The Thunder Egg Thief, by Sue Cason

Nick’s Mum needs a break, so Dad suggests a weekend in the country. With the caravan behind, Nick, his parents and his sister Emily, head off for a quiet weekend at Mount Perilous, which Nick thinks looks just like a sleeping dinosaur. When they stop for petrol at a nearby service station, the attendant – Sal – tells Nick to watch out for the perilosaurus. Apparently it’s their nesting season.

When the family go fossicking, Emily finds a beautiful fossil. Nick is jealous – he tries desperately to find one too. What he finds, however, is a thunder egg. His Dad tells him that this will be beautiful cut in two so that the coloured stripes inside the rock will be visible. Nick thinks the rock looks just like a dinosaur egg. But what would happen if the dinosaur wanted her egg back? He hears wailing and strange cries echoing through the bush and knows there’s only one thing to do.

The Thunder Egg Thief, by Sue Cason is an adventure tale which will appeal to kids with an interest in dinosaurs or fantasy. Well complemented with illustrations by Lloyd Foye, the story will be accessible to children taking their first steps from picture books towards novels.

The Thunder Egg Thief is one of six new Orange level Tadpole books from Koala Books, and is suitable for home collections, libraries and class room use. Tadpoles books provide graded reading opportunities for emergent readers, allowing teachers and parents to match children and books according to their reading level.

The Thunder Egg Thief, by Sue Cason, illustrated by Lloyd Foye
Koala Books, 2002.

Sticky Bill, by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell

When Sticky Bill comes to live on the Children’s Farm he finds himself caught up in a crisis. The Health and Safety inspector has said that the farm needs urgent repairs. If these aren’t carried out, the farm will close. All the repairs will cost thousands of dollars, which the farm just doesn’t have.

Sticky Bill quickly makes friends on the farm. There’s Pig, Parrot, Sheep , Goat, Cow and, of course Cate, who looks after them all. He doesn’t want to see the farm close, when he’s just got there. Neither, of course, do the other animals. The farm is their home.

So, when they have the chance of appearing in a television commercial, it seems a good chance to make the money necessary to save the farm. However, when you try to make a commercial starring a proud cow, a clumsy (though well-meaning) duck and a zany sheep and goat, things probably won’t go according to plan.

Kids aged 6 to 9 will love this hilarious story, and adore the gorgeous characters. They may even be sad when it’s finished, which isn’t a bad thing, because, when it is finished, they can simply turn the book over for a second story featuring another adventure from the Children’s Farm.

In Cyberfarm, there are plans to turn the farm into a Cyberfarm with virtual games and cyber helmets. The real animals are worried that they’ll be replaced with robots and lose their jobs. Cate is worried too.

StickyBill has a plan. He will direct the animals in a special show, to prove to the farm’s visitors that real animals are much more interesting than virtual ones.

These two delightful stories, written by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell, and illustrated by Mini Goss, are part of the innovative Banana Splits series from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of Otford Press. Each book includes two stories back to back, from the same author. Kids will love the novelty of this format, and parents and librarians will like the inherent value for money that this concept offers – two books for the price of one.

StickyBill: TV Duckstar and Cyberfarm, by Hazel Edwards and Christine Anketell, illustrated by Mini Goss
Otford Press, 2002.
ISBN 1 876928 91 3

Space Pirates on Callisto, by Jackie French

Sam’s friend Cherry is bored. It is school holidays and nothing exciting is happening. That’s because nothing exciting ever seems to happen on Callisto. Everyone there is so nice to everyone else. And that’s the way Sam like sit – she’s had enough adventures in her life. But Cherry wants more. She wants to have adventures like her hero Hildegard has in the adventures novels she reads.

In the absence of such adventures, Cherry and Sam decide to go camping, and it is while they are camping that Cherry’s big chance for adventure arrives.

