Totally Twins: Birthday Bonanza by Aleesah Darlison

Monday 3 May. 3:42 pm

In the kitchen, scoffing home-made caramel cookies.

Hi, and welcome to my fourth fabulous diary. I can’t believe I’ve managed to fill three diaries already.

In less than three months.

WOW?

Who would have thought I’d have so many amazing things to write down?

BTW (by the way), you simply must read my other diaries. They’re meant to be TOP SECRET, but I think I’ll let you read them. They’re too good not to share. So, when you’ve finished this diary go back and read the others – if you haven’t already. If you dare!

Monday 3 May. 3:42 pm

In the kitchen, scoffing home-made caramel cookies.

Hi, and welcome to my fourth fabulous diary. I can’t believe I’ve managed to fill three diaries already.

In less than three months.

WOW?

Who would have thought I’d have so many amazing things to write down?

BTW (by the way), you simply must read my other diaries. They’re meant to be TOP SECRET, but I think I’ll let you read them. They’re too good not to share.  So, when you’ve finished this diary go back and read the others – if you haven’t already. If you dare!

Totally Twins 4

Persephone Pinchgut is back with her fourth diary. It’s countdown time to her eleventh birthday and there are so many things to be done. Birthday wish lists to be drawn up, a party to plan, negotiating with Portia about party themes and with mum about how many guests they can have. Dill next door is still trying to make friends with Portia and asking Perse why it’s not happening. As if that wasn’t enough to keep a girl occupied, all the adults in her world are acting strangely. Even her father seems to be behaving oddly when she and Portia talk to him in England via Skype.

In this fourth ‘Totally Twins’ diary, Persephone continues to have a love hate relationship with her twin sister, Portia. They are both still adjusting to life since their parents divorced and began seeing other people. In their family, Perse is the thinker and Portia is the ‘doer’, as if each received an unequal portion of individual character traits. But when it is necessary, their differences are dwarfed by their connection and their ability to support one another. Together they ride the wave of change that typifies the goings-on of the modern family. Exaggerated as ‘Birthday Bonanza’ is for comic effect, there is an undercurrent of reality about the ties that bind families together. Illustrations by Serena Geddes are interspersed throughout and break up the text.  Different text types are included and make this a more accessible text for newly-confident readers.  Recommended for early- to mid- primary independent readers.

Totally Twins 4, Aleesah Darlison ill Serena Geddes New Frontier Publishing 2012 isbn: 9781921928208

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Apollo The Powerful Owl by Gordon Winch ill Stephen Pym

Apollo the Powerful Owl finished his supper and thought, ‘I must change my diet. All I do is eat … eat … eat nothing by meat … meat… meat for every meal.’

BURP!

Apollo the Powerful Owl finished his supper and thought, ‘I must change my diet. All I do is eat … eat … eat nothing by meat … meat… meat for every meal.’

Apollo has a moment of introspection and decides that it’s time to change his life. No more will he eat, eat, eat. No more will he frighten all the other forest occupants. And perhaps then he won’t be so lonely. So, day by day, he alters his diet and, he hopes, his life and position in the forest. But no matter how he tries, instead of improving his lot, his efforts seem to make him feel worse and worse. Finally he seeks counsel from a wise old owl. Only then does his role and his life make sense. Illustrations are full page and include many other forest dwellers. An information page at the end of the story provides more details about this threatened species.

Apollo wants to be more like the other animals in the forest and perhaps then they will be his friends. But it’s not as easy as that and Apollo discovers that he has a role to play in the ecosystem and that there are other ways and other places to seek friendship. It is a story about being yourself as well as discovering that everyone has a role to play in the world. There is opportunity to use this story in a classroom to introduce an Australian animal, an Australian environment, discuss food chains and ecosystems. Readers will empathise with Apollo and his need for companionship and will celebrate with him at the story’s conclusion/solution. Recommended for pre- and early-readers.

Apollo the Powerful Owl

Apollo the Powerful Owl, Gordon Winch ill Stephen Pym
New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928284

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores or online.

