Tag Archives: Bondi Beach

The Colourful World of Poppy Starr Olsen: A novel inspired by the life of the Australian Olympic skateboarder – Poppy Starr Olsen & Jess Black


Penguin Australia

  • August 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143778837
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99

From the opening pages this is just a joyful experience and one that I binged in just two sessions. I’ll be honest here. I didn’t know of Poppy (I don’t watch or follow the Olympics) and I know – well knew – zilch about skateboarding so I didn’t really know what to expect. What I got is a delightful narrative (based on fact, presumably) that revolves around family and friends, following one’s dream, being adventurous, having self-belief and standing up for one’s rights and expectations.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy Poppy’s story but I really did learn so much – as will readers – and not just via the interspersed facts, but also from the lively descriptions of skating and surfing. Of course, with The Kid now pursuing surfing, it was this connection between the two sports that really grabbed my full attention. Now Grom is the proud owner of a surf-skate carver skateboard and learning to use it is a priority in the agenda! And really it’s pretty fun when your surf coach demonstrates his own skateboard skills (notwithstanding the age he was turning the next day!)

sorry John, and you know you are the coolest guy we know! 😘😍

Poppy lives with her lively and adventurous family in beautiful Bondi and her passion is skateboarding, closely followed by surfing, along with art and craft, family adventures and hanging out with friends. She loves to skate and while she has entered competitions, they have been more about a fun one-off rather than serious events. But when her local skatepark is about to host an awesome comp, Poppy knows she wants to definitely be part of it and give it her best shot. Except it looks like she’s not allowed to compete! Feisty young Poppy is not going to let discrimination stand in her way and just as she wins that battle, another one looms when a local councillor tries to thwart the competition taking place.

It is totally engaging and exciting and the proof of that is that I did a first chapter read-aloud with my Year 6 relief class last week and even the ‘difficult’ boys were totally absorbed!!! WINNING!

I guarantee you will have just as much success promoting to your readers – from middle school right up to year 7 and as much fun doing so!

Highly recommended for kiddos from around ten years on.

Just watch this winning performance!

Trouble in the Surf – Stephanie Owen Reeder and Briony Stewart



9780642279460National Library of Australia

October 2019

Publisher:   National Library of Australia
Edition:   1st Edition
ISBN:   9780642279460

RRP: $24.99

Stephanie Owen Reeder always excels at creating engaging narratives that are underwritten with historical facts and this picture book is no exception.

To all intents and purposes it is merely the story of two cousins who go swimming at Bondi Beach back in 1907. Charlie and Rupert have a grand time in the surf until the rip catches Charlie and there is an almost disaster. Luckily there are some stalwarts who are able to rescue Charlie and a bystander nurse is able to resuscitate him. Very much a gripping adventure but when Charlie’s full name is revealed at the end of the story, the reader is certainly bound to be surprised and also to conjecture on the ‘what if’ had that rescue not been a success.

The book concludes with some terrific information about Charlie and Rupert as adults, Nurse Sadie Sweeney, Surf Life Saving in Australia, surf safety and Bondi Surf Lifesavers as well as a very useful glossary.

The illustrations are just glorious – and the endpapers that make my heart sing! – and perfectly capture the atmosphere of the time period.

Whether as part of a unit of work focused on Australian history, surf safety, iconic figures in our nation’s heritage or just as a fabulous read-aloud, I highly recommend this for your kiddos from around 7 years upwards.

Find teaching resources here