Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib, by Darren Farrell

Doug-Dennis and Ben-Bobby are best of friends. But even best friends get bored, so they set off to the circus, where wondrous things will happen. But before the wondrous things even get underway, a split-second decision has Doug-Dennis telling a fib. The fib quickly grows and Doug-Dennis floats away on the growing story, until he reaches highest sky. There he discovers what happens when fibs grow out of control. It’s a big lesson for Doug-Dennis. Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fibis illustrated in a very cartoon-y style, with fibs separated from truth by the colour of the speech bubbles. Endpapers feature a range of circus posters, with claims which just may or may not be fibs. At the beginning the characters on the posters welcome the reader to the story. At the end, it’s farewell.

Sometimes fibs just slip out. Often it’s due to a fear of getting into trouble. But here’s a fib, like most fibs, that very quickly becomes out of control. The follow-up fibs get bigger and bigger, rapidly outgrowing any potential or perceived trouble that the truth might have attracted. Darren Farrell wraps his truth in a wild over-the-top story, that will have readers giggling. There are plenty of extras to look for in the illustrations as Doug-Dennis’s journey to the truth floats him through the stratosphere. The endpapers link with the circus activities and provide their own separate narrative. For an ostensibly simple story about a fib, there’s plenty of other things going on! Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib, Darren Farrell
Scholastic Australia 2011
ISBN: 9781741697568

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Aussie Dog, by Eleanor Nilsson

It was June, cold and dry.
Sophie couldn’t wait a minute longer.
‘Mum, I know what I want for Christmas. I only want one thing.

Sophie is absolutely certain that she only wants one thing for Christmas. And birthday too, if necessary. A puppy. And she knows just exactly what sort of puppy she wants. She has their life together mapped out. But life doesn’t always deliver what we think we most want. And that’s certainly the case here. Boris is nothing like the dog she’s researched, prepared for and even named. But it’s Boris who has come to stay while her owner is out of action. And Boris is almost the exact opposite of the dog she must have. She’s going to have to work hard to get the dog she wants. Coloured illustrations on every page add humour and break up the text into achievable bites. (he-he) A header and footer suggest the great Australian backyard.

Aussie Dogis a new title in the Omnibus Books series of Australian tales for newly independent readers. Text type varies and highlights words that may provide extra challenge, or perhaps just need emphasis. Sophie is every child who has ever wanted a dog. She’s done her research and she’s sure her fairy tale dog exists and is just waiting for Sophie to discover. There is a gentle suggestion that what we want is not always what we get, but that it can be even better. But it’s subtle. Aussie Dog, like other offerings in this series, has a laugh a page as a child’s imagining is brought to life. Although Sophie seems totally single-minded, she is an open, good-natured and helpful sister, daughter, friend. Recommended for children transitioning from picture books to longer texts, and older children needing an accessible read.

Aussie Dog (Mates)

Aussie Dog , Eleanor Nilsson, Beth Norling
Omnibus Books 2011
ISBN: 9781862918689

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Jake's Balloon Blast, by Ken Spillman

Jake wanted to fly.
He really, really wanted to fly. He’d ALWAYS wanted to fly.

Jake – star of Jake’s Gigantic List and Jake’s Monster Mess is back in his third adventure – and this time, he’s determined to fly. Once he’s discounted rockets, airplanes and helicopters as too expensive, Jake explores ideas a little more within his own reach, which is when he remembers that Dad has a helium inflator in the cupboard. With a little help from his mate Jonah, Jake hatches a plan to get up, up and away. But will he ever get off the ground?

Jake’s Balloon Blast is a fun junior fiction title on a topic many kids will relate to – trying to figure out a way to fly. Jake is a likeable character whose silliness will appeal to young readers, and the adults in his life are supportive. The text is accessible but not over simplistic, and the support of the grey scale illustrations (by Chris Nixon) adds a pleasing visual element.

Most of all this a fun book – which kids will love.

Jake's Balloon Blast

Jake’s Balloon Blast, by Ken Spillman & Chris Nixon
Fremantle Press, 2011
ISBN 9781921696558

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond or in any good bookstore.

Mr Tripp Smells a Rat, by Sandy McKay

Some people have more than one thing they are good at. Mr Tripp tells good jokes and has a clever nose. His nose can tell you what’s in your sandwich without even looking.

Lily’s teacher, Mr Tripp, says everyone is good at something. Mr Tripp himself is good at tow things – he can tell good jokes and he has a clever nose. When Ricky Rider’s pet rat escapes in the classroom next door, Mr Tripp must use his nose to sniff out the rat’s hiding spot. But is he brave enough?

Mr Tripp Smells a Rat is a cute collection of three short stories set in a junior primary classroom with Lily, her classmates and the funny Mr Tripp. Each story is self contained, but the three together build a picture of a happy, nurturing classroom that every child will wish was theirs.

Part of the Walker Stories series for emergiing readers, Mr Tripp Smells a Rat uses simple text and lots of illustrative support to help readers succeed.

Mr Tripp Smells a Rat

Mr Tripp Smells a Rat, by Sandy McKay, illustrated by Ruth PaulISBN 9781921529061

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Tomato Sauce, of Course, by Moya Simons

I stood on the kitchen chair with the pantry door wide open. I shoved cans of tuna and soup to one side.
No, I couldn’t see what I wanted anywhere.
My mother walked into the kitchen. She said, ‘I’ve already told you, Tammy. That brand of tomato sauce isn’t available any more.’
‘But, but, but…’ I said.

