Intergalactic Heroes, by James Moloney

Joe Spencer is crazy about Space Movies, and spends his days playing space games, especially when his friends Damien and Lizzie come to play. They have a space ship built out of carboard boxes and painted with silver spray paint, and unreal space costumes and together they fight to save the universe from imaginary space creatures. Of course, they never expect to meet any real aliens.

When they find a set of old walkie talkies they try to fix them up to use in their games. But when they jiggle the wires to try to get the walkie talkies working, something strange happens. Suddenly, they can hear voices talking to them. Voices belonging to aliens. Is this some clever trick being played on them or are there really aliens out there needing to be saved and wanting to destroy Earth? Together they must work to save their new alien friends and to save the Earth.

Intergalactic Heroes
, by James Moloney, with illustrations by Craig Smith, is a Quick Reads title from Word Weaver Press. Quick Reads are aimed at young reluctant readers, and especially at boys. Intergalatic Heroes meets this brief with face paced action, plenty of humour and enough illustrations to comfort the young reader making the transition from picture books to longer works. Intergalactic Heroes is a fun read for kids aged eight to ten.

Intergalactic Heroes, by James Moloney, illustrated by Craig Smith
A Quick Read from Word Weavers Press, 2002
ISBN 1-877073-01 6

Jack and the Aliens, by Damien Broderick

Jack is in a desperate situation. His space pod has crash landed on a strange planet filled with smelly creatures who think he is their god and want to keep him. Jack can only communicate with the aliens through his computer, Chipster, who is inbuilt into Jack’s space suit. As well as acting as his translator, Chipster also sends emergency messages, assesses dangers, and makes sure Jack does his homework.

A fully trained pod pilot and space cadet at twelve years of age, jack dreams of being the Number One Space Cadet for his Year. But his chances don’t look so good right now – the aliens want to keep him to be their personal space god, and Jack can’t convince them that really he’s the same as them The same, only way different. His hopes of being rescued and getting away form this weird planet seem to be rapidly diminishing.

Jack and the Aliens, by Damien Broderick, is a fun Quick Reads title from Word Weavers Press. These titles are aimed at reluctant readers and particularly boys, and Jack and the Aliens certainly meets its mark, with an appeal for children aged 8 to 12, who have made the transition from picture books but are not ready or willing to read longer novels. With plenty of comic illustrations by Ben Redlich, Jack and the Aliens is a great book for the reluctant reader.

Jack and the Aliens, by Damien Broderick, illustrated by Ben Redlich
A Quick Read, from Word Weavers Press, 2002
ISBN 1-877073-00-8
ISBN 1-877073-01 6

A Slimy Secret, by Janette Brazel

When Jake was five a terrible thing happened. His twin brother Blake disappeared. Blake has not been seen since, and Jake still misses him. Now he’s nearly thirteen and still hopes that one day he’ll see his brother again.

When Jake and his family go to stay at the Sanctuary to prepare for his sister’s wedding, the last thing Jake expects is to discover the whereabouts of his brother. He would be overjoyed, except that Blake is, well, to put it mildly, different. Jake learns that his brother is the victim of a strange curse, placed on his grandfather long before the twins’ birth. Now, time is running out to undo the curse and return Blake to his old self, and to the safety of his family.

First, Jake has to find out what happened all those years ago. Then he needs to solve the riddle of how to break the curse. Even then, he has to work hard to actually make the words of the riddle come true. And he has to do all this alone – he cannot enlist the help of his family.

A Slimy Secret by Janette Brazel is a fun combination of humour, mystery, self-discovery and exploration of family relationships. Kids aged nine to twelve will love the mix of humour and intrigue.

A Slimy Secret is a Banana Benders title from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of innovative new Australian publisher, Otford Press.

A Slimy Secret, by Janette Brazel
Otford Press, 2002.
ISBN 1-877073-01 6

Uncle Alien, by Sue Whiting

When Harry meets his Uncle Morris for the first time he is shocked. More than just shocked – he’s floored, lost for words. Harry, you see, is green, the most ghastly green Harry has ever seen. Even his teeth and his bald green lumpy head are green.

Morris has some explaining to do. The family has never met him before, despite the fact that he was married to Harry’s Aunt Mildred. Now, of course, it is obvious why Mildred kept him hidden – he is an alien. Discovery would mean he would be detained by the AIU (Alien Investigation Unit). He has only revealed himself to the family now because he needs their help. With Mildred dead, Morris can no longer stand to be on Earth. He wants to go home. Tonight.

Only Harry can help Uncle Morris recover the Ziltor Beacon Crystal which will help to get him home. Of course, this is not going to be easy. Only Morris knows what it looks like, and he’s bright green, a skin colour likely to stand out on the streets of Melville. Then there’s a great big dog guarding the place where the crystal is hidden. And, of course, there’s a nosy neighbour to contend with. This neighbour, Wilemina, will do anything to find out what Harry and Uncle Morris are up to.

Uncle Alien is a hilarious children’s novel by Sue Whiting, with comic illustrations by Michael Mucci. Whiting combines humour with adventure in a combination which children aged 10 to 12 will love.

