Stories for 7 Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight

What do seven year olds like to read about? Lots of things! And this book aimed at seven year old readers, covers lots of different subjects, in different forms. There is a story about a mother on a diet, one about surfing in an outback pool, another about a young emperor with a headache, and yet another about an author visiting a school. Whilst all are prose, one is interspersed with poetry and others use fairytale, mythology, first person narration and even the format of a school report, meaning there is plenty of variety.

The 11 stories are illustrated by Tom Jellett, giving a uniformity to the volume, and back of book biographies introduce each author who include some of the biggest names of Australian children’s literature, including Morris Gleitzman, Paul Jennings and Margaret Clark.

Suitable for newly independent readers to read on their own, the stories are also suitable for reading aloud.

Stories for Seven Year Olds

Stories for Seven Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight, illustrated by Tom Jellett
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742756622

Available from good bookstores or online.

Stories for 5 Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight

Some of the best-known names in Australian children’s literature, with offerings new and old, combine in this wonderful new anthology targeted at, as the name suggests, five year old readers. Contributors include Ursula Dubosarsky, Janeen Brian , Mark Macleod and more, and Tom Jellett  provides grey scale illustrations

A couple of the stories (The Two Gorillas, by Dubosarsky and The Gorilla Suit by Victor Kelleher) were previously published as part of  Penguin’s Aussie Nibble’s series, and others have been published in School Magazine or by other publishers. Two stories (Charlotte the Explorer, by Dianne Bates and Look! by Lizzie Horne) appear here for the first time.

Good stuff.

Stories for Five Year Olds

Stories for Five Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742756660

Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

All are well targeted for five year old readers, each suitable for reading aloud in a single sitting. Early independent readers would also find the stories accessible.

Stories for 6 Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight

Kids love stories that are silly, accessible and quick to read – and Stories for Six Year Olds addresses all of these criteria, with eleven stories in the one volume, targeted for solo reading (or read-aloud with an adult) by readers of around six years of age.

Some of the stories appear here for the first time, with others being brought back to life for a new generation of readers. Parker=Hamilton, for example, was written by Robin Klein in 1984 whilst The Stuck-Tight Tooth is new from Dianne Bates. Other authors include Sophie Masson and Victor Kelleher. Illustrations, in black and white, are by Tom Jellett.

The stories can be read individually or read cover to cover and will stand repeated readings, either aloud or individually.

Stories for Six Year Olds

Stories for Six Year Olds, edited by Linsay knight, illustrated by Tom Jellett
Random Hosue
ISBN 9781742756646

Available from good bookstores or online.

Sydney Harbour Bridge by Vashti Farrer

Billy Thompson and Alice Carson are children in 1931. Billy is part of a struggling working class family living in The Rocks. Alice lives on the north side, in a family more financially secure.

The Rocks, Wednesday, August 20, 1930

Bluey Waters,

c/o Happy Valley Camp, La Perouse

Dear Bluey,

I wish you could have been there. It was terrific! A bonza night, with enough noise for you to hear over your way. And all because the spans have joined! Me and Davo like to pretend the Bridge is a monster, a giant stick insect made of steel, with these big arms that are reaching out, ready to grab something. But one arm is a bit longer than the other and we think it might end up missing, only the engineers must know what they are doing. They’ve been building bridges for years and the Sydney Harbour Bridge for four at least, every day except Sundays and public holidays or when it’s too dangerous, like during heavy rain or high winds. The steel can get awfully slippery then, and there’s nothing to hang on to, no steps or handrails or anything.

