The Miracle of the Little Wooden Duck, by Margaret Wild & Dee Huxley

Once upon a time, there was a little wooden duck that sat on the windowsill of Annie’s bedroom. Every day Annie picked up the little duck and stroked it, wishing it could speak to her. But the little wooden duck continued to sit silently on the window sill – until, one day, something miraculous happened.

Annie loves her little wooden duck, but she really wishes it could see and hear and feel. When a storm sweeps the duck off Annie’s windowsill something magical happens and, far away from Annie’s home, the duck finds itself waking up real. Remembering the love Annie has for it, it flies home to her.

The Miracle of the Little Wooden Duck is a gorgeous fairytale offering about love and magic. Richly illustrated in oil paintings by Dee Huxley, the duck is especially beautiful in rich dark greens with a golden beak and beady eye.

This a joyful story which young readers will adore.

The Miracle of the Little Wooden Duck

The Miracle of the Little Wooden Duck, by Margaret Wild and Dee Huxley
Working Title Press, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereveiws.

10 Little Hermit Crabs, by Lee Fox & Shane McG

Ten little hermit crabs scuttle to the beach,
Down swoops a seagull Screech! Screech! Screech!
Hush says the seashore,
Shh says the sea,
How many hermit crabs will there be?

Ten cute and funky hermit crabs play together on the beach, but as the story progresses, one by one they disappear. But young readers will be happy to know when only one hermit crab remains, he is reunited with his friends.

This brightly illustrated reverse counting book is a pleasing read-aloud offering. With rhyming text and a repetitive refrain which youngsters will learn to join in with, as well as the educational element of the counting, it will be enjoyed by both adults and children.

An entertaining early childhood offering which will withstand repeated readings.

10 Little Hermit Crabs

10 Little Hermit Crabs, by Lee Fox & Shane McG
Allen & Unwin, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereveiws.

Wyatt, by Garry Disher

Wyatt took the stairs. The lift was available, but lifts were a trap. He went straight to the first-floor apartment’s concealed safe and removed the contents: spare cash, two sets of false ID and the deeds to both properties. Finally he grabbed the dark suit hanging in his wardrobe. There was nothing else that he wanted to take with him when he left the place forever, no photos, no diaries, letters or other keepsakes, for the simple reason that he had no past that he wanted to think about.

No one knows much about Wyatt. But, after an absence, he is now back in town. Eddie Oberin doesn’t know a lot about Wyatt, but he wants Wyatt to work with him on a big heist. Eddie’s ex-wife Lydia has some inside knowledge which makes the job easy, or so it seems. But Alain Le Page, the target of their heist, is an unknown quantity, and he might just be a match for Wyatt and his team.

Wyatt is a crime thriller from one of Australia’s masters of the genre. Pitting shyster against shyster, and with a colourful cast of characters including a stripper with a huge chip on her shoulder, and another woman who may prove to be Wyatt’s equal, it is a story which keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

Great stuff.


Wyatt, by Garry DIsher
Text Publishing, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The 8 Second Secret, by Dr Gail Trapp

There is a plethora of diet and exercise programs on the market, with seemingly a new one released every week. So, when I set out to review this one I felt a little cynical. However, the simplicity of this program appealed, and the book proved to be remarkably accessible, quick to read and straightforward.

Better than that, though, the program seems based on scientific research, sensible, and achievable. The 8 Second Secret presents in book form the LifeSprints program, which has had media attention for some time. The LifeSprints program is based on doing high intensity exercise in 8 second bursts over a twenty minute period. So, for time strapped people, the program can run for as little as three thirty minute sessions a week, and still bring about results in fat loss and , just as importantly, fitness. The book explains the science behind the method, before presenting a simple, easy to follow program. The remainder of the book addresses other key parts of fitness – strength training (Stronger), diet (Slimmer) and relaxation (Calmer), to give readers an all round health regime which is easy to follow and promises results.


