Miniwings: Whizz’s Internet Oopsie and Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder

Let me tell you right now: the Internet oopsie was NOT OUR FAULT. The only thing Clara and I did wrong was to have a teeny, tiny moan to Mum about how we never got to buy anything online. We asked if she might like to give us her credit card number. She said: “Dream on.”
That was it. PROMISE.

When Nana gives Sophia and Clara six little winged horse toys for Christmas, they think they are just ordinary plastic toys. But when there are no adults around, the Miniwings come alive, to become a herd of tiny, talking, glitter-twinkly, flying horses. Which is pretty cool – except that they are also very mischeivous.

In Whizz’s Internet Oopsie, the miniwings are bored when Sophia and Clara are at school, so they use Mum’s credit card to order a few things online: first a footspa, then a cordless drill and, finally, a goat. Chaos ensues. In Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder, they make such a mess that it looks like the girls won’t be able to dress up for the Book Week parade. Disaster.

Miniwings is a new, glittery, fun-filled series for younger readers. With colour illustrations, glitter, and of course sparkly horses, there is lots to appeal, and adornments including font effects and back of book glossaries of Miniwing-ese.

Cute.

Whizz’s Internet Oopsie ISBN 9781775434245
Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder ISBN 9781775434238
Both by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Kirsten Richards
Scholastic, 2017

Patch and Ruby, by Anouska Jones & Gwynneth Jones

Patch was lonely. It wasn’t that he didn’t have friends. he did. But sometimes he felt like he didn’t quite fit in.

Patch is the only pony on the farm. he has lots of friends – but the chickens never stop gossiping, the ladybirds don’t always like his efforts at gardening, the mice are often busy with their children, and his owner, Sam, has to go to school. Luckily, Sam has a solution and soon Patch is meeting Ruby, another pony. Together they still spend time with their other friends, but now they also have each other.

Patch and Ruby is a cute picture book story about friendship, difference and belonging, filled with blod illustrations of farm life which youngsters, especially those with a passion for horses, will love.

Sweet.

Patch and Ruby , by Anouska Jones & Gwynneth Jones
EK Books, 2016
ISBN 9781925335224

Pine Valley Ponies: The Runaway Foal by Kate Welshman, ill Heath McKenzie

Autumn had arrived at Pomona Orchard, where Maddy Sharpe and her family lived. The days were getting shorter and darker and the leaves on the peach trees were turning brown and drifting to the ground. Maddy had noticed that other things were changing, too, like her pony’s coat. A few days ago, Snowy’s coat had been short and smooth. Now it was as long and thick as a woolly mammoth’s.

Autumn had arrived at Pomona Orchard, where Maddy Sharpe and her family lived. The days were getting shorter and darker and the leaves on the peach trees were turning brown and drifting to the ground. Maddy had noticed that other things were changing, too, like her pony’s coat. A few days ago, Snowy’s coat had been short and smooth. Now it was as long and thick as a woolly mammoth’s.

Maddy loves her pony, Snowy. She loves learning to ride and everything to do with having a pony, even though it can be a lot of work. She particularly loves her weekly riding lesson at Pine Valley Ranch. She wonders if she’ll ever be as good as her friend Iris Digby. But Alita Jessup is harder to love. Alita is a show-off in class, with her fancy gear and her shiny boots. She is sure she knows better than their teacher, Pattie, and often disrupts the class with her comments and behaviour. This week, six foals are to be weaned, separated from their mothers, and everything needs to be calm and in control around the ranch. But one of the foals, Sunny, isn’t quite ready to be separated from her mum. Each page has a border featuring riding essentials, and black and white illustrations are scattered throughout. Cover art is in pink and shiny purple. Throughout the text, some words are picked out in larger font and bold.

