Whenever Mr Badger came home tired after a hard day’s work at the Boubles Grand Hotel, Mrs Badger understood why – for every day brought with it new adventures. Mrs Badger looked forward to hearing all about them at dinnertime.
No matter how exhausted Mr Badger might be, he always made sure he read a bedtime story to his darling daughter Berenice, and baby Badger, too.
Mr Badger’s work day started as it usually did. He breakfasted with his family then set off for Boubles Grand Hotel, wondering what the day would bring. For it always brought surprises, but none that were beyond Mr Badger’s capacity to handle. Today was particularly surprising. Sir Cecil, owner of the hotel, has organised for a mirror from his private quarters to be installed at the top of the stairs. Mr Badger goes to check that everything is fine and discovers the mirror is like no mirror he’s ever seen. It’s magic! He also discovers just why Sir Cecil treasures the mirror. Meanwhile, Lady Celia has arrived at the hotel for morning tea with granddaughter Sylvia. Sylvia also notices the mirror, while Lady Celia is far more interested to discover whether the Australians have eaten all the scones.
This is a delightful series for newly independent readers, and will also be enjoyed by younger readers. The stories are as much about what ISN’T said as about what is. Mr Badger is the epitome of patience and forbearance, when there is much to tax him. In this installment, the reader discovers an escape free from the challenges of demanding owners and their even more demanding granddaughter. There is no attempt to address challenging behaviours. It is enough to present those behaviours and to let the reader decide which characters deserve their support. The humour is wry and the illustrations droll. Recommended for newly independent readers and fans of Old Tom, Mr Chicken and his friends.
Mr Badger and the Forgotten Room, Leigh Hobbs
Available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
Niromi is the older daughter in a middle class Sri Lankan family, living a life of stability and privilege. She attends a good school and her family hope she will become a doctor. But around her, there are rumblings between the ruling Sinhala and the minority Tamil…
Concealed by the shadow of a large water tank, I sat on the heel of my right foot. The air was sweetly pungent with the smell of ripening bananas and palmyra fruit. Cicadas buzzed relentlessly as a blazing sun rose to evaporate the condensed dew in the fields we had just scurried through. The small sparsely-populated village was luscious with its manioc and banana plantations, palm trees, and water birds in flight. But all this was lost on our small platoon of twenty-two; over half of us young women. Appreciation of beauty is a luxury of the untroubled mind.
Niromi is the older daughter in a middle class Sri Lankan family, living a life of stability and privilege. She attends a good school and her family hope she will become a doctor. But around her, there are rumblings between the ruling Sinhala and the minority Tamil. Until now Niromi hasn’t really been aware of difference, but once she begins to look, her world changes. As she moves through her teenage years, she feels the injustices more and more until finally she sees that the only way to move forward to peace and equality, is via the Tamil Tigers. This puts her at odds with her family and many of her local community, but she feels that if she is to hold her head high, she must actively fight.
Tamil Tigress is not just a picture of one young woman’s fight, but of a culture torn apart by differences. Many in the minority Tamil communities feel pressure and there are many groups that spring up to fight for equality. But while they are united in feeling oppressed, there is no unity in their approach. This leads to infighting and fighting between freedom groups. In the middle is a teenager, passionate about her country and her people, but confused by the infighting, and horrified by the deaths of her friends and close allies. Sri Lanka appears a beautiful country with a rich history, but when even its name is perceived as an attempt to ‘de-Tamil’ its legacy, it must have some way to go to achieve lasting peace. An interesting, and deeply personal memoir of a life in Sri Lanka.
Tamil Tigress: My Story as a Child Soldier in Sri Lanka’s Bloody Civil War, Niromi de Soyza
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author www.clairesaxby.com
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
‘Dash Campbell. You ready?’
‘3, 2, 1…Engage.’
I feel the pod move under me. My head and shoulders are thrust back into the red leather seat.
The washed-out monitor in front of me shows a live video image of my face. Numbers jitter across the top of the screen. The number on top right flips quickly from 1G to 1.5G, up to 2G. Then 2.5G to 3G. 3G means that the pressure I’m feeling on my body is three times my regularly body weight. My arms are pinned to the armrests. I feel like I’m being fired from a cannon directly into the air, but I haven’t even left the ground.