In the course of reading the book I decided to try the LifeSprints fitness regime and found after three sessions I was seeing results in increased stamina. I intend to keep at it in an attempt to get fitter.


The book promises fast results and, if you are looking for a way to get fitter and lose weight, is well worth trying.


The 8 Second Secret: The Scientifically Proven Method for Lasting Weightloss


The 8 Second Secret: The Scientifically Proven Method for Lasting Weightloss, by Dr Gail Trapp
Allen & Unwin, 2010


This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, by Wendy Harmer

Remember what it was like when you lost a baby tooth and your tongue just couldn’t help itself from exploring the new squishy gap in your gum? My fingers are like that. They’re out to explore without any supervision from me and keep reaching for the phone that isn’t there. Tap-tap-tapping on the non-existent keypad.
🙁 HLP me. Im dyng.

When Elly Pickering loses her mobile phone – not for the first time – she thinks her life is over. How will she keep in touch with her friends, most importantly her gorgeous boyfriend Will? Her parents refuse to buy her a new phone, and soon it seems her life is spiralling out of control. Things with Will are rocky, someone has posted embarrassing photos of her on the internet, and then she finds herself without a computer, too.

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall is funny reality fiction about one teenager’s dependence on technology and what happens when she loses that technology. At the same time it explores issues including cyber bullying, peer pressure, and being an individual. As well as being an entertaining story, the book offers teens a chance to extend their reading experience through an interactive website accessed through scanning a special code on the back of the book.

A funny read likely to appeal especially to teenage girls.

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, by Wendy Harmer
Random House, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Headgames, by Casey Lever

In Avery’s perfectly executed handwriting was the question: Why is it so important that I play this game anyway?
And then below that, in smaller, back-slated scrawl, the reply: The game can be cruel, but it can set you free.

Steven Byrd has been obsessed with Avery Adams for years, in spite of the fact that Avery can’t stand him. So when Steven accidentally discovers that Avery is involved in some sort of game, Steven is desperate to play, too. This might be his chance to get to know Avery, to show her that he is worth knowing. But Steven and his friend Tala have no idea what they are getting into, when Avery and her boyfriend Connor let them into the game.

The game seems little more than a silly kids’ party game, but when they play it by Connor’s rules, everyone who plays find they are being pushed in ways they could never have expected.

Headgames is a story about secrets, honesty and friendships. The five teens involved in the game which runs throughout the book are quite different, but all have secrets and realities they need to confront. Through the course of the novel, each of the five is challenged by the others, and by events outside the game, to confront those secrets and move forwards.

Dealing with issues including family, acceptance and sexuality, this is an absorbing young adult read.


Headgames, by Casey Lever
Random House, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Dance of the Deadly Dinosaurs, by Jackie French

Up, up through the blackness of the wormhole ceiling. Boo was pressed next to Yesterday’s blue silk dress on one side, and Princess’s gold brocade one on the other, his nose between Mug’s armoured knees, the pink dinosaurs around them.
Up…up…suddenly the world grew light.
Too light. Boo blinked. Something was shining in his eyes!
It was a sign, as tall as the cliff at school, adorned with blinking lights. There was a picture of a bed – a big one, with brass knobs and a patchwork quilt – and words above it, pulsing red and green and blue: ‘Welcome to the Ghastly Otherwhen.”
He gulped. It looked as though they’d arrived.

In Lessons for a Werewolf Warrior Boojum Bark (Boo), would-be Hero, banded with his friends from hero school to overcome the evil Greedle. Now, with the Greedle out of the way, Boo is determined to visit the Ghastly Otherwhen, previously the Greedle’s home, to rescue his mother. But no hero has ever conquered the Otherwhen, and everyone seems to be trying to talk him out of it – everyone except his friends Yesterday, Princess Princess, Mug and Squeak.

Together the four friends journey to the Otherwhen, but when they get there they find it is not at all what they had expected. How can they rescue Boo’s mum when she seems so happy to be there, and doesn’t remember Boo at all?

