Tag Archives: Penguin Australia

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents[ film tie-in edition] – Terry Pratchett

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Penguin Australia

November 2022

ISBN: 9780552578929

Imprint: Corgi Childrens

RRP: $16.99

Twenty years ago the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett won the Carnegie Medal for his 28th book in the Discworld series, the first written for children, so it is utterly fitting that finally this extraordinary, absurd fantasy should be brought to life – and brought to a new generation of readers in a filmed version.

Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with either Sir Terry’s work, Discworld or Maurice ….

…allow me to give you a little insight. This is a book that has everything I most prize in my reading: ridiculous humour and sparkling wit, twisted fairy-tales, quirky characters, talking animals, rats even more intelligent than their usual intellect and a happy ending. Maurice is a wily shyster of a cat, who is cannily manipulating a band of rats and a gormless youth to fleece villagers of ‘rat plagues’. Both cat and rats have intelligence out-ranking that of humans, can speak and even read and write (a little) following their consumption of mysterious magic rubbish from the university of wizardry. Just as they reach a more or less mutual decision to end their rather unscruplous con-game, they come upon a town in which a far nastier deception involving the manipulation of rats and the greed of individuals is taking place. Needless to say, after nail-biting adventures and narrow escapes, the unlikely comrades do indeed, rout the real ‘rats’ from the town and earn their place in its society in a wholly unprecedented rat-human symbiotic partnership.

It had been a long time since I had read it and I fell in love with it all over again. With the newly minted animated film due for release before Xmas, this is going to make a perfect stocking stuffer for youngsters from around 8 years upwards and definitely one to have on your shelves when school starts back in 2023.

Given my love of this series, Sir Terry Pratchett (whom we lost the day after my Jen. I used his quote at her farewell) and rats (I do miss my own ratty girls) this gets my highest recommendation. Hopefully it will spark a passion for Pratchett, that is shared by readers all over the world, in your kiddos.

BOHEMIAN RAT-SODY

Is this the rat life? Is this rat fantasy?

Bought from a feeder bin, escaped from reality

Open your eyes, look up to this guy and see

I’m just a poor floof, I need no sympathy

Because I’m squeezy tum, tiny toes, little ears, little nose

Anywhere the cheerios doesn’t really matter to me, to me

Mama, just bought a rat

Went to buy the cat a bed

To a snake, he would be fed

Mama, life has just begun

Cuz now I’ve gone and saved a floof today

Mama, ooh, didn’t mean to make you cry

If I’m not back again this time tomorrow

Call the vet, call the vet,

For I’ll be there with the ratters

Too late, what have I done?

To the pet store one last time, got 10 more and they’re all mine

Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go

Gotta leave you all behind and face the floof

Mama, ooh, I don’t want them to die

I sometimes wish they’d never been born at all

I see a little silhouetto of a rat

Boople snoot,

Boople snoot,

Will you watch his boggle eyes go

Chocolate chips and icing,

Very much enticing, Meep!

Can I free-roam? (Can I free-roam?)

Can I free-roam? (Can I free-roam?)

Can I free-roam, let me go, oh mumma no-oh-oh-oh!

No, no, NO NO!

I’m just a poor rat, nobody loves me,

He’s eating dinner, with his whole family,

Spare some roast beef for this baby rattie?

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?

Groomer! No, we will not let you go

(Let him go) Groomer! We will not let you go

(Let him go) Groomer! We will not let you go

(Let me go) Will not let you go

(Let me go) Will not let you go

(Let me go) Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

(Oh power groomer, power groomer) Power groomer, let me go

Beaa-eaaaar-z-Bear has Calcifer on his side you see, you see, you see

So you think you can stop me cause I’m pink eyed?

So you think you can scritch me and leave me this high?

Oh, hooman,

Can’t do this to me hooman,

Just gotta scritch me,

Just gotta scritch me right ‘round here

Floofing really matters, anyone can see

Floofing really matters,

Floofing really matters to me

Anywhere the cheerios

So long Picture Book Month 2022

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Well it was a bit of a mammoth effort and one I haven’t undertaken for a few years but a new PB review posted each day of the month – whew!! Thanks for anyone who played along with me :-). Hope you discovered some treasures for your collections!! and of course, thanks to the publishers who are kind enough to let me read voraciously for them :-).

Now SO many others to catch up on – about 18 piled up from biographies to MG novels – lucky holidays are imminent!!

Thank You, Teacher from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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  • Penguin Australia
  • August 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241585566
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

They tell me Xmas is rapidly drawing closer – but what is even closer than that is the end of the school year. Most of us are now mid-term so that dreaded moment of finding a gift for your child’s teacher is nigh, and while, of course we don’t mind endless scented candles, bath bombs, potted succulents and so on, what would be really appreciated is a generous voucher to the nearest bottle shop -ok ok, so maybe not everyone wants that.

