The Kitten's Tale, by Darrel & Sally Odgers

The kitten squalled crossly and clawed at the bars of the cage.
‘That’s not a prison,’ I said. ‘It’s a cage, with a bed and food and water.’ I turned to the kitten. ‘It’s all right,’ I sad. ‘You’re safe. Just make yourself comfortable and Dr Jeanie will—” I broke off. I had started the speech I made to our patients when they’re nervous, but this kitten wasn’t our patient.

A strange kitten has appeared at the vet surgery, and Trump isn’t sure what to think. The kitten doesn’t have a home, but has been brought here by Trump’s friend, Major Higgins. While the kitten is looked after by vet Jeanie, other strange things happen. Someone is stealing Trump’s kibble, and another, vicious cat is on the loose in the area.

The Kitten’s Tale is the fifth instalment in the Pet Vet series, an outstanding series of books for middle primary aged readers. Told from the viewpoint of Trump, the young Jack Russell dog who lives with vet Dr Jeanie the story is part mystery, part educational and wholly fun. Supported by text boxes, black and white line illustrations and front of book character introductions , The Kitten’s Tale can be read without knowledge of the earlier titles.

Pet Vet: #5 Kitten's Tale

The Kitten’s Tale, by Darrel & Sally Odgers
Scholastic, 2010
ISBN 9781741697247

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

The Glasshouse, by Paul Collins & Jo Thompson

Everyone said how beautiful and delicious her pumpkins were.
Never a blemish. Never a pumpkin that wasn’t perfectly shaped, perfectly coloured.
From the moment Clara produced her first pumpkin, everyone told her she was brilliant. For only a master gardener could grow such flawless pumpkins.

Safe inside her glasshouse, Clara grows perfect looking pumpkins. When she is visited by a boy with a bumpy looking pumpkin she starts to worry about the effect of the outside world on her own pumpkins, and becomes paranoid about letting the outside world in – until she realises that perfection isn’t always what it seems.

This clever picture book story uses a tale of pumpkins to explore concepts of perfection, perception and paranoia with a whimsy that will draw readers in and, in primary aged readers (and older) will lead to discussion of these concepts. At the same time, though, it is simply a feel good story, with delightful digital illustrations which manage to leap out of the page as if three dimensional.

Suitable for classroom use and personal reading.

The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse, by Paul Collins & Jo Thompson
Ford St, 2010
ISBN 9781921665042

This book can be purchased in any good bookstore, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Princess and Her Panther, by Wendy Orr & Lauren Stringer

One afternoon…
a princess and her panther crossed the desert sand.
The princess was brave, and the panther tried to be.

This charming picture book follows the adventure of the princess and her panther – who are really two sisters spending the night camping out in a backyard tent. As the night is filled with more and more noises, the active imaginations of the pair build a bigger and bigger (and scarier) adventure – until their bravery takes over and banishes their fears.

The illustrations combine the actual scenario of the older sister dressed as a princess and the younger as a panther, with their imaginings, so that as they trek across the real backyard sandpit, they lead an imaginary camel piled high with their camping gear, and so on. The final two spreads show only reality, with the reassuring scene of the sisters settling down peacefully, enjoying their backyard adventure.

A lovely concept, executed brilliantly.

The Princess and Her Panther

The Princess and Her Panther, by Wendy Orr & Lauren Stringer
Allen & Unwin, 2010

This book is available in good bookstores, and online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Twinkle, by Nick Bland

Penny Pasketti stared into space and pretended the stars were her friends. She imagined that every twinkle was a smile or a secret or some such wonderful thing.
Then something unusual happened.

When a star falls from the sky, Penny Pasketti is filled with thoughts of adventure – at last she has a special friend she can share her secrets with. But when it comes time for Little Star to go home, Penny has a problem. How do you make a star fall up?

Twinkle is a delightful tale of friendship and whimsy. The illustrations are superb – with light and colour set against the dark tones of night, and with Penny’s story repeated by other unnamed characters in the background of the illustrations, youngsters will love viewing this one as much as reading the text.

Sure to bring a smile – or twinkle – to the face of all who read it.


Twinkle, by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2010
ISBN 9781741693539

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Monkey Red Monkey Blue, by Nicki Greenberg

Monkey Blue and Monkey Red
just don’t feel like going to bed…
Let’s have a midnight feast instead!

The house is quiet and everyone is asleep except for Monkey Blue, Monkey Red and their friend Chameleon, who is quick to suggest a midnight feast. Soon the monkeys are feasting pm popcorn, spaghetti, hot dogs, fruit and more – but Chameleon is a little too enthusiastic and soon crash splash splatter splotter there is a big foody mess everywhere.

Monkey Red Monkey Blue is a rhythmic, rhythmic celebration of food and of mess which will delight youngsters and the adults who read it aloud to them. The images, combining illustrations with photographs of real food in a digital collage, are full of detailed chaos, which are a real feast for the eye.

Lots of fun.

Monkey Red Monkey Blue

Monkey Red Monkey Blue, by Nicki Greenberg
Allen & Unwin, 2010
ISBN 9781742374437

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Never Smile at a Crocodile, illustrated by Shane Devries

You should never smile at Mr Crocodile.

