The Lighthouse Secret, by Penny Garnsworthy

When Jake gets Sam to come and have a look at the old lighthouse, Sam isn’t happy. The lighthouse gives him the creeps and they’re not supposed to be there. When Jake gets inside, Sam follows, to try to convince him to come out. They are disturbed by an old man, and leave, but not before Jake takes a fruit drink from the fridge in the lighthouse.

At home, Jake experiences some strange symptoms. Are they to do with the drink? He has to find out.

Sam finds himself following Jake as he returns to the lighthouse a second and then a third time to visit the old man and take part in his wild experiments. But, when the experiments are over and the boys tell their story, no one believes them. The lighthouse is empty and has been for a long time. Have the boys imagined it all?

The Lighthouse Secret, by Penny Garnsworthy, is a Quick Reads title from Wordweavers Press. Aimed at reluctant readers, particularly boys, the series provides a range of easy to read tales, high on fun and adventure. The Lighthouse Secret is likely to appeal to its intended audience.

The Lighthouse Secret, by Penny Garnsworthy
WordWeavers Press, 2003

The Circle: Dreamer, by Melaina Faranda

Tara knows it’s going to be a terrible day. First, she can’t find her missing science assignment. Then she breaks an angel, one of her father’s favourite possessions. She is waiting for the third piece of bad luck, but isn’t prepared for it when she hears what it is. The mysterious Troy Daniels, a boy from her class, has been critically injured in a car accident and is in hospital on life support.

Tara feels a connection with Troy, although they’ve never really spoken. As he lies in hospital, Tara is troubled by strange and terrible dreams in which she must undertake a quest to rescue an imprisoned Prince. These dreams have some relation to Troy, but Tara isn’t sure what it is.

In her waking hours, Tara is involved with her friends in the Circle, who use their combined magic to channel energy and solve problems. Can they help Tara and, in turn, Troy?

Dreamer is the first title in a new series by Melaina Faranda, The Circle. Ten very different girls make up the Circle, where the bonds of friendship combine with the possibilities of magic and the power of intuition. Parents and teachers who may have concerns should be aware that the book does deal with witchcraft and the occult, however the overiding focus of the book is on friendship and realtionships.

The Circle: Dreamer, by Melaina Faranda
Random House, 2003

Ferret Boy, by Sue Lawson

There are two things Joshua really loves – his ferrets and his Gramps, who gave him the ferrets. But in just one week, Joshua faces the prospect of losing both the ferrets and Gramps.

First, Joshua accepts a bet from Mooney, the school bully, to race Bucks, his favourite ferret, in the Hartley Ferret Derby. Josh knows nothing about ferret racing, but he needs to learn quickly – because if Bucks loses, Josh loses her – to Mooney.

As if that isn’t enough to put Josh under stress, Gramps has a stroke and is taken to hospital. Josh thinks he’s going to die.

WIth support from his family and instructions from Gramps, Josh keeps training Bucks for the Derby. In the meantime he has to cope with the disappearance of his other ferret, Eddie, the taunts of Mooney, who is sure he will win the bet, and the moods of his big brother Matt. Then, on the morning of the derby, Bucks has the biggest shock of all in stall for Josh. Will he lose both his ferrets to bully Mooney?

Ferret Boy is an excellent combination of fun, adventure and message, as it explores family, friendshsips and bullying, among other subjects. Likely to appeal to ten to fourteen year old readers, this novel would be great as a class novel as well as for private reading.

Ferret Boy, by Sue Lawson
Lothian, 2003

Uncorked, by Archimede Fusillo

When Lance finds an old bottle with a note in it on the beach, he is excited. Perhaps the message is a treasure map, or a letter from the grave. He can’t wait to get it home. On the way home, however, he is stopped by the school bully, who takes the bottle from him. The next day at school Lance watches in disbelief as the bully, Colin, shows the bottle and the note to the class, causing great excitement. The note, the teacher says, could well be very valuable.

Colin gives the bottle to Lance, taunting him that he collects junk. Is Lance going to get anything out of all this?

Uncorked is a humorous tale of bullying and friendship. A Quick Reads title from Word Weavers Press, it is likely to appeal to 8-12 year olds, and caters especially for reluctant readers with its digestible length and action-packed plot.

Uncorked, by Archimede Fusillo
Word Weavers Press, 2003

Life Without Limits, by Helen O'Neill

David Pescud had a difficult childhood. He struggled through school, always in trouble and unable to cope with schoolwork. Then, when he was fourteen, he watched his father drown trying to save him from a river.

David could have been excused for wanting to give up on life, but he survived and at seventeen was diagnosed with profound dyslexia. This diagnosis was a turning point for Pescud.

By the age of 23 Pescud was a succesful businessman and by 45 he had earned enough money to retire and indulge his lifelong passion for sailing.

While helping a freind work on a yacht, David heard a radio interview with a paraplegic man who wanted to participate in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. This interview was the catalyst for Pescud to begin Sailors with disAbilities. Not only has David skippered disabled crews in the big race, but his organisation continues to enable thousands of diabled people to experience sailing.

