The Super Parp-Buster, by Janeen Brian & Greg Holfeld

Slim Pickles and Jolly
invented each day
in a shed on a hill
that was far, far away.
But there wasn’t a road
on that hill way up high
so nobody came
or ever passed by.

Slim Pickles and Jolly are wonderful inventors – they spend their days making all sorts of wonderful things – knick-knacks and nobblers and thing –a-me-jigs – but the lack of a road to their shed means that no one has ever seen their inventions. So the clever pair build a road and soon the people come to admire their work. Unfortunately, with the people comes pollution – each car leaves a parp to pollute the air. Slim Pickles and Jolly need to get to work to build yet another invention – a Super Parp-Buster.

The Super Parp-Buster is a fun rhyming title which can be enjoyed as just a whimsical story, but also holds a message about pollution and about exploring ways of reducing its damaging impact. With a style reminiscent of Dr Seuss, author Janeen Brian uses plenty of creative, quirky words, which young listeners will love and which adult readers will find fun to read. The illustrations by Greg Holfeld also reminiscent of the Seuss books, are full of comic detail.

This one will be read and enjoyed time and time again.

The Super Parp-Buster!, by Janeen Brian and Greg Holfeld
Working Title Press, 2005

Australian Wine Companion 2006, by James Halliday

James Halliday is widely known as Australia’s most respected wine writer. He is constantly travelling, researching and tasting wine around the world as well as regularly judging at wine shows both in Australia and overseas. His annual publication, Australian Wine Companionprovides a wealth of information about Australian wine and wineries.

This 2006 edition profiles 2001 wineries (including 172 new entries), rating 5957 wines, with expert notes for 4414 wines. There is also a section discussing corks and screwcaps, a listing of the top-rating wineries of the year and a Best of the Best both by price and by variety.

This is a comprehensive guide with anyone with an interest in Australian wines – whether a home connoisseur, restaurant owner or anyone involved in the hospitability industry in any way. It would make an excellent gift for a wine buff.

Australian Wine Companion 2006, by James Halliday
Harper Collins, 2005

Loner, by Bernard Lagan

When Mark Latham was elected the leader of the Labor Party he was seen as young and dynamic, and hailed as the saviour of the Labor Party’s fortunes. He would be the next Prime Minister, defeating John Howard’s Liberal government, and nothing would stand in his way.

Yet only a year later Mark Latham, having failed in that bid to be Prime Minister and suffering personal illness would resign from Parliament and public life. Whilst commentators have tried to analyse what went wrong, this book seeks to explore in depth exactly what happened in those twelve months to take Latham from dynamic politician to sick and embattled recluse.

Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy is an energetic and intriguing expose of the behind the scenes struggles and crises that marked Mark Latham’s time as leader of the opposition. It is riveting reading for anyone with an interest in Australian politics.

Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy, by Bernard Lagan
Allen & Unwin, 2005

The Scarlet Mile, by Elaine McKewon

From its beginnings as a dusty, water-deprived goldrush town, to its current place as a thriving city, Kalgoorlie has been the home to a similarly thriving prostitution industry. Prostitutes have come from around Australia and from overseas to work in brothels in the town, and its red-light precinct has become a famous tourist attraction.

The Scarlet Mile is an examination of this industry from its inception until the present, focussing on the social aspects of its history. Who were the women who came there, what part did they play in the town’s social and economic fabric, and what were the implications for them and for the rest of the population. There is discussion of the legal processes – the by-laws and police acts which impacted on the industry and the legal proceedings which arose from them – but the real focus is on the human aspect, with first person accounts peppering the book

This is an outstanding social history.

The Scarlet Mile: A Social History of Prostitution in Kalgoorlie, 1894-2004, by Elaine McKewon
UWA Press, 2005

The Nativity, by Julie Vivas

And so it was that, while they were there, the day came that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The biblical language of this magical version of the story of the birth of Christ, will not be at all inaccessible for young listeners, because author/illustrator Julie Vivas, couples the text with beautiful illustrations which provide a gentle but stunning interpretation.

The Nativity was first released in 1986 and has had numerous reprints since, both in Australia and overseas. It was short listed for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year, is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honour Book and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Nearly twenty years on it is just as breath-taking in its simplicity. This new edition has been redesigned and the artwork re-scanned and reproduced.

This is an awesome offering from Australia’s finest illustrator.

The Nativity, illustrated by Julie Vivas
This Edition Omnibus, 2005
First Published 1986

Mulga Bill's Bicycle and Other Classics, by A.B. Paterson, illustrated by Bruce Whatley

Whilst it is important that young Aussie readers are constantly offered new and contemporary reading material, it is also important that they are offered a glimpse into Australia’s literary heritage. This new release from ABC Books offers just that, with a nicely illustrated collection of the best of A. B. (Banjo) Paterson.

The collection includes both poems and short stories, and includes some that children may be familiar with – including Waltzing Matilda and Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and others which they are unlikely to have come across, including Weary Will and The Geebung Polo Club. There are offerings which offer an insight into Australia’s past, exploring rural life, transport, and more – including In the Droving Days and Arrival at Illalong – and others which kids will love for their humour – including The Bush Christening and The Man from Ironbark.