Dance of the Deadly Dinosaurs is the second title in the School for Heroes series from award winning author Jackie French. An entertaining blend of humour, action, adventure and even mystery, there is much here to keep middle and upper primary aged readers turning the pages.

Dance of the Deadly Dinosaurs (School for Heroes)

Dance of the Deadly Dinosaurs (School for Heroes), by Jackie French
Harper Collins, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea, by Andrew Daddo

Hoping for the view to change somewhere – anywhere – Skoz kept spinning. Faster and faster and faster until he eventually fell off in a dizzy wobble. Lying flat on the bottom of the boat, his head back on the packet of bait, Skoz let out a mighty yelp. This was the problem with being a sleepwalking dog.
I’ve woken up, and I haven’t got a clue where I am!

Skoz the dog has a problem. He sleepwalks. And when he does he finds himself waking up in all sorts of difficult situations. This time, when he wakes up he’s all alone on a boat in the middle of the sea. Not only does he have to figure out how to get home, but he also needs to escape from a huge shark that wants him for its dinner.

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea is the first title in an entertaining new series for younger readers. Kids will love the idea of sleepwalking dog, and the humour of the situation he finds himself in. They’ll also love the delightful grey scale illustrations which bring Skoz to life on every spread.

Perfect for emergent readers, this is bound to be popular with junior primary aged readers.

Skoz the Dog - All at Sea

Skoz the Dog – All at Sea, by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Judith Rossell
ABC Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Cover Girl, by Rebecca Lin

Prunella was daydreaming her way through Maths class before the lunch break when a ripple of excited whispering went through the classroom. ‘Sista Magazine is holding open heats for the Face of tomorrow Teen Model Quest! This week at the shopping centre, pass it on!’
Prunella rolled her eyes. From the sound of things, just about everyone was planning to strut their stuff or go cheer on their friends.

Last year she had a great group of friends, but when Prunella starts high school, everything is different. She doesn’t know anyone, and she is being teased about her height, her wonky nose, her crazy hair and her dress sense.

But when a modelling competition is held at the local shopping centre, and Prunella’s friends convince her to enter, it seems that Prunella might have the last laugh at Chanel, the ringleader of the bullies.

Cover Girl is the second title in the Totally Stylin’ series of short novels for tween girl readers. With the same main characters as in the first title, Style Files as well as new characters, the story is self contained, though readers will find they enjoy the series best read in order.

Cover Girl (Totally Stylin')

Cover Girl (Totally Stylin’), by Rebecca Lin
Allen & Unwin, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Little Yellow Digger and The Bones, by Betty & Alan Gilderdale

It started to rain on the Monday,
it rained on Tuesday as well,
it bucketed down on the Wednesday,
and rivers were starting to swell.

‘The Little Yellow Digger’ series originated in New Zealand and includes titles such as ‘The Little Yellow Digger’, ‘The Little Yellow Digger and the Whale’ and more. In this instalment, the little yellow digger is called in to help clear the roads after heavy and protracted rainfall has caused a landslide. The landslide has also revealed a cave and some bones. The bones are sent off to the museum for identification and the road clearing continues. While the road is soon clear, the identification of the bones takes a little longer but the little yellow digger’s driver finally is invited to a celebration and unveiling of a new museum exhibit.

The Little Yellow Digger and the Bones uses the digger as a main character, considering the driver and the machine are working as a unit, rather than anthropomorphising the machine. This allows the story to remain realistic while allowing the reader to identify with the ‘character’. The little yellow digger can do things bigger diggers can’t and this leads to the particular adventure in this story where the machine reveals the existence of the cave and the driver investigates. There’s also a brown dog appearing on every opening. The use of the machine as a character also allows an adult to sit in the driving seat while still making the machine-plus-driver a child-like unit. It’s easy to imagine little boys using their model diggers in the back yard and inventing their own adventures. Recommended for preschool and early primary readers.

The Little Yellow Digger and the Bones, Betty and Alan Gilderdale
Scholastic NZ
ISBN: 9781869438999

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.