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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!

 

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!

Magnolia Moon is very good at keeping secrets. She knows just what to do with them, and has a way of talking to the jumpy ones to stop them causing trouble. Which is why people are always leaning in and whispering: "Can I tell you a secret?"

Magnolia Moon is a curious nine year old with springy, beetle-black curls filled with feathers and twigs. Magnolia likes Greek mythology, her cat Atlas and writing her name backwards (NOOM AILONGAM). Her best friend is Imogen May and they like hanging upside down from the Wishing Tree, inventing new animals like peliphants and buffadillos and guessing what type of fruit they would be.


What type of fruit would you choose to be?

During the year there are lots of changes for Magnolia, beginning with Imogen May moving away and ending with the arrival of her baby brother Finnegan. Each chapter holds a secret. They are the type of secrets that help people feel braver, less alone, and more loved. There are new friendships, a secret escape, a secret spook, a secret identity, a secret sky, and a mysterious angel boy. In the final 'Chapter Almost 10', Magnolia reveals a secret of her own. 

In the story, I like the way Magnolia Moon describes time by comparing it to things. 

Three minutes is a lifetime if you are a piece of toast or a soft-poached egg
An hour is a lifetime if you are a cake in the oven or a storm cloud
Three weeks is a lifetime if you are a bar of soap
Six months is a lifetime if you are a bedbug
A year is a lifetime if you are a giant jellyfish

What interesting ways would you describe time?

The Secrets of Magnolia Moon by Edwina Wyatt is perfect if you like gentle stories about friendship and families and enjoy solving problems. It is a 'just the right size' hardcover book with a stunning front cover, gorgeous nature-filled endpapers and whimsical illustrations by Katherine Quinn. I hope there will be more secrets and adventures for Magnolia Moon.

Happy reading!

The Ateban Cipher series by A.L.Tait is an exciting adventure series. If you like quest stories like Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda or you’re a fan of the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, then this is the next series for you!

Book One: The Book of Secrets

Gabe stared in horror at the small book in his hand. The light from the low fire danced across its golden cover, setting off a shower of sparkles from the rainbow of jewels that adorned it. Its beauty was dulled only by a dark, spreading smudge of blood.

Gabe is a young apprentice monk, who has been raised at Oldham Abbey and only knows this peaceful and protected world. One evening when the Abbey is raided, Gabe is given the mysterious Book of Secrets to protect by Brother Benedict as he lays dying. 

Gabe is thrust into the outside world on a quest full of danger, intrigue and adventure. What is the secret of the book? Why is it so valuable and who is the mysterious 'Aidan'? Lost in the forest, Gabe is rescued by a feisty band of rebel girls who live in an old oak tree. Merry, Gwyn, Scarlett and Midge are skilful, clever, brave and fiercely independent. Their fast moving adventure unfolds in forests, tunnels and dungeons as Gabe and the girls seek to rescue Merry and Gwyn's father, help a prince (Eddie) in trouble and unravel some of the mystery surrounding the Book of Secrets.

 

Teacher Notes

Book Two: The Book of Answers

'The Ateban Cipher,' Lucien continued, 'is also known as the Book of Answers.'  'Answers to what?' Eddie asked. 'Everything. Any question you might have, the answer is in here.'

In this sequel, Gabe continues his quest accompanied by the girls and Eddie to a remote mountain fortress in search of Lord Lucien as they are closely pursued by their enemies. Lucien answers some of their questions about the mysterious secret coded manuscript and explains how dangerous it would be for The Book of Answers to fall into the wrong hands. While there, Gabe also unexpectedly discovers his true identity and learns about his parents.

Working as a team is vital as Gabe and his friends seek to outwit Lord Sherborne and his henchmen. Their clever problem solving and combined skills keep the encrypted Book of Answers safe while helping Eddie regain his crown and Merry and Grace race against time to save their father. Gabe's confidence, courage and skills develop along the way and when the key to the Ataban Cipher is finally revealed, he makes a decision that will change the direction of his life.

I thoroughly enjoyed these two books and if you're like me, you will want to have The Book of Answers ready to read as soon as you have finished The Book of Secrets!

Happy reading!

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