Warnayarra the Rainbow Snake, compiled by Pamela Lofts

One of a series of eight Aboriginal stories compiled by Pamela Lofts, Warnayarra the Rainbow Snake tells the story of the rainbow Snake and of the Warlpiri people, who were forced off their land. They settled the Lajamanu community.

Although they were in unfamiliar territory and forced to adapt to a new lifestyle, the people’s culture and traditions helped them to adapt and stay strong.

This story, told and illustrated by the children of Lajamanu, is an example of the strong storyelling tradition of the Aboriginal people. It will appeal to, and educate, children of all cultures.

An excellent classroom resource.

Warnayarra the Rainbow snake, Told by the Senior Boys Class, Lajamanu School, Compiled by Pamela Lofts
Scholastic Press, 2004

The A-Z of the Best Jokes in the World, by Jason Ryder Reviewed

Jason ‘Rash’ Ryder has worked in live comedy, film, television and radio for more than ten years. Now he shares his extensive knowledge of jokes in print form.

Whether you are a would-be comedian, are looking for a joke to share at the office, or could just use a smile, The A-Z of the Best Jokes in the World is likely to keep you amused and entertained for hours.

From corny one-liners, to knock-knocks and longer stories and with subject matter from innocent chicken crossing the road jokes to r-rated adult jokes, there is something for everyone.

Ryder does not waste time on niceties, so some of the language and subject matter make the book unsuitable for children and for adults who do not tolerate explicit sexual references. For most adults, however, this is a hilarious collection.

The A-Z of the Best Jokes in the World, by Jason Ryder
Pan Macmillan, 2004

Pudding & Chips, by Penny Matthews

Chips the sheepdog takes his role very seriously. If he isn’t needed to round up the sheep, he gets busy rounding up the other animals. Except there is one animal – Pudding the goose – who refuses to be rounded up. When Chips chases Pudding, she flies at him, and soon he is the one being chased.

When a fox starts visiting the farm, it is Pudding who raises the alarm. but when he catches two of the other geese, Pudding changes. All the honk goes out of her. Then, without warning she disappears.

Everyone misses Pudding, but Chips misses her the most. So, when early one morning he hears her honking on the hill, he is the first to go and greet her. Together they chase off the fox, who has made another visit, before Pudding reveals the secret reason for her absence.

Penny Matthews’ gentle but richly woven text is delightfully complemented by the pen, ink and watercolour illustrations of Janine Dawson. For teachers in preprimary or lower primary classrooms, Pudding & Chips would make an excellent complement to Matthews’ award-winning A Year on Our Farm, although of course it stands wonderfully on its own for home or school reading.

Pudding & Chips, by Penny Matthews, illustrated by Janine Dawson
ABC Books, 2004

The Echidna & the Shade Tree, by Mona Green and Pamela Lofts

Under the shade of a huge tree in the desert, Echidna spends his days minding the young of the other animals while they hunt for food. But, in spite of his assistance, the other animals will not share their food. In anger, Echidna uproots the tree, endangering their safety. Their efforts to stop him explain why today he has stubby feet and spikes.

The Echidna and the Shade Tree is one of a series of eight Aboriginal stories told in picture book format and published by Schoastic press.

The story is compiled by Pamela Lofts based on a telling by Mona Green of the Jaru people to students in Halls Creek, Western Australia. The book’s illustrations are adapted from the children’s picture interpretations of the story.

Simply told and presented, this is a book which is accessible and entertaining for all children and which would make an excellent classroom resource for students of all backgrounds.

The Echidna and the Shade Tree, told by Mona Green, compiled by Pamela Lofts
Scholastic Press, 2004

The Girl's Guide to Work and Life, by Donna Lee Brien and Tess Brady

Are you struggling to balance the competing demands of your life and your ambitions? Do you have dreams and plans that you are struggling to achieve? The Girl’s Guide to Work & Life aims to help women of all ages to mobilise and find the satisfying career and financial stability they want without having to sacrifice their whole lives to work.

In practical steps and with the support of realistic case-studies, the authors show how to take stock of personal assets, how to set realistic goals and how to then set about achieving them. They identify possible setbacks and reasons for perceived failure and include a repair kit for getting a life-career back on track.

This book is both motivational and educational, with sensible advice, wisdom and, importantly, humour.

Upbeat reading.

The Girl’s Guide to Work & Life: How to Create the life You Want, by Donna Lee Brien and Tess Brady
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Peaches of Panic, by Paul Shaw

The illustrious superhero Captain Cat and his young assistant, the Umbrella Kid, have barely had time to recover from their first three adventures when one of their former adversaries, Doctor Daffodil, makes a bold escape from prison. It seems he has had some help from another villain – Percy Peregrine Peecham, also known as The Peach.

