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How strange it all was. A bird in his hands, a balloon on his roof.
Yet things felt more real here, than less.

Matthew is about to have the adventure of his life when he meets Lewis Carmichael, a black crow with a broken wing who can talk. Lewis invites Matthew on a trip to the North Pole and together they ride Boreas the North Wind in a colourful hot air balloon for six thousand, nine hundred and twenty-two nautical miles all the way to the Arctic.

Matthew is a quiet boy, lacking in confidence, slow at school and without friends. He thinks his parents need another child, someone who was more what they wanted. Matthew escapes his worries reading books about the Arctic, a frozen land of polar bears, reindeer, snow geese and Arctic Wolves. A place full of space; secret and wild.

Visiting the North Pole is Matthew’s dream and for the first time Matthew has a friend with Lewis.

Throughout their journey Lewis is by Matthew’s side encouraging, challenging and believing in him as Matthew learns to fly the balloon, treks across the ice and climbs a snowy peak to see the icy white world of his dreams. As they face challenges along the way, Matthew’s confidence, courage and resourcefulness grow alongside the reassuring soundtrack of Lewis’ song.

In all the world, in all the world,
Never did I see, never did I see.
In all the lands, in all the lands
Just one boy, one boy.
This boy. This boy.

The Song of Lewis Carmichael by Sophie Laguna with its intriguing title and magical front cover, is a heartwarming voyage of discovery and a joy to read. Marc McBride’s realistic line drawings in Arctic blue immerse you in the story and vividly bring it to to life. Marc's double page illustration of Aurora Borealis is breathtaking! A story of many layers that will linger with you beyond the last page.

Everyone deserves a friend like Lewis Carmichael.

Read Chapter One HERE

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

Teacher notes

I can’t wait for my room
down the hallway
Mum’s old study
Dad said one more lick of paint
and it’s mine!

Mina has been waiting forever for her own room, gathering her treasures and eagerly planning the perfect layout. Until…

‘someone is coming
to stay with us
for a while,’ mum says
‘someone who needs a home
and…a room.’

Mina’s parents have offered to foster a refugee boy from Afghanistan who needs a place to stay. Mina knows her family is doing a good thing, but her heart is broken and it’s hard to be kind to the stranger who has taken her new room. His name Azzami means ‘one who is fierce like a lion’, instead he is a boy who is scared and small as a kitten and doesn't seem at all grateful to be in Mina's room.

At school, Azzami doesn’t speak and when Oliver and his mates bully him, Mina can’t understand why he won’t stand up to them and instead ‘curls up in silence like a snail in his house’. In class, she doesn’t know if Azzami can read or write, but soon discovers he has his own way of storytelling. When Mina looks closely at Azzami's detailed drawing she sees his life in Afghanistan through his eyes. Azzami's story opens her heart and an unexpected friendship begins.

Mina and the Whole Wide World by Sherryl Clark is a gentle verse novel about friendship and kindness. The world comes to Mina’s house not just in the world globe she finds, but also through Azzami. Mina discovers that even though the world is wide, we are all connected and there is room for us all.

The story is told from Mina's point of view using simple poems and imagery complemented by Briony Stewart's black and white illustrations that beautifully capture feelings and moments as they weave through the text adding another layer of meaning.

Mina and the Whole Wide World is a heartwarming reminder of the power of story to connect us.

Thank you for the copy of this book to review UQP.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

My neighbours would have heard lots of laughter coming from my backyard as I was reading Derek Dool’s third book and latest crazy attempt to become SUPERCOOL. This time Derek is running for his life!

After a disastrous meatball-eating competition at the ‘G’Day, Norway” event, Derek sets his sights on winning the school cross-country race. However, he’s going to have to beat Nora the Norwegian exchange student and star cross-country runner as well as his nemesis and last year’s winner, Carmichael Cruze.

Derek is far from being a natural athlete, but when he learns his dad won the school's first cross-country race, he thinks running must be in his DNA and he’s in with a chance. Not even having to run around the school in his underpants if he loses is going to stop Derek!

