I couldn’t believe it. Was it possible? Could it actually be happening? Were we about to do a study unit on…SOMETHING GOOD? It just didn’t seem right. Last year with Mrs McGurk in Year Four we only ever id units on topics like ‘The Least Interesting Stuff in the Known Universe’. But SUPERHEROES rocked. Superheroes were one of my most favourite-est things in the whole world! I knew heaps of stuff about superheroes! … I was excited. SUPER excited!
Eric Vale is excited. The new class theme is Superheroes, and it’s one subject he might actually be able to excel in. But with a killer beast on the loose, a mutant teddy bear out to ruin his reputation, and the dreaded Oogliy-Boogily Man lying in wait at the school fete, Eric might be in for a super fail.
Eric Vale: Super Male is the second on the funny Eric Vale series from award winning author and funnyman Michael Gerard Bauer. Eric is a good kid who gets himself into lots of silly scrapes, mainly through his daydreaming and over active imagination, and young readers will relate to many of his insecurities. The text is complemented by cartoon style illustrations by Bauer’s son, Joe.
WIth lots of text support from good sized font and the l=illustrations, Eric Vale: Super Male is great for struggling readers, but will equally appeal to readers of all abilities for its humour and story.
A super read.
Eric Vale: Super Male, by Michael Gerard Bauer, illustrated by Joe Bauer
Available from good bookstores or online.
The Doors are magic, Faene,’ Rye broke in, as the young woman turned her repraochful gaze on him. ‘They could lead … anywhere. The Golden Door led Dirk here. But I am certain that Sholto would have chosen the Silver Door. So to be sure of picking up his trail, we must go through the Silver Door ourselves. Do you see?
Now that one brother is safely back from beyond the Golden Door, Rye is determined to do anything he can to rescue his other brother, Sholto who, he is sure, will be beyond the Silver Door. Only then will he be ready to venture beyond the third door, the wooden door, in a quest to rid Weld of the menace of Skimmers, creatures who come in the night to eat anything that moves.
The Silver Door continues the adventures of Rye and his new friend Sonia as they work through their dangerous quest. Weld has been under seige for too long and, for too long, the young men of Weld have ventured through one of three magical doors in an effort to discover the source of the Skimmers and thus destroy them. With both of his brothers gone through the doors, and his mother now forced into a pauper’s life of service, Rye is determined to reunite his family and find a way to free Weld.
In The Third Door the adventurers venture through the third and final door in their attempt to end the quest they began when they entered the first door.
Young fantasy lovers will delight in the adventures of Rye and his friends, with intriguing characters, twists and turns, magic and satisfying resolutions. Whilst each book is fairly self contained, they are best read as a trilogy.
The Silver Door , ISBN 9781862919136
The Third Door, ISBN 978186291914
both by Emily Rodda
Banjo was a star.
But one day Banjo flew too high…
and took a terrible tumble.
Banjo the horse loves hoofball. He practices every day with his friend Bella, and they play together every Saturday wit their team, the Whinnies. But when Banjo has a fall, the doctor orders him not to play for six weeks. Bedridden, Banjo plays on his Haystation and eats molasses. When he is finally allowed to play hoofball again, he is overweight and unfit, and nothing feels right. Discouraged, he gives up the game – until something happens to Bella that makes him realise how much his friends, his team, and hoofball all mean to him. He realises that if he wants to keep playing he needs to get fit again.
Banjo Bounces Back is a humorous new picture book from the creator of Clancy the Courageous Cow, with messages about health and fitness, being part of a team, self belief and friendship. The horse characters, brought to life in a deceptively simple watercolour illustrations, and the equine lingo (Haystation and horspital are just two examples) will appeal to young readers.
Lots of fun.
Banjo Bounces Back, by Lachie Hume
Available from good bookstores or online.
Then Martin turned to the kids around him.
‘Don’t you get it? Eric Vale – Epic Fail. Ahahahahahah!’
Meredith Murdoch and Bobby Quan got it first. And then it started to spread like it was contagious. All around the room kids with big grins were turning to kids with big frowns and saying, ‘Eric Vale – Epic Fial. See? Hahahahahahahaha!’
It was like I was one of those YouTube clips and I was going mega-viral!
Eric Vale is a bit of a daydreamer, and sometimes that daydreaming gets him into trouble. But when it leads to him hearing his teacher say ‘Eric Vale’ when what he actually said was ‘epic fail’, his life becomes almost unbearable. Soon everyone is calling him Epic Fail, and it seems he just can’t stop doing silly things that remind him – and everyone else- of the nickname. It’s a seemingly endless cycle of epic fails.
