The Quest for the Sun Gem, by Belinda Murrell

Reviewed by Jess Whiting

Ethan froze in the tree, his heart pounding, his mouth sticky and dry. His stomach heaved with anxiety as he tried to grasp the reality of the terrifying attack below him. The small group of Tiregians, in their brightly coloured ceremonial clothes, were completely surrounded by a surging sea of black armour. They had no hope of fighting back.

Ethan and Lily are a brother and sister who, after their village is attacked and their families and friends captured, will go to extreme lengths to rescue them from the Sedah invaders and reclaim their land.

The Quest for the Sun Gem is a novel filled with excitement as you join Ethan, Lily, Saxon and Princess Roana on a daring quest to find the Sun Gem and restore peace to their world.

This novel for ages ten and up is filled with suspense and will keep the reader guessing. It is filled with action and never has a dull moment as it allows you to enter a magical world filled with strange creatures and fun characters.

A great adventure

The Quest for the Sun Gem, by Belinda Murrell
Random House Australia 2006

A Ring of Unicorns, by M R Collard

David noticed that his sisters’ hair looked silver and blew in wisps over their pale faces. Their bright clothes were shadow-coloured. The herd was becoming frisky; manes and tails tossed like silken fringe flowing in slow motion. They sparred and fumed and kicked and foamed in a strange formal way, as though they were dancers obeying a hidden caller, a caller who drew them slowly into a circle.

When Barbara, David Genevieve and Peter meet a Gryphon, they react in different ways, but none of them could predict the adventure that will ensue. The Gryphon needs their help to send a posse of basilisks on their way, away from Lake Burley Griffin. To do this they have to cross through the layers and seek the help of unicorns, dolphins and bees.

Six Days Between a Second is the first of seven fantasy novels in the Ring of Unicorns series by Canberra-based author M R Collard. Each of the books is self-contained, though the first three form a trilogy and the other four two duos, with characters reappearing across the series. All of the books are also set in and around Canberra, though not perhaps in the first layer – the ‘real’ world.

These books will best appeal to fantasy devotees, with a host of fantastical and mythical creatures including the aforementioned gryphons, basilisks and unicorns, as well as ermines, faeries and more. They are not easy reads, with complex language and sentence structures, making them best suited to confident older child readers, or adults.

Will appeal to fantasy lovers.

Six Days Between a Second, An Ermine Tale, Of Jade and Amber Caves, A Frozen Moment, The Phoenix Feather, The One-Verse Gryphon and The Key to Rattlekey, all by MR Collard
Palindrome Publishing, 2005

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Ramose – The Wrath of Ra, by Carole Wilkinson

Ramose is happy to return to the royal court and the company of his brother, the young Pharaoh. But not everyone is happy to see him. Then his old friend, Karoya, disappears, and Ramose must try to find her.

Ramose: The Wrath of Ra is the fourth and final book in the Ramose series. Once again Ramose must fight for his freedom and his life as he and his friends are reunited once more in their travels. Will Ramose fulfill his destiny, or will he be left in ongoing peril?

Author Carole Wilkinson creates an absorbing blend of historical accuracy and fiction which will intrigue 8 to 12 year old readers, especially those with an interest in ancient Egypt.

Each book has stand alone value, although readers will most enjoy the series in its entirety.

An excellent addition to class and school libraries as well as to home collections.

First published in 2002, The Wrath of Ra has been republished with an appealing new cover featuring hieroglyphics.

Ramose: The Wrath of Ra, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, First Published 2002, This edition 2006

The Forgotten Prince, by Paul Collins

Reviewed by Jess Whiting

Crocodile Sal had her work cut out for her. Her prac exam, Deceit and Daring 101, was proving to be more difficult then she could ever have imagined. It had seemed so straightforward when she was given the paper. Get a legitimate job and stay in it for at least three months. During this time, steal something really valuable and use it in a successful, diabolical crime.

Crocodile Sal is an apprentice thief. She has been trying hard to pass her latest exam and prove herself to the thieves Guild. But when Sal stumbles across Waldo Pritlock, an actor, she finds herself putting her skills to the ultimate test.

Waldo claims to be the true Prince Timaris of Hadran. Sal embarks on a difficult journey to find out the truth behind the mystery of the Forgotten Prince.

The Forgotten Prince is an exciting novel for fantasy lovers ages 10 and up. Another story based in the world of Quentaris, filled with adventure, mystery and great characters. Not the most descriptive book, but it makes up for it with an irresistible story line.