Since 1962 children have been listening, and singing along to this song, warning of the dangers of smiling at a crocodile, for fear of being eaten by him. Now Scholastic Australia, and 8llustrator Shane Devries have brought the song to life in this gorgeous hard cover picture book.

The lyrics are brought to life by three cute characters – a monkey, a rabbit and guinea pig/hamster – along with a supporting cast including frogs, elephants and more, including, of course, crocodiles. An accompanying music CD includes a recording of the song (performed by Jay Laga’aia), plus an instrumental version suitable for singing along, or classroom use.

This is gorgeous .

Never Smile at a Crocodile, by Jack Lawrence & Frank Churchill, illustrated by Shane Devries
Scholastic, 2010

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

Now I Am Bigger, by Sherryl Clark & Nina Rycroft

look, there’s someone
just like me

hands on head
arms out wide
touch my nose
tickle my ears
that baby does
everything I do

From the moments after birth, to a birthday party, Now I am Bigger captures the big and little moments of a baby’s life. Similar in format to a verse novel, this picture book offering consists of a series of free verse poems each focussing on one of baby’s experiences – being wrapped in a light cocoon after birth, floating in a bath, looking in a mirror, learning to crawl and walk – and brought to life in gentle water colour and pencil illustrations.

The poems can be read separately, but together create a lovely exploration of the world of a baby. Perfect for read aloud to the very young, the gentle rhythm of the text could be used as a bedtime story, but will also appeal to older children who have babies in their lives.

Now I am Bigger

Now I am Bigger, by Sherryl Clark & Nina Rycroft
Working Title, 2010
ISBN 9781921504174

This book can be purchased in any good bookstore, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy, by Bob Graham

Not so long ago, a tooth fairy took a call on her mobile.
“April Underhill here.”
…You want US? We shall be there. I PROMISE.”

April and Esme Underhill are tooth fairies – but they’ve never before collected a tooth – usually their parents do it. But when April gets a phonecall requesting her and Esme, she is sure they can work together to complete their first tooth collection.

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy is a beautiful story of two young sisters learning the ropes as toothfairies – and also a story about being empowered and supported by loving parents. Children will love the fairies who, instead of being pink and frilly stereotypes, are instead contemporary, in bright colours. Their house nestles near the motorway beside a tree stump and there are hints at the changing of times brought about by modern ‘progress’.

Bob Graham is a master of the picture book form – with gently quirky story lines and illustrations. April Underhill, Tooth Fairy is delightful.

April Underhill, Tooth Fairy April Underhill, Tooth Fairy, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2010
ISBN 9781406321555

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.

The Emerald Casket, by Richard Newsome

Alisha was chatting to a storekeeper and stuffing something she’d bought into her bag. She lifted her head and turned towards Gerald. A broad smile burst across her face and she waved.
Gerald grinned back. He could understand Sam’s infatuation.
Then a figure clothed entirely in black emerged from the sea of people. In a second, Alisha was grabbed by the upper arm. There was a brief struggle. Then she disappeared.

Gerald is only just getting used to being a billionaire, having inherited his aunt Geraldine’s fortunes, when he and his friends Ruby and Sam are invited to holiday in India with Alisha Gupta. But they haven’t been there long when it seems adventure is determined to follow them. Gerald and his friends are followed and repeatedly attacked by the members of a cult who want to kidnap Alisha. Gerald is horrified when he realises there is a connection between this cult and his own family. But nothing is more horrific than when his old foe Sir Mason Green reappears. Will he survive to enjoy his newfound wealth?

The Emerald Casket is the second title in the Billionaire trilogy and sees Gerald and his friends in a desperate race to find the Emerald Casket – the second of three such caskets before Sir Mason Green. There are lots of twists and turns in an entertaining blend of adventure and humour. Readers who have not read the first instalment will find enough information to pick up the story, though would enjoy it best sequentially.

The Emerald Casket (Billionaire Trilogy)

The Emerald Casket , by Richard Newsome
Text Publishing, 2010
ISBN 9781921656453

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Trouble With Dogs, by Bob Graham

“The trouble with dogs,” said Dad, “is that they take over your life. Run the show.”

Adopted from the rescue centre, Dave is a small pup who Kate thinks is perfect. But sometimes he gets just too excited, and causes problems – jumping onto laps, running through flowerbeds, even stealing cupcakes from visitors’ plates. When Mum finds the phone number for Pup Breakers, a solutions seems at hand. But when the Brigadier starts to train Dave, he loses his sparkle.

The Trouble with Dogs! is a delightful sequel to Let’s Get a Pup, featuring big, slow Rosy and little fast Dave, and their people family. With a gentle lesson for dog owners – and even parents – about the wonder of having a zest for life, this is creator Bob Graham at his best, with deceptively simple illustrations, and text which says only what’s necessary.The Trouble with Dogs!

The Trouble with Dogs! by Bob Graham
This edition Walker Books, 2010
ISBN 9781406326017

This book can be purchased in good bookstores and online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.