Dash, and four other young teenagers have been given the opportunity to see if they have what it takes to go into space. What an adventure! Dash has wanted this as long as he can remember. Even before his Mum left, leaving him with his perpetually worn down stepfather, he’s wanted to go into space. He’s made rockets in his house, but nothing could prepare him for this. And there’s not much time. Dash, Yada, Scott, Rafaela and Zarif have their work cut out for them. They will have a month to train. In that time, they need to learn about all the different elements of space travel. Their teacher, Chuck Palatnik, has worked with both Russian and American space programs. The only thing is, Palatnik doesn’t seem to like any of them much, but he seems to save his worst for Dash. He says they only need one of them to go on the rocket, and it seems he’d be quite happy if they all fail.
How many kids dream about travelling into space? Only a very small proportion maintain the dream and make it reality. But winning a prize that gives you that chance, how good would that be? But what could prepare you for the danger, the physical challenges that you need to master if you are to take that final step and leave earth bound for a space station. Tristan Bancks holds on to the excitement while detailing some of the obstacles to be overcome. For Dash, it’s not only a dream come true, but a chance to break free of the relentless drudgery that is life with his stepfather since the disappearance of his mother. If you’ve ever wanted to know what goes on in an astronaut training program, or wanted to prepare for space travel, without abandoning your teenage sense of humour or bravado, this is the novel for you. Recommended for upper-primary and early-secondary readers.
Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space, Tristan Bancks
Available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
There was once a little boy with big feet.
He didn’t know why or where or who he got them from,
but he had really, really, really big feet.
Bradley has the biggest feet anyone has ever had. He doesn’t know where he got them from – he doesn’t even know where he came from. But now he lives with Axel and Rainbow and soon his big feet see him having all sorts of adventures – from being bullied by the hat gang to playing at the Football World Cup.
Search For Bigfoot Bradley is a whimsical picture book based on a premise which young readers will enjoy – a kid with supersized feet, and the challenges and possibilities that can pose. Bradley’s unlikely new friend – the bully from across the road – also turns out to have an unexpected problem, in tiny ears he keeps hidden under his hat, adding to the humour and the final twist.
This is illustrator Dean Gorissen’s first foray into writing and is likely to be well received by youngsters.
Search For Bigfoot Bradley, by Dean Gorissen
Windy Hollow, 2011
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
It was very dry in Bungawitta. It had been dry so long that Glory-Alice, the youngest person in town, had only seen rain on TV. It had been dry so long that old Maisie Macduff, nodding and dreaming on her front verandah, sometimes thought she had made rain up.
Bungawitta is shrinking. As the land dries up, so does the town. Nearly all of the animals are gone. The paddocks are dry. The plants are dying. And most of the people are gone, too. Now there are only twelve people left. If they don’t do something the town will die.
Jay might be young but he has a big idea. Bungawtta needs to hold a festival. People will come and see how good the town is – and they’ll spend money, too, which will keep the town going. But the day of the Earth Sculpture Festival is full of surprises.
Bungawitta is a heart-filled humorous tale of community and friendship, as the twelve different residents of Bungawitta each do their bit to ensure Bungawitta’s survival.
From one of Australia’s best-loved children’s authors, and illustrated by equally well loved illustrator Craig Smith, this is an outstanding offering for primary aged readers.
Bungawitta , by Emily Rodda
This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
‘Excuse me. I have to find my family,’ Letty said.
Letty ducked beneath the woman’s elbow. Through a gap in the railing she saw Papa standing on the jetty, by himself. Then she saw that the gangplank was being pulled in. The ship was getting ready to sail, Letty realised. And she was still on it!
When Letty is left to watch her big sister’s trunk, she takes her job seriously – so seriously that she follows it onto the ship. Before she knows it, she is trapped on the ship as it sets sail for New South Wales. There is no way to get off, so, even though Lavinia doesn’t want her there, she is bound for a new life. First, though, there’s the gruelling journey to survive.
Meet Letty is the first of four stories featuring Letty, set in 1841. Part of the My Australian Girl series, this first instalment focuses on the hardships of Letty’s journey to and arrival in Sydney , with subsequent volumes to follow her adventures in the new land. Young readers will be drawn into the series , keen to know what happens to the likeable Letty.
Meet Letty (Our Australian Girl), by Alison Lloyd
This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online through Fishpond.
When he was alive, Kate Thurston’s grandfather was a mean, violent drunkard. But he’s dead now – and he’s bequeathed his property to her. Kate and her children need a new start, so it seems that her grandfather has, at last, done her a favour…
His condition?’ Kate arched an eyebrow. ‘Do you mean the fact that he was an alcoholic? I didn’t realise alcoholism was considered a condition nowadays.’ Kate didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but being a violent drunkard could hardly be pt in the same category as diabetes or heart disease.
