Battle Order 205, by Christobel Mattingley

David was also a casualty. Wounded in five places by flying metal. Right knee, thigh and shoulder hit. Tendons and artery in right hand severed. Ad shrapnel ripped through his thick leather helmet, fracturing his skull.
David lost consciousness.
Dog went into a dive.

As he grew up in Tasmania, young David Mattingley wanted just one thing – to learn to fly. By the time he left school, Australia was about to become involved in World War 11, and his chance to follow his dream was to sign up to join the Australian air force. He did this, and after extensive training, found himself a pilot on bombing missions out of England.

Battle Order 204 is the true story of David Mattingley’s life, especially his years in the air force, written by his wife, acclaimed Australian author Christobel Mattingley. This is a gripping story, told in straightforward language and with the focus on the human elements of the war. Readers are invited to witness David’s friendships, his emotions and his struggles, as well as his courage and the highpoints of his service time.

Mattingley offers insight into war which will intrigue both teen and adult readers.

Battle Order 204

Battle Order 204, by Christobel Mattingley
Allen & Unwin, 2007

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.

Where There's Smoke, by Robin Lovell & David Miller

The day is getting very hot and the wind is picking up. I smell smoke…and ashes are blowing onto our place. I wave at a passing fire truck, which doesn’t stop.
What’s going on?

When fire sweeps through his area, Bodie watches with interest as firebreaks are cut and emergency vehicles dribe past. But when his home is threatened, Bodie becomes scared.

Where There’s Smoke is an important look at the work of emergency crews in dealing with bushfires. Whilst the story is fictional, the situation is very real, and the book explores the work of the emergency services, and the experience of children in emergencies, in a realistic way.

The paper sculpture illustrations, by acclaimed illustrator David Miller, are bright and clever, and youngsters will be drawn into the excitement of the story.

First published in 2005, this paperback edition is a welcome reprint.

Where There's Smoke

Where There’s Smoke, by Robin Lovell & David Miller
Lothian, 2005, this edition, 2007

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.

Time for Tea, by Lindel Barker-Revell

Tea has a wonderful quality that draws people together and, mysteriously, a shared cup of tea always seems to taste better than tea drunk alone. Tea-leaves bring their life and spirit to our cups. When we make time for tea, we make time for ourselves and for each other – time to watch the tiny leaves that have travelled so far, slowly unfurl.

Drinking tea has, for centuries, been more than a source of sustenance. It has also been the centre of fellowship, especially for women, and the basis of the art of tea-leaf reading. Time for Tea is a delightful small format hardcover extolling the virtues of tea drinking and sharing some of the secrets to the art of reading tea-leaves.

Author Lindel Barker-Revell explores the history of tea and tea-drinking, explains the different types of tea and offers suggestions about tea cups, pots and more, and gives advice for staging the perfect tea party, before exploring in detail the different shapes and objects which might be seen in the tea leaves and what they mean.

This is a lovely little book and you don’t have to be over-serious about the art of tea-leaf reading to enjoy what it has to offer.

Time for Tea, by Lindel Barker-Revell
Allen & Unwin, 2007

Killer Mackenzie, by Eve Martin

We drove along Sturt Creek’s main street, Main Street. (No joke!) If that was the main street, I hated to think what the other streets were like – if there were any other streets. I saw a Swimming Pool sign, so that was something. Sturts Creek seemed to have only one of anything: one chemist, one bank, one doctor, one supermarket, one milk bar…Definitely not somewhere you’d ever come for a holiday, so what was I doing there?

When her mother decides it’s time for a second honeymoon, Alex is shipped from London to Outback Sturts Creek to stay with the father she hasn’t seen for four years. Glenlea Farm is alien to Alex, who is used to city living in London. There are chooks, horses, spiders and even snakes to contend with. Then there’s her new stepmother, who is disgustingly pregnant , and her father who murders chooks and steals dogs from the local pound.

Alex is outraged that she’s expected to help out – feeding animals, washing dishes, even learning to ride a horse – but gradually she starts to feel a connection with her father and the farm that’s been in the family for generations.

Killer Mackenzie is a funny read for teens, narrated by the feisty Alex, who has plenty of attitude and lots to contend with. The book is not all teenage angst – there is plenty of action and characters who are likeable and, though humorous, very believable.

Recommended for teenage girls.

Killer Mackenzie, by Eve Martin
Lothian, 2007

The Shadow Brumby, by Alison Lester

Everywhere Shadow looked, she saw danger. The other wild horses trotted happily through the moonlit bush, but Shadow was afraid.
Shadow had been born on a farm where she felt safe and secure. Then one day her mother pushed open a broken gate and took Shadow into the mountains, following the call of the brumbies. From then on, Shadow was always tense and worried.

Bonnie and Sam are best friends who share a mutual love of horses. Though neither has a horse of her own, they befriend all the local horses, and ride them whenever they can. When Sam’s dad, Bill, is given a horse to use for police work, Sam and Bonnie are excited, but the new horse, Drover, doesn’t let them ride her.

One night, the brumbies visit the town. Shadow, a brumby who looks just like Drover, jumps the fence into Drover’s paddock – and Drover jumps out and flees with the brumbies. The girls like the new Drover better than the old, but will she be able help Bill with the police work?

The Shadow Brumby is the first in a new chapter book series, Bonnie & Sam, for horse mad youngsters. With plenty of horsey action, and full colour illustrations by Roland Harvey, the series is sure to appeal to girls aged 7 to 10, and perhaps a little older.

