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Eleven-year-old Harper's dad is unexpectedly made Prime Minister after he heroically rescues two kids and their dog from a shark attack. Harper and her younger sister Lottie find themselves living at Kirribilli House with a strict Prime Ministerial Nanny, attending a posh new school and thrust into the glare of the media spotlight. After two months, Dad is struggling with his new role and the family has become a laughing stock. When he disappears going to a 'conference' and leaves his phone behind...someone has to make the decisions and run the country until Dad hopefully returns.

With their mum away, Harper and Lottie decide to cover for their dad. Pretending Dad's sick and armed with his phone, it's not going to be easy tricking Dev, his diligent Chief of Staff who bombards them with text messages of decisions to be made while also trying to keep their secret from the Deputy Prime Minister who desperately wants Dad's job.

Pressure builds as the Annual Party Meeting looms closer and everyone wants to know the Prime Minister's new policies. Harper and Lottie are learning that with power comes responsibility. Harper finds herself trying to decide between policies for banning plastic bottles, allowing pets at school, creating more green spaces or making weekends longer. What would her Dad do? How can you please everyone? Can Harper prove a kid can lead the country better than a grown-up?

How to be Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five by Carla Fitzgerald's is filled with humour and has a perfect balance of the fun and serious ideas kids have to improve our world. It is also an affirming story about facing your fears and having the courage to stand up for what you believe is right, no matter your age! 

What would you do if you were Prime Minister?

I would definitely make sure every school has a library and a teacher librarian.

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

Happy reading!



‘You are a stubborn, and extremely annoying young lady, but I really do believe that once you put your mind to something you are unstoppable.’

It’s 1942 in Melbourne. Life is changing. Men have gone to fight overseas; women have stepped into men’s jobs and twelve year old Maggie Flanagan dreams of playing football. But that’s against the rules.

When Maggie’s school is chosen to run a fundraising event for the troops, Maggie doesn’t want to bake or sew with the other girls and only boys can participate in the billycart derby. Why do boys have all the fun? Maggie is teased when she suggests an all-girl charity football match, but she's not going to give up.

“Could you even imagine? Sheilas playing footy!”

Surely she can’t be the only girl in Melbourne who secretly wishes they could play football. On her quest to find players, Maggie discovers school nurse Nancy, Marian the milk woman, Ivy who drives the ice truck, Miss Kelly and others who share her football dream. Word spreads, support comes from unexpected people and Maggie’s prayers to Mary are answered with enough players to field two teams, the Mighty Mis-fits and the Fighting Belles. But will people want to pay to watch two all-girl teams play footy?

The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan celebrates football, friendship and being yourself. It is a story heartwarmingly woven together with characters finding the courage to follow their own paths and supporting each other along the way. Maggie and Gerald’s friendship is a delight and as you eagerly turn the pages you will find yourself cheering on an unexpected winner at the billycart derby, watching The Wizard of Oz at the Astor while munching on a threepence bag of lollies, tapping your feet to the jitterbug at the Capitol Theatre, and barracking for the Mighty Mis-fits and Fighting Belles at Elsternwick Park.

Read the beginning of The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan  here

Felice Arena has written another inspiring historical fiction story filled with heart and humour, engaging characters and a level of detail that brings the story to life and immerses us in Melbourne, 1942.

Maggie would love that women now play football in the AFLW.


Happy reading!



Jackdaw Hollow is searching for his place in the world…

Orphaned as a baby when his doting parents are tragically struck by lightning, Jackdaw Hollow is taken in and raised by the headmistress of Direleafe Hall. When he gets older and discovers what really happened the night of the storm, Jackdaw is determined to give his life meaning and purpose by finding his calling.

“I have to be special, somehow, to make up for everything.”

The ghost girls of Direleafe Hall want to help Jackdaw and introduce him to Angeline, a wildling girl they hope will be his friend and help him find his calling. The gentle, lonely boy with an unruly brain, who loves reading, birds and trees and stars is the opposite of fierce Angeline, with fire in her eyes, hair flying free, whose destiny is to join the circus. Jackdaw teaches Angeline to read and write, but more than anything he wants to save her and almost loses sight of his destiny as he tries to be her hero. 

Kate Gordon has written a story of destiny, friendship and self worth as Jackdaw Hollow learns to live more fully, open his heart and embrace his own place in the world.

Rachel Tribout's stunning cover captures Jackdaw Hollow with his black-button eyes searching for the thing that will make him shine.

All of the pieces click into place in The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow to masterfully complete the circle of these exquisite other worldly stories  The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn and The Ballad of Melodie Rose.

I have so enjoyed entering the world of Direleafe Hall and meeting Wonder Quinn, Melodie Rose, Jackdaw Hollow and Hollowbeak.

Happy reading!


Kathryn Apel has written a story that that will slide straight into your heart.

Lucy and her dad move a lot so it’s hard to make friends. They don’t have much money, but they have each other. 

‘It's just
you and me, Lucy. We
don't need nobody else.'

When Lucy discovers Snail while looking for treasure in the park she finds a friend to keep her company and share her secrets. Snail knows Lucy doesn’t like being a new kid at school wearing someone else’s faded, smelly uniform and shoes. It’s hard when you’re shy and don’t feel confident and Lucy often wants to crawl inside a shell and hide.

