The Treasure of Dead Man's Cove & Mayhem at Magic School, by George Ivanoff

‘Treasure!’
You freeze. Where did that voice come from?
You are in the hallway of the small guesthouse in the seaside town of Seabreeze. You and your parents are staying here for the summer holidays.
‘Treasure!’

You Choose is an exciting new series of choose your own adventure type books from Australian author George Ivanoff, aimed at primary aged readers. In The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove , readers make decisions during a stay at a seaside town rumoured to have hidden treasure. Depending on what choices they make along the way they could uncover the treasure, or be destined for doom stuck in a cave with a rising tide. In Mayhem at Magic School the reader finds themselves with surprising magical skills, and has to decide whether to keep them hidden, or head off to magic school.

Both books will appeal to readers of a range of levels and interests. For reluctant readers, the appeal of being able to complete the adventure fairly quickly (in Mayhem at Magic School it is possible to reach the end by page 21, depending on the choices made), will appeal, but of course curiosity about where other choices may lead is likely to encourage further reading and rereading. The novelty value is heightened by the use of second person narrative (‘you’), which allows the reader to place themself in the story and encourages them to consider what choices they would make.

This high interest, fast moving pair is loads of fun.

The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove

Mayhem at Magic School

Both published by Random House, 2014

The Sequin Star, by Belinda Murrell

‘What are you doing?’ cried a voice. It was high=pitched with fright. ‘You shouldn’t be here. You could get killed.’
Claire tried to open her eyes. Blinding light. Pain shot through her temple. She touched her head with her fingertips. It felt warm and sticky.
‘I say, are you all right?’ came the voice again, a bit softer this time. It was a girl’s voice. ‘You’re bleeding. Can you hear me?’

When her much loved grandmother is ill in hospital, Claire finds a old brooch among her things. It isn’t like her other, expensive jewellery – instead it is a cheap sequin star. Intrigued, Claire puts the brooch in her pocket and when she is in an accident soon afterwards, finds herself swept back in time to 1932. Claire is stranded in a circus camp, working hard and befriending circus performers Rosina and Jem, as well as a boy called Kit who, Claire realises, is her grandfather as a young man. Rosina and Kit are soon quite taken by each other, but Claire wonders whether a rich boy and a circus girl belong together – and what of her grandmother?

The Sequin Star is an exciting time-slip adventure set amidst the back drop of the Great Depression in the weeks around the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Claire’s adventures allow young readers to get a first-hand, modern perspective on both the events and on the contrasts between that time period and the contemporary world.

Likely to appeal to middle and upper primary aged readers.

 

The Sequin Star

The Sequin Star, by Belinda Murrell
Random House, 2014
ISBN 9780857982056

Available from good bookstores or online.

Australia's Greatest People & Their Achievements, by Linsay Knight

Can you name Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister?
Which Australian sportsman is the only cricketer to have received a knighthood from the Queen?
What important scientific discovery is Howard Florey famous for?

If there’s a child in your life who doesn’t know the answers to these questions (oe even one who does), then Australia’s Greatest People and Their Achievements is an ideal offering. Filled with the names and achievements of some of Australia’s biggest achievers in areas including politics, science, sport, the arts and, satisfyingly, social justice.

Knight bases her selection of who is ‘great’ not just on fame, but on making a lasting contribution, so that achievement is important but so too is character, perseverance and success. Many of the people profiled are names that most Australians will be familiar with – Julia Gillard, Sir Donald Bradman and Mary MacKillop, for example – but many others are names children (and adults, too) may not have heard of, but who deserve to be known. An example is Graeme Clark, who invented the cochlear implant.

Profiles are in easy to understand language and are complemented by photographs and illustrations, as well as quotes and text boxes highlighting key achievements.

This is the kind of book which, though it could be read cover-to cover, is likely to be most enjoyed by dipping in to, and as such is just as suitable for home collections as it is for libraries or classroom use.

Australia's Greatest People and Their Achievements

Australia’s Greatest People and Their Achievements, by Linsay Knight
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9780857980205

Available from good bookstores or online.

Meet My Book: A Savage Garden, by Chris Muir

Today I’m delighted to welcome Chris Muir to the blog. Chris is here to introduce his new book, A Savage Garden. Welcome Chris.