Big Denise and Booger have a huge task getting Derek fit, but Big Denise knows just how to motivate Derek to run up hills.

Armed with his Doolerade energy drink (a melted down whole packet of fun size Mars bars and some out of date cocoa) and dressed in his dad’s old jogging outfit and floral underpants (don’t ask!), Derek is determined to beat Nora and Cruze and impress his dad – win/win/win!

But Derek’s plans fall apart when a storm hits as he enters the darkening bush where local rumours say a witch lurks…

Will Derek make it out of the bush to win the cross-country race and be SUPERCOOL at last? 

The dynamic duo of Adrian Beck and Scott Edgar have given us another laugh out loud story filled with humour and heart. Run as fast as you can to grab your copy! 

Happy reading!

 

Derek Dool is back looking for a new way to be SUPERCOOL. After accidentally going viral online, Derek is on a mission to deliberately go viral. The challenge is on for Derek to get more more online views than his archenemy Carmichael Cruz and become a SUPERCOOL internet sensation!

To go viral, should Derek do an unboxing video, a pimple popping video or maybe a cute cat video? None of Derek's ideas including Sonny the Surfing Bunny are quite working out as he expected, not even with help from Big Denise and Booger. But Derek's not the type to give up. No way! He is determined to achieve VIRAL VICTORY.

Derek's final plan to go viral at the Ruttsmell Garlic Festival is almost the last thing he ever does! It is a total riot with Derek and Cruz heading down the Ruttsmell River clinging to a runaway jumping castle. Can they put aside their rivalry to save themselves? Scott Edgar's illustrations brilliantly capture the action, danger and hilarity of their predicament.

Book Two has even more Bad Dad Jokes to make you groan and we're left still wondering what those devious crows are planning for their world domination. Big Denise's rapping goes more public than she wants and we see Booger's strength come to the fore. There's also lots of stinky garlic!

You can read the first chapter HERE

What would YOU do to go viral and become an internet sensation?

Writing funny books is not as easy as people think. In a recent interview, Adrian Beck explained how he needs to balance the plot, setting and characters while also being funny. Adrian has worked in TV production and has also watched lots of cartoon shows so when he writes his books, it's like writing a TV or cartoon show script with short sharp episodes or chapters. Scott illustrates his favourite parts and then they work as a team to discuss and adjust the text and illustrations so they work seamlessly to tell the story. Adrian and Scott definitely have lots of fun working together creating Derek's funny, action-packed adventures!

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life will be published in January 2021.

Happy reading!

I don’t know about you, but the minute I hear the word NITS, my head starts itching and I start scratching! I was worried I wouldn't be able to read Tristan Bancks’ new book Nit Boy without going into a scratching frenzy.

 

Lewis and Ned share a head...

Lewis Snow has wild blonde hair that has never been cut. He has the worst case of nits in world history that have infected his school and town. Everyone wants him to shave his head, especially Ms Herrick his terrifying Deputy Principal. Lewis is fond of his nits and thinks of them as pets (and they can earn a little money on the side). Lewis will do whatever he can to keep his hair and his nits.

Ned lives on Lewis’ head. He is the world’s first jumping nit. Ned is a major part of his dad's plan for nits to take over the world, but he just wants to live a quiet life on Lewis’ head. Ned is also vegan and hates the taste of human blood (which is not good if you're a nit!). Will finding his mum help Ned work out who he really is?

Heath Mackenzie's fabulous illustrations in Nit Boy take the story to another level. Have fun learning how to draw Ned in this video with Heath.

If you enjoyed reading Tristan's Tom Weekly series then Nit Boy will appeal to you too. Nit Boy is a clever and funny book where Lewis and Ned take turns telling the story from their point of view. It also includes quizzes with facts that are both fun and gross and a bonus story from the Tom Weekly series - Revenge of the Nits.

Read the first chapter of Nit Boy and an interview with Tristan Bancks.

Dare I say that Ned the Nit has definitely given nits a more positive image!

Teacher notes

Happy reading!