Bonnie and Sam: The Shadow Brumby, by Alison Lester, illustrated by Roland Harvey
Allen & Unwin, 2007

Blossom Possum, by Gina Newton

Blossom Possum can’t sleep, but when she climbs down from her tree, something falls on her head. Certain that the sky is falling, Blossom races off to tell the Prime Minister. Along the way she meets up with her friends – Rocky Cocky, Joanna Goanna, Toey Joey, Abacus Platypus and Echo Gecko – who all decide to come with her. When the friends meet By-Jingo Dingo, he thinks he might be able to get a feed, so he tries to trick the friends by promising a shortcut to the Prime Minister. Fortunately for the friends, they are rescued just in time by I-Seen-You Emu and his minders.

Blossom Possum is a retelling of a favourite folk tale with an Australian twist, sure to delight preschool age children. The animal characters are brought to life in earth Australian tones by the talented Kilmeny Niland and the receptive, tongue-twisting text, whilst a challenge for the adult reader, will have littlies giggling.

Very cute.

Blossom Possum, by Gina Newton and Kilmeny Niland
Scholastic, 2006

The Copperhead, by Delwyne Stephens

Rachel was scared, too. She was so scared she could hear her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She knew what type of snake it was from the colour. It was a copperhead. Copperheads were deadly.

Rachel is always getting into trouble for not thinking before she acts. When she and her brother Tim go searching for blue-tongue lizards, she is determined not to get into any more trouble. But when Tim grabs hold of a snake’s tail, thinking it’s a lizard, Rachel knows she must stop and think before doing what needs to be done.

The Copperhead is an easy to read chapter book for primary school aged readers. Set on a country Australian farm, and featuring one of Australia’s most dangerous animals, it will appeal to Australian kids. Part of the Aussie School kids series, The Copperhead is 48 pages long and has plenty of illustrative support for readers new to the novel format.

Good stuff.

The Copperhead, by Delwyne Stephens
Aussie School Books, 2007

Shape Shifters, by Goldie Alexander

Acacia had vanished. In her place was a tree with curly, yellow leaves. Every branch was covered in prickles.
Penny gasped. She couldn’t believe what her eyes were showing her. She blinked and blinked.

Penny is amazed when she sees the new girl, Lei-Lei, change the school bully into a tree. Lei-Lei has learnt to shape shift, and now Penny wants to learn to do it, too. Soon, both girls are able to shape-shift when they are in danger, but next they must learn to use this skill only for good.

Shape Shifters is an intriguing fantasy offering for primary aged readers. Kids will enjoy the novelty of the girls’ shape-shifting skills. At just 48 pages long and with plenty of illustrative support, Shape Shifters is ideal for children making the transition to junior novels.

Shape Shifters is part of the Aussie School Books series.

Shape Shifters, by Goldie Alexander
Aussie School Books, 2007

The Dragon Queens, by Traci Harding

Ashlee Devere, who readers first met in The Gene of Isis, a 19th century clairvoyant and adventurer has been summoned by the Sangreal Knighthood to authenticate a Sumerian Text taken from an archaeological dig. This begins a new adventure for her, her husband and her oldest son, which will change their lives irrevocably.

Tamar, the thirteen year old daughter od 21st century Mia Montrose, is reading Ashlee’s diaries for the first time, and at the same time is undergoing changes which are unexpected to her, but which have been foretold by others. Tamar’s destiny is to determine the fate of the whole world.

The Dragon Queens, the second title in the Mystique Trilogy, is told through the first person journalising of Tamar, Ashlee and Mia, each in their own time periods, and at times with the assistance of other women. This form of narration, along with the complex nature of the women’s quest, keeps the reader absorbed, with each new twist adding to the intrigue. There is much to absorb and process, and readers will be keen for the third and final instalment to see how the story resolves.

Intriguing fantasy.

The Dragon Queens, by Traci Harding
Voyager, 2007

Sea Secrets, by Gillian M. Wadds

We climbed over the rocks and at last sank into the cool water. Lazily we swam out through the narrow entrance looking down through our masks at the slowly moving underwater world: little brown waving trees, bunches of green lettuce, long strands of brown leather kelp. I hung there, weightless, floating in the clear water until I noticed something strange wedged into the rocks. I surfaced and dragged off my mask.
‘Hey, Jodie,’ I yelled. ‘Come over here!’

It’s school holidays and summer is well and truly here. While swimming with Jodie, Zena discovers a bag of abalone on the floor of Stingray Pool. She takes some home and shares them with her friends. Sean’s policeman father warns her to be careful, abalone poachers can be dangerous. Zena and her friends are uneasy but not too worried until their friend Tran disappears. They learn more and more about abalone and the risks poachers will take to harvest it. Summer is about to get much more exciting than they expected.

The front cover of Sea Secrets shows a view from underwater looking upwards. A diver floats next to the reef and seems oblivious to a shark swimming nearby. But it is the human ‘sharks’ who present most danger for Zena and her friends. Like the shark, danger circles closer and closer as they search for their friend. Gillian Wadds’ characters reflect the ethnic diversity in an urban environment without making a feature of their similarities and differences. They are just children, experiencing and responding to their environment, alternately excited by and fearful of what they find. There are family and cultural elements interwoven with the story, providing many topics for further discussion. Recommended for upper primary and early secondary readers.

Sea Secrets, by Gillian M Wadds
Hachette Children’s Books
ISBN 9780734409782