Eric Vale – Epic Fail is the hilarious first installment in a new series from Michael Gerard Bauer. Eric is a likable, funny protagonist, whose heart is in the right place, in spite of his propensity to muck things up. His classmates too are lots of fun, especially his best mate Chewy, who looks on the bright side of everything, but inadvertently contributes to some of Eric’s woes.
The text is well supported by the grey scale illustrations by Bauer’s talented son Joe with a mix of comic-style cells, single illustrations and humorous embellishments. Readers will also enjoy Eric’s own stories, which he enjoys writing but which also contribute to his landing in trouble.
Laugh out loud funny, but with nice messages about difference, and friendship, and even bullying, this is another sure-fire hit from one of Australia’s best.
Eric Vale – Epic Fail, by Michael Gerard Bauer, illustrated by Joe Bauer
Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
‘What is family?’ asked Tanglewood.
‘Family is love and friendship. Family is everything.’
Tanglewood is the only tree on a tiny island, and she is lonely. She calls to the dolphins, the seals and the birds to come and play with her, but they don’t, and Tanglewood thinks she might die of loneliness. Then, in the midst of a storm, a seagull falls into her branches, and Tanglewood shelters her. When Seagull leaves, to return to her family, Tanglewood is even more alone, having known the feeling of company, but she stays strong, because one day Seagull will return. When that day comes, Tanglewood gets a delightful surprise – not one seagull, but a whole flock, bearing the gift of life in the form of seeds.
Tanglewood is a breathtaking collaboration. Margaret Wild’s text is powerful, syaing enough but never too much and moving like a gentle stream from page to page. Read aloud, the words entrance. The illustrations are a mix of sizes, form double page spreads, to multiple panels on a page, as well as single panels and horizontal panels spanning the middle of spreads with text above and below. The might of the sea, the sparsity of the lonely island and the beauty of the gulls are all captured.
This is a charming, wrenching, gorgeous story.
Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman
This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
The monks were gone. Three creatures stood in their place, twisted and hunched, skin pale green in the light of the cave mouth, tongues as red as blood as they leered and grimaced and brandished heavy iron swords at the travellers.
‘Rock-demons!’ Koto yelled, and lunged forward.
Now that they are free of their cruel masters, Dillen, Koto and Tajni are ready to pursue their dreams. For Dillen, this means seeking an apprenticeship as a mapmaker. But when he visits the mapmakers house to see if he will be chosen as an apprentice, Dillen finds that competition for the position is fierce. The mapmaker decides to set a challenge for the candidates: to travel to a watch tower and read what is written on its walls. Soon Dillen is travelling across the land, with Koto and Tajni by his side, on a journey filled with danger. The tower guards a mountain pass which is closed to travellers because of the presence of a fearsome beast terrorising those who dare to make the journey. But this will be only one of the challenges the trio have to face if they are to complete the quest – and do it before any of the other candidates.
The Mapmaker’s Apprentice is the second in the Tales of the Blue Jade series, and picks up soon after the first left off. The three friends once again must work together, each drawing on their talents and overcoming their fears as they face new challenges and old foes. The twists and turns of the journey are well paced with development of individual characters and their relationships, creating a satisfying whole.
Best read as a follow on from the first book, but could be read on its own.
The Mapmaker’s Apprentice (Tales of the Blue Jade), by Peter Coper
Omnibus Books, 2012
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
As soon as I wake up, I remember that today is special.
It’s Show Day!
We’re going to the show!
There’s nothing like a country show, and in Show Day, author Penny Matthews captures the fun and magic of the day. Told through the first person perspective of young Lil, the story follows a family from waking up in the morning, getting ready and travelling to the show, and the events of the day. Every member of the family has entered at least one competition – Dad for marmalade and wood chopping, Mum for cakes and pumpkins, younger brother Henry for chickens and Best Pet, and Lil for Most Unusual Pet. They don’t all win, but there are prizes, fun and surprises. There are also plenty of other show experiences including rides, showbags and things to eat.
Andrew McLean’s watercolour illustrations bring the text to life and add lots of little glimpses of the fun and activity of the show. Young readers will enjoy spotting details like the variety of pets in the pet tent, and the side shows in side show alley.
Show Day brings to life a fun tradition of Australian life. Especially pleasing is the rural setting, and the sense of family fun which is prevalent.
