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I have been waiting with great anticipation for The Fire Star by A.L. Tait and I couldn't move until I had finished the last page!

The Fire Star is an exciting adventure mystery set in medieval times in the imaginary kingdom of Chatrell. We are transported to Rennart Castle filled with a rabbit warren of rooms, nooks and crannies and secret passages. It is home to lords and ladies, knights and maids, where secrets are kept, plans are hatched and spies lurk.

Lady Cassandra arrives at Rennart Castle to unwillingly marry knight protector, Sir Garrick. The marriage has been arranged so her greedy uncle, Airl Buckthorn can claim the Fire Star, a precious red jewel handed down through generations to the women in Lady Cassandra's family.

When the Fire Star goes missing, Reeve the new squire is blamed and must prove his innocence by finding the missing jewel or he will never become a knight. Reeve has unexpected ally in Maven, Lady Cassandra’s feisty maid who will be banished to a nunnery with her mistress if the jewel isn't found. Maven and Reeve have only three days to solve the mystery of the theft of the Fire Star. They will need to trust each other and work together or they will both lose their dreams.

The Fire Star also shines a light on the life of females in medieval times where beauty was valued over intelligence. Women were not allowed to be educated and were expected to be obedient to men. Definitely not the life fiercely independent Maven and Lady Cassandra dream of and why they are connected to a secret society of women called The Beech Circle.

This fast-paced story with its twists and turns, lies and secrets, unexpected friendships and touch of romance is narrated in turn by Maven and Reeve and will keep you turning the pages until the thrilling ending.

You can read an extract from The Fire Star HERE

Allison has a passion for medieval times and her fascinating page of resources will take you into the world of Kingdoms, Castles and Secret Societies that inspired The Fire Star.

I can’t wait to solve another mystery with Maven and Reeve and I know Allison is busy writing their next adventure!

In the meantime, if you want to continue your medieval adventures, I highly recommend you read The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cypher series also written by A.L.Tait!

Happy reading!

 

Wonder Quinn is a lonely orphan who lives in a little nook in the old, dusty school archives room. Her only companions are a gloomy crow called Hollowbeak with knowing black-button eyes and her treasured books. Each new school year, Wonder yearns for a true friend..

A friend who saw her heart.
A friend who saw her.
A friend to wind up the clockwork key and begin her again.
Make her new.

Now that would be a thing!

This is the year Wonder's dream will come true when Mabel Clattersham with her blaze of red hair sits next to Wonder in class and says 'Let's be friends, shall we?" 

It's like they are destined to meet and a warm friendship grows between fiery, outspoken Mabel and Wonder who is quiet and shy. But Mabel has a secret and shares an unusual list of wishes including throw a pie, touch a star and break someone's heart. Wonder promises to help her new friend, but can she protect her own heart from being broken? There is a sense of urgency as the list grows smaller and together Wonder and Mabel stand up to Georgiana Kinch, share bravery and laughter, make marks on each other's lives and find the freedom they seek. 

Kate Gordon has written a gentle, enchanting and mysterious story that ends with a heartfelt twist. You can't help falling in love with Wonder, Mabel and Hollowbeak who come to life with Kate's rich descriptive writing and the story within is magically captured by Rachel Tribout's front cover illustration that sparkles with burnished gold.

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn  is a story of friendship, courage and being true to yourself that will squeeze your heart. 

Thank you to  UQP for a copy of The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn to review.

 

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!

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

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!

 

 

2

The second book in the Toffle Towers series by Tim Harris will have you laughing out loud once again.

Thanks to ten-year-old Chegwin's creativity, Toffle Towers is filling up fast with guests and even more are expected for the annual Great River Race. All is going smoothly until some of Chegwin's staff are 'reverse mugged' by two mysterious men in black. The hotel is thrown into chaos as Chegwin tries to find a solution and work out who is behind the attacks. 

