Tag Archives: adventure

Which Way to Anywhere – Cressida Cowell

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Hachette Australia

September 2022

ISBN 9781444969047 | RRP $22.99

Well, if there’s anything more exciting in MG fiction than a new Cressida Cowell title, it’s a new Cressida Cowell series and this one is going to skyrocket I can assure you.

K2 O’Hero (yes, he is named after the mountain) would appear, to all intents and purposes, a very ordinary little boy. He and his twin, Izzabird, are from a very extraordinary family it’s true, but that’s a deep secret which is not revealed outside said family – and especially not, to the Stepfather and the world’s most irritating stepsiblings, Theo and Mablel. But not even Izzabird knows that K2 has an incredibly rare and powerful gift. In fact, K2 doesn’t know he has this particular gift but that’s all going to change.

K2 knows he can draw amazing maps of strange, marvellous and, at times, frightening places but he has no idea that he can in fact create these maps as portals to the worlds he believes are just his own imagination.

When bizarre happenings start to accelerate around them: a weirdly creepy faux Geography teacher, a robot assassin, a very odd and seemingly magical person named Horizabel, and their mother and great- aunts (all witches) taking off into the night on a secret mission – and that’s all before baby Annipeck is abducted! – the four children must somehow work together to figure out the Alternative Atlas and conquer the obstacles they face including the vile and ravenous beast, the Abhorrorghast.

I loved this from start to finish. It has all of Cressida’s fantastic creativity: her wonderful skill with humorous secondary characters (the ones that almost steal the show) and an ability to weave a spellbinding adventure with heart-stopping moments, truly horrible villains and children who, in spite of any talents or gifts, are very normal in their ferocious loyalties, their unswerving determination, their sniping and bickering and their persistence.

Your readers from around Year 4 will adore this – particularly those who loved The Wizards of Once – and my suggestions is that you order more than one copy!

Highly recommended for boys and girls who are able readers from mid-primary upwards.

The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat – Kate Temple

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Hachette

September 2022

ISBN: 9780734420909 

RRP: $16.99

Look inside

This is just utterly fantastic from first page to last. So good that I gobbled it up in just two sittings in fact. Why is it so dangerous being Trilby Misso you may wonder? Well, because she finds herself in a unique position – inheriting the singular role of Time Keeper.

A truly strange illness has befallen much of the general population, causing people to do some very bizaare things such as bake ancient cakes or speak dead languages, but it is when these give way to just continued and unceasing sleep that situations become dire. When Trilby’s mother becomes ill she knows it won’t be long before she will also become one of the never-ending sleepers so she decides that she and Trilby must seek out their only living relative, an elderly great-aunt of some kind. Whatever Trilby expected, it was not the incredibly ancient and eccentric Thumbelina, who lives in an intriguing antique shop, full of curiosities, at the edge of a lake which appears to more of an inland sea. And she certainly didn’t expect her lively aunt to just drop down dead and leave her in what turns out to be, a hugely overwhelming and dangerous role – that of Time Keeper on the very edge of Time.

As Trilby tries desperately to make sense of who, what and where she is, the situation becomes even more fraught and definitely more dangerous when the villain of the piece, the Night Manager, Mr Colin. Evil personified, and the relentless pursuer of Trilby, Mr Colin, has been thwarting the members of the Time Guild at every turn. Now that Thumbelina has passed the Time Keeper’s responsbilities to Trilby, he is determined to rid himself of what he thinks is merely an annoying young girl. Little does he know that Trilby is both resourceful and courageous.

The entire lively adventure is peppered with the author’s trademark humour and the completely off-the-wall interjections and asides are hilarious. Middle school readers are going to love it – for both the suspenseful adventure and the wacky wit – as well as the extremely nasty baddies.

Highly recommended for your kiddos from around Year 4 upwards.

Plume [#2]: Global Nibbler – Tania McCartney

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May 2022

Hardie Grant, Hardie Grant Explore, RRP $26.99

ISBN: 9781741177671

My friends are all very aware of my penchant for penguins. Surely, they are one of the cutest creatures in the world? Although, if you have ever participated in the penguin spotting research via live stream, you will appreciate that the little darlings are very hard to distinguish one from another…but now there’s Plume.  And there can be absolutely no doubt at all that Plume is most charming and delightful penguin ever to waddle the pages of a book.

