From the opening paragraph this brilliant book simply sparkles with magic and adventure – unsurprisingly, for those of us who have followed Deborah Abela’s writing career for years!
My first encounter with this joyful creator was when, as the organiser of an extravaganza showcase at Marrickville Library, way back around 2004, I invited Deborah )who had just hit the kid lit lists with her Max Remy serie) to be our special guest for the kiddos. She was a huge drawcard then – and still is!
Your readers of such books as Inkspell and Pages & Co are going to flip out about this one. It has everything needed to enthrall and excite middle graders: a reluctant and self-doubting hero, a feisty girl to organise things, a sweet guardian, a nasty villain, a dubious pillar of society with a very strong-minded daughter – and a completely endearing pet mouse who will steal everyone’s heart – all tied up in a world of literary magic like no other.
Arlo Goodman has lived with his uncle Avery, in the bookshop, since his mother was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident. When bolshie Lisette, runs into the shop and promptly hides from a particularly intimidating pursuer, Arlo’s quiet – and rather dull – existence is suddenly turned upside down. It appears his mother has left him a grimoire – a mysterious book in which the stories written are magically realised – and his own story is to help understand just how brave he truly is. Lisette’s grandmother has also died, under terrible circumstances, and now the girl’s inherited ability to magically write the stories of the grimoire is being sought by wealthy and sinister business tycoon, Marcellus, via his brutal henchman, Silas.
Mystery and adventure, humour and pathos all mix together to create this abundantly glorious new narrative from one of middle schoolers’ favourite writers. I, for one, would like to see more adventures from Arlo, Lisette and Herbert – just saying!. Congratulations Deborah on another superb read! Highly recommended for your kiddos from around Year 4 to Year 7.
Read more about Deborah’s wondrous writing during lockdown here and if you are a Sydneysider, get thee to the Glee party!
ISBN: 9781760651510 Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $25.99 New Zealand RRP: $28.99
Encouraging our little readers to be not just accepting of differences but to embrace them is arguably one of the greatest gifts we can offer. And to be able to do this through the enjoyment of a wonderful and vibrant story is a real bonus.
Bear is different. He’s not like the other little bears who are noisy and play lots of games. Bear prefers the quiet, learning about space and planning his trip in his own rocket ship. The other bears laugh at his dream of space travel and though Bear feels lonely, he is undeterred. He takes off and begin his exploration and finds not only the amazing vastness of his dream but a most amazing surprise – a like-minded friend! Together Bear and Panda conquer space and upon their return find that the acceptance from their peers opens up even more richness.
This is just a beautiful and thoughtful story which will enchant children and adults alike spring-boarding many deep discussions around our perceptions of others. Children will also love the interspersed space facts – this being truly a fascinating topic for them in my experience.
The perfect combination of text and illustrations is just superb and clearly the two creators are completely in sync.
Celebrating differences, acceptance, self-belief and friendship this is a must-have for your collection.
Highly recommended for little readers from around five years upwards.
When Deborah Abela started her ‘cranky climate change’ series it was because she was prompted to do so by the refusal of world governments to take action against the obvious and dangerous climatic changes threatening the world as we know it. A decade after the publication of Grimsdon our global leaders still prove to be ignorant and, worse, reckless about the increasingly dire situation facing humanity.
Isabella and Griffin along with their friends have now become settled in New City with Jeremiah acting as their guardian. They attend The Academy where they are learning many new and exciting things but need to deal with situations, not perhaps as dangerous as their adventures in Grimsdon, but certainly fraught. One of their fellow students is the much-lauded Aleksander Larsen, an up-and-coming brilliant star though not necessarily likeable. It doesn’t take long for Aleksander’s pseudo-charm to become something entirely different.
Wild weather is again wreaking havoc with inexplicable and unpredictable patterns and Jeremiah is hard-pressed with the Bureau of Weather neither to make sense of any of it nor to stop it. It is almost as though there is something entirely unnatural about it all. And indeed there is. A grim spectre from the past has risen and presents a ruthless and wanton danger not only to the children but to the entire world. And like so many of our own so-called leaders the bottom line is money and power with not so much as a fleeting thought or concern for any who might get in the way.
Once again Deborah has given middle school readers a thrilling adventure/fantasy that will have readers on the edge of their seats but also will give them much on which to reflect. As young people such as Greta Thunberg take action in a powerful (and fast growing) global movement, in a world where the power-mongers refuse to act this is exactly the kind of narrative to inspire more and more of our future citizens.
Kudos to Deborah for another inspired instalment in what has become one of the most popular series for this age group!
Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.
In small country towns there is often a vigorous community spirit, especially for the ‘battlers’ and this story exemplifies that.
India Wimple lives with her family – Dad, Mum, little brother Boo and Nanna Flo – in Yungabilla. Nanna came to live with them after a broken bone and losing Grandpop, Mum left her teaching job to look after and homeschool Boo who has chronic and severe asthma and Dad lost his job writing for the local newspaper when the business closed down and now does odd jobs. All in all it’s been a tough few years for the family.
One highlight of their weekly routine is to gather to watch everyone’s favourite TV show ‘The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee’ when kids from all over Australia compete to be the next top speller. India who has always loved words is simply an ace and spells along with the show proving over and over again her extraordinary skill.
Naturally it doesn’t take much for her family to come up with the idea of India competing. There’s just one problem. India is so terribly nervous in front of people she knows she would never be able to manage such a competition.
However, she reckons without the support of her whole town and not just her family. India’s journey from her small town to the stage of the Sydney Opera House is full of humour and heart-warming moments.
Sending a really positive message about striving for dreams and having a support network this is a great read for children from around 9 years upwards.