When Chegwin discovers that Brontessa Braxton (owner of the rival Braxton Hotel) is the mastermind, his attempt to be kind to her backfires. Chegwin finds himself competing in the Great River Race to save both Toffle Towers and its staff from her greedy clutches. Underpants, yes underpants, will help decide the race winner!

Will you find out who is in Room 49? I'm not going to say, but you will get to explore secret tunnels hidden in Toffle Towers. There's also fun to be had at the upside-down check-in, dancing on the musical staircase and your mouth will water as you read about the newly upgraded Room 1 that is now The Lolly Room where everything is edible - yum! 

Once again James Foley's fun illustrations bring the story to life. His illustrations of nasty Brontessa Braxton are some of my favourites, especially her eyebrows!

If you enjoy funny books and taking your imagination for a walk, the Toffle Towers series is for you and great way to start your year. Fully Booked is the first book in the series and you can read more about it here.  

Watch out for Book 3 - Order in the Court that will be coming soon.

Happy reading!

6

What would you do if you inherited a hotel?

Chegwin Toffle is a ten year old whose wild blond hair is almost as wild as his imagination and he is regularly in trouble at school for daydreaming. When he unexpectedly inherits the Toffle Towers hotel from his long lost uncle, Chegwin will need to unleash his imagination to help save the hotel and its loyal staff.

Chegwin and his eccentric parents arrive in the town of Alandale to discover Toffle Towers hasn’t had any bookings for two years and they only have three months to save the hotel. Chegwin believes it's time to think like kids to save Toffle Towers because "Adults only ever think of restraints, but kids think of the possibilities. There are always new ideas waiting to be imagined. You just have to come up with them”. 

It’s not easy learning to run a hotel and there are challenges and disasters along the way, especially when Chegwin accidentally orders sixty thousand litres of fresh milk instead of sixty litres! However, Chegwin’s daydreams start turning into reality with help from wacky head groundskeeper, Barry Rake. The beaten up hotel shuttle bus is given a boost in more ways than one and the Grazing Room is transformed into the Gazing Room with an out of this world dining experience that I would love to try! The rooms at Toffle Towers are filling fast as Chegwin's clever ideas put the hotel back on the map as an exciting holiday destination for kids and their families. 

Along the way, Tim Harris encourages you to be creative too. What you would add to ‘Strange Things People Might Inherit’ and ‘Uses for Sixty Thousand Litres of Milk’? There are also mysteries to solve and I really want to know why the door to Room 49 in Toffle Towers is locked and who might be in there. 

It's great to see the dynamic duo of Tim Harris and James Foley bringing their creativity and humour to Toffle Towers. You can find out more about the zany Toffle Towers characters and see some of James' original sketches on his Instagram page. (Am I the only one who thinks Barry Rake looks like James Foley?)

If you enjoyed Tim Harris' fabulous Mr Bambuckle series and you’re looking for a new fun series and an opportunity to take your imagination for a walk then Toffle Towers is for you!


Happy reading! 

Teacher notes

When you return to school shortly, consider yourself lucky you're not orphan, Stella Montgomery whose horrid aunts have sent her to the grimly strict boarding school, Wakestone Hall so she can learn how to be obedient. The school has rules for everything such as  'No Girl Shall Traverse the Main Staircase under any Circumstance' which  poor Stella broke in the first ten minutes of arriving and had to copy the rule fifty times in her best handwriting. Girls who misbehave are sent to the mysterious Headmistress, Miss Garnet who has a cruel secret.

                                   Wakestone Girls, so straight and true,
                                   Always do as we should do.
                                   Marching on with main and might,
                                   Always Righteous, Always Right.

When Stella's new friend Ottilie goes missing, Stella and fellow student, Agapanthus are determined to find her. With help from Joe, a young scrapper, the girls track down the evil Gabbro brothers, but there are more mysteries to unravel. Why did the Gabbro brothers kidnap Ottilie and who are they working for? How is their cruel Headmistress, Miss Garnet and her greedy brother, Thaddeus involved? In their search for answers, Stella and her friends journey deep underground to The Wake where Stella bravely faces her nightmare, the King of the Mountain and makes a discovery that will both give her answers and change her life forever.