‘Pine Valley Ponies’ is a new series from Scholastic, aimed fairly and squarely at horse-obsessed girls. Whether they have their own pony, or they wish they do, they’ll be able to discover the joys, challenges and responsibilities of horse ownership. Maddy admits to anxieties about each new stage of learning to ride well, while being keen to discover more. She explores friendship and struggles to understand the attitudes of show-off Alita who doesn’t always seem to have her pony’s best interests at heart. She watches others and tries to emulate them, but also displays empathy and bravery when they are necessary. Recommended for newly independent readers, particularly horse-mad girls.

Pine Valley Ponies: The Runaway Foal , Kate Welshman ill Heath McKenzie Scholastic 2015 ISBN: 9781743624319

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Pine Valley Ponies: The Forbidden Trail by Kate Welshman ill Heath McKenzie

Maddy looked down at her pony’s mane as they walked along dusty McClymont’s Road. It was the whitest mane she’d ever seen.

‘That purple shampoo really worked, Snowy,’ she told her pony.

Snowy’s ears flicked back an dhe tossed his head.

Maddy giggled. ‘What’s wrong? You didn’t like it?’

Maddy looked down at her pony’s mane as they walked along dusty McClymont’s Road. It was the whitest mane she’d ever seen.

‘That purple shampoo really worked, Snowy,’ she told her pony.

Snowy’s ears flicked back an dhe tossed his head.

Maddy giggled. ‘What’s wrong? You didn’t like it?’

As Maddy’s little brother says, Maddy has everything she ever wanted: a pony for her birthday and riding lessons for Christmas. Even though he’s an annoying little brother, even Maddy has to admit he’s right. But although she loves Snowy, her pony, she’s finding her first riding lesson hard. For lots of reasons. One: another rider in her class, Alita, seems determined to attack Maddy’s riding, her riding gear and her care of Snowy. Two: her mother used to ride here and Maddy’s sure she’ll never measure up and three: the riding lesson is much more difficult than she imagined. Then there’s the ‘forbidden trail’. Each page features a border of riding gear, and black and white illustrations are scattered throughout, breaking up the text. Cover art features a heart containing the series title and is pink and shiny purple.

Pine Valley Ponies: The Forbidden Trail is the first in a new series of chapter books from Scholastic, designed to appeal to young horse-loving girls. Horsey language is threaded through the adventure as are care and riding tips. Themes include friendship, bravery, resilience and more. Maddy makes a new friend in Iris, and also notices that the troublesome and superior Alita isn’t as confident as her fancy clothes and beautiful horse would suggest. She might have all the financial advantages, but her life isn’t without its trials. Maddy is a grounded and empathetic character, even when she’s approaching new challenges with trepidation. Recommended for newly independent readers and horse-mad girls.

Pine Valley Ponies: The Forbidden Trail , Kate Welshman ill Heath McKenzie
Scholastic 2015
ISBN: 9781743624302

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

The Reluctant Jillaroo, by Kaz Delaney

9781925266061.jpgThe side of my head stung and I winced silently. But even if I’d cried out it would have been drowned out in the sea of cheers that flooded the little bus. We’d arrived, and it seemed everybody but me was delirious with excitement.
I would have sighed, but that would have meant talking a big gulp of the stale air: the way my stomach was churning, there was no way I could risk that. I needed every bit of inner calm I could muster. I was about to give the performance of my life.
And this from the kid who’d never, ever been picked for any school play.
Ever.

Harper and Heidi might be identical twins but their interests are very different: Heidi loves sun, skating and surfing, while Harper is into horses and all things agricultural. But, when Heidi causes the accident that leaves Harper unable to attend jillaroo camp, the sisters decide the best course of action is for Heidi to go in her place. It’s up to Heidi to pretend to be Harper, and impress the teachers enough that Harper can win a place at her dream school.

While Harper recovers at home Heidi readies herself for ten days or horse riding, fencing, and handling cattle. And ten days of pretending not to be herself. She doesn’t count on meeting the handsome Chaz, or on one of the campers being Trent Weston – who knows the real Harper. Keeping her secret is not going to be easy.

The Reluctant Jillaroo uses the idea of a twin-swap as the premise for a satisfying blend of romance, mystery and adventure, set in rural Australia. Heidi’s attempts to fit into farm life lend lots of humour, and the growing relationship with the affable Chaz adds interest, as does a mystery about a series of mishaps and missing items.

