Loopy Locusts, by Jennifer Clutterbuck

Emma remembers when the farm was full of thick, green grass and fat, happy sheep. But now there’s a drought and there’s just dust and dead or dying sheep. She knows she has three choices – she can make it rain, she can invent a stock feed that doesn’t need water, or she can make money.

So make money it is, but somehow Emma’s money making schemes don’t seem to work out like she plans. When she tries carving sheep bones for scrimshaw, she ends up with a bag of maggots, and when she decides to make coats out of dead mice, she ends up with hundreds of mouldy mice.

Somehow, Emma is going to help pay the bills and stop her parents from sending her to boarding school, but things seem to be going from bad to worse. The final straw is when they get invaded by locusts. Something has to give. Strangely, it is the arrival of these locusts which provide a humorous, if surprising, change in fortune.

Loopy Locusts, by Jennifer Clutterbuck, with illustrations by Dale Leach, will tickle the funny bone of eight to twelve year old readers, whilst also touching on the serious problems of the farming life.

Loopy Locusts, by Jennifer Clutterbuck
Greater Glider Productions, 2002.

A Taste

My next idea came from TV. An animal sanctuary in the city which was about to go bust convinced local businesses to sponsor the animals. For their money a business got a sign wired onto a cage, saying how wonderful they were. I figured that if there were people in the city willing to pay for a wombat or a kangaroo, there were bound to be people willing to pay for a starving sheep.

I wanted to help people to see my vision, so I invented some satisfied customers. I needed them quickly…

Selby's Selection, by Duncan Ball

A talking dog? Of course there is no such thing – no one you know has ever met one. Or is it, perhaps, that one exists, too cunning to let his secret slip?

Selby is Australia’s most famous dog, yet no one knows his true identity. After he cleverly taught himself to talk, he realised that a talking dog wouldn’t’ get much privacy -–scientists would want to study him, his owners would want him to run errands, and everything would be different. So Selby keeps his identity a secret, sharing his experiences with the children of Australia through the Selby series of books.

Each of the nine previous books shares tales of Selby’s exploits as he leads a double life and gets into some hilarious scrapes. Now in Selby’s Selection he shares the best of his previous adventures, interspersed with some special treats” Selby’s favorite jokes, funny poems and songs, as well as profiles of Selby’s human friends and more.

Long time Selby fans will love this collection and newcomers will find this alluring enough to seek out the rest of the series.

Duncan Ball has won numerous awards and accolades for the Selby books, as well as for his many other books for children and adults, including the Emily Eyefinger series about the girl with an eye on the end of her finger. The Selby books have been published overseas.

For more information, visit Selby at his web site.

Selby’s Selection, by Duncan Ball
Angus & Robertson, 2001.

A Taste

On opening night a full house watched in silence as the Stage Stompers performed the first act of The Enchanted Dog and Selby waited behind the rock for his big moment. The magic of the play began to bring out the actor in him and he felt his heart throb when Postie Paterson gagged on the enchanted pawpaw and staggered towards him.

Not waiting to be pushed, Selby leaped out from behind the rock as soon as Postie fell behind it. He jumped into the spotlight and stood there on his hind legs, turning from side to side so the audience could get a look at him.

‘This is wonderful!’ Selby thought…

Shooting Stars – Maddy's Big Break

Maddy wants desperately to score an acting role. She’s always landing jobs to sing jingles, but she just wants a real acting job. So when she finds out she has an audition for Halfway Hospital, she is determined to get the role.

This is not as easy as it seems. Her Dad doesn’t even want her to attend the audition. He thinks the role is disgusting and inappropriate. Then, when she does get the job, Maddy discovers that the acting business does not always go as it should. Her friends try to warn her, but will she still be disappointed?

Maddy’s Big Break is the second title in scholastic Australia’s new Shooting Stars series. Writer Tempany Deckert is better known for her acting roles – she appeared in Australia’s Home and Away for several years, before her more recent role in The Secret Life of Us.

Maddy’s Big Break is especially likely to appeal to girls in the 10 to 14 year old age range.

Maddy’s Big Break, by Tempany Deckert
Scholastic Australia, 2001

Shooting Stars – The Green-Eyed Monster

Louise can’t stand the Billingham twins, Evie and Cameron. In fact, she thinks they’re vomitus. So when they join the Shooting Stars acting school, Louise does nothing to help them fit in. Her friends feel the same way.

Things start to change when Louise’s brother, Jake, gets teased at school for being in a television commercial. Louise tells him the other kids are just jealous. Then she wonders – is she jealous of Evie and Cameron?

The crunch comes when the twins and Louise go to an audition together and she discovers that these girls aren’t as perfect as she first thought.

The Green Eyed Monster is the first in Scholastic’s new series for teenage girls The Shooting Stars. It is the first series for girls from Scholastic since the phenomenally popular Babysitter Club series.

Author Tempany Deckert will be familiar to many readers. She appeared in Australian television show, Home and Away for three years before heading off to the US more recently appearing in The Secret Life of Us. Her experiences as a child actor make her well qualified to write a series set in the television industry.

The Green Eyed Monster, by Tempany Deckert.
Scholastic Australia, 2001

The Real Facts of Life

FACT: Weekends and holidays go faster than schooldays.
FACT: Dads always read in the toilet – for ages and ages.
FACT: Sisters always try to get you into trouble.

