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My Brother Ben is a story of birds, boats and the bond brothers share. An ode to nature and a reminder that not all heroes wear capes.

Luke is a quiet boy who loves sketching birds and thanks to his Aunty Gem, is becoming an expert at recognising their calls. His big brother Ben is bold and brave as he climbs on the roof or leaps out of the huge twisted paperbark Jumping Tree into Cabbage Tree Creek.

Despite their differences, Luke and Ben stick together like Apostlebirds, especially since their father moved away. The brothers share a dream of owning their own boat to explore the channels and secret inlets of Cabbage Tree Creek. The perfect opportunity arises when the local council runs a competition to celebrate the creek and first prize is a boat.

Luke and Ben come up with a plan to win, but it is threatened when Ben starts high school and the boys begin to drift apart.  When Ben and Frankie become friends, the trust the brothers share is tested, especially when Ben starts sneaking out of the house at night. Luke will discover that all is not as it seems and his brother Ben really does mean it when he says "Trust me."

Peter Carnavas captures the beauty of nature with lyrical descriptions that immerse you in the sights, sounds and life of Cabbage Patch Creek.

The cool water swallowed me and I sank until my toes dipped in the mud at the bottom. Then I rose up, floated on my back and watched the paperbark leaves dance against the sky. Ben did the same. We were two sea stars spinning slowly on the surface.

Scattered throughout the book are sketches of birds from Luke’s sketchbook. My favourites are the sketches of Luke’s magpie, Maggie in the chapter headings that remind me of the magpie family who have called my backyard their home for many years.

“When you open your eyes to birds, the world opens itself in return.” (Aunty Gem)


My magpies enjoying sunset
Here is Peter talking about his book My Brother Ben...

My Brother Ben is one of my favourite reads this year.

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

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

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

 

Inspired by the true story of Muslims who saved the lives of Jewish children in the Second World War.

It is no longer safe for Ruben and his parents to shelter in Uncle Abe’s cellar so his mother reluctantly takes him to the Grand Mosque in Paris which is secretly providing shelter for Jewish children. Ruben is to wait there until the mysterious Fox can take him to Spain to reunite with his parents and his missing older sister, Rosa. Ruben’s mother tells him “You must be strong like the cedars in Jardin des Plantes. You must not bend like the sapling in the wind.”

To hide his true identity Ruben has to learn to pray, eat and speak as a Muslim. Ruben becomes Abdul. The only link he has left to his family and religion is the tattered yellow Star of David he hides in his shoe. At the mosque, Ruben is offered shelter and kindness, but one mistake and his life and the people protecting him could be killed. The Imam warmly welcomes him into his family and Daan becomes Ruben’s protective older brother. He also befriends feisty orphan Amra who he works with in the garden until Nazi soldiers raid the mosque and he is forced to flee.

Ruben is helped by Evette and Fida to escape along with orphans Hana and her little brother Momo. He has to be strong like the cedar and needs courage and resilience to survive the dangerous journey through filthy sewers beneath the streets of Paris and  a life-threatening river crossing to reach the South of France where he finally discovers the surprising identity of the infamous Fox.

Beyond Belief is a moving story of family, friendship and faith that shines a light on brave people from different religions working together with courage, compassion and kindness during one of the darkest times in history. 

Beyond Belief was inspired by Dee White’s own family's story during the Holocaust and her older brother provided inspiration for eleven-year-old Ruben. Dee also travelled to Paris for the research that brings this story to life with its detail. This is the first I have heard of the Muslims who saved Jewish children in Paris. I'm so glad their little known story has been told and I hope Dee will be writing more stories of 'Heroes of the Holocaust'. 

When you have finished reading Beyond Belief, look closely at the front cover for seven clues from the story. Can you find them? Why do you think the title is Beyond Belief?

Look HERE to read more about how Dee wrote Beyond Belief or if you would like to try some of her ideas for writing your own story.

Happy reading!

 

Green Peas is our name
and pranking's our game!

Casey Wu and her best friends are the secret Green Peas group. Like some of you, they feel that no one listens when you're a kid, even when you have something really important to say. Casey, Cookie and Zeke care about how we treat our planet and combine their skills to be heard. When they discover greedy Mayor Lupphol's plans for their town of Watterson and especially Brennan Park, they are going to show the mayor that no activist is too small and no prank is too big.

My favourite Green Peas' prank was for Mayor Lupphol's visit to Watterson Primary school. It was pure genius!

Nat Amoore is an author full of energy and creativity who writes books with humour and lots of heart. She empowers kids through her characters in Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire and The Power of Positive Pranking and makes reading fun.

Nat had a great idea to promote The Power of Positive Pranking using Auslan. Read Nat's 'Did You Know' at the end of her book to find out why Auslan is important to her. Do you know any Auslan? 

An exciting moment for authors is when they receive copies of their book from the publisher. It must be an amazing feeling to finally hold a copy of your book in your hands and see your hard work and dream come true. Sometimes authors do an 'unboxing' to reveal their new book. Nat took unboxing to a whole new level with a stop motion Lego video! (Watch it a few times to see all the little stories happening in the bigger story.) Have you made any stop motion movies? They take a lot of patience!

Have a taste of The Power of Positive Pranking by watching some of our Aussie children's authors read the first chapter and a half.

Follow the Green Peas Manifesto in the chapter headings and you too can find your voice and be on your way to making a positive difference for something you care about...

Happy reading!

2

 

Charlie Wintergreen is an elderly musician who rescues a no-name pup from the Dog’s Home and gives him a home of his own and the name Louis. They become a team as Charlie plays his trumpet at night and Louis joins in with his ooh-ooh song.

“Louis you have to have heart and soul. It’s the only way to play!”