Mary MacKillop: Australia’s First Saint by Gabiann Marin ill Angela Grzegrzolka

The woman who would one day become Australia’s first saint was born in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Fitzroy on 15 January 1842. There was nothing about Mary Helen MacKillop that hinted at how important she would become. She was a sweet, but ordinary baby.

She caused her mother very little trouble as a child, which was fortunate because Mary’s father, Alexander MacKillop, caused more than enough trouble for the whole family. It was not that Alexander was a bad man, or a bad father. In fact, he was loved dearly by little Mary. It was just that he wasn’t a very good businessman.

The woman who would one day become Australia’s first saint was born in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Fitzroy on 15 January 1842. There was nothing about Mary Helen MacKillop that hinted at how important she would become. She was a sweet, but ordinary baby.

She caused her mother very little trouble as a child, which was fortunate because Mary’s father, Alexander MacKillop, caused more than enough trouble for the whole family. It was not that Alexander was a bad man, or a bad father. In fact, he was loved dearly by little Mary. It was just that he wasn’t a very good businessman.

Mary MacKillop was born in Australia to Scottish parents, the eldest child in a large family. Her father was very intelligent and had at one stage studied for the priesthood. But he changed his mind and married instead. He was a loving father but an erratic businessman who lost all the family money in failed business schemes. Mary realised early on that she would have to help support the family. This pathway led her to Portland in south-western Victoria and Penola in South Australia where she met Fr Woods. With his help and encouragement she founded an order of nuns with the aim of offering an education to all children. Mary and other sisters worked hard in often challenging conditions to offer free schooling to poor children. There were times where this brought her into conflict with church hierarchy and for a time meant that she was ostracised from her own church. But she endured and leaves a legacy of kindness and persistence. Colour illustrations appear on most openings.

Mary MacKillop: Australia’s First Saint is a new offering in the Aussie Heroes series from New Frontier Publishing. Like other titles in this non-fiction series, Mary MacKillop: Australia’s First Saint looks at the life of a prominent Australian. Mary’s work was important in establishing free education for all in Australia. Her story also illuminates some of the history of the time. Readers will discover the different opportunities (or lack of them) available to earlier Australians. Mary MacKillop’s story offers a window on history and there is plenty of material for classroom discussion. It’s also an example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.

Mary MacKillop: Australia's First Saint (Aussie Heroes)

Mary MacKillop: Australia’s First Saint, Gabiann Marin ill Angela Grzegrzolka New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928192

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available in good bookstores or online.

Eddie Pipper by Janeen Brian ill Emma Stuart

‘Eddie Pipper! Here, now!’

Oh, oh. In his bedroom, Eddie wiped his gleey hands down the sides of his grey school shorts. Glue dried clear. Mum would never know. He stood too quickly and his foot knowced the jar of glue. It tilted – and toppeled! Oh, no! He scooped some of the gooey mixture off the bare wooden floor and plopped it back into the container.

‘Eddie!’

He’d get the rest later. With any luck, it might soak into the floorboards and he wouldn’t have to clean it up.

‘Back soon, Might Penguin,’ he told the sloppy mess of paper strips glued to a couple of balloons.

‘Eddie Pipper! Here, now!’

Oh, oh. In his bedroom, Eddie wiped his gluey hands down the sides of his grey school shorts. Glue dried clear. Mum would never know. He stood too quickly and his foot knocked the jar of glue. It tilted – and toppleed! Oh, no! He scooped some of the gooey mixture off the bare wooden floor and plopped it back into the container.

‘Eddie!’

He’d get the rest later. With any luck, it might soak into the floorboards and he wouldn’t have to clean it up.

‘Back soon, Might Penguin,’ he told the sloppy mess of paper strips glued to a couple of balloons.

