Tashi and the Stolen Bus, by Anna & Barbara Fienberg

“The demons are crazy for buses!” said Can-Du. “And when I wouldn’t hand this one over, they kidnapped my son.”

When Tashi’s village restore an old bus, there is great excitement. The villagers plan their first bus trip to the city markets, but once they are on their way, they realise something is wrong. The bus has been hijacked by demons, and only Tashi can defeat them.

Tashi and the Stolen Bus is one of two tales in the latest Tashi offering. In the second story, The Mysterious Thief , things start mysteriously disappearing form the village. Tashi is determined to catch the thief, but what he discovers surprises even Tashi.

This is the thirteenth book in the delightful Tashi series. Each book features Tashi recounting some his fantastical adventures in his village to Jack, his friend in the contemporary world. This latest instalment won’t disappoint Tashi fans, with lots of adventure and the quirky characters that make Tashi so unique.

Tashi and the Stolen Bus, by Anna & Barbara Fienberg, illustrated by Kim Gamble
Allen & Unwin, 2006

Bob the Builder and the Elves, by Emily Rodda

One Thursday morning, Bob woke up and went downstairs as usual. He knew at once that something was wrong. Someone had cleaned his kitchen. Nothing looked the same. Even the kettle. Someone had washed the windows…And on the table, instead of the Cornflakes pack, was a dainty plate of fairy bread and a flower in a vase.

Bob the builder is a very happy man who lives alone and is happy that way. But one morning he wakes up to find that his house has been infested with elves. Now everything is clean and shiny and Bob has to go to work with his boots and hard hat polished and fairy bread in his lunch box. Bob needs to get rid of the elves before his mates come around to play cards in Saturday night. But how?

This is a humorous offering for younger readers, with delightfully funny illustrations by the talented Craig Smith. Since its was first published in 1998 it has been reprinted 6 times (this latest edition with anew cover) and has won a swag of awards, including being named a Children’s Book Council Honour Book.

Good stuff.

Bob the Builder and the Elves, by Emily Rodda, illustrated by Craig Smith
First published 1998
This edition ABC Books, 2006

The Rainbow Wand, by Emily Rodda

essie’s heart lurched. She remembered Tasha’s silver fairy wings. Her grandmother’s voice echoed in her mind.
‘There are Doors to the Realm all over the world, Jessie. But only people who believe in magic can find them.’
“Tasha found the Door!” Jessie heard herself saying. “She’s gone into the Realm!”

Jessie has always enjoyed her adventures in the Fairy Realm, travelling through the door at the bottom of her grandmother’s garden, but when another human child, four year old Tasha, accidentally enters the Realm, Jessie knows she could be in trouble. She must find Tasha and return her home before anything goes wrong.

Meanwhile, she must also stop her sticky beak next door neighbour, Mrs Tweedie, from finding out too much about the Realm. Has Mrs Tweedie sent Tasha in deliberately and what can Jessie do about it?

The Rainbow Wand is the fourth and final title in the second series of the Fairy Realm series. There are plenty of fairies and other magical creatures, as well as adventure and mystery. Young readers will also enjoy the hard back format and beautiful fairy illustrations. This is an excellent series for girls aged 8 to 10, and maybe a little older, and is also suited to reading aloud.

Fairy Realm: The Rainbow Wand, by Emily Rodda
ABC Books, 2006

The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong, by Kirsty Murray

I keep thinking I’ll see him at any moment. It’s crazy. I don’t even know what he looks like. And it shouldn’t matter that I can’t find him. I’ve been fine for 14 years without him. Sorry, this is a stupid email. Hope everything in Sydney is cool. MLK

Maeve has a good life. She lives with her mother, baby brother and step-father in Sydney, has two best friends who do everything together, and loves dancing and acting. But when her mother is killed in a car accident, her life is torn apart. Her strict Chinese grandparents insist she comes to live with them in Queensland. In the turmoil that follows, Maeve starts to wonder about the father she has never met. Could finding him be the key to putting her life back together?

This is the fourth and final book in the Children of the Wind quartet and is set in the present day, completing the journey through the last 150 years of Australia’s history which the series has offered. Like the earlier titles, this book stands alone, with fans of the series enjoying the challenge of seeing where the lives of the characters overlap.

