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Posts from the ‘Independent Readers’ Category

A Different Dog

Paul Jennings (Allen&Unwin)

This is a wonderful story, powerfully written with more than a touch of suspense throughout. It is the story of a boy and the rescue of a dog.

A nameless boy is walking to a race when a vehicle speeds by, misses a bend in the road, and hurtles over the side leaving tell-tale marks scarring the landscape. The driver is killed and his dog remains unconscious. The boy discovers the damaged landscape and unconscious dog, and remains there waiting by his side till the dog recovers. But it’s not an easy venture out of the forest for the dog and the boy. There are overgrown paths and a bridge to cross in a forest that has its own hidden terrors. When thy finally make it back to the boy’s home (after missing the race) he claims the dog for his own but it is then that the boy realises that this dog, is no ordinary dog. This is a performing dog and this dog belongs in a circus. And eventually, the circus arrives. They want their dog returned.

In seven short chapters the tale evolves. There are black and white illustrations throughout in this book that I could NOT put down.

Grover McBane, Rescue Dog

Grover, Benji and Nanna Jean (PiccoloNero)

A new dog, Benji, arrives at the animal shelter and Grover, who looks after all the other rescue dogs at the animal shelter as well as trying to keep a nearby cat in line, is charged with the task of looking after Benji. Unfortunately, Benji is an older Pomeranian who has a number of medical issues and Grover needs some extra special care and attention to help him find a new home. But finding a new home for a dog like Benji is not easy and Mr Tiddles the cat certainly thinks that it will be extremely difficult.

This is the third book in the series about a real dog – the Rescue Dog, Grover McBane. The titles are fun, a light easy read, with appropriate sized print and a black line illustration for each chapter. These easy-to-read books are great titles for children who are independent readers and especially dog lovers. They feature Grover, a dog from the the Sydney Dog and Cat Home, an animal pound that has been taking care of Sydney’s lost and abandoned animals (not just dogs) since 1946.

This book also supports the work of the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home (
You can even see photos of Grover on Instagram here @grovermcbane

Magrit Lee Battersby & Amy Daoud (Walker Books)

I couldn’t put this beautiful hardback book down, the pages kept turning and I kept reading. This gentle story of acceptance and friendships in the strangest of places, is delightful and supremely engaging. A great title for independent readers who want something a little bit scary – but not too much.

In an abandoned cemetery lives Magrit, her only company and advisor, is Master Puppet – a skeleton that is her creation from bones that lie around the cemetery. A passing stork drops a strange bundle into the graveyard which Magrit discovers. Master Puppet tells her it is an awful and ugly thing and that she should get rid of it but Magrit, who is nearly ten throughout the book, decides to keep it. Eventually the growing bundle, which Magrit names Bugrat, stumbles into a mysterious part of the cemetery where Margit never goes. Another skeleton, from long ago lies here and is intertwined with Magrit, Master Puppet and the outside world.


Toad Delight Morris Gleitzman (Penguin)

Toad is back and it is thrilling. This series of books (there are now 5 but each can be read independently) are wonderful reads, totally engaging and filled with laughter.

Too many of Limpy’s relatives are ending up flat as a pancake on the roadways. This time he decides to take action and show the humans, who ignore road rules and try to flatten the toads on the roads, that toads weren’t mean nasty greedy selfish monsters. There’s love (Goliath and a penguin back pack) and drama (Goliath and other toads are trapped in a cage, kidnapped for a TV cooking show) and there’s even a conservation message woven in too. The Toad books are ones that young readers can really enjoy and laugh about with ease. The short chapters are perfect for independent readers.

And words from Morris about Limpy are here:

Get Scared

Well these books are not really too scary and they are super reads …


88-lime-street-the-way-in88 Lime Street – The Way In Denise Kirby (Scholastic)

I couldn’t put this book down. I was hooked into he is right from the word go and i am sure many young readers will be also.

