Knight Protector, by Sally Odgers

Simon Knight isn’t too happy about running in the cross country. But when he falls into a hedge he’s not sure he likes the alternative either. It seems that this alternative involves a ride on Traveller, the horse who once before transported him to the strange land of Braveria.

Simon soon finds himself back in Braveria where, as Sir Simon, he is once again called on to help the King. Someone, it seems, is out to cause mischief to the King’s daughter. Who better to protect her than Simon? Along the way he must contend with dragons – some fearsome and others simply annoying – clinging damsels and meddlesome knights, as well as the princess herself, who isn’t so sure she needs looking after. Poor Simon!

Knight Protector is the second book in the Reluctant Knight trilogy by superb children’s author, Sally Odgers. With a winning mix of fantasy, danger and downright silliness, these books are sure to appeal to young fantasy readers aged 8 to 12. Although reading the two in order will enhance enjoyment, each is self-contained.

Sally Odgers is an award-winning Tasmanian writer who continues to show her versatilty with excellent offerings in a range of genres for different age groups. Knight Protector is no exception.

Knight Protector, by Sally Odgers
Koala Books, 2003

So Feral, by J. A. Mawter

This book really doesn’t need a review – the title says it all. So Feral is, in fact, feral. Which is why kids will love it. While adults may squirm and feel more than a little queasy, kids will laugh out loud and just have to share the stories with their friends.

Following on from the success of her earlier title, So Gross, author J.A. Mawter has seven new tales to share. From globby bits of meat pie coming out of kids’ noses, to a record attempt for the world’s biggest fart, every page is filled with feral kids doing feral things. Eight to twelve year old readers will love it.

So Feral, by J. A. Mawter
Angus and Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2002

The Fairy's Wings, by Gillian Rubinstein

Tania has fun building a fairy house underneath the lavender bush. But the next morning, she is surprised to find a pair of tiny wings hanging on the clothesline. Who could they belong to?

Tania’s brother Troy doesn’t believe in fairies – he says the wings must belong to an insect.

But someone is trying to leave messages for Tania. She can’t quite read them but is sure a fairy must be resoonsible. Is the owner of the wings asking for them back?

The Fairy’s Wings is the third book about Tania and Troy, from the talented combination of writer Gillian Rubenstein and illustrator Craig Smith. Full of magic and humour, the story is sure to delight youngsters aged six to nine.

The Fairy’s Wings, by Gillian Rubinstein, Illustrated by Craig smith
Puffin Books 1998

Shipborn, by Pamela Freeman

Katie and her brother Sam are both shipborn – born in space aboard their parents’ space ship. Katie longs to visit Earth. She wants to see the soil, watch plants growing in their natural environment. Sam isn’t so sure. He’s quite content living in space.

Katie’s parents say they’re not taking them to Earth any time soon, so it appears Katie’s wish won’t be granted. Until her Gran decides to run away – abandoning the ship at a space station and seeking passage to Earth. Katie and Sam follow her to try to get her to come back to the ship and find themselves accidentally aboard a space ship headed for Earth. And this is no joy ride – the ship is destined for an illegal rendezvous with smugglers. Will they ever get to see Earth? At this point that’s not their biggest worry – they may have to fight just to stay alive.

Shipborn, by Pamela Freeman is a Blue Tadpole novel from Koala Books. Its fast pace, humour and space setting will appeal to 10 to 12 year old readers.

Pamela Freeman is a talented Australian writer who lives in Melbourne with her husband and young child. Her previous work includes Victor’s Quest, shorlisted for the 1997 Children’s Book Council awards and Pole to Pole, also shortlisted. Her stories frequently appear in the NSW School Magazine.

Shipborn, by Pamela Freeman
Koala Books, 2003

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

Papua, by Peter Watt

When two men on opposing sides meet on the battle fields in World War I, neither can predict the ways their paths will cross in the future. Jack Kelly, a captain in the Australian army, shows compassion towards his prisoner Paul Mann, a German officer, forming an unusual bond. When the two meet again after the war, it is in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua. The friendship they quickly forge will last a lifetime.

In Papua both are working towards new beginnings, in search of freedom and financial security. Both want to leave behind the memories of the war and find stability for their families. But post-war life has as many lows as it does highs – both men have enemies who wouldlove tosee them fail. Only together will they overcome the odds.

Papua is a compelling story of love, loyalty and family overcoming greed and treachery, fro the author of the bestselling Curlew trilogy. For those with an interest in the jungle paradise of Papua New Guinea, both past and present, the story and characters will strike a chord.

Papua, by Peter Watt
Macmillan Australia, 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

Skins, by Sarah Hay

It is 1835 and Dorothea Newell is shipwrecked on an island off the coast of Western Australia. A single white woman in the company of sealers, desperadoes and outsiders, she must do what she can to survive until the chief sealer agrees to take her to the mainland.

To protect her younger sister, whose husband has tried to trade her to Anderson the sealer, Dorothea becomes Anderson’s woman. Even this does not guarantee her safety, or her aim of returning to civilisation.

Skins, winner of the 2001 Australian/Vogel Literary award is a fictionalised account of the story of Dorothea Newell (later known as Dolly Pettit). Based on real people and events, the story explores an intriguing part of Western Australia’s history. Few readers would have previous knowledge of the life of the sealers and whalers in the early years of the colony.

Skins is set in harsh conditions and involves hardened characters, so large parts of the novel seem very dark. For much of the tale there seems little hope of much good happening in the lives of these characters. With perseverance on the part of the reader there is some light, although this is certainly not meant to be a feel-good novel. What it does provide is an insight both into characters coping with dire situations and into a genuine part of Australia’s past.

Skins, by Sarah Hay
Allen and Unwin, 2002

The Boy From Boree Creek, by Peter Rees

When he announced his resignation as Deputy Prime Minister in June 1999, Tim Fischer began his withdrawal from Federal Parliament and from the political arena. After 28 years in politics, he had come to the decision that his family needed him more than the National Party or the Australian public did.

In the decades preceding that resignation, Tim Fischer had grown from a fresh-faced state politician, to the confident, hat-wearing leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister. He had weathered the highs and lows of life in politics and put his stamp on the nation’s history.

The Boy From Boree Creek explores Fischer’s life from his birth in 1946 until this resignation. Author Peter Rees attempts to capture both the private and the public persona, showing how he ran his campaigns, how he built a public image for himself and how he influenced policy making, and yet more intimately, how he coped with the pressures and constraints of the political life.

Readers with an interest in Australian politics will find plenty of interest in this book, as will all who enjoy Australian biographies.

The Boy From Boree Creek, by Peter Rees
Allen & Unwin, 2002

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