Billy Thompson and Alice Carson are children in 1931. Billy is part of a struggling working class family living in The Rocks. Alice lives on the north side, in a family more financially secure. Both their lives and the lives of their families are bound up in the construction of the most famous bridge in Australia. In their alternating diary entries, the reader is presented with a number of differing perspectives of both the bridge and its construction and life in Sydney during the Depression era. Billy’s father is a donkeyman, riding the wire ropes that dangle down from the cranes. Alice’s father is an engineer. He ‘has to work out all the sizes and how the steel will fit together’. Bluey, Billy’s friend, and his family are moved to the euphemistically-named Happy Valley Camp when their rented home is ‘resumed’ to provide the land for the south-side bridge foundations.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic structure recognised by most within and many beyond Australia. Although it may seem to Australians today as though the bridge has always been there, of course it hasn’t. Few people in Sydney can have been unaffected by the bridge construction. For some it was a curiosity, for others it meant losing their homes, and for yet others it provided much needed work. ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’, a ‘My Australian Story’ series title, is a fictional account of life in 1931-1932, based on real events. In addition to the descriptions of the bridge construction, it is a dual social history of two different classes, neither with much awareness of the other. Readers will discover some of the joys and challenges of being an almost-teenager in another time. Recommended for upper primary and anyone interested in social history and how an icon was built.

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Vashti Farrer
Scholastic 2012
ISBN: 9781741699530

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Archer's Melbourne Cup, by Vashti Farrer

Tom helps me brush Archer down and he’s standing there like some statue we’re polishing. He knows he’s a beauty. You can tell by the way he holds his head – up high, looking down on the world.

It is 1861 and Robby Jenkins has just found work as a stable hand at Terara. His family needs the money, and Robby has always loved horses, so he’s pleased to have found the job. He is hoping that eventually he’ll be able to become a jockey.

At Terara Robby makes friends, and one special one is the horse, Archer. When a brand new horse race, the Melbourne Cup is announced, Robby’s boss decides to enter Archer. Robby is sure he can win – and he wants to travel with the horse to see it happen.

Archer’s Melbourne Cup is the story of the first Melbourne Cup, told from the perspective of the strapper of the winning horse. The tale focuses on life at the stables, as well as family life and the economic climate of the times. The use of the diary format personalises the story.

Part of Scholastic’s My Australian Story series, Archer’s Melbourne Cup provides an informative yet entertaining look at the birth of the race which continues to stop the nation.

Archer’s Melbourne Cup, by Vashti Farrer
Scholastic, 2007

Breakfast With Buddha, by Vashti Farrer

I climb up onto the roof.
I am higher than all the cats and dogs.
My tail twitches back and forth.
I am Sati. I am now top cat. I will wait here.

When a flood leaves Sati the cat homeless, she wonders who will feed her. She is used to being pampered and cared for, but when she finally finds refuge, in a monastery, there are other animals to share with. Sati wants to be top-cat and thinks she can wait for food to come to her. But this creates havoc. It is only the wisdom and patience of an old monk which makes Sati see what it means to be one among many.

Breakfast With Buddha is a delightful picture book offering which offers a peek at Buddhist traditions and lifestyle, and also has a lovely gentle lesson about dealing with conflict. The illustrations, by Gaye Chapman, feature lotus blossoms, bees and other images of nature, as well as oriental-influenced cats and dogs, a deliciously plump monk and the columns and features of the monastery, with lots of use of white backgrounds to keep the focus simple.

Lovely for school and home reading.

Breakfast With Buddha, by Vashti Farrer and Gaye Chapman
Scholastic, 2005

Lulubelle and her Bones, by Vashti Farrer

Lulubelle is the pampered lapdog of the Duchess of Daftby Dingleby. She has been with the Duchess for so long and been so protected that she believes she is human. But one day, as the Duchess naps, Lulubelle chances upon Bones, a working dog, whose job it is to turn the spit for the Duchess’s roast dinners.

The pair feel an instant attraction and next day Lulubelle frees Bones and together they flee into the countryside.

Life on the road is not easy. Lulubelle is not used to being outdoors and the duo must keep moving to avoid recapture. Along the road, though, help comes from unexpected quarters. Together, Lulubelle and Bones, seem destined for a change in fortunes.

A cute junior novel, Lulubelle and her Bones will appeal to young dog lovers aged 8 to 10.

Lulubelle and her Bones, by Vashti Farrer, illustrated by David Cox
Scholastic, 2003