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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.

Och Aye the G’Nu

Jimmy Barnes & Kat Chadwick

How exciting was it to discover a children’s collection of verse created by the legendary Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes? Extremely exciting! And even more so when it is a collaboration with The Wiggles. This is is wonderful, fun to read and just as much fun to listen to.

This collection of rhythmical and rhyming poems –  there are 7 and they are cleverly numbered Poem G’Number 1 etc – was inspired by his grandchildren and especially his grandson. They all feature Och Aye, a G’nu from a zoo, some with his best friend Kangaroo. There are poems about new shoes, and catching the flu, singing the Blues, and a Happy Birthday to you. It’s amazing how there are so many G’nu rhyming links. The poems are witty and catchy, relevant to many youngsters, and I am quite sure will be enjoyed by kids of very many ages. The accompanying CD makes this great for simply listening to the recordings being presented by Jimmy (most of us can’t sound like Jimmy but listening to him on the accompanying CD is superb), or for younger readers to engage with the printed text while listening to the recording. And of course the younger readers are also listening to parents and care givers reading the poems as well!!

Kat Chadwick has also created delightful line illustrations which are liberally placed throughout this tartan covered book. This creation will be shared again and again and enjoyed for longtime.




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.

Flapper, VC

Mark Wilson (Lothian)

Based on the true story of an Australian carrier pigeon during World War II, Flapper VC (a terrific title) is the tale of an Australian born and raised carrier pigeon. It is the story of the training of the pigeon in Australia, the training of this pigeon for military duties and then what happens when the bird is sent to war. His first mission was a failure, the message strapped to his foot was lost in flight, but then came the mission to save his patrol who were surrounded by enemy fighters. Flapper was their last hope for rescue. Facing bullets, explosions, and pounding rain deep in the jungle Flapper flew to his loft.

Flapper (carrier pigeon D D43 Q879) was awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross (the Dickin Medal) for his actions that day, and his medal is proudly displayed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Mark Wilson creates these moving books of wartime animals and their true stories so wonderfully well. They reach out to readers of so many ages with the intricate art and well crafted narrative. A perfect Anzac Day read. Uncover more about Mark at and especially for the coming Anzac Day, his military themed picture books.

Small Things

Mel Tregonning (Allen&Unwin)

An ordinary boy in an ordinary world is followed around by tiny creatures, worries that eat at his confidence day by day. They grow stronger and have more and more impact. As each day progresses seemingly insignificant everyday moments have a severe and lasting impact:- he is the last one chosen for the team; he sits alone to eat his lunch; he is never part of the in-crowd. As further moments occur his feeling of hopeless, sadness and loneliness grows and easts away at his self confidence and self worth – as if he is loosing control. But this boy does learn that help is close by.

This wordless graphic novel is truly beautiful. The strong images are intricately detailed and allow the reader to peer into the this world silently and maybe tell their own story.


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