Skip to content

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!

The Right Way to Rock by Nat Amoore is an uplifting story filled with heart and humour, seasoned with songs and garnished with gherkins. 

Mac Fleetwood Cooper’s mum is obsessed with rock music. She thinks rock is the only music worth listening to and is doing all she can to help eleven-year-old Mac become a rock star. Mac wants to make his mum proud, so there's no way he can tell her that he loves Broadway musicals and his dream is to write his own one day.

Mac is invited to join the Secret Society of Broadway Music Appreciation (SSOBMA,) and meets Flynn, a talented pianist who has Tourette’s syndrome. Through the boys' friendship we learn what it’s like to have a condition that causes people to have tics (sounds, movement, words and phrases) that they have no control over. Mac shows us how we can be supportive and accept people for who they are. 

When Mac learns The Arts program at Watterson Primary is going to be cut, he is devastated because music with Ms Fox is his favourite class. Mac knows he has to do something to save the program and his teachers’ jobs. It’s an Arts Fiasco! Mac and Flynn devise a daring plan. Watterson: The Musical! is born and becomes a wonderful celebration of friendship, community and The Arts. Go Gherkin Guys!

Nat’s love of musicals shines in The Right Way To Rock. The story is written in acts and scenes rather than chapters and each scene begins with a song re-written from a musical – so much creativity! Nat has also brought back characters from her books Secrets of Schoolyard Millionaire and The Power of Positive Pranking. I really enjoyed the return of Kathy and Mr Piddles who have some surprises of their own.

You can read The Right Way to Rock on its own, but I highly recommend you read Secrets of Schoolyard Millionaire and The Power of Positive Pranking first if you haven’t read them yet. 

Enjoy Nat's unboxing video of  The Right Way To Rock 

This morning I had a moment of serendipity (“Google it!” Tess Heckleston would say). As I was finishing reading The Right Way To Rock, my phone pinged with a photo memory from five years ago on this day. It was the photo below I took of the stage at Matilda The Musical…. read The Right Way to Rock to find out why I smiled at the amazing coincidence!

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!

 

My dog, Ugly is a genius. All the kids in my class reckon he is too. He’s the school hero. I’m not showing off. It’s a fact.

If you’re a dog lover like me, you’ll love the adventures of Eric Bright and his best mate Ugly who was Eric's present for his eighth birthday. My Dog is a Winner by Elizabeth Fensham is the third book in the series including My Dog Doesn’t Like Me and My Dog Gets a Job.

These days Ugly is a star companion dog at Eric’s school where he proudly wears his therapy-dog vest and blue-and-gold school tie. Ugly and Eric’s Grandad volunteer to work with kids like Barnaby who is autistic and Maryam who has recently arrived from Syria. Ugly seems to know just the right thing to do to support and encourage them and be a friend. He can even talk in his own doggish way. Every school needs an Ugly!

Eric is sad to discover what is making his big sister Gretchen miserable and even meaner than usual and is determined to find a way to help her. 

With the school pet show coming up, Eric has plans for Ugly to win big time, then Ugly goes off his food and refuses to play. Eric knows something is up with his best mate.

Can Eric’s famous quiz help him with a plan to fix both Gretchen and Ugly?

My Dog is a Winner is a fun read that celebrates the gift of friendship, the joy of pets and the importance of caring for others.

Elizabeth Fensham has dedicated this book to Angela Davies, a headmistress and her dog, Chad who was a member of the school staff. I have often wished I could have a dog in my school library. My local Yarra Plenty Library branches have Doggy Tales so after school children can read to dogs who love to listen to stories.

jarmoluk / Pixabay

Thank you  to UQP for a copy of My Dog is a Winner to review. 

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!

 

Derek Dool is back looking for a new way to be SUPERCOOL. After accidentally going viral online, Derek is on a mission to deliberately go viral. The challenge is on for Derek to get more more online views than his archenemy Carmichael Cruz and become a SUPERCOOL internet sensation!

To go viral, should Derek do an unboxing video, a pimple popping video or maybe a cute cat video? None of Derek's ideas including Sonny the Surfing Bunny are quite working out as he expected, not even with help from Big Denise and Booger. But Derek's not the type to give up. No way! He is determined to achieve VIRAL VICTORY.

Derek's final plan to go viral at the Ruttsmell Garlic Festival is almost the last thing he ever does! It is a total riot with Derek and Cruz heading down the Ruttsmell River clinging to a runaway jumping castle. Can they put aside their rivalry to save themselves? Scott Edgar's illustrations brilliantly capture the action, danger and hilarity of their predicament.

Book Two has even more Bad Dad Jokes to make you groan and we're left still wondering what those devious crows are planning for their world domination. Big Denise's rapping goes more public than she wants and we see Booger's strength come to the fore. There's also lots of stinky garlic!

You can read the first chapter HERE

What would YOU do to go viral and become an internet sensation?

Writing funny books is not as easy as people think. In a recent interview, Adrian Beck explained how he needs to balance the plot, setting and characters while also being funny. Adrian has worked in TV production and has also watched lots of cartoon shows so when he writes his books, it's like writing a TV or cartoon show script with short sharp episodes or chapters. Scott illustrates his favourite parts and then they work as a team to discuss and adjust the text and illustrations so they work seamlessly to tell the story. Adrian and Scott definitely have lots of fun working together creating Derek's funny, action-packed adventures!