Maeve’s story is gripping – she reaches highs and lows which will stir readers’ hearts, as she explores challenges common to many contemporary teenagers, as well as ones which no teenager should ever have to face, such as the death of a parent.

This is a satisfying end to a satisfying series.

The Secret life of Maeve Lee Kwong, by Kirsty Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2006

How to Give a Wedgie! by Dave and Joe Borgenicht

Bored with board games?
Sick of charades?
Had it with hide-and-seek?

This new offering promises to teach kids some ‘real’ kidskillz. There are step by step instructions on all sorts of things from how to win a staring contest or thumb wrestle, to how to hang a spoon from your nose, and, of course, how to give a wedgie.

While some adults may wonder at the wisdom of giving kids any more ammunition, the book is written in good humour and most of the new skillz they will learn are harmless. There is also the added benefit that each new skill is written as a step by step procedure – with a goal, an equipment list and instructions on how to master the skill. This is attractive to literacy teachers as it could be used to brighten up procedure writing lessons.

The books is illustrated by Matt Phillips with cartoon-style drawings, and has plenty of laughs. Good holiday reading for kids aged 8 and up.

How to Give a Wedgie & Other Tricks, Tips and Skills No Adult Will Teach You, by Dave & Joe Borgenicht, drawings by Matt Phillips
ABC Books, 2006

Snott Henderson and the Orsom Towers Gang, by D G Harris

All this time I was listening to Snott Henderson’s voice and watching his movements. There was something strange about him. His voice was very croaky, like he had a bad cold or was a heavy smoker (which seemed unlikely, since he looked like he was only about 11). And his movements were kind of wooden…

Ben Brady is not happy when his parents announce they are moving to the city. But once he’s there Ben discovers it’s not so bad – especially when he meets the other kids who live in his apartment block. Soon, Ben is a member of the Orsom Towers gang, and when they are suspected of vandalism, Ben and his friends are hot on the trail of the mystery. They need to find out who is responsible. But the biggest mystery of all is Snott Henderson, the leader of the Orsom gang. Where does he live and why does he always wear dark glasses?

Snott Henderson and the Orsom Towers Gang is the first title in a new series aimed at 9 to 12 year old readers. While the mystery is a little predictable to an older reader, there is plenty of humour and enough action to keep the pages turning. There are also themes of friendship and honesty and an appealing range of characters of all ages.

This is a fun read and the series is likely to attract a steady following among primary aged readers.

Snott Henderson and the Orsom Towers Gang, by D. G. Harris
ABC Books, 2006

Cheeky Little Dogs

Pet owners love to photograph their animals in all sorts of poses – from the cute to the downright silly. This little gift-offering matches a range of such photographs of dogs with captions which reveals the dogs’ innermost thoughts.

From a dachshund threatening against using the term ‘sausage dog’ to a poodle waiting for its owner to return from school and with all sorts of dogs – big and small, pure bred and bitzer – there are all kinds of dogs doing and thinking all kinds of things.

Of course, this is really a book for dog lovers, but if you are part of that big fan-base, or if you need a gift for a canine-lover, then this is sure to please. It is cute and humorous, with laugh-out loud moments, and comes in an attractive small format.


Cheeky Little Dogs
Harper Collins, 2006

The Black Bandit, by Jenny Mounfield

At first the Bandit went for the chrome bits. The little Holden emblem on the bonnet went. Then the rear-view mirrors were twisted into interesting shapes, and anything else that took the crazy bird’s fancy disappeared. Beats me how he got some of those things off. He must have had a beak like a can opener, I reckon.

When Dad sees his dream car – a classic FJ Holden – for sale at the side of the road, he has to buy it. But when the car is brought home, a new resident also appears in the street – a demented crow. The bird seems to have it in for Dad’s car and Simon and his brothers are dragged into Dad’s schemes to beat the crow and stop the damage. Simon wants to find out why the crow is so angry, before Dad goes completely crazy.

The Black Bandit is a humorous tale with plenty of silly episodes, a mystery and some surprise twists as Simon stumbles upon a car stealing racket run by a group of pensioners. It is likely to appeal to readers aged 9 to 12.

The Black Bandit, by Jenny Mounfield
Lothian, 2006