The Peach uses Doctor Daffodil’s special skills with plants to plot a bold robbery. He wants to steal a huge peach topaz and, with the help of a range of crooks and villains, he looks set to outwit Captain Cat and capture the giant gem.

Only by using every trick at his disposal will Captain Cat save the day.

This is the fourth in the Captain Cat series. As with previous titles, this one is filled withc orny one-liners, comic-book action and cartoon-style illustrations.

This is not high literature – it is just great fun. Kids will love it.

Captain Cat and the Umbrella Kid: Peaches of Panic, by Paul Shaw, illustrated by Peter Sheehan
Scholastic Press, 2004

Best Friends, by Sue Walker

Grace and Amy are best friends. They share everything – games, lunches, pencil cases, even secrets. Until the day that Grace finds Amy playing with Lisa. Seeing her best friend with another girl makes her feel hot and cold, even when Amy invites her to play, too. She doesn’t want to share Amy with anyone.

Part of the Solos series, Best Friends is a delightful first chapter book for beginning readers making the transition from picture books and classroom readers to more independent reading. With plenty of illustrative support and subject matter which will strike a chord with many young readers, this is a cute easy-read.

A great blend of fun and chances for reading success.

Best Friends, by Sue Walker
An Omnibus Book from Scholastic Australia, 2004

Spinning Around, by Catherine Jinks

Not so long ago, but almost in another lifetime, Helen had everything a girl could want: a great job, a good figure, a cutting edge haircut and a gorgeous boyfriend. Now, though, Helen seems to be losing control. She has two kids, a renovation that seems to be a never-ending story and a part time job which seems easier than anything she has to deal with at home. That gorgeous boyfirend has become an impractical and annoyingly impulsive husband.

Then, in one terrible week, Helen faces losing it all. Matt (her husband) has been seen in company with a girl with purple hair and suddenly Helen is caught up in a string of lecherous private detectives, clandestine drawer-checking, and outright spying. Whatever problems married life may present, she doesn’t want to give it up without a fight.

Author Catherine Jinks continues to surprise with her versatility. Her last novel, The Gentleman’s Garden was historical literary fiction. Spinning Around is a contrast, but doesn’t disappoint in maintaining Jinks’ high standards.

Funny and warm.

Spinning Around, by Catherine Jinks
Allen and Unwin, 2004

Tess and the Star Traveller, by Jane McKay

When a Star Traveller named Elkon accidentally sets the wrong coordinates for his hoverfoil he ends up in Tess’s pencil case, in Perth, Western Australia, instead of on the Super Nova in Gemfren. This is not good for Elkon – he’s going to be in lots of trouble – but it is great news for Tess, who likes having something exciting happening to her.

As luck would have it, Elkon is able to put his unscheduled visit to Earth to good use. It seems there is a nasty Triloboid around. Triloboids are nasty creatures that steal people’s wishes, and Elkon wants to hunt this one down and put an end to his mischief. Tess agrees to help him in his quest.

Tess and Elkon finally track the Tiloboid down, but he has a few tricks of his own to try out – and it looks like he may outsmart them. Tess learns that being a superhero is not all fun and games, but at the same time she has the biggest adventure ever.

Tess and the Star Traveller is an illustrated junior novel which, at 45 pages, would make a good early novel for those making the transition from picture books. Youngsters will enjoy the adventure, although they may find the style a little awkward, with the pace at times thwarted by asides filling the reader in on aspects of Triboloids and Space Travellers of which they may be unaware. Despite this, this is a fun read.

Tess and the Star Travellers, by Jane McKay
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2004

A Horse Called Elvis, by John Heffernan

When a horse appears on his family’s property, Matt wants desperately to look after her, despite his family’s protests. But when she dies, leaving a foal as a parting gift, the trouble really begins. First it has to be fed every hour, then the vet bills start to mount. Finally, the foal starts causing chaos in the yard.

None of this trouble, however, seems as bad as the bigger crisis brewing among Matt’s family. His Dad is out of work, drinking too much, and turning violent. His Mum seems to want to be somewhere else and his big sister is determined to escape their father’s authority.

None of the family can foresee the part that the foal they call Elvis will play in their future. Only when Elvis is stolen and Matt falls apart does the family rally.

A Horse Called Elvis is a touching story for older children, with a warm mix of humour and serious themes. This is not just a horse story – it is a family story, told with the aplomb that we have come to expect from John Heffernan.

Great reading.

A Horse Called Elvis, by John Heffernan
Scholastic, 2004