Nearly-nine-year-old Eddie Pipper is passionate about penguins. He’d desperately love a penguin as a pet. And he does  have a birthday coming up. But there are more than a few hurdles. First he has to remember to be responsible. Leaving your sister in a pool of ice and forgetting about her, isn’t responsible. No matter how much penguins like it, little sisters don’t. And then there’s the forgetting. His head is so full of penguins and how to get one of his own that there’s not much room for anything else. Like bus money. And Pet Parade.

Many parents will recognise the obsession that can overtake children and consume them to the exclusion of almost everything else. Many children will recognise that longing for something that seems to remain tantalisingly out of reach. And the seeming lack of empathy from those around them. Eddie is a dreamy, yet focussed child (very focussed!) and readers will cheer him on. Eddie Pipper is a new title in New Frontier’s Little Rockets series, targeted at lower- to mid-primary readers. Text is wide-spaced and colour illustrations are dispersed throughout. Stories are fully realised but not over-long, with achievable length chapters. Recommended for lower- to mid-primary readers. And anyone who longs for a pet of their own.

Eddie Pipper

Eddie Pipper by Janeen Brian ill Emma Stuart
New Frontier Publishing 2012
ISBN: 9781921928215

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Katie & the Leprechaun by Kathryn England ill Emma Stuart

Katie’s day may have begun in a familiar way, but her walk to school soon changes that. It’s not every day you meet a leprechaun in your local park.

The day that Katie O’Reilly met Paddy Fitzpatrick had started out like most other school days. Katie slept through her alarm. Her sister, Ellen, woke her by yelling in her ear. The shower was lukewarm because she was the last one to use it. She only had tme to eat half her breakfast. Ellen didn’t wait for her. Finally, just as she bounded through her front gate she saw the school bus pull away from the stop on the corner.

‘Here we go again,’ Katie sighed.

Katie’s day may have begun in a familiar way, but her walk to school soon changes that. It’s not every day you meet a leprechaun in your local park. Paddy Fitzpatrick, leprechaun, is bored and uninspired, and somehow it’s up to Katie to help him out. Not that Paddy makes it easy. He’s not sure what he wants, except that he wants something different. He’s a shoemaker and he’s bored with his usual work. Katie spends the day helping him regain his mojo. Along the way, Paddy shares unfamiliar tellings of familiar fairy tales, until Katie’s not sure what to believe about anything.

Little Rockets is a new series from New Frontier Publishing. Each title mixes reality with a little bit of magic. Katie and The Leprechaun provides an Australian solution to an Irishman’s quandary. Along the way there are giggles and twists, frustrations and fun. These short novels are perfect for newly confident readers. The text is widely spaced on the page and interspersed with colour illustrations. Grounding this story in reality gives the reader a safe place to begin, before floating them off into the delightful world of make believe. Recommended for lower- to mid-primary readers.

Katie and The Leprechaun

Katie and The Leprechaun, Kathryn England ill Emma Stuart
New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928239

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Avaialble fromm good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Gertie the Witch, by Valerie Thomas ill by Janet Wolf

Gertie is not a very nice witch. She’s selfish and thoughtless. Only her sister, Susie, is worse. But where Gertie seems to get away with her pranks, Susie is always in trouble and needing help. But what about the postman pig?

Gertie the Witch, by Valerie Thomas ill by Janet Wolf

‘Hee, hee, hee,’ cackled Gertie, as she turned the postman into a pig.

Gertie loved being a witch. She had so much fun.She thought that a pig trying to ride a bicycle looked very funny, and she always enjoyed a good laugh.

‘Oink, oink,’ said the postman. He fell off his bicycle and the letters spilled into a puddle.

‘Hee, hee, hee,’ cackled Gertie.

One of the letters was for her. She picked it up out of the puddle, wiped it on her dress and opened it.

‘Dear Gertie,’ she read.

‘Oink, oink,’ said the postman.

‘Do be quiet,’ said Gertie, ‘or I’ll turn you into a pork chop.’

The postman picked up the other letters with his mouth, stuffed them into his bag with his snout and rode away as fast as his little hind legs would go.