Tania McCartney has a genius for creating picture books that not only engage young readers with their narrative and exquisite illustrations but which also teach, whether about geography or history, people, or places. To my mind she has an absolute gift for her unique style of ‘travelogue’ books and children of my acquaintance return to these over and over, and with Plume she takes this virtual travelling experience to a whole new fun and entertaining level.

Plume made his first appearance as a global traveller in the first book World Explorer and readers fell in love with this quirky little citizen of Antarctica, who is just a bit different to all the other penguins with his love of very non-PC (Penguin Culture) activities such as sky-diving, knitting and cooking. It is Plume’s great interest in cooking that sparks his newest adventure.

The little gourmet with the distinctive yellow feather has tried in vain to interest his fellow penguins in trying out new taste sensations as he savours his latest online purchases gathered from around the globe. Seemingly, his mates are far too set in their plain fishy ways so Plume conceives of an idea to tempt them.

Enlisting the assistance of the lovely Ava, from Albatross Express, after her super suggestion that he should host cooking lessons, Plume takes off for a round-the-world gastronomic experience that is bound to set your tastebuds tingling. From Japan to Italy, Iran to Mexico, Morocco to Sweden, Plume and Ava sample and savour tastes and treats. Some of these your little readers will know such as tacos or kebabs but others will be new words and dishes to roll around their tongues: torshi, kanelbulle, fika, meskouta or flautas are just a few.

As always, Tania’s illustrations are simply divine, and her characters completely charming, especially their facial expressions. Throughout her fun with wordplay, onomatopoeia and descriptive language will provide much rich and fruitful discussion. And – oh my goodness! – the gorgeous endpapers, frontispiece and the scrumptious textured cover elevate this to a work of real art.

I cannot wait to share this with some hungry little readers and would love to follow it up with a virtual trip around the world, concluding with a feast – of course!

This will easily be incorporated into a teaching program focused on geography or cultural awareness but makes for such a superb personal reading time share as well. I would highly recommend anyone to add Plume to their collection for readers as young as Prep right up to later primary, and I am definitely looking forward to Plume’s next adventure.

Bon appetit!

Stay tuned for Plume: Festival Seeker, out 5 October 2022 in Australia/New Zealand.

Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade: Enola Holmes #8 – Nancy Springer

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Allen & Unwin

August 2022

ISBN: 9781761066245

Publisher: A&U Children’s

Imprint: A & U Children

RRP: $16.99

As we all eagerly anticipate the new forthcoming Netflix adaptation, what better way to feed our love of Enola and her adventures than by reading this newest in the series? (In this house we are both fans of not only Enola but definitely Millie Bobby Brown!)

Nancy Springer’s series following the adventures of Sherlock Holme’s ferocious young sister has been a smash hit and created a huge following, mostly among girls from around Year 6 to Year 9. In this latest episode our favourite sleuth is determined to rescue her friend Lady Cecily Alastair, an unfortunate young woman who is being cruelly treated by her nasty and domineering father.

After the success of the initial ‘spring’ from her family home, Enola is relieved that she has secured Cecily’s safety but her relief is short-lived when Cecily disappears from the secret office Enola maintains. For many this would not be such a disaster but Cecily is hampered by her dual personalities – one left-handed, confident and resourceful and one right-handed which has been forced upon her and rendered her meek and helpless. With no money nor resources, no skills or friends to call upon – how can this young woman possibly survive the streets of London?

Of course, Enola’s adventures would not be complete without snarky intervention from older brother Sherlock (who always feels himself to be superior- wrong). The banter between the two is highly entertaining as always but Enola’s superior female intellect is more than a match for Sherlock’s rather more prosaic kind of intelligence.

This series hardly needs any ‘selling’ – suffice to say your kiddos from around Year 6 upwards will just gobble it up and just in time for the new Netflix adaptation!

The Golden Swift – Lev Grossman

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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

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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.

