Honey Bunch, by Elizabeth Honey

If you are under twelve (or have kids under that age) and haven’t heard of Elizabeth Honey, then you’ve been missing out. Honey is one of Australia’s funniest and best author/illustrators. Her work includes picture books, novels and poetry for a range of ages, all with her whimsical illustrations and unique humour.

In Honey Bunch, three of Honey’s bestselling children’s novels are brought together in one volume. This should be enough Honey to keep any fan satisfied and to get any reader new to Honey’s books hooked.

In 45 & 47 Stella street and Everything That Happened, strangers move in to Henni’s neighbourhood. But these aren’t any old strangers – they’re strange strangers. They keep to themselves and actively discourage the neighbours from getting to know them. Henni and her friends think something is wrong.

In Don’t Pat the Wombat, grade six gets to go on school camp. Everything would be great, if it weren’t for the grumpy teacher known as The Bomb, and his tendency to pick on Jonah. Mark and his friends are not impressed.

In What Do You Think, Feezal, the final story in the book, Bean moves to Sydney with her parents. She lives in a luxury penthouse on the top of a magnificent building and has everything a girl could want – well, almost everything. What bean really wants is a dog and some time with her parents. Will she get either?

Honey Bunch is suitable for eight to twelve year old readers.

Honey Bunch, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Rowan of Rin, by Emily Rodda

Rowan is the weakest child in the village. While the other children of Rin are brave and strong, Rowan has many fears. He is given the job of tending the bukshah herd, a job with no real challenge attached. But when the stream that flows through the village dries up, it is Rowan who has the power to to solve the problem.

Along with six of the strongest and bravest villagers, Rowan must climb the mountain that overshadows the village and find a way to restore the water supply.

On the mountain each of the seven must face his or her deepest fear. Only one will have the courage and the wits to reach the top and overcome the final challenge.

Rowan of Rin is a timeless fantasy story for younger children and would make an ideal introduction to the genre. Awarded the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award, the title has been reprinted several times since its first release in 1993 – a testament to its popularity.

Rowan of Rin, by Emily Rodda
Omnibus Books, 1993

Harry and Luke, by Glynn Parry

One night, Harry’s bed grows feet and takes him out for a walk in the city. He meets a boy called Luke, riding on an elephant. Together the pair have wild and wierd adventures.

Harry likes being friends with Luke, but maybe Luke needs more than a friend – perhaps what he needs is a family, especially now that his Auntie Kate has flown off to live in the outback.

Can Harry and his family make evryone’s dreams come true?

Harry and Luke is a fun novel for 7 to 9 year old children. Part of the new Hotshots series from Hodder, this simple fantasy is suitable for kids making the transition into novel format books.

Glynn Parry is better known for his young adult novels, including Scooterboy and Monster Man. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and three children.

Harry and Luke, by Glynn Parry
Hodder Headline Australia, 2002

Space Camp, by Brigid Lowry and Sam Field

It is the year 2373 and a group of gifted students are travelling from Earth to a space camp on the planet Phoenixia. The trip is meant to be focussed on learning, but for the students it is also a chance for something different and maybe even some adventure. None of them forsee just how much adventure is awaiting them.

On the surface, Phoenixia is a beautiful, peaceful planet. Unfortunately for the visiting teens, that is about to change. Phoenixia is rich in resources, it seems, resources that others are prepared to go any length to harness. The students must work together to overcome those who would destroy Phoenixia and all on its surface.

Space Camp is an action-packed, fun read with themes including self-discovery and conservation. It will appeal to readers aged 11 to 14, especially those with an interest in light science fiction.

Brigid Lowry and Sam Field are a mother-son team. This is their first collaboration.

Space Camp, by Brigid Lowry and Sam Field
Allen and Unwin, 2002

Little Monster, by Allan Baillie

When Drew unwittingly becomes the owner of a monster visible to nobody but himself, the possibilities excite him. He’ll have lots of fun playing tricks on everyone – his parents, his teachers, his friends – and especially his enemies.

The fun, however, doesn’t last long, and Drew finds he is really the owner of a pet nightmare. The monster, Queeg, gets into all kinds of mischief, and because he is invisible, Drew takes the blame. Surely there is some way he can get rid of the monster. He just has to figure out what it is.

Little Monster is a clever story that will have eight to ten year old readers laughing along. Allan Baillie is one of Australia’s top children’s writers. His other titles include Rebel, Adrift and Little Brother.

Little Monster, by Allan Baillie
Omnibus Books, 1991

Sister Chick, by Meme McDonald

At the same moment that Eva is born, a Curlew chick hatches. Despite being on opposite sides of the world, Sister Chick and Eva share a special bond that connects their lives.

