Super Con-Nerd, by Oliver Phommavanh

My name is Connor and I’m a nerd, so my friends call me Con-nerd. Well, my old friends did, back at Green hill Primary. I’ve only been here at Kentsworth High School for a week, so nobody has called me Con-nerd. They don’t even call me a nerd.
That’s because this place is full of nerds.

In primary school, Connor had a great group of friends. They thought he was a nerd, but that was one of the things they liked about him. This year, though, Connor is at highschool, and his friends are at different schools. He’s at an academic selective school, and everyone there is smart. Suddenly, Connor isn’t the smartest one in his class. In fact, he isn’t anywhere near the top.  With no friends to talk to, and everyone around seemingly super-smart, Connor isn’t sure if he’ll survive his first term of high school, let alone make his family proud, or have time to follow his true dream – of being a comic book creator.

Super Con-Nerd is the second story featuring Connor, who is smart, funny, loyal to his friends and an entertaining narrator. This installment stands alone satisfactorily, but it will be especially enjoyed by those who have already met Connor in the first book.

Suitable for readers of all abilities, Super Con-Nerd is a satisfying read.

Super Con-Nerd, by Oliver Phommavanh
Puffin Books 2017
ISBN 9780143306535

New Boy, by Nick Earls

The car is still all snot and tears and noise when we get to the drop-off zone outside One Mile Creek State School.

As Mom’s door opens, Hansie’s screaming makes everyone look at us – students, parents, teachers, all arriving at this same precise inconvenient moment. This is not the perfect beginning to my first day.

I am supposed to look cooler than this.

Before he and his family moved to Australia, Herschelle used the internet to research what life would be like, and to learn Australian slang. But now that he’s here, Herschelle is discovering that it is very different than he expected: the food is strange, the other kids don’t understand his accent, and the other kids haven’t heard of most of the so-called Aussie slang he has learnt. At his last school, he was one of the cool kids, but here he’s quickly learning what it’s like to be different.

New Boy is a funny, moving story about the immigrant experience, about belonging and about bullying and racism. Primary aged readers will laugh at Herschelle’s problems with language and his surprise at how things are done in Australia, but they’ll also feel for him as he struggles to understand and to adapt.

Herschelle is a likeable narrator, and New Boy is a valuable tool for classroom reading as well as for private enjoyment.

New Boy, by Nick Earls
Puffin Books, 2015
ISBN 9780143308393

Available from good bookstores and online.

Stuff Happens: Fadi, by Scot Gardner

Principal Davies didn’t realise that banning tackling games would mean that our need to tackle would build up and build up until it had to come out.
It came out one recess on the EBO – the oval across the road from school.
I tackled Jack, even though tackling was banned. I broke the rules and I think I broke Jack’s arm.

Fadi is a big by with a big heart. Being a year older than everyone else, and with Samoan heritage and a love for rugby, Fadi feels like whenever he moves he breaks something. But staying still is too hard, and sometimes stuff just seems to happen.

Fadi is a book about getting into trouble, fitting in and learning to like yourself. Gently humorous, the story is also realistic, exploring issues which might confront contemporary children.

Aimed at chidlren in middle and upper primary, Fadi is part of the Stuff Happens series from Puffin Books and will engage both competent and reluctant readers.

 

Fadi (Stuff Happens)

Fadi, by Scot Gardner
Puffin Books, 2015
ISBN 9780143308126

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Andy Flegg Survival Guide, by Mark Pardoe

Let me start by saying that this sucks.
‘What sucks?’ I hear you say.
No, actually that’s stupid. I don’t hear you say that. How could I?
For a start I don’t even know who you are, so what would you be doing here talking to me in my bedroom?

Andy Flegg does not want to write in a journal. but if he wants his parents to buy him an XBox, he has to write in it every day until his birthday, which is 124 days away. He has no idea what he is going to write about, but he desperately wants that XBox, so he’s going to do it. Luckily (in an unlucky kind of way), life is about to send lots of curve balls Andy’s way, so he’ll have plenty to write about – as the book’s title The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing Your Dog, Your Dad and Your Dignity in 138 Days suggests. The journal might even help him get through it all.

While the use of a journal of diary written by a reluctant protagonist is not new, but it is a format which works, allowing the reader direct insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings. Of course it also allows for plenty of humour in the form of an unreliable narrator and plenty of misunderstandings. Readers will enjoy Andy’s voice, and also empathise with the pain of the quite traumatic events he experiences, a pleasing blend.

The Andy Flegg Survival Guide is suitable for middle and upper primary readers.

 

Book Cover: The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing your dog, your Dad and your dignity in 138 Days

The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing Your Dog, Your Dad and Your Dignity in 138 Days, by Mark Pardoe
Puffin Books, 2013
ISBN 9780143306771

Available from good bookstores and online.

Too Small to Fail, by Morris Gleitzman

All that Oliver wants is a dog. Not just any dog, though – he wants the little black and white dog in the pet store. But Oliver can’t have a dog, because his parents are too rich for a pet. Then a strange lady buys the dog, Barclay, which is soon in a lot of trouble, and so are sixteen camels, Mum and Dad – and even Oliver himself. It’s up to him to try to figure out a way to save them all…

Oliver wanted more.
Not squillions of dollars and private jets and solid gold zips on his school bag. Not even his own paint-ball island in the Pacific or lolly trucks backing up to his place every day.
Just more than this.

All that Oliver wants is a dog. Not just any dog, though – he wants the little black and white dog in the pet store. But Oliver can’t have a dog, because his parents are too rich for a pet. Then a strange lady buys the dog, Barclay, which is soon in a lot of trouble, and so are sixteen camels, Mum and Dad – and even Oliver himself. It’s up to him to try to figure out a way to save them all.