The black and white illustrations by Bruce Whatley bring the tales to life, using a combination of serious illustrations and comic-style humorous pictures. There is also a brief biography of Paterson.

This a collection which would be great for classroom and library collections, but would also be wonderful addition to any child’s home library.

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and other Classics, by A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
ABC Books, 2005

Olive and the Grey Water Affair, by Tim Levy

Now then children, I’ve called this special assembly to tell you about an important change at this school…Mt Kimberly Primary is to go into a Water Emergency, Level 8. We are to conserve water at all costs. From next Monday, we will be turning off all bubblers, hoses, fountains, the boys’ urinals and all other non-critical systems. Questions?

Olive has one, but she’s too scared to ask. The school Principal, Mrs Tote, doesn’t like to be challenged, so her pronouncement that no water is to be used at school seems final. But when Olive sees that the trees and plants are dying, and the birds have all flown away, she decides something must be done. With an unlikely ally – the Principal’s pet – she comes up with a novel scheme to bring grey water to school to keep the gardens alive.

Olive and the Grey Water Affair is a fun story with an important message about water conservation for primary school aged children. The book is, however, much more than simply a story. As well as Olive’s tale, there are games and activities to keep readers busy on their travels – whether by road, rail or air – and tips for making travelling more comfortable, including hints for avoiding travel sickness.

The humour of the story and the silliness of some of the suggestions – there is even a page to sleep on – are well complemented by the humorous illustrations by Luke Jurevicius. Kids will love the fun of this offering – parents will love it for keeping kids entertained, whilst also offering a subtle learning experience.

Olive and the Grey Water Affair, by Tim Levy
Random House, 2005

The Literary Larrikin, by Michael Crouch

T. A. G. Hungerford has long been one of Western Australia’s foremost authors of novels and short stories. His works include The Ridge and the River, a novel based on his experiences in World World II, and more recently the autobiographical short story collection Stories from Suburban Road. But these signify just a small portion of the work of a man for whom writing has been a life passion .

In The Literary Larrikin, author Michael Crouch explores the life and works of this great man, recounting the events of his life, from his childhood in South Perth to his (current) retirement in Bentley. He discusses the writing, publishing history and reception of each of Hungerford’s major works and details his working life, which often centred around writing or editing, including being a publicist for successive Western Australian premiers, and the editor of Australian War Museum publications. The biography also looks at the person who is Tom Hungerford.

This is a title which will interest all with a love of Australian literature and history, particularly those who have read Hungerford’s works.

The Literary Larrikin: A Critical Biography of T. A. G. Hungerford, by Michael Crouch
UWA Press, 2005

Keep Your Hair On, by Elizabeth Vercoe

Jess half smiled. The beanie comments would be sure to come thick and fast all day. Jess just hoped and prayed that no one would be stupid enough to pull it off her head. She wasn’t quite ready to share her new look with the rest of the world. Not yet.

Jess is sixteen and in year eleven at school. Last week she kissed a boy for the first time. This week all her hair is falling out. She has cancer, and if Dylan finds out, he might drop her. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably feel sorry for her, which is worse. Can she keep Dylan AND keep the cancer a secret?

Keep Your Hair On is a story of sickness, friendship, and family. Jess is a likeable and believable teen trying to stay normal at a time when life is anything but. Her family – an absentee father, a slightly crazy, but well-meaning mother, and a younger bother who, as the story progresses, has troubles of his own – and her friends – Sarah, who is a supportive, if zany friend, and Charlotte, who doesn’t cope with Jess’s illness – make up an interesting cast.

Whilst the subject matter sounds grim, this is not a dark book. It is honest and very readable, mixing humour with the realities of dealing with a serious illness. A good read.

Keep Your Hair On, by Elizabeth Vercoe
Black Dog Books, 2003

Catastrophe Cat, by Mary Small

Drenched to the skin, Tia was clinging like a mad creature to the branches of a broken tree. One minute she was there, the next she was gone, a small Siamese cat swept up and whirled away with the wind.

On Christmas Eve in 1974, a ferocious cyclone devastated Darwin, in the Northern Territory. Sixty-five people were killed, many more injured, and 30 000 had to be evacuated from the decimated city. This is the story of a little Siamese cat, Tia, who disappears in the fury of the cyclone.

Having lived through the horror of Cyclone Tracy, life for Leisa can never be the same. Her family home has been destroyed and her precious cat, Tia, has disappeared. Lesia has to leave Darwin with her family, evacuated to Melbourne, where she continues to fret for her cat. It is six months before she returns to Darwin. Is it possible that Tia will be waiting?

Catastrophe Cat is a historical novel which combines the facts of the cyclone, a significant piece of Australian history, with the story of the missing cat, a fictionalised storyline based on a real cat which went missing during the cyclone. Kids will learn from the factual base of the story, but will also enjoy the story of the missing cat, which has a satisfactory resolution.

Suitable for readers aged 10-12.

Catastrophe Cat, by Mary Small
UWA Press, 2004