With horses, romance and mystery, The Reluctant Jillaroo is likely to appeal to teen readers.

The Reluctant Jillaroo, by Kaz Delaney
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781925266061

Shine: A Story About Saying Goodbye, by Trace Balla

Shine
And when they looked up into the sky,
there, shining brightest of all, was their special star,
the star called Shine.
‘This was their daddy’s star,
looking down on them, shining its bright.
golden light onto them and into their hearts,
for ever and ever.

Far away and long ago, a young horse lives amongst the golden stars. His name is Shine, and when he meets a lovely horse named Glitter, they are both happy – especially when they have two children, Shimmer and Sparkly. But the time comes when Shine has to go back to the stars, leaving Glitter and the children in mourning. Glitter cries and cries, but after a while she and the children climb a mountain to see the golden ocean that their tears have made. Not only do they see the vast ocean, but they also see the stars in the sky – including the special star, Shine.

Shine is a poignant tale of love and loss, told in simple way which helps to explore the topics of death and grief both for children in similar situations as well as for those who may not yet have experienced such loss.

Created by Trace Balla for her sister and her chidlren after the loss of their husband and father, Shine is a beuatiful gift for that family and for other families too.

Shine, by Trace Balla
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743316344

Available from good bookstores and online.

Thelma the Unicorn, by Aaron Blabey

Thelma the UnicornThelma felt a little sad,
In fact, she felt forlorn.
You see, she wished with all her heart
to be a unicorn.

Thelma the horse wants to be a unicorn, and with the help of a carefully placed carrot and an accident involving pink paint and glitter, her wish comes true. Soon she is famous, and travelling the world to the cheers of her adoring fans. But Thelma discovers that fame has its pitfalls, and finds he self wanting to be back home with her best friend Otis.

Thelma the Unicorn is a humorous, endearing story in rhyme about self acceptance, popularity and the pitfalls of the celebrity lifestyle. Thelma seems silly, but she learns from her mistakes, and Otis is a loyal friend. The acrylic illustrations are a wonderful complement to the text, with a diverse cast of characters all with big eyes and lots of toothy smiles. Thelma’s pink sparkly coat is contrasted with dark colours as well as use of white space.

The rhyming text rolls along with no scansion problem,s making it perfect for reading aloud, and for the repeated readings which it will no doubt demand from young readers.

Thelma the Unicorn, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743625804

Available from good bookstores and online.

Spud and Charli by Samantha Wheeler

‘Kill it!’

‘Quick! Make it die!’

The girl perched on the top bunk was practically emptying a whole can of fly spray into the corner of the room while three others stood watching, their backs pressed flat against the wall. By the looks on their faces, the monster receiving the blasts must have been nothing less than a spiny-legged cockroach – like the ones that lurked around our bin in the middle of the night.

Each of the girls took turns screaming instructions.

‘Here it comes!’

‘Spray it! SPRAY IT NOW!’

I peered inside the door. A tiny brown spider about the size of a ladybird was huddled helplessly in the corner, making a feeble attempt to hold out its front legs while being drowned in torrents of Mortein Fast Knockdown.

‘Kill it!’

‘Quick! Make it die!’

The girl perched on the top bunk was practically emptying a whole can of fly spray into the corner of the room while three others stood watching, their backs pressed flat against the wall. By the looks on their faces, the monster receiving the blasts must have been nothing less than a spiny-legged cockroach – like the ones that lurked around our bin in the middle of the night.

Each of the girls took turns screaming instructions.

‘Here it comes!’

‘Spray it! SPRAY IT NOW!’

I peered inside the door. A tiny brown spider about the size of a ladybird was huddled helplessly in the corner, making a feeble attempt to hold out its front legs while being drowned in torrents of Mortein Fast Knockdown.

