Diary of a Would-be Princess 3, by Jessica Green

Sunday, 27th December
Bah, humbug, ho ho ho.
What sort of Christmas is it when your present is pens and folders and lined paper to set you up for high school? Who wants to think about school now? And this book. It’s a journal. Mum says it’s to jot down notes and important dates like when assignments are due. Why think of that at Christmas?

This is the third instalment of Jillian’s diaries and now she’s finished with primary school and beginning high school. Each of the previous novels covered a year, as does this one. In her first diary, Jillian sought to be one of the princesses at school. Now, at the start of Year 7, the princesses are still around but joining them is no longer her aspiration. But she does want to fit in, to make new friends, to be popular. There are a few kids from her old school, her old friendship group, but they don’t necessarily fit her idea of high school friends. She finds a new friend, then discovers that she’s uncomfortable with some of the things her friend does. Although she initially finds her friend’s pranks funny, for her the joke soon wears off. Then she needs to decide just what’s important to her and what she will do to achieve her goals. To help and hinder her are her family, Mum, Dad, older brother Richard and younger brother Paul.

Jilly wants to fit in. But fitting in sometimes means compromising on the values you’ve grown up with, the values you live with. Jilly has an annoying older brother who sends her advice on calendar discard pages, a just-starting-school younger brother who needs looking after, a mother who wants her to be a girl, and a dad she can still talk to. She’s very lucky and part of her knows it. But it takes her setting aside her own woes and looking behind the behaviour of other people to really appreciate her family and the strong foundations she has. Jilly is a strong-minded, outspoken character with a wry humour and a good sense of right and wrong. Her diary is funny, insightful and affirming. It reads well as a stand-alone, although the title is a little misleading for this particular instalment. Recommended for upper-primary readers.

Diary of a Would-be Princess 3, Jessica Green
Scholastic Press 2010
ISBN: 9781741697407

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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

Scratch Kitten and the Ghost Ship, by Jessica Green

Scratch was a ship’s cat. He had found Mrs Captain’s diamonds and he’d found his Paa. But instead of being happy, he was sad and frightened. Paa and Mrs Captain had sailed away, leaving Scratch alone on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean.
Scratch prowled along the beach.
He hoped his friends would come back for him. But all night long, the only sound he heard was swishing waves.
Just as the sun rose, Scratch heard voices. He pricked up his ears.

Scratch has had many adventures in his life as a ship’s cat. In Scratch Kitten and the Ghost Ship, Scratch hitches a ride in a new ship, hoping to find his way back to his friends. The Captain is happy to have him on board, but others are not so excited. Scratch and a thin man called Sir Peter Petall seem to get off to a rough start. Sir Peter is keen to find new animals and plants, and to name them all after himself. Scratch tries to be helpful but is dismayed to find an unusual animal called Toopo, locked up in a cage on deck. Scratch spies a ghost ship and tries to warn the sailors, but all he seems to do is get into one scrape after another. By the time the Captain and others see the ghost ship, the petulant Sir Peter is ready to pitch Scratch overboard.

Scratch is a curious and sometimes misunderstood cat. And if Sir Peter has his way, the little cat is going to need all of his nine lives to survive. Scratch tries to talk to the humans on the ship, but all they hear is miaow. He can, however, understand what they are saying and he can also talk to Toopo, the other animal on board. The captain and crew welcome Scratch aboard but are prone to superstition. Sir Peter’s search for new plants and animals seems motivated by self-promotion and a need to best his father. There are loose associations with the voyages of Captain Cook and the discoveries of Joseph Banks, and these provide opportunities for discussion beyond the adventure. Young readers will enjoy Scratch’s escapades.

Scratch Kitten and the Ghost Ship, Jessica Green ill Mitch Vane
Little Hare 2010
ISBN: 9781921541070

Scratch Kitten and the Ghost Ship (Scratch Kitten)

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This bokc an be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Theodork, by Jessica Green

She boomed out names and we stepped into lines. When she got to me she stared at the list and roared, ‘The-o-dore!’ Some creep sniggered. I stepped forward and tripped over a foot which came out from nowhere. Bumped into Mrs Anostopoulous. Big Crash. Soft landing for me.
there was dead silence as I wallowed about, trying to get off my teacher and onto my feet. Then the sniggerer sniggered again and whispered thunderously into the silence, Theo-DORK’. My fate was sealed. I was now the class dag.

