW to visit family hasn’t happened and indeed, I have airline credits for our visit we thought might have been possible last September holidays. So really our respite from the same-ness of being home and the humdrum of school has been more local. Today we managed a lovely day out which went like this.

We had a great day – it was disappointing that, due to the winds, going to Peel Island which was meant to be the destination, didn’t happen – so St Helena was the only option – and though we loved doing the history convict tour there a year or so ago, it’s pretty boring as an island destination in itself. But K was keen to walk up the hill to visit the old cemetery again so we did – though it was very hot and having only thongs on was not ideal for my feet. And then we were late back to Raby Harbour this evening (so I drove home wearing my sunnies LOL)…. because of wind/currents but still it was very enjoyable – beautiful boat, charming & funny captain and mate. Highlights: baby stingray in the shallows off the island, a crane (bird variety that is), a sea-eagle, K found teeny tiny wild orchids and the only crocus flowering on the island, Van Morrison all the way back because when the mate asked me about favourite musicians, the Man was top of my list, just hanging together and laughing at stuff, the quite young captain resembling a very cheery Care Bear with terrible Dad jokes which added to the fun… they also do a very lovely lunch and a/tea and the captain has almost completed his tour guide qualifications and they hope to do proper St Helena tours – he was quizzing me about what I did and didn’t like about the one we did LOL.

.Important EDIT!: I forgot to say that the Kid picked up a pipi and knew it was bush tucker so found a bottle cap and prised it open to taste it, and approved – gathered up some to bring home and has just steamed them to eat 🙂 and thoroughly approves.

The Cleveland based family operation is Aria Cruises and I can thoroughly recommend this is as a lovely way to spend a relaxed and interesting day.

The Golden Tower – Belinda Murrell

Standard

Penguin Australia

  • March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760897093
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99

 

Belinda Murrell’s time-slip adventures have always been thrilling and captivating and this new one does not fail to do the same.

Sophie is feeling a little down. Though she loves her English grandmother dearly, she’s a little bored with her extended stay while her mum and younger brother are in Oxford at Archie’s camp for super-smart kids. Sophie has far too much time to think about her problems with bullying Indigo, back at her Sydney school, and her struggles with dyslexia, always feeling a failure, and aside
from all that the English summer is very wet – as is usual – and so pretty dull in all senses. Dull that is, until she’s out walking in the muddy fields and follows a very disreputable looking cat into a mysterious cave, which turns out to be an old Roman ruin. In less time than a cat takes for a quick groom of its whiskers, Sophie has stumbled into a strange but beautiful land and finds herself almost accidentally saving the life of a little girl from a rampaging wild boar. And so, Sophie finds herself caught up in the Tuscian world and embroiled in a complicated family situation, where she is the only one who can help siblings Isabella and little Bia escape the horrible plans of their stepmother – a truly wicked stepmother, in the very best fairy tale tradition.
In this mysterious world full of beauty and magic such as talking cats, flying horses and funny little mischief-makers, the muzzamurelli, Sophie discovers within herself a strength and resilience she had no idea she possessed as well discovering a very special secret.

Drawing on Italian folktales and motifs of traditional stories, Belinda Murrell has also been inspired by the history of Renaissance noble families and the daughters who were raised to be skilled, intelligent, well-educated, and influential as well as by music, art, architecture, and culture. Thus, this beautifully exciting narrative becomes more than just a fantasy-adventure but a delightful excursion into a fascinating, though often cruel, historical period.

When I say I had to force myself to stop reading over the past few nights because the story was so completely engrossing, I guess you can safely assume that I give this my highest recommendation for your readers from around 10 years upwards. I know I will have many young readers in my own library who will be leaping for this first-rate magical adventure. 

Oh and just look at that stunning cover design! It’s a triumph! click here for links to pre-order

 

Freefall:  Kensy & Max #5 –– Jacqueline Harvey

Standard

9780143796985

Published: 3 March 2020

ISBN: 9780143796985

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $16.99

 

Hold onto your seats for another major adrenalin rush in this new top-notch adventure of twins Kensy and Max, young agents-in-training!

In this latest episode there is a continuing thread from the previous book in which a thoroughly evil villain was unmasked. The outwardly charming Dash Chalmers has a strong connection with the Spencer family who along with his own now estranged wife and children are all at risk from his retribution.  The family have already survived house bombings, attacks from hired assassins, kidnappings and more but this drama is not yet put to rest, nor will it be until the odious and dangerous Dash has been completely neutralised, one way or another.

This time around the pair becomes a trio with the addition of Curtis Pepper, their erstwhile neighbour in Sydney, who already fancies himself quite the spy. Little does he know when he comes to visit the twins and their family at Alexandria, their English home, that he is actually being sized up as a new Pharos agent-in-training.

