The Goanna Island Mystery, by Dale Harcombe

Reviewed by Delwyne Stephens

Leo doesn’t believe in ghosts, and when a bully challenges him to investigate the haunted Goanna Island he doesn’t expect to find a ghostly presence in a mysterious room that seems to have no entrance.

This simply told story had enough suspense to keep my 6 and 8 year old enthralled as I read it aloud to them. They enjoyed the build up of tension, as Leo first goes to the haunted island alone on a dare, sees what seems to be a ghost and then gets trapped on the island by the rising tide.

The illustrations for the story were an unusual combination of line drawings for Leo and heavier lino-print like drawings for later, scarier scenes in the story.

As with all the books in the Aussie School Books series this one is appropriately leveled for capable seven year olds to struggling older primary readers while losing none of its reader appeal. The story holds enough interest and suspense for children in these age groups and demonstrates values such as courage and resourcefulness.

The Goanna Island Mystery, by Dale Harcombe
Aussie School Books, 2008

The Copperhead, by Delwyne Stephens

Rachel was scared, too. She was so scared she could hear her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She knew what type of snake it was from the colour. It was a copperhead. Copperheads were deadly.

Rachel is always getting into trouble for not thinking before she acts. When she and her brother Tim go searching for blue-tongue lizards, she is determined not to get into any more trouble. But when Tim grabs hold of a snake’s tail, thinking it’s a lizard, Rachel knows she must stop and think before doing what needs to be done.

The Copperhead is an easy to read chapter book for primary school aged readers. Set on a country Australian farm, and featuring one of Australia’s most dangerous animals, it will appeal to Australian kids. Part of the Aussie School kids series, The Copperhead is 48 pages long and has plenty of illustrative support for readers new to the novel format.

Good stuff.

The Copperhead, by Delwyne Stephens
Aussie School Books, 2007