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Posts from the ‘Junior fiction’ Category

Polly and Buster

The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster (HardieGrantEgmont)
Sally Rippin

This is just a wonderful book. I couldn’t put it down and my young neighbour was very disappointed when he had to go to school this morning instead of finishing the book.

This new title features Polly, a young witch, and Buster, a young monster with feelings and a bunch of family and school members.  Polly and Buster have been best friends right from the moment they were born, playing in each others houses and backyards, or conversing while sitting in tree branches. But there comes an age when witches and monsters can no longer play together – witches just don’t play with monsters – at least that is what everyone tells Polly. Soon the secret friendship is sorely tested when their two very different schools meet at the National Gallery. Polly discovers a new best friend (for a few moments) and a very witchy skill that no one had any idea she had. Thankfully Polly’s teacher Miss Spinnaker can make sense of all that is unravelling and real friendships do get restored.

“Me and you,
you and me.
That’s the way it will
always be.”
– Buster.

This hardcover book for younger readers about friendships and differences, the first in a series of Polly and Buster adventures, is accompanied by Sally’s delicate illustrations and will be devoured repeatedly.

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

Younger Fiction

lola-s-toybox-the-patchwork-picnicThe Patchwork Picnic: Lola’s Toybox Danny Parker & Guy Shield (HardieGrant)

This is a new series for the younger readers who are moving from picture books but who sisal need the reassurance of larger text and generous, well crafted illustrations. Appropriately this is a story about toys – and especially teddy bears, that come to life!

Lola has chosen a large wooden toybox from her mother’s cleanup pile but when her older brother is about to enter her room to take it from her Lola jumps into he box to hide – and that is when everything changed. Lola soon finds herself in the Kingdom, the place where abandoned toys go and the ruler of the Kingdom is Lola’s abandoned teddy bear who is none too pleased to see Lola!

Toyboxes, sibling rivalries and squabbles, are all part of this terrific new series that is a celebration of toys, imagination and excitement. Great too for encouraging reading.

Also, with a supporting website containing games, downloads and more:


lily-the-elf-the-wishing-seedThe Wishing Seed: Lily the Elf Anna Branford, Lisa Coutts (Walker)
Another new series of early fiction titles, this time the Lily the Elf series of books, and there are four so far, originate form the pen of the creator of the Violet Mackerel series of books.

Lily wears a dress-up crown, and one that has a broken point too and so when a dandelion seed floats past, Lily, who knows that dandelion seeds are lucky, jumps for the seed to make a wish, catching the seed with the highest jump she has ever made. When a new crown doesn’t appear Lily realises that maybe those wishes don’t come true … but its amazing what can happen with a little bit of granny magic.

Short chapters, large generously spaced font and illustrations scattered throughout will make this a popular read for those transitioning from picture books.

ava-and-angus-showtimeAva and Angus: Showtime Wendy Harmer & Andrea Edmonds (Scholastic)
This early reader, for the slightly older reader still transitioning from picture books, comes from pen of the Pearlie books and the Ava Ann Appleton books. This is Ava and Angus and their adventures.

On this adventure, in the Adventurer as they travel around the country, Ava and Angus arrive at Doolimba and are off to the show. They meet the crew from the show and enjoy seeing the attractions and when two of the children, the Donnelly twins who live with the show encourage Ava to sneak into the animal’s sheds at night chaos suddenly happens. Disaster is created when the prize animals escape and suddenly Ava and Angus are blamed for the chaos. Will the twins own up to their mischief and will Ava get to enter her dog into the show?

Fun read with larger font, longer chapters and clear illustrations.

Series Titles Continued for younger readers

There are a number of continuing titles for younger readers that go from strength to strength. Here are a few that kids really enjoy reading.

lights-out-Lights Out! (EJ Spy School Series): Book 8, Susannah McFarlane (Scholastic)

The EJ Spy School Series is for younger readers. It has large font and generous graphics spread throughout the book.  effect for the younger readers who are moving from picture books. The series then leads to the wonderful EJ12 series for slightly older readers.

Training to be a spy while still at school, Emma Jacks is Agent EJ10. She goes to Spy School. This time training is for night missions. The only problem is that Emma is a little scared of the dark but she does have some spy agent times that help her along the way.