So while Dame Cordelia, the matriarch of the family and Head of Pharos, is honoured with the Myrtle award for media achievements and the family heads off to New York for the ceremony, there are numerous other factors at play: another attempt on their lives via a speedboat, factotum Song’s mysterious behaviour, ditto Uncle Rupert’s – both of whom are apt to disappear at the most crucial moments! – the Postal Assassin at large in NYC, the strange man who accosts them all in a park, a mysterious girl who appears to be stalking them and so much more.  Kensy and Max, plus their highly-valued new sidekick Curtis, find themselves needing to be even more resourceful and bold in their actions. And once again they rise to the occasion splendidly. But as one chapter in evil doing ends, another begins and readers will be delighted to know that it seems we can all look forward to another instalment in the future.

Again Jacqueline Harvey has hit the right chord with her mix of high-octane adventure, a good sprinkling of humour and some pithy observations on human character. And as with previous books in this series readers are introduced to yet another cipher to add to their repertoire. All in all, who could want for more?

I know that many will already have this on their ‘to order’ list and I also know that young readers will be queuing up to be the next in line to read it.

Highly recommended for all avid JH fans and newcomers from around 10 years upwards.

Kensy and Max #3: Undercover – Jacqueline Harvey

Standard

9780143791904

Penguin Random House

9780143791904

March 5, 2019

Random House Australia Children’s

 

$16.99

Jacqueline Harvey has done it again with another super episode in her cracking new series about the two intrepid twins, Kensington and Maxim aka Kensy and Max.  The children’s parents are still MiA but news of them is filtering through and they know they are getting closer to unravelling the mystery of the kids’ grandparents who disappeared before the twins were born. After a couple of rather nasty incidents in London, the twins, Fitz and Song are sent off to Sydney by their indomitable Granny Cordelia, head of Pharos – the security organization with which the whole family is involved.

The twins are detailed to befriend a brother and sister at their very new posh school to prevent a possible kidnapping.  Neither is particularly impressed either with their targets or the school itself and would struggle indeed if not for their other new friend, a would-be spy named Curtis.  But what seems like a very straightforward mission at first quickly becomes more convoluted as the twins realise that somehow the fate of their parents is connected with the less than charming Dash Chalmers. The children must employ all their new spy strategies as well as their natural aptitudes to successfully resolve this new and potentially deadly situation.

It’s another superb action filled adventure which will be equally enjoyed by both boys and girls from around ten years upwards. Kensy and Max are both extremely likeable characters each with their own personality foibles that make them even more relatable. Each adventure is also liberally sprinkled with humour and lighter moments to leaven the seriousness of the ‘spy’ factor and of course, the decoding of each chapter heading also provides an extra soupçon of fun.  This series, as with Jacqueline’s previous much-loved books, focuses on important themes of family bonds, loyalty, trust, friendship, courage and resourcefulness.

Highly recommended for mid-primary students upwards – and you’d best get at least two copies!

The Silver Hand – Terry Deary

Standard

silverhand.jpg

Bloomsbury Australia

July 2018ISBN: 9781472929488
Imprint: Bloomsbury Education
Series: Flashbacks

RRP $14.99

We all know Terry Deary’s expertise in bring history to life – witness the success of Horrible Histories. Now he turns his hand to a lesser explored part of history in the closing days of the First World War, examining this through the eyes of two children.  Aimee Fletcher is the daughter of a French woman and an English father, living in Bray, Northern France. Aimee’s father is M-i-A and her mother, as she discovers, is a valued member of the White Lady group – a dedicated and successful espionage network working to defeat the Germans. Marius is a young German boy who has learned much about healing from his grandmother and determines to go to help the soldiers if he possibly can.  These two meet as the ebb and flow of Allied/German occupation in the last days of the war play out.

With formidable skill Deary presents significant historical figures to young readers including a young angry Adolf Hitler, Baron von Richtofen aka the Red Baron and General Haig as the battered German army, starving and disassembled, try to claw back some dignity and the Allied forces push them further.

Amidst this the two youngsters are caught up in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game of spies, traitors and valuable information and play their part with a growing respect for each other.

Readers will gain a useful background to the motivation behind the Great War and its ultimate resolution – which sadly, also lead to the Second World War, whilst seeing it in terms of personal experiences.

This would be a superb addition to a ‘read around’ fiction collection for the First World War as well as for those children who enjoy historical fiction.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Usborne Graphic Legends series

Standard

 

Harper Collins Australia

August 2017

The Adventures of Robin Hood – Russell Punter/Matteo Pincelli

ISBN: 9781409596899

robin

The Adventures of King Arthur – Russell Punter/Andrea da Rold

ISBN: 9781474922029

arthur

RRP $27.99

If you have graphic novel devotees among your readers these will really grab them I have no doubt. They are beautifully presented both in format and illustrations with excellently done captions retelling these thrilling legends. It seems that traditional stories have slid down the reading preference ladder at times so these should go quite some way to restoring their appeal. I know I will be most interested to see what further epic tales will be in store for us.

Dare I say that particularly boys will probably be among the first to get hold of these and for those who love that stirring gung-ho adventure style will eagerly anticipate further instalments. I plan to showcase these to our 5/6/7 classes particularly where I think they will be well received.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.