Behind her back fence, Eva sees a marshy rubbish dump – once a resting point for curlews on their migration travels. When she finds the body of a curlew there, Eva dreams the journey of the migrating birds as they travel from their breeding grounds in Siberia to the warmth of the south. This dream makes her start an ambitious project – cleaning up the dump area so the birds can come back.

When Sister Chick finds her way to the resting place, she returns Eva’s favour in a special way.

Sister Chick is a special story of friendship, loyalty and conservation. It is an easy to read but inspirational book for 8 to 12 year olds.

Meme McDonald is a writer and photgrapher. Previous books include Put Your Whole Self In and The Way the Birds Fly. She has also written a series of books in partnership with Boori Monty Pryor, including My Girragundjia and Flytrap.

Sister Chick, by Meme McDonald
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Walking Home With Marie-Claire, by Kirsty Murray

Pauline has never met anybody like Marie-Claire, who walks into her classroom one day and changes her outlook on life. Being with Marie-Claire is exciting. Marie-Claire’s father is a former Russian prince and her brother a Vietnam war hero. Marie-Claire knows how to have fun!

Pauline’s once close-knit family is falling apart. Her older brother Brian is a draft-dodger and her older sister Sue has run away from home. Her Mum and Dad are unhappy and don’t even seem to see her. So spending time with Marie-Claire provides a welcome escape for Pauline.

But sometimes things aren’t as they seem. Sometimes Marie-Claire’s actions are just a little too dangerous, and other times she contradicts herself. When she disappears, Pauline begins to see a different picture – and isn’t sure she likes it.

Walking Home With Marie-Claire is an exploration of family, friendship and the pressures of conformity. Its seventies backdrop gives it a touch of nostalgia for adult readers, and a touch of mystique for younger ones, as well as allowing issues of freedom and conformity to be explored through the turbulent times of the Vietnam War and the youth culture of the time.

Walking Home With Marie-Claire will particularly appeal to readers aged 10 to 14 years and would be suitable for the classroom context in the early years of secondary school.

Walking Home With Marie-Claire, by Kirsty Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Eglantine, by Catherine Jinks

Allie and Bethan can’t wait to move into their new house – because they will finally have their own bedrooms. When Mum buys it, it is a bit of a dump, but by the time they move in it’s been repainted and renovated. Perfect.

But something strange is happening in Bethan’s bedroom. Mysterious writing is appearing on the walls, written by an unseen hand. Bethan refuses to stay in the room and, pretty soon, he and Allie are sharing again. Allie is not happy with this and is determined to solve the mystery.

It appears the writing is some kind of story, written by the ghost of a girl who used to live in the house, Eglantine Higgins. Was she murdered here? And why is she writing on the walls? Aggie and her family, along with various psychics, ghost experts and other new-age helpers, must resolve Eglantine’s problem, before she drives them from the house.

Eglantine is a superb ghost story which will especially appeal to girls aged 10 to 12, and even older. It combines mystery with humour and more serious themes. In particular, we see Allie becoming more in tune with herself as she gets to know Eglantine.

Catherine Jinks is an Australian author who has written over twenty books for children and young adults. She lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and daughter.

Eglantine: A Ghost Story
, by Catherine Jinks
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Storymaze 4 – the Golden Udder, by Terry Denton

Did you know that udders are creatures from a different dimension that float down to Earth and attach themselves to cows? When they shed their skins annually they create rubber gloves. You didn’t? Well, perhaps you should read The Golden Udder where you will learn these facts and plenty of other useless and unreliable tidbits of information.

The Golden Udder is the fourth in Terry Denton’s series and features Nico, Claudia and Mikey on a new adventure into parallel worlds and beyond the known universe. This time they find they ahve inadvertently stolen the Queen of Fresia’s Golden Udder and must get it back to her. The reader must steer them through the storymaze, past warped jokes and impossible storylines, to safety.

Kids will love the complete silliness of the Storymaze concept, filled with comic strip illustrations, jokes and general silliness.

The Golden Udder, by Terry Denton
Allen & Unwin, 2002

I am Jack, by Susanne Gervay

Jack has a problem. George Hamel, the school bully, has started calling him Bum-head. Soon, the whole school is calling him names, spitting at him, even hurting him physically. Jack can’t tell his mum because she has too many other things to worry about. He will have to work it out for himself.

I am Jack, by Susanne Gervay is a special story about bullying, and one child’s experiences of it. Gervay deals with a sensitive topic with insight and gentle humour, so that younger readers are being educated while they are being entertained, rather than being preached at. There are no quick-fixes or bandaids to fix Jack’s problem, but rather an awakening on the part of those around Jack as his family and his school work together to tackle the problem for Jack and for all other victims of bullying.

I am Jack should be compulsory reading for every parent, teacher and child aged 8 to 12. It is a truly wonderful book.

I am Jack, by Susanne Gervay
Angus and Robertson, 2000