Ellen’s family has moved into an unusually, enormously, ramshackingly nice house that her parents bought at a very good price. The local kids at school say the house is haunted and Ellen can certainly feel something stirring. There is also a tower in the ouse – but there is no door to get into the tower – not until Ellen finds the secret to unlocking it – and the staircase behind the opening doesn’t lead to the expected room. And not only is there this strange room but time seems to alter, mysterious writing appears on walls, and an overgrown dried up garden suddenly has water flowing. what is happening at 88 Lime Street?


the-bad-guys-episode-1The Bad Guys – Episode 1 Aaron Blabey (Scholastic)

They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys . . . and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that! They drive around in a really cool car and perform wonderful heroic deeds, like rescuing a cat in a tree, or their first mission … Operation Dog Pound.

This super graphic novel for younger readers will have them totally absorbed in the Bad Guys’ first heroic mission. Episode 2 (to come) will find them rescuing chickens – although all is not well with the Bad Guys. Totally crazy, humorous and oodles excitement.


scream-the-human-flytrapThe Human Flytrap (Scream) Jack Heath (Scholastic)

Just be prepared for the constant opening and closing of the cover as readers listen to the inbuilt scream!

Another family moving into a new house, but this house is spooky, run-down and it is an old ruin. There are a lot of mysterious and unusual events in the town where this house is located. A new third floor appears on the public library when a fog dissipates, there are flickering street lights, and this house where the neighbour yells GET OUT as the family moves in. At school Josh’s best friend Dale’s science experiment with the Venus Fly Trap goes horribly wrong and in pursuit of further plants things go from bad to worse … and soon Josh’s friends are missing.

Strange things are happening in Axe Falls.


Fiction for Independent Readers

So here we go … Some recent fiction titles releases for independent readers. And these titles will really have lots of giggling going on.


the-fanged-footysThe Fanged Footys (Crawf’s Kick it to Nick # 6); Shane Crawford & Adrian Beck (Penguin)

The Crocs have gone through the whole season win less so this last game will make or break their season. At training Nick and his friends are Kicking a footy that tumbles into a hole that the workmen, have stuck a weird looking layer of soil are digging. The footy is returned, touching a few other footy’s as well, before Nick has one last kick of the ball – and as he does the ball splits open, sharp pointy teeth appear – and that is when the trouble really begins because the other foot’s that were touched are infected. Now Nick and the gang have to dispose of the fanged footy’s – and play a game as well.

This is the 6th title in the Kick it to Nick series (featuring Saints’ footy star Nick Riewoldt) and for sport loving readers of any code, but especially those who love AFL this is a great. The books are short, and easy-to-read and full of footy action. They are fast paced with references to the game and the end of the book has a double page spread of footy tips. Clear font and illustrations throughout also make this series great for those needing themed and books they can relate to.

Visit the website ( and also look for FootyBot Face-Off (that’s full of laughter too).


stuff-happens-fadiFadi (Stuff Happens); Scot Gardner (Penguin)

Stuff happens sometimes. Everyday stuff. At school, at home, with sport, with mates.

At home Fadi is the right size but at school he is a big boy who has not quite grown into his body yet. He’s strong and a bit cumbersome – he covered his teacher in paint and he collapsed onto another student’s project. So when he tackles Jack at lunchtime things get really messy but with the help of his family he learns to overcome his clumsiness and things are soon transformed with his cool dance moves.

The Stuff Happens series are books about boys, for boys. The books are short and fast paced with real-life stories of being a boy. The characters are well developed and should be easily identified with. The boys are emotional and have feelings that are clearly expressed in the books. Great for reluctant boys readers, especially if they need to read titles about other boys and themselves! Each title can be read on its own and is about one boy.


derek-danger-daleThe Case of Animals Behaving Really, REALLY Badly Michael Gerard Bauer & Joe Bauer, (Scholastic)

Derek Danger Dale is big and muscly and just a bit dopey so it is totally amazing that he can solve crimes and mysteries. There is an evil criminal mastermind who wants to steal the worlds biggest diamond, the super agent who attempts to thwart the criminal, dangers aplenty – especially with the four most deadly creatures on the planet, and lots and lots of luck for the agent.

From the Eric Vale books (where he was the cartoon character in a comic strip) comes Derek Danger Dale Secret agent from Secret Agents R Definitely Not Us!! These books are an absolute laugh out loud, giggle if you have to read. Unique font and comic illustrations will have all sorts of readers sitting down and turning the pages. This is terrific fun.

also available Derek Danger Dale and the Case of the Really, Really Scary Things.