Chris Muir

 

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.
TITLE: A SAVAGE GARDEN
AUTHOR: CHRIS MUIRhttp://pubimages.randomhouse.com.au/getimage.aspx?vid=474500&usehttp=0&cat=default&class=books&size=custom&resize=1&dpi=300&quality=100&type=jpg&width=1500&height=2500&id=9780857981646
PUBLISHER: RANDOM HOUSE –BANTAM IMPRINT
RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 4TH 2014

2. Why did you write the book?
In many ways it was a book that had to be written. Africa is a very easy place to fall in love with, but it’s also very easy to hate the wars, corruption, greed and violence that’s endemic right across Central Africa and more particularly in the lawless wilds of Democratic Republic of the Congo where A Savage Garden is set. I’ve been there many times. I’ve seen what goes on. The world had to know, but for the most part there’s a great deal of apathy about Africa so I’ve wrapped up a very important subject in an adventure thriller. I hope readers will find it thought-provoking as well as entertaining.

3. How long from idea to publication?
The first draft was written 7 years ago when the Congo was having its first democratic election in over 40 years. It looked like a glimmer of hope…it wasn’t. 21 rewrites and 2.1million words later I had a 90,000 word version that my agent, Jenny Darling, was able to sell to Random House….so to answer your question, it’s been 7 years from idea to publication.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?
Writing it was the easy part. I knew my subject intimately, I had authentic situations based on fact, and if I do say so myself the writing wasn’t too bad, but getting the deal was the hard part. I guess for a first time author it always is.

5. Coolest thing about your book?
There’s nothing quite like when your publisher hands you the first copy. You forget about all the hard work and when no one is looking you stroke that 354 pages like it was a new born child.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?
This whole exercise has been an amazing lesson in patience, faith and perseverance and hoping that if I keep at it one day someone would say…hey, this is pretty good. Fortunately they did.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?
There’s a launch party on February 11th where I’ll celebrate with 150 family and friends but the real celebration is inside my head. When Jenny Darling rang me and told me about the deal she thought that I would be excited, and I was, but mostly I felt an enormous sense of relief. I’d been waiting so long for it to happen. I knew it would and it had. I’ll celebrate when the sales figures come in and by writing another book.

8. And how will you promote the book?
The publicity people at Random House and right behind this but first timers always have a hard road to hoe. I’ll be using social media, launches, library tours, media interviews and point-of-sale.

9. What are you working on next?
My next book is another adventure thriller set in Somalia. Let me tell you, Somalia is one scary place…it’s no wonder that it has been dubbed ‘the most dangerous country on the planet’.

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?
At the Random House website here
Twitter: @chrismuirwriter
Facebook: chris.muir.9256

Congratulations Chris, and thanks for dropping by.

A Savage Garden is available now in good bookstores and online.

Meet the ANZACS, by Claire Saxby & Max Berry

ANZAC is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand troops who landed at Gallipoli in World War I. ANZAC is now a symbol of bravery and mateship. this is the story of how the ANZAC legend began.

With 2014 marking the centenary of the First World War, and with ANZAC Day just a couple of months away, the release of Meet the ANZACs is timely. Part of the Meet… series, this offering varies from earlier titles in the series in that it focusses on a group rather than on a single individual. This works wonderfully, with author Saxby developing a sense of who the men were who together created the legend. In a relatively few words we learn of the motivations of those who joined up, their dreams and expectations, the training and difficulties they endure, and their feelings they await their first deployment on Gallipoli.

Illustrations, by Max Berry, complement the story, with changes in perspective and focus capturing the range of scenes from bush and city in Australia, to the deserts of Cairo and the landing at Gallipoli. In keeping with the story the illustrations depict a range of men, giving some sense of the range of different backgrounds and ages of the soldiers.

As with all books in this series, back of book timeline provides a more comprehensive overview, in this case of the passage of the First World War.

Meet the ANZACs provides a wonderful introduction to the soldiers who forged the ANZAC legend and, as such, is perfect for classroom use but equally appropriate for home reading.

Meet the ANZACs (Meet...)

 

Meet the ANZACs, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Max Berry
Random House, 2014
ISBN 9780857981929

Available from good bookstores and online.

