Fifteen Love, by Robert Corbet

When Will sees Mia Foley he is captivated. He thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. But how will he ever get to talk to her and, if he does, what will he say? He has no idea what girls talk about.

Mia is also watching Will. She thinks he might be interesting. She sees him lying on the grass, staring at the sky, and wonders what kind of deep thoughts he might be thinking.

Being in the same school, Mia and Will do cross paths regularly, but it always seems to be awkward. Does a tracksuit-wearing, tennis-playing boy have anything in common with a beautiful viola-playing girl? And where do Mia’s dog Harriet and Will’s wheelchair-bound brother Dave fit in to all this?

When Will is picked up by Mia’s sexy friend Vanessa, it seems there’s no hope for them.

Fifteen Love, new from author Robert Corbett, takes an insightful look at the differences between the sexes and the tricky world of teenage friendship and romance. The novel use of alternating viewpoints allows Corbet to capture the emotions, the confusion, the highs and lows of both Mia and Will.

This is a great fun read for any teenager who has ever fallen in love or who ever dreams of falling in love.

Robert Corbet is a Melbourne author who fell in love with many girls before meeting a girl in pink overalls and eventually settling down and having three children.

Fifteen Love, by Robert Corbet
Allen & Unwin, 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

Please Go to Sleep, by Sue Whiting

Every tiger needs a good night’s sleep. So, as night falls on the jungle, Tiny Tiger and his Mother settle down to sleep. But the night jungle is full of strange noises. Swishety Swish, Rustle, Crunch. With each new noise Tiny Tiger grows more scared. All his mother wants is for Tiny Tiger to go to sleep.

Please Go To Sleep is a fun new picture book from talented Australian children’s author, Sue Whiting. Kids will love the humour and movement of the story, learning to echo the noises of the jungle as the story is read.

Sleep-deprived parents will also appreciate the story, relating to the increasing frustration of the mother as she tries to allay Tiny Tiger’s fears and encourage him to settle down to sleep. Putting feeling into the reading of Mother Tiger’s “Please, please, please go to sleep” will be easy for parents who have had similar experiences.

The text is well supported by the gorgeous illustrations by Michael Mucci. Mucci’s use of rich greens and purples captures the night jungle in a way which is appealing and non-threatening to children – he manages to make it night without being drab. The tigers are beautifully drawn, with the expressions of fear and frustration (on Tiny and his Mother’s face respectively) cleverly drawn.

Targeted at 3 to 6 year olds, Please Go To Sleep is an outstanding offering from Banana Books, the children’s book imprint of innovative new publisher, Otford Press. A must have for every collection.

Please Go to Sleep, by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Michael Mucci
Banana Books, 2002.
ISBN 1 876 92838 7

The Moon in the Man, by Elizabeth Honey

Rhyming is fun. Kids love the magic of a poem – whether it tells a story, plays with a rhythm or simply explores the fun of words.

The Moon in the Man is a magical new collection of poetry from Elizabeth Honey, which kids will adore, and parents and teachers will love reading and sharing.

Full of fun and simple rhymes and finger plays, accompanied by bright colourful illustrations, the book will help students to enjoy and improvise with language.

Poems include short whimsical rhymes and loads of finger plays complete with diagrams to show the actions. And if these aren’t enough you can see Elizabeth Honey performing these rhymes on the net at www.allenandunwin.com/moonintheman.asp.

If that is not enough, there are also longer poems perfect for clapping, clicking or tapping along to, building on children’s love of rhythm, and, to finish the books, a couple of quieter, reflective ones.

This is poetry collection which should have a place in every kindergarten, playgroup, child care centre and school, but which is also perfect for sharing at home. Children will love to come back to their favourite rhymes over and over, and will quickly start to memorise the words and read the poems along with you. The poems are also excellent for creative writing sessions, with easily repeatable patterns which children could use to add on extra verses.

Elizabeth Honey is a prize-winning author of novels, poetry and picture books, with a style and energy of her own. Her last picture book Not a Nibble! was the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year in 1997.The Moon in the Man continues her tradition of excellence.

The Moon in the Man, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2002.

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.

Two for Older Readers

Two newly released picture books are challenging the perception that picture books are just for preschoolers. Both books will appeal to older children and would be useful in the school setting.

In Kaffy Meets the Doomie, by Brendan Doyle (Banana Books), a dog named Kaffy explores an abandoned brickworks, where he meets an old man who once worked in the brickworks. The man speaks to Kaffy of his loneliness and loss of purpose. The magical events which follow, lead to Kaffy helping to get the brickworks reopened in a different guise, and the Doomie to find a sense of purpose.

Told in a simple rhyming structure and complemented by simple sketches and colour illustrations by Harold Tiefel, the story combines a sense of history with a feeling of fantasy and fun. This would be an excellent book for exploring subjects of aging, redundancy, and valuing our past.

From Fremantle Arts Centre Press comes In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen, another book with a historical focus. This story provides a compelling counterpoint to images often seen of war, depicting its senselessness and inhumanity. The book tells the story of a homesick soldier who , in the temporary ceasefire which comes with Christmas day, spies a robin caught on some wire in no man’s land. One wing flaps helplessly as the robin tries to escape.

Rather than enjoy the lull in fighting and remain in safety, the soldier risks walking towards German trenches to rescue the robin, which would die without help. Soldiers from both sides watch in disbelief as he risks his own life to save that of the robin.

The story is presented in picture book format, with beautiful illustrations from Brian-Harrison-Lever, perfectly complementing the text . Again, this book would be an excellent classroom tool, especially when dealing with topics relating to war.

Kaffy Meets the Doomie, by Brendan Doyle, Illustrated by Harold Tiefel
Banana Books, 2002.

In Flanders Fields, by Norman Jorgensen, illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2002.