Wakestone Hall is the third and final book in Judith Rossell's Stella Montgomery series. I enjoyed being transported once again to the world of Victorian England and sharing another  adventure solving mysteries with Stella and her friends with an ending that is also a happy new beginning for Stella...

Being a big fan of the colour purple, I loved the purple text and illustrations, stunning purple endpapers and purple ribbon bookmark! Judith has a magnificent colour illustration of Wakestone Hall on the front cover and the book is filled with Judith's intricately detailed illustrations of characters, places and objects of the Victorian time.

Happy reading!

Emily Rodda is one of Australia's most well known children's authors and you may have already enjoyed her Rowan, Rondo or Deltora Quest fantasy series. Rowan of Rin is still one of my favourite books! Emily Rodda's real name is Jeanette Rowe. She writes using Emily Rodda for her children's books and as Jeanette Rowe for her adult mystery books. 

Emily Rodda's latest book, His Name Was Walter is mystery, fantasy, supernatural, historical fiction and part love story all rolled into one book. It is a story within a story that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happened to Walter and why it is so important to the anonymous author that he is remembered. 

When the mini bus breaks down on their history excursion, Mrs Fiori and four students take shelter overnight in an abandoned mansion in Storm Valley. Little do they know how a piece of history will change after this night. In the kitchen, Colin notices an elegant handcrafted writing desk where he discovers a secret drawer containing amongst other treasures, a beautifully handwritten book filled with exquisite water colour illustrations. It's title is His Name Was Walter.

Colin and Tara are drawn to the mysterious book and secretly read it by torch light when the others go to sleep and become lost in Walter's story. After being abandoned, Walter is raised in a beehive, works for mice, befriends a witch who can turn into a cat, falls in love with a girl who can turn into a sparrow and battles a beast. Colin and Tara feel compelled to finish the book as they sense the menacing mansion is hiding a tragic secret. Mrs Fiori and her students discover His Name Was Walter is more than a  fairytale and it helps them to right an injustice so Walter can be remembered as an honest, brave and loyal young man.

Who was Walter?

Why did Sparrow want Walter's story to be told?
 

You can read the first three chapters HERE.

Happy reading!

Teacher Notes

Did you know your city is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting pigeons? Yes, pigeons!

Some pigeons might spend their day cooing or looking for breadcrumbs, but not the Real Pigeons! This feathered secret crime-fighting squad solve mysteries and fight bad guys to keep your city safe. Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood reveal all in Real Pigeons Fight Crime.

GrandPouter has gathered together his team of pigeons who are perfect for fighting crime because they are fast, can attack and they're everywhere! Each pigeon in the team also has his own unique pigeon power. They hold their top secret team meetings in rubbish bins (which can be dangerous on bin collection day!) and are always on the look out for animals and people to help and mysteries to solve. They might be checking out your neighbourhood right now!  

In the three stories in this book, GrandPouter, Rock, Homey, Tumbler and Frillback work together using some very creative (or is that crazy) problem solving combined with their pigeon powers to solve The Great Breadcrumb Mystery, track down an elusive Bat Trapper and prevent a disaster at the Food Truck Fair. Keep an eye out for Rock's clever (and sometimes wacky) disguises and Tumbler's impressive flight moves when he flies at night with the bats. 

If you're looking for a new funny series to read then this is it. I'm sure you will have as much fun reading Real Pigeons Fight Crime as Andrew and Ben have had writing and illustrating it. They are a fabulous team who share the same wacky sense of humour that bursts out their book! You won't look at pigeons in the same way ever again!

Create your own Real Pigeon
Research pigeons to help you create your own Real Pigeon character.

What are its characteristics and pigeon power?
What is its name?
What will it look like?

Lucky for you, the second book in the Real Pigeon series called Real Pigeons Eat Danger will be coming in November! Read more about it HERE

Happy reading and being Super Coo fighting crime with the Real Pigeons!

Teacher notes

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