Disclaimer: The reviewer has also contributed to the ‘Meet’ series, having authored an earlier title in the series. The review was written with every attempt to consider this title independently.

Kill the Music, by Nansi Kunze

Forcing a smile, I walked away into the wings and got out my phone. I’d never been a fan of forensics shows on TV, but I had a vague idea that the longer you left things at a crime scene, the more evidence was destroyed or contaminated. If I got the police in quickly enough, maybe they could find out who I’d been listening to before anything drastic happened.

To an onlooker, it might seem that Lorna Powell has it all. She lives with her brother and his friends, who make up the super popular band Turmoil. Money is no object, so she has a hot new car, and travels the world. But it’s not all as good as it seems. Lorna craves time alone, away from the craziness of living with four rockstars, and friends her own age. So when they buy a house back in Australia and Lorna starts school, she hopes things are going to change. But when she uncovers a plot to blow up the band, Lorna’s life seems to be changing just a bit too much. Suddenly she’s an undercover detective, trying to work out who’s got it in for Turmoil, while juggling her school work, her new friends, and her changing relationship with handsome band member Marius.

Kill the Music is an exciting blend of mystery and romance, with plenty of humour, set in the music world, a mix which will appeal to teen readers. Lorna’s first person narration escorts us into her world, and lets us experience the highs and lows of life with a boy-band, the only family she has. It’s not exactly a normal life, but Lorna is actually a pretty normal girl – she has insecurities, she is good at some things and not so good at others, and she wants to have friends and do normal teenage things. In between catching whoever is after her brother and his band mates.

Suitable for teen readers.

 

Kill the Music, Nansi Kunze

Kill the Music, by Nansi Kunze

Random House, 2013

ISBN: 978085798015

Available from good bookstores or online.

 

You can read an interview with Nansi about the writing of the book here.

Mortified and Mortal Combat, by Martin Chatterton

Having a huge World-War=Two German stormtrooper screaming at you while jamming the business end of a submachine gun on your ribs was, decided Mortimer DeVere, most definitely one of life’s less pleasant experiences.

When you are 10 000 years old, but look only 10, life could pretty boring. You could find yourself doing the same things over and over again. That is unless you do something to make life more interesting. Mortimer DeVere (Mort) has certainly made his life exceptionally interesting. In his efforts to evade school he has travelled back through time with his sister, two school inspectors and a Ghengis Khan clone. This isn’t looking like it will end well.

Mortal Combat and Mortified! continue the adventures of Mort first begun in the book of the same name. Along with the trip back to Nazi Germany, there are dinosaurs, vikings, mummies, crocodiles and even Queen Victoria.

Primary aged readers will love the chaos, the action and the humour – and they might even pick up a little history along the way.

Good fun for readers eight and over.

Mortal Combat: Time's Running Out (Mort)

Mortal Combat , by Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742753164

Mortified!

Mortified!, by Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742758886

Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale by Deborah Abela

‘You’re not getting away that easily.’

Angeline fixed her sights on the faint red glow of the ghost that had appeared on the screen of her Tracker. She and Edgar had been following this particular spectral pest for days, and once again it was almost in her grasp.

She stepped carefully and quickly over the damp forest floor, which was twisted with roots and choked with the musty decay of leaves. Swirls of mist caught in her torchlight, creeping from between the trees and circling her ankles like snakes.

She knew she shouldn’t be her on her own. …

… But she tonight she’d had little time to act, so act she did.

‘You’re not getting away that easily.’

Angeline fixed her sights on the faint red glow of the ghost that had appeared on the screen of her Tracker. She and Edgar had been following this particular spectral pest for days, and once again it was almost in her grasp.

She stepped carefully and quickly over the damp forest floor, which was twisted with roots and choked with the musty decay of leaves. Swirls of mist caught in her torchlight, creeping from between the trees and circling her ankles like snakes.

She knew she shouldn’t be her on her own. …

… But she tonight she’d had little time to act, so act she did.

