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

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

Captain Purrfect, by Jackie French

Harlie is in bed when the shadow man appears from nowhere. He is very frightened – the shadow man is going to get him – until, in a flash of fur and claws, Captain Purrfect appears and sends the shadow on his way. Harlie is pretty surprised to learn that his grandfather’s cat, Moggs is really Captain Purrfect, superhero.

Harlie learns that all Captain Purrfect would like in return for keeping the house free of shadow men, rust fingers and other monsters, is to be fed decent food. He does not like cat food at all.

Captain Purrfect helps Harley keep the monsters and bullies at bay. Can Harlie help Captain Purrfect defeat the nasty gurgle who lives in the house’s drains, and get a decent feed?

Captain Purrfect is a delightful offering from well known Australian author, Jackie French. The text is well-complemented by cartoon-style drawings from illustrator Gus Gordon. Kids will love this humorous tale and may not realise they are also learning a subtle message about dealing with bullies.

Captain Purrfect is an orange level Tadpole from Koala Books. Tadpoles are graded reading for emergent readers, matching readers with books using a colour coded reading barometer. Children emerge from reading picture books and progress across the Tadpole range of bridging book to reading independently. Orange level books are in the middle of the Tadpole spectrum, aimed at confident readers.

Captain Purrfect, by Jackie French, illustrated by Gus Gordon
Koala Books, 2002

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