Harry's Secret, by Anita Heiss

Harry takes a seat, all alone, and in one quick second, grabs a palm-sized sketchpad he’s got wedged between his jeans and stomach, and pulls a small HB pencil from behind his ear. He starts to draw quickly, nervously checking that he’s not being watched. Harry knows everyone thinks skating is cool, but he also knows that his best friends think drawing isn’t.

Harry loves hanging out with his mates – skateboarding, or camping, or swimming at the pool. But he has a secret – he also loves to draw, and is pretty good at it, too. The problem is, his mate Gav thinks art is dumb, and Harry really wants to be cool. So he draws in secret, and doesn’t tell anyone what he’s doing– until he sees an advertisement for the local art competition and knows that he has to enter it.

Harry’s Secret is an upbeat novel for junior readers. Harry and his friends are funny, warm-hearted and energetic, always on the go and looking out for each other. Harry’s dilemma is one many kids will relate to – whether it’s an artistic talent or some other hobby or ability that they fear being teased for.

Good stuff.

Harry’s Secret, by Anita Heiss
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760152024

Lily the Elf: The Midnight Owl & The Precious Ring, by Anna Branford, illustrated by Lisa Coutts

The Precious Ring (Lily the Elf)an owl is hooting.
Lily shivers with each hoot.
“Who’s awake? Who? Whoooo?” asks the midnight owl.
Lily covers her ears with her pillow.

Lile the Elf can’t sleep. SOmehwere nearby an owl is hooting. It sounds scary. In the mroning, though, Granny tells her that the owl sounds friendly. She wants to take Lily to meet him. But Lily doesn’t think she can be as brave as granny, until, with Granny’s help, she finds her own strength and makes a new friend.

The Midnight Owl is one of the new Lily the Elf series from author Anna Branford and illustrator Lisa Coutts, and is warm tale of bravery, friendship and the bond between a grandchild and grandparent.

In the second book, The Precious Ring , Lily finds a human ring in the garden near her home. Filled with water, it is just right for a paddling pool for Lily to play with. But when she realises that the ring is a much-loved possession which a human child has lost, she has to decide whetehr to keep her pool, or work to get it back to its rightful owner.

Both stories use simplle, but interesting text, with lots of illustrative support, perfect for young readers transitioning from first readers to the chapter book format. Lily is a loveable, honest and quirky character, and the relationship between her and Granny, with Dad playing a supporting role, is lovely.

The Midnight Owl ISBN: 9781925081053
The Precious Ring ISBN: 9781925081046
both by Anna Branford, illustrated by Lisa Coutts
Walker Books 2015

Pig the Fibber, by Aaron Blabey

Pig the FibberPig was a Pug
and I’m sorry to say
he would often tell lies
just to get his own way.

The delightful (though dastardly) Pig the Pug is back. This time he is telling lies – big lies, to keep himself out of trouble and long-suffering Trevor the Dachsund well and truly in it. Whenever there is a mess, or something is broken, or there is a smell in the air, Pig blames poor Trevor. But when he goes to great lengths to get Trevor in trouble so that he can steal all the dog biscuits, Pig ends up learning his lesson the hard way.

Pig the Fibber is the second story featuring Pig, following on from Pig the Pug. But, while youngsters who loveed the first will be delighted to see Pig and Trevor back for another adventure, the second books stands equally well alone.

The rhyming text is a delight to read aloud, with lots of humour and a gentle lesson about lying, and the illustrations, in acrylic with pens and pencils, are also humorous. Pig’s big eyes and toothy grin make him endearing even when he’s being mean, and Trevor’s loyalty in spite of being hard done by is captured chiefly through the illustrations, particulalry the penultimate one which shows him hugging the injured Pig, a blissful smile on his face.

Lots of fun.

Pig the Fibber, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743629062

Available from good bookstores and online.