Set Free, by June Keir

When the new boy – Zach – starts school, he is put in the empty desk net to Ben and Ben is told to look after him. But Ben can’t get Zach to talk to him, and neither can anyone else. Zach follows Ben around and even does what Ben tells him, but he won’t speak to him.

When Ben invites Zach to come to the national park with him, the pair stumble across a poacher trying to trap the birds in the park. As they try to track the poachers’ movements, the boys find themselves caught up in more trouble than either can handle. Zach needs to speak and to overcome his fears if they are to survive.

Set Free is a fast paced adventure for kids, but it is also much more. Zach’s trauma stems from his experiences as a refugee coming to Australia on a leaky boat and being interred in an immigrant detention centre. Ben has had trauma of his own – his best friend James has been knocked off his bike by a truck and killed. Both boys have to put these experiences behind them as they form their new freindship and tackle the dramas that unfold in the national park.

Part of the new Breakers series from Macmillan Education, Set Free is a thought-provoking read suitable for private reading as well as classroom use.

Great reading.

Set Free, by June Keir, illustrated by Dion Hamill
Macmillan Education, 2004

Rooster's Revenge, by Kerri Lane

Johnno and Flash are enjoying the summer holidays until the terrible day that their dog, Tyson, goes missing. They are sure that the local meanie, Rooster, is somehow involved, but they can’t get him to admit it.

With some help from the other local children the boys set out to work out what has happened to Tyson. For four days they fear the worst, that they will never see Tyson again, as they follow a mysterious trail of clues. Who are the strangers that are hanging around with Rooster, and why do they keep finding feathers around town? Is there a bigger mystery, or is Tyson’s disappearance just Rooster’s form of revenge?

Rooster’s Revenge is a fast-moving mystery for ten to twelve year old readers. With a touch of humour and plenty of suspense, author Kerri Lane creates a mystery which will keep young readers guessing.

Part of the new Breakers series, from Macmillan Education, Rooster’s Revenge is suitable both for classroom and private reading.

Rooster’s Revenge, by Kerri Lane
Macmillan Education, 2004

Starship Q, by Goldie Alexander

Iyaki and Aari know they aren’t supposed to be in the starship hangar, but it’s the best place for them to kick a ball. Then their ball accidentally goes into the open hull of a starship and, when the boys try to retrieve it they find themselves in trouble.

The ship has been taken over by a mutineer and when he finds the boys he locks them up with one of his prisoners, a human boy called Jackson. At first Iyaki and Aari, both Igs, think they have nothing in common with Jackson, but as they all struggle to figure out how to escape and how to prevent the mutineer achieving his objectives, they realise they can be friends. Together they just might have a chance of stopping the mutiny.

Starship Q is a fast moving science fiction title for children aged 9 to 12. The characters may be alien, but the dilemmas they face will be familiar to many children – making friends, facing consequences, and believing in one’s own abilities.

Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, Starship Q is suitable both for home reading and classroom use.

Starship Q, by Goldie Alexander
Macmillan Education, 2004

Hitmakers, by Sally Odgers

While watching television, Berry and Aidan are struck by the claims of the advertisements they see. Who decides what is “hot”, what is “hip”? Berry is keen to investigate these questions and drags Aidan along as an unwilling accomplice.

What Berry wants to know is how a song can be called a number one before it has even hit the stores, and how “everyone” can be wearing a fashion “this Autumn” when it’s still summer. Do consumer tastes and spending habits dictate what is “hot” or is it a plot by the advertising companies? As they move closer to finding the truth, Aidan and Berry must decide whether they are prepared to accept it.

Hitmakers is a fun children’s novel which explores consumerism, advertising and marketing through a fun story. Author Sally Odgers has a reputation for producing well-rounded stories and this is one of them – educational, yet fun to read too.

Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, Hitmakers is just as suitable for private reading as it is for classroom sharing.

Hitmakers, by Sally Odgers
Macmillan Education, 2004

Deepwater Blues, by Claire Saxby

Ned loves to swim, but when his friend Jori takes him for a holiday on an island with the deepest waters in the world, Ned is scared. He likes to know where the bottom is when he swims. What if something pulls him down? What if something is hidden in the depths? He wonders if he can enjoy the holiday without swimming out where the water looks black.

Deepwater Blues is a great junior novel which explores how one kid deals with his fears and discovers that overcoming them can open up a whole new world of experiences. Author Claire Saxby manages to achieve this without being preachy or obvious – kids can enjoy the story for its own sake.

Deepwater Blues is part of the new Breakers series from Macmillan Education, suitable for children with a reading age between 8.5 and 10.5.

Deepwater Blues, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Dave Deakin
Macmillan Education, 2003

Eyes in the Paddock, by Sue Whiting

Jack is scared of the dark. So when his friend Nathan invites him along on a camping trip, he is horrified. No street lights, no house lights, and no nightlight. He is going to be in the pitch black in the bush. But Jack doesn’t want Nathan to know he is scared and he doesn’t want to let him down either, so he tries to brave it out.

When Nathan’s dad asks the boys to collect some more wood for the fire, Nathan heads off into the dark. Jack has little choice but to follow him. Then something terrible happens – the batteries in Nathan’s torch start to run out, just as the boys start to hear strange noises. When they see three pairs of eyes looking at them in the dark, both boys are terrified.

Eyes in the Dark is a cute chapter book from the talented Sue Whiting, exploring fears and friendship in a humorous tale. Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, it is suitable for classroom or private reading and will appeal especially to 7 to 10 year old readers.

Good fun.

Eyes in the Dark, by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Tom Kurema
Macmillan Education, 2003