Max loves to collect facts like these. He writes them down in a little notebook. But one busy weekend he overlooks the biggest fact of all.

This delightful children’s book by West Australian author Geoff Havel documents Max’s weekend as he collects facts and tries to figure out what’s going on between his parents. His mother is acting weird and his father is fussing over her. His sister Jess keeps giving him “I know something you don’t know” looks.

It’s a pretty busy weekend for Max – washing dishes, mad dashes to hospital to stitch up his head, Sunday lunch with Grandma. And heaps of facts to gather. Will he find time to solve the mystery?

The Real Facts of Life will appeal to boys and girls aged 10 and over. Even Mum and Dad will laugh at this one.

The Real Facts of Life by Geoff Havel
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2001

My Story – Who Am I?

“Matron Rose said I should write in you every day about all the things I do and stuff. And I do lots of things that I’m gunna tell you about.” So begins the diary of Mary Talence, aged 10, Sydney 1937.

Mary’s story, presented via her diary entries, begins at Bombaderry home for Aboriginal children. Mary has been living here since she was five, but remembers another home- with her Mum and Dad and lots of brothers and sisters. Mary likes her family at Bombaderry, including her best friend Marj, and the babies she looks after, but she still misses her Mum and wonders why she doesn’t come to visit.

Mary’s life changes again soon after the diary begins, when she is fostered by a white family. The diary follows her struggle to assimilate into the white society she finds herself living in. Mary is repeatedly told that to be Aboriginal is bad and that she must forget her past. To Mary this is incomprehensible.

Who Am I ? creates an awareness and understanding in young readers of the policies of protection and assimilation of Aborigines which were practiced in Australia until 1969. By using the intimate first person format of the diary, readers are given a first-hand experience of the emotional effects on the children from the ‘stolen generation’ of being removed from their families and stripped of their identities.

Who Am I? is part of Scholastic’s ongoing My Story series, presenting the stories of young people in different periods of Australian history. A quality read for readers aged 10 and over, and also suitable for study as an in class text.

My Story: Who Am I?, by Anita Heiss
Published by Scholastic Australia, 2001

Whoppers

Mrs Silverstein is a teacher with a difference – she believes children should be seen and heard. This makes life in her classroom very interesting – and very noisy. Today the year sixes have to tell their life stories. Just to make it more interesting, Mrs Silverstein has asked them to tell ‘whoppers’ – tall tales to make their lives sound as interesting as they can. The best ‘whopper’ will win a giant box of smarties.

When it is Mark’s turn, however, he says he doesn’t want to tell a whopper. The time has come, he says, to instead tell the world the truth. He is really a Martian. As the class listens intently he gives more and more details of life on Mars and his secret life here on Earth. None of Mark’s classmates are sure whether to believe him or not – except for his girlfriend Deborah, who hangs on every word he says.

By the end of the day, no one has managed to tell a story more interesting than Mark’s. His classmates keep looking at him, trying to figure out if he’s telling the truth or not. And to top it all off, Deborah has asked him to come home with her after school – for a special kiss, perhaps? Will Mark win the kiss and the contest? Or will his tale-telling backfire?

Whoppers is a lively read for eight to eleven year olds. One of Puffin’s popular Aussie Bites books, it could be devoured by an advanced reader in one sitting, or savoured in smaller nibbles by a reluctant reader.

Whoppers, by Moya Simons
Published by Puffin Books, 1998

Chloe's Wish

Chloe’s family tell her that wishes aren’t real – even her little brother Eli tells her they’re ‘kid’s stuff’. But Chloe is sure that wishes float around in the air like invisible bubbles. All she has to do is wish at the right time and pop the wish bubble will burst and come true.

So Chloe isn’t as surprised as you might expect when she wishes for a fairy godmother to help her decide what to wish for, and pop, whizz, a fairy godmother appears in a cloud of pink and mauve fuzzy stuff. What she is surprised to learn is that some fairy godmothers aren’t exactly expert at granting wishes.

The tale of Chloe’s Wish, by Diana Chase, will delight six to ten year old readers. They will laugh out loud at the antics of Gloria, Chloe’s fairy godmother, and thrill at the idea that wishes really can come true. The illustrations of Heather Himmel also add a special touch to the book.

Chloe’s Wish, by Diana Chase
Published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2001

Just Crazy

Hey kids, do you bounce so high on your bed that you hit your head on the ceiling? Do you look in the mirror and see a crazy maniac staring at you? Do you like reading stories about cute animals getting pulverised by machines? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will love Just Crazy!, by Andy Griffiths. Even if you answered no, chances are you’ll still enjoy this book.

These nine crazy stories will have you shaking your head, screwing up your nose, groaning out loud, but, most of all, laughing out loud. Journey with Andy as he figures out how (not) to remove a bandaid from his face with a vacuum cleaner, how to get his homework back out of his dog when he’s just eaten it, how to get out of a wheelie bin and many more valuable life skills.

These hilarious stories come with FREE – yes, completely free – page numbers and cool cartoon illustrations from well known Australian illustrator Terry Denton.

Parents, don’t worry, this book will not harm your kids, because they are of course way too sensible to copy the things that Andy does. Aren’t they? This really is an excellent read for kids aged 9 to 14 years, and would be a good offering for a reluctant reader.

Just Crazy!, by Andy Griffiths
Published by Pan Books, 2000

ISBN 9780330362153

This book can e purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.