Uncle Alien is Banana Benders book, from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of new Australian publisher, Otford Press.

Uncle Alien, by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Michael Mucci
Otford Press , 2002
ISBN 1-877073-00-8

Adeline Adventures, by Jill Turner

Adeline Cuneo has problems. First, there’s the mess in her bedroom which seems to be getting worse. Then there’s her science project – it has to be good to impress her teacher, Miss Harris. And then there’s her next door neighbour – Jack Walsh. He tries hard to make Adeline’s life a misery, including trying to steal her science project, to save him doing one of his own.

Things can only get worse – and they do, when Adeline’s project disappears. Could Jack have stolen it, or has it just been lost in her messy room? Other things are missing too – Adeline’s socks, her good pencils, even the choc chip muffin she was going to eat. Adeline’s mother is no help. She says they must be in her bedroom. But Adeline wonders whether there might be some other explanation – especially given the way her new carnivorous plant is growing.

Growing Dangerous is a fun introduction to the character of Adeline Cuneo, a red-head whose adventures are sure to delight children aged 7 to 10. And, one of the great things about the book is that when kids have finished the story, they can flip the book over and read the second Adeline adventure.

In A Hairy Scary Day, Adeline has a brand new problem to contend with – green hair. In an attempt to control her wild, frizzy hair, she has used a solution she finds in the bathroom. Only thing is, it’s turned her hair green. She can’t possibly have her photograph taken looking like that.

Children will love seeing how Adeline solves her dilemma, in this fun story by Jill Turner. The hilarious illustrations by Shane Nipper are a perfect complement.

These two stories are a Banana Split book from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of Otford Press. Each Banana Split has two self-contained stories by the same author in a back-to-back format. Kids will love the novelty of the format, whilst adults will love the value for money.

Growing Dangerous and A Hairy Scary Day, by Jill Turner, illustrated by Shane Nipper.

Otford Press, 2002
ISBN 1-877073-00-8

Antarctic Writer on Ice, by Hazel Edwards

Only boffins and brains get to go to Antarctica. Don’t they? You could certainly be forgiven for thinking this if you haven’t read Antarctic Writer on Ice, an innovative account of Australian author Hazel Edward’s 2001 trip to Antarctica.

Chosen, following a rigorous selection process, for the sole annual humanities berth sponsored by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE), Edwards travelled on the scientific resupply ship Polar Bird. The voyage, which should have taken about 3 weeks, was to be both longer and more trying than Edwards expected.

Using an interesting assortment of mediums, Edwards shares her experiences and insights. The diary includes recounts, emails, scientific reports, photographs and more, which give more than a simple chronological report of the trip.

Officially, Edwards was aboard ship to collect material for her creative writing projects, including a Young Adult novel, and to write newspaper pieces. As well as doing all this she became the ship’s semi-official writer, and part of a unique family, drawn together by the strangeness of their situation and by the unfolding events of their voyage.

Antartic Writer on Ice is a unique insight into the Antarctic experience. As well as sharing her own emotions – from the self doubt of wondering whether she can cope, to the wonder of seeing it all for the first time – Edwards is also able to share some of the highs and lows of fellow travellers.

This is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in writing, travel, or simply life experience, and essential reading for anyone fortunate enough to be preparing for a stint in Antarctica. It would also make an excellent classroom resource, showing the different styles and formats of writing for different media and audiences.

Antarctic Writer on Ice is available in paperback and e-book formats from Common Ground Publishing.

Antarctic Writer on Ice: Diary of an Enduring Adventure, by Hazel Edwards
Common Ground Publishers, 2002
Paperback ISBN: 1 86335 090 X
eBook ISBN: 1 86335 091 8

Sir Lanceklot, by Arfa King

Sir Lanceklot, the apple-loving ruler of the kingdom of Booblefitz, is enjoying a peaceful session of apple munching when he is summoned. There is a damsel in deep distress and Lanceklot must save her.

Riding his beloved horse Be-elzebuuble, Lanceklot hastens to Flossie Castle where a huge fire-breathing dragon is holding captive Princess Flossie and the other residents of the castle. Only Lanceklot can save them.

Lanceklot must contend with rose bushes, a horse which seems to misplace its head, and, of course, a fearsome dragon before he can rescue the beautiful Flossie. Thankfully he has valour – and good luck – on his side.

Children aged 7 to 10 will love the hilarious adventures of the bumbling knight in Sir Lanceklot and the Apple Missiles, by the aptly named Arfa King, with outstanding illustrations by Dion Hamill. They will also love the fact that, once the story is over, they can turn the book over and find another Lanceklot adventure.

In this second story Sir Lanceklot and the Great Raspberry Adventure, Lanceklot is horrified to learn that the kingdom is facing an apple shortage. The evil Lord Gruff has taken all of the apples. The people of Booblefitz are relying on Sir Lanceklot to help them once again.