Angeline Usher and her brother Edgar are ghost catchers. They are the youngest ghost catchers in the Ghost Club and very excited to be visiting Transylvania for the annual Ghost Club Convention. Dylan is a more reluctant ghost catcher, but despite this, he has a good eye for details. As a trio, they make an effective team. The highlight for the Convention is a talk by famous (and gorgeous) Ripley Granger. The entire Usher family are besotted by him. Angeline can quote from all his books. But when in Transylvania, surrounded by so many ghosts and stories, even a Convention of Ghost Club ghost catchers can be taken by surprise.

Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale is the third offering in this series. The adults stay close by but are still in the background. There’s their ghost catching parents, their inventing grandmother, ghostly grandfather, a poet called Gloom and the agoraphobic and knowledgeable Endora. The three young ghost catchers are able to do their ‘catching’ because of the combination of their skills. Each brings something unique to the team. Abela suggests that ghosts are souls who have unfinished business in this world. Therefore the job of the ghost catcher is to locate the ghost, determine what troubles them and then fix it so they can rest in peace. Dylan’s behaviour gives voice to those who might experience fear and demonstrates that despite it, it’s possible to act when action is required. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

A Transylvanian Tale (Ghost Club)

Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale , Deborah Abela Random House Australia 2013 ISBN: 9781742758534

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores and online.

Seadog, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellett

Our dog is not a trick dog,
a sit-still-then-roll-over dog.
Our dog is a seadog,
a jump-and-chase-the=waves dog.

Seadog is not well-trained, well groomed, trip-performing dog. Instead he is a fun lvng puppy who loves the sea and everything about it: the sounds, the sights and even – perhaps especially – the smells. And it is the smells that get him in trouble, because after he rolls in smelly fish he has to be taken home and washed. Seadog does not like the suds and water of a bath but he endures it, and is soon clean and fluffy – but only until someone opens the door.

Seadog is a delightful romp of a tale about a dog who loves the sea. In turn he is loved by his family and will be loved by young readers. The text is rhythmic and uses repetition, alliteration and internal rhymes to create something fun to read and to listen to. Kids will love joining in, especially on repeat readings, which will be in demand. Illustrations, by Tom Jellett, are a delight, and the big red Seadog comes to life against sandy yellows and watery blues which really capture the feel of the beach.

Perfect for early childhood, this is a book which warms the heart with its zest for life.

Seadog

Seadog, by Claire Saxby and Tom Jellett
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742756509

Available from good bookstores and online.

Meet My Book: Sea Dog, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellett

I’m loving having Aussie authors drop in to tell us all about their latest book. Today I’m especially pleased to welcome my friend, and wonderful children’s author Claire Saxby.Claire is here to tell us all about her beautiful new book, Sea Dog. Over to you, Claire.

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

Seadog, illustrated by Tom Jellett, Random House. Release date was 1 May.

Seadog

2. Why did you write the book?

I’ve always wanted to write a book about a dog, but even though we’ve had one for the past 6 years, it has taken until recently to find a way to do it. I wanted to capture the boundless joy that dogs seem to have for life. They don’t always do what we might like them to do, but there’s something about they way they are at the beach that is so free. I think children are the same, particularly at the beach. The beach is calming, energising, fun, messy, and hot/cold. And joyful.

3. How long from idea to publication?

This was a short one by picture book standards. I think it was less than two years from concept (in this form) to release. Although I confess to multiple previous attempts that fizzled before even becoming complete horrible first drafts.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?

Trusting myself. Letting go and just having fun with it. Getting close in, getting far enough away from the facts to find the fiction.

5. Coolest thing about your book?

To share the joy that a dog can bring. Tom’s illustrations are amazing. Seadog is so expressive.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

Not so much learnt but reinforced how much fun there is in playing with words.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?

I’ve had a ‘coastal launch’ for Seadog, but the official launch is yet to come. That’s 2 June at the 10th Williamstown Literary Festival. 2 pm. All welcome. 🙂

8. And how will you promote the book?

I’ve a few school visits planned, I’ll visit bookshops and libraries for story time. I’m also doing some promotion online via my blog.

9. What are you working on next?

I can’t quite decide. I have several projects I’d like to tackle, just can’t decide which one …

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?

At my website www.clairesaxby.com, or my blog www.letshavewords.blogspot.com. Seadog can be seen in bookshops EVERYWHERE!

Thanks for dropping in, Claire. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you.