Grandma looked at the cake … and all the stuff on the ground. ‘You’ve got a long way to go before you know how to use your skills properly,’ she said, ‘and I’m here to help. But your mum’s right. There is no doubt about it, Nelson…you are a NINJA!
Nelson is am awkward uncool nerd, who lives in the junkyard with his mum, grandma and cousin. So when he wakes up on his tenth birthday and can suddenly do things he never could before, he is more than a little weirded out. When he learns that he is, in fact, a ninja – perhaps the last ninja on earth – he thinks there must be a mistake. He can’t even get his undies around the right way, let alone save the world.
From Nerd to Ninja is the first offering the new Ninja Kid series from much loved comedian and children’s author Anh Do. Combining humour with a fast moving story and an unlikely, though likable, hero, the story is sure to impress young readers who will keenly await the next installment.
From Nerd to Ninja, by Anh Do
Scholastic Australia, 2018
There is only one reason why Arg is bored:
1. He is never allowed to do anything exciting.
Arg is not allowed to go hunting with his dad. He is not allowed to explore the jungle, or play by the lava pits. Arg’s mum thinks everything is too dangerous.
Arg is bored AND hungry. He isn’t allowed to go hunting, or do anything else interesting. But when Mum brings home some eggs, Arg finds out this egg is more interesting that expected. There’s a cute dinosaur inside. Arg’s the only one who knows, and he wants to keep it that way so that his new friend isn’t eaten.
The Great Egg Stink is the first book in the new Dinosaur Trouble series, featuring cave boy Arg and his Stone Age family. the second book, The Lava Melt shake, shows Arg figuring out a way to stop lava from wiping out the village.
Both books are easy to read, short chapter books with black and white illustrations on every spread, and lots of humour mixed with action.
Suitable for newly independent readers, each book stands alone.
Dinosaur Trouble: The Great Egg Stink ISBN 9781775433668
Dinosaur Trouble: The Lava Melt Shake ISBN 9781775433675
By Kyle Mewburn & Donovan Bixley
Outside, kids were running, shouting, playing and laughing. If I closed my eyes it sounded just like the playground of my old school back in London. But instead of cool and misty air, the sun shone down bright and hot. The air smelled different too. All sea-salty and spicy. And of course the biggest difference was that almost everyone was a stranger.
Pippa and her family might have moved to an idyllic island town, but that doesn’t make it easy. She has left behind friends she’s known since nursery school in London, and moved across the world to Australia, where everything seems different. On top of that, they are living in a caravan in her grandparents’ garden while Mum puts everything into renovating a run-down boatshed she wants to make into a cafe bookshop. Pippa isn’t sure it will work, but when she makes some new friends, things start looking up.
The Beach Shack Cafe is the first title in a new series following Pippa’s new life on Kira Island. Pippa faces the challenges of a new start with the help of her thoughtful, if slightly distracted, mum, and through trial and occasional error.
Young readers will love the island setting and will look forward to more installments.
Pippa’s Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe, by Belinda Murrell
Random House Australia, 2017
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.
Whizz’s Internet Oopsie ISBN 9781775434245
Glitterwing’s Book Week Blunder ISBN 9781775434238
Both by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Kirsten Richards
My other name is Chook. People call me that because chickens are sometimes called chooks, and I’m a bit of a chicken. That means I’m scared of hings, which is true. I do get scared of things. A lot.
Chook – also known as Simon Henry Doolan – is scared of a lot of things. Holidays away from home, school camps (they’re might be snakes!), talking to new people, and crowds. Luckily, deep down he is pretty brave, and with support from those around him he manages to find ways to confront his fears.
The Chook Doolan series features a likable, everyday kid, with lots of worries. Chook is honest about his failings, but also draws on everything he can to confront his problems and to find a way forward. Young readers will relate to many of the things he fears, as well as to the gentle humour of the stories.
The text is accessible to early readers, and is supported by illustrations on most spreads. Each book stands alone, meaning that these four new i=offerings, plus the previous four, can be read in any order.
Chook Doolan: On the Road (ISBN 9781925381566)
Chook Doolan: Un-happy Camper (ISBN 9781925381573)
Chook Doolan: Up and Away (ISBN 9781925381580)
Chook Doolan: Let’s Do Diwali (ISBN 9781925381597)
All by James Roy, Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford
Walker Books, 2017
Buster shrugs. ‘Not every witch can be a Black Witch,’ he says. ‘But you’ll be special at something, I just know it! And even if you never find that thing you are good at, you will always be special to me.’
Polly feels her heart squeeze with love for Buster. She throws her arms around his big, thick waist. ‘You are the loveliest friend a witch could ever have.’
Polly and Buster have always been friends – but their friendship has to be a secret, because witches like Polly are not supposed to be friends with monsters like Buster. Being secret friends isn’t their only problem. Polly is struggling at school, because none of her spells ever work, and Buster is hiding a secret: he gets bigger or smaller depending on his emotions, which is very un-monsterlike. When their classes cross paths on a school excursion, their secrets are in danger of being revealed, and Polly has to choose between being suddenly popular, or being true to herself – and her friend.
The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster is the first title featuring witch Polly and monster Buster, and young readers will adore the characters, the story and the format: hard cover with gold trim and black and white illustrations. While the story is self contained, readers will be keen to know what happens net and will eagerly await the next installment.
Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster, by Sally Rippin
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2017
‘Weakling child,’ Maija said. ‘He will never be the man Kalle is.’
