While his parents are off having an adventure in Patagonia, Kaz is sent from his home in Japan to stay with his grandparents in Far, Far North Queensland. He doesn’t realise he is about to have an adventure of his own.
When Kaz is on his way to the Dairy Day Parade in Milaa Milaa, he is kidnapped by a group of Casskins. The Casskins are large birds, related to the Cassowaries, but much bigger and far more intelligent. Not only are they more intelligent than cassowaries – Casskins are more intelligent than any other creature – especially mankind.
The Casskins need Kaz to help them prevent a dam being built and a uranium mine opening – two events which could have disastrous consequences for the local animals. At first scared and reluctant, Kaz finds himself becoming increasingly willing to help the Casskins and the other creatures he meets on his adventures.
Although this is a work of fantasy, The Song of the Casskins is both a humorous and exciting adventure story and an educational tool – with a message about conservation and appreciating our environment and our wildlife. A useful aid is the addition of facts about the cassowary in the early part of the story.
The Song of the Casskins will appeal to 8 to 10 year old readers, although may be less appealing to those still adapting to the language of the novel.
The Song of the Casskins, by John Fitzpatrick
When Sisi goes with her mother and sisters to the waterhole, she swims too far away. Chased by a crocodile she surfaces in an unfamiliar place, and can’t find her way home. Soon, she comes across a boy collecting berries and agrees to help him with his task if he will then help her to get home. However, when the time comes for the boy to fulfill his part of the agreement, he disappears, and Sisi is joined by a large bird. The cassowary gets Sisi to climb on his back, and he gives her a ride home, where she is reunited with her mother. Sisi realises then that the cassowary and the boy were in fact one.
This traditional tale is made complete with the rich traditional paintings of Arone Raymond Meeks, who uses browns, ochres, greens and blues to capture the Dreamtime essence of his story.
This is both an excellent sharing book and a useful educational tool for studies of Aboriginal art and dreamtime stories.
Sisi and the Cassowary, by Arone Raymond Meeks
Omnibus Books, an Imprint of Scholastic, 2002
The animals in the zoo are so excited that Gordon is coming. Gordon is the new silverback gorilla being brought in from overseas to take care of the girls. Of course, the girls are more excited than anyone – they hope Gordon will be big and strong and hairy.
When Gordon arrives he looks to be all that they hoped for – until the young gorillas notice something funny. Gordon has a snookie! Now all the animals are scornful and highly amused – how can Gordon live up to his strong image if he needs a comforter? The girls are embarrassed to be seen with him.
Poor Gordon – left alone, the snookie becomes more and more important, until a young gorilla unwittingly offers a chance solution.
Gordon’s Got a Snookie is a hilarious story sure to appeal to children and to their adult readers. Shanahan’s text is a delightful blend of humour and gentle message about the acceptability of snookies, or blankies or other comforters. The illustrations of Wayne Harris perfectly complement the text, capturing the range of emotions from ethusiasm to loneliness with a delightful colour range and skillful portrayal of the characters’ facial expressions.
A delightful book!
Gordon’s Got a Snookie, by Lisa Shanahan, illustrated by Wayne Harris
Allen & Unwin, 2002
Wherever she goes, everyone tells Lily Hippo she is too loud. At home they say “too loud”. At school they say “too loud!” Even her best friends think she’s too loud. Poor Lily!
But when a new teacher called Miss Loopiola comes to school, Lily decides to be in the school play. With Miss Loopiola’s help, Lily learns that sometimes loud is what’s needed, and her family and friends see that sometimes Lily is not too loud.
Too Loud Lily is a funny new picture book from author Sofie Laguna. With a simple message of acceptance and understanding, the lively text is well complemented by the equally lively illustrations of Kerry Argent, who portrays the telling emotions of Lily and those around her delightfully.
Too Loud Lily will appeal to children from birth to six years of age, and their parents and educators.
Sofie Laguna is an actor and writer, whose other publication credits include My Yellow Blanky and Bill’s Best Day. Kerry Argent’s previous illustration successes include Wombat Divine and One Woolly Wombat.