Space pirates land on Callisto, looking for the Golden Queen, a treasure they believe is here on Callisto. The pirates are mean, and what’s worse, they have taken Sam and Cherry hostage – refusing to release them until they have the Golden Queen. Sam and Cherry have no idea what this Golden Queen is. They are at the mercy of the two pirates, their two-headed dog Snarkle, and the goodness of their fellow residents of Callisto, who say they will hand the Golden Queen over, just as soon as it’s ready.

Space Pirates on Callisto is Jackie French’s second book about the fabulous world of Callisto, where the most important decision to be made is whether to have your pineapple pizza with or without the onions. Kids will love this hilarious world filled with chocolate peanut muffins, giant hamburgers and incredible fresh produce.

Space Pirates on Callisto is a Blue Level Tadpole for independent readers, from Koala Books. Jackie French’s earlier title Café on Callisto was the winner of the Aurealis Award for Children’s Short Fiction (2001).

Space Pirates on Callisto, by Jackie French, illustrated by Sarah Baron
Koala Books, 2002

Sleepless in Space, by Sally Odgers

If it wasn’t for Grandad, Jed wouldn’t be in this predicament. It is Grandad who invented the Starspinner Drive which makes spaceships do so fast. And because they can go so fast, they can go long distances. And because they can go such long distances they can take people to far away planets.

So it is because of Grandpa that Jed finds himself on the spaceship Starbringer, on the way to the distant planet Serendipity. Jed has always had trouble sleeping, but now he is supposed to sleep in a hypno-bed for a whole year – the time it will take to get to Serendipity.

But Jed can’t stay asleep for a whole year, and one day when he wakes he hears a strange noise. Space pirates have taken over the ship and Jed is the only one awake. It is up to him to figure out a way to get rid of the pirates.

Sleepless in Space is a fun title from outstanding Australian children’s writer, Sally Odgers, with excellent ‘spacey’ illustrations by Judith Rossell. An Orange Level Tadpole from Koala Books, for early independent readers, this fun book will appeal to 6 to 10 year olds, although older reluctant readers will also find the story enjoyable.

Sally Odgers has a great feel for the science fiction genre, which reflects in her ability to adapt the genre for a range of ages and abilities.

Sleepless in Space, by Sally Odgers, illustrated by Judith Rossell.
Koala Books, 2002.

A Glassful of Giggles, by Elaine Forrestal

Everyone knows that you can’t catch the giggles – they just happen. Or do they? When Jarrad has a glassful of giggles for breakfast, everyone – everyone – seems to catch them. First his Mum and Dad, then, when he gets to school, all his school mates, and his teacher. The giggles keep spreading through the school, until finally, even the principal catches them. Whatever will they do?

A Glassful of Giggles is the title story in a new collection of short stories for young readers. Filled with giggles, green pigs, giants and noisy cupboards, these stories will appeal to children in the early years of primary school.

As a series of self contained stories, this type of book is excellent for children making the transition from picture books to chapter books. the large print and abundance of illustration serves a bridging function between the two formats.

Elaine Forrestal has won awards for her previous works, including the Australian Book Council Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers, for Someone Like Me. Illustrator Sharon Thompson is, in addition to being an illustrator, a kindergarten teacher.

A Glassful of Giggles
is a great offering for young readers.

A Taste

Grundle went walking, to see what was happening. The countryside trembled, he shook all the trees. But that wasn’t good enough. Not really scary. The magpies kept chattering and refused to be teased.
How could an apple green pig frighten anyone?

A Glassful of Giggles, by Elaine Forrestal
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2002

The Space Bug, by Jackie French

’Rory?’
“Mmmm? Emily’s brother didn’t look up from his book. ’What’s big and gold and goes boo?!”.
‘Dunno.’ Rory turned the page. ‘A bomb?’.
Emily shook her head. ‘It came from the sky!’

