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Girl of the Southern Sea is a story of courage, resilience and hope.

Fourteen year old Nia lives in the slums of Jakarta in Indonesia and faces challenges beyond her years as she raises her little brother Rudi and helps her father run their fried banana cart. Nia is a clever student and talented storyteller who writes amazing stories about the mythological Princess Dewi Kadita, Princess of the Southern Sea. Nia's dream is to become a writer. She desperately wants to go to high school, but her family barely has enough money for food and Nia is forced to leave school.

When Nia survives a bus accident unharmed, some people say she is  blessed with good-luck magic. As everyone seeks some of Nia's good-luck magic, her father's business thrives, but Nia's life is endangered when people begin questioning the magic.

Nia's dream is threatened when her father makes a secret promise that will change the direction of her life. With courage and determination and some unexpected help, Nia takes matters into her own hands to create the future she seeks.

Michelle Kadarusman writes with great compassion as she explores issues that some girls around the world face, including poverty, forced marriage and a lack of education, health care and opportunities.

Thank you for the copy of this book to review University of Queensland Press.

Happy reading!

 

Hello Jimmy! by Anna Walker is a gentle story about Jack and his dad as they find a new way of being a family together.

When Jack visits his dad's house it's quiet and his dad doesn't tell funny jokes any more. Jack wonders if his dad is lonely. Then Jimmy a loud and cheeky parrot unexpectedly arrives on dad's doorstep. Jimmy's big personality fills the house and dad is laughing again with his new friend who helps with the dishes, entertains with his witty chatter and is full of surprises. Jack feels left out. What happens when Jack accidentally lets Jimmy out the window? 

Anna has used pencil, collage, paint and mono-printing to create her delicate illustrations filled with tiny details of every day life that invite you to look closely at each page. She has captured Jimmy's larger than life personality with his cheeky antics and vibrant green feathers that can also be found floating gently across the endpapers. 

Read HERE to learn more about Anna's ideas behind creating Hello Jimmy!

On her Twiglet website, Anna shares 'tiny ideas' to inspire creativity. Click on the links below to explore three ways you can make your own Jimmy and bring him to life.

Jimmy Parrot 

Jimmy split pin 

Flying Jimmy 

Anna has made Jimmy using felt and he is being very cheeky in the Hello Jimmy! book trailer...

Happy reading!

 

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus celebrates the fun and adventures you can have bike riding with friends and caring for our planet at the same time.

When their new teacher Ms Dillon introduces Grade 5D to a Bicycle Bus, travelling to school becomes a lot more fun!

Ms Dillon leads the bicycle bus
with her shiny red bike
and she calls for us
to
stay
in
single
file
nottooclosetogether
not     too     far     apart.

We roll down Burton Street,
a caterpillar of clanking gears
and whirring pedals.

But there’s a narrow stretch on Fisher Road with no white line to separate the cyclists from the traffic where the cars feel louder and closer and faster. When a ute carrying a pile of timber passes dangerously close to Ms Dillon, it's Zoe and Max who come up with a bold and clever plan that might involve breaking a few rules. Will they succeed in making the bike ride to school safer?

As the students in 5D ride their Bicycle Bus to school it's heartwarming to see their friendships and independence grow. Dabir's grandfather was a wise man when he said  'A bicycle makes a sound heart'. What do you think he meant?

Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus is a free verse novel. It has verses, but it doesn't rhyme like a poem. There are less words, but each word is carefully chosen. The length of sentences, sentence breaks and use of white space are important in writing free verse. In this book there are different perspectives as the characters narrate their story and reveal their feelings about riding to school. Jordi has been wearing his bike helmet at breakfast every day hoping his mum would let him ride to school one day, Max loves doing wheelies, Olivia can fix a puncture in no time, Dabir's dad has proudly given him the bike he rode as a boy in his village, while Zoe's bike named Esmerelda has been carefully cleaned so it sparkles.  

Steven Herrick's passion for bike riding and the environment shine in this story, particularly through Ms Dillon as she quietly empowers her students and the school bike racks begin to fill.

 Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus is a book that will have you smiling and wanting to grab your bike and ride with your friends!

If you have enjoyed reading this verse novel, I highly recommend you read Bully on the Bus, Too Many Friends and On Track by Kathryn Apel or The Little Wave by Pip Harry that have also been published by UQP.

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

Happy reading!

 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Library of Hummingbird House from the first page to the last! This mystery, time-slip adventure is set in inner Melbourne with a secret library, lost words and a mullolly tree - what more could you want?

