Ramose and the Tomb Robbers, by Carole Wilkinson

Prince Ramose, once the spoilt son of the Pharaoh, is in exile. His father and all the royal court think he is dead. Ramose is determined to rejoin his father and claim his rightful position. But when he is captured by Tomb-Robbers and made to conspire in stripping ancient tombs of their riches, the situation seems hopeless.

Ramose and the Tomb Raiders is the second book in the Ramose series by Carole Wilkinson. Ramose continues his journey with his unlikely friends, the apprentice painter, Hapu and the slave girl, Karoya. Along the way they make more surprising friends and meet up with old enemies.

Wilkinson combines her knowledge of Egyptian history with her creative flair to produce a book which will delight young readers aged 10 to 13, especially those with an interest in the time of the Pharaohs and the Pyramids.

The series is well suited both to private reading and to classroom or library collections. First released in 2001, it has just been re-released with a new cover and design.

Ramose and the Tomb Robbers, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, 2001, this edition 2006

Ramose Prince in Exile, by Carole Wilkinson

Prince Ramose is the spoilt son of the Pharaoh, and his heir. He lives a life of luxury with servants waiting to please and cosset him. Until the day that somebody tries to kill him. The actions of his loyal nanny and tutor save him, but now Ramose must hide, living the life of a tradesman, until such time as he can claim his rightful place.

How does a Prince, used to a life of luxury, adapt to the hard work and simple life of a tradesman? And who can he trust?

As Ramose learns the realities of life in Egypt, he also makes friends – and enemies. Returning to his former life will not be simple – if it is even possible.

Ramose: Prince in Exile is the first in an exciting series set in ancient Egypt, following the adventures of Ramose as he tries to regain his rightful position. Author Carole Wilkinson captures the history of the time with insight into the cultural system, the landscape and, of course, the Pyramids, the most intriguing remnant of the ancient world.

This book will delight young readers, especially those with an interest in Ancient Egypt and is as suitable for home reading as it is for classrooms or school libraries.

Carole Wilkinson is an English-born Australian writer with a deep interest in history, which is reflected in her writing.

Ramose: Prince in Exile is suitable for readers aged 9 to 13. First released in 2001, it has just been re-released with a new cover and design.

Ramose: Prince in Exile, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, 2001, this edition 2006

Granny Survivor and Granny Guru by Jan Dallimore

Our Granny needs supervision day and night. She is a walking catastrophe. Talk about little kids getting into regular trouble—Granny is a thousand times worse.

Granny may be old but she isn’t ready to retire quietly. When her family stops her from learning to surf she goes shopping instead – and gets flattened by a truck. This has unexpected consequences she lands herself a starring role in an action movie. Next, she joins a gym in a quest to win a triathlon, before turning her hand to inventing.

These two little books are packed full of laughs and action. Granny is a do-anything lady who gets into all sorts of scrapes which young readers will find hilarious. Each book contains two separate, but sequential stories with easily accessible text and loads of illustrations.

Suitable for readers aged 6-10 as they make the transition into junior novels.

Granny Survivor and Granny Guru by Jan Dallimore and Heath McKenzie (illus.)
Black Dog Books, 2006

This review first appeared in Reading Time Magazine.

Open Wide Tooth School Inside, by Laurie Keller

Dental hygiene is an important topic for children, both in the classroom and at home. In this offering the author attempts to use a humorous approach to teaching important facts. Using a blend of fact and fiction (faction), she presents a day in the school life of a class of teeth and their teacher, Dr Flossman. The good Doctor guides the class through lessons in tooth structure, tooth roles, tooth care and more. The importance of baby teeth, the realities of a trip to the dentist and interesting facts about the teeth through history are all discussed.

This is a hard one to judge. There are a lot of humorous asides and one liners which are there to entertain rather than inform, but there are also many important facts. The book was written for the US market and, whilst the spelling and grammar have been adapted, this does show through in places, including the scene of the teeth beginning the day with a Pledge of Allegiance to the mouth. This aside, kids will enjoy the cartoon illustrations and the jokes, and may even learn something.

Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, by Laurie Keller
Black Dog Books, 2005 (First published by Henry Holt, 2000)

This review first appeared in Reading Time magazine.

Why Dick Fosbury Flopped, by Damian Farrow & Justin Kemp

Why and how did Dick Fosbury invent the high jump (or flop) which bears his name?
How did the golf ball get its dimples?
How have performance enhancing drugs affected world records?
How have athletes’ bodies changed over time?

In Why Dick Fosbury Flopped, sports scientists Justin Kemp and Damian Farrow explore the answers to these and many other burning questions about sport and sports stars. They attempt to debunk some of the myths and investigate apparent sporting conundrums.

With a slightly humorous take on the subject, this is still an in-depth, scientific look at sport, from the team that present radio show Run Like You Stole Something. There are hundreds of sporting facts, definitions and explanations as well as tidbits of trivia.

This is a book sure to please any sports trivia buff (would-be or otherwise).

Dr Damien Farrow is the Skill Acquisition Specialist at the Australian Institute of Sport, working with a variety of AIS sports and consulting to professional teams in football codes. Justin Kemp is the Exercise Physiologist at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne.

