Tag Archives: Puffin

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.

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.

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.

Willa and Woof 1: Mimi is Missing – Jacqueline Harvey

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  • Penguin Random House
  •  5 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9781761043314
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

Question:

What’s more exciting than a brand spanking new Jacqueline Harvey book?

Answer:

A brand-new Jacqueline Harvey series!!

That’s right folks! In case you’ve missed the excitement of last week’s release AND – can you believe it? – television ads to promote it! – Jacqueline’s super new series Willa and Woof sprang to life amid great rejoicing.

Your little readers from around Year 2 upwards will fall in love with this new cast of characters, just as they have with all the old familiar crew from this hugely successful and popular author.

Eight-year-old Willa lives with her family in a friendly cul-de-sac. Her best four-legged friend is Wilfrid, the albino wolfhound, known as Woof, her best same-age friend is Tao and her best old-age friend, Frank.  

Willa visits Frank almost every day in the next-door retirement complex and even though he’s a bit of a crusty old curmudgeon, she seems able to make him smile. She also loves to help him with his last remaining pigeon, Mimi.  So, when Willa discovers that Mimi is missing, she is very upset and certain that the disappearance is entirely her fault – she really can’t remember if she latched the aviary door securely.  Willa is determined to find Mimi as swiftly as possible, but then Frank goes missing as well! What on earth is happening?

Willa is every bit as adorable as Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda so fans of these two will welcome her arrival with great enthusiasm. The whole story is imbued with joy and warmth which make it a pleasure to read.

Welcome Willa and Woof! Don’t miss out on picking up this completely adorable introduction – I’m already looking forward to the next instalment!

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!