Tammy loves tomato sauce, but not just any tomato sauce. She loves Aussie Tomato Sauce. She eats it with every meal, even occasionally with dessert! But the Aussie Tomato Sauce company has gone broke and now Tammy is in a desperate search to find the last bottle. She reasons there must be one somewhere. And she does find a last lonely bottle of her favourite sauce in the shop on the way to the beach. But that’s just the beginning of her adventure. Things get very tomato-coloured after that. Coloured illustrations appear on every opening and Tammy swims to safety across the ocean border at the bottom of (almost) every page.

The Mates series from Omnibus continues to produce great Aussie yarns. These tall tales are designed for newly independent readers. Potentially challenging words (or even just words for emphasis) are in different fonts. Chapters are short and the action bounces along. Tammy has a supportive, if long-suffering, family and an understanding best friend. Her school assignment knowledge comes in handy at the end of the story and helps get her out of trouble. Recommended for mid-primary readers. Great fun.

Tomato Sauce, Of Course! Moya Simons, Jim Grimwade
Omnibus Books 2010
ISBN: 9781862918801

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

The Lost Treasure, by Jan Stradling

Help! I am stuck on a little island in the middle of the big wide sea. I have a lot of treasure. Help!

Pirate Ruby is a good pirate. Pirate Hamish is a bad pirate. When they find a note asking for help, Ruby can’t wait to help Pirate Jack, who is stuck on an island. But all Pirate Hamish wants to do is steal Pirate Jack’s treasure.

The Lost Treasure , part of the Walker Stories series, offers beginning readers a wonderful step into ‘big’ books, with three short stories building to a satisfying whole. The pirate characters are endearing, and the mystery humorous with black and white illustrations on every spread offering visual appeal and textual support.

Lots of fun for lower primary ged readers.

The Lost Treasure

The Lost Treasure, by Jan Stradling, illustrated by Cassandra Allen
Walker Stories, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

You Turkeys, by Michael Gerard Bauer

Our backyard was Dad’s pride and joy. He loved the flowers in their chip bark beds and the row of little ball-shaped shrubs. He loved the neat compost heap and the square of bright green lawn with its dead-straight edges.
Then the scrub-turkeys came, and they loved our backyard too.

Jake’s dad is not happy when two scrub turkeys try to set up home in his beautiful garden. He chases them off, but when they come back the next day – and the next – his efforts to get rid of them become increasingly desperate. Jake’s little sister, Anna, says Daddy should share his yard, but Dad has other ideas.

You Turkeys! is a funny addition to the Mates series, a full colour illustrated chapter book for lower primary aged readers. Whilst the story is high in humour, and complemented by quirky illustrations, it also gives a gentle message about conservation and wildlife.

Aimed at beginning readers transitioning to chapter books, You Turkeys! is suitable for school or private reading.

You Turkeys! (Mates)

You Turkeys! (Mates), by Michael Gerard Bauer, illustrated by Nahum Ziersch
Omnibus, 2010
ISBN 978186291816

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.

Big Stories from Little Lunch, by Danny Katz

Mrs Gonsha has a big bum.
It’s a huge bum. Her bum is so big and wobbly, it looks like a gigantic beanbag made out of porridge.
Whenever Mrs Gonsha goes walking around the school, her bum wobbles and jiggles and wiggles and bobbles – and when she stops walking, her bum keeps wobbling and jiggling and wiggling and bobbling for a bit longer.
One day Mrs Gonsha was walking around the school with her big bum wobbling and bobbling, wiggling and jiggling. All the kids were playing on the slide, going up and down, up and down.
Mrs Gonsha came over and said, ‘Hey kids, that looks like fun, can I have a go?’

Big Stories from Little Lunch is a collection of the five ‘Little Lunch’ titles from Danny Katz and illustrated by Mitch Vane. Each of the individual titles comprised 3 stories. All stories feature the same children although different children take the lead role. Their teacher, Mrs Gonsha, appears in some of the stories, and the principal is mentioned but unseen. Each story occurs during ‘little lunch’, or recess, in a school yard. Characters range from show offs to fairy-artists, from naughty to nice, as seen in most school yards. There’s Manny with his amazing little lunch packs, Rory who has his own special chair in the principal’s office and Atticus who needs his glasses. Text is spare and there are illustrations on most pages.

Big Stories from Little Lunch is off-beat, ordinary, gross and spectacular…often all in the same story. Stories are short and ideal for the newly confident reader wanting to transition from picture books but not yet ready for chapter book. Each story deals lightheartedly and humourously with the wonderful ordinariness of the playground. Children will recognise themselves and their playmates and the things that happen in the playground. All manner of adventures happen in the 15 minutes of little lunch, and all are wrapped up neatly and satisfactorily by the time the school bell rings. Mitch Vane’s pen and ink drawings set the tone for these funny tales. Recommended for lower primary.

Big Stories from Little Lunch , Danny Katz, ill Mitch Vane
black dog books, 2009
ISBN: 9781742031071

Big Stories from Little Lunch (Little Lunch S.)

reviewed by Claire Saxby, children’s writer

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Thorpey, by Ruth Starke

What is Thorpey doing? Is there something wrong?
Instead of swimming around, he stays in one spot.
He floats on his back. He leans to one side.

When the narrator of this story is given a goldfish for his birthday, he’s initially unimpressed, but as he gets to know the fish (who he names Thorpey) he realises that goldfish are pretty cool. It isn’t long before he thinks Thorpey is the best pet ever. So when Thorpey stops swimming and starts lying on the bottom of the tank, the boy is worried. What can be wrong with Thorpey, and is there any way of fixing him?

Thorpey is a short chapter book for beginning readers, part of the new Mates series from Omnibus books. With a simple storyline, the support of full colour illustrations on every page, and a high interest plot line, Thorpey is a mystery story which readers will enjoy trying to solve.

A cute offering.

Thorpey (Mates)

Thorpey , by Roth Starke, illustrated by Katie Jardine
Omnibus, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

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