Gertie is not a very nice witch. She’s selfish and thoughtless. Only her sister, Susie, is worse. But where Gertie seems to get away with her pranks, Susie is always in trouble and needing help. But what about the postman pig? He’s gone home to his family. Understandably they preferred their husband/father as a man rather than a pig. Things get worse when the postman’s wife tries to get Gertie to reverse her spell. Now it’s up to twins Will and Annie. They’re a trifle more cautious than their impulsive mother and make their plans carefully. Gertie the Witch is sprinkled throughout with colour illustrations, and widely spaced text is designed for newly independent readers.

Gertie the Witch is one of four new novels for young readers from New Frontier Publishing. They are designed for young readers making the transition from fully illustrated texts to longer stories. ‘Gertie the Witch’ is from Valerie Thomas, well known for her wonderful ‘Winnie the Witch’ picture books. Main characters Will and Annie behave in more mature and thoughtful ways than most of the adults. The action trots along at a crackling pace, humour and puns abound. Recommended for early-mid primary readers.

Gertie the Witch, Valerie Thomas ill Janet Wolf New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928222

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Hubert & the Magic Glasses by Candice Lemon-Scott ill Joe Spellman

Hubert loves soccer. Unfortunately, although his best friend is the team star, he is dreadful. He’s the goalkeeper and the ball always seems to find a way past him. Hubert tries, but the ball is always faster. He’s not sure what to do, and spends his waking and sleeping moments worrying about it.

Hubert sat on the bench in the change rooms and slowly put on his T-shirt and soccer boots. He was so nervous he could barely tie his laces. He was goalkeeper for Goodview’s Under 12s Able Ants soccer team; and he was hopeless.

They were about to play the Wandering Wombats, the worst team in the region. But that just made Hubert feel even worse. If he couldn’t keep the ball out of the goal with that team playing, the Ants had no chance of making it through to the next round.

Hubert loves soccer. Unfortunately, although his best friend is the team star, he is dreadful. He’s the goalkeeper and the ball always seems to find a way past him. Hubert tries, but the ball is always faster. He’s not sure what to do, and spends his waking and sleeping moments worrying about it. There’s one thing he is sure about though, and that’s that glasses will not fix his problems. Mum takes him to the optometrist, despite his protests, and he is issued with a pair of magic glasses. How can a pair of glasses turn his life around?

Hubert and the Magic Glasses is a new title from the ‘Little Rockets’ series from New Frontier Publishing. They are short chapter books for newly independent readers, designed to help the transition from fully illustrated books to longer works. There are colour illustrations scattered throughout, and text is large and widely spaced. ‘Hubert & the Magic Glasses’ explores the relationship between skill and confidence. Hubert does need help from those around him, but to really succeed he needs to take charge of his own responses. And a little bit of magic doesn’t hurt. Recommended for newly independent readers.

Hubert and the Magic Glasses, Candice Lemon-Scott ill Joe Spellman New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928246

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

The Children Who Loved Books by Peter Carnavas

Angus and Lucy didn’t have very much …

Angus and Lucy didn’t have very much …

Angus and Lucy didn’t have very much, but it doesn’t seem to bother them, or their parents, all that much. Then one day the books, which were the one thing they had lots of, overwhelmed them and their home. So they had to go. When they were gone however, they took with them something more than just the pages.

The Children Who Loved Books is a new title from writer/illustrator Peter Carnavas and continues his trademark exploration of family and childhood. Here we see the family enjoying books and being together, being happy despite a dearth of material possessions. There is a suggestion that books help us to communicate, as well as to entertain and teach us. The text is very spare and his characters seldom speak but they manage to communicate clearly with the reader. Illustrations are watercolour set in lots of white space. There is plenty here for a teacher to use in the classroom, whether it’s about storytelling in picture form, the important things in life, or the experience of family. Recommended for lower primary readers.

The Children Who Loved Books

The Children Who Loved Books, Peter Carnavas
2012 New Frontier Publishing
ISBN: 9781921928161

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com