Hattie Maxwell is ten years old and a Sailor Moon fan who loves reading and discovering new words. Hattie’s life has been turned upside down by the Big Split. Hattie and her annoying little sister Ivy, now have to live ‘week about’ with their parents. Hattie feels ‘a bit like the lamp that everyone forgot to pack’ because she doesn’t feel quite right at either home. She just wants things to go back to the way they were with her family together.

Hattie’s favourite escape in her Brunswick neighborhood is Hummingbird House.

It’s a puddle of magic, out of time with the rest of the city. Even though it hums with a strangeness I don’t understand, I always feel as though the house is happy for me to be here – like a hand waiting to be held.

The old mansion holds happy family memories for Hattie where they played in the large mulberry tree that her dad transformed with lollies into a mullolly tree each year for her birthday. Hattie is horrified when she learns that Lord Landlord plans to demolish Hummingbird House and replace it with a 10-storey apartment block.

When Hattie goes on a midnight visit to Hummingbird House during a triple moon event, she finds herself slipping back in time to 1970 where she discovers a very different Hummingbird House and Hypatia, a mysterious girl with a love for words. Hypatia reveals her secret Nonesuch Library and together the ‘not friends’ work to find a way to save Hummingbird House and solve the mystery of Hypatia’s Lebanese family.

A clever twist at the end ties the threads of the story together and all is revealed, including the identity of the mysterious Brunswick yarn bomber.

Hattie is a realistic and resilient voice in this story as she grapples with living in a separated family, navigates time travel and learns to speak up and fight for what she believes in while trying to save Hummingbird House. As a teacher librarian, not only would I love a NoneSuch Library, I also have a soft spot for Ms Guide whose background turns out to be quite a surprise.

Julieanne Negri works at the magnificent State Library of Victoria which was a major inspiration for The Nonesuch Library.

I was fascinated by the lost words in the story. There is a Glossary at the back of the book for you to explore and it will also help with my message below.

As a big bibliophile, I highly recommend this flippercanorious book!

Read the first two chapters HERE

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!

We're getting special visitors
this term.

Kids from the bush who
want to swim at Manly.
They're driving a long way,
just for a dip.

Some of them 
have never seen 
the ocean. Imagine that!

I don't know about you, but I am always intrigued to know what sparks the idea for an author's book. Pip Harry's spark came when she was sitting on the sand after a swim at the beach. As she watched a group of country school children visiting the beach for the first time, running along the sand, playing in the waves and exploring rock pools and building sandcastles, Pip wondered how the trip would affect their lives and the lives of the families who hosted them.

The Little Wave is a about three very different kids with their own challenges. Their lives connect when a city school plans to bring a country class from Mullin to visit the beach at Manly. Together Noah, Lottie and Jack discover the power of friendship, courage and being true to yourself. 

Noah has no fear when surfing, but doesn't know how to stand up to bullying from his best mate.

Lottie is fascinated by bugs, but worries about her dad who has filled their house with junk.

Jack wants to be a cricket star, but has to do well at school if he wants to see the ocean.

How do a surfer grommet and a a bug collector from the city and a cricket player from the country become friends? 

Discover what happens when Mr M surprisingly pairs Noah and Lottie to organise the class fundraiser and how being pen pals helps Jack and Noah to encourage each other.

The Little Wave is a verse novel written in the first person point of view. This gives readers a window into the thoughts and feelings of Noah, Lottie and Jack as they tell their part of the story. Verse novels are easy to read (but not easy to write!) Their authors often use imagery to paint pictures for readers. This is how Noah describes surfing

Being on a wave
is like riding 
a rolling ball of energy
that's travelled hundreds of kays
across the ocean.

and how Lottie feels when she is ignored on the bus

I feel
like a shiny helium balloon
slowly deflating.

If you have enjoyed reading Kathryn Apel's verse novels, or like reading about kids like you, books about friendship or a story that simply makes you feel good, then The Little Wave is a book you need to read!

The vibrant cover by Sophie Beer captures the beach setting and warmth of this story. Look out for the little symbols Sophie has added to each of the character's chapter headings.

This is Pip Harry's first verse novel...I hope there will be more to come!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

Our roof is noisy!
Thump!
Thump!
Thump!

Our favourite hippopotamus is back and this time he's having lots of fun getting ready for Christmas in There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake. A perfect book to add to your Christmas collection!