‘Y-ye, well … um,’ stammered the solicitor, shuffling through the papers on his desk. After a moment he seemed to collect himself and pointed out the places she had to sign.
When he was alive, Kate Thurston’s grandfather was a mean, violent drunkard. But he’s dead now – and he’s bequeathed his property to her. Kate and her children need a new start, so it seems that her grandfather has, at last, done her a favour. But when Kate is confronted by the bad state of the house and the property, and memories from her past emerge, she wonders whether coming back was such a good thing.
As she rebuilds the property, Kate must also navigate the dramas of raising a rebellious teenage daughter and a timid son and the difficulties of starting a new relationship. When her ex-husband turns up it seems there might be no escaping the past.
North Star is an absorbing novel from new author Karly Lane. Set in rural Australia, the tale blends drama with romance for a pleasing whole.
North Star, by Karly Lane
Allen & Unwin, 2011
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
‘When it’s time, you will know. You are going to help people, Gabrielle. More than that, you are going to save people. People just like you. Don’t seek them. When the time is right, they will find you. If everything proceeds as it should, order will be restored. Redemption will be yours…’
As she drifts in and out of consciousness, Gabrielle hears a vice telling her she is special, not like anyone else. She is, it tells her, on a quest to help others. When she wakes up, she is hospital, not sure how she got there or where she came from before that. With no past, and no known family, she is sent to a foster family. In her new house, though, scary things start to happen. Her room is filled with hundreds of moths, she is attacked by spiders, and lights turn themselves on an off. What – or who – is causing all this – and why are they after Gabby?
The Boy Who Wasn’t There is the first book is a new supernaturally themed series from author Michael Panckridge and Black Dog Books, The Book of Gabrielle. Whilst the story stands well alone, readers will be intrigued by the bigger mystery of who Gabrielle is, and want to keep reading the series to find out.
Suitable for upper primary and lower secondary aged readers.
The Boy Who Wasn’t There (Book of Gabrielle), by Michael Panckridge
Black Dog, 2011
This book is available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Not so long ago Jo Blanchard was the deputy principal of the exclusive Darling Point Ladies’ College. That was before she discovered her husband was having an affair with one of the society matrons who run the school’s fundraising efforts – and decided to out the woman in question at a school function…
The disgraced deputy headmistress of Sydney’s most exclusive private girls’ school. That was the caption under Josephine Margaret Blanchard’s photograph every time it appeared in the newspaper.
Not so long ago Jo Blanchard was the deputy principal of the exclusive Darling Point Ladies’ College. That was before she discovered her husband was having an affair with one of the society matrons who run the school’s fundraising efforts – and decided to out the woman in question at a school function. Now she’s separated, living in a cheap unit, and unemployed.
But at 45 Jo has decided on a new path. She’s retrained as a marriage celebrant and is putting her past behind her. If only her ex wasn’t making life difficult by avoiding settlement, her new clients weren’t looking for non-traditional marriages and her best friend Suze hiding a huge secret.
Friends Like These is a witty novel from well-known funny lady Wendy Harmer. But while there are some good laughs, this is also a story of triumph – over the past, over adversity of different types, and over threats to happiness. Jo is a strong character who cares about the people around her and sees the best in them. Readers will enjoy seeing her fight her battles , supported by good friends and family.
A wonderful blend of humour, romance and life lessons.
Friends Like These, by Wendy Harmer
Allen & Unwin, 2011
This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
“I’ll give you some lozenges for now, to help with the prickles,” says Doctor Singh, ‘but I think it would be a good idea to have your tonsils taken out.”
Violet, however, does not think this is a good idea. She generally prefers not to have things taken out.
Violet Mackerel has a very sore throat – again – and so the Doctor has decided it’s time for a tonsillectomy. At first Violet is not impressed, but then she starts to wonder if the tonsillectomy will leave her with a better singing voice. She wants to have a really remarkable recovery.
In the waiting room at the hospital Violet meets a lovely old lady called Iris who is also going to have an operation. She promises to see Iris again after the operation but, back at home, she has no idea how to find Iris. It will take something pretty remarkable for Violet to find Iris again.
Violet Mackerel’s Remarkable Recovery is the second book featuring the delightful Violet Mackerel and her family and friends. Violet is an endearing character who reaches out to people around her with her unique blend of friendship, courage and humour as she faces life head on. The story is brought to life through the gorgeous black and white illustrative work of Sarah Davis, and, produced in hardcover, is an absolute treasure that any little girl will love.
Violet Mackerel’s Remarkable Recovery, by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis
Walker Books, 2011
This book can be purchased from any good bookstore, or online from Fishpond.