ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Sep 25 2017

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760294472
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Survival, Juvenile detention, Darwin, Kimberley. Nicknamed Sparrow by the people on the Darwin waterfront cafes he has befriended, the mute twelve year old gets leftover food and a few coins after setting up chairs and helping pack them away at the end of the day. Then he goes back to his sleeping bag atop some toilets in the shopping centre. Sometimes he drifts back to his aunty's house but his brother makes this difficult. His brother and his friends are ghost boys, addicted to sniffing paint, their lips revealing a moustache of colour. Sparrow tries to stay away from them, their empty eyes reinforcing the fact that this is a path he does not want to take. But Sparrow's friend Elsa, a backpacker ends up in hospital, beaten after they went to the outdoor cinema together, and he has a good idea of who did this to the girl. But it is Sparrow who is sentenced to detention.
Gardner packs his stories so tightly that every word has an importance, each paragraph is dense with fact and background, but so easily incorporated into the story that the reader is almost unaware of what they are picking up.
Gardner's exposes the seemier layers of Darwin as he talks of homelessness, paint sniffing, drug dependence, drug dealing and children whose lives are outside the law, living on the streets. The impact of these children's lives on the reader is far more decisive than any news report or stack of statistics; we are there, scrambling with Sparrow as he finds things in the rubbish bin that will be useful, avoiding his drug affected brother, then at hospital with his dying mother.
Most of the background we hear of through flashbacks as Sparrow must use all his survival skills to live on crocodile infested beaches in the Kimberley. Now a sixteen year old in Juvenile Detention, he is part of a boot camp along the coast, but things go awry and he jumps from the burning boat and swims for the coast where he must find shelter, water and food. A man who befriended him in Darwin taught him to swim and this skill holds him in good stead in the Kimberley but once on land he must avoid the snakes and crocodiles, mosquitos and pigs while remaining vigilant for the constant search for water. He wrestles with his past and the reasons he is in detention, but when he finds another footprint, things change.
A breathless survival story Sparrow is a gripping read. Survival stories like Hatchet (Gary Paulsen) are a constant must read and often used as a class text, and this modern story set firmly in Australia, will make a remarkable read for students as a class set, literature circle or borrowed from the library. Sparrow's story is infectious, readers will be drawn in by the boy's story, working with him to survive, scrambling from the dangers that lurk in the mangroves, and marveling at the story he is finally able to tell. And with the recent expose of Northern Territory's juvenile justice system, this story has come at a time when the treatment of young offenders is being reconsidered. This is a must read.
Fran Knight



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Sep 25 2017

The book of me! by Adam Frost

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Ill. by Sarah Ray. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408876817
(Age: 7-10) Recommended as a 'gift book'. Themes: Identity; Facts; Humour; Interactive Book. The Book of Me is an example of an interactive book - where the reader gets to fill in details about themselves, draw their own...
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Sep 25 2017

Sarah and the Steep Slope by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley

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Little Hare, 2017. ISBN 9781742974675
When Sarah opened her door one morning she was confronted by it. A steep slope. Blocking out the sun and casting a shadow across everything. Rising in front her like an insurmountable and impenetrable barrier. And so it proved to be.
Prodding...
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Sep 25 2017

Busy cafe by Louise Forshaw

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Busy series. Pan Macmillan, 2017. ISBN 9781509828739
(Age: 0-4) Recommended. Busy cafe is one of nine board books in the Busy series by Campbell Books, and in my opinion is fantastic! This little book captured the imagination of my 3 year old and was the starting...
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Sep 25 2017

Herobrine goes to school by Zack Zombie

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The adventures of Herobrine book 1. Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781742765907
(Age: 8-9) The Adventures of Herobrine book 1: Herobrine goes to school is another series by Zack Zombie, aimed at children who both love the game Minecraft and possibly his previous series...
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Sep 25 2017

Reena's Rainbow by Dee White

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Ill. by Tracie Grimwood. EK Books, ISBN 9781925335491
Reena is deaf and the little brown dog in the park is homeless. But even though her ears didn't work, her eyes did and she saw the things that others take for granted. So even though she couldn't hear the wind in the trees, she could...
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Sep 21 2017

The children of Willesden Lane: a true story of hope and survival during World War II by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen

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Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760630805
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. In Austria, following the 1938 Kristallnacht (The night of the broken glass) Malka and Abraham Jura, parents of Rosie, Lisa and Sonia made an indescribably painful choice to save one of their daughters from the evil...
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Sep 21 2017

I just ate my friend by Heidi McKinnon

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Allen & Unwin, 2017 ISBN 9781760294342
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Friendship. Belonging. Control. A creature tells us that he has just eaten his friend. The look on his face is one of remorse and a little embarrassment as he then goes searching for a new friend. But it is all too hard....
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Sep 21 2017

Sir Scaly Pants and the dragon thief by John Kelly

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Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408856062
(Age: 4-7) Recommended. This is the second story about Sir Scaly Pants the Dragon Knight and is just as entertaining as the first. This time the king is kidnapped by an evil...
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Sep 21 2017