Of course, Lanceklot never does things the easy way – first he forgets his horse, then he gets covered in raspberry juice. When he finally gets to Lord Gruff’s orchards, he is surrounded by bulls, who think he smells rather yummy. Will Lanceklot lick the bulls before the bulls are through with licking him?

The two Lanceklot stories are part of the wonderful new children’s line, Banana Splits, from Otford Press’s children’s book imprint, Banana Books. Each Banana Split includes two stories back to back, with either the same characters or similar subject matter. Budget conscious parents and librarians will love the value for money, and young readers will love both the novelty of the format and the fun stories.

Sir Lanceklot and the Apple Missiles; Sir Lanceklot and the Great Raspberry Adventure, by Arfa King, illustrated by Dion Hamill
Banana Books, Otford Press, 2002

Blik, by Sandy McCutcheon

David can’t go to school. Not when he’s just been beaten up by the school bullies, and certainly not when he’s wearing a silly shirt with dolphins AND a nasty stain. No, school is out of the question.

Instead, David decides to hide in the forest until it’s safe to go home. The forest is dark and scary, but David feels safer there than he would at school, and soon falls asleep. When he wakes it is late afternoon, and he sprints for home.

At home, David is alarmed to discover that his T-shirt has turned bright green and is covered in fur. Something has happened to it in the forest. He will be in big trouble when his Dad sees it.

Later that night, when David is trying to figure out what to do about the shirt, he is amazed to discover it is no longer stained. He is even more amazed when he finds out why. The stain, he discovers, was really a smodge called Blik, who used the shirt to hitch a ride out of the forest.

David has never seen a smodge before, but Blik tells him this is because smodges are so good at hiding. He has come out of hiding because he is lonely, and needs help to find where the other smodges are living. As David helps Blik search for his friends, he also learns the value of friendship. Perhaps Blik can help him solve his problems too?

Blik, by Sandy McCutcheon is one of the Quick Reads series from new Queensland publisher, Word Weavers Press. Specially aimed at boys, the series will appeal to readers aged eight to twelve, who have made the transition from picture books to short chapter books. Children will love the ugly but delightful Blik, and relate to the dilemmas faced by David. The story is well complemented by the drawings of illustrator Nicole Murray.

A great short read.

Blik, by Sandy McCutcheon
Word Weavers Press, 2002

Fifteen Love, by Robert Corbet

When Will sees Mia Foley he is captivated. He thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. But how will he ever get to talk to her and, if he does, what will he say? He has no idea what girls talk about.

Mia is also watching Will. She thinks he might be interesting. She sees him lying on the grass, staring at the sky, and wonders what kind of deep thoughts he might be thinking.

Being in the same school, Mia and Will do cross paths regularly, but it always seems to be awkward. Does a tracksuit-wearing, tennis-playing boy have anything in common with a beautiful viola-playing girl? And where do Mia’s dog Harriet and Will’s wheelchair-bound brother Dave fit in to all this?

When Will is picked up by Mia’s sexy friend Vanessa, it seems there’s no hope for them.

Fifteen Love, new from author Robert Corbett, takes an insightful look at the differences between the sexes and the tricky world of teenage friendship and romance. The novel use of alternating viewpoints allows Corbet to capture the emotions, the confusion, the highs and lows of both Mia and Will.

This is a great fun read for any teenager who has ever fallen in love or who ever dreams of falling in love.

Robert Corbet is a Melbourne author who fell in love with many girls before meeting a girl in pink overalls and eventually settling down and having three children.

Fifteen Love, by Robert Corbet
Allen & Unwin, 2002

The Watching Lake, by Elaine Forrestal

Bryn and his family have just moved in to a house near the lake. It is an interesting place to live. There are horses on the property next door, and Bryn especially likes a big grey one, Tiffany, the ghost-horse.

Bryn’s big brother Chad likes it here too. He makes friends with Carey, the girl next door, and the other kids from the neighbourhood, and is soon involved in building a cubby house and playing games which don’t include Bryn

When he’s near the lake Bryn feels like he’s being watched. He feels something, something different, but he can’t quite grasp what it is. Carey says that Welsh Morgan is always watching. Welsh Morgan owns the market garden next door. The children see him working in the garden, and Bryn meets him early one morning, but Bryn isn’t sure that it’s Welsh Morgan who makes him feel this way.

Carey tells Bryn and Chad that Morgan’s wife died mysteriously many years ago, and that Morgan says she was taken by the Min Min – strange but beautiful lights which beckon people to their deaths. Of course, the children know that the Min Min can’t be real.

The Watching Lake, by Elaine Forrestal is a poignant, touching story about childhood and about growing up. First released by Puffin Australia in 1991, it has now been re-released by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, a recognition that this timeless story will continue to appeal to readers.

Forrestal has a knack of deftly exploring the minds and emotions of her young characters, whilst still painting believable and rounded adult characters. Welsh Morgan, the mysterious hermit, is a character who will not only appeal to children but teach them a subtle awareness that ‘different’ is not always bad.

The Watching Lake is an outstanding novel.

The Watching Lake, by Elaine Forrestal
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2002