Charli is excited to be at riding camp, where she will finally learn to ride. And then, it’s just a short jump to owning her own horse. Well that’s what she hopes. But from the minute she arrives, things are not quite as she imagines. Firstly, she’s sharing a room with the snobbish Mikaela. Not her choice, but she’s already rejected the other options. Then she’s beaten to choosing the beautiful palomino and nothing, it seems, will convince Mikaela to swap. Charli is stuck with the massive retired racehorse Spud. This is not how it worked in her dreams. And as if this isn’t enough, there are bats. According to Charli’s research, bats and horses are a recipe for disaster.

Spud and Charliis perfect for horse-loving preteens. Jam-packed with horse details from grooming to saddles, to riding terms, they’ll eat it up. Charli discovers that Spud is not as scary as he at first appears, and before too long, she is smitten. Along the way, Charli learns the difference between dreams and reality, making good and bad decisions and why it makes sense to gather all information before judging others. Despite some hasty decisions, Charli’s good sense and caring nature shines through although she has to learn some lessons the hard way. Recommended for mid-primary readers, particularly horse fans.

 

Spud and Charli

Spud and Charli, Samantha Wheeler UQP 2014 ISBN: 9780702250187

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse, by Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac

…in the winter of 1914,
the drums of a distant war are beating.
Guy and Midnight heed the nation’s call.
The wind blows in Midnight’s mane.
And they ride to join the Light Horse.

Guy Haydon has loved his horse, Midnight, since she was born on the family farm. Now he and Midnight are joining up – heading off to fight together in a war on the other side of the world. Together they travel to Cairo and, in spite of being separated when Guy is sent alone to Gallipoli, they later ride together on one of the last great cavalry charges in history, the ride on Beersheba in August 1917.

Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse is a stunning new picture book from one of Australia’s leading creative pairings in the form. The text is a wonderful blend of poetic, emotive prose and historical basis, and the illustrations capture the colours of the desert and bush settings and the starkness of he war scenes with a deceptive simplicity.

Back of book notes give context to the true story on which the book is based, including details of the charge on Beersheba.

With ANZAC Day approaching, Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse is ideal for school use as well as private reading.

 

Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse, by Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac
Walker Books, 2014
ISBN 9781921977718

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Girl From Snowy River, by Jackie French

I may not have lost my legs, she thought, but I’ve lost those I love forever. The war had savaged Mum, and Mrs Mack, and every woman in the valley. The war was over but the pain was still there, for her and the families left behind, not just for the men who had been maimed.

We’re all bits that the war didn’t take, Flinty thought, gazing at the stranger’s back. But those left behind had a right to know more about the beast who’d chewed their lives and spat the remnants out.

It is 1919, and in the Snowy Mountains Flinty McAlpine is trying to hold her family together – what is left of her family, at least, since the Great War tore it apart. One of her brothers was killed in the war, and another is so scarred that he seems unable to stay at home. Her mother died, Flinty suspects of a broken heart, and her father too passed away, after contracting influenza brought home by returning troops. Flinty may be only 17, but she is now responsible for her two younger siblings and for the running of the farm and the paying of the bills.

When Flinty meets a stranger in a wheelchair, she presumes he is another returned soldier – and he is – but somehow he is not from the Great War, but from a war far in her future, the Vietnam War. Just like Flinty’s brother, and Sandy, the man she loves, Nicholas is scarred by his war time experiences. They may be from different times, but somehow Flinty and Nicholas can see and hear each other, and it may be that they can help each other to heal.

The Girl from Snowy River is a dramatic, heart warming story of survival. Flinty is faced with many challenges – the loss of her parents and brother, her strained relationship with Sandy, the financial stress of trying to keep hold of the family farm, and being a girl in a man’s world – but she also faces unexpected physical challenges, too.

With reference and links to several famous Australian bush poems, The Girl from Snowy River is a wonderful celebration of the Snowy Mountain region as well as an exploration of the history of the time and issues of the impact of war, the role of women, family relationships and more.

The Girl from Snowy River

The Girl from Snowy River, by Jackie French
Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2012
ISBN 9780732293109

Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.