Worms! by Lyn Uhlman

Jason loves growing things. He works hard in his greenhouse to produce beautiful flowers. His Dad and his brother aren’t so interested in plants. They are into astronomy and spend hours trying to tune into alien signals on the airwaves. But when a new family moves in next door, Jason thinks he may be the first in the family to meet a real life alien.

Jason’s suspicions start when the neighbours arrive in a strange glowing vehicle in the middle of the night. Then when he peeps through the fence and sees one of the neighbours putting a human head on over a worm body, he is convinced. The neighbours are really giant worms. But why are they are here on Earth and what do they want from Jason? Jason’s biggest problem could be convincing his Dad and his brother that their neighbours are aliens. Until his Dad figures out the truth and Jason embarks on the journey of a lifetime.

This fun, action packed novel will have 8 to 12 year old readers turning the pages. There is plenty of humour and adventure as well as the fun of an alien code. At the end of the novel there is a message for readers to translate – a bonus which young sleuths will love.

Worms! is an outstanding offering from Queensland based author Lyn Uhlman. It is part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education.

Worms!, by Lyn Uhlman, illustrated by Tom Kurema
Macmillan Education, 2004

Stowaway, by Trudie Trewin

Heather had never felt quite this bad before. She wiped the sweat off her palms again, this time onto her dress. She could feel the thumping of her heart under the material. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. She groaned. ‘This is easily going to be the worst day of my life,’ she thought.

Heather is terrified of giving a talk in front of her whole class. She would do anything to get out of it. So, when her Aunty Jenny stops by in her ambulance before school, Heather hides in the back, looking for lift to somewhere she can hide out for the day.

Soon, though, Heather is regretting her actions. The ambulance is called to an accident and as it races through the streets, Heather is thrown around and hurts her wrist. Surely her day can’t get any worse than this?

Stowaway is a humorous and fast moving story which deals with a very real fear for many children (and adults) – speaking in front of their peers. The solution is appropriate, the characters and their actions believable.

Part of the Trekkers series by Macmillan Education, Stowaway is equally suitable for classroom or private reading.

Stowaway, by Trudie Trewin
Macmillan Education, 2005

Trapeze, by Goldie Alexander

Bump! Bump! CRASH!
Ritchie started up in bed. He switched on his reading lamp.
That noise! He was sure that noise came from straight above his head. He sat up and gazed at the ceiling. To his astonishment, he saw a small lump like a blister bulge out of the plaster.
He must be asleep.
This must be a dream.

Ritchie’s life isn’t going well. First his parents separated. Then his dad went to work in Darwin and he and his mum moved into a flat. The only good thing in his life is his new friend Lilla, who used to be an acrobat in a circus.

When strange things seem to be happening on his bedroom ceiling every night, Ritchie thinks he must be dreaming. Could these strange happenings be a turning point amidst all this gloom?

Trapeze is a new title in the Trekkers series from Macmillan Education. Aimed at children with a reading age of around 11 and a half years, it is suitable both for classroom reading and private enjoyment.

Trapeze, by Goldie Alexander
Macmillan Education, 2005

The Lost Ship, by Paul Collins

Tammy and Dayne aren’t impressed that their parents are spending their holidays digging up the beach looking for a long lost ship. So, when they notcie a group of tourists heading off for a cave tour, they beg to be allowed to go too.

In the caves, though, strange things happen. When the children decide to hide from the tour group they find that the caves are not as boring as they first thought. They also learn a little more about the lost ship their father is searching for.

The Lost Ship is a yellow level title in Macmillan Education’s Breakers series. Young readers will enjoy the eerie elements of the story, although some may be left a little confused by the rushed ending.

Aimed at a reading age of 8.5, The Lost Ship is suitable for classroom or individual reading.

The Lost Ship, by Paul Collins
Macmillan Education, 2003

The Pontiac and the Fairy, by Grace Oakley


‘Hey, mate, you can’t marry a tooth fairy!’ Uncle John spoke up, astounded. “You’re way taller than her, she’s got wings and you haven’t, and she would be out all night picking up kid’s teeth!’
‘I’ll get a night job,’ Pete said defiantly, ‘and through the day I’ll shrink myself, so I’ll be the same size as Isabella. The wings are neither here nor there. She’s got wings; I’ve got a beard. So what? We’re all different aren’t we?’

Tim loves having his very own tooth fairy, but his dad isn’t so sure. So when the family goes to Kalgoorlie for a holiday, Tim smuggles her along in his bag. Which seems okay until his bag gets accidentally mixed up. When he reclaims his bag from Pete Poupa, the bikie, Isabella is missing. Pete says he hasn’t seen her, but Tim isn’t convinced. He is sure Pete knows where Isabella is. What he doesn’t know is what to do about it.

The Pontiac and the Fairy is a yellow level title in Macmillan Education’s Breakers series. Kids will enjoy the combination of the bikie and the fairy and it’s a pity that this plot couldn’t be further developed. Still, it is a fun tale and is suitable for classroom or private reading, aimed at children with a reading age around 10.5 years.

The Pontiac and the Fairy, by Grace Oakley
Macmillan Education, 2004

Madoop and the Mountain Mower, by Jonathan Gould

The King couldn’t believe it. He’d never seen anything like these magnificently majestic mountains in his life. They were so incredibly huge, with their snow-covered tips soaring into the heavens. The King felt awed. He felt humbled. Then he felt angry. He knew now there was only one thing he could do.
“I have to get rid of those mountains,” the King raged.