Deborah Niland's classic illustrations show hippo busy writing his present list (that's a LOT of cakes), having messy fun icing his large Christmas cake, doing a special Christmas cake dance, some Christmassy dressing up and singing Carols by Cakelight. The little boy in the house below is also excitedly getting ready for Christmas with his family and has made a scrumptious Christmas present for his hippopotamus friend.

What does your family do to get ready for Christmas? Do you have a favourite activity?

There are lots of fun Christmas activities for you to download in this Hippo Christmas Activity Pack

Hazel Edwards wrote her first hippopotamus book There's A Hippopotamus on Our Caravan Roof Eating Cake in 1980 and this is the seventh book about her much loved hippopotamus. These days, Hazel is often called 'The Hippo Lady'! 

Do you have a favourite hippopotamus book by Hazel?

Happy Christmas reading! 

Karen Foxlee, will take your feelings on a roller-coaster ride when you read Lenny's Book of Everything as Lenny and her brother Davey burrow their way into your heart and remind you of the wonder and preciousness of life.

On the day Davey Spink was born his mum had a ‘dark heart feeling’ and felt 'something's not right'. Her feeling is right when Davey turns five and starts growing faster than he should. Davey is diagnosed with gigantism, a rare condition that causes him to keep growing. By the time Davey is seven he is man-sized and this is harmful for his health. Lenny is very protective of her younger brother, but she has her own challenges and it's not easy being the sister of ‘the giant’. 

Lenny, Davey and their mum who works two jobs don’t have much, but they have each other. Their mum wins a free subscription to Burrell’s Build-It-At-Home Encyclopedia and Fridays become the highlight of the week when each new volume arrives. The encyclopedia transports Lenny and Davey to places beyond the walls of their tiny apartment and brings knowledge and the wonder of the world into their lives. 

The B volume fuels Lenny’s fascination for beetles and her dream to become a coleopterist and the bird section introduces Davey to golden eagles. He even invents his own imaginary eagle called Timothy who sits on his shoulder and he feeds him imaginary crumbs. When the C volume arrives they discover Canada. Lenny as ‘chief imagineer’ imagines them travelling to Bear Lake. Planning their adventurous trip there and the log cabin Davey wants to build, carries them through the ups and downs of Davey’s health until the day Lenny and Davey squeeze goodbye in Morse Code.

Karen Brownlee exquisitely weaves the story and its characters together using the volumes of Burrell’s Build-It-At-Home Encyclopedia with Lenny as the narrator. As you read, think about how Karen's words make you feel, how she describes her characters or the images she creates in you mind with her carefully chosen words.

If you have read Wonder by R.J. Palacio or Ugly by Robert Hoge you might also like Lenny's Book of Everything. Auggie, Robert and Davey's stories give us an opportunity to walk in their shoes and help us to understand a little more some of the challenges of living with a disability. 

Click HERE to read this National Geographic Kids' interview with Karen Foxlee.

Look closely at the front cover. How does the image connect to the story? Click HERE to see how the cover was created. This is a rare novel with endpapers. Why do you think they have been included?

Click  HERE to read an extract of Lenny's Book of Everything.

Happy reading and a BIG TISSUE ALERT!

Teacher notes

Ava has Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that leaves her unable to speak or walk and she needs help with moving and eating. She is a regular 11 year-old girl on the inside who hears, sees and understands everything, but Ava can’t communicate because she is trapped in her body that won’t work properly.

How do you say you want jam and not vegemite on your toast, that your favourite colour is pink not purple or tell your big sister that you don’t want to be an embarrassment and just want to hang out with her like sisters do?

Ava has a disability, but she is also strong, feisty and funny, and as the narrator of the story she gives us an insight into the challenges of every day life with Rett syndrome as well as the challenges it can also bring to a family.

One day I'll talk like Aimee.
One day I'll find a way.

Thanks to the encouragement of her new friend, Aimee and the determination and problem solving of Kieran, her occupational therapist, it is Ava’s eyes that provide the key for her to be heard at last. You are going to be cheering Ava on alongside her family when she communicates with them for the first time!

I didn't know about Rett Syndrome until I read this book. Samantha Wheeler has written this story with so much heart and understanding because her own daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome when she was fourteen. 

If you enjoy books that give you an opportunity to walk in somebody else's footsteps and experience a life that is different to yours then Everything I’ve Never Said is a perfect choice.

“Everyone has something to say, whether they communicate in a conventional way or not. We just need empathy and understanding” (Samantha Wheeler)

Happy reading!

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