A thrilling plot

The Forgotten Prince, by Paul Collins
Lothian, 2006

Ramose – Sting of the Scorpion, by Carole Wilkinson

Ramose, once Prince of Egypt and heir to the throne, has been living for over a year as a tradesman, traveler and fugitive. The royal court believes he is dead, after his tutor and nanny uncovered a murder plot and faked his death in order to keep him safe.

Now he and his friends, Karoya, a slave girl and Hapu, an apprentice painter, are stranded in the desert, fighting for their lives and desperately trying to return to thebes and the royal palace. The dangers are many: as well as their human enemies, they must overcome dehydration, being lost in the desert and even scorpions.

When Ramose learns his father is dying, his determination strengthens. He must see his father before he dies, and be in the palace in time to claim his place as the new Pharoah. Can he succeed?

Ramose: Sting of the Scorpion is the third title in this intriguing series by history-loving author Carole Wilkinson. Based on a real prince, this is the fictitious story of what may have happened to the real Ramose. Young history lovers, especially those with an interest in Ancient Egypt will enjoy journeying with Ramose and his friends throughout this intriguing land.

First published in 2001, Sting of the Scorpion has been republished, with a new cover design.

Ramose: Sting of the Scorpion, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, First published 2001, this edition 2006

Chemical Leak! by Gillian M. Wadds

The only way I could get back on top of the container was to edge around the front of the drums and that meant getting quite close to the guard and the dog. Neither of them moved as I crept sideways past them, hardly daring to look where I was going. As soon as I reached the pipes I turned and scrambled up.
’And don’t come back!’ he yelled as I reached the top. ‘Tell her, Prince.’

Zena loves science and wants to prove to her science teacher and the rest of the class that she is a good researcher. So when she discovers a strange chemical leaking into the water at the beach, she decides to base her science project on it. First she needs to discover where the leak is coming from, and then she’ll figure out how to fix it.

But Zena soon finds that solving this problem may not be as easy as it seems. First she is caught by a security guard when she enters the yard where the leak is coming from. Then her father finds out how dangerous the leak is and tells her to stay away. Zena is sure there is a bigger problem here, but doesn’t realise that her life could be at risk if she persists with her investigations.

Chemical Leak! is an exciting read for young teens. As well as the mystery of the chemical leak, there is also exploration of family relations, ethnicity and racism, and friendship. Zena is a Lebanese Australian learning about the challenges of growing up and her motivation in pursuing the mystery is to prove to her classmates that she is clever.

Suitable for 10 to 14 year old readers.

Chemical Leak! by Gillian M. Wadds
Lothian, 2006

White Lies, by Damian Marrett

Being a crook was a whole lot of fun. From a personal perspective, I particularly enjoyed the not-getting-caught part of the equation. Granted, there was probably more danger and risk associated with working undercover than breaking the law, but then the gut didn’t sink and scramble when cops knocked down the door either. Unlike my criminal associates, I had no fear of a ten-year stretch.

This is Damian Marrett’s second book about his days as a covert operative (undercover cop) in the Victorian Police Force. Marratt shares his involvement in six memorable undercover operations, which see him pitted against drug-dealing neo-Nazis, Romanian heroin dealers, kidnappers and a drug-trafficking Olympian.

Reading White Lies is a little like watching an undercover cop show like Stingers, except that these are real life cops, real life crims and real-life events.

Marratt shares his life with a wryly humorous voice which is easy to read and believable. He is also honest about the ups and downs of the job and of the necessarily secretive life he lead for six years. For anyone with an interest in police and detective work, this is an absorbing read.

White Lies, by Damian Marrett
Harper Collins, 2006

Mr Dumby's Duck, by Colin Thiele

Mr Dumby lived on a little farm in the valley. Everyone said he lived there on his own but that wasn’t true. He lived with a duck.

Mr Dumby and his duck, who he has named, very simply, Duck, enjoy their quiet lifestyle on the farm. Mr Dumby grows vegetables and Duck digs for worms, and each enjoys the other’s company. But Duck’s peace is shattered when two boys discover her swimming in the creek and try to catch her. Although she is rescued by the neighbour’s dog, Duck is alarmed when the boys come to Mr Dumby’s door the following week. She tries to warn Mr Dumby that there is trouble around.

Mr Dumby’s Duck is a delightful new story from esteemed children’s author, Colin Thiele. It is a simple tale of friendship, told in Thiele’s uncomplicated style and, like so many Thiele stories, will appeal to readers of any age, though its length (64pp) and the use of plenty of illustrations make it especially suited for younger children.


Mr Dumby’s Duck, by Colin Thiele
Lothian, 2006