Guess Who Just Moved In! by D G Harris

A couple of things caught my eye. Sitting on the coffee table was one of those weird pipe things that have long bendy tubes coming out of them, I remembered seeing the caterpillar in the Disney movie of Alice in Wonderland smoking one, but I didn’t know they existed in real life. And next to it in a glass case was one of those great big silver cutlasses that pirates usually have hanging from their belts.

When a new family moves into Orsom Towers, not everyone is keen to welcome them. They are Muslims and their strange comings and goings have some of the residents worried. Ben and his mates know that looking different does not make a person a terrorist, but when they find evidence of criminal activity, they start to wonder about the new family.

Guess Who Just Moved In! is the third title in the Snott Henderson and the Orsom Towers Gang series. This entertaining offering includes a blend of mystery, humour and friendship in a story which will be enjoyed by boy and girl readers aged 9 to 12. The story is self contained, so readers new to the series won’t be confused.

Guess Who Just Moved In, by D. G. Harris
ABC Books, 2007

This title can be purchased online at Fishpond.

The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile, by Judith Rossell

Dear Explorer,

This appeal for help just arrived from an archaeological dig in the Valley of Giants, near el Ephant. A student has gone missing, along with an artefact which may be one part of the broken Seal of Sobek.

The Archaeology Department at The Valley of Kings has sent a letter to the president of Explorers Club, asking for help in finding a lost student. The student was apparently taken by a group of mummies said to be guardians of Sobek’s (the crocodile god) tomb. The president in turn, asks her members to help find the lost student and perhaps the tomb with its marvellous treasures. The scene is set, the clues are there. All The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile needs is a sharp-eyed explorer to make their way through the numerous dangerous paths. If successful they will find the student, and gain access to the tomb of Sobek and its unbounded wealth.

The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile is the third in this series of maze books from Judith Rossell. This, like previous offerings, is full of Rossell’s trademark drawings, colourful and intricate. Maze books are a great way of engaging all manner of readers, from reluctant to confident. For the reluctant reader they are accessible, encourage observation and reward effort. For the confident reader they enrich visual literacy. The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile introduces readers to Egypt and the wealth of history there. There are tit-bits about archaeology, villagers, gods and kings, burial tombs, landscape and fauna. Recommended for 5 yo + readers.

The Mystery of the Golden Crocodile, by Judith Rossell
ABC Books 2007
ISBN: 9780733319433

The Joke Trap, by Richard Glover

Ben didn’t really get it, so I told him about the church, not far from my house, that has an old cemetery next to it. ‘Every time we drive past, Dad says to me, “Look, Jesse, there’s the dead centre of town”. Or, “Look at that place, Jesse, people are just dying to get in there”.’
Ben shot me an amazed look. ‘My uncle does exactly the same joke. Exactly the same words…’

Jesse has a problem. His dad is just so embarrassing. His constant stream of bad jokes are so silly that Jesse is too scared to invite his new friends home. His mate Ben has a similar problem. He is into music and wants to start a band – but his dad is always singing – badly.

When Jesse and Ben compare notes they decide it is time to do something about their dads. With help from their little sisters and Jesse’s Granddad, they give the dads a taste of their medicine.

The Joke Trap is the second title in the new ABC Kids Fiction series, aimed at beginning and reluctant readers aged 7 to 10. With 72 pages, plenty of support from the illustrations of Gus Gordon, and a humorous plot, it is sure to be enjoyed by young readers.

Good stuff.

The Joke Trap, by Richard Glover, illustrated by Gus Gordon
ABC Books, 2007

Run, Kid, Run! by Andrew Daddo

Mum folded some money into Jess’s hand and told Harrison to be careful. ‘The security guards are in hats, white shirts and black pants. They’ve got badges on their sleeves. If you see one with a black ponytail and a knife tattoo, disappear. Got that?’
‘Got it, Mum.’
‘And don’t draw on any more posters.’
The two of them left the meeting room in a crouch.

When Mum is called in to work for an emergency, Jess and Harrison have to go with her, because it’s the school holidays. But Mum works at a television station where high security means kids aren’t allowed. So the kids are told to keep a low profile and stay out of trouble. But keeping out of sight is proving harder than they thought.

Run, Kid, Run! is the first title in the new ABC Kids Fiction series. The fast moving plot and the short length (72pages), coupled with the cartoon illustrations by the talented Craig Smith, makes it very accessible to young readers, especially those making the transition from picture books and easy readers to longer chapter books or novels. The shape cut into the book, reflective of the ABC symbol, will be appealing to kids, echoing the bite in Aussiebites books, and making the series readily identifiable.