Why Dick Fosbury Flopped, by Justin Kemp and Damian Farrow
Allen & Unwin, 2006

Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons, by Glenda Millard

Life in Korweinguboora (readers will have fun geting their tongues around this) is fairly predictable. So when Ralphie the goat suggests that Mrs Wiggins grow watermelons instead of potatoes, Mrs Wiggins knows just what folk will say: We can’t grow wartymelons in Korwinguboora. But Ralphie convinces Mrs Wiggins to give it a try, despite what the locals say.

Growing watermelons in Korweinguboora isn’t easy – the nights are too cold for watermelons. But Mrs Wiggins proves that, with a little determination and ingenuity, anything is possible.

Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons is a beautifully presented, funny picture book, by outstanding author Glenda Millard. The quirky tale is well complemented by the illustrations of Stephen Axelsen, which are a combination of rustic and whimsy.

Glenda Millard is the author of The Naming of Tishkin Silk, which was short listed for the 2004 Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year awards. Mrs Wiggins Wartymelons is very different, but shows the same outstanding storytelling ability. First published in hardcover in 2004, it has now been re-released in paperback.


Mrs Wiggins’ Wartymelons, by Glenda Millard and Stephen Axelsen
ABC Books, First Published 2004, this edition 2006

The Little Book of Possum Magic

This little board book offers a taste of the beautiful illustrations from Possum Magic and is a delightful offering for babies. This is not a condensed version of the original picture book, but uses some of the illustrations, coupled with single word text on each page – possum, kangaroo, emu and so on, with the final page showing Hush and Grandma Poss curled together, with the text Good night!

Possum Magic has found a place in the homes and hearts of many, many Australian children for more than twenty years, and the brilliant illustrations by Julie Vivas are perfect for little readers. Coupled with the sturdy board book format, this makes an ideal gift offering for a new baby.

The Little Book of Possum Magic
Omnibus Books, 2006

The Red Shoe, by Ursula Dubosarsky

The earth smelt strong to Matilda and full of things growing and dying all at the same time. She thought about the grey-green tangled bush at the end of the street, full of cowboys and Red Indians, waiting with their guns and their bows and arrows. She thought about the Japs and the Germans…She thought about the sad smiling man with his chess set and the newsreel and her tennis ball…

It is 1954 and six year old Matilda is living with her family in post-war Sydney. Her father is often away, working on shipping lines, and her older sister Elizabeth has recently had a breakdown. Her mother struggles to keep the family together, aided by Uncle Paul, who visits frequently. Matilda struggles to make sense of the world around her, haunted by memories of a family picnic which went horribly wrong, and by the absence of her father from a splintering family.

The Red Shoe is a haunting novel of family and of time, with events of the day shaping the course of the story. While Matilda’s father struggles with memories of the war, Matilda is increasingly aware of the threat of polio, and the Petrov Affair proves to be closer than the newspaper articles which are sprinkled throughout the paper, with a mysterious man hiding under guard in the house next door.

Dubosarsky weaves elements of mystery, of family tension, and of childlike simplicity together to create a plot which snares the reader and keeps the pages turning in search of answers to the clues. This is a beautiful tale for young adult and adult readers.

The Red Shoe, by Ursula Dubosarsky
Allen & Unwin, 2006

Offbeat, by Marlane Ainsworth

‘So,’ I said, tying to get this footy business into my head once and for all, ‘Buttface roams all over the field, you kick all the goals. What does the rest of the team do?’
‘All sorts of things. Tackle, block, scream, smother, chase, hammer.’
I shuddered. ‘Sounds like Holst’s music about the planet Mars, the Bringer of War. I’ll play it for you next time you come.’

Tommo are Smelly are an unlikely pair to be best friends. Tommo loves classical music and plays the trumpet in the school band. Smelly (her real name is Simone Melling) loves football, and plays for the school team. One is neat and fastidious, the other is messy and rough. But they have been friends for a long time, and nothing can change that. Or can it?

The School Band has an opportunity to compete in a band competition in the city. The football team is invited to participate in a carnival. The problem is, the principal says the school only has enough funds for one trip. Which one will be chosen? With that drama out of the way, Smelly and Tommo, and their respective groups, have other challenges to overcome, including a mix ups ending the team busses to the wrong events.

Offbeat is a fun children’s novel which takes a humorous look at the cultural clash between sport and the arts, and at how friendships can survive often-competing interests. The use of a male and a female as the two central characters means the books is likely to appeal to both boy and girl readers, and kids will like that the girl is the footy player and the boy the neat-freak musician.

Suitable for readers aged 10-12.

Offbeat, by Marlane Ainsworth
Fremantle Arts Centre press, 2006

Wombat Stew Cookbook, by Marcia K Vaughan & Pamela Lofts

Few Australian children are not familiar with the delightful picture book Wombat Stew with its refrain of: wombat stew, wombat stew, gooey, brewy, yummy chewy, wombat stew and a host of delightful Aussie animal characters. The Wombat Stew Cookbookis a delightful complement to the picture book, filled with yummy recipes that are easy for kids to make with minimal parental help.

The book includes recipes for main dishes, salads and vegetables, bread, drinks and desserts, as well as helpful information about measuring, cooking terms and safety in the kitchen. Kids and parents will enjoy cooking such delights as Bandicoot ginger biscuits and Echidna avocado dip and will love the accompanying illustrations of the animals from Wombat Stew enjoying the dishes.

Yummy fun.

Wombat Stew Cookbook, by Marcia K Vaughan & Pamela Lofts
Scholastic, first edition 1989, this edition 2006