Motorbike Bob, by Darrel & Sally Odgers

I pricked up my ears and listened. The yelp came again, and I could tell it was coming from partway down the gully. I trotted back up the road and sniffed the air. I could still smell hot trees and a trace of smoke, but I could also smell another dog…It was Motorbike Bob, the border collie.

When trump meets Motorbike Bob, a border collie who travels around on the back of his owner’s motorbike, Bob tells Trump that he’ll never need the help of Trump or Vet Jeanie. But it isn’t long before Trump hears a cry for help and finds Bob in need of attention.

Motorbike Bob is the third title in the wonderful Pet Vet series featuring Trump, the Jack Russell Animal Liaison Officer (ALO) and her person, vet Jeannie. As always, Trump’s role is to work with and settle the patient so that Jeannie can help him – but in this instance Trump also turns rescuer, when Bob is injured and lost.

This series is a wonderful offering for young animal lovers, and each title stands alone, being preface by material which introduces the main characters of the book. With illustrations by Janine Dawson and different text elements including maps, definitions and pet care tips, this is another excellent book from the creators of the Jack Russell Dog Detective series.

Motorbike Bob, by Darrell & Sally Odgers
Scholastic, 2009

Owl Ninja, by Sandy Fussell

Something is wrong. Usually, the Sword Master likes to chat and joke, to tell us stories of the days when he was a boy listening to Ki-Yaga’s feet. Sensei was old, even then.
Across the valley a drumbeat echoes. Thum. Thum.
“What’s that?” Nezume asks.
Ta-thum. Ta-thum. Thum

A drum beat is echoing across the mountains, calling the mountain ryus to war. The samurai kids don’t want to fight. Their sensei can stop the war, but there isn’t much time, and first they must travel across the land for an audience with the Emperor. Only he can silence the drum. But will they reach him safely and on time?

Owl Ninja is the second in the wonderful Samurai Kids series from talented new author Sandy Fussell. Featuring the wonderful cast of characters from the first story as well as some colourful new ones, the story is self contained but will be enjoyed most by those who read the first.

Readers are transported into the world and time of the Samurai, with the landscape coming alive through Fussell’s carefully wrought text, and the characters delightfully illustrated in the manga-style plates of Rhian Nest James.

This is an outstanding series and readers will look forward to the third instalment.

Owl Ninja (Samurai Kids)

Samurai Kids: Owl Ninja, by Sandy Fussell
Walker Books, 2008

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

Fowl Play, by Darrel & Sally Odgers

‘All I can smell is chook and soap, and cat,’ said Foxie. ‘There was a strange smell in the yard, but it wasn’t dog. Did you interrier-gate Shuffle?’
‘Not yet.’ I explained how Sarge had dragged me away from the crime scene. Foxie snorted, then sniffed under the door. ‘There’s that strange smell again.’

Something strange is going on in Dogeroo. Auntie Tidge and her friends have all bought chooks, and when the chooks are attacked, the dogs get the blame. But Jack Russell, dog detective is on the case, and he’s sure that his friends are not to blame. The problem is, he doesn’t know who is responsible.

Fowl Play is the ninth offering in the Jack Russell: Dog Detective series, a fun chapter book series for middle primary aged readers. Like the other books in the series, Fowl Play stands alone, although readers who have read the other stories will enjoy seeing favourite characters again and seeing relationships and individuals develop.

Jack is an endearing first-person (or first-canine) narrator, and the chaos of dogs mixing with chooks make this a fun story.

Fowl Play, by Darrel & Sally Odgers
Scholastic Press, 2008

The Buried Biscuits, by Darrel & Sally Odgers

Jacks are nimble, Jacks are quick. Jacks are always ready for a scrap. I tugged free and snapped my jack-jaws around a hairy leg. Someone yelped. Sharp teeth closed on my tail. I yelped. Teeth clashed, ears flapped.

When Jack wakes up smelling biscuits, he knows something strange is going on. He goes to see his friend Foxie, but soon he and Foxie are fighting – because someone has thrown biscuits into Foxie’s yard. Now both of the dogs are in trouble, and soon every dog in town is grounded, because someone is stealing biscuits. Jack is determined to solve the mystery – after all he is a dog detective.

The Buried Biscuits is the seventh title in the very popular and highly entertaining Jack Russell: Dog Detective series, by Darrel and Sally Odgers. Narrated in the first person (or should that be first dog?) voice of the feisty Jack and sprinkled with Jack’s facts, Jack vocabulary and more, the story is bound to delight young dog lovers, aged 7 to 10.

The Buried Biscuits, by Darrel & Sally Odgers
Scholastic, 2007

All Stars Series

I was already having a bad day when Josh Reeves, basketball hero, fell for me – literally. Did I mention I was having a bad day? Make that a bad year.

There are plenty of sports fiction books for children on the market, but, with many focusing on male-centered sports like football and cricket, it is refreshing to find a series aimed squarely at girls. The All Stars series, published by Black Dog Books, is just that.

The eight books in the series share the fortunes of a girls’ netball team – the All Stars – as they work their way through the season. Each book is told from the point of view of one of the players and, as well as sharing the girls’ on-court dramas, also focuses on their school and private lives, with each girl having her own set of problems, from boy problems, to shoplifting.

There is plenty of sporting drama, and the first person narration draws readers in to the life of each new narrator. This series would be an excellent addition to a school library.

All Stars 1: Maddy, Goal Defence, by Meredith Costain
All Stars 2: Bree, Centre, by Karen Tayleur
All Stars 3: Josie, Wing Attack, by Meredith Costain
All Stars 4: Jess, Wing Defence
All Stars 5: Sarah, Goal Shooter, by Claire Renner
All Stars 6: Tara, Goal Keeper, by Maryann Ballantyne
All Published by Black Dog Books, 2005

All Stars 7: Mel, Goal Attack, by Karen Tayleur
All Stars 8: Ali, Goal Attack, by Meredith Costain
Both Published by Black Dog Books, 2006

The Phantom Mudder, by Darrel & Sally Odgers

Jack’s Facts
Dogs don’t do anything if there’s nothing in it for them.
People sometimes do.
That makes dogs smarter than people.
This is a fact.

Jack Russell is a fact loving dog. So, when there is a mystery to be solved he carefully establishes the facts then, with a dash of luck, comes up with a solution.

In the Phantom Mudder Jack visits a dog show, with his owner, Sarge. When dogs start turning up for their judging covered in mud, Jack senses a mystery and sets out to solve out. But who would want to mess up the dogs, and how would they do it?

This is the second hilarious title in the Jack Russell: Dog Detective series and is just as clever as the first. There are plenty of cute doggy illustrations, courtesy of illustrator Janine Dawson, and the use of a variety of text-types, including lists, glossaries and maps, which add an element which could be used for classroom purposes.

Loads of fun.

The Phantom Mudder, by Darrel and Sally Odgers
Scholastic Australia, 2005