Starting high school is hard – but for Theodore, it seems to be a complete disaster. On his first day he is labelled Theodork, upsets the prettiest girl in the class, offends the teacher and gets the first detention in Year Seven. And it doesn’t look like things are going to get better any time soon.

As the year progresses, Theo battles to find his place in the class, at times almost succeeding before a new obstacle arises which sees him once again despised by everyone in the class. The best times are when he is being ignored – at least when he’s invisible no one is picking on him – but the worst are when he is being severely bullied. It seems no one can help Theo – not even Theo himself.

Theodork is a funny look at a serious topic. Theo is cruelly bullied for much of the book, but his humorous first person narration and the funny situations he sometimes finds himself in, keep the story from being bogged down, without trivialising the issue.

Suitable for readers aged 10 to 14, Theodork should be well received.


Theodork, by Jessica Green
Scholastic, 2009

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

A Tyranny of Toads, by Jessica Green

My feet don’t reach the floor – they dangle and swing. I got yelled at for being subversive. I said, ‘I’m not subversive, I’m short.’ I got yelled at for backchatting. And he said he’d heard about me from the other teachers.
Great. The first day, and even before recess I’d been made to sit next to my worst enemy, fallen foul of the Teacher From Hell and been followed by my old reputation.

The new school year has not started well for Jillian James. It’s her last year of primary school and she has a new teacher and some new classmates – as well as the old ones – to contend with. Last year it was the princesses – the ‘in’ girls – who made Jillian’s life difficult. This year, she has to sit next to a toad.

Jillian decides it might be best if she steer the Middle Path, as recommended by the teachings of Buddha. Her brother Richard seems to think she looks a lot like Buddha. Maybe she can learn to be like him too. But Jillian is not very good at steering clear of conflict. She is always quick to say what she thinks, and that lands her in plenty of trouble.

A Tyranny of Toads is the funny sequel to A Diary of a Would-be Princess, though it reads fine as a stand-alone offering too. Jillian and her friends are a year older and have different problems to deal with, though there are some similar themes, including issues of belonging and peer groups.

Written using a diary style, the book is peppered by sticky-note memos, written by Jillian’s older bother, Richard, a fun touch.

An enjoyable read for upper primary aged readers.

A Tyranny of Toads, by Jessica Green
Scholastic, 2006

Diary of a Would-Be Princess, by Jessica Green

Mrs Bright says we have to do journal writing EVERY day. Guess what she says?
If you want to be a good writer you have to

This is the journal of Jillian James, class 5B. Jillian’s burning ambition, as well as not having to stay in at recess for not writing enough in her journal, is to be one of the popular Princess Group. The Princesses always look good, are always behaved in class, and sit together on the bus.

Jillian isn’t a Princess. The Princesses accuse her of being a dork, because she sits next to Nigel. Jillian doesn’t want to be a dork and she doesn’t want to be friends with Nigel, even though he comes to her house and helps her with her homework. In a rocky ride through year five, Jillian learns that being a Princess isn’t the only thing in life worth achieving, and that friends can come in different shapes and sizes.

Diary of a Would-Be Princess is a skilfully rendered diary format novel for 8 to 12 year old readers. As Jillian shares her thoughts about her life on daily basis the reader also sees her learning and developing. Themes of bullying, peer groups and acceptance are addressed in such a way that young readers will not feel preached at. A nice touch is the use of weekly notes from the teacher, Mrs Bright, who provides adult insight into some of the problems Jillian faces.

The use of the diary-format is much-used because it is popular with young readers. It provides a first-person insight unmatched by other formats.

Diary of A Would-Be Princess is great reading.

Diary of a Would-Be Princess, by Jessica Green
Scholastic, 2005