Trucks- A First Board Book, from Scholastic Australia

Littlies love things that move – and the bigger the better. This new board book is full of big machines, making it a definite winner with toddlers.

From trucks of all sizes, to emergency vehicles, tractors and loaders, every big road machine possible is included. Each double page spread has a theme, with pictures of the relevant machine-type individually labelled. The farm page, for example, includes a harvester, tractor, loader and animal transporter.

Perfect as a first book for a baby, with its sturdy format and bright photo-illustrations, older toddlers will enjoy the novelty of being able to ‘read’ by pointing at the pictures and saying the names of the different vehicles. There are also four spreads at the end of the book providing learning opportunities, including counting to five and relative size (small, medium and large).

With a small price tag (just $5.95), this one won’t break the budget.

Trucks: A First Board Book, from Scholastic Australia, 2004

Ghost Flames, by Neville Barnard

Twelve year old Daniel loves puzzles, but when he meets the ghost of Colleen O’Flarity he is confronted by more puzzles than he can solve. Why can he see and hear her when no one else can? What is that she is scared of? And what is so important that a second ghost goes on searching for it night after night?

Meanwhile, Daniel has problems of his own to confront. The other kids at school call him nobody because he keeps to himself all the time, and his new teacher thinks he’s a trouble maker. Now he’s somehow signed up to present a magic act at the school concert, despite not knowing magic and hating the thought of drawing attention to himself.

Could it be that helping Colleen solve her problems will help Daniel solve his own?

Ghost Flames is an excellent read for 10 to 12 year old readers, with a balance of mystery, self-discovery and action. Sure to appeal to young mystery and ghost-story enthusiasts, it will also appeal to those who like riddles and puzzles – including teachers.

Ghost Flames, by Neville Barnard
Koala Books, 2004

Battle of the Rats, by Sue Whiting

Moth’s new house is perched on a cliff top overlooking the best break on the coast. For a kid who lives for surfing, it couldn’t be better. The only problem is that the house is a dump. It stinks and it’s overrun with rats. Wherever Moth goes they are there, watching from the shadows, peering from the rafters. And they are in his room, chewing his things – even his beloved surf board.

As if life couldn’t get any worse, Moth has fallen out with his best friend, Tom. And now he’s in trouble with the school bully, Jaike. Jaike has met the rats and now he’s telling everyone that Moth’s home is infested. Moth is the joke of the school.

Moth’s family battle the rats but who will win? And who will beat the bullies?

Battle of the Rats is an excellent new novel for 10 to 12 year olds. Young readers will feel their skin crawl as they encounter the rats (both animal and human) with Moth.

A great blend of action and issue from outstanding author, Sue Whiting.

Battle of the Rats, by Sue Whiting
Koala Books, 2004

Dead Giveaway, by Janette Brazel

When Ellie and Zac’s Great Grandma Lola dies, the twins hope that she has left some of her fortune to their parents. Things have been tough for them since their Uncle Bert lost all their money in a failed cane-toad stuffing enterprise.

But the twins and the rest of the Hunter clan are disappointed to find that there is no money in the will – just some wierd and mostly useless gifts and a bizarre riddle which must be solved before the missing money can be found and divided up.The fourteen family members gather in Grandma Lola’s house to follow the clues and try to unravel the mystery.

Zac and Ellie love puzzles, and they lead the way in unravelling this one, in spite of crotchety Uncle Bert who thinks children should be neither seen nor heard, and the tensions between various family members.

When everyone else seems to have given up on solving the mystery, the twins persevere and make the vital breakthrough.

Dead Giveaway is a fun mystery for 10 to 12 year old readers, with plenty of chance to solve the pieces of the puzzle. Author Janette Brazel has a fine sense of humour and a great ability to add just the right balance of the bizarre.

Great readng.

Dead Giveaway, by Janette Brazel
Koala Books, 2004

Words, A First Board Book

There are no bells or whistles with this little board book offering. Instead there are clear, bright pictures and words making the book appealing for toddlers.

Arraged in categories including colours, numbers, shapes, body parts, animals and more, each double paged spread has several photographs of objects in the particular category with an accompanying label.