Derek Dool Supercool 3: Run For Your Life will be published in January 2021.

Happy reading!

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!

 

 

2

Oliver and Ruby have been besties forever...

Felice Arena has taken reading to a whole new level of fun for young readers with his latest series called The Besties.

Not only can you have adventures with Ruby and Oliver in their books, you can also sing along with Ruby's songs that Felice and his besties had lots of fun recording or play along with the ukulele!

Felice has created The Besties World where you can download 'The Besties: The Ukulele Album'. You will also be able to learn to draw like Oliver, watch videos that teach you how to play the ukulele like Ruby and other cool things that Felice has in store for you...so keep an eye on the website as it develops.

Ruby and Oliver have everyday adventures at school, at home, in the backyard, even in the living room!
What do you like doing with your bestie?
What is one of your favourite adventures with your bestie? 

The Besties to the Rescue

What would you do if you found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest? How would you teach it to fly?

When Oliver tries to record Ruby's awesome flips on the trampoline, they discover he has recorded the neighbourhood cat, Cutie Pie pouncing on a bird's nest and a baby bird has fallen out. After coming to the rescue, Ruby and Oliver come up with a clever idea to teach the baby sparrow how to fly.

Little bird, little bird, it's time, little guy.
Little bird, little bird, it's time to fly

The Besties Show and Smell

What is something you have shared at Show and Tell?  Have you shared a special talent? 

Ruby is excited for her turn at Show and Tell, but her teacher is away and replaced with grumpy Mr Botham. Instead of doing Maths worksheets, Ruby is determined to find a way to sing and play her ukulele for the class. Cheeky Zac also wants his turn to share a special talent and before you know it....Show and Tell becomes Show and Smell! 

Ding dang dong! Show and tell.
Sing that song and sing it well.
Dinga danga dong! Show and tell.
Ding dang dong. Ring that old school bell!

 At the end of each book look out for Ruby's song, Oliver's comic, The Bestie's Best Jokes and some 'How To' information.

The Besties are fun stories brought to life with Tom Jellett's cartoon illustrations and perfect for little people starting out reading. There are two more books coming soon....The Besties Party On and The Besties Make a Splash.

Happy reading!

2

Nat Amoore is a shiny new author whose shiny new book Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire is a story filled with heart and humour.

Finding a million dollars in your backyard - every kid's dream, right?
That's what me and my best friend Toby thought too. 

Tess Heckleston is ten years old, wise for her age and a natural born entrepreneur who is always dreaming up ingenious plans to make money. Toby her best friend, is a numbers guy who is smart, organised and her moral compass. Coming from a large family where money is tight, Tess wants to get rich while Toby who was adopted from Bolivia, wants to donate to every worthy cause he can find. Together they make a formidable team.

When Tess' dodgy neighbour Scotty dumps a million dollars in her backyard it changes everything. There's so much Tess and Toby could do with a million dollars, but there are also a lot of unexpected decisions and problems that come with that amount of money.

Who knew it would be SO hard for kids to spend a million dollars even when they want to do good with it?

Tess and Toby's skills and friendship are challenged as they 'creatively' try to find ways to spend the money. Personally, I loved their idea of a coffee and donut cart for the school staffroom, but you might prefer the jumping castle and lollipops and they might be on to something with their solution for a home for Kathy and Mr Piddles. But what happens when the Really Bad Guy, Scotty wants his million dollars back...all of it!

This book cleverly begins with the end as Tess opens her school locker to reveal a million dollars in front of the whole school and you want to keep reading. I read the first three chapters to Year Four classes in the library and one student said "I normally don't like reading, but I HAVE to read this book!!"  So don't just take my word for it!

Nat has written one of my favourite books this year and between you and I, I think there might be quite a bit of Nat in her character, Tess!

Here is Nat at her million dollar book launch for Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire at The Little Bookroom in Melbourne.

If you found a million dollars in your backyard
what would you do with it?

Happy reading!

"So that's why I needed to run away. I need to change. And the best way for me to turn things around is to be less like Vex Vron and more like you, Mr Bambuckle. I'm going to copy you."

Vex Vron has run away! He has left a note and its up to Room 12B to work together to find him before his family and Mr Sternblast find out he's missing. Trapped by the rules she strictly enforces, Miss Frost is not happy about having to help so she can save her job. However, something quite remarkable happens to Miss Frost and her silver hair during the search for Vex.

Canteen Carol once again finds she is no match for Mr Bambuckle, Myra learns a tough lesson about generosity from the Kindergarten kids and Vex Vron reminds us of the importance of being yourself. 

In so many positive and fun ways, Mr Bambuckle has transformed the lives of the students in Room 12B and the teacher we all wish we had, is going to receive the highest teaching award in the country. This means there is no way Mr Sternblast can get rid of Mr Bambuckle now! 

After much anticipation we finally get to see the mysterious Indian spark-maker beetle in action as it helps Mr Bambuckle reveal an important message for Room 12B and also for us...

TOFFLE TOWERS

Tim Harris has a new series called Toffle Towers coming out in August! You can read a short preview at the back of Mr Bambuckle's Remarkables on the Lookout or read more about it HERE and watch for the front cover to be revealed...

Happy reading! 

Skip to toolbar