As the first instalment in the series, Run, Kid, Run sets a standard for what is to follow. Lots of illustrative support, bright covers and a humorous plot ensure success both in the private reading and school library markets.

Run, Kid, Run! by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Craig Smith
ABC Books, 2007
ISBN 9780733319280

Hoosh! by Janeen Brian

They are as tall as doorways and weigh around 450 kilograms.
They have two sets of long, curly eyelashes and extra inner eyelids to see through during sandstorms.
They are smelly and flies love them.
They can drink about 100 litres of water in a couple of minutes.

Camels are not native to Australia, yet they have played a very important role in our nation’s history since first being introduced in 1840. They have carried explorers, moved freight across the country, and played an essential role in massive construction projects such as the Rabbit-Proof Fence and the Canning Stock Route.

In Hoosh! Camels in Australia, author Janeen Brian provides a comprehensive study of camels, focussing on their role in Australia. From their evolution and physiology, to their introduction into Australia, their roles in Australia’s history, and a discussion of their current and future role.

Brian uses accessible language and her comprehensive research into the subject is evident – this is no lightweight treatment of the subject. The text is complemented by colour and black-and-white photographs, maps and sketches, providing a visually pleasing presentation, which kids will be drawn to – especially captivated by the cover photograph of the camel’s face, his mouth and nose shown in close-up detail.

This is an outstanding nonfiction offering. First released in hardcover, and shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards in 2006, Hoosh has now been released in paperback.

Hoosh! Camels in Australia, by Janeen Brian
Paperback edition, ABC Books, 2007

You can buy this book online from Fishpond

High Life: Balance Your Body Chemistry and Feel Uplifted 24/7, by Matt Church

Residents of the new millenium are expected more and more to be able to balance work, family and social life, often leaving little time to focus on physical and mental health. When a problem does arise we want to be able to pop a pill or take a potion and expect instant relief.

In the short term, this might work, but Matt Church offers a more long-term solution. In High Life, he focuses on ways to feel good every day of the year. Drawing on scientific research, Church explains in easily accessible language how our body chemistry works and how it comes to be out of balance. He goes on to offer practical, straightforward ways to rebalance and maintain a healthy chemistry.

Readers are shown how to map their current chemical balance profile and how to understand the results, before being given page after page of practical techniques to improve wellbeing. There are no magic potions or miracle cures here, but there are manageable and effective ways to increase energy and well being.

Matt Church is one of Australia’s leading conference speakers and a recognised specialist on productivity and burnout. You can learn more about him by visit by visiting His website.

The Great Australian Book of Limericks, by Jim Haynes

Ask any Australian to tell you a limerick and chances are that they’ll happily oblige. Whilst not an Australian invention, the limerick is certainly a much loved poetic form in this country. Now, in celebration of the art, Jim Haynes brings together over a thousand limericks in one volume.

The Great Australian Book of Limericks is more than just a collection of limericks – Jim Haynes provides an insight into the history of the form and prefaces each section with his humorous commentary. In the opening chapter The Limerick: A Brief and Inaccurate History, Haynes explores the question of when and where the limerick originated –

One expert says, ‘If you please,
I think old Aristophanes
First mastered the trick
Of the true limerick,’
But not every expert agrees.

as well as looking at the progress of its popularity.

The remainder of the book presents limericks classified by type and subject matter. With twenty categories there is a huge array of limericks, from the childish and charming:

There was a young man who asked ‘Why,
Can’t I look in my ear with my eye?
I’m sure I can do it
If I put my mind to it,
You never can tell till you try.’

to the Obscene and Odious, with categories in between including a section devoted to immortalising every Australian Prime minister from Barton to Howard in Limerick form.

This is not a children’s book – many, many of the limericks are suitable only for adult readers. Alongside offerings from Edward Lear are bawdy, risque and downright rude offerings.

Author Jim Haynes has a background as a teacher of literature and history, with two Masters degrees in literature. He has won the Comedy Song of the Year title at the Tamworth Festival four times, including Don’t Call Wagga Wagga Wagge and Since Cheryl went Feral. As well as regular television and radio appearances he has been awarded the Bush Laureate of the Year Award for his collections of poetry, I’ll Have Chips and An Australian heritage of Verse. The Great Australian Book of Limericks is sure to be another favourite.

The Great Australian Book of Limericks, by Jim Haynes. RRP $19.95
ABC Books, 2001.