There are nine titles in the series so far. Sample book chapters and child appropriate games and other information are at the EJSpy School website ( as well as a link to the EJ12 books for the next level.


flying-highFlying High Sally Morgan, Ezekiel Kwaymullina & Craig Smith (Scholastic)

The same crew that brought Going Bush with Grandpa have teamed up to create this new title, again with attractive cover, generous text and delightful illustrations.

At school Larni thinks that everyone is smarter than she is and that she has nothing that she is good at, so it is is off to be off on a plane to visit her grandma up north. But while she is with her talented Granny she learns that there is something that she is good at – and she had it all the time.


henny-pennyHenny Penny (Once Upon a Timeless Tale) Margrete Lamond with Russell Thompson & Tamsin Ainslie (HardieGrant)

It’s lovely seeing these timeless and classic tales being issued in a small hardback format and with exquisite coloured illustrations and with the storylines sticking closely to the original. These came out last year but are still terrific to discover.

This title finds Henny Penny the chicken is pecking corn when something falls on her head. She immediately thinks that the sky is falling and that the world is about to end so with her friends sets off to tell the king. On the w someone not so friendly joins them and lures them astray – and nearly to their end!

This is also know as also known as Chicken Licken and Chicken Little and has gorgeous full page coloured illustrations.

Also available Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Twelve Dancing Princesses and more.


spelling-superstarSpelling Superstar (Ella and Olivia): Book 14, Yvette Poshoglian & Danielle McDonald (Scholastic)

This series that girls really enjoy has been around for a while is the Ella and Olivia series, two sisters who are the best of friends and live with their mum dad and little brother max. The titles have larger font, borders on each page and are scattered throughout with line illustrations.  They are a delightful read and like all the series mentioned have age appropriate subject matter that young readers are really interested in.

In this title Ella, who excels at spelling at school, has been chosen to go on her favourite TV show and with the help of her younger sister she might just be a spelling superstar …but first she has to remember some of those spelling rules.

There is also a supporting website ( with sample book chapters, activities and games and downloads.

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.

Wonderful Fiction

These books – I just couldn’t put down.

rescue-on-nim-s-islandRescue on Nim’s Island, Wendy Orr & Geoff Kelly (Allen&Unwin)

When I first read Nim’s Island yolks ago i loved it and that has continued through to this the third instalment.

This time Nim is not being rescued. This time a group of scientists are visiting “Nim’s Island” invited there by her father Jack to study the algae with the view to creating a new fuel that will power any motor without polluting the earth or sky or sea. But the scientists who arrive are not all they seem and place the island and its inhabitants in grave danger – especially after the discovery of opal from a completely fossilised sea turtle. Alex Rover is creating her next great work in this secluded island getaway and Nim’s friend Edmund has come for as well.

Fast paced, and with wonderful crafted memorable characters readers (young and older) are going to be thrilled that Nim is back and stronger than ever.


spirite animals blood-tiesBlood Ties, Spirit Animals Series : Book 3, Garth Nix & Sean Williams (Scholastic)

In the world of Erdas, every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal. This rare bond can unlock incredible power. A dark force has risen from the past, and now the fate of Erdas depends on four brave kids, Conor, Abeke, Meilin and Rollan. They each have the gift – the spirit animal bond that bridges the human and animal worlds and together they have to battle the Conquerors, an ancient threat that has returned, destroying all the cities in its path as it searches for the legendary talismans. But the children are first to Dinesh, who has to be convinced to give up his talisman, and an enormous battle begins which the children must defeat the approaching army if they are to take hold of the Slate Elephant – Dinesh’s talisman.

There is a dedicated website: where readers can join in the fun and create their own spirit animal, watch the trailer, play games and a whole lot more.


the-big-book-of-old-tomThe Big Book of Old Tom, Leigh Hobbs (Allen&Unwin)

Oh this was sooooo much fun revisiting the Old Tom books. It’s a big book, with the five Old Tom books Old Tom, Old Tom at the Beach, Old Tom Goes to Mars, Old Tom’s Guide to Being Good, and A Friend for Old Tom, combined into one.

For those unfamiliar with the Old Tom books, the tells begin when Angela Throgmorton, who lives a very secluded life, finds an unusual bundle on her doorstep. That bundle is Old Tom, (a very unusual baby) and Angela brought up Old Tom even through she had never fed a baby before. And Angela’s life is never the same again.

Heavily illustrated with only a few lines of text for each page, the Old Tom books are a great read, full of humour and craziness and impossibilities.