Emily is the only one who sees the meteorite hit the school toilets, which gives her plenty of time to check out the site, discover the big gold and blue egg in the crater it has left behind, and resuce it. Now she’s hiding the egg, and she won’t let Rory tell anyone. If he does, she’ll tell everyone that he wears ink flowery underpants.

When the egg hatches, a space bug appears, and suddenly things stop working – car engines, refrigerators, lawn mowers, computers. The space bug, it seems, is very hungry, and electrical motors are what it needs to survive.

When things start to get out of hand, Rory insists that Emily is going to have to tell, but then the space bug goes into hiding. What can they do now?

The Space Bug is a fun reader by talented and prolific Australian writer Jackie French. It is an Orange Level Tadpole Reader from Koala Books. Tadpole readers are graded to reflect the growth of young readers from picture books, through Chapter Books towards first novels. The orange level is for confident readers, with 64 pages of text supported by pictures in each page spread to enhance the reading experience and bridge the gap between picture books and novels.

The Space Bug, and other Tadpole readers, will help young readers enjoy the reading journey.

The Space Bug, by Jackie French
Koala Books, 2002. rrp AU $9.95

Knightfall by Sally Odgers

When Simon’s stepmother gives him three choices for the holidays, none of them appeal very much. She says he can find a useful job, take up a creative activity or join his stepsister Reba’s swimming club. At first there seems little option but the third, but Simon dreads going to the pool with Reba and the girls.

So when a stranger offers him another choice – the chance to do something useful by exercising his pony – Simon jumps at the chance. After all, how difficult can it be.

Simon soon learns just how difficult the task he is given can be. From the time he gets on to the horse, things turn weird. One minute he’s a boy riding a horse, the next he’s been transported to the land of Bravena, a land of dragons and damsels knights and kings.

The residents of this strange land believe Simon is a brave knight, sent to be their champion and defeat the dragons. The dragons in turn think he is there to help them. And all Simon wants is to get home safely.

Knightfall is the first in a new humorous trilogy by talented Australian author Sally Odgers. Part of the Tadpole label from Koala Books, Knightfall is suitable for independent readers aged 9 and over.

Sally Odgers is an award winning writer of numerous books for readers of all ages. She lives in Tasmania. Other Koala books by Ms Odgers include Guess My Friends, The Ringmaster and The Case of the Disappearing Dog. The second book in the reluctant Knight trilogy, Knight Errand will be released in late 2002.

LINKS
Visit Koala Books at www.koalabooks.com
Visit Sally Odgers at www.sallyodgers.com

The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, by Martine Murray

Cedar avoids the main swell of action in her street, and drifts instead towards the puddles. In Cedar’s puddle there’s Cedar, who’d really like to be called Lana Munroe since it has a famous kind of ring to it, her friend Caramella Zito, who lives opposite and Ricci, a fifty year old Yugoslavian lady.

But suddenly, things seem to change. Maybe it’s because her dog Stinky disappears, or maybe it started back when her brother Barnaby ran away. Either way, things change. Cedar meets a boy called Kite, who swings from trees and does hand springs.

Now her puddle is bigger and more complicated. As well as Kite, there’s his father Ruben, who used to be in the circus, his friend Oscar, who wobbles, and his mother, who has run off with a man called Howard.

There are also new experiences – learning balances and tumbles with Kite, attending Oscar’s birthday party, trying to run away. And, when Ricci’s dog needs an operation, Cedar finds herself organising a circus to raise the money needed.

Told in the delightful first-person narrative of Cedar herself, The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life) is an outstanding debut novel from Australian author Martine Murray. Young Cedar’s take on life provides both humour and insight.

Martine Murray is the talented author and illustrator of the acclaimed picture books A Moose Called Mouse and A Dog Called Bear. She has studied art, writing, acrobatics and dance and live sin Melbourne. She says that this book is “about belonging exactly as you are, without having to tone down or change.”

The Slightly True Story of Cedar Blue Hartley (who planned to live an unusual life), by Martine Murray.
Allen and Unwin, 2002.

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…