Somewhere far away, there's a sea that ripples with magic. And if you were a bird flying high over the sea one fine day, you'd be able to look down at the tiny green-and-gold dot that's Monty's Island...

Monty never knows what he might find when he takes his Pick-Up sled along the beach with his friend Tawny, looking for Special Finds. One morning, they receive some worrying news from their friend the Laughing Traveller that Scary Mary and her pirate crew are looking for a new island to call home. The pirates have burnt down the trees on their old base and turned it into a dump. Monty and Tawny certainly don't want Scary Mary, a cruel and greedy pirate with sharp gold teeth taking over their island home! 

What can Monty and his friends do? When Bunchy accidentally turns the whole island stripey with her new magic wand, they have nowhere to hide. Monty will need to come with up one of his best ideas to save them!

Listen to Emily Rodda read the beginning of Scary Mary and the Striped Spell...

Emily Rodda has created some unusual creatures that live on Monty's Island. Argue Birds that begin each day arguing loudly, Jinglebees that sound like a million bells ringing as they prepare to fly and will chew anything in sight and the Hairy Horrible that only hunts at night and doesn't like to get sand between its hairy toes.

At the end of the video, Emily invites you to invent your own creature. Draw your creature first. Is your creature scary or friendly? What makes it unique?

Lucinda Gifford is the talented illustrator whose fun and lively illustrations have brought Emily Rodda's characters and story to life.

Learn about Lucinda's drawing process for illustrating Scary Mary and the Stripe Spell...

Have fun drawing Clink the Shipwrecked Pirate with Lucinda...

There are more drawing videos with Lucinda Gifford and activities to download on the Allen & Unwin website HERE.

If you're looking for a fun new fantasy adventure to read then the Monty's Island series is perfect for you!

Happy reading!

We might not be able to go to AFL games at the moment, but we can still have fun reading books about footy.

Get your hands on a copy of Ozzy Rules! the first book in the new Little Legends series by Aussie Rules fanatics, Nicole Hayes and Adrian Beck and illustrator James Hart.

Ten-year-old twins Oz and Ellie live and breathe AFL footy and play for the Fresca Bay Falcons where they are team legends. Oz is a key on-baller and Ellie is their superstar full-forward. They can't wait to introduce their cousin Sanjay to Aussie Rules. In his first attempt at playing footy, Sanjay unexpectedly reveals he's a natural and becomes the Falcons' hot new recruit. Now Oz has some serious competition on the field and isn't sure about sharing the spotlight. Can Oz put his competitive spirit aside for the good of the team and his friendship with Sanjay?

AFL has a language and skills all of its own and there are plenty of long bombs, dribble kicks, kick-to-kick, screamers, hangers, look-away-handpasses and speccys woven into the story. Coach Daisy and the team mascot Frankie might even sound like your like footy coach yelling out motivation like  "Team work makes the dream work!" or "Give your all or lose the ball!" 

If you need some handball tips, Oz reveals that the secret to being able to handball is pancake and ice-cream! Yes, really! Can you work out why?

There's lots of humour and footy action in Ozzy Rules! and it gets pretty tense in the first game of the season when the Fresca Bay Falcons play the Deep Valley Devils...

 

At the back of the book you can win The Ultimate Footy Fan Pack. You will need to buy a copy of the book (keep your receipt) and say why you you would like to win. The competition closes on the 31st of August. Enter the competition HERE

Watch out for the second book in the series Taking Sides coming out in June.

Happy reading and Go Roos!

2

The Aussie Kids series takes you on adventures with kids from a variety of backgrounds to the unique places they live in Australia. They include Eve who lives at a roadhouse in outback Australia, Zoe and Zac live at a zoo in New South Wales and Taj lives next to a lighthouse in Victoria.

8 characters, 8 stories, 8 authors and illustrators from all 8 states and territories!

