Just a Dog, by Michael Gerard Bauer

The day my dad said Mister Mosely was ‘just a dog’, my mum punched him.
Not a punch like the one Dad gave Uncle Gavin that that time when Uncle Gavin’s tooth came out and there was all the blood and everything. But not a girl punch or a mucking-around punch either/ Mum really meant it. You could tell by the way she scrunched her face right up and made her eyes go small.
‘Don’t you say that! Don’t you dare say that!’

Misster Mosely is special. He doesn’t have a pedigree, but he is just the right dog for Corey and his family and, from the time Corey chooses him from a litter of his Uncle Gavin’s dog’s puppies, he becomes part of the family. He is loyal and funny and, from time to time, downright silly. Every member of the family – Mum, Dad, Corey, his little sister Amelia and even new baby Grace – has a special bond with Mister Mosely. And sometimes it seems that it is Mister Mosely who holds the whole family together.

Just a Dog is a delightful tale of one dog and his family. On the surface it is a collection of stories from different phases of his life, but it is also the story of a family going through the highs and lows of family life. As Corey watches his parents’ struggle, and wonders whether life will ever be the same again, he has the constant presence of Mister Mosely as a comforting force.

From award-winning author Michael Gerard Bauer, Just a Dog is suitable for middle and upper primary aged readers.


Just a Dog

Just a Dog, by Michael Gerard Bauer
Omnibus, 2010
ISBN 9781862918870

This book can be purchased from any good book store, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Crooked Mick, by Dave Luckett

One night in the Outback, when it was so dark that the stars looked like pinholes in a black velvet curtain, two bushmen were sitting by their campfire. One was a young bloke, a jackaroo. The other was a drover from out on the red-soil plains. He was pouring tea from the billy. The jackaroo was telling him a tall tale about a fish he had nearly caught. ‘That sounds like something that might happen on Speewah Station,’ the drover said when the story was finished.

Two men, a drover and a jackaroo are yarning over their fire, somewhere deep in the Australian inland, when they are unexpectedly joined by an old swaggie. The old swaggie joins their conversation and the three talk about a big property beyond the black stump and the legendary Crooked Mick. The property, Speewah Station, is enormous, and ‘so far out in the bush the crows fly backwards to keep the dust out of their eyes’. Crooked Mick was so powerful ‘he could split a hardwood log just by looking at it’. As the night progresses, the three men escalate the tales about Crooked Mick until at last the swaggie vanishes into the night, as silently as he arrived. Could he be the ghost of Crooked Mick?

There’s nothing so ‘Australian’ as a yarn from the bush and this one is as tall a tale as they get. Like children trying to outdo one another in the school yard, the men around the fire take turns at expanding on the rumours and stories they’ve heard. The legendary Speewah Station and the even more legendary Crooked Mick grow taller and broader by the second. The tale-telling ceases to be about the subjects and is more an imaginative game as the time progresses. Children will relate to the absurdity of the tall tales and the humour. Many will be inspired to create their own stories about Crooked Mick, or perhaps about their own lives. Great fun. Recommended for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books.

Crooked Mick (Mates)

Crooked MickDave Luckett ill Andrew Joyner
Omnibus Books 2010
ISBN: 9781862918153

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond .

Chook Shed Snake, by Phil Cummings

A curious brown snake was slithering happily through the tall, crackle-dry grass by the creek.
Its tongue was flicking, it’s glassy eyes staring.

Dad is in trouble about the state of the chook yard, and he HAS to do something about it. But he doesn’t know that a big brown snake has come to check out the chook yard, too. When the kids spot the snake, Dad has to be brave to fix the problem.

Chook Shed Snake is an easy to read offering set in rural Australia and dealing with a situation many rural children will relate to – and which rural and city children alike will enjoy. Using action and humour, the story is both exciting and funny, a combination which will entice beginning readers.

Part of Omnibus’ new Mates series, Chook Shed Snake is illustrated in colour, with short chapters in a format likely to appeal to readers of all abilities.

Chook Shed Snake (Mates)

Chook Shed Snake (Mates), by Phil Cummings, ill by Greg Holfeld
Omnibus, 2009

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

King of the Beasts, by Fiona McIntosh

The Queen began to weep, but Saxten continued, more gently now. ‘Isn’t this why Sherloc watched over me and finally called me back? You have already set up this confrontation, without knowing it. I am all we have between Severo’s rule and the true Kings of Drumminor. I have been blessed with a magic that gives us our one chance.’

Since discovering he was not an ordinary boy, but in fact the heir to the throne of a faraway land, Saxten has had to face many challenges. Now, in this final title in the Shapeshifter series, he must face a new, final challenge. He must seek out Coravel, the fearful king of the beasts, and seek his help in destroying Severo. But if Saxton wants Coravel’s help he must be prepared to make a huge sacrifice.

The Shapeshifter series is a set of four short fantasy titles which together form part if Omnibus’ new Fantastica imprint of accessible fantasy stories for primary aged readers. As the fourth title in the series, King of the Beasts is best enjoyed after the reading of the previous four titles, though it could be read in isolation.

Great for young fantasy fans and as an introduction to those new to the genre.

King of the Beasts, by Fiona McIntosh
Omnibus, 2007

Chimpanzee, by David Kennett

How do chimpanzees show they are frightened? What’s the difference between a chimpanzee and Tarzan? Why did a chimp go to space in a rocket?

Author/llustrator David Kennett provides the answers to these questions and more, in a format accessible to newly independent readers.

With simple yet informative text and a range of illustration forms, Chimpanzee is suitable for students in the early years of primary school, although it would also be appropriate for much older students with reading diffulcties.

Solos give newly independent readers a reading experience which bridges the gap beteen picture books and chapter books, with short paragraphs and an abundance of illustrations. There are 32 fiction titles and 14 non-fiction titles in the series, and Chimpanzee is one of six Solo Wildlife titles.

Chimpanzee is suitable both for classroom use and for home reading, as well as school and public libraries.

Chimpanzee, written and illustrated by David Kennett
A Solo Wildlife book, from Omnibus Books, an imprint of Scholastic Australia, 2002