Skip to content

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!







Based on stories from her Grandma, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have created a story reminding us of what we can achieve with kindness and by working together to protect, support and care for each other.

Pandemic transports us to the end of World War One (1918-1920) when a virus called the Spanish Flu was brought home by soldiers returning from war and spread rapidly throughout the world. Today, one hundred years later, we are experiencing another global pandemic with a virus called COVID-19.

As the Spanish Flu spread, people followed the rules and went into quarantine to keep everyone safe by staying apart to stop the virus from spreading. Masks were worn, the doors of shops, theatres and schools closed and 'quarantine curtains' were drawn on homes where people were sick. The streets were deserted.

"People can't get better if they're hungry" she said.
And cows must be milked and dogs must be fed."

Great Grandma organised children from healthy families to help their community. Children rode their bicycles and ponies across the empty land to milk cows, feed dogs and chooks, pick ripe fruit and vegetables and deliver food to saucepans waiting on doorsteps. Eventually the Spanish Flu was defeated and people came together again to celebrate and continue with their lives once more.

Amazingly, Bruce Whatley illustrated Pandemic during his two weeks of hotel quarantine. Bruce could only use the art materials he had on hand so he used a ballpoint pen for the first time for his line work and perfectly captured the bleak mood of the pandemic with the limited paint colours he had available.

Jackie has also included her Great Grandma's Banana Custard recipe on the endpapers for you to try along with how to make Lemon Barley Water.

As you read Pandemic what similarities can you find between the Spanish Flu and COVID-19

Look for the helpers.
You will always find people who are helping.

(Fred Rogers)

Happy reading!



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!


I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me  by Maggie Hutchings is a gentle story of kindness and compassion, looking closely at the world around us and opening our hearts to others.

A small boy is the only one who sees Pete's warm smile and bright drawings as he sits quietly with his dog on a busy footpath. When the boy says hello, Pete gives him a picture of a yellow bird like flying sunshine and their friendship begins. The boy makes Pete visible to others and through small acts of kindness, the boy and his local community care for Pete. While snuggled in his bed, the boy wishes he could give Pete a safe and warm home of his own. When Pete gets sick and nobody knows where he's gone, his little friend knows the best way to get a message to Pete.

Yellow sunshine flows through Evie Barrow's hand-drawn pencil illustrations highlighting kindness, friendship and hope in this tender story. I especially love that the endpapers wrap the book up in the warm colourful blanket given to Pete. Can you find the blanket in the story? 

I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me shows us the connections we can make when we open our eyes to see the people around us. During lockdown here in Melbourne, I have enjoyed meeting and talking to people on my daily walks, especially older people who have the most interesting stories to share when you take the time to stop and listen. Everybody has a story.

One dollar from each sale is donated to The Big Issue that helps homeless and disadvantaged people make positive changes to their lives.

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! 

Skip to toolbar