The mythical kingdom of Oopsalonia is ruled by a very tiny King. King Oppsbert does not like being tiny. So, when he notices that the kingdom is surrounded by giant mountains, he orders that they be destroyed.

Madoop, one of the King’s loyal subjects, loves the mountains surrounding Oopsalonia, and is appalled that the King wants them destroyed. He tries to convince the King that the mountains should stay. But the King is not easily convinced.

Madoop and the Mountain Mower is a funny, cleverly crafted tale of wisdom and of self-esteem. Madoop, a young, insignificant boy, is able to help the King overcome not just his hatred of the mountains, but his insecurities relating to his size.

Madoop is a yellow level title in Macmillan Education’s Breakers series. Aimed at readers with a reading age of around 10 years, it is suitable both for classroom and private reading.

A clever book.

Madoop and the Mountain Mower, by Jonathan Gould
Macmillan education, 2003

The Children of Theatre Place, by Adrian Peniston-Bird

High on the wall above the counter the old railway clock ticked away the minutes. Again Sally-Anne peered out nervously through the front window of the shop. With every passing moment the sky was darkening and deep shadows were steadily creeping across the paved square.

Sally-Anne has taken on a holiday job to help pay for extra basketball coaching. She likes working for her mum’s friend, Meg,but when she’s left to close up by herself one evening, a strange chain of events begins.

First, Sally-Anne receives a strange delivery for the shop: three large cartons that Meg, the store owner, hasn’t ordered. When Meg allows Sally-Anne to open one of the boxes the next day, they find a store mannequin that is disarmingly life-like.

In the days that follow, strange things start happening at the shop in Theatre Place. Someone with access to the shop saves it from being flooded, and new stock is ordered without Meg’s permission. Sally-Anne is blamed for the mysterious happenings – but she knows nothing about them. But who else could it be and how can she convince Meg it isn’t her?

The Children of Theatre Place is a yellow level reader in the new Breakers series from Macmillan Education. Although the trigger or motive for the strange happenings is a little unclear, children will enjoy the mystery of the ‘children’ who rescue the shop.

The Children of Theatre Place is targeted at children with a reading age of around 10 years and is suitable for private or classroom reading.

The Children of Theatre Place, by Adrian Peniston-Bird
Macmillan Education, 2003

The Cockies of Manatu Island, by Judi Pope

‘What on earth…?’ Mum gasped as she walked into the room.
‘We’ve been robbed,’ Corey gazed wide-eyed around the room. ‘Wow! I’ve never been robbed before. Do you think the robbers are still here?’

Corey and Mikaela are rapt to be going on a family holiday to Manatu Island. But on their first day someone breaks into their apartment. The resort managers tell them that it is probably cockatoos doing the damage – but until they see it for themselves, the family doesn’t believe it is possible. Once they are convinced, they set up a video camera to see for themselves what is going on.

The Cockies of Manatu Island is a yellow level reader from the new Breakers series from Macmillan. Aided by the comic-style illustrations of Tom Kurema, the story is a fun holiday tale, suitable both for classroom use and for private reading. Animal tales are always popular with kids, and the unusual nature and setting of this one will appeal.

The Cockatoos of Manatu Island, by Judi Pope
Macmillan Education, 2003

The Golden Luge, by Gary Underwood

This track starts with a very steep slope. I get up to top speed very quickly. At least I think it is top speed. The luge just seems to get faster and faster. The two boys in front slow up coming in the first corner and I gain on them. We all hit the corner at once with Jack and I pushing into the back of their luges.
‘Get out the way slugs!’ I call out.

When Bevan and his friends go on a school trip to New Zealand, they are hoping for some excitement and can’t wait to go skiing. But when the weather changes and skiing is cancelled, they aren’t impressed at the idea of trying out the luge instead. Isn’t the luge just like a billy cart? They are too old for that sort of thing.

When they get there, however, they learn that the luge can be pretty exciting. Flying downhill on a slippery track is a little different than riding in a billy cart. When they are challenegd to a race by the students from another school, the excitement increases.

The Golden Luge is one of 20 yellow level titles in the new Breakers series from Macmillan. With a combination of action, adventure and learning, it is a good title for classroom use, but will also appeal for private reading.

Many readers will be unfamilair with the luge and will enjoy learning about it, and teachers will appreciate that the children learn about competitiveness and fairness as they enjoy the story.

The Golden Luge is targeted at children with a reading age of approximately ten years. Its subject matter makes it suitable for older students with reading difficulties.

The Golden Luge, by Gary Underwood, illustrated by Dave Deakin
Macmillan Education, 2003

Raspberry Rat, by Robert Moore

The orphan joey nuzzled my pullover and curled into a soft ball. It felt like his mother’s pouch. But the smoke from the burning canes drifted close and the joey tried to jump out of my arms. Smoke frightened him.

Brendon is working with his dad on their raspberry farm when they find an orphaned rat-kangaroo. Brendon takes it home and cares for it. Soon Ras (as he comes to be known) is part of the family, but Brendon and his sister Fiona both know that eventually they will have to return Ras to the wild, where he belongs.

Looking after Ras isn’t always easy, but it is very rewarding. Letting him go isn’t easy either. Brendon isn’t sure he’ll ever get over missing Ras.

Raspberry Rat is a chapter book for 8 to 10 year old readers. Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, it is suitable both for classroom use and for private reading. Many children will be unfamiliar with rat-kangaroos and will enjoy learning about them as they read the book.

A good read.

Raspberry Rat, by Robert Moore
Macmillan Education, 2003