If you do have a small person and want to show your grateful thanks to their teacher, this is just the sweetest gift with Eric Carle’s inimitable artwork and some simple text that will resonate. Not having a small person any longer – The Kid is gearing up for her final year of school, and as her teacher is me, it would be quite redundant really – this is a gift for a special friend who just also happens to be one of the most superlative teachers I’ve ever had the privilege to know.

And really – for the small price of $12.99 – you could afford to bung it in with a bottle of something to enjoy as well.

Don’t miss out on getting this – and though I say it makes a lovely gift, it certainly won’t hurt to add it to your library or classroom collection as well. I think the kiddos will love reading it and telling their own teacher what it is they love about her or him.

Busy Betty – Reese Witherspoon. Illustrated by Xindi Yan

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Penguin Australia

October 2022

Imprint: Puffin

ISBN: 9781761047480

RRP: $19.99

Oh, I’m a huge fan of Reese!.. and I can easily imagine her as a little girl just like Busy Betty. This is pure good fun and kids will love the joyousness of it as much as they relate to the getting into scrapes – albeit, with the best of intentions.

Betty has been busy ever since babyhood and her exuberance and spontaneity can often lead her astray. When she realises her much-loved dog, Frank, is smelly and in need of a bath, she just has to get it done before her bestie Mae arrives for their playdate. But the bath plans are de-railed by one problem after another until both Betty and Frank are in a shocking mess. Luckily best friend Mae, is a little more practical and can see the bigger picture and pretty soon the two girls have turned the disaster into a complete success story.

It’s a delightful exploration of enthusiasm, teamwork and accomplishment to which small children will immediately make connections to their own adventures, mishaps and successes.

I think I speak for a lot of people who are a bit sceptical of the plethora of ‘celebrities’ turned authors but Reese’ association with literature, promoting reading and story-telling have established her credentials for now branching into her own writing. The colourful cartoon style illustrations pick up beautifully on the joyful tone throughout the book and kiddos will enjoy discovering the details in these.

Highly recommended for your youngsters from around Prep upwards.

My Baba is the Best – Bachar Houli. Illustrated by Debby Rahmalia

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Penguin Australia

August 2022

  • ISBN: 9781761046568
  • Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $19.99

Read more in this piece from SBS Arabic24

This is simply just a joyous read filled with family and fatherly love. It is wonderful that we have an ever-increasing diverse representation of our Australian children in books, and, in particular, picture books.

Bachar proves himself not just a great AFL legend but a fabulous storyteller as he tells this narrative from the PoV of his eldest daughter. In so many ways the book will resonate with many Australian children with shared experiences such as camping and movie nights but it also offers a different perspective for non-Muslim kiddos by describing cultural and religious aspects such as attending mosque and Eid festival.

Everything about this delightful picture book underlines the importance of the loving connection between fathers and daughters, and indeed, family – particularly, sharing and enjoying time together. While children from other backgrounds may find some of the very Muslim aspects a little different, they will also strongly identify the important themes here.

I love this book a lot and believe that sharing it in library, classroom or at home will bring you and your small humans much joy. Highly recommended for readers from Prep up to around Year 3.

You can listen to a Triple R podcast with Bachar talking about the book here.

Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Dragon Adventure

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Penguin Australia

August 2022

  • ISBN: 9780241575673
  • Imprint: Ladybird
  • RRP: $14.99

We can always depend on Peppa and her family to provide us with warm fuzzies, plus imagination combined with happy reality.

When George Pig doesn’t want to go to sleep, fearful of bad dreams, Daddy Pig tells a wonderful story about a dragon. Peppa and George enjoy the story so much, they want their own dragon! And when they see one the next day, they are certain that dragons are real – no matter what Daddy and Mummy Pig say.

Regardless of their opinions, the Pig parents gladly join the children in following a set of tracks that do, indeed, look very like those a dragon might make. To their great surprise, the trail leads to a castle and, in front of the castle, a huge dragon with their friend Miss Rabbit sitting on top of its head!

It’s a robot dragon which Miss Rabbit sometimes uses in her tours of the castle and she is very happy to offer Peppa and George a ride. How exciting to be on a huge dragon, way above the ground! For the children it is every bit as good as flying on one in their dreams.

This is another one I’ve shared recently with Prep children, all of whom loved it. We had quite the conversation about dragons and other imaginary creatures.

Recommended for happy reading with little ones from teeny to around Year 2.

Spot’s Slide-and-Seek Farm

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Penguin Australia

January 2023

Publisher

Penguin Random House Children’s Uk | Puffin

ISBN 9780241560556

If you have little humans in your family or circle, they are going to love these new additions to the Spot collection. The very first Spot lift-the-flap, the classic Where’s Spot?, was published in 1980 and, as I’ve mentioned before when I reviewed the anniversary edition was the first book I bought The Kid’s mum, when she was a baby, so Spot has a very special place in my heart.

These sturdy board books are perfect for the ‘slide’ reveal and we know that all little kids are fascinated with farm life and animals. I particularly love that the sliders that move outside the page edges have a little surprise on the other side and not just plain background.