Show Day, by Penny Matthews & Andrew McLean
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.
A boy and his toy dog, at home with nothing to do, decide to travel the world. Soon they are flying to China, rolling through England and chugging through India, seeing each country’s unique animals – and lots of other sights – as they go.
We flew to China, Ruffy and me,
And look, there were Pandas – one, two, three!
A boy and his toy dog, at home with nothing to do, decide to travel the world. Soon they are flying to China, rolling through England and chugging through India, seeing each country’s unique animals – and lots of other sights – as they go. Back in the bedroom, the two come back to reality, surrounded by a mess of toy animals and other reminder (or perhaps they were triggers?) of their adventures.
Ruffy and Me is a fantastical picture book which will delight preschool aged youngsters. The simple poetic team uses repetition,which will encourage kids to join in, and the illustrations are filled with rich colours which change to reflect the diverse environments the pair visit. the pages are also filled with detail, including lots of animals and the landmarks for which each country is known.
Suitable for the very young, the book could also be sued in the early childhood classroom to complements studies of animals or introduce geography and travel topics.
Ruffy and Me, by Dave Trumbull & Adam Caruthers
This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Every night vicious flying creatures – Skimmers – attack the city of Weld, flying over its towering walls and eating anything alive they can get to. The people cower in shuttered, darkened houses, listening to the terrifying attacks, powerless to stop them. Then the Warden calls for volunteers to leave the walled city and find out who is sending the skimmers, and how they can be stopped.
Like all the other citizens of Weld in skimmer season, Lisbeth and her sons went to bed early. What else was there to do, when sound was dangerous, and the smallest chink of light might lead to a skimmer attack?
Rye lay in the room he shared with his brothers, listening to the rush of wings outside the shutters, the occasional scrabbling of claws on the roof.
He prayed that the wings would pass the house by. He prayed that he, his mother and his brothers would not wake, like those ill-fated families in Northwall, to find skimmers filling the house, and death only moments away.
Every night vicious flying creatures – Skimmers – attack the city of Weld, flying over its towering walls and eating anything alive they can get to. The people cower in shuttered, darkened houses, listening to the terrifying attacks, powerless to stop them. Then the Warden calls for volunteers to leave the walled city and find out who is sending the skimmers, and how they can be stopped. Rye is too young to go, but first his oldest brother, then the second one, leave and do not return. Rye believes that they are both out there waiting for help – and becomes determined to find them
The Golden Door is gripping fantasy by one of the finest creators for this age group, Emily Rodda. Rye is an unlikely hero – not strong, not smart, the youngest son – with the courage to try for the sake of his brothers, his mother and his city. He is accompanied on his journey by a girl who claims to be a resident of the Warden’s keep, but who readers will suspect is perhaps the Warden’s daughter. The tale is full of the things which Rodda fans have come to expect – weird and wonderful creatures, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and lots of action.
The Golden Dooris the first in a trilogy. Readers will look forward to the next.
The Golden Door, by Emily Rodda
This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Harry loves spending time with his Grandpa, especially when Grandpa shares his stories of the war. Grandpa is a war hero, and his stories are amazing. Harry’s dad was a soldier, too, but he died when Harry was little, so Harry never heard his stories. Harry’s War is a moving tale of one boy’s quest for the truth about his father and grandfather as he learns about truth, family and friendship…
What’s war? – you ask.
That’s a really hard question. I’m not even sure I can answer it. I’ll try, but, and I’ll do it by telling you about my war. Whether that’s enough you’ll have to figure out for myself.
Harry loves spending time with his Grandpa, especially when Grandpa shares his stories of the war. Grandpa is a war hero, and his stories are amazing. Harry’s dad was a soldier, too, but he died when Harry was little, so Harry never heard his stories. In fact, Harry doesn’t know much about his dad at all, because no one will tell him about Dad’s years in the army, or about his death. When he starts to unravel the truth, Harry realises why Mum has kept her secret. But it is another secret which has the power to really change Harry’s life.
Harry’s War is a moving tale of one boy’s quest for the truth about his father and grandfather as he learns about truth, family and friendship. With the reader he also learns about he realities of war and its effects on soldiers and those left behind. There is a lot being explored here – as well as the issues already mentioned, there is Harry’s struggle with reading and writing, his friendship with his bet mate Will, and his sometimes careless attitude towards himself and others. Mostly, though is just an absorbing story.
Harry’s War, by John Heffernan
This book can be purchased from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.