This place is different. Miss Darling her new teacher 'looks nice, smells nice and acts nice' and makes learning fun. The class Inquiry unit ‘How Can I Help?’ sparks great excitement as Lucy's classmates are challenged to help at home, find ways to reduce rubbish in the community and become daring Toad Busters.

Lucy grows in confidence as she feels included and gets to know her classmates, but it’s popular Tahnee, who encourages and listens to her and squeezes inside Lucy’s shell to become her friend. When Lucy's dad has an accident, it's the people in the community who reach out with kindness to care for them. This place feels like home. But can Lucy convince her dad to stay?

“I don’t want to go, Snail,”
I whisper,
feeling like a stodgy glob
of squidgy putty – with all my
happiness squished       out.

I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story in What Snail Knows.  

The gorgeous front cover by Mandy Foot, beautifully captures Lucy and Snail’s friendship along with the delicate black and white sketches throughout the book featuring snail and special moments in the story.

If you enjoyed What Snail Knows then you might like to read Kathryn's other verse novels Bully on the Bus and Too Many Friends. In fact, Tahnee was a character in Too Many Friends.

Verse novels are the best!

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

Happy reading!





Teacher notes

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

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!





If you're an animal lover then Devils in Danger by Samantha Wheeler is the book for you.

What could be making blood-curdling, screechy screams in the dead of night and leaving mysterious paw prints in Killarney's yard? 

Curiosity gets the better of Killarney. When she investigates the loose floorboards in the kitchen, Killarney finds recently missing items of clothing. With help from April a wildlife zoologist, they discover the culprit is a recently released wild Tasmanian devil called Fern who is denning under the house with her two imps. 

Killarney wants to protect Fern and give her little family a safe place to live, but not everyone at Dodges Ferry is happy about Tasmanian devils in their community. Killarney, struggles with reading and writing at school, but is encouraged by April to keep a journal about her precious visitors. Killarney even begins researching Tasmanian devils and soon knows she has to do something to protect this endangered species losing its natural habitat and being forced to live closer to humans. 

I thought of our little devil, her fur shining and whiskers twitching as she pottered around our backyard. She didn't deserve all the rumours. The angry notes. The nastiness.

How can Killarney convince her town that Tasmanian devils are worth saving? They might look fierce and have powerful jaws, but Tasmanian devils aren't dangerous. They are quite shy and can be beneficial to the community. Killarney will need perseverance and ingenuity to change the negative views of some her friends and her mum's clients. 

"When people care about about something, really care, then they're much more likely to help."

After reading Devils in Danger you will find Killarney's Scientific Journal at the back filled with interesting facts, useful websites and ways to help our Tasmanian devils.

Thank you for the copy of this book to review UQP

Samantha has also written Turtle Trackers and Wombat Warriors

Happy reading!  

Teacher notes


Bear and Rat by Christopher Cheng celebrates a friendship that is deep and true and filled with love.

Bear and Rat are best friends who do everything together, but one day Rat wonders

"Will we always hold hands like this, even when we are old and wrinkly..."

Bear reassures Rat that he will be there for her no matter what happens. He will hold her hand if she is scared of spooky stories or stubs her toe, if they cross a river or if she is sick in bed for weeks and he will even hold her hand if she does something really, really bad. 

Stephen Michael King’s water colour and ink illustrations tenderly bring Bear and Rat to life as they travel hand-in-hand through the seasons with their trusty umbrellas, sharing adventures and cups of tea and being there for each other through life's ups and downs. Until one day Bear has to let go of Rat’s hand and hold her close in a different way.

Christopher was lucky to marry his best friend Bini. When Bini was sick he wrote Bear and Rat for her using their favourite animals. Christopher Cheng and Stephen Michael King's seamlessly woven words and images create a very special picture book that will gently squeeze your heart.

It is always a treat to hear an author read their book. Enjoy Christopher Cheng reading Bear and Rat...

Happy reading!

Teacher notes


The Ballad of Melodie Rose is a quiet story of connectedness filled with magic, memories and mystery, wrapped in the warm glow of sunrise and sprinkled with stardust.

Melodie Rose is abandoned on the doorstep of Direleafe Hall with a note pinned to her coat, a broken heart and no memory. When Melodie meets the school’s resident ghosts, Lucy, Florence and Nell, she thinks she must be a ghost too.

As Direleafe Hall begins to feel like home, Melodie learns of the mysterious Lady in White who plans to buy and flatten the boarding school to build a resort. Even though it is dilapidated, Direleafe Hall is filled with joy and history and memories and Melodie knows she must save the school for her grandmother and the girls both real and ghostly, but also in case her mother returns. Will she be brave enough to stand up to the Lady in White?

Melodie, Hollowbeak Crow and the girls devise a list of plans to show the Lady in White the true beauty of Direleafe Hall beyond its dust and cobwebs and cracks in walls like sorrows. But in the end it will take someone with courage, empathy and kindness to unlock the Lady in White's hardened heart.

The Ballad of Melodie Rose is about belonging, being brave and being seen and about knowing when to hold on and when to let go. It follows The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn. Both of these heartfelt books need to be read slowly to savour Kate Gordon’s poetic writing and the exquisite imagery she creates.

I’m excited that Kate is writing the third book The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow to be published in March 2022. I hope it reveals even more about my favourite character, the mysterious Hollowbeak.

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

Happy reading!

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