Fun Fiction to Devour

Loved these recently released fiction titles:

the-pirate-companyThe Pirate Company, On the Trail of the Golden Toucan Susan Cason (Scholastic)

Pirate lovers are going to love this read.

Young Tom Applecross is all alone in the world. His father, a scientist and explorer, is missing presumed dead and his step mother wants to have nothing to do with Tom so she bundles him off to his Great Aunt in Boston. Of course his step mother has wicked intentions wanting to make the most of the But then the ship Tom is travelling encounters pirates and he finds himself adrift in the ocean – only to meet up with the gang of pirates. Soon he is part of the crew and setting off on piratical adventures … including the discovery of what his step mother really intends to do with the treasured Toucan discovered by his father! There’s a fire on a pirate ship, abandonment on an island, a conniving Governor, dealing with pirates who don’t really want him aboard … and a girl too! A great read with more in store.


scumbusterLockie Leonard, Scumbuster Tim Winton (Penguin)

This is one of my all time favourite books and it is great to see it being re-released for a new generation of readers.

Lockie Leonard has a complicated life. He is a surfer and lives with his family in a small country town, his dad’s the local policeman, he’s been dumped by his girlfriend so now he is back to being the loneliest kid in town. But then he meets Egg and he is the weirdest human being he’s ever met – a headbanger! When Lockie falls in love with a younger girl who is a better surfer than he is life really gets complicated. and to top it all off the town is being polluted and Lockie decides that it is up to him to take up the fight.


the-perplexing-pineappleThe Perplexing Pineapple, The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno & Alberta, Book 1, Ursula Dubosarsky & Terry Denton (Allen&Unwin)

Oh this new detective series, created for the 6 to 8 year olds, is fun. Filled with witty and charming illustrations throughout young readers are going to get hooked on the adventures of Coco and Alberta – the guinea pig stars of the series. The last pages of the book are also puzzle pages based one the contents of the story, as ell as an explanation of guinea-pic latin (integral to the story) and a glossary.

Coco Carlomagno, who has an unusual way of writing, is the Buenos Aires’ Chief of Police. He is sure that his office, high in the Obelisco, is haunted. Every day at the same time a pineapple floats by his office and he hears a strange noise. Coco knows that there is only one guinea pig who can help solve the puzzle – his friend Alberta and together the two set about finding the solution.


alice-and-the-airy-fairyAlice and the Airy Fairy Margaret Clark & Emma Stuart (New Frontier)

Mary’s mother’s cousin Alice is coming to stay with Mary and her family for a while, until she is problem free. and when Alice hears her father call her an ‘airy fairy’ she decides she is thrilled – a real fairy is coming to stay. But this fairy has broken wings and she has lost her wand so Alice sets about helping the fairy. Mary is also a painter so when she has to go to hospital and Alice and her family display the work at the local gallery some surprising results occur. This is one of the recent titles in a new series – Little Rockets – created for the 7+ reader. The titles are fast-paced and designed to encourage independent reading. The text is generously spaced, on good quality paper and the covers are solid. Colour illustrations enhance the reading.


eric-vale-super-maleEric Vale, Super Male Michael Gerard Bauer & Joe Bauer (Scholastic)

Hooray for superheroes. This is fun! Eric Vale’s teacher has just announced to the class that next week the class will be starting a short unit of work on Stupid Pharaohs – or at least that is what he initially heard. Eric Vale is also a writer who keeps a special Awesome Stories and Genius Thoughts Journal and is currently writing about Secret Agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale … What Eric heard as Stupid Pharoahs was actually Superheroes week with the students being able to bring their favourite superheroes to school. This doesn’t quite go according to plan for Eric as his favourite superhero is replaced by his little sister’s favourite toy – which causes all sorts of embarrassment for Eric when he unveils his superhero at school. And things don’t go according to plan when he tries to save his classmates from an offending grasshopper. Even though Eric has the best of intentions things don’t quite work out as he intended. but in the end everything works out for him, just not as he expected. With zany black and white illustrations throughout this is full of amusement.