Our School Fete, by Louise Pfanner

It’s only three weeks until our school fete. Everyone is busy.
My class is organising the Haunted House. We’re going to have ghosts and spiders and a giant sticky web.

Our School Fete is a lovely new picture book about all the fun and chaos of preparing for a big school fete. Told through the eyes of ten-year old Charley, the book highlights the excitement of the school children as they prepare for the big event.

All the essential parts of a fete are there – cake stalls, crafts, dress-ups, rides and entertainment – but more importantly, the community and family spirit which is really the integral part of a succesful fete. Charley doesn’t mention the importance of the fete as a fundraising event and that is a highlight of the book – it is all about the fun and community spirit of the big day and of the weeks leading up to it.

Kim Gamble’s illustrations, using watercolours, coloured pencils and pastels, capture all the chaos and fun of the fete, with loads of detail for kids to discover.

Our School Fete would be great for the classroom, especially at a school planning a similar event. The end papers are also a lovely learning tool, depicting a map of the fete.

Our School Fete, by Louise Pfanner and Kim Gamble
ABC Books, 2004

Mary, the Big Brown Hairy Spider, by Lyn Lee

Mary the spider has a lovely big back yard all to herself – but she is very lonely. So, when a family come to live in the house, she is very excited. She decides to make them feel welcome by spinning some special webs for them.

At first the people are not too pleased to have a big spider in their yard. But one night Mary sees a burglar break into her family’s house. She uses all of her cunning to outwit the man, and wins over the family at the same time.

Mary, the Big Brown Hairy Spider is a SOLO title from Omnibus, specially designed for beginning readers making the transition from first readers and picture books to chapter books. The simple plot line and language are well supported by illustrations on every page, provided by the talented Kim Gamble. At the same time, the mix of action and humour will hold young readers’ interest.

A cute read.

Mary, the Big Brown Hairy Spider, by Lyn Lee, illustrated by Kim Gamble
Omnibus, 2004

Tashi and the Haunted House, by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg

There’s a light in the window of the haunted house, and Tashi is going in.

Tashi is back and has two new adventures to share in Tashi and the Haunted House. In the first story Tashi finds Ning Jing hiding in the haunted house, scared of her nasty cousin Bu Li. Tashi comes up with a spooky plan to scare him right out of the forest. In the second, Tashi is confronted by two mysterious creatures in the village square. Tashi knows the demons are back and they want to beat him. Can he outwit them, and save the village school?

Tashi is an appealing character from a magical far away land, the creation of Anna Fienberg and her mother Barbara. This is the ninth book in the Tashi series, and is sure to convince those who are not yet Tashi fans to read the whole set.

Brought to life in the illustrations of Kim Gamble, Tashi shares his adventures with his friend Jack and the whole family.

Anna Fienberg is the author of many popular and award-winning books for children, including Joseph, shortlisted for the 2002 Children’s Book Council Awards, and Horrendo’s Curse. Her mother, Barbara Fienberg, is the chief plot-deviser for the Tashi books.

Kim Gamble is an award-winning artist. He has illustrated many of Fienberg’s books as well as those of other authors, including Margaret Wild.

Tashi and the Haunted House is sure to delight youngsters aged 6 to 10.

Tashi and the Haunted House, by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg, illustrated by Kim Gamble
Allen & Unwin, 2002