Miss Penny Dreadful & the Midnight Kittens – Allison Rushby

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Walker Books Australia

August 2022

ISBN: 9781760654030

RRP: $15.99

Allison Rushby‘s delightful new book brings together a host of currently popular themes but presented for your lower primary readers. In the vein of Enola Holmes or Rose Ravensthorpe, this tricky mystery combines all the charm of Victorian quirkiness with strong female characters who possess both boldness and intelligence.

Young Penny Pickering is stuck in a miserable existence at Miss Strickland’s School for Girls of an Enquiring Mind while her scientist parents are who-knows-where busy with who-knows-what. Penny does not fit in at all with the school’s aims nor the other girls. She is far more interested in the type of activities frowned upon by Miss Strickland, for example, the avid reading of ‘penny dreadfuls’ such as those written by her famous Aunt Harriet.

When the celebrated authoress turns up in person and whisks Penny away – with a very evasive explanation that the girl’s parents are indisposed – Penny is only too keen to depart the much hated institution. Not so pleased is Aunt Harriet’s publisher, the rather surly Mr Crowley although there is little he can do about it. And so the first adventure begins as it has been arranged for Aunt Harriet to visit a Mr Toddington’s Museum of the Curious and Absurd where, reputedly, some taxidermied kittens come to life during the night and enjoy a tea party. The very bizarre nature of the exhibits in the museum are pure Victoriana and will fascinate, although likely repulse, young modern readers.

Penny may not have the sort of enquiring mind Miss Strickland expected from her young ladies but she certainly is canny enough to realise that stuffed kittens do not come alive on a nightly basis and begins to unravel the mystery in a very efficient manner. And not surprisingly, the unpleasant Mr Crowley is deeply involved in the whole dubious attempt at hoodwinking. Miss Penny Dreadful may have saved some helpless kittens and helped out the local Lord in doing so but she certainly hasn’t earned any brownie points from scowling Mr Crowley. Readers will very quickly realise that this odious man will continue regard Penny as his bête noire while the delightfully eccentric Aunt Harriet remains blissfully unaware of the undercurrents surrounding her.

All in all this is jolly good fun for readers from around 7 years upwards with adventure, mystery, humour and a splendid dash of history as well and I have every confidence that any reader will look forward to the next instalment with great anticipation.

Highly recommended for lower to middle primary kiddos.

Book Week is coming!

The Silver Sea – Belinda Murrell

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Penguin Australia

  • August 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761045554
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99
I really can’t rave enough over this new series of Belinda’s! The first The Golden Tower was a book that I literally gobbled up and this one took only a little bit longer (due to the fact that The Kid has been sick and I’ve been tired!). And how delightful it has been to re-visit Tuscia, the parallel world that Sophie has come to love.

Young Sophie is still living with her grandmother while her mum and brother are busy with Archie’s summer camp for young geniuses. During her summer sojourn Sophie has discovered, by complete accident, her Nanna’s connection with beautiful Tuscia and the Rossellana family. After one grand adventure, Sophie has been spending lots of time learning to fence and just generally enjoying the time with her grandmother.

Then one morning she wakes up to no Nanna, just a note explaining that her grandmother had to return to Tuscia to help her sister. That in itself would be strange enough – to leave Sophie without notice – but when grumpy cat Baccio arrives to tell a tale of kidnap and danger, Sophie knows it is not just strange but frightening. The only solution is for her to return to Tuscia herself and work with her Rossellana family to rescue the two old ladies.

Little does Sophie, or her family, know that the kidnapping is the tip of an iceberg of intrigues, long-held grudges, monstrous and cruel villains and devious plots.

Belinda Murrell takes her readers on another exciting and fascinating adventure through this fictitious, but almost real, land with a real focus on friendship, courage, resilience and initiative throughout. Sophie’s encounters with travelling players and evil sorcerers, a sea monsters and a winged lion and more make for thrilling reading, which is made all the more enjoyable for the introduction to Italian language and cultural references throughout.

Another cracking read (and series!) from this delightful author. If you missed the first, make sure you catch up and add this one. Highly recommended for readers from around Year 4 upwards.

Pearly and Pig and the Great Hairy Beast – Sue Whiting

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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

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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!