When Charlie gets sick, Louis becomes a lonely street dog, scavenging and scrounging for food and sleeping in dark corners until music brings Pete into his life along with one other special surprise.

This is a gentle and uplifting story of friendship that shows how friends can become the family we choose. It reminds us of how precious our elderly people are and celebrates the way music brings joy and connects us no matter our age.

I first discovered Tull Suwannakit when he illustrated one of my favourite books, Sad the Dog by Sandy Fussell. The front cover looked so much like a photo I had taken of my dog Jambo watching autumn leaves fall in my backyard. Can you see the likeness?

To illustrate this book, Tull uses a small palette of gentle watercolours that give the story a warm vintage feel. Can you see the colours he has chosen? Tull has designed beautiful moss green endpapers covered in musical notes. How might these have a connection with Charlie?

Author Carol Ann Martin’s husband is a jazz musician and I wonder if he was the inspiration for this story.

Heart and Soul is a book that will warm your heart and soul and might even bring a tear to your eye, in a good way.

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!

 

Just like the contours of a map ripple outwards, so do the challenging events in Fred's life in Sorrento, Victoria during 1999. Winifred (aka Fred, Freddo, Winnie) is eleven years old and her family is changing. Fred's mum died when she was six and she is being raised by her adoptive father Luca and her Pop. When Luca's girlfriend Anika and her son Sam move in, Fred feels like her life is swirling out of control and she is being left off the family map, especially when she learns Anika is pregnant. 

At the same time, the impact of the Kosovo War that Fred sees snippets of nightly on the TV, moves closer to Sorrento. A group of 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to stay at the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean as part of 'Operation Safe Haven'. Fred's life becomes entwined with the refugees when she meets Merjeme, Arta and Nora and her moral compass is tested in her attempt to stand up to injustice. 

Fred learns a lot about herself during these twelve months as she navigates and tests boundaries to find her place in her changing map of family, friends, her local community and the wider world. 

Fred's teacher Mr Khouri says:

 "What I think is very important, and truly rare, is to try to gain a different point of view...a little more perspective of the world, which usually entails stepping out from your little corner of it, and seeing through someone else's eyes."

Danielle Binks' heartfelt story encourages us to step out of our little corner of the world...

Read an excerpt of the story HERE.

Teacher notes

Happy reading! 

2

‘Everything was the same, except me…I felt as if I had shattered into tiny pieces, tiny pieces that I had no idea how to fit back together.’

This gripping story by Sue Whiting begins with the end and takes readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as Chance questions right and wrong, real or fake and seeks the truth at home and in her online world.

Chance Callahan is in Year 7 and lives with her mum Nadia, a writer who also helps newly arrived refugees with English and settling into the community. They share their lives with Missa-D, Alek and Dut Deng, their much loved Sudanese next-door neighbours. When Chance and the Deng family organise a surprise reality TV makeover for Nadia’s house, the show’s reporter, Amos Kandinsky wants to know ‘the story behind the story’ and unexpectedly exposes a hidden truth that will change Chance’s life forever.

You won't be able to put this book down as Chance grapples with a truth that challenges everything she believes including her own identity. What is the truth? Who do you trust? Do you tell the truth even if it means you could lose everything? Can you forgive someone for hiding the truth? Chance discovers that life isn’t black and white. 

When you have finished reading, go back and look carefully at the front cover that has been so thoughtfully and creatively designed to reflect the story. What is the significance of the newspaper cuttings and sepia tone? Why is Chance blindfolded and standing on a ledge with Tiges? I wonder how you would design the front cover and the elements of the story you would include.

Listen to Sue Whiting talk about The Book of Chance and what inspired her story.

If you enjoyed the mystery and suspense in The Book of Chance as much as I did and haven’t read Missing by Sue Whiting, then I highly recommend you do!

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

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!

Move over Wimpy Kid, Weirdo and Eric Vale...Derek Dool Supercool is here...

 

Derek Dool is desperate to prove he is SUPERCOOL! In fact he’ll do anything…

Derek wants to be the coolest kid at Ruttmore primary school. It’s not going to be easy with his red hair, freckles and ‘daggy dad’ fashion style.

The battle for King of Cool is on when Derek’s archenemy and schoolyard superstar, Carmichael Cruz challenges Derek to a dance-off at the school disco. Pity the only dance move Derek knows is The Worm!

Luckily Derek’s unlikely best ‘friends’ Big Denise and Booger are there to help (or save) him on his quest to be supercool. Big Denise is super-smart, super-patient and has a surprising hidden talent and there’s definitely a lot more to Booger than his sweet tooth. 

Derek needs to learn some dance moves…fast!! Accidentally recording himself to the school website while dancing on a table in the library is not a good move, especially when he reveals his purple unicorn undies to the world! Derek and his friends end up in detention, but luckily Derek's Detention Distraction helps them escape.

Dressed in his Dad’s Hawaiian shirt, lit up like a Christmas tree and armed with Zombie dance moves from Horrific Hoedown. Can Derek bust a move and beat Carmichael Cruz and his Cruz Crew at the disco dance-off?

Scott Edgar's lively line drawings perfectly capture Adrian's funny action-packed story and bring his characters to life. They make a great team!

Here is Adrian with Derek. Hmmm, can you see a resemblance? 

WARNING!!

Be careful reading this book in class for silent reading because you won't be silent! Adrian Beck will have you laughing out loud and his Bad Dad Jokes might leave you groaning on the floor...

Watch out for Derek's next plan to become supercool in Derek Dool Supercool 2: Going Viral  coming in August.

Adrian's author visits are lots of fun and he has something 'special' planned for Derek Dool fans. If you would like Adrian to visit your school you could ask your teacher librarian or class teacher to book him HERE

Happy reading!

 

 

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