Why not buy the other titles at the same time as you pick up this one? The munchkins will thank you!

Highly recommended for babies up to Prep so pre-order now.

Peppa Pig: A Trip to the Moon

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Penguin Australia

September 2022

ISBN: 9780241610664

Imprint: Ladybird

RRP: $16.99

I think it’s safe to say that Peppa’s popularity just does not diminish! I shared this one with a delightful class of Preppies and before reading, when I asked who likes Peppa, there was a forest of hands shooting up and much excited chatter.

The kiddos really enjoyed this story as well as our discussion about what they knew about the moon. If you are undertaking a unit around Night and Day with your littlies this would make an excellent addition to your reading list but it is equally as fun for simply sharing.

George and his friend, Edmond, are busily playing with their space toys and when Peppa expresses the opinion that ‘space stuff is just made up’, Daddy Pig decides it’s time for a visit to the museum and the special moon exhibit. It’s a pretty cool tour with elasticated harnesses for the visitors so that they can experience some sense of weightlessness (I do believe the Queensland Museum should emulate this!) and, despite Mr Rabbit’s admonishment to Daddy Pig that this is a serious tour so no jokes about the moon being made of cheese, the gift shop is selling delicious moon cheese (QM – again, take note!).

All in all a really cute way to introduce some learning about the moon and have some fun along the way.

Highly recommmended for your small humans from around 3 years upwards.

Battle Mum – Zoë Foster Blake. Illustrated by Adele K. Thomas

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Penguin Australia

1 November 2022

  • ISBN: 9780143779681
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

Look, I’ve gotta be honest – anything with Karate Kid moves or ninja references and I’m in! In my experience, the same applies for kids. Ok, so maybe not all of them are actually across the Karate Kid (clearly because their education has been neglected) but definitely ninjas!

For anyone with kids (or indeed, grandies!) that dread feeling of being exhausted, but beset by kiddos who just want to ‘battle’ – play, wrestle, cavort, pounce, gambol, leap – is just plain overwhelming at times – you get my meaning here I know, and I also know you already feel exhausted just reading that.

I think Zoë also knows this feeling only too well, and has superbly translated that into this really funny and lively new picture book.

Ana and Louis are dead tired after their busy day at school and kindergarten, and have just settled themselves on the couch to binge some TV and chill out. The trouble is that Mum wants to battle … and she’s not taking NO for an answer. Reluctantly, the children concede but with provisos – NO TICKLING! and ONLY FIVE MINUTES! – especially because they need this to be well over before Dad gets home and starts up his own battle! Such a super way to illustrate how wonderful imagination is – as you will discover :-).

I love that Zoë has used her own son’s signature moves and actions as her inspiration (and I’d be guessing he’s also quite impressed). This is truly just pure good fun – I could envisage a whole lot of extravagant physical activity going on with a class as a follow-up to a shared reading – hopefully, outside the classroom!!

Kiddos are going to love this – and I think there will not only be many requested re-readings for bedtimes but most certainly in classrooms. Highly recommended for littlies from Prep upwards.

Read more about the inspiration for this one with Zoë’s Q&A

Willa and Woof #2: Birthday Business – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Australia

October 2022

  • ISBN: 9781761043321
  • Imprint: Puffin
Our newest favourites from JH are back in their second adventure – and just as delightful as when we first met them. Willa is a very sweet and very kind little girl who has several special friends. Most important of these are Woof, her large albino Irish wolfhound and Tae, her neighbour and best young friend, and, lastly, Frank, who lives in the aged care residence next door, can be a wee bit grumpy but is still Willa’s best old friend.

Willa happens to find out that it’s almost Frank’s birthday and it’s a super special significant one. She feels pretty sad when she knows that Frank’s family, son and his wife plus children, who live in England are unable to even be in touch on this special day so, of course, she decides to do something about it.

Determined Willa thinks a surprise party is just the right thing but organising it takes quite a lot of creative thinking as one obstacle after another is thrown up but finally, it’s all in place and despite Tae’s misgivings that they know Frank prefers ‘no fuss’ it seems like it’s going to just tick all the boxes. But the biggest surprise of all is even more exciting than a party – and that part has nothing to do with Willa at all!

Once again this is such a warm and feel-good narrative about family and friendships, kindness and thoughtfulness. I know that children really warm to Jacqueline’s stories and characters because of these recurring themes. And really, how badly are such values needed in modern society? It is so important that we try our very best to encourage our little ones to have such empathy and consideration for others.

Jacqueline’s knack for creating her engaging characters and making sure each adventure is new and fresh has deservedly earned her legion fans of all ages and this new series is certainly going to take it’s place alongside old favourites Clementine Rose, Alice-Miranda, Kensy and Max.

Be sure to add these to your collection, where they will be in constant demand I can promise you.

Highly recommended for your young readers, especially newly independent, from around 5 years upwards.