Tarin clenched his teeth. All his life he had heard people mutter and wonder aloud: How coudl Kalle and Aila, the two strong leaders of Mammoth clan, have such a weak, sickly son? It must be the bad Spirits…
Tarin’s father is the clan leader and Tarin longs to be a brave hunter, just like him. But Tarin is sickly and has a deformed leg, and people either fear him or pity him. So, when he is responsible for scaring the mammoths away, leaving the clan with no food for the winter, Tarin volunteers to carry an offering to the Earth Mother so that she may change their fortunes.Soon he is travelling alone across wild, unknown lands, facing his fears and pushing his body and mind to their limits.
Kaija and Luuka are travelling too, forced to flee when illness ravages their clan and they and their healer mother are at risk of being blamed. When their new clan grows to include two wolf cubs, and both twins are seriously injured, Tarin must reach inside himself for answers and strength to continue on.
The Exile is the first in a brilliant new fantasy trilogy for younger readers, set in an imaginary Scandinavian land thirty million years ago. Readers will enjoy this look into prehistoric lives, societies and animals, and the adventures of Tarin and his friends and will be left eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile , by Jo Sandhu
Puffin Books, 2017
‘Eat the carrot, Fuzzy.’
The scruffy ball of fur gave a little cough as though clearing his throat. then he looked directly at Tyrone and in a clear voice said, ‘My name is NOT Fuzzy, it’s Cooper. I don’t like carrots and if you keep poking one in my face I may be forced to do something that you will regret!’
Tyrone fell off the bed with a scream.
Jinny has always dreamt of owning a beautiful, golden guinea pig. But the pet shop owner has a deal Jinny’s mum can’t resist, and now Jinny owns the scruffiest, messiest guinea pig ever. Still, at least she has a guinea pg. But Fuzzy has a secret. He can talk – and the first thing he makes clear is that his name isn’t Fuzzy. Jinny and her brother Tyrone decide to keep Cooper’s skills a secret, but it isn’t easy when cooper’s other skills – such as invisibility – become apparent. And Cooper doesn’t always do what he’s told.Still, Jinny soon finds that having Cooper around can be very helpful when trouble turns up.
In My Teacher’s Big Bad Secret, it is Cooper who realises Jinny’s seemingly kind old teacher, Miss Bunney is actually a witch, and in Revenge of the Stone Witch, Jinny and Cooper combine to figure out what is causing the strange goings on in their neighbourhood. Both books blend fantasy, humour and action for an entertaining blend perfectly suited for middle primary aged readers.
The premise of a talking, magical guinea pig with connections to the fantastical world will leave readers eager for more adventures from Jinny and Cooper.
Jinny & Cooper: My Teacher’s Big Bad Secret
Jinny & Cooper: Revenge of the Stone Witch
both by Tania Ingram
Puffin Books, 2016
Yasmin screamed through the night as she was flung from the train. Eyes wide with horror, her hands desperately clutched at empty air as the stars and moon blurred overhead. But there was nothing to hold on to. Nothing to break her fall.
Then…time seemed to stand still.
Being named DARE Award winnings was always going to life-changing, but for Yasmin and her six fellow winners, it is a lot different than they could possibly imagine. Yasmin is fighting for her life on the top of a speeding train, after fleeing the chaos of catastrophic attacks in Egypt. Around teh world, the others are trying to keep safe while they puzzle their way through the clues which have been mysteriously given to them – clues which might help them stop a second terrible attack.
Carnage, the second title in the Seven Signs series picks up where the first left off, with YAsmin fighting for her life on the top of the train. as she tries to survive, readers are shown the stories of the other six characters, through chapters which alternate third person perspectives.
This fast paced series set in an unspecified future where travel and technology has advanced in believable ways. the teen characters are diverse – coming from seven different continents and with different interests and strengths, but each with strengths which have seen them chosen as winners of trillionaire Felix Scott’s DARE Awards.
Upper primary and lower secondary readers will be keen to follow the series.
Carnage, by Michael Adams
‘But I don’t know what to paaaaack,’ my friend Lucy wails down the phone.
I laugh. ‘Don’t panic. You can always borrow my stuff if you forget anything. I’m just so glad you’re coming with us!’
I switch the phone to my other ear as I look around my bedroom, making sure I haven’t forgotten anything in my own packing. ‘It will be nice and warm at Crystal Bay, so you won’t need much.’ I glance at my suitcase. ‘I’ve packed my swimmers, shorts, t-shirts, pyjamas …’
Sage Cookson is the daughter of famous TV chefs and has a wonderful life travelling around with her parents. But she misses her best friend, Lucy, so she’s excited that Lucy is joining them for this trip. They are off to a seaside town and there’s the promise of beach and great food. There’s also a mystery as an old foe reappears. It might be just coincidence, but Nancy is no more friendly than when last they met.
‘Fishy Surprise’ is episode three in this series for young independent readers. Sage’s life is much more exciting than that of many other ten-year-olds, but it also has its challenges. Not spending enough time with her friends is one of them. Not this time. With Lucy beside her, Sage has an accomplice as she works to solve this mystery. Young readers will thrill to the life Sage leads and empathise with her travails. Themes around family, friendship, loyalty round out these stories and add filling to the pastry. Recommended for independent readers.
Sage Cookson’s Fishy Surprise, Sally Murphy
New Frontier Publishing 2017
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller