Skoz the Dog – All at Sea, by Andrew Daddo

Hoping for the view to change somewhere – anywhere – Skoz kept spinning. Faster and faster and faster until he eventually fell off in a dizzy wobble. Lying flat on the bottom of the boat, his head back on the packet of bait, Skoz let out a mighty yelp. This was the problem with being a sleepwalking dog.
I’ve woken up, and I haven’t got a clue where I am!

Skoz the dog has a problem. He sleepwalks. And when he does he finds himself waking up in all sorts of difficult situations. This time, when he wakes up he’s all alone on a boat in the middle of the sea. Not only does he have to figure out how to get home, but he also needs to escape from a huge shark that wants him for its dinner.

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea is the first title in an entertaining new series for younger readers. Kids will love the idea of sleepwalking dog, and the humour of the situation he finds himself in. They’ll also love the delightful grey scale illustrations which bring Skoz to life on every spread.

Perfect for emergent readers, this is bound to be popular with junior primary aged readers.

Skoz the Dog - All at Sea

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea, by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Judith Rossell
ABC Books, 2010

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

Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate, by Claire Saxby & Judith Rossell

Sheep lived in a grassy green paddock complete with everything a happy, contented sheep could possibly want. But sheep wasn’t happy. Or content. In Sheep’s paddock, there was no Jellagong tree.

Sheep is happy living in her paddock until she notices the Jellagong tree in Goat’s paddock. Goat tells her the leaves of the Jellagong tree are delicious – and Sheep wants desperately to taste them for herself. But Goat won’t give her any and fiercely guards the creaking gate between the two paddocks. Finally, Sheep comes up with a plan to trick Goat into letting her in – only to find out that the Jellagong Tree isn’t as good as it looks.

Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate is a gently humorous look at the nature of happiness, exploring the theme of the grass is always greener in a way which will make youngsters giggle whilst giving a subtle message about being satisfied with what you have.

Judith Rossell’s illustrations are delightful, using bold greens, blues and yellows to offset the white sheep and brown and white goat, as well as little collage embellishments.

This is a beautiful offering which will be treasured by children and parents.

Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate

Sheep Goat and the Creaking Gate, by Claire Saxby and Judith Rossell
Windy Hollow Books, 2009

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

Too Tight, Benito

Benito Bear had grown during the long days of summer…

Benito has enjoyed his warm-weather romps, but now it is time to crawl into his cubby-hole to sleep for the winter. But when he tries, he discovers his hole is too tight – he has grown during the summer. So Benito sets out to find a new hole – without much success. Every other hole is either too small, too high or too smelly. Finally, Benito returns to his hole and discovers that some hard work will make his hole just right.

Too Tight, Benito is a beautiful picture book with simple text, humorous twists and turns and sumptuous illustrations. Benito romps from hole to hole, accompanied by a nameless squirrel who is not mentioned in the text – although alluded to in the final page when we learn that Benito’s hole has room for one more. A pleasure to read aloud, and a visual delight, this offering will become a firm favourite with adults and children alike.

Too Tight, Benito!

Too Tight, Benito, by Janeen Brian & Judith Rossell
Little Hare, 2008

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

Sam and the Killer Robot, by Judith Rossell

This time Sam didn’t notice Uncle Andy’s strange new voice: he was too busy looking at the price of the boxes of Bisky Bricks and counting his money.

From the moment Sam sees the boxes offering purchasers the chance to collect the parts to build a killer robot, he absolutely has to have one. He’ll do anything to buy enough boxes of Bisky Bricks to get the parts he needs, even though Bisky Bricks taste awful and the parts he has are acting very strangely. It’s as if he’s being called to complete the model.

In the meantime, Sam’s Uncle Andy, who owns the supermarket where Bisky Bricks are sold, is acting very strangely – even more strangely than he usually does. But Sam is too busy trying to build his robot to do anything about Uncle Andy.

This fast-moving, humorous adventure suitable for middle and upper primary aged readers, has plenty of action and laugh aloud moments. This is Rossell’s second novel and shows her keen sense of humour and understanding of what kids want to read.

Sam and the Killer Robot

Sam and the Killer Robot, by Juidth Rossell
Little Hare, 2007

This review first appeared in Reading Time Magazine.

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

The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile, by Judith Rossell

Dear Explorer,

This appeal for help just arrived from an archaeological dig in the Valley of Giants, near el Ephant. A student has gone missing, along with an artefact which may be one part of the broken Seal of Sobek.

The Archaeology Department at The Valley of Kings has sent a letter to the president of Explorers Club, asking for help in finding a lost student. The student was apparently taken by a group of mummies said to be guardians of Sobek’s (the crocodile god) tomb. The president in turn, asks her members to help find the lost student and perhaps the tomb with its marvellous treasures. The scene is set, the clues are there. All The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile needs is a sharp-eyed explorer to make their way through the numerous dangerous paths. If successful they will find the student, and gain access to the tomb of Sobek and its unbounded wealth.

The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile is the third in this series of maze books from Judith Rossell. This, like previous offerings, is full of Rossell’s trademark drawings, colourful and intricate. Maze books are a great way of engaging all manner of readers, from reluctant to confident. For the reluctant reader they are accessible, encourage observation and reward effort. For the confident reader they enrich visual literacy. The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile introduces readers to Egypt and the wealth of history there. There are tit-bits about archaeology, villagers, gods and kings, burial tombs, landscape and fauna. Recommended for 5 yo + readers.

The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile, by Judith Rossell
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733319433

A Nest for Kora, by Claire Saxby

Reviewed by Jackie Hosking

A Nest for Korais a picture story book about a safe place to fall. Its subtle message shows that from firm foundations, namely Kora’s Granny, Kora is able to explore and experience things without fear. Kora, like any youngster, is out to amaze the world with her first egg. Granny is keen to share her own experience with Kora who is determined that her first egg-laying is going to be very different.

Kora searches the farmyard looking for the perfect place for her nest, refusing to listen to Granny’s advice. It’s not until she is sitting in her perfect nest does she realise that sometimes perfect is not perfect at all. Back in the hen house surrounded by family and friends Kora lays her first egg and everyone agrees that it is a very fine egg indeed.

A Nest for Kora is a simple while important story about the importance of family, told with the help of Judith Rossell’s E. H. Shepard – like (of Winnie the Pooh fame) illustrations.

A Nest for Kora, by Claire Saxby Illustrated by Judith Rossell
Windy Hollow Books, 2007
ISBN 9781921136030

This review first appeared in Pass it On Newsletter. It is reprinted here with permission.


The Haunted Castle of Count Viper, by Judith Rossell

Dear President
I need your help urgently! The despicable Count Viper has kidnapped my children, Mika and Elsa. In return for their safety, he demands to know the location of the legendary Cave of Diamonds. I have searched through all the library records, and found only one small, mysterious scrap of information about his cave.
Please send one of your members to rescue my children as soon as possible. I’m frantic with worry.

The opening pages of this intriguing offering challenge young readers to find the missing twins and then search for the legendary Cave of Diamonds. In the pages which follow puzzlers must trace through the richly detailed mazes, finding clues, following trails and overcoming obstacles.

The Haunted Castle of Count Viper is the second book in the Explorer’s Club series , following on from the succesful The Lost Treasure of the Green Iguana. In this new title puzzlers must overcome poison slugfish, venomous spiders, giant cave rats, ghosts and hungry wolves and travel through swamps, graveyards, caves and Count Viper’s castle.

Suitable for 7 to 12 year olds.

The Haunted Castle of Count Viper, by Judith Rossell
ABC Books, 2004

Harriet and the Fox, by Rina Foti

Life is great on Peachberry Farm until a greedy fox starts paying regular visits. He keeps stealing Harriet’s eggs. Harriet knows he is scary, but she is also determined to stop his raids. None of the other animals want to help – they are too scared. So it is up to Harriet.

When the fox makes his next visit, Harriet is ready for him with some special eggs which she has prepared just for him – with a dash of chilli. The unsuspecting fox gets more than he bargained for when he gobbles up the special eggs. Harriet watches in glee as he flees the farm, never to be seen again.

Harriet and the Fox is a bright and humorous picture book offering from author Rina A. Foti and illustrator Judith Rossell. The text is simple and youngsters will love seeing the mean old fox outwitted by the clever hen. They will also adore the illustrations with big, bold animals and loads of colour.


Harriet and the Fox, by Rina A. Foti, illustrated by Judith Rossell
Koala Books, 2004

Warts 'n' All, by Anne Morgan

“Oh no!” Marti has a wart growing on her nose. Her mother says she is too busy to take her to the Doctor to get it frozen off. She’ll have to wait until Tuesday. Marti can’t wait that long – she has to figure out a way to get rid of the wart herself.

In the midst of her efforts, Marti discovers another problem. A new family has moved in next door. There’s a boy about her age who keeps hanging around. He offers to help her get rid of her wart – but can she trust him? Something strange is going on in his back yard and, if she’s not careful, Marti might get caught up in it too.

Warts ‘n’ All is a fast-paced humorous story with a clever twist. An orange level Tadpole from Koala Books, the book is ideal for readers making their early transition from picture books to chapter books, but has enough interest to appeal to much older students, especially those with reading difficulties.

Humorous fun.

Warts ‘n’ All, by Anne Morgan, illustrated by Judith Rossell
Koala Books, 2003

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.