Younger children will like to point and discuss the pictures, while older children will enjoy being able to ‘read’ the words (with the help of the picture clues. And, of course, the sturdy board book format means the book can be carried around and explored without being easily damaged.

Words: A First Board Book, from Scholastic Australia, 2004

Savannah Zebra, by Peter Simonds

Zak is a young zebra living with his family in the African savannah. His life is not easy. Nor is it easy for the other memebrs of his family.

As well as the daily need to find food and water, the zebras must evade their foes. Lions, hyenas and wild dogs stalk them and can strike at any time. Other dangers also abound – being separated from the family, dehydration, crocodiles and more.

Zac knows he must stay close to the family. It is his best chance of survival. But it isn’t easy. When he sees his mother leave the herd, he is sure he should follow her. Later, in the midst of the annual stampede, he loses track of his family again. Will he continue to let the family down?

Savannah Zebra is an animal tale that educates as it entertains. Rather than presenting zebra facts in a non-fiction format, author Peter Simonds personalises them by entwining them in the story of one zebra, young Zac.

Interesting reading for eight to ten year olds.

Savannah Zebra, by Peter Simonds
Scholastic, 2004

Fairy Dreams, by Carol McLean-Carr

Few children don’t love fairies and other mystical beings. In Fairy Dreams, they can follow a trail of fairy mischief to find the tewleve treasures taken by the fairies from a child’s bedroom.

Along the way young readers can see mermaids, dragons, elves and unicorns and take a peek at the Fairies’ Ball.

The magic of this book is in the incredible illustrations of Carol McLean-Carr, created digitally and making use of scanned sketches and real objects as well as a digital airbrush and intricate layering of images. Pictures have a lovely depth and vibrancy which kids (and adults) will love. The text is secondary to the visual delights.


Fairy Dreams, by Carol McClean-Carr
Omnibus (Scholastic), 2003

Colossal Machines, by Nick Hughes and Mini Goss

Many animals work to help human beings – elephants, oxen, horses, even dogs. So if dinosaurs were still alive, would they help out too?

Colossal Machines explores this question, in a fun lift the flap format. Each double page spread, with flap, compares the work done by contemporary machinery, with what could be contributed by different dinosaurs. For example, a wrecking-ball’s work could be equally as well done by the bulbous tail of an Ankylosaur.

Combining two favourite subjects with youngsters (especially preschool boys) – dinosaurs and machines – and superbly illustrated by the talented Mini Goss, this clever book is sure to delight three to five year old readers.

Colossal Machines, by Nick Hughes, illustrated by Mini Goss
Koala Books, 2004

Meet the Monsters, by Max Fatchen

This fun book has three things kids like – rhyme, silliness and monsters. As such, it is sure to be a hit. The book contains fifteen illustrated poems on the subject of monsters.

From short limerick-style rhymes, to longer narrative poems and with a wide variety of monsters – including bunyips, sea monsters and monsters under the bed – there is a rhyme to tickle the fancy of every young reader. The comic and colourful acrylic illustrations of Cheryll Johns will also delight.

Great for individual or home reading, this would also make an excellent classroom resource for poetry sharing with students. Many of the poems would also be suitable for class performance.

Lots of fun.

Meet the Monsters, by Max Fatchen, illustrated by Cheryll Johns
Omnibus, 2004

Knight Triumphant, by Sally Odgers

Last time he was in Braveria, Simon made a promise to Peggy, the pearly dragon. He vowed to help her find Rifer, the lost Prince of the Dragons. So, instead of helping his stepmother with the spring cleaning, he decides it’s time to head back to Braveria.

Once back in Braveria, however, Simon wonders whether it was such a good idea. Finding Prince Rifer is not easy and devious villain Nasty Nix will stop at nothing to prevent Simon from fulfilling his promise.

The third in the Reluctant Knight Trilogy, Knight Triumphant includes all the favourite characters from the earlier books – Bookerstaff, Princess Becca, Michael the dragonet and Peggy – as well as some new ones. Although fans of the first two books will welcome the publication of the final installment, the book also stands alone, so is fine for those who have not read the first two.

Sally Odgers never fails to deliver great reading. Knight Triumphant is no exception.

Knight Triumphant, by Sally Odgers
Koala Books, 2004