Meet Taj at the Lighthouse

Taj's family has travelled a long way to Australia from their sun-hot village, by the big blue sea in search of a safe home. It's not easy settling into life in a new country. Taj misses his old home, his favourite food and playing with his cousins. He wonders if he will ever fit in as he tries to learn English and make friends. Not even wearing his lucky lightning t-shirt helps, but his mum reminds him to 'believe' and encourages Taj to keep trying.

When Taj’s dad finds a job as a lighthouse guide, the family moves to a town along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. At his new school Taj makes lots of new friends, he joins the surf lifesaving club and everyone calls him Taj Lightning. These days Taj's family has settled into their little Aussie town that now feels like home.

At the end of the book find out more about lighthouses and Maxine Beneba Clarke and Niki Greenberg who created Taj’s story.

There is a fun Aussie Kids activity pack to download HERE

Photo: Kim Yeomans

Last year I visited the Split Point Lighthouse at Airey’s Inlet. The lighthouse was built in 1891. It is 34 metres tall, with the most amazing views! It still operates at night with an automated system to guide the ships in the Southern Ocean. Take a tour of the lighthouse while you're there! 

Have you visited a place in Australia where you would like to live?

Happy reading!

2

If you like animals, adventures and solving mysteries then the Eco Rangers series is for you.

Ebony and Jay are best friends and Eco Rangers who love helping others and looking after the environment. In Wildfire Rescue Ebony and Jay go out to look for injured animals in the bushland after a devastating wildfire. They find a little ringtail possum covered in ash with burnt paws from the hot ground. With help from Dr Bat and Dr Tan at the wildlife hospital, they become carers for the cheeky possum they name Mira (short for miracle) until she can be returned to her home. Ebony and Jay also have a mystery to solve when they discover some people have been camping in the burnt out bush. Who are they and what are they doing there? 

Did you know that possums must be returned to their original homes? They don't like to be relocated to a different place.

Photo credit: David Cook

Candice Lemon-Scott is an author who loves animals and nature and is also a wildlife carer. Candice has carefully woven scientific facts into her stories and if you're interested in learning more about how to help wildlife you can download Handy Tips for Eco Rangers

This summer in Australia we have had dangerous bushfires that have had a devastating effect on our precious wildlife. Wildlife Victoria,  Wires, and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital  and many others having been doing amazing work caring for the animals like Mira that have been injured and orphaned by the bushfires.

Look out for these books in the Eco Rangers series...

Happy reading!

 

 

Magnolia Moon is very good at keeping secrets. She knows just what to do with them, and has a way of talking to the jumpy ones to stop them causing trouble. Which is why people are always leaning in and whispering: "Can I tell you a secret?"

Magnolia Moon is a curious nine year old with springy, beetle-black curls filled with feathers and twigs. Magnolia likes Greek mythology, her cat Atlas and writing her name backwards (NOOM AILONGAM). Her best friend is Imogen May and they like hanging upside down from the Wishing Tree, inventing new animals like peliphants and buffadillos and guessing what type of fruit they would be.


What type of fruit would you choose to be?

During the year there are lots of changes for Magnolia, beginning with Imogen May moving away and ending with the arrival of her baby brother Finnegan. Each chapter holds a secret. They are the type of secrets that help people feel braver, less alone, and more loved. There are new friendships, a secret escape, a secret spook, a secret identity, a secret sky, and a mysterious angel boy. In the final 'Chapter Almost 10', Magnolia reveals a secret of her own. 

In the story, I like the way Magnolia Moon describes time by comparing it to things. 

Three minutes is a lifetime if you are a piece of toast or a soft-poached egg
An hour is a lifetime if you are a cake in the oven or a storm cloud
Three weeks is a lifetime if you are a bar of soap
Six months is a lifetime if you are a bedbug
A year is a lifetime if you are a giant jellyfish

What interesting ways would you describe time?

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon by Edwina Wyatt is perfect if you like gentle stories about friendship and families and enjoy solving problems. It is a 'just the right size' hardcover book with a stunning front cover, gorgeous nature-filled endpapers and whimsical illustrations by Katherine Quinn. I hope there will be more secrets and adventures for Magnolia Moon.

Happy reading!

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