David Pescud’s story is inspirational. It shows not just one man’s struggle to overcome his own disability but the way this has driven him to help others. Author Helen O’Neill has worked closely with Pescud to put his story on paper. It is a remarkable tale.

Life Without Limits, by Helen O’Neill
Bantam, 2003

Wacky Tales, by Dianne Bates

Alex has girl problems. As if it’s not enough having three sisters to contend with, the new girl at school, Simone Temby, has a crush on him. She keeps telling him how cute he is. Bleh!

Alex and his mates do all they can to get girls to stay away, but when a camping trip goes wrong they discover that sometimes girls do have some uses.

Boys Only (No Girls) is a fun story from popular children’s author Dianne Bates. But one of the best parts about this story is that when you’ve finished the story you can turn the book over and read a second story by the same author. Two books for the price of one.

In the second story, The Megabucks Kid, Byron Spender the third enrols in Cragley Public School after his personal tutor resigns. He has to learn how to mix with the common people at a normal school. The other kids hope he’ll buy some cool things for the school – perhaps a swimming pool or a whole stack of new computers.

These two stories come together to form Wacky Tales, a Banana Split title from Banana Books. This fun series, with its novel format, is proving popular with young readers Australia-wide. Wacky Tales will do the same.

Wacky Tales, by Dianne Bates
Banana Books, 2002

The Cat Who Looked at the Sky, by Thea Welsh

When Thea Welsh finds herself catless for the first time in years, she and her partner Michael agree to a plan to share the ownership of two kittens with their friends Ron and Robin.

The idea is to adopt two kittens who will be raised together, moved between houses to fit with Ron and Robin’s regular travels overseas. In theory the plan seems straightforward. The reality is not quite what Thea (or the other humans) expect.

To describe this story is not easy. It is at times like reading a parenting book, or a new mother’s diary, except that the babies are cats, not humans. The kittens, soon joined by a third cat – an irrepressible stray who makes her way into Welsh’s heart and home – have as many differences, foibles and dramas as human children, and seem to demand just as much attention.

Yet there is something endearing about both the tale and the cats. Welsh captures the personalities of Grace the part-Burmese, Fluffer the part-Persian, and Kate the tabby, making them characters rather than images. The reader comes to learn what to expect from each and to enjoy their achievements and escapades.

Definitely not a book for cat-haters, this is, nontheless, an interesting read.

The Cat Who Looked at The Sky, by Thea Welsh
Harper Collins, 2003

The Giant Scrub Python, by Grace MacDonald Baldwin

When Sam and Davey see the snake they are amazed. It’s way bigger than any other carpet snake they’ve ever seen – its body is as thick as a man’s thigh.

The boys’ first reaction is to run away, but once their fear wears off, they’re more interested than scared. Their science teacher, Mr Watson, is interested too. He’d like a chance to photograph the snake. And a stranger who hears about the snake is pretty interested too. He sets up camp near the swamp, hoping to track the python down.

Sam and Davey don’t trust the mysterious Mr Smith. They’re sure he’s up to no good. What they don’t know is how to stop him.

The Giant Scrub Python is a Quick Reads title from Word Weavers Press, aimed at reluctant readers, especially boys in upper rpimary. As with other titles, The Giant Scrub Python is a good blend of fun and action, in a format which will appeal to its target audience.

The Giant Scrub Python, by Grace MacDonald Baldwin
Word Weavers Press, 2003.

Clever Sandwiches, by Rowena Cory Lindquist

Mouse isn’t enjoying year eight camp too much – mainly because Derek, the class bully is seeing to it that he doesn’t. His friend Lumpy has problems too – he’s convince that the camp managers are feeding them sandwiches designed to make them more clever.

Mouse has his doubts about what Lumpy’s saying, but he does find himself acting differently – and Lumpy certainly does seem more clever. Together with their friends Wanda and Angie, the pair set out to solve the mystery of what they’re being fed. Along the way, they inadvertently solve some of their other problems too.

Clever Sandwiches, a Quick Reads title from Wordweavers Press, is a humorous tale of underdogs finding hidden talents. As with all titles in the series, the story is easy to read and designed to appeal to reluctant readers, especially primary aged boys.

A fun read.

Clever Sandwiches, by Rowena Cory Lindquist
Word Weavers Press, 2002

Race of Fear, by Kathy Hoopman

When Kent and Brad climb the hill looking for adventure, they get more than they bargained for. They witness a man being pushed off a cliff! Now they are running for their lives, terrified the baddies might catch them too.

Escape is not easy. They have to contend with caves, snakes, wasps and waterfalls. And, even though they manage to overcome these, the baddies still seem to be gaining on them. What will happen if they’re caught?

Race of Fear is a Quick Reads title from Word Weavers Press. Aimed at reluctant readers, and especially primary school boys, these are stories which are both fun and accessible. Race of Fear is no exception.

Race of Fear, by Kathy Hoopmann
Word Weavers Press, 2002