Duck for a Day, by Meg McKinlay

“Mrs Melvino,” said Noah, “if Max is our class duck…does that mean we can take him home?”
Abby caught her breath.
Because Noah was right.
Because class pets were allowed to come home if your parents said yes. And Abby’s parents had said yes.

Abby’c class has a class pet – a class duck, in fact. Max is a gentle duck who sits on children’s feet, or waddles and quacks around the classroom. When Mrs Melvino says that no one can take Max home unless they have just the right conditions for a duck, Abby is determined to get things right so that she can be the first one to take Max home.

But Noah, the new boy, who lives in the house behind Abby, wants to be first, too. Even when Abby has her chance to look after Max, it seems Noah is still plotting. Having a duck for a day could prove harder than Abby expects.

Duck for a Day is a delightful new chapter book about class pets, responsibility and friendship. While Abby learns about what it takes to get what you truly want, she and Noah both learn about friendship, and the adults around them learn about trust. Most of all, though, young readers will enjoy the fun of seeing the chaos one little duck can cause as it waddles its way into the lives of the children.

With whimsical grey-scale illustrations by Leila Rudge, this is novel to love.

Duck for a Day

Duck for a Day, by Meg McKinley and Leila Rudge (ill)
Walker Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Duck for a Day. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Land of Dragonay, by Sally Morgan and Ambelin, Blaze & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

I pull the stopwatch out of my back pocket. The small face appears straightaway. “Tick-tock, stopwatch! Dragonay, was it?” says the stopwatch.
“Hey, you were listening in!”
The stopwatch cackles proudly.
I press the little gold knob.
Tick, tick, tick.
Dragonay, here we come!

Tom has just got back from his latest mission to another world, when Grandpa tells him he needs to on another mission. Grandpa has discovered a dragon egg – and it’s about to hatch. Tom and his friends Bilby and Mother Bird head to Dragonay, taking the egg with them. But the residents of Dragonay don’t trust humans, and all the dragons have disappeared. Can they return the egg and solve the problems of Dragonay?

The Land of Dragonay is the third instalment in the Stopwatch series and offers a satisfying follow up to the first two, as well as setting up further titles. With lots of action, a healthy dose of humour and text which is both easy to read and interesting, this book, and its predecessors, will appeal to middle primary aged readers of all reading abilities.

The Land of Dragonay (Stopwatch)

The Land of Dragonay, by Sally Morgan and Ambelin, Blaze & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Walker Books, 2010

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

About a Girl, by Joanne Horniman

She gazed out into the audience as though expecting someone special , and her expression was so trustful and tender that my heart went out to her. Then, turning her face to her guitar, she played another chord, lifted her throat, and began to sing…I stood motionless and listened. The other people in the room fell away. It was as if she was singing for me alone, and no one else in the world existed.

Before Anna meets Flynn, she feels unlovable. She is different than anyone else she knows, and is hurting from the breakup of her parents’ marriage, an accident she feels was her fault, and a battle with depression. But after moving town and changing jobs, she meets Flynn and the pair are soon inseparable – eating cake, heading to the beach, camping, and loving each other. But Flynn is hiding a secret, and when Anna discovers it, she doesn’t know whether she really knows Flynn at all – or how she can cope with this truth.

About a Girl is a beautiful story of love between two teenage girls, as well as a journey of self-discovery. Sad, happy and wistful in equal, yet different, parts, the story is told in three parts taking the reader into the recent past, then further back, then forward again, to reveal Anna’s story in an absorbing form which goes right to the heart of the character, revealing her inner workings in intimate detail.


About a Girl, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2010

What Kate Did Next, by Lisa Heidke

I never thought I’d be the sort of person to have a midlife crisis. I’m not even sure I ever believed in such a thing! And I never thought I’d be the sort of person to give up on the dream of what I wanted.

Kate is about to turn 36 and suddenly she’s not so sure she’s where she wants to be. She has the husband and two children she’d always dreamed of, but her daughter is hitting teenager hood with a bang, and her son is having scary dreams. Then there’s her husband Matt, who is hardly ever home, and seems to have lost interest in intimacy, and her photography career – once very promising, now just a pile of old portfolios. So, when her friend Fern offers her three weeks work as a photography assistant for a classy magazine, Kate jumps at the chance to do something for herself and get her life back on track. Problem is, it might make her life spiral further out of control.

What Kate Did Next is a roller coaster ride through three crazy weeks in Kate’s life as she tries to juggle her own needs with the chaos of her two children, her troubled marriage, her pregnant sister and her parents, who are reconciling after being long divorced. Kate is a likeable, funny narrator who has a lot to deal with, and doesn’t always do the right thing – which makes her all the more believable.

This is an endearing new chick-lit offering.

What Kate Did Next, by Lisa Heidke
Allen & Unwin, 2010

Torn Apart, by Peter Corris

I remembered what my mother – a hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, piano-thumping descendant of Irish gypsies – used to say when my father a dour, sober man, bemoaned a difficult circumstance: ‘Never you mind, boyo. Something’ll turn up.’ For her, it mostly did, and right then it did for me when I met my cousin, Patrick.

Cliff Hardy is at a loose end. He’s been stripped of his license as a private detective, his partner Lily is dead , and he has to take things slow after bypass surgery. But when his cousin Patrick appears, he finds himself with a new lease on life. Together the pair travel to Ireland, and then set up home together. It all seems to be working fine – until Patrick is murdered. This is personal – and Cliff is determined to solve the case and figure out who killed Patrick, and whether the bullet was in fact intended for Cliff himself.

Torn Apart is the thirty fifth title in the Cliff Hardy series, and has many of the traits which have ensured the success of the series, whilst still managing to be fresh enough to be interesting. Hardy continues to grow as a character – learning new things about himself and adapting to the changes his life brings. At the same time, he never fails to solve the mystery, or to get into scrapes along the way.

Torn Apart is a fine read, in a new C format paperback.

Torn Apart, by Peter Corris
Allen & Unwin, 2010

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

Max Your Marks, by Rowena Austin & Annie Hastwell

Each year about 200 000 students around Australia sit Year 12 exams. And the competition for top marks is intense.

If you or a teenager in your life is currently in Year 12 and is preparing to sit their final school exams, then Max Your Markswill be an invaluable addition to your home library.

Composed chiefly of anecdotes and advice from recent school leavers, the book explores a variety of issues common for most year twelves – including goal setting, dealing with stress, balancing study and other parts of your life, and, of course, study skills. Each chapter includes a brief introduction and then a range of quotes from students. The students are from a variety of backgrounds – city and rural students, boarders, day students and home schoolers, public schools and private – but what they have in common is that they have all done well in Year 12, achieving a tertiary entrance rank of 95 or better, suggesting that their advice is worth listening to.

Year 12 is a difficult year, for students and their parents alike, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Max Your Marks will help with ideas for making it easier, and bringing the issues into perspective.

Max Your Marks

Max Your Marks, by Rowena Austin and Annie Hastwell
Allen & Unwin, 2010