Too Small to Fail is a funny story about an unlikely hero in the form of a small boy who isn’t good at maths and whose parents are incredibly rich. As the world faces a financial crisis, Oliver finds himself face to face with people affected by his parents’ investment strategies and proves to himself – and others – that being god at maths in’t the only way to make a difference. In places the story is sad, and very serious, but mostly it is a humorous adventure which middle and upper primary aged readers will love.

Good stuff.

Too Small to Fail

Too Small to Fail, by Morris Gleitzman
Puffin, 2011
ISBN 9780143306429

 

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Meet Letty, by Alison Lloyd

‘Excuse me. I have to find my family,’ Letty said.
Letty ducked beneath the woman’s elbow. Through a gap in the railing she saw Papa standing on the jetty, by himself. Then she saw that the gangplank was being pulled in. The ship was getting ready to sail, Letty realised. And she was still on it!

When Letty is left to watch her big sister’s trunk, she takes her job seriously – so seriously that she follows it onto the ship. Before she knows it, she is trapped on the ship as it sets sail for New South Wales. There is no way to get off, so, even though Lavinia doesn’t want her there, she is bound for a new life. First, though, there’s the gruelling journey to survive.

Meet Letty is the first of four stories featuring Letty, set in 1841. Part of the My Australian Girl series, this first instalment focuses on the hardships of Letty’s journey to and arrival in Sydney , with subsequent volumes to follow her adventures in the new land. Young readers will be drawn into the series , keen to know what happens to the likeable Letty.

Meet Letty (Our Australian Girl)

Meet Letty (Our Australian Girl), by Alison Lloyd
Puffin, 2011
ISBN 978014330540

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online through Fishpond.

Panda Chase, by Justin D'Ath

Pingwu was huge and scary. His big yellow teeth were as thick as Jordan’s fingers.

Jordan and Harry have got a lot going on. They’ve got an orphaned possum to hand feed, a bathful of yabbies to rehome and sheep to chase off the highway. If that’s not enough, they’re also the first on the scene when a giant panda escapes from a crashed truck. But really, it’s just another day in the life of Mission Fox: Animal Rescue Service.

Panda Chase is the second title in this series for middle primary aged readers and, in true Justin D’Ath style, raises the stakes for the twins, who in the previous book only had to deal with a giant python, a swarm of wasps and an escaped cockatoo. Their operations don’t always go smoothly, and their mother doesn’t approve of some of their antics, but young readers will.

Good stuff.

Panda Chase (Mission Fox)

Panda Chase (Mission Fox), by Justin D’Ath
Puffin Books, 2011
ISBN 978014330582

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Snake Escape, by Justin D'Ath

The twins looked up…
‘Shishkebab!’ they gasped.
Bella was enormous.

Twins Jordan and Harry are on a mission. With their dog Myrtle they have set up Mission Fox Animal Rescue Service, and now Mrs Seabert wants them to help her find her missing pet – a giant python called Bella.

But catching a scary, and hungry, snake is not easy – especially when you add in a scared cockatoo, an angry cat and a swarm of wasps. This could be Jordan and Harry’s slipperiest mission.

Snake Escape is the first title in a new series for junior readers by Justin D’Ath, author of the extremely popular Extreme Adventures series. Harry and Jake are fairly normal nine year olds – they have fears, illnesses and foibles – who, in their quest to do something special, find themselves in extraordinary situations. Eight to ten year old readers will love this.

Snake Escape (Mission Fox)

Snake Escape (Mission Fox), by Justin D’Ath
Puffin Books, 2011
ISBN 9780143305811

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Meet Poppy, by Gabrielle Wang

Blossom’s eyes filled with tears.
‘Don’t cry, Bloss. I have a plan.’
Blossom looked at Poppy. ‘You do?’
‘I’m going to escape, and when I find Gus, we’ll come back to Bird Creek and rescue you … all of you.’

It is 1864 and Poppy is growing up at Bird Creek Mission, outside Echuca. She doesn’t like mission life, but it gets even worse after her brother Gus runs away to go panning for gold. Then Mother Hangtree arranges for her to go and live with a family of strangers, and she knows it’s time that she, too, ran away. It’s her only chance of being reunited with Gus.

Meet Poppy is the first of four stories about Poppy, an orphan of an Aboriginal mother and Chinese father, who must use her wits to survive. Part of the new Our Australian Girl series from Puffin Books, this first story will leave the reader keen to read the next three and find out what happens to Poppy.

Good stuff.

Meet Poppy (Our Australian Girl)

Meet Poppy (Our Australian Girl), by Gabrielle Wang
Puffin Books, 2011
ISBN 9780143305323

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Meet Grace, by Sofie Laguna

Grace screamed as men grabbed at her legs. She heard whistling and shouting and then she fainted as she fell, half-dragged, into the arms of a runner.
When she came to, the policemen hauled her into a cart. Grace didn’t need to ask where she was going. She already knew. To the gallows to be hanged.

It is 1808 and orphan girl Grace lives in London, surviving by working daily as a mudlark – scouring the muddy bottom of the Thames for things to sell. Her one joy in life is watching the horses on Fleet Street. But one day Grace’s hunger gets the better of her and she steals an apple. Even her horse friend can’t save her from being arrested, and soon she finds herself in prison facing the possibility of a death sentence.

Meet Grace is the first of four stories about this convict girl and forms part of the Our Australian Girl series from Puffin books. The series traces the lives of four girls in different periods of Australian history, with each girl the heroine of four books, and each set of four written by an eminent Australian author.

Meet Grace not only introduces Grace, enticing young readers to sek out the next instalment, but is self-contained enough to be satisfying on its own.

Meet Grace (Our Australian Girl)

Meet Grace (Our Australian Girl), by Sofie Laguna
Puffin, 2011
ISBN 9780143305286

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.