Pippa's Island: Cub reporters by Belinda Murrell

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Random House Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780143783688
Life could hardly be more different for Pippa. From a seemingly happy family living in a Victorian terrace house in London to a caravan in her grandparents' backyard on a tropical island off the Australian coast. Forced to make changes...
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Sep 20 2017

His Royal Tinyness : A terrible true story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

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Ill. by David Roberts. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406324662
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. Humour. Siblings. Babies. Told from the point of view of "the most beautifulest, cleverest, ever-so-kindest Princess with long, flowing wondrous hair," this is the tale of a family that was happy...
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Sep 20 2017

Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

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Little Hare, 2017. ISBN 9781760129286
So often we walk around with our eyes open but we don't really see anything. Yes, we see trees and rocks and distant mountains and even birds in the sky but do we ever see the distinctive shapes they make and the patterns within them?
With her...
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Sep 20 2017

Little Shaq takes a chance by Shaquille O'Neal

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Ill. by Theodore Taylor. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781619638785
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Themes: Talent; Friendship. Little Shaq loves basketball and he is good at it but is a little worried that he might not be good at art. He doesn't really want to try something new (including trying new...
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Sep 20 2017

A is for Australian animals by Frane Lessac

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Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925381009
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Australian animals, Habitat, Fauna, Distribution. Subtitled, A fantastic tour, this informative book will take kids on a journey through various environments to spy on a huge range of animals that share our continent. While...
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Sep 20 2017

Butterfly we're expecting you by Libby Hathorn

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Ill. by Lisa Stewart. Lothian, 2017. ISBN 9780733416995
(Age: 4+) Gardens, Exploration, Butterflies. Two children go out into the garden to see what they can find. They see a caterpillar and wonder at what it will become, they see a beehive and wonder at the bees inside, making honey,...
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Sep 19 2017

Figgy takes the city by Tamsin Janu

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Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781742992006
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Figgy and her friend Nana win scholarships to attend school in Ghana's big city, Accra. The city is exciting, and full of new friends and adventures. But when Nana begins acting strangely, and disappears, Figgy follows...
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Sep 18 2017

The Pastor's kid by Danielle Weiler

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Ark House Press, 2016. ISBN 9780995391796
(Age: 14+) This book has many good lessons, and is about mostly good people, or at least those who are trying to be good. The 'Pastor's kid', Mattie, is in senior high school in the new town where her father has been sent to work with students....
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Sep 18 2017

The bad bunnies' magic show by Mini Grey

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Simon and Schuster, 2017. ISBN 9781471157608
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Magic. Magicians. Deception. A slight change in plans means that The Great Hypno has been unavoidably detained and is replaced by the two bunnies, Mr Abra and Cadabra. The two bunnies take over the magic show usually put...
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Sep 18 2017

100 things to know about food

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Usborne, 2017. ISBN 9781409598619
This is a fascinating journey through the world of food that will not only appeal to budding young chefs but to anyone who likes to eat. Presented with lots of colourful illustrations with hundreds of simply expressed facts that are readily accessible...
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Sep 18 2017

Two rainbows by Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon

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Little Hare, 2017. ISBN 9781760127794
The little girl looks out from her city window and sees a cloud and part of a rainbow. At first, it seems like it is the only colour in this grey, drab city landscape and she thinks longingly of the rainbows she used to see in the country on the...
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Sep 13 2017

Literature to Support the Australian Curriculum Book 2 - Annotated Lists of Fiction and Poetry by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

cover imagePledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Highly recommended. This book contains literature to support the Australian Curriculum. It contains annotated lists that cover...
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Sep 04 2017

Literature to support the Science Curriculum Foundation - 7 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678470
Following the same layout as some of their previous Australian Curriculum publications, the authors provide lists of...
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Aug 27 2017

Literature to support the Australian curriculum: Annotated lists of fiction and poetry Book 2 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Recommended as a teacher reference for both Junior and Senior School libraries and English faculties. This teacher resource book makes the book selection work of Teacher Librarians and English teachers much easier. It contains summaries of...
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Aug 13 2017

Literature to support the Australian curriculum - Annotated lists of fiction and poetry Book 2 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

cover imagePledger Consulting, 2017. ISBN 9781876678531
Teacher reference. Highly recommended for educators and teacher librarians. Subjects: Fiction, Books and reading,...
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Feb 02 2017

Literature to support the Science curriculum Foundation -7 by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678470
Highly recommended for educators. Subjects: Science curriculum; Fiction; Annotated bibliography. Fran Knight and Pat Pledger continue to write first-rate reference tools for teachers in primary school education, which focus on key curriculum...
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Feb 21 2016

Fiction gems: Recommended fiction lists for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students by Fran Knight and Pat Pledger

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Pledger Consulting, 2016. ISBN 9781876678456
Teacher reference. What a great resource for those charged with purchasing or recommending reading material for Upper Primary and Lower Secondary students. The Middle School aged reader can have specific interests or reading demands and keeping...
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