Too Loud Lily, by Sofie Laguna, illustrated by Kerry Argent
Omnibus Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Australia, 2002
Three possums – Mumma, Big Sister and Baby – are eating their breakfast high in a tree in a moonlit garden. Mumma and Big Sister move around confidently, but Baby is scared. The tree is very high and he wants to stay close to his Mumma. When Mumma and Big Sister jump to the peach tree, Baby is left behind. Mumma and Big Sister plead with him to jump, but he can’t. He is left by himself in the walnut tree. How will he get to his Mumma? And how will he learn to jump?
Jump Baby is a sweet new picture book from Ominibus Books. Author Penny Matthews tells a charming tale of learning and taking risks. The illustrations of Dominique Falla, with the deep purples and greens of the night garden contrasting with the browns of the animals, are a perfect complement to the gentle text.
This is a lovely sharing book for preschoolers and their parents, and also suitable for early childhood classrooms.
Penny Matthews has previously written another picture book, A Year on Our Farm and three titles in the Omnibus Solos Series. Dominique Falla is a graphic designer and also illustrated the award-winning picture book Woodlore.
Jump, Baby, by Penny Matthews, Illustrated by Dominique Falla
Omnibus Books, an Imprint of Scholastic, 2002.
Ramose is happy to return to the royal court and the company of his brother, the young Pharoah. But not everyone is happy to see him. Then his old friend, Karoya, disappears, and Ramose must try to find her.
Ramose: The Wrath of Ra is the fourth and final book in the Ramose series. Once again Ramose must fight for his freedom and his life as he and his friends are reunited once more in their travels. Will Ramose fulfill his destiny, or will he be left in ongoing peril?
Author Carole Wilkinson creates an absorbing blend of historical accuracy and fiction which will intrigue 8 to 12 year old readers, especially those with an interest in ancient Egypt.
Each book has stand alone value, although readers will most enjoy the series in its entirety.
An excellent addition to class and school libraries as well as to home collections.
Ramose: The Wrath of Ra, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, 2002
Sam isn’t keen on going on school camp. For eight days he and a group of boys he doesn’t particularly like are going to trek through the bush, over mountains and even into caves, on a survival camp that is supposed to be a physical and personal challenge.Sam’s friends are in a different group and he has nothing in common with the ones he’s with.
The camp has all the challenges Sam expects – no toilets or showers, gruelling walks, not enough decent food – and plenty that he doesn’t. As well as dealing with these, he must also deal with the memories evoked by the camp – memories of happier times, camping in the bush with his grandfather before he died. The camp will reveal many things he didn’t know before, about himself and about the people around him.
The Cave is much more than a story about a school camp. It is an exploration of modern male youth culture. Violence, bullying, drugs and sex mingle with more positive elements such as mateship and loyalty. As Sam learns, so does the reader.
Susanne Gervay has a style which allows readers inside the minds and emotions of her teen characters to reach understanding of the complexities of their lives. Teen readers will learn and grow, but there is much here for older readers as well.
The Cave, by Susanne Gervay
Angus and Robertson (An imprint of Harper Collins), 2002.
How would it be if farts came out coloured blue, so that everyone could see – in the middle of assembly? And how would it be if a boy swallowed fish eyes and blue vein cheese and pigs’ hearts and lambs brains and then vomited all over the floor at McDonald’s? What about a boy with a collection of boogie, all labelled and nicely displayed? Sound a bit gross? Well, that’s the idea.
So Gross, by J. A. Mawter, is a collection of stories sure to make the most with it adult say “ewwww” very loudly, but equally sure to make young readers laugh out loud. From booger collections to blue farts and techni-coloured vomit, and lots more, kids aged 8 to 12 will find plenty to laugh about and share with their friends.
Each story in So Gross is several chapters long, so that kids can satisfy themselves with a well-developed read in each sitting. This format makes the bok ideal for reluctant readers (especially boys), who will love both the subject matter and the sense of achievement with actually finishing each story.
A fun book.
So Gross, by J.A. Mawter
Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2001